This pathetic cliché of a story starts, shamelessly, with, well… a cliché.
Ten works in a coffee shop.
Yeah. Go on. Roll your eyes.
Some people are broke college students who have to make a living, okay? Don’t judge.
He spends mornings in History lectures or dance practice and he spends afternoons and evenings making the undead SMU population their disgustingly sugary and caffeinated drinks they need to survive yet another semester of all-nighters writing theses and preparing presentations; y’know. The usual stuff.
He shares a flat with two other SM students: art major Yuta, this otaku freak from Osaka who thinks no one knows he writes fandom-famous Naruto fanfic under the username XxxSasukesNaruxxX, and voice major Dongyoung, who is kind of like a gift from god because of how nice and cute he is, despite his bad life choices (read: choosing to date abovementioned otaku roommate).
Ten doesn’t want to know.
(They’re okay though, Ten figures. He really doesn’t want to know what kind of shady illegal drug dealing business Jaehyun from across the hall is involved in.)
On the whole, Ten’s life is almost shockingly normal.
He hangs out with Yuta, Dongyoung and Taeyong (lit major), drinks way too much coffee, leaves his History of Dance essays right to the last minute, occasionally gets embarrassingly drunk with his friends, and calls his sister every now and again.
Rinse and repeat.
Then everything changes.
The guy walks into the campus coffee shop with his mocha-toned hair fanning preciously across his face and a pair of expensive-looking sunglasses perched precariously on his head.
“I’ll get a grande half sweet, non-fat caramel macchiato with extra caramel drizzle and a medium swirl of whipped cream.”
Ten looks up from the till, confused. “I’m sorry?”
Clearly, his frown is evident, because the guy sighs impatiently and says, “Grande half sweet, non-fat caramel macchiato with extra caramel drizzle and a medium swirl of whipped cream,” he repeats, ticked off. “Is there a problem?”
“Not at all,” Ten shakes his head. “I just wanted to hear it again so I never forget the dumbest order I’ve ever heard.”
The guy looks affronted. “Hey, listen—”
“You do realise that asking for a non-fat drink and then adding caramel syrup and cream to it is pointless, right? I mean, it’s actually completely pointless.”
“What are you, the coffee police?” the guy argues back peevishly. “Stop oppressing me. Just write it down and tell me how much.”
“That’ll be 8,500 won,” Ten says. “I’ll give you a 1,000 won discount because I feel sorry for you.”
“Wow. Thanks… Ten?” the customer trails off, squinting at Ten’s nametag. “Is that really your name?”
“What are you, the name police?” Ten mocks.
“Whatever,” the other male replies, rolling his eyes. “Aren’t you going to ask me for my name so you can write it on my cup?”
Ten sighs. “What, kind sir, is your name?” he deadpans.
Ten stares, stunned.
“Here’s my cash. Keep the change. I’m holding up the line,” the guy waves, moving aside to wait by the collection counter before Ten can respond.
What. The. Fuck.
Ten makes the customer’s (there is no way in hell his name is really Dynamite) stupid drink and slides it over the counter.
“Thanks,” the brunette winks. “See you soon!”
And then he’s sauntering out, laughing to himself.
Ten blinks. He has just received the ass kicking of a lifetime. From a stranger with weird customer etiquette.
Ten, 0, obnoxious customer, 1.
Telling Yuta is a mistake.
useless roommate laughs for about 10 minutes.
“Wow,” he says, fanning himself. “You really lost that one. Wait till I tell Dongyoung.”
“NO,” Ten grouses, throwing a pillow at Yuta. He misses. It really isn’t his day.
Dongyoung is student body president and friends with like, everyone. Telling him would virtually equate to telling the entire population of SMU.
Yuta shrugs. “I don’t even know why you’re mad,” he says, ripping open a bag of flavoured seaweed sheets. “Someone came in and flirted with you. Wow. Tragic. Your life is so hashtag hard. Just ask for his name nicely next time he comes in. Amazing. Non-existent problem solved. Now, could you shut up? Haikyuu’s on.”
Ten sighs. He needs to move out.
“It wasn’t flirting,” he says sulkily.
Yuta just turns the volume up on their TV.
Now, when The Weird Customer Dude had said ‘see you soon!’, Ten hadn’t thought for a second that he really meant it. Who actually means stuff like that?
Evidently this guy, Ten discovers the next day.
“One Venti Iced Skinny Hazelnut Macchiato, Sugar-Free Syrup, Extra Shot, Light Ice, No Whip for Obama, please,” the customer grins when he steps up to the register.
Ten resists the urge to roll his eyes so hard they get stuck. “With all due respect, I’m pretty sure Obama would never order anything that idiotic.”
“Obama” shrugs. “Haven’t you ever heard of the phrase ‘customer is king’?” he shoots back.
Ten glares, but collects the money owed for the ridiculous drink and sets out to make it. When he’s done, he turns to hand it over, only to find the taller male not waiting at the collection counter.
Oh god, he thinks.
“Taeil sunbae,” he hisses to his co-worker. “Could you, um, call the name out on this drink. I have to, um, take the next order,” he ask-begs, desperate.
Taeil blinks and glances at the counter where there is a suspicious lack of a queue and looks back at Ten, unimpressed, before walking away.
Ten mentally swears revenge before shuffling up to the counter. Why does everyone hate him? Who did he wrong in a past life? Questions for another day.
Clearing his throat awkwardly, he calls out, “Hazelnut macchiato for Obama,” as fast as he can, ducking his head in shame as several people send bemused looks his way.
“Thank you,” the brunette grins as he walks over to collect his drink. “Bye, Ten,” he waves.
Ten face is flaming as he watches The Guy walk out.
The third time he comes, Ten is not taking no for an answer. He doesn’t know why it bothers him so much, but he figures, if he’s going to have to see this guy all the time, he might as well know his real name. Isn’t that common courtesy?
“Venti chai latte, triple pump, skim milk, no foam, extra hot,” the customer grins, clearly proud that he possesses the innate ability to annoy Ten.
The barista shakes his head firmly. “Sorry. I’m on impromptu strike. I refuse to make your drink unless you tell me your real name so I don’t have to humiliate myself when I call it out later. Justice for baristas.”
The taller boy chuckles. “You want to know that bad, huh?” he leers.
Ten colours. “No!” he protests hotly. “I just need to know so I’ll always be able to identify the worst customer of all time.”
“Well, I guess I’m obligated then, aren’t I? The state of my reputation is on the line.”
Ten nods gravely. “It truly is.”
Shrugging, the customer relents. “It’s Youngho,” he admits, voice dropping to a whisper. “But don’t tell anyone. A lot of people think I’m going to unite the four nations. I gotta carry on the legacy.”
Ten laughs, feeling a strange sense of accomplishment. “Your secret is safe with me.”
And well, everything sort of balloons from there.
6 months on and somehow, Youngho seems to have weaselled his way into Ten’s life quite seamlessly. Ten’s last 10 text messages are all from Youngho, and Youngho’s met, and now hangs out with all Ten’s friends.
The first meeting with Yuta had been… well…
“I’ll have a grande non-fat frappuccino with extra whipped cream and chocolate sauce, please,” Youngho had ordered.
“Can I get your name?” Ten had asked, reaching for a marker, playing along. It’s become their own little inside joke.
“Uzumaki Naruto,” had come the reply.
Ten had snorted, used to it, but it’s almost like the word ‘Naruto’ let off some kind of sonic otaku waves because suddenly, Yuta is standing purposefully and approaching the counter.
“Oh fuck,” Ten had mumbled, already dreading this imminent meeting.
“Sorry,” Yuta had started. He hadn’t sounded sorry at all. “But did you just say your name was Uzumaki Naruto?”
Youngho nodded. “Believe it.”
Yuta had looked like he was about to cry. “Is this the guy?” he had asked, turning towards Ten. “Can we keep him?”
Then he turned back to Youngho. “Who’s your favourite member of Team Seven?”
The other male had seemed to seriously think it over for a few seconds before answering, “In Naruto or Naruto Shippuden?”
“Welcome to the family!” Yuta had yelled, slapping him on the back gleefully. “I’m Yuta, and he,” the shorter boy introduced, and gestured to the other boy seated at his table, “is my boyfriend, Dongyoung. He’s going to bring everyone world peace. And well, you know Ten. Sadly. He’s grumpy and no fun. You can sit with us if you want. You’re cool.”
“Sure,” the taller boy had nodded, grinning. “Thanks, man.”
Since then, Youngho has started coming over to their flat on not just Ten’s, but Yuta’s invitation, too, and they all watch anime together and order copious amounts of pizza and play monopoly really violently and it all feels ridiculously normal when, really, it’s far from it, but no one even really says anything.
Ten’s met Youngho’s friends too, and every now and again they come into the coffee shop and hang by the counter. It doesn’t even feel weird that Seungwan shares gossip with him or that Jongin stops by when Yuta’s around to talk anime with him and that the little bonsai tree otherwise known as his Life seems to have grown an extra branch in a really short space of time.
Ten doesn’t really know how or when Youngho goes from being just the weird, meme-y customer at the coffee shop to more than that. It’s as though he’d just shown up, decided he wanted to stay and that was the end of it.
So when the realisation hits, it hits hard.
“Dongyoung,” he says one night, running from their bathroom to the living room. Said roommate is sitting on the couch reading while Yuta slept, head nestled in the other’s lap.
“Have you noticed… that Youngho and I… are friends?” he says, pulling his toothbrush out of his mouth.
Dongyoung carefully sets his book aside. “I think our entire building has noticed that you and Youngho are friends,” he answers patiently.
Ten’s phone buzzes in his sweatpants. He slots his toothbrush back into his mouth and pulls his phone out.
do u wna see deadpool on friday????
“Have you noticed… that Youngho and I are… I don’t know… Like, best friends?” he asks Dongyoung, sliding his phone back into his pocket.
Dongyoung chews on his bottom lip. “Well I mean, you spend all your time together, and when you’re not together, you’re constantly texting. You’ve met all his friends and he’s met all of yours. He’s your most called contact. Does that sound like friendship to you?”
“No?” Ten says, frowning at all that information. “We’re like… best friends. He’s my best friend. Not just my friend. My best friend. Right?”
Dongyoung stares at him for a few seconds before sighing and nodding.
“Yeah,” he agrees. “He’s your best friend.”
Yuta, true to his character, is significantly less agreeable.
“Do you think I spend too much time with Youngho?” Ten asks the next day. They’re at the coffee shop after closing time. Ten’s mopping the floor and Yuta’s finishing up the last of his Art History paper.
His roommate scoffs, digging his fork into the massive slice of matcha chiffon cake Ten stole for him. “You’re kidding right?” he says.
He scarfs down a mouthful of cake before continuing, “You guys are practically married. I’ve never seen two people who hang out so much and I actually have a boyfriend. The guy has a spare key to our flat. Dude.”
“You guys are just… I don’t even know what to say. I can’t believe you. It’s actually getting kind of stupid.”
Ten frowns. “What are you even talking about?”
Yuta stares at him for a while in what Ten thinks is supposed to be a very meaningful way. Then he shrugs.
“I dunno, dude. It’s your life. You’ll figure it out eventually.”
Ten rolls his eyes. Why do all his friends think they’re amazing Eat Pray Love life gurus? “Whatever. Why am I listening to you? You get all your life advice from Japanese cartoons.”
After that, it does seriously occur to him that Youngho is pretty much the centre of his life.
He can’t stop thinking about it, especially not when Youngho shows up at the coffee shop during his shift as usual to hang out. It’s just so weird, because Youngho’s presence has become something so expected that Ten just stopped expecting it after a while, and now, the fact that Youngho is there, and existing extremely prominently in his life, is something that’s become expected to the point of mild discomfort and it makes Ten feel like maybe he really does spend too much time with Youngho.
Does that even make sense? Ten wonders as he watches Youngho put his stuff down at his usual seat by the counter.
“Hey,” his friend greets. “You didn’t text me back. Do you want to see the movie tomorrow?”
Ten swallows, panicking on the inside. “I— uh. I can’t,” he fumbles. “I’ve got a paper to write,” he makes up. Some distance won’t hurt, right?
“Oh,” Youngho nods, deflating slightly. Ten immediately feels guilty. Youngho probably knows he’s lying. He’s always been absolute crap at it.
“That’s cool, though,” Youngho smiles frigidly. “We can catch it another day. I bet it’ll be out for at least another two weeks.”
“Yeah,” Ten agrees. “Another time. You going to order anything?” he deflects, changing the subject.
Youngho hums contemplatively. “Vanilla latte,” he decides on. “Venti.”
Ten swallows uncomfortably and tries to overlook the fact that there was absolutely nothing pretentious and annoying about that order at all.
“Sure,” he nods, ringing it up. “7,000 won.”
UghghHGHhghhHGhhghhhghghg, Ten thinks to himself.
This is all Yuta’s fault.
It passes, though.
Well, what really happens is that Ten goes back to the flat and cuddles with Dongyoung on the couch for like an hour while whining about how he doesn’t even know why he thought that would be a good idea in the first place? They’re just best friends? There’s nothing going on? And so, yeah, maybe they do spend a lot of time together, but so what? Youngho is his best friend. It’s only natural that they spend time together, isn’t it? Clearly, not spending time with Youngho is stressful anyway, so Ten makes the active conclusion that this whole thing is dumb and he should just go back to whatever he was doing before.
So he texts Youngho and apologises and they go and see the movie on Friday like they should’ve just agreed to in the first place.
And everything is okay.
The movie is great because their taste is the same and their senses of humour are matched, so they laugh at all the same jokes and make lots of obnoxious commentary that probably makes a bunch of people mad, but Ten doesn’t really care, he thinks, as he tries to shove a handful of popcorn into the pockets of Youngho’s ugly adidas hoodie.
They go to McDonald’s after that and Youngho insists on getting a 20-piece chicken nugget set which makes absolutely no sense because they literally just had popcorn and about a litre of soda each, but Youngho confidently orders and Ten laughs and pretends to be way more embarrassed than he really is because that’s just what they always do. It’s fine though, because the end up demolishing the mountain of junk in front of them without a hitch. Youngho wipes his greasy fingers on Ten’s jumper as revenge for Ten’s earlier popcorn-in-pockets felony and they split a sundae on the short walk back to campus.
It’s familiar and comforting and Ten really has no idea what Yuta was talking about before. There’s this weird little moment where Youngho laughs so loudly that Ten’s heart rate speeds up a little on the walk home, but he’s pretty sure that had to do with the fact that Youngho had stolen their cup of ice cream and forced Ten to run after him.
No big deal.
It’s all good.
But like all poorly-written clichés, something always goes wrong just when things are starting to look up.
Youngho’s perched atop his usual tall stool by the coffee shop’s collection counter, charging his phone and doing a report on the evolution of Korean culture when a girl sits down next to him and taps him on the shoulder.
“Hi,” she smiles cutely.
Ten already feels like he’s watching a really bad romcom.
“I’m Seulgi,” she introduces when Youngho looks up. “I’m in your Anthropology II class.”
“Hi,” Youngho nods, smiling back.
“I just… um—” she hesitates, colouring slightly. Ten tries not to throw up on the steamer he just wiped down, feeling a sudden sting of irritation.
“I wanted to give you this,” she finally says, drawing a small, folded square of paper out of her wallet and handing it to Youngho. “See you around,” she smiles, reddening further before she grabs her drink and slips out of the coffee shop.
“What was that?” Ten probes.
Youngho unfolds the note and reads over it. “Her number,” he answers. “She’s asking if we could go out.”
Ten feels like he should be smiling. But he’s not? He just feels kind of annoyed.
“Wow!” he tries to say cheerily. “That’s cool. You should call her. Get out of my shop. Stop bothering me when I’m trying to earn a living,” he jokes lamely.
Youngho shrugs. “I probably won’t.”
“Oh,” Ten says flatly. “Why not? Don’t you want to go on dates and stuff? She’s… pretty. And you have stuff in common.”
Frowning, Youngho goes back to his laptop. “I just don’t want to, alright?” he says testily.
Ten exhales shortly, mood ruined. “Whatever,” he says. “I was just… trying to be a good friend, or something.”
Youngho packs up his stuff not long after that, with only a soft, “See you,” before he’s gone, leaving Ten to finish his shift not knowing what the hell just happened.
“Dongyoung!” he yells when he gets back to the flat and heads to the other’s room. “I have a problem!”
The door opens before he can knock and Yuta’s head pops out, expression unamused. “He’s my boyfriend. Go find your own Dongyoung.”
“Don’t be mean,” Ten hears Dongyoung chide from inside the room.
Ten sticks his tongue out at his Japanese roommate in victory.
All three of them end up convening on their couch while Ten recounts what happened.
“And then he got all mad because I was telling him to call her? What the fuck?” he says, still stunned. “I was just trying to be supportive? Is that wrong?”
Yuta and Dongyoung exchange a look.
“You didn’t do anything wrong, per se…” Dongyoung answers, trailing off.
“Maybe he’s just stressed,” Yuta cuts in. “About his paper. It’s due in at the end of the week, right? I think he’s just kind of temporarily become a short fuse.”
Dongyoung raises an eyebrow at his boyfriend, who responds with a subtle shake of his head. Dongyoung sighs and nods.
Ten hates this couple telepathy thing.
“Yu’s right,” Dongyoung says eventually. “Cheer up, okay? It’ll blow over eventually. Wanna watch Frozen?”
That makes Ten smile.
Whatever, he thinks viciously to himself. He doesn’t need Youngho. He’s got his roommates and Elsa. That’s all he needs in the meantime.
“Did you and that tall freak with the bad taste break up?” Taeil sunbae asks the next day, out of the blue.
Ten blinks. “What?”
Taeil shrugs. “He hasn’t shown in like, a week. He’s been coming in every day for almost 8 months now… I just figured.”
“Are you… Talking about Youngho?” Ten asks.
“Who the hell else would I be talking about? Do you have other boyfriends on the side?”
Ten opens and closes his mouth like a gaping fish. “We’re not— I mean, I’m not even gay… He’s not my boyfriend.”
Taeil gives him an extremely unimpressed look. “It’s okay… I’m not a dumbass. You don’t have to lie about it.”
“I’m not lying!” Ten is so extremely confused and is maybe panicking a bit. “I’m genuinely not gay!”
“Look dude—” Taeil starts to say, but pauses when he sees the look on Ten’s face. “Wait… you… really… You didn’t know you were gay?”
“Because I’m NOT,” Ten emphasises. He feels like he’s about to cry. “I’m not gay! And I’m not dating Youngho!”
“Maybe you should go home and rest,” Taeil suggests, interrupting the younger boy’s train of thought. “And just… sit down… and have a really long think about yourself.”
Ten obeys, and goes to hang up his apron before walking home, feeling extremely confused and upset.
“What the hell happened to you? You look like someone just set your entire life savings on fire,” Yuta asks the moment Ten walks through the door.
“I don’t knOooOoooOooOooOw,” Ten groans, flopping onto the couch.
Dongyoung comes over from where he was making dinner in the kitchen, concerned.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Ten waits for Yuta and Dongyoung to sit before he takes a deep breath, eyes screwed shut.
“Do you guys think I’m gay?” he whispers.
There is a short bout of silence, before:
“Well, there is the possibility that you could like both,” Dongyoung says evenly, while Yuta brazenly just says, “Yup.”
Ten swallows. “It’s just… I… I’m not… I like girls?”
Yuta shrugs. “Well… You haven’t exactly dated anyone for a while now, have you?”
“I wasn’t interested…” Ten trails off, as something that feels a lot like realisation builds hesitantly inside him.
Ten groans. “What the fuck… What do I do? I was pretty sure I’m straight. But then Taeil sunbae said just now that I’m gay. I don’t even know. I’m confused.”
“So you’re gay?” Yuta enquires. “Is that your final answer?”
Dongyoung socks him in the shoulder.
“I don’t know,” Ten says, miserable.
“This reminds me of when Naruto—” Yuta starts to say, but Dongyoung grabs a couch cushion and hurls it at him, glaring.
“Sorry,” Yuta mumbles.
The next day, Ten is still plagued with confusion. He still doesn’t know what his sexual orientation is (though he’s starting to think that maybe, the others have a point), Youngho still hasn’t come to the coffee shop or texted him at all, and everything still sucks.
Yuta is waiting for him when he gets back from work. “Hey,” he greets. “How was day 2 of baby’s first sexual identity crisis?”
Ten glares at Yuta. “You are the most unhelpful person on the planet.”
Yuta clicks his tongue before getting up off the couch and walking extremely purposefully towards Ten, closing him in against their front door.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Ten breathes out, panicking as Yuta leans right into his personal space.
“Shut up,” Yuta says impatiently, and then Ten freezes because um, what the actual fuck, Yuta is kissing him. Like, with his mouth. Yuta, who is a dude, just pressed their mouths together.
He pulls away a couple of seconds later, looking bored. Ten’s palms are still pressed firmly against the surface of the door.
“What the fuck was that…” Ten whispers.
Yuta shrugs. “A… kiss?”
“WHYTHEFUCKDIDYOUJUSTKISSME?” Ten wheezes out in one breath.
Yuta shakes his head. “Irrelevant. Did you like it?”
Ten blinks slowly through the shock and confusion and tries to focus. Yuta’s lips were slightly chapped and as short as the sensation was, it felt…
“I… I think so?”
“Cool,” Yuta nods, snapping his fingers. “Dongyoung!” he yells. “He said he liked it!”
“Good!” Dongyoung yells back enthusiastically from somewhere else in the apartment. “Progress!”
They are so fucking weird.
Ten wants to move out. Or die. Maybe both.
“We’re not saying it proves anything,” Yuta says, turning back to Ten. “But, y’know, at least you know you’re not opposed, and this isn’t just one huge farce, right?”
Most. Useless. Person. Ever.
It’s been two weeks.
Ten feels at a loss.
He really doesn’t understand what was so wrong about everything he said the other day, and he doesn’t understand why Youngho can’t just explain why he’s mad in the first place. Ten hates the silence more than anything, because it’s been months since Youngho sauntered into his life and decided to make himself important, so much so that now, Ten feels absolutely thrown off by the sudden loss of what was such a constant presence in his life.
To make things worse, he has this whole sexual??? crisis??? THING, as he refers to it in his head, going on, and he still has no idea what the fuck he’s supposed to do about it, though he figures he ought to deal with it after he reconciles with Youngho and can maybe get some support from his so-called (honestly useless) best fucking friend.
When his shift at the coffee shop is over, he decides to take the first step, and stays behind an extra five minutes and prepares a grande half sweet, non-fat caramel macchiato with extra caramel drizzle and a medium swirl of whipped cream and caps it before scrawling “Sorry” across the surface of the cup in his messy handwriting.
It’s a Wednesday night, and usually, Wednesday nights are when he and Youngho play video games after work.
The walk back to his flat from the coffee shop usually takes about 5 minutes, but he detours and walks an extra ten to Youngho’s place.
It’s Jongin who answers the door. “Uh, hey Ten,” he says, eyeing the barista shiftily.
“Hey,” Ten nods. “Is Youngho in?”
“Um,” Jongin says dumbly.
“He’s not in!” Ten hears a muffled hiss from inside the apartment.
“He’s not in,” Jongin repeats quickly. “It’s just me and Sehun.”
Ten deflates a little. It’s pretty clear that he’s being lied to, but he doesn’t push it.
“That’s okay,” Ten concedes. “I just wanted to give him this,” he says, passing Jongin the cup he brought for Youngho. “I, um, haven’t seen him… in a while.”
Jongin’s grip tightens around the cardboard cup. “He’s not mad,” Jongin says quickly, lowering his voice to a whisper. “He’s just… He needs space… For reasons,” he says cryptically.
“What does that even mean?” Ten whispers back, frustrated.
Jongin sighs. “C’mon Ten… Just think about it carefully, yeah? You should get going. See you around,” Jongin says kind of sadly, and gives a small wave before slipping back into the apartment and shutting the door.
“You look miserable,” Ten hears as he trudges down the hallway leading to his apartment. It’s Jaehyun from across the hall.
“I am,” Ten confirms, nodding lifelessly. “I’m having a sexual crisis and a friendship crisis.”
Jaehyun nods in what Ten assumes is supposed to be a sympathetic way. “That blows, man. Anything I can do to help?”
Ten pauses. Jaehyun isn’t really his friend. They were in a foreign language elective class together before, and sometimes they walk to school together, but that’s…
What the hell, Ten figures, and surges forward.
Their noses bump and their teeth clack painfully.
“Sorry,” Ten mumbles as he retracts, cheeks flaming.
Jaehyun shrugs. “’S cool, dude. You can try again if you want. I don’t mind.”
This kiss is legions better than the first. It’s warm and slightly rough and Ten feels little tingles run up his arms as he pulls away.
He exhales harshly, slumping against the hallway wall.
“I think I’m sort of gay,” Ten says, still breathing hard from the kiss.
“Cool,” Jaehyun nods. “Want some pizza?”
After that kiss, Ten figures, it really can’t get any weirder. “Sure,” he agrees. He feels way less confused than he did five minutes ago. Pizza sounds like a good idea. Pizza is constant. Pizza will never let him down.
Youngho finally comes back to the coffee shop.
It’s weird. Ten doesn’t know what to do.
“Hi,” he says quietly when Youngho steps up to the till. “What can I get you?”
Youngho is silent for a while as he pretends to scan over the large menu on the wall, chewing on his bottom lip. He’s been in there so many times, Ten knows he’s memorised it already.
“Could I get a venti cup of forgiveness for being a terrible friend?” Youngho says, reaching back to rub at the nape of his neck nervously. “If that’s up for discussion?”
Ten swallows. His palms feel strangely clammy.
“That’s not on the menu today,” Ten replies shakily. “But I think I can sort it out if you wait about fifteen minutes.”
Youngho cracks a small smile. “I can wait,” he says and Ten nods, returning the smile.
Ten really does go to sit with Youngho after that, getting the new trainee to cover him while he uses his allotted half an hour break time.
“Hey,” Ten nods, pulling out the chair beside his friend.
“I really am sorry,” Youngho apologises the minute Ten sits down, prodding Ten’s fingers with his own.
The touch is… weird. Ten’s heart seizes in his chest as the rough pads of Youngho’s fingers bump against his own. Is that good weird? Ten doesn’t know. He draws in a deep breath, feeling suddenly like he’s on the verge of suffocation.
Ten looks up. Youngho’s fringe is falling into his eyes.
Ten gulps. Fuck.
“I brought cake. In case the verbal apology didn’t work and I had to resort to bribery…” Youngho pushes a small box towards Ten. It’s his favourite chocolate cake from this small bakery about half an hour away from campus.
Ten hazards another glance at Youngho, which about 2 seconds later proves to be a mistake because Youngho is staring at him all sincere and hopeful with the corners of his mouth spread wide and curved up slightly like he’s so proud he went to the far end of Seoul to get Ten some chocolate cake and Ten just…
Ten wants to kiss him.
His throat seizes up.
Is that… normal? Do people often feel like kissing their best friends? Ten doesn’t think Yuta frequently feels like kissing Taeyong. But Ten…
Ten really feels like kissing Youngho.
“DONGYOUNG,” Ten yells as he practically trips into their apartment.
There’s a crash and a loud thump as Yuta tumbles off the couch and onto the floor, jostling their coffee table.
“This better be important,” he growls, hair mussed and lips swollen. Dongyoung pulls him back up, blushing lightly.
“I don’t want to know,” Ten says quickly. “I really don’t want to know. Just… fucking disinfect the upholstery. I’m not sitting there,” he grimaces, settling into a spot to the left of the couch.
“What happened?” Dongyoung changes the subject.
Ten slouches. “I… Youngho came to the coffee shop today and bought me cake and his fringe is kind of long now, have you noticed? And like we sat down and talked for a while and it’s all okay now because he bought me cake but it’s also not okay because I think I want to kiss him a lot and I don’t think that’s normal but his fringe was long and I??? Don’t know??? Youngho???”
Dongyoung frowns concernedly while Yuta just shakes his head with an expression on his face that can only be interpreted to say, “I’m judging you so hard right now.”
“So… Do you like Youngho?” Dongyoung enquires patiently.
“I… Maybe? I don’t know?” Ten wonders if it’s too late to drop out of school and move to a quiet mountain range somewhere in Nepal where the pressures of modern society won’t haunt him. “Taeil sunbae asked if we were dating once… I…”
Ten stops to think. The idea of dating Youngho is…
‘You guys are practically married,’ Yuta had said.
“Oh my god…” Ten whispers.
“You are so dumb,” Yuta continues to shake his head.
Ten sighs dramatically. “Well, I’m sorry,” he glares. “Would you like to try maybe accidentally discovering that your sexual identity is a lie and then possibly developing feelings for your best friend all in the span of like two weeks?”
Yuta scowls. “You’re such a drama queen. Just ask him out, what’s the big deal?”
????? Ask him out????
“Are you insane?” Ten looks at his flatmate. “I can’t just ask him out.”
“Um, because, he probably doesn’t feel the same way and it’ll become weird and I’ll ruin our friendship forever and live the rest of my life in shame and regret?” Ten doesn’t know how Yuta is this useless.
“You are the dumbest person I know. And I watch anime. You should be ashamed.”
Dongyoung slaps his boyfriend on the back. Hard. Yuta crumples into the couch.
Ten loves Dongyoung. Dongyoung is the best, cutest, cuddliest, nicest friend ever, even if he has terrible taste and makes bad life choices (see: Nakamoto Yuta).
“Maybe you should just tell him how you feel,” Dongyoung suggests lightly.
Ten hates Dongyoung. Dongyoung is useless and gives terrible advice and knows nothing about how to life a dramatic life full of failure and humiliation that will keep the public interested.
Ten scoffs. “Weren’t you listening? That’s a terrible idea. It is literally the worst idea ever. No one understands me and my hardships.”
Ten ends up hanging out with Jaehyun from across the hall again and relating his new crisis to said neighbour.
“Look, man,” Jaehyun says, reaching for a piece of chicken. “If you tell him how you feel, and he wants to make out with you, too, then you win. If you tell him how you feel and he acts like a dick and wants to stop being your friend just because you’re hot for him, then you still win because, duh, he’s a dick and you should get rid of him, ‘cause he’s like, not worthy of being your friend. You feel?”
“You’re the most useful friend I have,” Ten tells Jaehyun sincerely.
Everything Jaehyun said makes perfect sense inside Ten’s brain. Like… he gets it.
Implementation, however, is a different story.
Ten just… hates confrontation. What is he supposed to do? Go up to Youngho and just… tell him?
“Hi I know the past few weeks have been weird but I realise that you’re important and I want to shove my tongue down your throat a lot and maybe hold your hand. You up for it?”
“Are you even listening to me?” Youngho waves his hand in front of Ten’s face. They’re sitting in the middle of the university cafeteria, having lunch before their next classes. “Hello?”
Ten flushes, eyes trained on the tabletop. “Sorry. Spaced out. What were you saying?”
Youngho shrugs. “We haven’t had game night in a while. Do you want to come over later after your shift at the coffee shop?”
See… Normally, Ten would say yes without even thinking about it. But right now, the thought of being alone with Youngho is kind of stressful because he doesn’t know what to even think anymore. Does he want to protect their friendship? Does he want to make out with Youngho until he dies from the lack of oxygen? He doesn’t really know.
“You can say no…” Youngho says softly.
Nope. Ten knows what the result of that is going to be. No need for a repeat of that situation.
“Are you kidding?” he feigns excitement. “It’s been ages since I destroyed you on Mortal Kombat. Of course I’ll be there.”
“Great,” Youngho grins. It’s a wide, super happy grin that makes his face scrunch up. He looks kind of weird but honestly, Ten can’t tear his eyes away from his teeth and the curve of his mouth and his scrunched up eyes and that small patch of stubble on the surface of his jaw that Youngho missed while shaving. It all kind of makes Ten want to shove his ice cream cone into his face.
“And just so you know, you’re going to lose,” Youngho declares.
Ten doesn’t even protest because Youngho, without even being aware of it, is totally right. In fact, Ten is pretty sure he’s already lost at something or other, because he is almost certain that he’s not supposed to feel this choked up at the sight of Youngho smiling or breathing or existing.
But he does.
Youngho shows up at the coffee shop just as Ten’s shift ends and they walk back to his place together, side by side on the street, shoulders brushing.
“Should we get Thai food?” Youngho asks, turning to Ten with another huge smile on his face. Ten wants to taste it. Or maybe punch himself. He isn’t sure at this point which would feel better.
They play video games seriously for about an hour, yelling and shoving at each other like they always do. Ten loses about a million times, after which he decides he can’t take the continued humiliation and they decide to watch a movie instead.
Youngho pauses the movie about forty minutes in to use the bathroom and Ten slouches against the couch, trying to tame the thousands of extremely high, hyperactive butterflies (they feel more like bees, to be honest) currently attack the inside of his stomach.
He hears Youngho’s footsteps padding against the floor as he makes his way back to the living room and then—
Then Ten maybe really wants to disappear or maybe die because Youngho, the clumsy idiot, slips and loses his balance and ends up falling forward towards the couch and right onto Ten, holy fuck.
Ten can’t bring himself to even take a breath as his arms shoot out to steady his friend’s fall. It’s extremely uncomfortable because Youngho is significantly taller than he is, and is bending in an awkward position, so it feels kind of stiff and squashed and Ten doesn’t really know why Youngho is staring at him instead of moving and he feels like he’s about to have a heart attack because he can’t stand looking at Youngho this close up.
“Hi,” Youngho breathes quietly. Warm puffs of breath fan out against Ten’s lips. Goosebumps break out all over his arms. It’s the closest they’ve ever been.
Ten swallows. “Hi,” he whispers back, but he doesn’t get to say anything else after that because on one hand, he’s pretty sure his heart is lodged somewhere in the middle of his throat, and on the other, Youngho has bent to rest his knees on the floor and leaned in to press their mouths together.
Youngho’s mouth is sweet from the pineapple he had before and the leftover chocolate cake they finished for dessert and Ten doesn’t even remember what breathing feels like, not when he’s putting all his effort into remembering what this feels like.
Youngho pulls away abruptly, face flaming, blinking rapidly as he waits for Ten to maybe punch him or push him away but Ten just shakes his head and grabs onto his shirt to pull him back in before he can do something dumb like apologise because this— this feels right.
Youngho’s hands move up to hold Ten’s face as he tries to find a better angle and Ten just stops trying to think coherently at all because the only words his brain can seem to generate are warm Youngho sweet Youngho and Youngho, a thousand times over.
Youngho is kissing him. Youngho is running his thumb across the apple of Ten’s cheek as they press together, hard and frantic. Ten almost can’t keep up with the combined feeling of Youngho’s chapped lips against his own; Youngho’s tongue in his mouth, Youngho’s heartbeat slamming against his chest where Ten has let his hand drop to for leverage as they kiss desperately, over and over.
Eventually, they break apart for air (Ten doesn’t really see why this was necessary?) and Youngho leans down to rest his forehead against Ten’s.
“Was that okay?” he asks quietly, trying to regulate his breathing.
Ten smiles. It feels like a completely stupid and ridiculous smile. It probably is, but it doesn’t really matter, considering how stupidly and ridiculously happy he feels.
“Yeah,” Ten mumbles. “As long as we get to do it again.”
Youngho laughs. Ten feels like a moron, but his first thought is how that’s probably his favourite sound ever. Disgusting.
“I think we can arrange that,” Youngho whispers back seriously.
They finish the movie after that, but not really, because the last hour is interrupted every now and again by one of them having to lean in and kiss the other, which is really gross and clichéd but probably not as gross and clichéd as how full Ten’s heart feels by the end of the night as he falls asleep on the couch with Youngho’s arms wrapped around his waist and Youngho’s slow breathing puffing out against his hair.
"I hate this new arrangement," Yuta grumbles as he watches Youngho and Ten do nauseating couple-y things like fight over who has to pay for the popcorn. "They're so gross. And we're going to be late for the movie."
Dongyoung smiles and links their arms together. "You've already seen it twice."
Yuta sulks. "Studio Ghibli is worth every $12 ticket," he says defiantly.
"Of course it is," Dongyoung nods seriously. "Come on," he says, tugging on Yuta's arm. "I'll buy you some M&Ms."
The older boy resists for about three seconds before he gives in and lets himself be pulled to the snacks counter.
"Thanks," he smiles, pressing a kiss to Dongyoung's cheek.
"Get a room," he hears from behind him. He scowls.
"Shut up," he grouses, pointing to the very obvious hickey on Ten's collarbone. "You guys are way worse. There are children here."
At least they have the decency to turn red.
"Let's go, already," Yuta urges, feeling victorious and wraps an arm 'round his boyfriend's shoulders as they walk towards the cinema together.
Ten shakes his head, but smiles when he feels Youngho thread their fingers together. "We'd better not keep him waiting. You know how sulky he gets when people are late for movies."
"He's so annoying," Ten rolls his eyes. "But then again, so are you, Dynamite."
Youngho laughs. "Whatever. You fell for me anyway."
Ten fake gags, but can't deny the redness spreading across his cheeks. "Lame," he coughs, trying not to grin.
Their fingers stay laced together throughout the whole movie. It's so cheesy Ten kind of wants to combust. But after the movie ends, they go back to Youngho's flat and Youngho presses him into the covers of his bed and peppers his face with butterfly kisses before they fall asleep, limbs tangled.
It's so painfully clichéd, but, Ten figures, it's never been more worth it.