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Once from the Cherry Tree

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Right from the start, Younghyun knows that it’s a terrible idea. The problem is, though, that he’s just drunk enough, just pissed off enough, just desperate enough that he doesn’t really care.

It begins, like a lot of things between he and Jae, with an argument. A tipsy, 11pm argument where they’re both dressed in ratty sweats and sat on Jae’s bed, passing a bottle of vodka between them.

As a rule, Jae doesn’t drink much. But today is an exception, apparently, because he’d just bombed a test he thought he was prepared for and they are decidedly not talking about the effect it’ll have on his overall grade. Instead, they’re talking about hook-ups.

“What, so you’re telling me you’d really never…?” asks Younghyun, and he knows he must sound disbelieving.

“Nah, man. Never.”

“Not even out of curiosity?”

Jae shakes his head. “I don’t think curiosity is a good enough reason to have sex with someone. That’s, like, a commitment.”

“Doesn’t have to be,” says Younghyun.

“For me it would be,” says Jae firmly. “It always has been.”

Younghyun thinks through the (admittedly short) list of girlfriends Jae has had in the time he’s known him. “So because you don’t like to sleep around, you’re really just gunna limit yourself to girls? Forever?”

“I never said that,” says Jae. “I just said your – the fuck’s the word – hypothesis is bullshit.”

“S’not bullshit,” says Younghyun. “Tons of people agree with me, you know.”

“Are those people also bi?”

“Uh- a lot of them are.”

Jae shoots him a look and grabs the bottle from Younghyun’s hands to take another sip. “Then there’s your problem.”

The hypothesis in question, posed by openly bisexual Younghyun to his tragically straight college roommate, is this: ‘I’m willing to bet that 99% of the population is at least a little bit bi-curious.’

“Anyway,” says Jae, holding the bottle between his knees and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, “the issue isn’t if I personally would kiss a dude, is it? It’s if society at large would kiss a dude.”

This is, of course, true. But Jae is part of society. And Younghyun, admittedly, has a kind of strong reason for being invested in whether Jae specifically would kiss a dude. “Yeah, but–”

“If you think about it, what you’re saying is kind of homophobic,” says Jae, talking over him.

That one stumps Younghyun for a second. “How?”

“Well, think about Wonpilie,” says Jae, “You wouldn’t tell him he’s gotta do it with a girl just to see what it’s like, would you?” He sounds triumphant, like he knows he’s got Younghyun backed into a corner. Younghyun rolls his eyes and wrestles the vodka out from between Jae’s locked knees. He presses his legs together more tightly to make it harder for him. Asshole.

“Pilie’s in the one percent,” says Younghyun.

Jae snorts. “Pilie’s the brokest person I know, present company excluded.”

“Fuck off, you know what I mean.”

“So Pilie’s the one percent, what about all the other gay people in the world? They’re bi because you say so? Only gold-star gays get to use the label?”

Younghyun is so thrown by Jae knowing the term “gold-star gay” he can’t come up with a counter argument fast enough. Jae snorts again and pulls the bottle out of Younghyun’s hands again before he can even take a swig.

“Admit it, your hypothesis is broken.”

Younghyun’s brain is kinda foggy, but he knows Jae is right. He didn’t even mean that he genuinely thought everyone in the world was bi. He just meant he thought a lot more people were than they realised, and when Jae had argued back he doubled down. Because he’s desperate, and wanted to hear Jae admit that he, personally, would be down to fuck a dude. Which he has now made disappointingly clear that he is not.

This would be the place to end it. To let it go, admit defeat, and move the subject of debate onto something less inflammatory. Politics, perhaps. But Younghyun is an idiot. A yearning idiot.

“I bet I could made you at least a little bi-curious,” says Younghyun. The words are out of his mouth before he can stop them.

This makes Jae freeze. “I’m sorry?”

“Me. I could make you– uh. At least consider it.” Oh wow, he’s drunker than he thought.

Jae’s eyes are sharp behind his glasses. “What are you suggesting?”

Younghyun hadn’t been suggesting anything concrete. He just spoke without thinking. But now a really, truly, awful idea is forming in his alcohol-soaked brain. “I’ll… seduce you. If you want. By the end of this week, you’ll have to admit you’re a tiny bit curious what it’s like to fuck me.” Fuck a guy, is what he meant to say. He hopes Jae doesn’t notice the distinction.

Jae is biting his lip. It’s an anxious tic, Younghyun knows, which makes him feel worse about the fact that whenever he sees Jae do it he wants to bite it for him.

“So what are the terms of this bet?” asks Jae, “You win if my feelings for you change, right?”

Younghyun isn’t surprised he’s on board. They’ve always been competitive little shits with each other. “Yeah. And if I do win, you have to do my laundry for the next two weeks.”

Jae frowns. “Is that all? You’re not gunna like… ask me to go on a date with you or something?”

Younghyun’s stomach drops. Does Jae see through him? “Hell no, dude. This is purely scientific. I’ll do your laundry if you win.”

There is a strange look on Jae’s face. His eyes look too focused for the amount of alcohol that should be in his bloodstream, and for a horrible second Younghyun really thinks he’s about to be called out for his hopeless crush. But Jae blinks, and his expression clears. “Ok, why the hell not? I’m game.”