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From: handsome soonyoung

> dude, u’re coming right? o( ╥﹏╥ )o

  

To: handsome soonyoung

i’m on my way. do you need anything? <

 

 

Wonwoo grabs the bag with Soonyoung’s present and checks himself in the mirror again.

He sighs tiredly, shaking his head at what he sees. The stupid glasses aren't making it any better but in the midst of all the stress caused by deadlines and exams, he didn't notice that he ran out of his daily contact lenses. He's practically blind without them so he doesn't really have another choice but stick to his glasses.

 

Wonwoo really shouldn’t go to that party.

It’s not like he doesn’t want to make his best friend happy by showing up. Honestly, Wonwoo would do anything to see Soonyoung smile, no matter how much the boy gets on his nerves at times. But Soonyoung's invited a lot of people from his university that Wonwoo hasn't met before and that makes him nervous to say the least.

Because Wonwoo’s just— Well, he’s Wonwoo.

He’s the guy that spent his entire summer break hidden in his apartment, reading a total of ten books within a week and watching every single season of Game of Thrones on a loop.

He’s not easy to get close to, simply because he’s so quiet and awkward and people tend to get scared off by his cool exterior. It’s gotten better since he started college but well, he’s still known as the awkward one whose jokes are bad enough to make you cry.

Meeting new people is the worst. It's mostly just them trying to make small talk and Wonwoo not knowing how to keep the conversation going and making things so awkward that the other person usually ends up leaving with a lame excuse like having to use the bathroom.

But Wonwoo has his group of friends and he thinks that’s enough. They accept him the way he is and assure him that he’s not as weird as Wonwoo thinks he is for not having had a girlfriend yet in his twenty-one years of life. Wonwoo isn’t as bothered by the fact, even if he knows that people react with strange looks when they hear about it.

It’s not like people are piling up to date him anyway.

 

From: handsome soonyoung
>
nah, just get your cute ass over here (¬
¬)

 

To: handsome soonyoung
i almost threw up <

 

From: handsome soonyoung
>
love you babe ★ ~( ◡﹏◕✿ )

 

Wonwoo snorts and puts his phone away.

He also makes a mental note to change Soonyoung’s contact name on his phone (Soonyoung saved it like that one time he came over to Wonwoo’s apartment and they got drunk on cheap wine and Wonwoo was too lazy to change it back).

 

There aren’t many people around yet by the time Wonwoo arrives at Soonyoung’s apartment.

Soonyoung pulls him into a tight hug once he steps inside. "Dude, you look amazing!"

Wonwoo just frowns at him, handing him the present while he shrugs out of his coat. "You’re not funny."

"I’m not joking! Your hair’s different! I like it." Soonyoung shakes the present once. "Are those socks?"

"You said you wanted socks—"

"No it’s great!" Soonyoung peels the wrapping paper off and basically looks like a child on Christmas Day going through all the different socks. He suddenly sits down on the floor, takes off his own socks (and throws them over his shoulders) and puts on the Iron Man ones Wonwoo got him. "Man, these are sick! Thank you so much." He pulls Wonwoo into another tight hug after scrambling back to his feet.

Wonwoo chuckles, awkwardly hugging him back. "It’s just socks."

"But they’re from you. I love them."

"I’m glad you like them." Wonwoo smiles at his best friend. Soonyoung grins and loops an arm over his shoulders, guiding him through the hallway to where the voices and music are coming from.

"Thank you for coming, Won. I know you hate parties, I’m sorry."

"No it’s fine. Of course I would come." Wonwoo feels a little less anxious with Soonyoung by his side but Soonyoung wouldn’t be his best friend if he didn’t notice his nervousness.

"Don’t worry. I didn’t invite a lot of people and you already know most of them anyway! Just have fun, okay?"

Wonwoo nods, lifting his eyes to meet the few faces that are already present. There are always new ones, especially since him and Soonyoung go to different colleges.

Seungkwan immediately clings to his arm and starts introducing him to the people he hasn’t met before. Seungkwan and him used to live in the same neighbourhood and after Soonyoung he’s probably Wonwoo’s closest friend, meaning that Seungkwan also knows about Wonwoo being a total moron when it comes to meeting people.

The first hour isn’t as bad as Wonwoo thought it would be. Seungkwan stays by his side most of the time because Soonyoung has to talk to his other friends but Wonwoo doesn’t mind. Seungkwan whispers details about every single person present into Wonwoo’s ears, things Wonwoo doesn’t even want to know (like who hooked up with whom last Friday, or which guy had his hand up Lisa’s skirt at Seokmin’s party the other day).

"Are you texting Hansol?" Wonwoo asks when Seungkwan stops talking to take a look at his phone.

"He should be coming soon." He nods his head, bringing his drink to his mouth. "Chan’s with him, don’t worry."

"I wasn't worried." Wonwoo mumbles which makes Seungkwan snort. Chan, his younger brother, is still in his last year of high school so Wonwoo doesn't feel all that great about him going to a college party but it's not like he can stop him. Chan and Hansol have been friends since they were in their nappies. Wherever Hansol goes, Chan follows and since Hansol shares some classes with Soonyoung, all of them kind of ended up forming an unintended kind of group that hangs out together most of the time.

Wonwoo looks around the room, squinting his eyes despite the help of his glasses because there’s a bit of smoke floating around the room and the lights are too dim. There are more people than he expected to be. There’s a group of people playing what looks to be truth or dare in the corner. There’s a girl and a boy dancing way too intimately behind the couch, the boy’s hand dangerously close to the space between her legs but it doesn’t look like she minds so Wonwoo quickly looks away.

Soonyoung is currently chatting with a cute girl at the entrance of the kitchen, and oh— Soonyoung likes her.

His eyes do the thing where they crinkle up so much from smiling that they almost disappear and that never happens with people who aren’t either his close friends or family.

Unless it’s a girl he likes.

"Yuna," Seungkwan whispers into his ear. "The girl he's talking to?" He adds when Wonwoo gives him a clueless look.

Wonwoo nods his head in understanding. "He never told me he was into someone."

"I don’t think he knows it himself." Seungkwan laughs. "But she likes him too, I can see that."

"She’s cute."

"Aren’t they all." Seungkwan sighs, leaning back against the couch. "I’m going to die alone at this rate."

"It’s your fault." Wonwoo laughs when Seungkwan tries to hit him. "Stop being so picky. It’s not like you don’t have any offers."

“Yeah, but I don’t want to settle for someone just cause I’m scared I might end up alone." Seungkwan rolls his eyes. "Why am I even talking to you about this? You have the emotional range of a teaspoon."

"Stop quoting Harry Potter. You’re not worthy."

"Oh, sorry. Forgot you had an intimate relationship with them books."

Wonwoo sighs and pushes himself away from the couch.

"Where are you going?" Seungkwan whines, clinging to his arm. "Don’t leave me alone."

"I’m going to grab another drink. Do you want one?"

Seungkwan pouts and nods his head. "I want a mojito."

"No." Wonwoo walks away, smirking when he hears Seungkwan shout after him. He passes Soonyoung to go into the kitchen and his friend gives him a nervous look, still talking to that Yuna girl, and Wonwoo gives him an encouraging smile. Honestly, if anyone deserves to be happy, it's Soonyoung. He's not been very lucky with his partners so far. They always either betrayed him in one way or another or were just straight up too evil for someone as kind-hearted as Soonyoung. He hopes it's different this time.

 

 

The kitchen is empty when he starts pouring himself and Seungkwan a drink, using some lemon juice and some kind of white liquor that he can’t identify because someone peeled the label off. It doesn’t taste bad so he figures Seungkwan won’t make too much of a fuss.

He turns around to walk out again and he’s not sure how or why it happens, but the guy standing in front of him suddenly turns around as well. Wonwoo succeeds in not spilling his own drinks but the guy in front of him is less successful because a second later, the front of Wonwoo’s shirt is drenched in what has to be beer.

"Fuck!" The guy in front of him curses. "Dude, I’m sorry."

Wonwoo tries not to groan at the state of his shirt, the fabric cold and wet against his skin and the smell of cheap beer tickling his nose. "It’s fine."

"No. Shit. You’re shirt’s totally soaked." The guy puts his now empty cup to the side.

Wonwoo looks up into the guy’s face, not recognizing him at first sight. He’s taller than Wonwoo. He’s more tan than Wonwoo. He’s definitely a lot better looking than Wonwoo.

"I’ll get you a new one."

"It's okay. It's just a shirt." Wonwoo shrugs. He gives the guy a brief smile and tries to sidestep him to get out of the kitchen but the guy suddenly blocks his way.

"I really feel horrible. Please let me at least help you dry that thing."

"Uhm. That’s nice of you but it’s really fine—"

"Then can I at least know your name?"

Wonwoo must look really stupid, staring at the guy like that, but he isn’t really sure what’s going on right now. "What?"

"Your name?" The guy tilts his head, a sudden glint in his eyes as they flicker over Wonwoo’s face.

"Why are you asking?"

The guy laughs a bit. "Is that such a weird thing to ask?"

"It’s Wonwoo,” He finally says.

"Wonwoo." The guy repeats and something about the way he says his name sends a shiver down Wonwoo’s spine. "I’m Mingyu."

Wonwoo clears his throat when Mingyu doesn’t do anything but look at him for a few seconds. "Nice to meet you."

"Likewise." Mingyu suddenly starts smiling and before Wonwoo does something embarrassing, he gives this Mingyu dude one last smile before rushing out of the kitchen.

Mingyu turns to look over his shoulder to stare at Wonwoo’s retreating back, a strange look on his face that Wonwoo misses in his haste to get out of the situation.

"What the hell took you so long?" Seungkwan groans, still sitting in the same position Wonwoo left him in. "And what the fuck happened to your shirt? Oh my god, you didn’t throw up did you—"

"Just take your damn drink." Wonwoo grunts, pushing Seungkwan’s drink into his hand before he slides down to sit beside him, taking a big gulp from his own cup.

Seungkwan clicks his tongue at him, pulling a face after taking a sip from the drink. "This tastes like poison. You had one job—"

"Go get your own drink then." Wonwoo feels strangely out of breath and his heart is beating faster than normal too. What the hell? He knows he has his difficulties meeting new people but he never reacted like this before.

"Hey, Won. Are you okay? You look like you’re going to pass out." Seungkwan frowns at him, worry etched into his features. "Please don’t. I wouldn’t know what to do."

"I’m fine."

"You sure?"

Wonwoo suddenly hears Chan’s voice from somewhere. He looks up and finds him and Hansol greeting some of their friends. Seungkwan waves them over. Chan hugs Seungkwan and sits down next to Wonwoo, smiling at him.

It’s been a while since he last saw his brother, maybe even a month since college always keeps him so busy and his parents’ house is a two hours’ drive away from his apartment.

"Thank you for the DVD,” Chan says, reaching into his pocket to fish out a few bills. Wonwoo bought the new Captain America movie for Chan’s present for Soonyoung so that’s probably what his brother’s referring to. "How much was it?"

Wonwoo snorts and pushes his brothers’ hand away. "Keep it."

"But hyung—"

"Chan, you barely earn more than twenty bucks as it is. And it’s just a DVD."

Chan gives him an almost sad look but once Wonwoo starts glaring at him his little brother puts the money away. "Thank you, hyung."

"It’s nothing." Wonwoo nudges his shoulder. "Are you staying with Hansol?"

"Yeah. He’s going to drive me home tomorrow." Since Chan still lives with their parents almost two hours away from here, he usually only visits on the weekends so he can stay over at either Hansol’s or Wonwoo’s place.

"You know you can stay with me too."

Chan hesitates for a moment. "I know. But Hansol invited me. So."

Wonwoo knows that’s not the reason but he decides not to make a comment about it.

It’s quiet for a moment between them, Hansol and Seungkwan chatting animatedly next to them. "I missed you,” Chan quietly says.

Wonwoo automatically freezes at his brother’s words. He knows what he’s supposed to say right now. He missed Chan too, obviously he did.

"Would it kill you to admit that you missed me too?" Chan looks hurt and Wonwoo feels horrible. He feels like this a lot. Like the worst brother in the world.

Chan is the exact opposite of him, kind of like Soonyoung. Chan’s the better son, that much is definitely clear. And that’s not Wonwoo pitying himself; it’s simply a fact. Chan’s all smiles and positivity. He’s full of love, has a heart of gold, and always makes sure to tell the people around them how loved they are whereas Wonwoo is like a brick of stone compared to him.

"You know I did." Wonwoo mutters, swirling his drink around in the cup.

"Could’ve fooled me."

Wonwoo sighs, his eyes stinging from all the smoke in the room. "How are mom and dad?"

"You’d know if you’d bother to call them." Chan shakes his head, a bitter smile on his face.

"Chan—"

"Just leave it." His brother gets up and pushes his way through the crowd and by the time Wonwoo is standing to follow him, he’s already lost all sight of him.

Great. They barely sat together for a minute and Wonwoo already managed to fuck things up again.

It should be obvious by now, that Jeon Wonwoo is kind of a big fuck up when it comes to dealing with people.

 

He always tends to get more thoughtful when he’s drunk or upset. Maybe that’s why, a few minutes later, Wonwoo is climbing through the window in Soonyoung’s bedroom to sit on the fire escape there. Soonyoung and him always come out to sit here - no matter how cold it is - when either of them is having a hard time.

It’s something like their safe place when things in life get too much, when they just need to have a talk with each other.

Wonwoo would really like for Soonyoung to be here with him right now. He's not sure if it's the alcohol or Chan's behavior towards him, or maybe he just misses his parents, but he feels upset and he really just wants to go home.

Somehow he ends up holding his phone in his hand and somehow he ends up pressing the call button for home.

He doesn’t think about how late it is. Last time he checked it was only something past nine.

"Wonwoo?"

It’s his dad’s voice.

"Hey."

"Is everything okay?"

I missed you … That’s what Wonwoo wants to say. It's what a child should say after not seeing their parents for a long time, but Wonwoo can't.

"Yeah. I’m sorry for calling so late. I just— I wanted to check up on mom. I haven’t called in a while."

"I see. She's fine." His dad clears his throat.

Him and Wonwoo have always been more awkward with each other. Once Wonwoo left for college they finally had an excuse for not talking to each other more than absolutely necessary.

His dad's always been looking for a reason to cut ties with him anyway.

"Chan said you’d be at the party too. Did he arrive safely?"

It shouldn’t hurt, not at all, that his dad wants to know if his little brother is fine. Wonwoo understands. But it still hurts.

"He’s here. He’s fine."

"Good. Make sure he doesn’t drink anything."

"Yeah."

"Are you sure everything’s fine?"

"Yeah." Wonwoo gulps, feeling a sudden lump in his throat. "Is mom there?"

"She’s already asleep. I’ll tell her you called."

"Okay."

"Is that all?"

Wonwoo gulps again, his eyes welling with stupid tears. "Yes. Goodnight, dad."

His dad doesn’t respond for a moment, like he isn’t sure what to say and Wonwoo hears him sigh deeply. "Take care of yourself. Don’t make your mother worry too much, will you?"

"Okay."

"Goodnight."

Wonwoo hangs up, huffing angrily as he wipes at his wet cheeks. "Fuck."

He knows something has to change. He knows it’s stupid for him and his parents to be so distant for seemingly no reason but he honestly has no idea how to fix it; doesn’t know where to even begin.

He knows everything is his fault but he doesn't know what exactly he did wrong except simply being the way he is.

Or you know, existing.

Wonwoo takes a sip from his bitter drink, shivers when a gust of wind hits him, the wet spots on his shirt feeling like ice on his skin. He wants to go home, but he can’t. Not before making sure his brother doesn’t do anything stupid in his absence.

It’s not that he doesn’t trust Soonyoung or the others but he knows they’re all fairly drunk themselves and no one wants to play babysitter at a party like this.

The fire escape rattles a bit and Wonwoo turns around to look who decided to come out here. He’s surprised to see that it’s the guy from the kitchen. Mingyu, right?

"Uhm." Mingyu blinks down at him, looking surprised as well. "I swear I didn’t follow you."

"Okay." Wonwoo answers.

"What are you doing here?" Mingyu asks.

"Sitting." Wonwoo realizes that his answer might come across as rude so he decides to ask Mingyu the same thing.

"The smoke in there is getting to my head,” Mingyu answers. "But I can look for another spot if I’m bothering you."

"No." Wonwoo doesn’t know why he shakes his head or why he doesn’t go back inside. He wanted to be alone so he shouldn’t be fine with a stranger suddenly keeping him company. "You can sit here if you want."

And Mingyu does. He sits down with a respectful amount of space between their legs, now holding a bottle of beer in his hands. He notices Wonwoo’s eyes on it and shrugs his shoulders. "Bottles don’t spill as easily."

Wonwoo looks up into his eyes and smiles a bit, feeling slightly flustered when Mingyu smiles back twice as brightly.

"Your shirt’s still wet."

"It’s fine."

"You shouldn’t be sitting out here though. Might get sick."

Wonwoo shrugs and stares at the brick wall in front of them. It would’ve been nice to see some city lights or something but the sad truth is that they’re facing another ugly apartment complex.

"Do you want me to shut up?" Mingyu asks next.

"What?"

"You’re kind of being really quiet."

"I don’t talk a lot,” Wonwoo answers, suddenly reminded of his talk with his dad. He feels like crying again but he’s not about to do that in front of a stranger. "It’s nothing against you."

"I see." Mingyu hums, nodding his head. Wonwoo finally looks up to face him again, not really understanding what a guy like Mingyu is doing here with him. But like Mingyu said, he probably just came out here to get some fresh air. He probably felt annoyed when he saw that Wonwoo was already sitting here and now he's trying to make small talk and Wonwoo, once again, is making things incredibly difficult. "So, how do you know Soonyoung?"

"We met back in middle school."

"Wow, really? That’s a long time." Mingyu looks genuinely impressed, almost a bit like a child, and it should look weird on a grown man’s face but it kind of looks… cute.

Wonwoo feels himself blush so he quickly tries to come up with something to say. "What about you?"

"Ah, I actually don’t know him that well." Mingyu chuckles a bit awkwardly. "I kind of met him through Minghao since they used to be roommates and all. And Minghao and I are something like, best friends, I guess."

"You guess?"

"We only met a few months ago. But he said we’re best friends? Or maybe he didn’t mean to say that, actually. His Korean still isn’t that great…" Mingyu trails off, suddenly looking really concerned and Wonwoo can’t stop himself from laughing. Mingyu turns to look at him, the concerned look fading for something close to a smile.

Wonwoo stops laughing when he notices how Mingyu is staring at him. He immediately stops, clearing his throat. "Sorry."

"What are you saying sorry for?"

"Don’t know." Wonwoo shrugs. "For laughing."

Mingyu blinks at him and some of his gelled up hair comes loose at the next gust of wind. It’s unfair, how it only makes him look more attractive when Wonwoo could spend hours in front of the mirror to fix his hair and end up looking not even half as good as this guy. "You look cute when you laugh." Mingyu suddenly says, making Wonwoo’s stomach do an uncomfortable flip.

"Uhm."

"No, wait—" Mingyu licks his lips, shaking his head. "I’m not, like, hitting on you."

"I didn’t think that."

“But you do have a nice smile."

"What?"

"What's so hard to understand about that? Your smile. It's really pretty."

Wonwoo just stares at Mingyu, not really knowing what to say. "No one's told me that before."

"What?" Mingyu raises his eyebrows. "Are you serious?"

Wonwoo shrugs, his eyes awkwardly shifting around as he tries to figure out how he’s supposed to react to a compliment like that.

"You’ll just have to take my word for it then." Mingyu gulps down the rest of his beer and Wonwoo tries not to stare at the way his Adam’s apple bobs with every gulp but it’s almost impossible not to.

"Why were you crying?" Mingyu suddenly asks.

Wonwoo gapes a little at the question. He didn’t think Mingyu saw that. "I wasn’t."

"You were wiping your eyes when I came."

"I always tear up when it’s cold outside."

"Your eyes are red."

"What's it to you?" Wonwoo asks, feeling irritated.

"Nothing." Mingyu shrugs. "I thought maybe you’d want to talk about it."

"Well, I don’t." Wonwoo didn’t mean to snap but he suddenly feels like his emotions are controlling him when it’s usually the other way around. His heart is racing and all he can think about is how much of a complete disappointment he is to his family.

Even his little brother who used to admire Wonwoo so much when they were younger thinks of him as a lost cause and it hurts because Wonwoo doesn’t think he’s ever done anything specifically for everything to turn out like this yet there’s no one else to blame but himself.

"Dude— wait, why are you crying again?" Mingyu sounds and looks like he has no idea what to do. "Look, I’m sorry. I’ll leave you alone, shit, I didn’t mean to make you cry—"

"I’m not crying because of you.” Wonwoo huffs. He shouldn’t have had so many drinks. He always gets overly emotional when he’s drunk. Usually that’s not such a problem. Soonyoung and him just end up crying together anyway. But this is a stranger and Wonwoo's never like this in front of strangers.

"Then why…?"

"I’m just being stupid." He angrily wipes the new tears from his cheeks but his nose hurts from prickling so much, which in return makes new tears well up in his eyes. He’s suddenly thinking about the time everyone back at home threw a party for his mom and how sad his mom sounded because not only did Wonwoo not show up for it but he also completely forgot about his mother’s birthday; two years in a row. Or how he missed Chan’s first dance solo at a talent show.

Or how he didn’t even know his dad had a heart attack until three months later because no one wanted to worry Wonwoo and he didn’t bother calling to check up on them as much as he should’ve.

"I’m a bad son."

"What?"

"I'm a bad son." Wonwoo mumbles, his voice coming out all wobbly and he just bursts into tears again. He turns to face away from Mingyu, not wanting to look like a crybaby in front of him as he wills himself to stop shedding more tears. It's not like things are going to get fixed by crying over them.

"Hey…" He hears Mingyu’s soft voice behind him. "Look, I don’t know what happened and all but I’m sure you’re not a bad son."

Wonwoo doesn’t bother protesting. He just shakes his head, chin wobbling as he stares at the ground several feet below them.

"Do you want me to get Soonyoung?"

"No!" Wonwoo turns to look at Mingyu over his shoulder, momentarily startled by the worried expression on his face. Mingyu probably just feels sorry for him. "Don’t tell him, please. I’ll be fine. I just need a minute."

"If you say so." Mingyu sighs, his eyes never leaving Wonwoo’s blotchy face. Wonwoo turns back around and pulls his legs closer to his body, hugging his knees to his chest. "Do you want me to tell you a story?"

"I think you should go back inside." Wonwoo sniffs a bit.

"Why?"

"Why are you still here?" Wonwoo asks, pressing his face against his knees.

"I can’t just leave someone alone when they’re upset." Mingyu mumbles. "And I still feel bad about doing that to your shirt. So consider this me trying to make it up to you."

Wonwoo bites down on his bottom lip, not really knowing what he’s supposed to say anymore and after a beat of silence Mingyu starts talking.

And Wonwoo just listens.

Mingyu tells him about his childhood, about the silly things he did and how he always got himself and his friends into trouble. He tells him about stupid things that happened in high school because even then, Mingyu was still a troublemaker that all the teachers wanted to hate but no one could because he was too charming and good-looking (those were Mingyu's words).

 

While he listens to Mingyu’s admittedly soothing voice, he stops crying and even cracks a smile here and there. His back is still facing Mingyu when the latter stops talking after what seems like hours. Wonwoo didn’t think it was going to work but he feels a little better now, the heavy feeling on his chest having disappeared as well as the lump clogging up his throat.

He clears his throat, wiping the remaining wetness from his cheeks. "Thank you."

"Do you feel better?" Mingyu carefully asks. Wonwoo shuffles to turn around, looking up at the boy for a moment.

"I do."

"Good." Mingyu gives him a toothy smile. Wonwoo's eyes are drawn to his pearly white teeth automatically.

"Your teeth look weird,” He blurts.

Mingyu’s smile falters for a second. He reaches up to his mouth. "Really?"

"Your canines are too long. Are they like… medically okay? And your front tooth is a bit crooked. There are invisible braces these days, you know, if you're worried about your handsome face." Wonwoo honestly doesn’t mean to come across as an asshole but alcohol makes him do and say things he normally never would.

But to his luck, Mingyu doesn’t seem to be an easily offended person because he just shrugs his shoulders, smiling that much wider at Wonwoo. "But I'm still handsome, right?"

Wonwoo shrugs, huffing slightly. "You look okay, I guess."

"Just okay?"

"What?"

“Don't you think I’m handsome?"

The question catches Wonwoo off guard. His eyes flicker over Mingyu's features, his intense eyes, the shape of his dark eyebrows, the gentle slope of his nose. He has full lips and a sharp jawline. To be honest, Mingyu has got to be one of the most good-looking people Wonwoo's ever met. But he can't say that out loud without making a fool of himself.

"You’re asking me like you don’t already know." Wonwoo snorts, fiddling with the hem of his shirt.

"But I don’t."

"The girls in there couldn’t keep their eyes off of you."

Mingyu blinks at him. "Maybe. I’m asking for your opinion though."

"Why do you care about my opinion?"

"Why do you question everything?" Mingyu asks back. "Can’t you just answer?"

Wonwoo feels himself shrink at the question. Mingyu doesn’t sound angry or annoyed but he manages to make Wonwoo like shit anyway. He knows he can be annoying as hell with his constant questions but it’s not really something he can control.

Before he can open his mouth to answer, the fire escape rattles once again, a guy cursing as he steps out of the window to join them. Mingyu and Wonwoo both turn around to look who it is.

"Here you are,” The guy groans, looking at Mingyu. Wonwoo doesn’t recognize him. "Dude, we’ve been looking for you everywhere. What the hell are you doing here?" His eyes flicker to Wonwoo. He looks Wonwoo up and down once, something like a scowl appearing on his face. "Made a new friend?"

He makes it sound like a joke. Like the thought of Mingyu befriending someone like Wonwoo is funny. Wonwoo tries not to feel hurt by it.

"Shut up, Hyungwon." Mingyu sighs, his eyes flickering to Wonwoo as if to check that he’s okay. "What do you want?"

"Come back inside!" Mingyu’s friend rolls his eyes. "Yuna wants to introduce you to her friend. You know, the hot one with the legs we saw at the party last weekend—"

"I’m kind of busy."

"Busy?" The guy scrunches his eyebrows up, looking between Mingyu and Wonwoo. "With what? Him?"

It could’ve easily been an insult, because it sure as hell sounded like one. The way the guy is looking at Wonwoo definitely speaks for itself.

Wonwoo gulps and quietly stands up. He doesn’t speak another word as he pushes past Mingyu’s friend, carefully climbing back inside.

"You’re a fucking asshole, you know that?" He hears Mingyu say but he doesn’t stop to listen any further.

 

Wonwoo walks into the kitchen and refills his cup with whatever liquor that’s still around. It tastes awful and makes him want to puke on the spot but he doesn’t really care anymore.

There are even more people around now and he has to push his way through them to get to the couch where he last saw Seungkwan. Some of them give Wonwoo annoyed glares and one guy laughs when he bumps into Wonwoo and nearly makes his glasses slip from his face.

Seungkwan is not sitting on the couch anymore, but Hansol is, chatting to a girl but he immediately waves Wonwoo over when he spots him. Wonwoo shakes his head, not wanting to interrupt them but Hansol just stands up and grips his wrist.

"Hyung, where have you been? Seungkwan just went to look for you."

"I was getting some fresh air."

"Oh. Okay. Are you fine?" Hansol tilts his head.

"Yeah, of course." He gives the younger a smile, turning his head trying to spot Chan in the mass of people.

"Are you looking for Chan?" Hansol asks. "He just went to the bathroom. He didn’t drink anything, don’t worry."

"Thanks for looking out for him." Wonwoo gives Hansol another smile but it must be a sad one because Hansol’s face falls a bit. He reaches out and squeezes Wonwoo’s shoulder.

"Hyung. Chan isn’t mad at you. You know how sensitive he is. He’ll come around."

Wonwoo gives Hansol one last thankful smile, reaching out to pat the boy’s shoulder. "Don’t drink too much."

"I won’t." Hansol smiles brightly at him and Wonwoo gives him a push.

"It’s not nice to keep ladies waiting, you know." He tilts his head towards the pretty girl on the couch who gives Wonwoo a shy smile when their eyes meet.

Hansol laughs, rolling his eyes. "Sorry, I forgot you were the dating expert here."

Wonwoo is about to hit him upside the head but Hansol ducks away, cackling loudly as he walks back to the couch to join the girl. Wonwoo smiles a bit and turns around, deciding to try and find Seungkwan.

It doesn’t take too long, because he finds Seungkwan in front of the TV, playing karaoke with a few other people. He’s singing so loudly he’s almost overpowering the music blasting through the entire apartment. Wonwoo snorts. Seungkwan has the attention span of a goldfish. He probably got distracted on his way to find Wonwoo.

"Wonwoo!" Someone throws an arm around his shoulders, pulling him into their body and when Wonwoo turns to glare at them he sees that it’s his very drunk best friend. Soonyoung’s face is flushed but he looks so extremely happy that Wonwoo doesn’t even have it in him to tell him off for already being this drunk. "I missed you. Thought you went home. Don’t go home."

"Why are you already so drunk?"

"I’m not drunk." Soonyoung leans closer to whisper into his ear, Wonwoo hunching his shoulders up because he’s too sensitive around his ears and neck. "I’m. In. Love."

"Is that so?" Wonwoo chuckles, pushing Soonyoung away from him. "Let me guess. Yuna?"

"How did you know?!" His best friend gasps. "Fuck, Won. She’s the love of my life. I gotta marry her. She’s the one."

"Does she feel that way too?"

"I don’t think so." Soonyoung’s face falls all of a sudden. "She’s too pretty for me. She’s rich and intelligent and so pretty. Won, I’m depressed." He stops to let out a quick burp. "I’m in love with her."

"I’m sure she likes you too." Wonwoo rolls his eyes, awkwardly patting Soonyoung’s back. "Why aren’t you with her?"

"She’s talking to Mingyu."

Wonwoo freezes at the name. "Mingyu?"

"Yeah. He’s Minghao’s bestie. He’s also Yuna’s cousin or something. You haven’t met him yet?"

"I—"

"Come on. I’ll introduce you. Gives me an excuse to talk to Yuna again."

"No, wait you idiot—" But Soonyoung already has a death grip on Wonwoo’s arm, forcefully dragging him through the living room towards the hallway. They pass a guy who looks like he’s about to puke.

"Don’t even think about throwing up here Jun I’ll fucking come after your ass." Soonyoung mutters groggily, whistling when he sees Seokmin making out with a girl on the other side.

"Soonyoung, I already know—"

But it’s too late because they’re suddenly standing in front of Mingyu and Yuna who are both leaning against the wall, stopping whatever they were saying to look up at them.

Yuna stares at Soonyoung and Mingyu stares at Wonwoo and vice versa.

"Sorry for interrupting but Wonwoo really wanted to meet Mingyu." Soonyoung grins at them.

Wonwoo’s entire face is on fire. He’s sure of it. He can’t even meet Mingyu’s eyes anymore. Said boy is still quietly staring at Wonwoo.

"We already met,” Wonwoo finally manages to grit out.

"Oh, my bad." Soonyoung doesn’t sound sorry at all. He’s still staring at Yuna like the girl hung the moon and stars. At least Yuna smiles back at him, her cheeks slightly flushed so Wonwoo guesses Seungkwan was right about the attraction being mutual. "But you haven’t met Yuna, right? Yuna, this is my best friend Wonwoo."

They quickly shake hands and Wonwoo finds that Yuna has a really sweet voice and she’s even prettier up close.

"Hey, Gyu. Can you keep Wonwoo a bit company?" Soonyoung asks. He’s trying really hard to act sober in front of Yuna, that much is clear. "He’s a bit shy."

Wonwoo grits his teeth together, one second away from dumping what's left of his drink over his best friend’s head.

"Sure." Mingyu smiles. Before Wonwoo can even protest Mingyu pushes away from the wall, looping his arm over Wonwoo’s shoulders like they haven’t only known each other for less than an hour. He walks into the kitchen and starts pouring two drinks, handing Wonwoo one after he’s done.

“Thanks," Wonwoo mumbles. He feels way too awkward, especially with several people looking at Mingyu and thus automatically looking at Wonwoo with confused expressions. He quickly gulps down the whole content of the cup, pulling a face at the strong taste.

Mingyu lets out an amused laugh. "You should slow down."

But Wonwoo doesn’t want to slow down. He wants to get drunk. Well, drunker than he already is. "Can you give me another one?"

"I actually think you’ve had enough—" Mingyu starts but Wonwoo just pushes him aside and pours the drink himself. He takes the cup and is about to leave the kitchen but Mingyu suddenly grips his arm.

"Where are you going?"

"Somewhere else."

"Soonyoung told me to keep you company."

Wonwoo frowns at him. "Soonyoung just said that so he can be alone with Yuna. You don’t have to stick with me."

"Well. Maybe I want to." Mingyu shrugs, taking a sip from his drink. Someone shouts Mingyu’s name. Mingyu looks up and waves at them, smirking a bit.

Wonwoo rolls his eyes. "Do whatever you want." He walks away, aware that Mingyu actually is following him. He wants to go back to the fire escape but he figures it’s too cold for that now so he walks down the hallway, hoping that the seat on the window sill isn’t occupied.

He sits down, ignoring the couple making out almost right next to it.

He doesn’t expect to see Mingyu sit down on the other side. He looks up with a slight frown. The seat isn’t big enough for the both of them but Mingyu still sits down, forcing Wonwoo to pull his knees to his chest. "You really don’t have to stay with me."

"I already told you I want to." Mingyu sighs, watching Wonwoo as he gulps down his drink in frustration. His vision starts swimming. That was definitely one drink too much.

"You’re weird,” Wonwoo blurts after both of them look at each other for a while.

"You know, if I were someone else I’d be hurt by now. First my teeth and now you’re insulting me as a whole?"

Wonwoo shrugs. "You’re obviously here with your friends. They’re probably looking for you."

"Nah. They can survive a night without me." Mingyu stares at Wonwoo who does everything to avoid his eyes. "I’m starting to think you really don’t like me."

Wonwoo finally looks up at him again. "I didn’t say that."

"So you like me?" Mingyu starts grinning.

"I didn’t say that either."

This makes Mingyu chuckle. It's quiet between them for a while. He hears someone scream and it sounds a lot like Seungkwan. He hopes the guy isn't doing anything too crazy. He's known to lose all sense of self-control when he's drunk. "Hey," Mingyu speaks up again.

Wonwoo looks at him to show him that he’s listening.

"I'm sorry for earlier," Mingyu says. "My friend's a bit of a douchebag when he's drunk."

 

"It’s fine."

"No it’s not." Mingyu sighs. "I know you were upset. Don’t try to deny it."

Wonwoo shrugs. He leans his head back because everything’s spinning all of a sudden.

"Are you okay?"

"Mhm."

"I think you had too much to drink."

"I think you talk too much."

"Wonwoo." Mingyu mumbles, quietly, and Wonwoo feels his neck prickle, hearing Mingyu say his name like that. "Stop ignoring me. I’m a nice person, you know."

Wonwoo smiles a bit. "I never said you weren’t a nice person."

"Then why are you like this?"

Wonwoo blinks his eyes open, chuckling softly when he sees the pout on Mingyu’s face. "Like what?"

"I don't know. Cold, I guess."

Cold. That's a good way to describe Wonwoo. His mom always used to call him cold-hearted when he pulled away when she tried to kiss him. "That's nothing personal. It's just how I am."

 

Unfortunately.

He's not sure how long they sit there in silence, with Mingyu quietly studying his face and Wonwoo getting more and more drunk with every passing second as the alcohol starts to affect his system.

"Mingyu! Dude, get your ass over here!" It's the same guy from before. Wonwoo turns his head away to look out of the window. Mingyu shifts in front of him, his knee moving until it's pressed against Wonwoo's foot. It makes Wonwoo freeze but at the same time, he finds that he… almost likes the touch.

"I’ll be there in a minute." Mingyu calls back. Wonwoo thinks he doesn’t actually want Mingyu to leave. He groans a bit. Too many thoughts and too many sensations right now. Mingyu needs to get away. "Wonwoo, you really don’t look too good. I’ll get Soonyoung—"

“No," Wonwoo mumbles. God, his level of intoxication just went from zero to hundred real quick. He shouldn’t have had four drinks in the span of half an hour. Nope. Stupid Wonwoo. Stupid.

Mingyu leans closer, his hand suddenly on Wonwoo’s arm "You’re so drunk."

"I know." Wonwoo smiles like an idiot and Mingyu smiles back softly.

"Come on." Mingyu grips Wonwoo’s shoulders and pulls him away from the wall.

"What are you doing?"

"You need to lie down somewhere,” Mingyu answers. He helps Wonwoo stand up and quickly wraps an arm around Wonwoo’s waist when he almost trips over his feet. "Woah, you okay?"

"I’m drunk,” Wonwoo mumbles groggily.

"Yeah, I think we’ve both established that." Mingyu snorts. He starts walking and Wonwoo thinks he’s walking too. He’s not sure. He’s just doing what Mingyu’s arm around his waist is telling him to do.

He doesn’t really understand what’s going on. One moment he’s walking through the crowded hallway, people laughing and screaming and the music blasting through the room way too loud and the next moment his back hits something soft, his legs being moved until his entire body is resting on something that must be a bed.

Wonwoo blinks his eyes open in the darkness, sees that Mingyu is leaving. "Where are you going?"

"I’m getting you some water." Mingyu is gone after that and Wonwoo is left alone with his pounding head and a sick feeling in his stomach. He’s in Soonyoung’s bedroom. He really hopes no one hooked up on his bed before because that’d be slightly disgusting.

"Here." Mingyu’s voice makes Wonwoo jump when the boy returns a minute later. Wonwoo sits up and drinks the water Mingyu hands him. "You should sleep now."

Wonwoo nods and lies back down. Mingyu is about to leave again. Wonwoo really doesn’t want him to leave.

"Don’t leave."

Mingyu stops at the door, turning to look at Wonwoo. "What?"

Wonwoo blinks at him, reaching his hand out. "Stay here."

The other boy stays at the door, silently staring at Wonwoo. "Are you sure?"

And Wonwoo is too drunk to even think about how is invitation might come across even if it’s definitely not meant to be like that. This is yet another fact people should know about Wonwoo; he doesn’t only get emotional when he’s drunk, he also turns into the exact opposite of sober Wonwoo.

He’s clingy as fuck. As Seungkwan likes to put it.

Drunk Wonwoo pats the empty space beside him on the bed until Mingyu finally moves. The bed dips beside him when Mingyu sits down, careful to leave a considerate amount of space between their bodies.

"Lie down with me,” Wonwoo mumbles.

Mingyu frowns down at him. "Wonwoo…"

"You don’t want to." He reaches up to rub at his eyes under his glasses. They’re burning really bad. He forgot to use eye drops today. "Okay."

"No!" Mingyu hastily whispers, his face falling. He must think that Wonwoo’s crying again when he rubs at his eyes like that because there are suddenly fingers curling around Wonwoo’s wrists, pulling his hands away from his face. "Don’t cry. Please."

"I’m not,” Wonwoo mumbles, fixing his glasses. "My eyes hurt."

"Oh." The other boy still doesn’t let go of Wonwoo’s wrists. Wonwoo looks down at them. Mingyu’s fingers easily wrap almost all the way around it.

Mingyu follows his gaze and suddenly his thumb rubs over the prominent bone at the back of his wrist. "You’re really skinny."

"It’s hard for me to gain weight." Wonwoo’s starting to slur. His tongue feels a bit heavy and he doesn’t feel like talking all that much. He wants to sleep. "You can just go. Fuck. I’m sorry.”

Mingyu keeps staring at him, keeps rubbing his thumb over Wonwoo’s skin gently. The touch feels nice.

The boy sighs and Wonwoo closes his eyes for a second and when he opens them again Mingyu is beside him, lying on his back, facing the ceiling. Wonwoo slowly turns his head too, his eyes focusing on the cracks on Soonyoung’s ceiling.

Mingyu’s hand is still on Wonwoo’s wrist. He really wants to know what Mingyu’s doing. Why would a guy like him voluntarily touch Wonwoo, let alone lie in the same bed as him? It doesn’t really make much sense.

"Did Soonyoung pay you?"

Mingyu turns his head to face Wonwoo, a frown etched into his features. "Pay me? For what?"

"To look out for me tonight."

"What?" Mingyu laughs but when Wonwoo turns his head to the side, meeting Mingyu’s gaze, he stops laughing because he notices that Wonwoo’s question was meant to be serious. "You’re being serious."

"Yes."

"Of course he didn’t pay me." Mingyu sighs. "I hope that’s the alcohol speaking. Otherwise I would be mad."

"No. Don’t be mad. It wouldn’t suit you." Wonwoo mumbles, his eyes almost slipping shut.

"What suits me, then?"

"This." Wonwoo shrugs. "Being nice. And smiling. With your teeth."

Mingyu grins at him. "Do you have a thing for teeth?"

"No. Just yours." There’s no brain to mouth filter present anymore, that much is clear. Sober Wonwoo wouldn’t have ever said that.

Mingyu’s grin slowly fades but his eyes never leave Wonwoo’s. "Can I tell you something?"

"Mhm."

"I lied to you. Outside."

"About what?" Wonwoo blinks slowly. Someone outside screams again but this time Wonwoo has a hard time telling if it’s Seungkwan or not.

"I— Uhm. I actually was hitting on you."

"What?" Wonwoo can’t make sense of the words.

"Do you know what that means?" Mingyu looks confused, and slightly scared. "To hit on someone?"

And that somehow makes Wonwoo angry. "I do know what that means. Don’t get fooled by the nerdy glasses."

Mingyu shakes his head. "No! You just— you looked so confused. Ugh, Wonwoo. I didn’t think that, okay? Your glasses are great."

Their hands are only inches apart on the comforter, knuckles almost grazing. Okay, but, what is happening? Wonwoo frowns at the boy beside him, the eye contact too intimate all of a sudden. "Is this a dare?"

"What?" Mingyu makes a disapproving sound. "What are you talking about?"

"I don’t know." Wonwoo shrugs. "You’re telling me you were hitting on me— what am I supposed to think?"

"Just that." Mingyu looks almost frustrated now. "Why do you think I have some kind of agenda?"

Wonwoo doesn’t answer, because he has no answer to that and they stay silent for a while, Wonwoo trying to wrap his mind around the fact that maybe - just maybe - a human being might actually have interest in him.

"Are you gay?"

"I don't think so,” Mingyu answers, sounding like the question caught him slightly off guard. "I don't really care if someone's a girl or a boy."

"So you’re what…?"

"I don’t know. I’m Mingyu."

"You’re weird."

"You already said that." Mingyu starts grinning again and something really strange happens; Wonwoo’s chest starts feeling tight, the heart underneath fluttering when he notices how Mingyu’s eyes almost disappear when he smiles.

And his teeth. Wonwoo himself has pretty nice teeth, straight and all. Mingyu's aren't perfect but they're just... they’re really cute? They’re cute. Oh man.

"I just…" Wonwoo starts. "I just really like your teeth."

Mingyu doesn’t even look taken aback at the statement. "Well, I mean. That’s a start, right?"

They both stare at each other for longer than Wonwoo deems appropriate, and he’s not sure if he should say something but Mingyu beats him to it anyway.

"Can I hold your hand?"

Wonwoo stops breathing for a moment. All he can think is that he's drunk, and that he's lying in a bed with a stranger.

A good-looking, popular kind of guy-stranger.

And the first thing he wants to do when Mingyu asks him this question no one has ever asked Wonwoo before is to open his mouth and ask why?

But he turns his head and looks Mingyu in the eyes, feeling slightly breathless because really, it’s not just his teeth Wonwoo feels drawn to.

"You want to hold my hand?"

Mingyu nods his head, a shy smile on his face. "Can I?"

"Uhm. Yeah. Suit yourself."

Once he said that, Mingyu’s tongue peeks out to run over his lips once, his eyes flickering over Wonwoo’s face as if to check if Wonwoo’s being serious. And then Wonwoo feels gentle fingers slip between his own.

Mingyu presses their palms together tightly and Wonwoo feels this excited kind of sick feeling in his stomach. Like hundreds of little bubbles are exploding inside of him. Either that or he’s about to throw up.

But his heart is pounding hard against his ribs, because he hasn’t ever held anyone’s hand like this.

It feels nice.

He takes another calming breath, and then Wonwoo curls his fingers to hold on to Mingyu's warm hand.

Mingyu doesn’t really move, but after a moment of hesitation, he starts rubbing his thumb over Wonwoo’s knuckles and Wonwoo feels his skin prickle all the way up to his elbow.

"Do you, like… want to date me?"

"W-What?" Mingyu freezes at Wonwoo's question, turning to give him a wide-eyed look. The boy looks positively scared for his life.

"What?" Wonwoo shrugs. "I’m just wondering why you wanted to hold my hand."

"Oh." Mingyu relaxes again and resumes with stroking the back of Wonwoo’s hand. Wonwoo really doesn’t want him to stop. "I just think you’re— you know. Kind of cute."

"Cute?"

Has anyone ever called him cute before? Wonwoo doesn’t think so.

Mingyu nods, his eyes flickering over Wonwoo’s face.

"I think you're the one who needs glasses." Wonwoo giggles like an idiot and Mingyu snorts at him, his eyes looking soft for some reason.

"So cute." Mingyu smiles.

Wonwoo lets his eyes roam over Mingyu’s face again. The way Mingyu’s eyes linger on Wonwoo’s lips for longer than appropriate shoots another thrill through his body, his stomach heating up pleasantly. He’s still pretty convinced this is all just some kind of prank. That any second a bunch of guys are going to storm into the room and laugh at him for even thinking that a person like Mingyu might be interested in a lowlife like Wonwoo.

"You're cute too. I guess." Wonwoo mumbles sleepily, squeezing Mingyu’s hand for emphasis.

"Thanks." Mingyu hums, his eyes sparkling from the light of the street lamp standing outside. "It’s a pity you’re so drunk."

"Why?"

"You probably won’t remember any of this tomorrow."

"Oh." Wonwoo thinks about this for a second before he nods his head. "Probably not."

"Yeah." Mingyu sounds slightly disappointed and Wonwoo doesn’t like that. He turns to lie on his side, their faces quite close like this.

"You’re like… ridiculously good looking." He sighs, slightly annoyed by the fact and it makes Mingyu smirk at him.

"I know."

"And a narcissist." Wonwoo adds.

Mingyu rolls his eyes and the way he’s still caressing Wonwoo’s skin turns a lot more gentle, almost affectionate and if Wonwoo were a cat, he’d be purring by now.

"Feels good,” Wonwoo whispers, eyes fluttering shut.

Mingyu brings their hands up until they’re resting between their torsos. "This?" He softly asks.

"Mhm. Don’t stop." Wonwoo shuffles a bit closer, feels Mingyu turn to his side as well which makes their knees press up against each other. He rests his head on his own arm which makes his glasses dig into his face uncomfortably but he’s almost asleep by now so he doesn’t care.

Wonwoo slowly blinks his eyes open when he feels Mingyu remove his glasses gently.

"No— I need them. Can’t see…"

"You’re going to sleep anyway,” Mingyu mumbles quietly.

"Please don't break them. They're expensive." Wonwoo shuffles even closer until he feels Mingyu's chin on his forehead. He knows this is too close. His skin feels really warm from the intimacy of all of this, but Mingyu smells so nice. He smells like… like some kind of fresh body wash, like coconut.

"I won’t break them." Mingyu shifts a bit and Wonwoo sighs contently when he feels an arm slowly wrapping around his waist, pulling him even closer until he’s all snuggled up against Mingyu’s chest. Mingyu is brushing his thumb over Wonwoo’s clothed back, and it’s like a mini massage and if everyone’s touches would feel as nice as Mingyu’s Wonwoo honestly wouldn’t mind skinship at all.

They’re cuddling. Wonwoo never cuddles, not even with Soonyoung (he lets himself be cuddled at most, because there’s no use in fighting his best friend. Soonyoung’s like a human puppy, needing physical affection all the time).

"Mingyu…"

"What?"

"You make me feel funny."

"I do?"

"Really funny." Wonwoo slurs, leaning into Mingyu’s warmth. He pulls their joined hands closer to his chest, pressing it against his sweater there. "Here."

"Your heart?"

"Mhm."

Mingyu is quiet after that but his arm tightens around Wonwoo’s waist, pulling him closer. "You should try to sleep."

Wonwoo hums again and the last thing he feels is Mingyu brushing his bangs out of his eyes.

 

 

When Wonwoo wakes up again, it’s already light outside and his head feels like it’s going to explode. He groans a bit, blinking his eyes to try and come to his senses. He sleepily looks to his side when he hears a loud snore.

And then, with every confused blink of his burning eyes, he starts to remember everything that happened.

Holy…shit.

Wonwoo sits up too fast, groaning when it shoots a stabbing pain through his temples.

Oh god, no.

Why was he like that? Why the hell did Wonwoo cling to that stranger like that?

 

He knows he’s clingy when he’s drunk but it’s only with his friends, or people he knows, not a complete stranger and not in a suggestive way like that.

Mingyu. His name was Mingyu.

And Mingyu called him cute and Wonwoo said all those things—

He suddenly feels like throwing up.

Wonwoo groans again, burying his face in his heads. He really wishes he was the type that forgets everything that happened the night before after getting drunk but sadly, that’s not the case.

"Stop groaning." A groggy voice complains and when looks down he’s almost relieved to find that the lump under the covers isn’t Mingyu but Soonyoung.

"Soonyoung?"

"Stop talking,” Soonyoung almost sobs, curling into a pathetic ball on the bed. "I’m dying. I’m dead. Kill me."

Wonwoo pats his jeans to find his phone and when he checks the time he sees that it’s already well past noon. It’s a Sunday today, meaning there’s no work and no classes, but that’s about the only thing that cheers him up a little bit in his miserable situation.

He feels a wave of panic wash over him when he notices the lack of glasses on his face but he spots them on Soonyoung’s bedside table and remembers how Mingyu took them off for him.

Wonwoo feels his face heat up in embarrassment. He reaches out for them with slightly trembling fingers and puts them on his face. There’s a full glass of water standing there too and Wonwoo knows it couldn’t have been Soonyoung who put that there.

Was it Mingyu? Either way, he drinks all of it in one go and proceeds to sit there like his entire soul has left his body.

No. No, it's fine.

Wonwoo isn’t going to see that guy ever again and it’s not like anyone but the two of them has witnessed what happened so he’ll just keep his mouth shut about it and pretend it never happened.

"Need to talk,” Soonyoung grumbles suddenly.

"What?"

His best friend sits up on the bed, looking like he died and came back. He yawns, rubbing his head as he leans back against the headboard. "Tell me what happened."

"What are you talking about?" Wonwoo asks, trying to act nonchalant.

"Why the hell were you cuddling Kim fucking Mingyu in my bed last night?"

Well. Fuck.

 

 

"So did you get his number?" Soonyoung asks. They’re sitting in Soonyoung’s kitchen after cleaning most of the mess in the apartment, sipping on some coffee to ease the hangover they’re both experiencing.

"Why would I?" Wonwoo asks him. He lied and said that Mingyu fell asleep when he helped Wonwoo get into bed and that they must’ve started cuddling while they were asleep. He obviously didn’t tell Soonyoung all the things they said, especially not what Wonwoo said or did because that’s just something that someone needs to erase from his mind asap because he keeps physically cringing whenever he thinks about it.

"Because Mingyu is hot? Or is it because he’s a guy? Dude, we’re not homophobic!"

"No, that’s not it." Wonwoo sighs.

"Wait, are you into guys?" Soonyoung tilts his head. "I don’t think you ever even looked at a dude like that."

"That’s because I haven’t."

"But you do think Mingyu is hot, right?"

"Why does that even matter? I was drunk." Wonwoo shrugs, feeling uneasy. Of course he thinks Mingyu’s hot. Who wouldn’t think so? But he couldn’t ever admit that.

"I could get his number from Minghao if you want."

"No!" Wonwoo almost shouts. "No, Soonyoung. Just drop it please. I don’t want to think about it anymore. We were both drunk. It was nothing."

"If you say so.” Soonyoung pouts a little. "I just thought that maybe you finally found someone you might want to get closer to. Why not Mingyu?"

"That's a bit dramatic, don’t you think?"

"Not really. I’m not saying it’s bad that you’ve never dated anyone before. But you have to commit to a relationship if you want to get over your commitment issues. Face your fears, you know?"

"I know that. But trust me, Mingyu probably doesn’t even remember what happened and even if he does he’s probably embarrassed about it so I honestly don’t want to make a big deal out of this."

It's not like Wonwoo expected Mingyu to stick around, but the fact that the boy left without a word or like, you know, getting Wonwoo's number just proves that all of it was to blame on the alcohol the both of them had in their systems. Wonwoo doesn't really care.

(He does).

"But you know you’re going to see him again, right? He’s Minghao’s friend after all."

"I can avoid him." Wonwoo shrugs.

"I don’t think that’ll work." Soonyoung grins.

Wonwoo sighs.

He should know by now that Soonyoung’s always right.

Chapter Text

 

 

It only takes around three days, a lot of last minute cramming and a concerning amount of coffee for Wonwoo (and even Soonyoung) to completely forget about the "incident" as they now call it. Wonwoo is thankful because it means he can stop spasming out in public whenever he gets a physical cringe attack because of all the things he said and did that night.

 

 

Exams come around and Wonwoo can’t think about anything else but the material he’s been trying to memorize over the past few weeks.

Soonyoung and him barely see each other over the entire week but they send each other supportive text messages, or in Soonyoung’s case, stupid selfies that manage to get Wonwoo through the stressful days.

And then, on Friday, Wonwoo walks out of the university building feeling like a ton of bricks have been lifted from his chest because that was his last exam for the semester.

He could seriously start crying from relief but he might be too tired even for that.

Wonwoo checks his phone after sitting down in the bus, on his way home.

 

 

From: handsome soonyoung

> i’m picking u up at nine (✿◠‿◠)

 

To: handsome soonyoung

 why <

 

From: handsome soonyoung

> we’re going out!

> pls wear something nice for once (¬_¬)

 

Wonwoo honestly would rather go home and watch a movie and then sleep for two days straight since his boss was kind enough to give him the next day off, but Wonwoo has yet to win an argument against Soonyoung in their years of friendship, so he just frowns to himself in self-pity and plugs in his earphones for the rest of the ride.

He spends the twenty minutes it takes to get home trying to figure out if he even owns clothes that could be considered nice.

 

 

After taking a shower he makes himself some instant noodles and watches the news while he eats them on his couch, dressed in nothing but a damp towel around his hips. His mom would probably disown him if she saw him like that.

He gets a text from Chan (they made up pretty quickly after their fight at Soonyoung’s party; Chan doesn’t hold grudges and Wonwoo always means it when he texts him to apologize for being a bad brother) telling him that he should keep his schedule free for next Saturday and before Wonwoo can even question what his brother means his mom is calling him.

"Mom?"

"Hello sweetheart. Are your exams over?"

"Yeah. Finished my last one about an hour ago."

"Did it go well?"

"Uh, yeah. I think so."

"Well, don't worry. I'm sure it went fine!"  Wonwoo can hear that his mom is smiling and he slowly puts the bowl of noodles down, licking some spice from his lips. He doesn't feel hungry anymore. Wonwoo really misses his mom. "Are you going out to celebrate tonight?"

"I’m going out with Soonyoung and some friends."

"That’s great. Be careful, okay? Don’t drink too much. And tell Soonyoungie hi for me, will you?"

"I will, mom.“ He smiles to himself. "Are you doing fine? You’re not sick or anything, are you?" He doesn't ask what's really on his mind, scared that it might somehow trigger bad emotions inside her. He gets his information about his mom's mental state from Chan most of the time anyway. But that's... an entirely different story.

"No, I’m good don’t worry," She reassures him. "I missed your voice, Wonwoo. You never call anymore. We always have to ask Chan what you’re up to."

Wonwoo gulps, guilt creeping up on him as always. "I’m sorry."

"You always say that. And then you go ahead and act like we don’t exist for so long. You haven’t visited us since what, February? It’s almost April."

"Mom, I know. And I’m sorry. School is just… I’m just too busy. When I’m not at school, I’m at work and the only day I’m free is Sunday but I have to study sometime too, you know."

"I know you’re busy. We know you’re tired but Wonwoo, we live only two hours away. You can’t even take one day off to come see your family?"

"I’d lose my job—"

"One day, Wonwoo. You wouldn’t lose your job for that. It feels like you’re just making up excuses so you won’t have to see us." Her voice starts shaking and Wonwoo feels like trash. He feels absolutely horrible for hurting his mom like that. And he is making up excuses. He could take off a day or two from work to visit them but the thing is; he doesn’t want to.

Because he knows the procedure; he’ll come home, they’ll be happy about seeing him for an hour or two and after that, the fights will start. At least from his dad’s side. He’ll start blaming him for choosing a dumb major that won’t guarantee him a safe income in the future. He’ll start comparing him to Chan again out of nowhere and he’ll basically just point out how much he sucks as a human being.

Basically anything to make him feel like shit, which he succeeds in, because Wonwoo will go back to his own apartment feeling worse than he ever has and it’ll take a couple of days and a lot of movie nights with Soonyoung for him to get back on his feet and stop feeling like he’s a waste of space.

Sure, Wonwoo could’ve somehow managed to get into a college that was a lot closer to his parents’ house so he wouldn’t have to pay for rent and everything that comes with it. His relationship with his dad was the main reason that made him want to get as far away as his mom would allow it.

At least Wonwoo tells himself that his dad was the one who chased him away, because anything else makes his heart drip with guilt.

"Mom…" He starts but she interrupts him.

"You're on school break now, aren't you? We were thinking about visiting your grandparents for a day or two next week. I'm sure they'd be really happy to see you again. You haven't visited them for a while and you know your grandma's condition isn't the best, Won. She keeps calling and asking when you'll go see them. She's scared she's going to— She just wants to see you before anything bad happens."

Before she dies, is what his mom wants to say.

He sighs and tugs at the hem of his sweater. "They completely ignore me whenever I visit them."

"That’s because you’re so cold." His mom sighs.

There it is again. Cold.

Wonwoo isn’t cold. How can a human being be cold? His body temperature is normal as far as he’s concerned; around 37 degrees when he isn’t sick. He’s warm.

God, fuck this. He knows what she means.

But he also knows that's not the reason why his grandparents couldn't care less about Wonwoo not visiting them. His mom never brings it up, no one does. Acting like the ugly truth doesn't exist, like they might just forget about all of it if they simply ignore it long enough.

It's written on paper though, black on white.

Wonwoo takes a deep breath, stopping himself from digging deeper into those thoughts. The thing is; the entire next week he absolutely has to be at work because most of the students working there are on vacation for spring break and they’re short on staff as it is. He can’t take a day off at all, not on such a short notice.

Great. Fucking great.

He sighs, pressing his eyes closed. "I can’t. Mom, everyone at work is on vacation, I already have to cover for like, three people. I can’t just—"

"Oh, of course. I should’ve thought of that… I’ll explain it to them. I'm sure they’ll understand."

She’s being understanding yet Wonwoo still feels like crap because he knows it sounds like he’s making up excuses. He knows that’s what they think too; always finding excuses to get out of situations he doesn’t want to be in.

"I’m sorry mom. If I’d known earlier I could’ve arranged something."

"It's fine Won. Don't be sorry." She's smiling again. "Ah, I just miss my baby. Can you please just come visit as soon as possible? I'll make you your favorite food, I promise."

Wonwoo smiles but his eyes are stinging. "I’ll try."

"Okay. I won’t keep you busy anymore now. Have fun with your friends tonight, okay?"

"Yeah."

"And please be careful. Your dad says hi too."

"Say hi to him too." Wonwoo presses out, knowing very well that his dad didn't say that.

"I will. Bye Sweetheart. I love you."

There's the same old pause, his mother waiting for him to say it back and Wonwoo tries, but it's like his brain doesn't even know how to make Wonwoo's tongue spell those words.

"Bye mom."

The line goes dead and Wonwoo throws his phone on the couch with a sigh.

If he didn’t feel like going out before, he sure as hell doesn’t feel like it after that call.

 

 

Wonwoo decides to dress up the way he feels; black from head to toe. Well, minus the toes, because he’s wearing white sneakers. And also the button up shirt because that one has small white patterns on it.

Soonyoung’s going to lecture him about how he needs to stop dressing like he’s going to a funeral again but Wonwoo doesn’t care. He isn’t trying to impress anyone and after talking to his mom he really doesn’t feel like having any awkward conversations tonight so maybe it’ll make people back off.

To his dismay, Soonyoung whistles in approval after giving him a once over when Wonwoo climbs into his car later that night. "Looking good!"

Wonwoo groans. "Are you serious?"

"What?" Soonyoung blinks at him innocently. "Were you hoping for a different reaction?"

He just grunts in response and buckles his seatbelt up when Soonyoung starts driving.

"Is everything alright?" Soonyoung asks a minute into the drive when Wonwoo hasn't spoken a word.

"Yeah, why?"

"You seem a bit off." His best friend says. "Did you talk to your parents?"

It's almost scary how well Soonyoung knows him but after so many years of a friendship like theirs, it shouldn't be so surprising. "It's nothing. Just... same old stuff."

"I see. I’m sorry man. I’m here if you want to talk." He pats Wonwoo’s shoulder, squeezing it comfortingly.

"No, it’s fine. Thank you though."

"Let’s just have fun tonight, okay?"

Wonwoo gives his friend a smile and nods. He’s really thankful to have Soonyoung, and maybe this is a perfect moment to let his best friend know how much he appreciates him, but as always Wonwoo’s lips stay shut and he hates himself a little bit more for it.

 

 

They’re meeting up at Hansol’s apartment to pre-game because the drinks at the club they’re going to supposedly are ridiculously expensive and they'd rather poison their bodies with the cheap bottles of beer from the strange store Wonwoo is convinced has some shady business going on behind that blue door in the back that always seems to be locked shut.

Soonyoung walks into the apartment like he owns the place, not even bothering to ring the doorbell.

Their friends are all gathered in the living room, some kind of girly pop song playing in the background. 

Hansol comes up to greet them and presses two cool cans of beer into both their hands.

"Where’s Hao?" Soonyoung asks after sitting down next to Wonwoo.

"He should be here in a bit," Hansol answers. "With the others."

Soonyoung nods and Wonwoo pulls a pained face when Seungkwan screams at whoever it is he’s face timing right now. "So I was thinking we should call a cab. Or you know, two. Wait, what. How many people are we." He starts counting on his fingers.

Everyone seems to agree but Hansol looks a bit uneasy. "I can drive. I really don't mind."

"Hansollie." Seungkwan sighs, throwing his phone on the couch before slinging an arm around the boy’s shoulders. "We all just went through weeks of hell, including you. You deserve to get wasted as much as everyone else, don’t you think?"

"You can have fun without alcohol too." Hansol shrugs.

Everyone blinks at him in confusion, and then they all just burst into laughter. Wonwoo smiles in sympathy when Hansol starts blushing in embarrassment, but it’s okay because Seungkwan and Seokmin bury the younger in a loving hug, ruffling his hair and calling him adorable and a lot of other adjectives that are not suitable for guys their age. 

It takes two drinks for Wonwoo to loosen up and he decides to not go as overboard as last time with his alcohol consumption; just enough to stop being a "party pooper", as Seungkwan called him a minute ago after pressing another drink into his hands.

Seungkwan is singing along to "Achoo" by some girl group Wonwoo can’t remember the name of. Hansol’s playing Fifa with Seokmin while Soonyoung cheers them on (or calls them losers for sucking at the game) when the doorbell rings.

"That’s probably Hao. Can someone open up?" Hansol absently asks, cursing at the TV screen.

Soonyoung grunts and pushes himself up from his position on the floor when no one else moves. When he comes back a moment later he’s wearing a somewhat wary look on his face. Wonwoo furrows his eyebrows in confusion, about to ask what’s wrong when Soonyoung leans in close to his ear after sitting down. "Please don’t freak out."

"Why would I freak out?"

Soonyoung doesn't answer; he doesn't need to because Wonwoo's answer comes in the form of Kim Mingyu walking into the living room together with Minghao and two of their older friends Seungcheol and Jeonghan.

Nice.

And as soon as Mingyu’s eyes land on Wonwoo, everything Wonwoo’s been trying to tell himself to forget about that meaningless encounter with the boy just fades away into pathetic nothingness.

He doesn’t know if it’s because he hasn’t seen Mingyu ever since, or because he was too drunk to tell but jesus, Mingyu is looking way too good tonight and Wonwoo just wants to flee the room as soon as Mingyu has greeted everyone (including Wonwoo, with a charming smile while he simply said Wonwoo’s name) and sat down on the couch opposite of Wonwoo, quietly sipping on his drink and just flat out staring at Wonwoo.

He stares at Wonwoo until he's squirming and a smirk pulls at Mingyu's lip, which is when Wonwoo decides to flee to the kitchen.

He pretends to refill his drink, which was his initial excuse. But for some reason, Mingyu is affecting him right now, and that’s just, nope.

Not okay.

Wonwoo leans against the kitchen counter, staring into his empty cup as he holds the bottle of gin in his other one while he tries to figure out what it means, Mingyu looking at him like that.

Does he remember? Is he going to turn this into some kind of joke and make fun of Wonwoo?

"You need help with that?"

Wonwoo flinches so hard the cup slips from his fingers. Luckily it’s just a disposable paper cup so there’s no harm done. He looks up and finds Mingyu leaning against the doorframe of the kitchen, his head tilted to the side, the black strands of his fringe hanging into his eyes.

Mingyu wordlessly steps closer and Wonwoo presses back against the counter when Mingyu’s feet almost touch his own. Mingyu puts his drink down and picks Wonwoo’s cup up instead, taking the gin from his hand before he pours a small amount into it. He takes Wonwoo’s hand and pushes the cup into it and then, after what seems like hours, finally steps away again.

Wonwoo clears his throat, taking a calming breath when Mingyu is standing next to him, mimicking his position as he sips on his drink.

"So you do remember, by the looks of it." Mingyu speaks out.

Wonwoo doesn’t answer, because he’s not sure what to say.

Mingyu turns his head to look at him, and he does it for so long Wonwoo feels like snapping at him to stop but before he can, Mingyu sighs rather dramatically. "Look, I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable. We can just forget about it, if you want."

And that definitely isn't something Wonwoo expected. Sure, Mingyu was really kind that night, he took care of Wonwoo after all, but he just doesn't seem to be the type to care about a stranger's feelings so it comes as a bit of a surprise.

Wonwoo turns his head and carefully looks up and into Mingyu’s eyes. It’s hard for him to keep eye contact but he does his best to make it work. "I was really drunk. I didn’t really mean anything I said."

Now that is a big fat lie. Is Wonwoo embarrassed about the things he said to Mingyu? Yes.

Does that mean they were a lie? Nope.

Wonwoo was just being shamelessly honest; he was blurting out everything that crossed his mind, saying things he’d never even consider allowing himself to think when he’s in his right mind or, you know. Sober.

But Mingyu doesn’t need to know that.

And maybe it’s just a trick of the light, but for a fleeting moment, Mingyu looks disappointed. He starts grinning at Wonwoo again just as fast. "Alright. Then it never happened. Let’s do this properly." He suddenly reaches his hand out and Wonwoo stares at it like an idiot, not knowing what to do with it. "I’m Kim Mingyu. Twenty, majoring in primary education. Nice to meet you."

It takes Wonwoo a few seconds to stop staring at Mingyu like he doesn’t speak his language and didn’t understand a word he just said but once he does, he reaches out to hold Mingyu’s hand. "Jeon Wonwoo. I’m twenty-two. And literature. That's, uhm, my major.“

"Oh! You plan on becoming an author?" Mingyu looks genuinely interested and Wonwoo doesn’t know what to do with that. It’s not the usual reaction he gets from people when they hear about his studies.

"I guess so. That’s the goal."

"That’s really cool." Mingyu gives him another toothy smile and Wonwoo can’t stop himself from staring at his teeth, suddenly remembering how vocal he was that night about his fascination for them. Mingyu seems to be thinking about it too, because his smile turns smug and Wonwoo quickly looks away, ignoring the amused snort from Mingyu.

"What about you?" He forces himself to ask. "Do you want to become a teacher?"

"Yeah.“ Mingyu nods his head. "I love children and I think I’d be a cool teacher. You know, make school suck a bit less for them and all."

Wonwoo smiles because somehow he doesn’t find it so hard to imagine Mingyu as a teacher. Mingyu stares at him for a moment and Wonwoo wonders if he does that to everyone he talks to because if they want to become friends, Mingyu seriously needs to stop doing that.

"What happened to the glasses?" Mingyu suddenly asks and it makes Wonwoo think about how Mingyu took them off for him—

"I’m wearing contact lenses." And this time, Mingyu does look disappointed. Wonwoo frowns at him. "Is that a problem?"

"No." Mingyu shrugs. "You just looked nice in glasses. I mean, you look pretty cute either way but you get the drill."

Wonwoo doesn’t even know what to say to that. He squints his eyes at Mingyu, trying to figure out if he’s being serious or not.

"We’re leaving!" Someone shouts from the living room and while Wonwoo turns his head towards the sound; Mingyu just smiles at him.

"We should go." Wonwoo finishes his drink and gives Mingyu a confused look when the latter doesn’t even tear his eyes away after that. "What are you doing?"

"I’m looking at you."

"Why?"

"Is that not allowed?"

Wonwoo frowns at him, ignoring the question as he throws his cup away. He leaves the kitchen with a strange feeling in his stomach and a snickering Mingyu following him.

 

 

They have to call two cabs since they’re more than ten people all together and since they can’t even fit like that Seungcheol offers to drive. Wonwoo is getting squeezed in between Soonyoung and Junhui and tries not to frown too much. He hates the middle seat but he doesn’t want to complain because he almost ended up sitting in the same cab as Mingyu and really, anything’s better than that.

The club seems to be bursting at the seams when they arrive even though it’s still fairly early. There’s an endless line in front of it and it doesn’t seem to be moving. "Why’s it so packed?" Wonwoo asks.

Soonyoung hums. "Some kind of underground DJ’s playing tonight."

Wonwoo nods his head. He isn’t really familiar with that scene unlike Soonyoung who has a few friends who are working as rappers. Or you know, trying to make their living out of it.

"Seungcheol hyung knows the DJ." Soonyoung explains when they just skip the line (and earn glares from the shivering people waiting there) and Seungcheol talks to the bouncer, pointing at their group as the man looks through the list in his hands. Wonwoo sighs and burrows deeper into his coat.

He turns to look over his shoulder and just happens to catch Mingyu smiling at a pretty girl in the line.

The girl pouts, batting her eyelashes at Mingyu. "Can't you get me and my friends in too? We've been waiting here for almost an hour. I'm freezing!"

"Sorry, babe." He hears Mingyu respond and Soonyoung makes gagging sounds next to him which make Wonwoo snicker. "You really should zip up your coat though, stay warm, you know." Mingyu reaches out to zip it up for her, rubbing her arms after with a kind smile.

The girl looks taken aback, probably not having expected that answer, and she blushes, suddenly not as flirty anymore.

Wonwoo sighs and looks away. 

Seungcheol leads them to the VIP area and Wonwoo thinks this is all a bit too much. They usually just get shit faced at local clubs in town that look like they might just collapse when people are dancing inside. This is way too fancy for them and he could probably live an entire week off of the money he’s going to spend on one single drink in here.

"I’ll be right back." Seungcheol shouts over the music. "I’m gonna quickly say hi to Woozi."

Jeonghan nods and Wonwoo shuffles to the side when he sits down next to Wonwoo.

"Who the hell is Woozi?" Seungkwan asks, getting pushed away when he almost ends up sitting on Hansol’s lap.

"The DJ," Hansol grunts. "It’s his stage name. His real name’s Jihoon. I'm not surprised you don't know about him even though he's only the best hip-hop producer of the country."

Seungkwan rolls his eyes and starts imitating Hansol's voice. Then the bickering starts again.

 

 

From there, everyone kind of does their own thing. Seungkwan, together with Seokmin and Minghao force Hansol to go and dance with them and Wonwoo doesn’t see the poor boy again after that. Jeonghan is flirting with some stranger over the railing that separates the VIP area from the "proletarian" area (again, that's what Seungkwan calls it). Seungcheol still hasn’t come back from saying hi to the DJ even though it’s been more than half an hour and Soonyoung, being the good friend he is, is sticking to Wonwoo’s side.

Oh, and Mingyu is there too, of course, but that boy didn’t even bother coming to sit down with them in the first place; as soon as they went inside he started eyeing up some girl who’s been clinging to Mingyu’s arm ever since. Wonwoo ponders on switching seats because right now, he has perfect sight on the bar, where Mingyu is currently standing with said girl.

Wonwoo doesn’t know why he feels so irritated but maybe he’s just really in a bad mood because everything Mingyu does seems to rub him the wrong way. He takes a sip from his drink, a scowl he can't seem to get rid of present on his face.

"Stop looking like that." Soonyoung flicks his head. "You look like you’re going to kill someone."

"I might." Wonwoo huffs, smirking in satisfaction when Soonyoung looks frightened by it.

"Won," Soonyoung snorts, slinging an arm around his shoulder to talk into his ear. "Look, I know you’re gonna get mad but seriously, you need to stop being so obvious if you don’t want anyone to notice."

"I wish I knew what you’re talking about."

"So you’re not staring at him like he personally offended you?"

"He's a show-off." Wonwoo shrugs. "You know I don't like people who are like that."

Soonyoung hums, leaning back on the couch and he pulls on Wonwoo's shoulders to make him do the same. "I've known you for almost eight years now so I can easily tell when you're lying. Like right now. And I know how your weird brain works, so I also know that you've been thinking about your steamy cuddle sessions with him nonstop and now you feel betrayed because he seems to have moved on already while you're still hung up on it."

Wonwoo is quiet for a long time. "Did anyone ever tell you that your mouth’s like a second butthole?"

"What?"

"You know, since all that comes out if it is complete shit."

Soonyoung blinks at Wonwoo for a moment, and once he understands that Wonwoo just kind of made a joke, he bursts out laughing. "Oh my fucking god! Where'd you get that from?" He laughs for at least ten seconds but he suddenly stops, shaking his head at Wonwoo. "Hey, stop fucking changing the subject. You know what I said is true! Don't even try to deny it. You like him, don't you?"

"No!" Wonwoo grits out. "For god’s sake, I don’t even know the guy. I just don’t like his attitude, that’s why I was staring at him."

"Staring at who?" Jeonghan suddenly turns away from the person he’s been making pretty eyes at, joining their conversation.

"Mingyu." Soonyoung points at said person with his drink and when Wonwoo reluctantly looks over he catches the girl leaning up to Mingyu’s ear, whispering something to him with her hands all over his biceps.

Wonwoo's scowl deepens.

"Ah." Jeonghan nods his head in understanding. He turns to look at them again. "What about him?"

"Wonwoo’s jealous—"

"I’m not—" Wonwoo groans in frustration, speaking directly to Jeonghan instead. "Listen, don’t listen to anything he says, okay? He doesn’t know what he’s talking about."

Jeonghan blinks at them for a moment before he chuckles, an almost knowing look in his dark eyes. "I’m a psychology major, you know. I can tell when someone’s lying. Most of the time. And I have to say you just flat out lied to my face."

"Ha!" Soonyoung shouts, fist bumping the air and Jeonghan gives Wonwoo an apologetic smile, shrugging his shoulders.

"Do you want to grab a drink?" Jeonghan suddenly asks Wonwoo.

"I still have one. But thanks," Wonwoo answers.

Jeonghan rolls his eyes. "Just grab a drink with me."

Wonwoo is about to protest again but Soonyoung pushes him from the couch at the same time as Jeonghan who grabs his arm and starts dragging him out of their booth.

"Dude, look can we not—"

"Ah, you’re nervous because we’re walking towards the object of your affection. You’re really easy to read." Jeonghan snorts, guiding Wonwoo towards the bar with a hand on the small of his back.

"I need new friends." Wonwoo grunts miserably. He suddenly catches Mingyu's eyes when he's standing at the bar and Mingyu looks like he's only listening to the girl with half an ear, his eyes flickering from Jeonghan to Wonwoo.

"What do you want? It’s on me." Jeonghan says.

"No, I’m fine."

"God, you really are a difficult one." Jeonghan orders to whiskeys from the bartender and then turns to look at Wonwoo. "Alright. Tell hyung where the shoe pinches."

Wonwoo gives him an irritated look. "Nowhere."

"Really? Because a little bird told me you and a certain someone over there had a little… encounter last week."

But Jeonghan wasn’t even at the party. "How do you know about that?"

"Ah, I have my ways." Jeonghan nods his head. "But you know, just for future reference; I wouldn’t tell Seungkwannie too many secrets."

Of course it was Seungkwan. He’s only the biggest chatterbox Wonwoo has ever met. Wonwoo honestly doesn’t know how Seungkwan even heard of it; Soonyoung definitely didn’t tell him.

Wouldn’t surprise him if Seungkwan saw them like that by looking through the keyhole or something just as creepy.

Wonwoo looks up when their drinks arrive, nervously gripping the glass. "Does... Does everyone know?"

Jeonghan gives him a pitying smile. "Pretty much."

"Look, I know what you’re thinking but that’s not it. We didn’t even do anything. I mean, people hook up all the time and no one makes a big deal out of it."

"That’s because it isn’t." Jeonghan looks up, smirking when he sees how a guy from the other side of the bar is staring at him. Wonwoo gives him a pointed look when he focuses back on Wonwoo and Jeonghan just chuckles. "Mingyu though… I know him good enough to say he’s not the type to just cuddle with someone. If you guys would’ve fucked I wouldn’t be surprised at all, but you know, this is a bit different."

"Different?"

"I’m saying that" Jeonghan suddenly reaches out and brushes Wonwoo’s fringe out of his eyes, which makes Mingyu stare at them again and Wonwoo doesn’t know if he’s just stupid or too drunk but he has no fucking idea what’s going anymore. "When I asked Mingyu about it, he was smiling like an idiot. And because he is an idiot, he’s going to think I’m hitting on you, and as soon as I’ll be gone he’s going to come over."

"I don’t think I get it—"

"Good. You’re perfect for each other. He doesn't understand anything ever either." Jeonghan rolls his eyes, grabbing his drink. "Now if you’ll excuse me."

"No wait—"

But Jeonghan winks at him and then just leaves.

Wonwoo grits his teeth together, trying really hard not to start shaking from how frustrated and annoyed he is. He drinks the nasty whiskey, doesn’t even care how much it’ll cost before he orders another drink.

Wonwoo grumbles to himself. He’s probably pouting too but he doesn’t even care.

Someone steps up beside him just as the bartender hands Wonwoo his drink. "I’ll have the same he has. Both on me."

Wonwoo looks up and finds Mingyu standing beside him. "What are you doing?"

"I’m ordering a drink."

"I know but don’t pay for mine—"

"It’s fine. I want to." Mingyu smiles at him and it’s nothing like the smiles he’s been handing out to everyone else all night. It’s the smile Wonwoo remembers from their first meeting and Jeonghan’s words are suddenly ringing in his head. "Are you having fun?"

"Yeah, sure." Wonwoo shrugs.

Mingyu blinks at him, the corners of his mouth twitching in amusement.

Wonwoo looks at their booth and sees Soonyoung waving at him like a maniac and next to him Jeonghan’s giving him a smug thumbs up. Mingyu turns to follow his line of sight and Jeonghan uses the moment to send a suggestive wink towards Wonwoo.

When Mingyu turns back around there’s a scowl on his face. He pays the bartender with a sweet smile and silently clinks his and Wonwoo’s glasses together.

It’s rather cute, even if Wonwoo doesn’t want to admit it.

"Thank you," Wonwoo mutters. "For the drink."

"You’re welcome." Mingyu stares at his drink for a moment before facing Wonwoo again, his eyes flickering over Wonwoo’s face much like at Soonyoung’s party. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure." Wonwoo shrugs, bringing his drink to his mouth.

"Does Jeonghan hyung make you feel funny too?"

Wonwoo promptly chokes on his drink. The alcohol gets into his windpipe and it burns. He starts coughing and wheezing and his eyes are tearing up.

"Dude." Mingyu pulls a pained face, putting his drink down to pat Wonwoo’s back. "Are you okay?"

Wonwoo glares at Mingyu, still coughing. 

Mingyu chuckles nervously, patting Wonwoo’s back until the coughing stops. Wonwoo’s left gasping for air like an idiot, and his lungs are still burning. "Do you want some water?"

"No," Wonwoo whimpers. He clears his throat until he’s sure he’s not going to go into another coughing fit. "I’m fine."

"Okay. Good." Mingyu's hand is still on his back and Wonwoo has half a mind to shrug it off but he lets it rest there for the moment. "So… do I take that as a yes?"

"Take it however you want." Wonwoo huffs, carefully taking a sip from his drink. His face is heating up because he just keeps remembering all the stupid things he said to Mingyu and the worst thing is, Mingyu remembers all of it too. And he knows he’s being a bit rude but he doesn’t really care as long as it gets Mingyu to leave him alone.

Mingyu looks like he's contemplating whether he should open his mouth or not, his lips pressed together. "Alright then. Have fun." And with that, Mingyu just walks away and leaves Wonwoo alone to feel like an asshole.

 

 

An hour later Wonwoo has spent way too much money on two more drinks he shouldn’t have had. He doesn’t even know what happened to "not going overboard" with his alcohol consumption.

Maybe it left just the way Kim fucking Mingyu left him alone at the bar.

Yuna appeared at one point which means Soonyoung’s unavailable for now. Jeonghan is currently having what looks to be a very intimate conversation with a lady on the couch next to them so his only options are the others who are still somewhere on the dance floor.

Seungkwan tried to drag Wonwoo with him a few minutes ago when he came to grab some drinks but no chance. Wonwoo’s still at least three drinks away from being up to dancing between all those sweaty bodies.

"Stupid Mingyu," He mumbles to himself. He should've just stayed home. Just look at him; he's drowning in self-pity once again. Maybe it's good that his other friends are busy. They wouldn't be having half as much fun if Wonwoo was with them.

"You okay?"

It takes Wonwoo a moment to realize that the question was directed at him. He lifts his head to look at the person standing next to him. "What?"

It’s a guy, probably around his age. "I asked if you’re okay."

"Oh." Wonwoo nods his head. "Yeah, I’m fine."

"Okay." The guy gives him a friendly smile. "Are you here on your own?"

The question makes Wonwoo frown warily. "Why?"

"Uh— Oh, no, sorry I didn’t mean to sound like a creep." The guy chuckles. "You just looked a bit out of it and it’s always good to have friends looking out for you."

"Oh. Yeah." Wonwoo nods. "No, I’m here with my friends. They’re…" He points in the general direction of the crowd behind them. "Somewhere."

The guy chuckles. He has a nice smile.

"You know who else has a nice smile?" Wonwoo asks without meaning to.

The guy, obviously, looks confused at the question but he plays along for some reason. "Uhm. No. Who?"

"Mingyu."

"Mingyu?"

"Mhm."

"Okay." The guy smiles at him. "Is that your boyfriend?"

"What? No." Wonwoo shakes his head. "I don’t like him."

"I see." The stranger laughs quietly. "What’s your name?"

"Wonwoo." He takes the hand that’s being offered to him. "Who are you?"

"I’m Ilhoon."

"Nice to meet you." Wonwoo nods his head. "Do you, like, want me to introduce you to one of my friends?"

"What? Uh, not really. Why?"

"Cause you talked to me and all." Wonwoo shrugs.

Ilhoon tilts his head in confusion. "Yeah. Because I was worried. And because I wanted to talk to you."

"Oh."

"You’re cute," Ilhoon suddenly says. Wonwoo blinks at him and waits for his stomach to do that strange flop it did when Mingyu called him that but nothing happens.

"Mingyu called me cute too," Wonwoo says - again - without giving it much thought. Wonwoo decides to stop drinking alcohol then and there. It brings out the worst side in him.

Ilhoon looks a bit let down but he shakes his head, chuckling with an amused look in his eyes. "Alright, I get it. You’re pretty hung up on that Mingyu, aren’t you?"

Wonwoo just stares into Ilhoon’s eyes, waiting for his heart to start fluttering but it’s just not happening.

"Well. He’s definitely a lucky guy." Ilhoon smiles and Wonwoo goes as far as trying to imagine himself kissing the guy to get his heart to react in some way.

Nothing.

"Are you okay?" Ilhoon asks, tilting his head. "Do you want some water?" He hands Wonwoo his glass with clear liquid in it and Wonwoo, not really paying much attention, just takes it.

Before the rim of the glass even touches his lips a hand from behind him takes the glass out of his hands. The owner of the hand is suddenly standing between Wonwoo and Ilhoon and when Wonwoo looks up he’s looking at Mingyu’s side profile.

"What are you doing?" Wonwoo huffs.

Mingyu turns and gives him a scowl. "Didn’t your parents teach you not to accept drinks from strangers?"

"Dude, it’s just water—"

"Is it?" Mingyu gives the glass back to Ilhoon. "Why don’t you drink it then?"

Wonwoo slowly looks back up at Ilhoon, waiting for him to drink it but Ilhoon just snorts at Mingyu. "I’m not thirsty."

"Right." Mingyu puts the glass down. "Cause you spiked it."

"Of course I didn’t—"

Mingyu looks like he's about to punch the guy but he catches himself when his eyes flicker towards the security guards a few feet away. "I saw it you bastard. Stop bullshitting."

"Whatever," Ilhoon huffs, picking the glass back up. "I hope this isn’t your precious Mingyu you were talking about." He winks at Wonwoo before turning around to leave.

Mingyu takes a calming breath, runs a hand through his hair and leans over the bar, beckoning the bartender closer to him. He says something to him but Wonwoo can’t hear it over the music. The bartender nods his head, pressing a button on the weird little advice attached to his belt.

The security guards from before start moving towards the crowd only a moment later; Wonwoo is sober enough to figure out that they're going to take care of the guy.

Mingyu turns to look at Wonwoo again, an unimpressed look on his face. "I’m sorry hyung, but are you fucking stupid?"

Wonwoo must look like a child that’s being scolded.

"Do you know what could’ve happened if I didn’t keep an eye on you? Those things don’t just happen in movies! For god’s sake, someone your age shouldn’t be this careless!"

Ouch.

"I get it. Stop yelling at me." Wonwoo says.

Mingyu keeps glaring at him for a moment longer but his features soften when he sees that his words must’ve actually hurt Wonwoo. "Come on," He mutters, reaching out to curl a hand around Wonwoo’s arm. He drags him back to their booth where Soonyoung’s still chatting with Yuna and his best friend freezes when he sees the look on both their faces.

"Hey, what happened?" He asks, voice filled with concern but Mingyu waves him off.

"It’s nothing. Don’t worry."

Soonyoung gives Wonwoo a worried look but Wonwoo just tries to give him the best reassuring smile he can muster right now. Soonyoung, still warily watching both of them as they sit down on the couch in the back, turns back to give Yuna a sweet smile.

Mingyu makes Wonwoo sit down on the couch before he does the same and turns to fill a glass with actual water for him. "Drink this," He orders.

Wonwoo scowls at him but does as he’s told.

Both of them are quiet for a tense minute while Wonwoo sips at the water, feeling embarrassed and stupid.

"I’m sorry for yelling at you," Mingyu eventually speaks up.

"It's fine. I deserved it." Wonwoo shrugs.

"Yeah, you did." Mingyu nods his head and breaks out into a small smile when Wonwoo looks up to glare at him. "Seriously hyung. Please tell me you aren’t always so— so naive when you go out."

"I’m not, okay?" Wonwoo sighs. He’s still drunk and talking is hard but he doesn't need to be lectured by a younger person, especially not Mingyu who is driving him up the wall for seemingly no reason. "I’m not stupid. I was just not paying attention."

Mingyu stares at him. "Well. Just be more careful from now on. I won’t always be there to take care of you."

"Jesus. I wonder how I survived this long without you." Wonwoo rolls his eyes and when he looks up he expects Mingyu to be angry again but the boy is back to his usual self, giving Wonwoo an amused smile.

"I just saved your cute ass, you know. You can stop with the sass."

Wonwoo is about to say something back but instead, his cheeks start warming up at Mingyu’s comment, which makes Mingyu only smile wider at him.

"What? Are you blushing?"

"Shut up."

Mingyu bites his lower lip, his teeth digging into the flesh and Wonwoo can’t stop his eyes from following the movement. "Why did that asshole know my name?"

Wonwoo shrugs, feigning innocence. There’s no way he can let Mingyu know. "How should I know?"

"I think you know." Mingyu tilts his head. "Did you mention me?"

"No."

"You did. What did you say?"

"I said you’re the most annoying human being I’ve ever met."

"Hyung." Mingyu starts pouting and Wonwoo tries not to let it get to him but it doesn’t work as well as he hoped for.

"Do you not have somewhere else to be?" Wonwoo grunts, nodding his head back towards the bar where he last saw the girl Mingyu was with.

"No. Are you trying to get rid of me?"

"You caught on really fast."

"Ouch." Mingyu chuckles quietly. "I liked you a lot better when you called me ridiculously good look—"

"Don't!" Wonwoo suddenly has a palm pressed against Mingyu's mouth, his heart racing in his chest. He absolutely does not want to be reminded of those things. "Don't you dare say it."

Mingyu’s laugh is muffled against Wonwoo’s palm. The younger reaches up to clasp his hand around Wonwoo’s, pulling it away from his mouth. "Why? You already said you didn’t mean it."

Wonwoo looks at their joined hands and tries to pull his own back but Mingyu doesn’t let him, only holding on tighter.

"Hyung," Mingyu says, suddenly sounding serious. "Did you really not mean any of it?"

"Why does it matter?" Wonwoo asks, trying to be as sober as he can be.

"Well, it matters to me." Mingyu licks his lips. "Because I actually meant everything I said."

Wonwoo just gives Mingyu a blank look. "You’re— joking, right?"

"No." Mingyu actually looks a bit hurt by Wonwoo’s question and what? Isn’t this the Mingyu who was flirting with a bunch of hot people only a moment ago?

"Uhm. I don’t really know what I’m supposed to say."

"Go out with me," Mingyu says and Wonwoo can’t do anything but look at him like he lost his mind.

"What?"

"Go on a date with me." Mingyu looks a bit nervous but also really genuine.

"You want to go out with me?"

"Yes."

Wonwoo almost laughs nervously but he manages to stop himself. "But why?"

"Not this again," Mingyu groans. He shuffles closer, way too close, before he speaks again. "I already told you; I think you're cute. Like... ridiculously cute. I know you don’t think so but like, I can't really stop thinking about that night and it's driving me insane, because we didn't even do anything."

"Mingyu—" Wonwoo never thought he’d be in a situation like this. His palms are actually sweating as panic starts to rise in every pathetic cell of his body.

He doesn’t think someone like Wonwoo even has the right to reject someone like Mingyu but there’s just no way Wonwoo can say yes.

"I’m not really up for dating," He slowly speaks.

"Why not?"

"I don’t date." Wonwoo tries again. He tries to make this sound as normal as possible but he doesn’t think it’s going to work.

Mingyu - as expected - still looks confused. "Are you, like, religious or something?"

"No," Wonwoo huffs. Mingyu is still holding his hand and even now, as Wonwoo’s rejecting him, the touch feels nice and Wonwoo feels like such a hypocrite. "It’s nothing like that. I just don’t want to date."

"Okay." Mingyu doesn’t sound like he understands but at least he’s trying. "I can… wait?"

"No, Mingyu, you don't get it. I don’t want to date; ever."

Understanding finally dawns on Mingyu’s face but it’s quickly replaced by something that looks a lot like Wonwoo just shattered his dreams. "Alright. Can I ask why?"

Wonwoo shrugs. "I'm just not made for relationships. None of that stuff."

"Did you have a bad relationship before?" Mingyu looks curious but he’s also brushing his thumb over Wonwoo’s knuckles again and Wonwoo’s skin is prickling again.

"No."

"Why are you so against it then? If they were nice, why—"

"I’ve never had one,“ Wonwoo buts in. "A relationship."

He waits for Mingyu to laugh at him, or to just look shocked or something but Mingyu just presses his lips together for a while. "Okay. So… you’re saying, there’s no chance. At all?"

Wonwoo gulps, shaking his head.

But honestly, he’s scared shitless right now, because for the first time in his life he wishes he could bring himself to say yes instead.

Mingyu bites at his lip again. "I see."

He feels like he should apologize but a part of him is still fully convinced that this is all part of some bet or prank, and he’d look like an idiot for apologizing when Mingyu didn’t even mean it in the first place so he just keeps his mouth shut.

"But can you at least answer me something?" Mingyu looks slightly disappointed but he still manages to smile at Wonwoo.

"What?"

"If you meant those things you said at Soonyoung hyung's party."

If he’s not going to apologize he might as well just come clean about that, so Wonwoo reluctantly nods his head. "I… did."

Mingyu makes a pained sound. "Don’t do this to me."

"You asked--"

"I know, but hell, How can I not want you, knowing that?"

The words make Wonwoo's stomach flip, his heart stuttering in his chest. No one's ever said they wanted him. He almost forgets to breathe for a moment, his eyes trailing over Mingyu's handsome face, wanting to laugh at how ridiculous it sounds, even in his head; Mingyu wants him? Yeah, right.

"You’re acting like there’s no one else out there for you." Wonwoo smiles a bit but he knows it's off. This entire situation is throwing him off.

"I don’t care about others." Mingyu sighs and looks at their joined hands. "You said I’m making your heart feel funny. And now you’re rejecting me and I’m miserable."

Wonwoo hopes it’s his imagination, but Mingyu actually sounds dejected; like Wonwoo rejecting him really hurt him, and that doesn't make any sense, does it?

He looks into Mingyu’s eyes and his heart starts fluttering the way he wanted it to when that dickhead talked to him at the bar. "I can’t."

"You should come with a warning." Mingyu says, a soft smile on his face. "You might break someone's heart."

"I don’t think you need to worry about that." Wonwoo chuckles, pulling his hand back into his lap. "This doesn’t happen on a regular basis." His voice is dripping with sarcasm and Mingyu’s face falls.

"Stop thinking like that," Mingyu says, frowning down at Wonwoo. "I would show you how admirable you are if you’d let me."

"Okay, that's enough." Wonwoo shakes his head, his voice a bit shaky by now.

"Right. Sorry." Mingyu grits his teeth together, still staring at Wonwoo. He takes a deep breath and shakes his head. "Come on." He suddenly says, getting up.

"Where are you going?"

Mingyu pulls Wonwoo up to his feet and starts walking. "I just got rejected and my heart’s broken. Alcohol heals all wounds so I’m getting shit faced tonight."

"You’re being a drama queen."

"No. I’m a drama queen that just got rejected."

Wonwoo bites his lip, trying not to grin like an idiot, especially when Mingyu looks over his shoulder to give him another one of his toothy smiles.

It’s like Wonwoo’s heart is trying to tell him something, for the first time ever, and Wonwoo’s trying really hard not to listen.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

From: Unknown

> blue or pink?

 

 

To: Unknown

 who is this? <

 

 

From: Unknown

> Mingyu!!!

> were you expecting someone else?

 

 

To: Mingyu

who gave you my number? <

 

From: Mingyu

> you did :)

 

 

To: Mingyu

i don’t remember that <

 

From: Mingyu

> well i do! now tell me blue or pink.

> this is an emergency don’t leave me hanging

 

 

To: Mingyu

blue <

 

From: Mingyu

> nice!!

 

 

Wonwoo snorts at the entire conversation, putting his phone away when Jisoo calls for him. It’s the next day and Wonwoo luckily didn’t have the early shift at work; he would’ve looked like a zombie getting here if that was the case.

He grabs his tray and walks back to his spot behind the counter between all sorts of machines and variations of coffee beans and teas.

Oh and milk. Before Wonwoo started working here, all he’s known used to be regular milk. Milk from a cow. But then he got this job, and a lot of people decided to change their lifestyle and become vegan at the same time, and he practically became a milk expert.

They have soy milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, oat milk, coconut milk, rice milk, quinoa milk (which Wonwoo still can’t pronounce right) and there are still customers who’ll be asking for yet another different kind of milk.

He still remembers Jisoo’s facial expression last week:

"But do you really not have seven grain nondairy milk in your range?"

Jisoo just gave the lady a blank look for about three seconds before he managed to answer with a fake smile and a shake of his head. "I’m sorry Ma’am; I’m afraid we don’t."

Wonwoo’s pretty sure his co-worker’s left eyelid was about to twitch when the customer sighed and said she couldn’t drink any other milk than that, sounding damn accusatory as well.

But yeah, apart from them being plagued by all the new dietary trends that keep coming up and somewhat messing up their business the job’s pretty much perfect for him; he doesn’t have to talk to anyone and doesn’t have to make any important decisions.

 

 

 

From then on, his phone just keeps buzzing wherever he goes. He knows it’s Mingyu without having to check. Ever since Wonwoo (apparently) gave him his number at the club three days ago he’s been waking up to random text messages from the boy. Most of the time Wonwoo doesn’t know what the hell Mingyu is on about but at one point he just decided to play along without asking too many questions.

Not that he’d ever admit that but Mingyu’s stupid messages are quite amusing and they make it easier to get through his seemingly endless shifts at the café.

Wonwoo thought that after their 'conversation' that night, Mingyu would start giving him the cold shoulder but somehow the exact opposite seems to be the case; Mingyu hasn’t brought the subject up even once and he isn’t making any suggestive comments or anything that would imply that Mingyu was ever interested in Wonwoo like that.

The boy - for some kind of reason - just wants to be Wonwoo’s friend.

Wonwoo isn’t sure what to make of that but he thinks he likes talking to Mingyu, even if it’s just through meaningless text messages.

Mingyu keeps telling him those random facts about himself; yesterday he told Wonwoo that he has a weird phobia and when Wonwoo asked him what that was, Mingyu told him to google it.

And because Wonwoo’s an idiot, he did.

Wonwoo didn’t know he could be so damn terrified of holes.

His phone keeps buzzing today as well and once Wonwoo checks that there are no customers around he quickly pulls it out to see what’s making Mingyu message him like there’s some kind of emergency.

It’s all just filled with stupid emojis, the random ones that no one ever uses (Wonwoo didn’t even know there was an emoji of a juggling man) and at the end there’s a selfie. Wonwoo opens it, frowning at the angle of it. It looks like Mingyu was holding the phone in front of his stomach or something.

The caption says: Do I have weirdly large nostrils?

Wonwoo types back: Yes.

He immediately receives another selfie; this time one where Mingyu’s pouting.

"Who’s got you smiling like that?" Jisoo’s face is suddenly right next to his ear.

Wonwoo jumps and quickly puts his phone away, shaking his head. "I wasn’t smiling."

"You looked like one of those drama girls that just received a message from their crush." His co-worker snickers.

Wonwoo pushes his head away with a deathly glare on his face which only makes Jisoo laugh harder. "Don’t you have work to do?" Wonwoo snaps, the skin at the back of his neck prickling.

Jisoo gives him a smug look and turns to smile at the girl that walks into the café.

Wonwoo turns back to cleaning the mixing cups, reaching up to touch his cheeks with a scowl on his face.

He wasn’t smiling.

The screen of his phone lights up with more messages from Mingyu.

Memes.

Mingyu’s sending him memes.

Wonwoo shuts his phone off for the rest of the day.

 

 

The entire week passes in a blur. Wonwoo basically just sleeps, goes to work, gets home, eats and showers, sleeps, goes to work… And then it’s already Sunday and the break is over, meaning that his classes are starting again tomorrow.

He hasn’t seen any of his friends the entire week; most of them went away to spend their break somewhere in the south where it’s warmer anyways and Soonyoung’s been… busy with Yuna. Wonwoo isn’t really complaining though.

At least this way his best friend won’t judge him for spending every night either in front of the TV or with a book on his lap.

Or with his phone in his hands.

Wonwoo doesn’t really know why or how, but Mingyu and him have been talking constantly and it’s just— he doesn’t know what to make of it. Mingyu’s good with people, he knows what questions to ask to get them to open up and Wonwoo guesses that’s what he’s been doing with Wonwoo too. He can’t really explain why else he would feel so comfortable with the endless back and forth of silly messages.

Usually, if Wonwoo is texting someone that isn’t either his family or friends he’ll be rewriting his answer at least ten times, and then check it over and over again for mistakes before finally hitting the "send" button. But with Mingyu, he doesn’t feel the need to do any of that, not even when the boy first texted him last week.

He just replied without thinking too much of it, which is honestly a huge step for Wonwoo.

Wonwoo’s also learned a lot more about Mingyu than he ever wanted to know. He knows his favorite movies, knows that the boy eats everything without making a fuss.

 

 

To: Mingyu

what about brussel sprouts? <

 

From: Mingyu

> love them!!!!

 

To: Mingyu

 liar <

 

From: Mingyu

> no, i swear!

> have you tried grilled ones?

> they’re bomb!!!!!!!!!!

 

To: Mingyu

 i don’t think we can be friends <

 

 

From: Mingyu

> why not? ( ◕︵◕ )

 

To: Mingyu

 i don’t trust people who like brussel sprouts <

 

From: Mingyu

> but hyuuunnnnnnnngggggggg

 

 

 

Wonwoo even knows that Mingyu has a not so secret collection of Marvel dolls and he’s still missing Bucky from Captain America.

He knows that Mingyu loves his family more than anything and that he has two dogs. A puppy called Dobby.

 

 

To: Mingyu

 dobby? as in dobby from harry potter???!! <


From: Mingyu

> wow this is the first time you seem excited about something i said (*^ ^*)/

> but yes it’s dobby from harry potter and before you turn into a crazy fangirl; it wasn’t my idea

> my sister’s a harry potter fan

 

 

The other one’s already eight years old. His name is Friday. That was Mingyu’s idea.

 

 

To: Mingyu

mingyu… you named your dog friday? <

 

From: Mingyu

> i was 14, okay?!

 

To: Mingyu

 but why friday <

 

From: Mingyu

> because we got him on a friday!

 

To: Mingyu

 yeah sounds like something you’d come up with <

 

From: Mingyu

> can you let me live o( ╥﹏╥ )o

 

 

To: Mingyu

 no <

 

 

Chatting with Mingyu is… fun.

It’s easy.

It makes Wonwoo forget how - for the lack of a better word - intimidating and different Mingyu actually is.

He's the complete opposite of Wonwoo, which becomes very clear through the days they spent texting each other. While Wonwoo is at home eating a chocolate bar, Mingyu is at the fitness studio taking care of his body. When Wonwoo is eating dinner alone in front of the TV, Mingyu is at some fast food place having a good time with his friends. Wonwoo reads a book, Mingyu’s just casually backstage at a concert of some kind of famous indie band because Jeonghan and Seungcheol seem to have a lot of connections in the music industry.

So yeah, talking to Mingyu in person, while both of them are completely sober, is on an entirely new level of difficult.

Wonwoo figures out as much when his friends decide to pay him a visit at the end of the week while he’s at work.

"Wonwoo!"

When Wonwoo walks out of the supply room to see what has Jisoo shouting for him he’s met with a brightly grinning Soonyoung, Seungkwan who’s ordering some kind of ridiculous coffee mixture and - very surprisingly - Mingyu and Jeonghan standing in the middle of the coffee shop.

"Surprise!" Soonyoung sings. Luckily, it's already late and the café is nearly empty because it's a Tuesday night so there are not many customers his best friend can disturb with his behavior.

Wonwoo dries his hands on a towel, starting to feel nervous when his eyes flicker over to where Mingyu is standing. The boy is just looking at Wonwoo - only at Wonwoo - a small grin spreading on his face when their eyes meet.

That’s exactly what Wonwoo meant; this is the first time they’re meeting when they’re not intoxicated and while Mingyu doesn’t seem to be any different from their previous meetings - still radiating confidence, all charming smiles and flirty gestures - Wonwoo is just sober Wonwoo; tongue-tied, awkward, cold Wonwoo.

"What are you doing here?" Wonwoo asks Soonyoung when he manages to tear his away from Mingyu once his best friend clears his throat to get his attention. Soonyoung is giving him an annoying smirk like he knows what’s going on in Wonwoo’s head.

"Me and Seungkwan were about to visit you and then we ran into these two." He points at Mingyu and Jeonghan — the latter looking very interested as he’s leaning against the counter to talk (flirt) with Jisoo. Unfortunately, Jisoo’s as straight as one can get so he doubts he’ll stay interested very long.

Wonwoo nods his head. "Do you want to order something?"

Since Jisoo seems to be too busy laughing about whatever it is Jeonghan just told him Wonwoo takes care of their orders. He looks up when it’s Mingyu’s turn, trying to act as nonchalant as possible but Mingyu tilts his head, giving him a warm smile when he says he wants an iced americano and Wonwoo just stares at him for a few seconds, watching how Mingyu’s smile grows even bigger. Mingyu leans closer, his palms pressed against the counter separating them.

"I didn’t know people could look so cute in aprons." The younger says, pointing at the green apron covering Wonwoo’s chest down to his knees. "Green suits you."

That finally snaps Wonwoo out of whatever kind of spell he just was under. He hopes his cheeks don’t look as flaming hot as they feel. He glares at Mingyu and practically punches the order into the touch screen in front of him.

Mingyu looks like he’s having the time of his life.

Wonwoo writes their names down on the cups, scowling when he’s about to write down Mingyu’s name. That brat shouldn’t think he can get away with teasing Wonwoo like that.

He brings them their drinks to the table and sits down with them when Soonyoung urges him to do so. He guesses it’s fine since there really are no customers left besides his friends and he already cleaned everything before they arrived.

"We should go out again. I mean all of us, like last week," Soonyoung speaks around the pink straw in his mouth.

Seungkwan sighs dramatically. "Don’t count me in."

"Why not?"

"He’s not allowed to drink." Hansol snickers, stopping immediately when Seungkwan gives him a disappointed look. "Sorry."

"Why can’t you drink?"

Wonwoo tries really hard not to look to the other side of the table where Mingyu is sitting but it’s not that easy because he can feel the younger staring at him. He risks a quick look and is immediately caught because Mingyu winks at him. Wonwoo tilts his head, smiling to himself as he eyes Mingyu’s cup.

"I’ve started a new acne treatment." Seungkwan sighs again. "It’s really aggressive on the liver."

"Accutane?" Jeonghan, who finally joined them asks. Seungkwan nods and Jeonghan shrugs. "I took that too when I was in High School but I still used to drink."

"Yeah but I’m taking like, a ridiculously high dose. I don’t want to die from liver failure, okay? Shouldn’t you guys be telling me not to drink anyways? What kind of friends are you?!"

"Man, what are you even taking meds for?" Soonyoung snickers. "Your skin is softer than a baby’s!"

"I’m getting pimples everywhere because of stress! You just can’t tell cause I’m wearing make-up."

"It’s not that bad." Hansol rolls his eyes. "He’s just being—"

"Shut up you don’t know what it feels like," Seungkwan grunts and aggressively sips on his coffee.

Someone suddenly kicks Wonwoo’s foot under the table. Wonwoo looks up and finds Mingyu frowning at him.

"What?" He asks.

"Hyung." Mingyu pouts, lifting his cup and turning it so Wonwoo can see the scribbled words on it. "What is this?"

"I wrote your name," Wonwoo answers.

"That’s not how you spell my name!"

Soonyoung reaches out to take the cup and reads the word, snickering to himself as he gives Wonwoo a proud look.

Mingyu snatches the cup back, frowning down at it. "Who the hell spells it Mingyou?"

"Sorry. My bad." Wonwoo shrugs his shoulders which only makes Mingyu scowl at him, almost like the younger knows why Wonwoo did what he did.

They make plans for the weekend, deciding to ditch the clubs this time to go and see a movie at the theatre because Seungkwan’s being salty about not being able to drink.

"We can go to my place after," Soonyoung suggests. "Still get some alcohol into our system. We don’t wanna slack off."

Wonwoo chuckles when everyone agrees. He faintly remembers himself thinking that he was going to stop drinking.

They leave half an hour later and when Wonwoo starts cleaning up the table while his friends put on their coats Mingyu’s and his eyes briefly meet.

Mingyu doesn’t smile this time, but the eye contact is strangely intense even though it only lasts for three seconds at most. Wonwoo hastily picks up all the empty cups, purposefully ignoring the way his stomach just did a dangerous flop in his stomach.

"You should come to the cinema too," Wonwoo suggests when they’re closing up the café.

Jisoo puts away his keys, burrowing deeper into his coat. "I don’t know. Would that be okay with your friends?"

"Of course." Wonwoo shrugs, the cold night air biting at his skin. "Jeonghan wouldn’t mind for sure."

Jisoo laughs. "I told him I don't swing that way but he seems nice anyways. I’ll think about it."

Wonwoo nods and they walk together to the bus stop, chatting away as they wait for their busses to arrive. The bus Wonwoo takes is completely empty and when he sits down at the very back next to the window, he just feels completely exhausted.

He has to try really hard not to fall asleep through the ride in fear of missing his stop so he tries to distract himself with his phone, which very conveniently lights up with a message right at that moment.

 

From: Mingyu

> are you home yet?

 

To: Mingyu

 not yet <

 why? <

From: Mingyu

> just making sure you’re safe

> it’s dangerous being out at night alone ( ◕﹏◕✿ )

 

To: Mingyu

 i think i can handle it <

 

From: Mingyu

> i don't doubt that. but tell me when you’re home :)

 

 

Wonwoo’s thumbs hover over the touch screen after reading Mingyu’s message. He doesn’t know what to make of it. He puts his phone away when his bus stop comes up, not looking at it again until he’s back in his apartment and getting ready to take a quick shower before going to bed. He should really eat something but he’s honestly too tired and he has morning classes tomorrow.

He checks his phone again before jumping in the shower, gaping a little at how many messages Mingyu sent him.

 

 

To: Mingyu

osvnjkvnddd <

 

Wonwoo frowns. He must’ve sent that on accident when he got off the bus.

 

From: Mingyu

> did you type that with your ass

> hyung are you there?

> did you get kidnapped?

> hyungggg!!!!!

> if you don’t answer me in two minutes i’m going out there and look for you

> wonwoo hyung seriously are you ok?

 

 

Wonwoo holds his breath after reading Mingyu’s messages. They're all five minutes apart, except the last one, which was sent fifteen minutes later.

He’s not really sure why Mingyu’s concern makes him feel like this but he doesn’t like it one bit.

 

 

To: Mingyu

i’m fine < 

i’m home now <

 

From: Mingyu

> you scared me

 

To: Mingyu

 i’m sorry <

 

From: Mingyu

> don’t be

> sleep well

 

 

Again, his heart does something weird; it tickles his chest, makes his cheeks burn.

Wonwoo hastily puts his phone down and strips out of his clothes, hoping that the hot stream of water will help him calm down.

 

Falling asleep that night isn’t easy.

His thoughts are a mess, and Wonwoo can’t stop thinking about—

He just can’t. He thinks about his stupid messages, his arrogant smirk and the way he looked at Wonwoo tonight.

And then his skin starts tingling again and Wonwoo is just horrified at what’s happening to him.

This just can’t be happening. Wonwoo won’t allow it.

It’ll be okay. He has more self-control than this. This is exactly what Mingyu wants him to feel. He’s a flirt; he knows how to get those kinds of reactions out of people and Wonwoo isn’t going to fall for it like everyone else.

He won’t.

 

 

 

Over the next few days, Mingyu shows up at the coffee shop when Wonwoo’s working. He isn’t sure how Mingyu knows when exactly his shifts are but he’s pretty sure it has something to do with Soonyoung.

It’s always the same; Mingyu will come in, he’ll smile at everyone that starts gawking at his presence (who even walks around like that? Mingyu always looks like he’s ready for a damn photo shoot) and he’ll order an iced americano.

Then he will walk over to the counter where he can pick up his drink once it’s ready and he’ll just stare at Wonwoo while the latter is preparing his drink for him.

Wonwoo tried to ignore him at first, acting like he didn’t know him, but once his eyes flickered up on accident and he just snapped.

"Can you quit staring at me?" He hissed.

Mingyu just gave him an innocent look. "Why?"

"You’re distracting me!" That definitely wasn’t what Wonwoo meant to say. He froze, the machine behind him beeping to let him know that the coffee was ready. Mingyu’s eyes widened for a moment.

"I distract you?" Mingyu asked, gaping a little. "I… distract you."

"Shut up." Wonwoo quickly turned around and put the lid on Mingyu’s drink, angrily scribbling down Mingyu’s name on the cup. "Here. Now leave." He grunted, pushing the drink into Mingyu’s waiting hands.

Mingyu checked his name on the cup and gave Wonwoo an incredulous look. "What the fuck?"

"What is it?" Wonwoo asked, acting like he genuinely didn’t know what was going on.

"You spelled my name wrong again!"

"Is that not how you spell it?"

"Hyung! It doesn’t even sound like my name! Who the fuck is Mingyeol?"

Wonwoo just shrugged his shoulders, giving Mingyu a blank look. He was trying really hard not to smirk in satisfaction though when Mingyu walked out of the café with a pout on his lips.

It kind of became a thing after that.

"Mingyew," Mingyu read out loud the next day. "You’re just fucking with me now."

"You wish." Wonwoo scoffed under his breath, not actually meaning for the other to hear it.

"You bet I do," Mingyu answered and Wonwoo dropped an entire carton of milk at that, his face flaming red as he glared at the younger. "What?" Mingyu smirked at him.

"Don’t say things like that!"

"Why not?"

"Mingyu I will kill you. Get the hell out!"

Wonwoo couldn’t really calm down the entire day after that.

 

 

Today, when Mingyu comes in, Wonwoo gives him the cold shoulder and Mingyu probably notices that he’s in a bad mood so he just quietly waits for his drink.

Wonwoo wordlessly hands him his drink and blinks up at Mingyu when the younger sighs after reading the name scribbled on the cup.

It just reads "asswipe".

"Is that payback for what I said yesterday?" Mingyu asks.

Wonwoo shrugs and starts cleaning the counter.

"I didn’t mean it hyung," Mingyu mumbles. "Well… I mean. I kind of meant it. Because I kind of can’t look at you without wanting to—" Mingyu stops at the death glare shot in his direction, a timid smile spreading on his face. "Okay, look I’m sorry. I won’t say things like that anymore. Can you stop being mad at me now?"

"I’m not mad at you."

"Alright. Be like that." Mingyu rolls his eyes. He suddenly walks up to one of Wonwoo’s co-workers and Wonwoo frowns when Mingyu points at Wonwoo.

His co-worker nods and disappears into the staff room. Before Wonwoo can question what the hell Mingyu just did the supervisor of the shop suddenly walks out of the room, walking up to Mingyu with a smile on her face. Mingyu again points at Wonwoo, and then at his cup, and suddenly Wonwoo is being dragged into the back room by his supervisor.

"Asswipe?" She asks, giving him an incredulous look. "Wonwoo, seriously?"

"I didn’t—"

"You can’t just call a customer an asswipe Wonwoo!"

"He’s not—"

"Come with me."

"No, wait—"

"You’re going to apologize."

And a moment later, Wonwoo is standing in front of a very satisfied looking Mingyu. Wonwoo is one second away from pouring the coffee over that idiot’s head.

"Wonwoo is very sorry, Sir. He’s a bit moody sometimes but I’m sure he didn’t mean it. Isn’t that so, Wonwoo?"

Wonwoo glares at Mingyu and very reluctantly nods his head. "I’m sorry."

"Do you really think I’m an... asswipe?" Mingyu asks, tilting his head to the side. Wonwoo somehow doesn’t know if Mingyu is still acting for the sake of getting a reaction out of Wonwoo or if he actually means it. "Because that kind of hurt my feelings."

"Oh, no Wonwoo certainly doesn’t think that. Right, Wonwoo?"

Wonwoo grits his teeth together. "I don’t think you’re an asswipe."

"So, would you agree if I say I'm handsome, at least?"

He has his fists clenched beside his hips and Wonwoo just wonders what he did for the universe to throw someone as annoying as Mingyu into his life.

His supervisor gives him a stern and urgent look when Wonwoo is silent for too long.

"Yes," He finally answers. They look into each other’s eyes and the smug smile disappears from Mingyu’s face, getting replaced by something more gentle - could almost be described as fond - and it makes Wonwoo’s stomach swirl.

He suddenly can’t look away from Mingyu.

He’s just— Mingyu’s so—

"I hope you can accept our apology Sir and I hope this incident won’t disturb your image of us. I can offer you a gift card— "

"That won’t be necessary." Mingyu shakes his head, giving her a polite smile before returning his attention to Wonwoo. "I think I already have a good reason to come back here."

Wonwoo takes a calming breath and his supervisor starts looking uneasy, her eyes flickering between Wonwoo and Mingyu who just keep staring at each other.

She doesn’t stop giving Wonwoo this weirdly knowing look for the rest of his shift and for the first time ever since they started texting each other, Wonwoo doesn’t receive a single text from Mingyu for the remainder of the day.

 

 

Mingyu also doesn’t show up at the café the next day and Wonwoo hates to admit that it makes him feel uneasy. He doesn’t think he did anything to make the younger ignore him apart from calling him an, you know... asswipe.

But he apologized.

Wonwoo sighs and takes a look at the clock. He still has two more courses before he can go home.

 

 

He pays the bills once he’s home, transfers the same amount of money as always into his mom’s account. There’s a letter from an organization that provides children in third world countries with education on the coffee table and Wonwoo feels a wave of guilt wash over him when he realizes that he can’t even donate anything this month if he still wants to go to the cinema with his friends tomorrow.

All of that leaves him with a worryingly small amount of money but then again, he finds himself in the same situation almost every month so it doesn’t come as a surprise.

Living on his own - like most of his friends - he’s had to learn pretty quickly how to scrape by. It was depressing in the beginning, when he had to collect coupons and rely on discounts to do some grocery shopping but he’s been doing this for two years and it doesn’t concern him that much anymore.

There are still about fifteen packs of ramen in his cupboard which should get him through at least two weeks so he’s not too worried right now.

 

 

He’s about to go to bed when he receives a message from his brother.

 

From: Channie

> hyung are you asleep?

 

To: Channie

not yet. is everything okay? <

 

From: Channie

> dad told me not to tell you but i know how upset you get when we keep things from you

 

Wonwoo feels his stomach drop when he reads the text.

 

To: Channie

what happened? is mom okay? <

 

From: Channie

> she’s not

> i know you don’t like talking on the phone but please i need to talk to someone

 

Wonwoo doesn’t waste any time and quickly presses the call button the chat, waiting for his little brother to pick up.

"Chan?" Wonwoo asks, trying to sound as calm as possible. "Hey, are you okay?"

"Hyung— I’m…" Chan stutters and Wonwoo hears him sniffle.

"What happened?"

"I don’t know." Chan whimpers. The sound makes Wonwoo’s heart ache. "I came back from school and she was just— she was in her room. I heard her crying. I called for her but she didn’t answer and I knocked on her door and she just yelled at me to go away and then she started— she just started sobbing and screaming."

Wonwoo sits down on his bed, his head hanging low as he listens to his brother’s words.

He isn’t really shocked. Maybe a bit disappointed because he had hoped that she had gotten better. She wasn’t even taking medication anymore because she’d been doing so well last time Wonwoo checked.

"Dad was at work and he didn’t pick up the phone so I— I didn’t know what to do hyung. I went to get Mrs. Kim."

"That’s fine, Chan." Wonwoo says, gulping around the lump in his throat. Mrs. Kim is their closest neighbor and probably the only person his parents trust in for matters like this one since they don’t have any family living close to them.

He always hoped that Chan wouldn’t ever see her like that. If Wonwoo would’ve been there he could’ve prevented him from seeing it. "You did great. Did she calm down after that?"

"No." Chan sounds choked up but Wonwoo knows he’s trying to hide it, trying to look mature in front of Wonwoo. "We took her to the hospital. They— I don’t know what they did. They put a needle in her arm and she’s been sleeping ever since. Dad came as soon as he saw my message."

"Okay." Wonwoo mumbles quietly. "I’m sorry for not being there. And that you had to see her like that."

Chan sniffles on the other end and Wonwoo hears him take a shaky breath. "It’s fine. It’s not your fault. And I’m glad you weren’t here. You saw it happening enough times already."

Wonwoo fiddles with the hem of his shirt, his mind automatically going to places he usually tries to avoid.

His mom not leaving her room for days, Wonwoo having to prepare himself and Chan lunch at the age of nine because all his mom would do was just sleep. Completely dead to the world and her responsibilities as a mother to her two little school children.

Wonwoo used to have nightmares, for a very long time. Until he was old enough to fully understand what "depression" and "panic attacks" meant.

"Are you okay?" Wonwoo asks, trying to clear his mind from the unpleasant memories before they become clear enough to bring up scenes of his mom being tranquilized—

"Yeah." Chan takes another calming breath. "I’m sorry for crying. It was just… really scary."

"I know. It’s okay." Wonwoo quietly answers. "I really— I really should come home."

He remembers the conversation with his mom, how she asked Wonwoo to just come home. His eyes start to sting because he let his mom down again. He can’t bear the thought of her keeping all the sadness inside of herself and then breaking down like that. He should be there. He should help her, cheer her up, show her that he cares about her…

"No!" Chan immediately rushes out. "No, hyung, please don’t. I wasn’t even supposed to tell you. Please just— please just act like you don’t know about it. Please hyung. Dad said… he’s going to call you. There are things we have to talk about, for mom’s health."

Wonwoo grits his teeth together, imagining his parents and Chan sitting at the dinner table, his mom crying silently and Chan trying not to let the depressed air around them get to him. He knows how suffocating it can be.

"Okay." He says. Wonwoo knows how bad he felt when his mom was depressed and he honestly doesn’t want Chan to go through the same. "Chan. Do you want to come stay with me?"

"What?" Chan asks, surprised.

"Next weekend, maybe. You can stay with me for a day or two. We haven’t done anything together in a while. I mean… only if you want to—"

"Yes!" Chan immediately answers, sounding excited all of a sudden. "Hyung that would be amazing! Uhm." Chan lowers his voice a little. "But… do you really want me there?"

Wonwoo blinks at the question, a dull feeling of sadness spreading in his chest. "Of course I want you here. You’re my little brother."

"So next weekend?" Chan asks after a pause as if to check.

"Yeah. I mean, I have to work in the mornings but you always sleep in anyways."

"That’s right." Chan laughs and Wonwoo smiles a little too.

"Alright. Go to sleep now, it’s late."

"Yeah." Chan says. "Thank you hyung. I’m sorry for burdening you with this. I know you’re stressed out as it is—"

"Hey, we’re a family, okay? A family—" Wonwoo pauses, trying to choose his words carefully. "A family shares their burdens. Just because I don’t live at home anymore doesn’t mean our problems don’t concern me. I’m your hyung and I’m—"

You’re too cold. Stop being so cold.

"I’m always there for you if you need someone, okay?"

There’s a moment of silence and Wonwoo can tell his brother is smiling when he speaks again. "Thank you."

Wonwoo clears his throat. "Goodnight Chan."

"Goodnight hyung. I love you."

 

It’s another sleepless night but this time Wonwoo’s chest aches with how much he wants to be home and hold his mom’s hand and apologize for… everything, really.

 

 

His mood is slightly better by the time he is finished with work the next day. He texted his mom this morning, asking her what she was up to without mentioning the call he received from Chan last night. She responded as if nothing was wrong as to not worry Wonwoo, even sent him a picture of her colorful orchid collection.

Wonwoo knows she’s always blamed herself for not being able to keep it together in front of Wonwoo; she thinks of herself as a bad mother and it hurts Wonwoo even more than it hurts her because, at the end of the day, none of it is her fault.

 

 

His dad calls him later that night when he’s sitting in the car next to Soonyoung.

Turns out his mom’s depression is back, worse than before — she relapsed, is what they’re saying. Her therapist advised her to take a long break from work, somewhere away from all the stress she’s going through because she’s way too invested in her interior design business and cares more about her job than her own health.

His dad decided to go and stay in the countryside with their relatives for a few months, depending on her condition. He’s a freelance architect so he can do all his work from home anyways and his mom is going to go on a temporary leave from her job.

Wonwoo takes this all in, not really able to process the information as fast as he’d like to.

It’s all just… decided and Wonwoo he— he feels so detached from all of it. Even their relatives know more about his mom’s condition than himself. If it wasn’t for Chan Wonwoo wouldn’t have known about it all.

"What about Chan?" He asks. "What about his school?"

"We can’t… have him stay with someone else." His dad clears his throat and Wonwoo feels his throat close up, knowing very well what he’s referring too. They don’t want to do it again. Not the way they did with Wonwoo.

"We are looking for a high school in the area but you know how the village is. There aren't many options…" His dad sounds tired and Wonwoo, despite everything - their almost nonexistent relationship and hostility towards each other - feels bad for him.

"He can stay with me." Wonwoo says without thinking. Soonyoung gives him a curious and slightly concerned look. "There’s a good high school only a few minutes from my university. And Doyoon goes there so he’d already know someone."

"Wonwoo. Do you really think you can take care of Chan?" His dad starts and Wonwoo hears the silent "You can’t even take care of yourself" behind it all.

Wonwoo knows his father will probably reject his idea, because everything Wonwoo ever comes up with is wrong in the eyes of his dad. It’s always been like that. And obviously he doesn’t trust Wonwoo with a simple task like taking care of his little brother.

"Chan’s almost eighteen. He could probably take care of himself."

There’s a long pause on the other end. He hears his dad sigh, and then he says: "I think we might not have another choice. At least not on such a short notice. Chan wasn’t very happy when I told him about our plans anyways." His dad answers. "We’ll have to discuss this with your mother and Chan. I’ll call you again once everything’s decided."

"Okay."

"Goodbye."

"Bye."

He puts his phone away and takes a calming breath. His hands are shaking for some reason and Wonwoo briefly wonders if he should be concerned but probably not. He always gets like this when he hasn’t slept or eaten enough or when there’s too much stress. Which— all of that is the case right now.

"Good. I don’t understand anything." Soonyoung frowns at him. "Come on, shoot."

Soonyoung already knows all about Wonwoo’s past. Wonwoo tried to keep things secret from him but he ended up spilling everything when they were drunk once and unfortunately, Soonyoung still remembered everything the next day given the way he hugged Wonwoo so tight like he never wanted to let go again.

"I’m sorry, Won," Soonyoung mumbles after Wonwoo tells him what’s going on. "Man, I really thought she’d gotten better."

"Me too." Wonwoo looks out the window, watching girls in high heels walk over the streets to enjoy their Saturday night.

"But hey, this isn’t so bad, right?" Soonyoung asks. "She loves the countryside and I think it’s good that she can be with her sisters and parents. She must miss them a lot when she’s in the city. And she’s getting treatment too so I’m sure she’ll be back on her feet in no time."

Wonwoo gives Soonyoung a small smile, chuckling when his friend ruffles his hair.

"And Chan coming to live with you is like, the coolest thing ever! Everyone loves the kid anyways. And we’ll all help you out, understood?"

"Thank you," Wonwoo mumbles, almost blushing because he honestly can’t handle too much kindness even if it’s from such a close person like Soonyoung.

"Aww, man. Stop being so adorable. I only want the best for you." Soonyoung sniffles and Wonwoo isn’t surprised that his friend is tearing up again. Soonyoung and his mom have always gotten along really well. "And don’t be sad now, okay? It’ll all be fine. Just enjoy the night."

"Yeah, okay," Wonwoo sighs and rubs at his eyes under his glasses.

 

 

"Wait, we’re watching a horror movie?" Seungkwan exclaims as they’re standing in line to buy their tickets. "I wouldn’t have dragged my ass all the way here if I knew that! Let’s watch something else. Let’s—" He runs over to a movie poster of an animated film for children, pointing at it frantically. "Let’s watch this instead! Looks cute, right?"

Hansol rolls his eyes and grabs Seungkwan’s arm, dragging him to back to the machine to print their tickets.

"Stop being such a drama queen," Minghao mutters in front of his own machine where him and Seokmin are picking their own seats.

Soonyoung snorts and hands Wonwoo his ticket which the latter takes with a reassuring smile when Soonyoung whispers to ask if he’s doing okay. Wonwoo’s smile fades rather quickly once he looks up and locks eyes with Mingyu though.

Mingyu, who hasn’t texted him once in the past two days. Mingyu who completely embarrassed him in front of his supervisor at work.

Wonwoo keeps a stoic face and follows the others to buy some snacks. He isn’t hungry so he just buys a drink and waits for the others to finish, which could take a while because Soonyoung and Seokmin are currently eyeing some Nachos.

"You’re wearing the glasses again."

Wonwoo nearly jumps out of his skin, turning around to glare at Mingyu who only gives him an innocent look. Wonwoo hates that Mingyu is taller than him, and he also hates the stupid leather jacket Mingyu is wearing. Is he trying to look like a bad boy now or what? Or a runway model?

"What do you want?"

"Oh... You’re mad."

"Do I have a reason to be mad at you?"

Mingyu presses his lips together for a moment. "I kind of feel like you’re not too happy about me being here."

"I don’t really care," Wonwoo says, looking him in the eyes and maybe it’s just a trick of the lights but he thinks he sees a flash of hurt in the boy’s dark eyes. Wonwoo sighs, feeling guilty for acting like an asshole. "I’m not in the best mood. Sorry."

"It’s okay. Everyone has bad days." Mingyu smiles at him. Not teasing, just completely genuine. "How have you been?"

"You saw me, like, two days ago."

"Two days is a long time." Mingyu shrugs. "I missed talking to you."

Wonwoo nibbles at his lower lip, trying his best to ignore Mingyu’s words. "Then why didn’t you?" He asks.

"What do you mean?"

"You didn’t text."

Mingyu blinks at him, a rather… cute smile spreading on his face. "Did you want me to?"

"Not really."

"You missed my texts, didn’t you?" Mingyu nudges him with his shoulder. "You missed my selfies and my memes—"

"I did not miss the stupid ass memes."

"But you missed the rest." Mingyu looks so smug right now and Wonwoo just wants to wipe that stupid smile off his face. "It's okay; you can admit it."

 

"Has anyone ever told you that you’re kind of insufferable?"

"I don’t recall that ever happening."

"Or you’re just in denial."

Mingyu shrugs his shoulders. "I’m not necessarily like this with other people. You kind of bring out the worst in me."

Wonwoo scowls at him, looking back to their friends who look like they want to buy the entire candy aisle.

"Seriously hyung," Mingyu speaks in a more serious tone now. "If it really bothers you, I will stop."

Yeah, but the thing is; Wonwoo doesn’t actually want Mingyu to stop. He likes their banter and he likes Mingyu teasing him and Mingyu smiling more than any other person Wonwoo has ever met. It’s refreshing and it’s distracting Wonwoo from the unpleasant things going on his mind.

Wonwoo is about to answer but Soonyoung calls for them so he shuts his mouth and silently follows them into the cinema hall.

 

 

Mingyu and Wonwoo end up sitting next to each other because Wonwoo’s friends are little shits. Soonyoung gives him a stupid smile from the other end of the row where he’s sitting with Minghao and Seokmin. The rest are a row behind them.

It’s a Saturday night so it’s nearly impossible to get seats next to each other for so many people if you didn’t book any beforehand.

Wonwoo sits down with a frown on his face, the chair creaking under his weight which only worsens his mood.

"Do you want to switch?" Mingyu asks, having caught Wonwoo’s reaction.

"What?"

"The seats. Mine doesn’t creak." Before Wonwoo can even open his mouth Mingyu is already up on his feet, tugging at Wonwoo’s arm to get him to sit in Mingyu’s seat instead.

Wonwoo sits there for a few seconds before he trusts himself to speak. "Thanks."

Mingyu just nods his head.

"You’re not that insufferable," Wonwoo forces himself to say, sensing that Mingyu might’ve taken to heart what Wonwoo said to him a few moments ago.

"What?" The younger finally turns his head, his face barely illuminated by the dim lighting in the cinema.

"I said you’re not insufferable," Wonwoo reluctantly repeats, practically rushing the words out.

Mingyu blinks at him for a moment, giving him a faint smile as he leans further back in his seat, which causes a horrible creak and both of them pull a pained face at the sound. "You know I don’t really mean what I say, right? I just like to tease certain people if it gets me a reaction out of them."

"And I’m one of those people?"

"Well." Mingyu shrugs, smiling to himself. "Can’t say I’ve met a lot of people like you but, yeah."

Wonwoo leans back in his seat as well, his fingers fiddling with his sweater. "People like me? What’s that supposed to mean?"

"Easy to tease." Mingyu lifts his hand in defense when Wonwoo glares at him. "And you already know that you’re— you know. Kind of special to me."

That catches Wonwoo off guard. "Special?"

"Cause you’re the first person who’s ever rejected me."

Wonwoo freezes when he hears Mingyu’s words. And then his shoulders sag and he just— feels like shit.

Here he was, thinking that Mingyu was talking to him because he might’ve just enjoyed texting Wonwoo.

But of course that’s not the case. He should’ve known a guy like Mingyu wouldn’t bother with a socially inept person like Wonwoo if he didn’t have some kind of hidden agenda.

"I see," He mutters, not bothering to look at Mingyu anymore.

And Mingyu isn’t stupid, he senses that something’s off. "Did I say something wrong?"

"No."

"Hyung."

"Can you just shut up?" Wonwoo grits out, just wanting to get this stupid movie over with.

Mingyu just stares at him, the look on his face slightly crestfallen. "Please don’t do this."

"Do what?"

"Don’t give me the cold shoulder." Mingyu sighs. "Look, I know I sometimes talk out of my ass but I honestly didn’t mean to offend you. Why are you like this?"

"I’m not some kind—" Wonwoo starts before he takes a calming breath. "If you’re talking to me because it hurt your pride that you got rejected and you’re trying to fucking… woo me to prove yourself something—"

"What?" Mingyu gives him a slightly hurt look. "You think that’s what I’m doing?"

Wonwoo shrugs.

"I’m not," Mingyu says. "You clearly sad that you don’t want to go out with me, so I thought we could at least be friends. I’m not some kind of asshole that’s trying to get into your pants. But good to know you think so lowly of me." The look on Mingyu’s face is one of disappointment, which is something turns to stare at the blank screen in front of them and Wonwoo adds this to his collection of one of the moments in his life where he’s felt like a very shitty human being.

Mingyu actually looks hurt by Wonwoo’s words and Wonwoo honestly doesn’t know how to make it better right now.

An apology would be great, probably, but Wonwoo keeps his mouth shut. As always.

  

Wonwoo doesn’t notice it right away, because most horror movies (like the one they’re watching right now) start off very bright and happy, almost making you forget about the genre of the movie.

The "scary" things start happening around half an hour into it and it’s after the very first jump scare that Wonwoo looks over at Mingyu and sees him gripping the armrests like his life is depending on it. Wonwoo furrows his eyebrows, wondering what the hell the boy is doing, but the next jump scare has Mingyu pressing his eyes closed, muttering something under his breath.

Wonwoo can’t help but grin to himself even though he has to admit that he feels slightly bad for the boy.

The movie is basically just full of very predictable jump scares and while Wonwoo barely even flinches in his seat when they come up he can hear Seungkwan wailing and whimpering for his mom behind them every two minutes.

Mingyu isn’t that better off but at least he doesn’t disturb the other people with his shrieks and curses like Seungkwan does.

Wonwoo starts to feel bad for the boy next to him because it’s only when the sun rises in the movie and things seem to calm down for a while that Mingyu relaxes with a drawn-out exhale.

He gnaws at his lower lip, wondering whether he should say something or not. He sighs to himself, turning his head to whisper in Mingyu’s ear. "You can predict the jump scares, you know. It’ll be less scary that way."

It makes Mingyu turn his head in his direction way too quickly, causing their faces to be only a breath apart and Wonwoo quickly leans back in his seat, clearing his throat.

"I’m not scared," Mingyu states very seriously.

They both stare at each other for a few seconds, Wonwoo giving Mingyu an unimpressed look until Mingyu finally caves.

"I don’t like horror movies," He mutters and Wonwoo could bet he’s only one mean remark away from starting to pout. "I know I’m supposed to be mad at you…"

Wonwoo tries really hard not to smile, doesn’t really understand how someone Mingyu’s age, looking like that can be so…. well. Cute.

Someone behind them clears their throat in a rather annoyed way, probably because they’re whispering. Mingyu turns around to look at them and the girl who just complained audibly gasps and actually starts rushing out hushed apologizes instead of it being the other way around.

Mingyu turns back around, still wearing that weird, flirty smile he must’ve given the girl. Wonwoo snorts, about to focus on the movie again when Mingyu nudges him.

"Tell me how I can stop crapping my pants when a jump scare comes up."

"It’s not that hard. They’re always predictable; whenever it’s dark or very silent all of a sudden, you know one will come up."

"Hyung, the entire fucking movie is dark and silent!"

"That’s not my fault."

"Shut the fuck up!" They hear Seokmin complaining and Wonwoo’s pretty sure he just tried to throw popcorn at them.

Wonwoo sighs, looking back at the screen just in time to see the girl getting woken up by a knocking sound in the middle of the night.

"No, no, no," Mingyu starts whimpering when the girl - as per usual - goes to check where the sound is coming from. "Don’t fucking go there!"

Wonwoo snickers, and half of the people in the cinema shriek at the sudden shrill sound of a door slamming shut. Including Mingyu, who is again clenching his eyes shut.

And who is currently gripping Wonwoo’s hand. Wonwoo frowns down at the death grip Mingyu has on his poor wrist.

He’s about to tell Mingyu to let go, or shake his hand off, but something makes him reconsider it.

A good person would let Mingyu hold their hand because it’s obvious the younger is actually frightened by the movie. If this was Chan or Soonyoung Wonwoo would probably try to help them out as well, right?

He has to mentally prepare himself for what he’s about to do and his heart is doing crazy things in his chest because what he does next is probably one of the craziest things Wonwoo has ever done. Which is really sad, if you think about it.

He takes a calming breath and before he can change his mind or worry too much about it he turns his hand around and moves until their palms are pressed together.

Mingyu looks down at their joined hands on the hand rest between them, blinking at it like he can’t comprehend what’s happening.

"I’m only doing it because I don’t want you to start crying," Wonwoo whispers, his face burning while he desperately tries to act like he’s not about to lose his mind for doing something so stupid. "Don’t get any weird ideas."

Mingyu - to Wonwoo’s surprise - doesn’t make a dumb remark. He simply squeezes Wonwoo’s hand and says "Thanks."

It doesn’t take long for Mingyu to start squeezing his fingers until it hurts, and the younger must’ve seen the discomfort on Wonwoo’s face since he quickly apologizes. It would probably hurt less if they would lace their fingers together because Wonwoo’s fingers wouldn’t get squished like that but there’s no way he can do that—

Well, it’s not necessary anyway. As soon as the invisible demon snaps the girl’s back in half with a sickening crunch, stretching her mouth obscenely to start crawling inside, Mingyu intertwines their fingers as if it's a matter of life and death, his knuckles almost turning white from how hard he’s holding on. "Is it over? Is it gone?" He whispers with his eyes squeezed shut.

Wonwoo chuckles, trying to ignore how his stomach churns at the feeling of Mingyu’s hand clasped around his own. "Not yet."

"I hate horror movies," Mingyu repeats. "I hate the fact that I’m sharing this planet with people who come up with shit like this. Something’s not right with them."

"It’s just a movie Mingyu." Wonwoo tries to comfort him but he’s also trying hard not to laugh. "It’s not real."

"It looks fucking real so your words mean nothing to me."

"You should sit next to Seungkwan next time," Wonwoo says. "You’d make a good pair. And the scene is over, by the way."

Mingyu carefully blinks his eyes open, sighing in relief at finding that the sun is out again in the movie. "Yeah, I’m sure Hansol’s having a great time."

Wonwoo tries to catch a glimpse of their friends and grins when he spots them; Seungkwan looking like he was actually crying a second ago, squeezing Hansol’s arm who looks like he’s regretting all of his life choices.

"It’s not like I’m better off," He mutters more to himself as he turns back around.

Mingyu looks down at their hands, starting to let go. "Sorry—"

"No," Wonwoo rushes out a little too fast, his face heating up when their eyes meet. "I mean… You can hold my hand. I don’t mind."

"I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable."

"I don’t feel uncomfortable."

He can’t tell Mingyu the truth; which is how overwhelmingly nice it feels to hold his hand. It feels the same way it felt the first night they met, when Wonwoo got so drunk he ended up nearly confessing his undying love to Mingyu for some reason he still doesn’t understand.

Mingyu looks at him for a moment longer and there’s something in his eyes Wonwoo doesn’t recognize; or maybe he just can’t make out which emotion it is because it’s so dark.

"Okay," He says, moving his fingers to secure his grip on Wonwoo’s hand after he returns his attention to the movie.

Wonwoo can’t say he remembers much of the movie afterwards because he’s too busy trying to keep his anxiety and racing pulse at bay every time Mingyu tightens his hold on Wonwoo’s hand.

They make up some sort of strategy; every time he squeezes Mingyu’s hand, it serves as some sort of warning whenever Wonwoo senses a scary scene coming up and while Mingyu still ends up startled, it’s not nearly as bad as before. After a particularly violent scene - when half of the other people jump and curse out lout - Mingyu even manages to stay completely still. Alright, his hand twitches a little in Wonwoo's but it counts nonetheless.

Mingyu rubs his thumb over the patch of skin between Wonwoo’s thumb and index finger, like a silent "Thank you" and when he starts to smile Wonwoo looks away so fast he almost gives himself whiplash when the sight makes his stomach do that thing again.

They don’t let go of each other’s hands for the rest of the movie and with every gentle swipe of Mingyu’s thumb over Wonwoo’s skin, Wonwoo starts to feel more and more terrified — and it’s not because of the movie.

 

 

Once the movie is over Wonwoo lets go of Mingyu’s hand so fast it looks like he was forced to do it in the first place. He doesn’t miss the flash of disappointment on Mingyu’s face but he honestly can’t worry about that right now.

He needs to get some air because he feels like he’s either going to throw up or faint or maybe both.

"I need someone to sleep with me for the next two weeks," Seungkwan whines while they’re walking to their cars. No one says anything besides laughing at his misery. "Someone needs to take responsibility for giving me a fucking trauma, okay? Who the fuck wanted to see this movie, huh?"

"Everyone," Soonyoung snorts. "It’s just a movie, Seungkwannie, relax."

Jisoo and Jeonghan are taking their sweet time following them and while nothing like that seems to be happening between them, they still seem to get along really well.

"Don’t tell me to relax you masochist," Seungkwan mutters, trying to shake the arm off Seokmin throws over his shoulder to calm him down. "Don’t think I didn’t hear you guys laughing your asses off at me."

"You were screaming like a little girl." Hansol raises his eyebrows at him. "The whole cinema was laughing at you, man."

Wonwoo chuckles and looks up from his feet, smile fading a little when his eyes land on Mingyu’s back who is walking in front of them with Minghao, laughing about something his friend said.

"Hey, Wonwoo hyung," Seungkwan shouts from behind him, making Wonwoo look over his shoulder. "At least you had a good time in there, right? I saw everything." He mouths the last words.

Wonwoo turns his head back around, just in time to see the scowl on Mingyu’s face before Minghao throws an arm around Mingyu’s shoulders, forcing him to turn away from Seungkwan again.

Soonyoung stops walking abruptly which makes Seungkwan walk right into him. "Stop talking." Ignoring Seungkwan’s complaints, he pats the back of Wonwoo’s head, who in return gives his best friend a what he hopes is a reassuring smile.

And by the time he's back in the car, Wonwoo still feels as sick as before.

 

 

When you feel sick, you usually go home and rest until you feel better.

You definitely do not go ahead and drink with your friends.

Which is what Wonwoo is currently doing.

As Soonyoung suggested a few days ago, they’re all at Soonyoung’s apartment after stopping at the store to buy some beer.

It’s nice though, because they’re all just sitting in his living room, some kind of drama playing on the TV together with a very melancholic song coming from someone’s phone that Seungkwan is currently singing along to. He was mad at first because he couldn’t drink along with them but to be honest, sober Seungkwan isn’t that much different from drunk Seungkwan so he doubts that he’s having any less fun because of it.

Wonwoo is on his third can of beer, laughing together with Soonyoung when Seungkwan and Seokmin both fail to hit the high note of the song. He isn’t drunk but the alcohol is helping him forget about the worrying thoughts attacking his mind.

Opposite of him, leaning against the couch is Mingyu, sipping quietly on his beer while he listens to whatever it is Jeonghan seems to be lecturing him about. Jeonghan, who has finally calmed down again since Jisoo had to leave early.

It’s like the younger can sense Wonwoo’s gaze on him, because he lifts his head, his eyes locking with Wonwoo’s right away. They look at each other for a few seconds and then a cute smile appears on Mingyu’s face and Wonwoo can’t look away from it until Soonyoung clears his throat.

Wonwoo pushes his best friend away until he doubles over and nearly spills his beer anywhere. Not that he cares, he just stays lying there, laughing at the ceiling.

Soonyoung sighs dreamily. "I wonder what Yuna’s up to. Should I call her?"

"You’re drunk. I wouldn’t," Seokmin advice him but Soonyoung doesn’t seem to care about that either. He just picks his phone out and disappears on the balcony with a dopey smile on his face. "Ahh, young love."

"Me too!" Seungkwan wails. "I want that too."

"You need to stop being a fucking diva if you want someone to tolerate you," Hansol mutters absently while playing a game on his phone.

"Tolerate?!" Seungkwan launches himself on top of the boy, both of them ending up on the floor where they start to wrestle with muffled groans and high-pitched curses.

"Gentlemen; young love." Seokmin snorts, nudging them with his toe to get them to stop when it sounds like Seungkwan is crying again.

Wonwoo wishes he would’ve missed the way Mingyu looked at him at Seokmin’s words.

Young love.

 

 

"I’m about to pass out. Where can I sleep?" Seungkwan asks somewhere between them eating leftover pizza and watching some kind of rerun of an old drama.

"As long as it’s not in my bed I don’t care," Soonyoung yawns, moving up to stretch his back.

"What? You have a king size bed! I want to sleep there."

"I’m sleeping there with Wonwoo, fuck off." Soonyoung points at Wonwoo who just sleepily blinks back at his friend.

"Don’t be like that! Wonwoo’s going to sleep with Mingyu anyways."

"That’s right!" Minghao suddenly agrees enthusiastically.

Mingyu scowls at his friend.

"Do whatever the fuck you want. Two people can sleep in my bed—"

Before Soonyoung has even finished talking all Seokmin and Seungkwan scramble to run to Soonyoung’s bedroom.

"Who invited those two." He whines, trying to pick up the empty beer cans on the floor.

Mingyu stands up and starts helping him and Wonwoo wants to do the same but he’s so tired and tipsy and he honestly just wants to sleep. Mingyu probably notices his struggles because he offers him his left hand that isn’t holding several beer cans. "Come here."

Wonwoo grabs his hand and gets up, his face bumping against Mingyu’s shoulder. "Tired."

"I know." Mingyu chuckles quietly, making sure that Wonwoo’s steady on his feet before he proceeds cleaning up the floor.

Hansol, Jeonghan, and Minghao have fallen asleep in a matter of minutes, the three of them occupying the only two couches in the room. That leaves the floor for Wonwoo. How nice.

Soonyoung comes back after a while, handing Wonwoo two blankets and a pillow. "Do you want to sleep in my room?"

Wonwoo shakes his head. "Seokmin snores."

"I know. Sorry." He ruffles Wonwoo’s hair and looks into his kitchen where Mingyu is putting away the empty beer cans. "Mingyu, leave that. I’ll do it in the morning."

"It’s already done now." Mingyu rubs at his eyes.

"Thank you," Soonyoung mumbles when Mingyu walks out of the kitchen. His best friend leans close to Mingyu’s ear, says something Wonwoo obviously can’t hear but it makes Mingyu look up at Wonwoo and maybe he’s just too tired but he thinks he sees Mingyu blushing.

Wonwoo shrugs it off and spreads one of the blankets on the floor. It’s not going to be very comfortable but they used to sleep like this a lot more in their first year of university so he’s kind of used to it. "There’s only one pillow." He mumbles once he’s done, looking up at Mingyu like he holds the answers to his problems.

"You can have it." Mingyu switches off the lights and suddenly just starts stripping out of his jeans. He notices Wonwoo’s flustered face and stops. "Uhm. Is this a problem for you?"

"No." Wonwoo throws the pillow on the makeshift bed on the floor and pulls his own jeans off.

"Are you okay with sleeping with me?" Mingyu asks.

"It’s not like I haven’t before." Wonwoo mutters a bit bitterly as he sits down but then Mingyu just stands next to him without saying anything. Wonwoo really needs to be careful about his tone because he realizes a tad too late that it might’ve come across as angry or accusing. "Mingyu, it’s fine."

 

The "bed" is too small but they make it work.

"Mingyu," Wonwoo whispers.

"What?"

"I’m sorry."

"For what?"

"For what I said at the cinema." Wonwoo is trying extremely hard not to fall asleep at this point but he still wants to get this out. He’s not sure if he’ll do it tomorrow when he’s completely sober. "I shouldn’t have just assumed that."

"It’s fine," Mingyu mumbles. Wonwoo wonders why Mingyu sounds so guilty. "I kind of deserved it."

They’re silent for a while and Wonwoo wonders if Mingyu has fallen asleep. "You’re really confusing."

"I’m confusing?" Mingyu chuckles quietly.

"You’re nice but like, you’re also kind of an asshole. And you’re stupid; who even still uses those stupid facebook memes? But then you just flirt with everyone that’s legal and you’re scared of horror movies?"

"Hyung, are you drunk?" Mingyu snorts.

"I’m just tired." Wonwoo feels his face heat up. He’s in that stage of being drunk where he can tell he’s being embarrassing but he can’t really stop it. "Stop being confusing; that’s all I’m asking."

"Alright." Mingyu snickers softly. "I’ll try to be less confusing from now on."

Wonwoo’s eyes are starting to adjust to the darkness so he can get a better look at Mingyu’s face. "Did you really name your dog Friday?"

"Yes," Mingyu mumbles, sounding almost guilty.

Wonwoo bites his lip, willing himself to stop talking. "That’s kind of cute."

Mingyu blinks at him for a moment. "Hyung."

"What?"

"I—" He starts, looking like he has something important to say and Wonwoo can tell he’s not going to do it. "It feels like I’m lying on pavement."

"Is it because of the pillow?" Wonwoo asks. He lifts his head and pulls the pillow away, pushing it under Mingyu’s head instead.

"No, wait- what about you?"

"I’m used to sleeping on the floor."

"No. Come here." Mingyu scoots closer, stretching his arm out. Wonwoo is about to protest, because hell no, he’s not having a repetition of their first encounter but Mingyu just huffs and pulls his head on top of his arm. "Is that okay?"

"Your arm’s like a pillow." Wonwoo giggles. He giggles. "Uhm. It’s okay."

Mingyu hums, smiling at him. "This kind of feels familiar."

Wonwoo hums back, blinking at him and closing his eyes when Mingyu suddenly moves his free hand to his face. He’s taking Wonwoo’s glasses off again, putting them on top of their heads on the floor so they don’t end up stepping on them.

"My eyes hurt when I’m wearing contact lenses. And looking at a screen for a long time makes it worse," Wonwoo explains.

Mingyu gazes at him for a moment. "Why do you bother with them if they hurt you?"

"I don't know." Wonwoo shrugs. "They're easier to handle in some ways. They look better."

"Hyung, don't do it if it's for the looks, honestly." Mingyu sighs. "You look really good with glasses." He smiles a bit and Wonwoo finds it hard to look away from it. "I wasn’t teasing you when I said that. You look really cute."

"Is cute really all that comes to your mind when you see me?"

"I wish." Mingyu snorts. "But it suits you the most, if you ask me."

"I didn’t ask."

"You just did!"

"No."

Wonwoo isn’t sure when or how or more importantly, why it happens, but he's looking at Mingyu when he feels their knuckles brush where they're both resting their hands between their chests. The accidental touch happens again and Mingyu just calmly blinks at him when their fingers slowly slide together. They’re holding hands again. And there is nothing Wonwoo can blame this time; he's not drunk enough to blame it on the alcohol, there's no horror movie playing.

He just wants to hold Mingyu's hand and judging by the way Mingyu tightens his hold on him, he might feel the same.

"Please don’t remember this tomorrow," Wonwoo says, already feeling different kinds of negative emotions creeping up on him, completely overshadowing how nice it feels to be this close to Mingyu, just holding hands.

"I probably will," Mingyu answers, sounding slightly bitter which makes Wonwoo’s heart ache a little.

"I’m sorry." He isn’t sure what he’s apologizing for, but Mingyu’s tone makes him feel like he has to say sorry for something.

"It’s okay." Mingyu, despite everything, pulls him closer.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Wonwoo wakes up with the front of his shirt sticking to his chest uncomfortably. He shifts, groaning weakly whilst trying to figure out why on earth he feels so hot.

The sleep clouding his mind starts to fade little by little, and that’s when he realizes that he’s pressed up against something. Not something. Someone. There’s an arm curled around his waist, a thigh pressed between his own, right up against his morning wood—

His eyes shoot open instantly once realization hits him like a bucket of ice water. He’s staring straight at Mingyu’s collarbones while said person is still snoring softly.

Wonwoo tries to push Mingyu away but the boy doesn’t budge one bit. He reaches behind himself and grips Mingyu’s wrist to try and untangle his arm from Wonwoo’s back.

Mingyu decides not to play along. He grunts and swats Wonwoo’s hand away in annoyance, pulling him even closer and shifting his thigh against Wonwoo.

His entire face heats up because god— he’s painfully hard right now and Mingyu pressing himself against his erection does not help. Wonwoo panics and pushes Mingyu a little too harshly by his chest. At least it gets the job done because Mingyu groans and blinks his eyes open with a confused look on his face.

"What the hell was that for?" Mingyu croaks and closes his eyes again.

"Do you mind?" Wonwoo tugs on Mingyu’s arm, hoping that Mingyu is too sleepy to be aware of the… situation.

Mingyu sleepily blinks at him and when he feels Wonwoo shift his hips away, the sleep quickly fades from his eyes. Confusion turns into understanding, followed by an annoying smirk.

"Someone’s a little excited."

"You’re one to talk." Wonwoo glares at him, finally managing to get Mingyu’s arm off of him. It’s not even a lie, if the tent at the front of Mingyu’s boxers is anything to go by.

Mingyu chuckles, shrugging his shoulders carelessly like this happens to him often - which it probably does. Wonwoo reaches out for his glasses to put them on his face. Meanwhile, Mingyu looks way too amused for his liking.

"How late is it?" Wonwoo asks, purposefully changing the subject and ignoring how they probably cuddled the entire night for them to wake up in that position.

He wonders if this is going to become a thing for them; ending up cuddling whenever they’re drunk - or at least when Wonwoo is because he’s pretty sure Mingyu was as good as sober last night.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it very likely will happen, because Wonwoo’s the master of repetition, especially when it comes to mistakes.

He seriously needs to get a grip and if that means he won’t be touching another drop of alcohol when Mingyu is around then so be it. He’s had enough awkward encounters to last him a lifetime and it’s barely been a month since they met.

Mingyu he checks his phone and sits up, stretching his arms which makes his joints pop loudly. "A little past ten."

The apartment’s still silent and when Wonwoo gets up and puts on his jeans he sees that the others are still asleep on the couch so he figures the rest haven’t woken up yet either. He makes his way to the bathroom first, washing his face and peeing, which is quite hard (pun not intended).

Mingyu brushes past him when he gets out, still not wearing his jeans and Wonwoo tries to erase the image of his long, tanned legs from his mind as he makes his way to the kitchen.

"Do you want one too?" He asks when Mingyu joins him a while later, sitting down on the small table in the kitchen. Mingyu sleepily nods his head and Wonwoo fills a cup of coffee for the younger as well.

"Thank you," Mingyu mumbles when Wonwoo hands him the mug, taking a seat on the other side of the table.

It’s raining outside; Wonwoo can faintly hear the raindrops pelting against the kitchen window. A car honks somewhere and another one passes with music blasting through its open windows. Wonwoo can’t keep his leg still; it keeps bouncing up and down, the pads of his naked feet feeling cold from the tiles on the floor.

The silence between isn’t necessarily uncomfortable. Wonwoo is glad that Mingyu isn’t talking or teasing him about last night; it gives him some time to sort his own thoughts.

He can’t quite understand why things are the way they are, why even the smallest amount of alcohol makes Wonwoo turn so… soft and clingy around Mingyu. Wonwoo knows he can’t keep blaming their encounters on that. But it’s just way easier - pretending he doesn’t remember or that he didn’t mean it - rather than actually trying to figure out what it is that makes Wonwoo feel so weird around Mingyu.

Wonwoo looks up from his coffee, meeting Mingyu’s eyes who must’ve been watching him the whole time. "Why are you being so quiet?" He asks, starting to feel nervous under Mingyu’s stare.

"You said I’m confusing," Mingyu answers. "I figured keeping my mouth shut would help."

It takes Wonwoo a moment to understand what Mingyu is talking about. "That’s not what I meant."

Mingyu shrugs, smiling softly and Wonwoo tries to convince himself that it doesn’t look cute. "Hyung."

"What?"

"At Soonyoung hyung’s party, on the fire escape," Mingyu speaks carefully and Wonwoo has a notion where this is going. "Why were you crying?"

Wonwoo blinks at him. "It was nothing."

"Did someone break your heart?" Mingyu asks and the tone of his voice makes Wonwoo’s chest feel all tingly.

"No," Wonwoo scoffs.

"Then why?"

It’s a bit of a reflex; lying about those kinds of things, and Wonwoo is about to do it again but the sincerity in Mingyu’s eyes and something about the entire moment - them sitting here in Soonyoung’s cold kitchen on a Sunday morning, sipping on bitter coffee with Mingyu’s eyes still puffy from sleep - makes Wonwoo want to tell Mingyu the truth.

"It’s just… family stuff." Wonwoo wraps his fingers around the mug in hopes of warming them up.

Mingyu nods his head slowly. "Did you manage to sort things out since then?"

Wonwoo stares at the black liquid in front of him - there’s a crack in the ceramic of the rim that could potentially end up cutting someone’s lip.

This is what the current situation looks like: Wonwoo feels completely overworked, he has money troubles, he runs on four hours of sleep almost every day, his mom's depression came back, his parents are practically fleeing to the countryside to stop things from taking a worse turn and his brother is going to live with Wonwoo in the meantime which will cause quite the problem in trying to cover up just how fucked up Wonwoo’s lifestyle is.

"We’re working on it." It’s not a lie, at least.

He’s tapping the tips of his fingers against his mug, almost in time with the rain outside when Mingyu speaks up again. "Sometimes it’s good to talk about things, you know?" He shrugs. "I mean, I get you might not want to talk to me about it. And you have Soonyoung hyung and others to talk to but just so you know; Jeonghan hyung is a really great listener. He gives amazing advice too. Maybe it’s because he’s a psychology major, but I promise he doesn’t pull that therapist shit on you, like he genuinely cares and tries to help—" Mingyu hesitates and takes a deep breath and Wonwoo just stares at him with owlish eyes. "Uhm... If you need someone to talk to, you should talk to him, is what I'm trying to say."

Wonwoo blinks at Mingyu, taking in how his cheeks are suddenly tinged a darker shade than the rest of his face and he can’t really stop the smile tugging at his lips. "I’ll keep that in mind."

"Okay. Good." Mingyu clears his throat and Wonwoo wonders where the boy’s confidence suddenly went.

They look at each other and Mingyu’s mouth opens around words that never come out once a sleepy Seungkwan waddle into the kitchen, demanding coffee.

 

  

It doesn’t stop raining the entire day. And the day after, or the day after that. In fact, it keeps raining the entire week.

It’s Thursday night, Wonwoo is still at the pretty much deserted coffee shop, drying the mug in his hands with a towel. He looks outside where he can hear the rain and spots a couple sprinting to their car to get away from the heavy downpour; the guy opens the door for her and Wonwoo sees her laughing at him before she gets in. He looks away again, pretending not to notice the pang of a reminder in his chest that it’s something he will never experience.

He usually likes the rain, but right now it seems to reflect the state of his thoughts and emotions, and for the first time in a long while Wonwoo wishes for the sun to shine instead.

 

  

"Let’s fake our deaths and start a new life somewhere no one knows us."

Wonwoo hums. "I heard Switzerland has great cheese."

"Sounds good to me." Soonyoung chuckles.

Friday night has them lying on the cold living room floor of Soonyoung’s apartment, a pack of greasy chips between them and one single shared can of beer balanced on Soonyoung’s stomach.

They were watching Guardians of the Galaxy before they gave up and opted for having yet another existential crisis instead.

"I want to quit," Soonyoung groans, throwing an arm over his eyes. "I can’t take another fucking year of this descent into hell."

He’s talking about college. Wonwoo just grunts in response, which means he agrees. He rubs at his eyes underneath his glasses and sighs deeply. The prospect of another year of sleepless nights, falling asleep with textbooks pressed into his face and his anxiety over finals slowly driving him insane isn't too inviting to him either.

"Seungcheol hyung did it." Soonyoung shrugs. "He didn’t go to college at all and he owns a company now and earns more than my sorry ass ever will."

"He just got lucky," Wonwoo answers. "We’d end up living on the street and you know it."

"What about that Woozi guy?" Soonyoung tries again. "He dropped out of college and he’s a number one music producer!"

"Yeah, but he’s got talent and we’ve got nothing."

"Jesus." His best friend props himself up on his elbows and frowns at Wonwoo. "You know how to make people feel like trash, don’t you?"

"It’s what I’m best at." Wonwoo closes his eyes just in time when Soonyoung throws a pillow into his face,

"When are you picking Chan up tomorrow?"

"In the morning," Wonwoo answers. "Mom and dad will be on the road the entire day so they have to leave early."

He’s actually just here to pick up Soonyoung’s car since Chan will have a lot of stuff to carry and it would be too much of a hassle to take the train or bus. Since Wonwoo doesn’t have a car Soonyoung lets him use his own from time to time.

"What about money?" Soonyoung wears a more serious look on his face now; the one he gets when he knows they’re touching upon sensitive subjects.

Wonwoo shrugs, turning to face the ceiling. "What about it?"

"Won, you can barely feed yourself, let alone another person on top of that."

"They’ve already transferred some money into my bank account." When Wonwoo checked it last night after his dad told him to look if the money arrived, he was more than just taken aback. It was too much money, enough for Wonwoo to buy groceries for a couple of months.

He told his dad as much, to which he only said that they can’t know how long this situation is going to last.

"Oh, that’s good then," Soonyoung sighs and rolls on his back again. "Hansol’s over the roof about Chan coming here. I’m sure he can get Chan out of your hair sometimes."

Wonwoo chuckles and shakes his head. "I think it’ll be fine."

"You hate having people at your apartment."

"I don’t hate it." Wonwoo rolls his eyes.

"You literally threw me out a month ago—"

"That’s because you slept over for five consecutive days for no valid reason!"

"Meaning you hate having people over."

"It means being around you for so long is draining."

Soonyoung pounces on him and starts to wrestle him until Wonwoo cries out in pain after he accidentally stabs his elbow into Wonwoo’s ribs.

"You’ve lost weight again." He frowns, his fingers prodding at Wonwoo’s flat stomach.

"I’m fine," Wonwoo grunts, shoving him off as he sits up.

"Are you eating enough, Won? I’m being serious."

"I’m eating the same as always. Stop worrying." He sighs and gets up, dusting off his jeans. "I need to go."

"Send me a picture of your dinner you idiot!" Soonyoung shouts after him right before Wonwoo closes the door of his apartment.

He sends Soonyoung a picture of a bowl of fried rice with scrambled eggs and ketchup to which Soonyoung replies with a happy selfie using one of those stupid animal filters.

 

 

 

Wonwoo’s mom starts crying when she opens the door and sees him standing in front of it with a nervous look on his face.

He hugs her for a long time, trying to calm her down as the guilt threatens to swallow him up because she keeps saying how much she missed him and how skinny he’s gotten.

She doesn’t look good. She has several strands of gray hair, which just shows how bad things are because his mom is one of those people that visit the hair salon twice a month to cover up the signs of their bodies aging.

And she looks skinnier too.

She just looks sick.

His dad shakes his hand and gives him an awkward pat on the back, barely able to look into Wonwoo’s eyes. Wonwoo ignores the pang in his chest.

"Hey." Chan already has his backpack slung over his shoulders, like he wants to leave this place right away. Chan hugs him, burying his face in Wonwoo’s shoulder tiredly which is concerning to say the least; while Chan is definitely a lot touchier than Wonwoo is, he usually tends to avoid physical intimacy with Wonwoo if not necessary.

"You okay?" Wonwoo asks, squeezing Chan’s shoulders.

"I’m good." His brother smiles up at him and Wonwoo feels a sense of pride in his chest at how strong Chan is trying to be even though Wonwoo can see right through his lie.

The house is dark; all the blinds are shut and it smells really stuffy too, like the windows haven’t been opened in a while. It feels a bit like there’s a dark blanket spread over their house, keeping sunlight out and the suffocating sorrow inside.

It’s a sight Wonwoo is too familiar with; his mom’s depression has always reflected itself in every corner and aspect of their life.

He can’t blame Chan for wanting to get away. It is one of the reasons why Wonwoo so selfishly decided to leave as soon as he graduated from High School despite there being good universities near their home.

"Chan has all the numbers from the village," His dad explains to him as he locks the door of the house after they’ve carried all the bags and suitcases into the cars. "I gave the school your contact details in case of an emergency but I want you guys to call us right away if anything happens. Chan’s asthma has been acting up the last couple of days. He has his puffers with him but just be careful around him. No smoke and no—"

"Scented candles. No perfume. No dusty rooms. Wash the bedsheets at least once a week. I know." Wonwoo says, his jaw clenching at the mildly surprised look on his dad’s face.

"Right," He says, his eyes flickering over Wonwoo’s face for a moment before he clears his throat and turns to give Chan a tight hug.

"I’m sorry Wonwoo," His mom says, already sitting in the passenger seat of their car. "I’m sorry you have to go through this again."

"It’s not your fault, mom."

"It is. I should be stronger than this. But I’m too weak. I’m failing as your mom again—"

"Mom stop," Wonwoo sighs. "We’ve been through this. None of this is your fault. Just focus on getting better, that’s all that matters."

"Wonwoo." She starts tearing up again and Wonwoo’s chest tightens, not able to handle seeing his mom like this. "I love you so much. You’re an amazing son, you know that, right?"

He barely hears what she says. They’re just empty words, as always. He knows what he is. "Yeah."

She hugs him tightly and kisses his cheeks. She smells like elderflower and it makes Wonwoo freeze; it’s bringing back memories of her sitting in front of her dressing table while she got ready for work with little Wonwoo watching her in fascination. She used to put a drop of elderflower oil behind her ear and she’d always smell like that. It used to be such a comforting scent back then and Wonwoo bitterly realizes how long it’s been since he last hugged his mom like this for him to forget about that habit of hers.

His hands tremble where they’re tentatively stroking her hair. He wants her to stay for a bit longer. He wants to talk to her about school, about the coffee shop, how much he misses her food.

But his dad interrupts them, says that they need to leave, and Wonwoo gives her a tight smile after pulling away. She waves at them through the window, blowing them cute kisses as they drive away.

Wonwoo gulps, taking a calming breath before he turns to Chan, who’s still watching the car disappearing with a deflated look on his face. "You ready to go?" Wonwoo asks and reaches out to ruffle his hair.

Chan looks up at him and nods with a smile. He still looks sad.

"Do you want to buy pizza for dinner?" Wonwoo asks a few minutes into the drive.

Chan’s face lights up. "Sounds good!"

Even if things might not be ideal right now, Wonwoo promises himself that he’ll at least try to make things as easy as possible for Chan.

 

 

Wonwoo only has one bedroom, so he makes Chan sleep in his bed while he takes the couch. Doyoon helps Chan finding his way around his new school and Wonwoo feels a lot calmer knowing that his brother already has a group of friends despite being the poor kid that appears in the classroom in the middle of the school year.

They don’t see each other that much during the week, with Wonwoo having his own classes and working when he’s not at school. He tries his best to be at home for dinner so he can… cook for Chan, but his cooking abilities go as far unpacking some noodles and boiling them together with some seasoning. Chan isn’t complaining since he doesn’t get to eat that much junk food at home but Wonwoo decides that he’ll at least make an effort to cook something with fresh ingredients.

He talks to his mom, and she says that the weather is beautiful; cold, crisp with the sun shining all the time. She keeps apologizing whenever they talk on the phone, and when Wonwoo asks her to stop, she starts to cry again. He feels he should know by now how to handle her when depression drags her down into this dark hole she can’t get back out of without anyone’s help.

When Wonwoo used to live at home, he’d do small things like take care of the dishes, or sweep the floor and do the laundry. He’s not physically there for her now, and Wonwoo’s never been good at providing emotional support with uplifting words and encouragements, so he feels extremely helpless and useless in the entire situation.

And this might just be the first time he’s felt like this, but he’s almost glad that school is keeping him busy with assignments and essays. It leaves him with no time to worry about things too much before he starts descending into the abyss of panic and anxiety.

 

 

 

Mingyu sends him a picture of his dinner he just dropped when Wonwoo gets home from work one night, followed by another one where he has actual tears in his eyes.

Wonwoo can’t even admit it, but Mingyu kind of... makes his entire day with it.

 

 

Two weeks into their new living arrangements Wonwoo comes home after work to a troubled-looking Chan sitting on the couch in his living room, blankly staring at the sheet in his hands.

"What’s wrong?" Wonwoo asks, slipping out of his jacket.

"I got my math test back."

Wonwoo sits down beside him, glancing at the bright red D on the top right. "Oh. Wow."

"Yeah." Chan looks like he’s either about to start crying or laughing hysterically, maybe both. "What am I going to do?"

"Hey, it’s just one test." Wonwoo tries to comfort him. "You’ll just study harder for the next one."

"No, it’s not just one test, hyung." Chan sighs and throws the test away. "This is the third math test I’ve failed. I can’t afford to do bad again if I want to get my grade back up before the semester ends."

Wonwoo purses his lips. He didn’t even know that Chan struggles with math. "Uhm. Yeah, that sucks."

Chan gives him a sad look. "That’s not what you’re supposed to say."

"Sorry."

"I need someone to tutor me, like right now. I don’t have any time left and I won’t get into a good college oh my god—"

"Okay, calm down." Wonwoo huffs and picks the test back up. "You still have a few months until the semester ends, right? Why don’t you talk to your teacher? I’m sure one of your classmates would help you."

"They’re all busy with college applications and studying for finals. I doubt any of them would take their time to help the new kid."

"What about Doyoon?"

Chan snorts. "He’s failing, like, two classes. He’s being tutored himself so he can’t either."

Wonwoo scratches at his hair. "I see… Don’t worry. We’ll find you someone."

"Someone? I was thinking you could help me."

"Did you forget who needed a math tutor back in high school as well?" Wonwoo chuckles, remembering how he had to accept the fact that he was a total failure when it comes to math back in elementary school when he managed to fail his very first algebra test.

His teachers used to call him a lost cause.

"But why are we so bad? Mom and Dad both love math!"

"Wait— How come you didn’t ask them for help?" Wonwoo gives Chan a suspicious look. "They do know about your grades, right?"

"Uhm…yeah, about that. No they don’t." Chan chuckles nervously. "Look, my grades started going downhill after what happened with mom. I didn’t want to tell them and make the situation even worse."

Wonwoo stares at his brother for a while, feeling really tired all of a sudden. Chan’s basically going through the same things Wonwoo went through back then and Wonwoo wishes there was something he could do to help.

"Don’t give up now. There’s still time left. I’ll find you a tutor, okay?"

Chan sighs, nodding his head. "Yeah, okay."

"Come on. Let’s eat dinner." Wonwoo ruffles his hair and smiles when Chan swats his hands away, grumbling as he tries to fix his hair again.

 

 

 

"Minghao is pretty good at math."

Soonyoung slurps down his noodles, blinking at Wonwoo owlishly.

"Really?"

"Yup. He aced all his midterms." Soonyoung speaks through a mouthful, his spit flying everywhere, and if they weren’t best friends Wonwoo would find it disgusting. "You should ask him, I’m sure he’d help Channie."

Wonwoo gets Minghao’s number and reminds himself to ask Minghao about it as soon as possible.

 

 

 

"We need onions." Chan mumbles absently when they walk past the vegetable section of the grocery store.

"We do?" Wonwoo asks, tightening his grip on the basket in his hands.

Chan snorts at him. "Hyung, do you even eat anything besides noodles when I’m not here?"

"Of course I do."

"What do you eat then?"

"Eggs."

"Oh, yeah we need eggs too!" Chan rushes away to grab a pack and Wonwoo follows his brother with a sigh. He’s tired to his bones, having had early classes followed by a rather stressful shift at the café and now shopping for groceries because Chan said so.

To his defense, they do not have any food left apart from a few packs of cup noodles and some toast bread that’s probably expired a week ago.

Wonwoo yawns and eyes the chocolate section while he follows Chan, feeling slightly overwhelmed by the number of different flavors and fillings and the colorful packaging. He doesn’t have that much of a sweet tooth so he rarely bothers visiting this section.

Someone screeches loudly and it’s followed by a loud laugh and Wonwoo freezes a bit. It sounds familiar.

"Stop! You’re going to get us kicked out!"

"We’re going to pay for it anyway."

"Dude—"

Wonwoo hadn’t even noticed he was walking towards the voices until he reaches the end of the shelf and comes face to face with the people responsible for the ruckus.

It’s Mingyu.

It’s Mingyu and Minghao.

They both look like deer caught in the headlights when they notice Wonwoo standing there. Wonwoo doesn’t know what to make of the situation; Mingyu is holding an open gallon of milk in his arms and Minghao has some of the milk dribbling down his chin.

"Wonwoo," Mingyu utters, slowly screwing the gallon shut. He looks like he’s wearing his pajamas, dressed in a worn-out hoodie and a pair of sweatpants with a baby blue beanie on his head.

If Wonwoo walked around like that, he’d look ridiculous, but Mingyu looks good. He looks so good that Wonwoo has a hard time looking away once their gazes lock, especially when Mingyu’s shocked expression turns into one of excitement.

"What are you two doing?" Wonwoo asks once he manages to tear his eyes away from the boy.

Minghao wipes the sleeve of his jumper over his mouth, shrugging his shoulders. "Buying milk."

Wonwoo scowls at the gallon in Mingyu’s arm that seems to be missing quite a bit of its original content. "And you decided to give it a taste beforehand?"

"We’re paying for it!" Mingyu quickly states. "We’re not, like, going to put it back or anything."

Wonwoo’s eyes flicker up to his face and he feels his chest tingle at the smile Mingyu gives him. He averts his eyes for a second but when he looks back, Mingyu is still smiling at him and Wonwoo doesn’t know what to do with himself.

"Hyung, I know these are more expensive but you always have to buy free-range eggs—" Chan comes to a halt next to Wonwoo, blinking at the others standing in front of them with owlish eyes.

"Who are you?" Minghao asks, tilting his head.

"I’m Chan. Who are you?"

"They’re friends," Wonwoo speaks up, slightly hating himself when his eyes flicker to Mingyu and when he sees the flash of an undefinable emotion in the boy’s eyes. "This is my brother."

"Ohh, you’re Hansol’s bestie!" Minghao reaches out to ruffle Chan’s hair and Chan - once again - grumbles to himself at being petted like a puppy all the time.

It’s only at the smile Chan and Minghao exchange that Wonwoo remembers what Soonyoung said. "Uhm, Minghao. Soonyoung told me you’re really good at math."

Minghao raises his eyebrows in confusion. "He did?"

"Yeah." Wonwoo points at Chan. "He’s kind of failing math right now, and I was wondering if you’d have time to help him out a bit?"

"Oh." Minghao chuckles a bit. "Sorry man, I suck at math."

Wonwoo blinks at him. "But Soonyoung said you aced your exams—"

"Yeah, that’s because this giant here helped me out." Minghao digs his elbow into Mingyu’s side. Wonwoo stares at Mingyu who just grins at him. "But I’m sure Mingyu can help your brother too."

"Oh."

Of fucking course.

"Hey buddy, can you help me find the cream cheese? I’m still not really good at reading in Korean and last time I bought sour cream instead." Minghao suddenly says, grabbing Chan’s arm who follows the guy with a confused look on his face.

Wonwoo watches them leave for longer than necessary, just so he doesn’t have to face Mingyu again. He eventually does, obviously, and he’s a bit surprised by the beaten look on Mingyu’s face.

"I can help you find someone else if you want." Mingyu says, tightening his grip on the gallon in his arms. He looks weirdly adorable with the hat on his head and the sleepy eyes.

"Oh, uhm. I understand, if you’re too busy—"

"No, that’s not it." Mingyu shakes his head. "I just thought maybe you’d prefer someone else. You looked a bit… disappointed."

"No," Wonwoo rushes out a little too quickly. He might not feel too happy about the turn of events, because this just means Mingyu will play even more of a part in Wonwoo’s life, even if it’s just as Chan’s tutor. "If you have time, I’d be really glad."

"I have time."

A girl walks by and Wonwoo doesn’t miss the way she glances at Mingyu through her lashes, or how Mingyu tries to hold back a smirk because he notices it too.

"Okay." Wonwoo clears his throat, frowning to himself at the flash of irritation he suddenly feels. "I’ll give you Chan’s number." He pulls his phone out and sends Mingyu the number. "And uhm. How much do you want? Because I can’t offer much—"

"What?" Mingyu chuckles.

"What?"

"You think I want money for this?"

"… Yes? Or— do you want something else?"

Mingyu stares at him for a moment, his features turning soft. "No. I don’t want money. Or anything else."

"But you’re busy with school as it is, at least let me—"

"I’m not taking money for helping a friend out." Mingyu rolls his eyes. "Just stop. I’m not a greedy asshole."

"I didn’t say that."

They look at each other in silence for a moment, the pop song playing in the store suddenly sounding a lot louder.

"Thank you," Wonwoo finally says.

"It’s nothing."

"Why are you wearing your pajamas?"

Mingyu splutters a bit at the question, looking down at himself. "We weren’t supposed to go out tonight. But then Minghao decided he wanted milk and he didn’t want to go alone and I was too lazy to change. Does it look really stupid?"

Wonwoo can’t help but chuckle. "Only a little bit."

"Damn, I’m starting to think the universe hates me." Mingyu sighs, the milk in the gallon sloshing around when he twists his body.

"Why?"

"Every time I’m trying to leave a good impression on you it keeps going wrong."

Wonwoo stares at him with his heart pounding in his ears. He thinks about Mingyu asking him out and Wonwoo rejecting him, thinks about Mingyu showing up at the café and annoying him to the extent of Wonwoo calling him stupid names and how he was so scared of that horror movie at the cinema that Wonwoo had to hold his hands.

He’s right; those aren’t the best impressions you can leave on a person, but Wonwoo doesn’t have a bad impression of Mingyu. If anything, it’s the complete opposite.

Because Wonwoo will think about those encounters randomly at work and he won’t be able to stop smiling like an idiot.

Mingyu scares him. He scares him a whole fucking lot, but that’s not something Wonwoo can say without raising questions he couldn’t even answer himself.

"It’s just me." Wonwoo tries to laugh it off, not knowing what else to say so it won’t come off like he understood the meaning behind Mingyu’s words. "You don’t have to leave a good impression."

"But I kind of want to." Mingyu drops his head, chuckling softly. "I really want to."

Wonwoo knows he’s gaping, but he doesn’t know what to say because he doesn’t know what Mingyu means.

Mingyu’s features have hardened and Wonwoo sees him clench his jaw.

Wonwoo gulps, not knowing what’s happening, and he shrugs his shoulders a bit helplessly when their gazes lock again. "Did I say something wrong?"

"No." Mingyu shakes his head. "Forget it. It’s nothing."

And before Wonwoo can ask anything why the hell Mingyu looks like… like a wounded animal right now, Chan and Minghao join them again and Wonwoo pretends to miss the worried look Minghao gives Mingyu after sensing the strange atmosphere between them.

"Minghao hyung is really cool," Chan says when they walk home a moment later. "How did you make so many new friends?"

Wonwoo is still thinking about Mingyu’s words why Wonwoo’s chest won’t stop feeling so tight and it takes Chan grabbing his arm to focus back on their conversation. "What?"

"Did you hear anything I just said?"

"Not really."

Chan rolls his eyes and repeats himself but Wonwoo’s mind still feels like it’s filled with cotton and the shade of blue of Mingyu’s hat.

 

 

Chan and Mingyu decide to have the tutoring lessons at Wonwoo’s apartment because it’s more convenient that way; Minghao’s and Mingyu’s place is a lot further away from their respective schools.

At first, the prospect of having Mingyu over pretty much on a regular basis from now on has him feeling— uneasy, to say the least. But since Wonwoo works in the evenings and Chan and Mingyu meet up whenever he’s at the café anyways, it doesn’t end up posing a problem.

They get along really well, too. Chan won’t shut up about Mingyu, about how good he is at explaining things and how funny he is and how Chan wishes he’d be as good looking as Mingyu and how Mingyu might just find the cure to cancer—

Wonwoo gets the memo; Mingyu is a godsend. He needs Chan to shut up about it.

 

 

Wonwoo comes home after work the next Wednesday night and finds another pair of sneakers at the entrance of his apartment.

He walks in, slipping out of his jacket and finds Chan and Mingyu sitting at the coffee table in the living room floor. Did he leave work earlier today? Mingyu shouldn’t be here anymore.

"Uhm. X equals 0.5?" Chan sounds unsure.

"Not really." Mingyu shakes his head and leans over to eye Chan’s notebook. "You made a mistake in the second step, otherwise it would be right. Do it from the beginning, okay?"

Chan huffs out a tired breath, turning to a fresh page. "I fucking suck. Why is math so easy for you?"

"Believe it or not, I used to struggle with math a lot back in high school."

"You’re kidding, right?"

"I had an awful attitude when it came to studying altogether. You hate math because you’re bad at it, but maybe you’re just bad because you hate it. Yeah, you have to understand how to solve problems but that won’t help anything if you have a negative attitude. You gotta change both."

"Damn," Chan mumbles, scribbling into his notebook. "You’d make a pretty great teacher, hyung."

Mingyu chuckles and ruffles his hair. "Why do you think I want to become one?"

Wonwoo’s been watching their interaction quietly from his spot behind them, and the sight of Mingyu patiently trying to help Chan understand the problem makes his chest feel all tight and tingly.

"Alright, show me again," Mingyu says once Chan is done.

"Is it right this time?" Chan asks, voice filled with hope.

Mingyu frowns. "Chan…"

"Oh my god," Chan nearly whimpers. "I should just die; I’m too stupid for this world—"

"I’m just kidding. It’s right." Mingyu laughs and gives him the notebook back. "Well done. You almost got every equation right today!" He’s still smiling as his eyes move to the side, right where Wonwoo is still standing. The smile falters for a moment before it changes; he’s still smiling. But it’s different. "Wonwoo."

Chan turns around to look at him as well. "Hyung? When did you get here?"

"Just now," Wonwoo lies, walking closer to place his jacket over the back of the couch. "Are you guys still doing math?"

"I think we just finished, right?" Chan gives Mingyu a questioning look for which he earns a nod.

"I bought dinner," Wonwoo says, lifting the plastic bag in his hands.

"Nice! I’m starving." Chan reaches his hand out for the bag and places the boxes of chicken on the table. "Mingyu hyung, you should eat with us."

Mingyu and Wonwoo lock eyes once again and Wonwoo wills himself to stop acting like this; holding his breath whenever Mingyu so much as looks in his direction.

"You can stay, if you want." Wonwoo manages to get out, and he releases the breath he was holding when Mingyu’s shoulders drop in something that looks like relief.

"I’d love to but I kind of promised to have dinner with Minghao already." Mingyu stands up and reaches for his jacket. He puts it on and proceeds to stand there, staring at Wonwoo for a few seconds before he breaks out into one of his goofy smiles.

There’s this… weird tension between them that wasn’t there before; not even after Wonwoo rejected him. He’s not sure when it started, maybe after they fell asleep holding hands when they both weren’t all that drunk. Or maybe after their strange encounter at the grocery store - which Wonwoo still doesn’t understand. He knows something happened, but he can’t put a finger on it.

It’s hard to ignore - this tension in the air - but Wonwoo is willing to try.

Chan looks at them with his eyebrows furrowed. "What are you two doing?"

Wonwoo jumps and starts to flush. He clears his throat and gestures Mingyu to follow him to the door.

He watches Mingyu put on his shoes in silence, somewhat missing the beanie on his head. It kind of made the boy look way less intimidating when he wore it.

"Are you coming to Jeonghan hyung’s birthday on Friday?" Mingyu asks once he’s all dressed and ready to leave. He pushes his hair back and Wonwoo bites down on his tongue to stop himself from telling Mingyu to cut his bangs shorter.

He looks like one of those bad guys from the dramas Soonyoung always watches; the one the main girl is in love with while there’s the poor nice guy on the side who’d treat her better than Mingyu ever would. Not Mingyu, god… The bad guy.

"Uhm… He said something about having booked a table somewhere?"

"Yeah, it’s nothing huge. Just a hole in the wall barbecue place but the food’s pretty good." Mingyu trails off, his eyes flickering over Wonwoo’s face the way they always do. Wonwoo doesn’t know if he does it to… check him out, or if he’s trying to evaluate Wonwoo’s looks. "Are you coming?"

"I think so," Wonwoo slowly answers. He really didn’t expect Mingyu to get along so well with Chan, or to be so patient with him, but Wonwoo feels himself grow ridiculously soft at the thought of Mingyu being so nice to his little brother.

And all of a sudden he has this strange urge to push the stray bangs of Mingyu’s black hair out of his eyes—

Fuck. No… No…

"Good." Mingyu smiles, all cute teeth and crinkling eyes and Wonwoo wants to either cry or laugh because there’s a hummingbird in his chest and there are scary words on the tip of his tongue and this is not what he wanted, it’s not. "I’ll see you then."

"Y-Yeah," Wonwoo stutters.

Mingyu opens his mouth like he wants to say something, and he has this mildly pained look on his face when his eyes drop to Wonwoo’s lips, like he wants to—

He doesn’t. He leaves, and Wonwoo hastily locks the door, his forehead pressed against it.

He comes to the painful realization that whatever Mingyu was thinking about doing to Wonwoo—

Wonwoo wanted him to do it.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

7 signs you’re crushing on someone.

Wonwoo’s palms are sweating as he sits in front of his laptop on the floor of his bedroom.

It’s dark, his face only illuminated by the screen.

After trying to fall asleep for two hours without success, his mind being too much of a mess to calm down and his stomach in knots because he’s going to see the source of his distress tomorrow night again, Wonwoo decided to put an end to this.

He’s being ridiculous. There’s just no way Wonwoo’s fears are justified. He’s just confused; that’s all.

So what if he’s googling "how to tell if you have a crush" at one o’clock in the morning… that doesn’t mean anything.

He sighs and opens the link, his eyes flickering over the words.

"One: You find yourself counting down until you see each other again." He reads.

That’s a no. It’s the exact opposite, actually. Wonwoo dreads the moments he knows he’ll come face to face with Mingyu again.

Well, so far so good.

"Two: You think about them a lot." Wonwoo leans back against his bed, a frown etching itself on his face. He wouldn’t say he thinks about Mingyu much; more than that, he just worries about their weird interactions and the guy’s intentions with Wonwoo.

"Three: You primp before you see them."

What the hell? No.

"Four: You wonder what they think of you."

Wonwoo swallows nervously. He… doesn’t. (He fucking does. Next.)

"Five: You think they are wonderful."

What kind of generalized statement is that? He’s never thought of Mingyu being wonderful. The closest thing Wonwoo can come up with is him being slightly overwhelmed by how good Mingyu is treating his brother. Other than that, Mingyu mostly just makes him snort because he’s being an idiot who sends Wonwoo pictures of literally everything he finds remotely fascinating, like last week when Mingyu cut a grape in half and it ended up looking like a smiley face (Wonwoo honestly thinks Mingyu is a puppy disguised as a college kid).

"Six: You get nervous before you see them." Wonwoo reads out loud, and he immediately feels something weird in the pit of his stomach. He gulps and scrolls down some more.

"Seven: You secretly hope they will ask you out."

Well, that’s already happened, right? Mingyu asked him out; Wonwoo rejected him. And no, he does not want Mingyu to ask him out again. Absolutely not.

He really just wants all these confusing feelings to go far away from him and never come back.

Wonwoo shuts his laptop and slides back into his bed.

That did not help at all.

He doesn’t have a crush. He’s never been interested in a person like that and even if Mingyu does make him feel a certain way, he’s not about to start now.

 

 

 

Chan is staying over at Doyoon’s place for the weekend. Wonwoo can’t take him to Jeonghan’s birthday because of all the asthma triggers, so it’s convenient that the boys were planning on studying together for exams.

"Do you have your puffer?"

"Yes, mom." Chan rolls his eyes, starts chuckling at the frown he receives from Wonwoo. "I’m not leaving the country so stop worrying."

"I’m not worried. If something happens to you it’s my fault and I don’t want to deal with that." Wonwoo shrugs his shoulders. That’s a lie; he’s definitely worried.

(He may have secretly checked Chan’s backpack to make sure his brother actually remembered to pack his toothbrush and vitamins as well.)

Chan sighs, nodding his head. "I’ll get going then."

"Text me when you get there," Wonwoo says, pressing his lips together when Chan raises his eyebrows at him.

"Sure you’re not worried?" His brother snorts.

"I’m not."

Chan shakes his head and puts his shoes on. "Bye, hyung. Say hi to everyone for me, okay?"

"Yeah." He opens the door and they look at each other for an awkward moment, and Chan looks like he wants to hug Wonwoo but he seems to think better of it. "Hey, Chan—"

Chan turns around, giving him an expectant look. "Yeah?"

Wonwoo clears his throat. "Be careful."

This makes Chan smile at him, like he sees right through Wonwoo’s act. "Sure thing."

 

 

 

Wonwoo takes longer to get ready for tonight than other times, changes his shirt three times and styles his hair more than he usually does before he remembers Three: You primp before you see them.

He freezes in front of the mirror, his fingers stilling where they’re running through his hair.

Just why is he trying to look good? It’s not like he’s trying to impress anyone—

He’s not.

Wonwoo quickly gets rid of his hairstyle, trying to get the products out by ruffling through it. He also discards his fancy shirt and puts on a simple grey one Soonyoung’s going to give him the stink eye for again, but he doesn’t care.

He also makes sure to leave his glasses at home, despite having run out of contact lenses once again.

 

 

 

When Mingyu said the restaurant was a hole in the wall place, he definitely wasn’t lying. If it wasn’t for the light up sign hanging over the entrance of the place, you would not be able to tell that this is a place where you can eat.

"Well. This looks nice," Yuna whispers as they stand in front of it. She’s standing between Wonwoo and Soonyoung, her fingers laced together with the latter.

They made things official a few days ago. Wonwoo is happy for Soonyoung, he really is. Yuna is an amazing girl, intelligent, kind, calm enough to keep Soonyoung grounded but not afraid to open her mouth about certain things.

But Wonwoo’s back to being the third wheel, and even if he should be used to feeling like an intruder whenever Soonyoung has a new girlfriend and they do something together, it never stops being awkward.

 

 

It’s cozy inside, dimly lit with a few colourful light up signs hanging on the walls. There are like, only six tables, but it’s packed, smells heavily of sizzling meat with actual trot songs playing in the background, a few tipsy men singing along.

Jeonghan waves them over to the back of the restaurant where they’ve pushed together two tables to fit them all in. Wonwoo only recognises Seungcheol, figuring the girl with the bleached hair and the two other guys must be friends from Jeonghan’s school.

"Jisoo couldn’t make it, huh?" Jeonghan asks after giving him a hug.

"Yeah, his grandma got sick so he went back home," Wonwoo says, awkwardly introducing himself to the others before he sits down.

He definitely isn’t wondering where a certain person is, and he definitely doesn’t feel his stomach flip violently when said person and Minghao walk in only a moment later.

Mingyu is all bright smiles, his dark hair falling rather flawlessly and Wonwoo can’t help himself from noticing how one of Jeonghan’s friends looks at Mingyu with something like approval, not even trying to hide it when he checks Mingyu out.

"Fucking hell, Gyu, sit your ass down you just arrived!" Seungcheol groans at the scene Mingyu’s arrival is causing, throwing an arm around the girl that introduced herself as Krystal before.

"Hey." Minghao smiles down at Wonwoo and Wonwoo somehow feels really glad for his presence, since Soonyoung is kind of busy with Yuna. "You look good, Wonwoo hyung." He says as he sits down next to Wonwoo. Mingyu scoffs and sits down beside Minghao, whispering something into his ear that Wonwoo doesn’t understand but it has Minghao shrugging his shoulders with a satisfied smirk on his face.

Wonwoo doesn’t get it but he’s silently glad that Mingyu didn’t end up sitting next to him (especially because he starts feeling dizzy whenever he thinks about him being the reason for his concerning google search history yesterday night).

Seungkwan and Seokmin arrive a while later when they’ve already ordered the food and drinks and Wonwoo is busy talking to Minghao; he hasn’t ever had a long chat with him before and he’s surprised at how easy he is to talk to. Minghao doesn’t make things awkward, his questions and answers are honest and he’s incredibly passionate when he starts talking about photography. He shows Wonwoo some pictures on his phone and it would be an understatement to say that he’s impressed.

"Minghao, these are amazing." Wonwoo knows he’s gaping, but he can’t stop scrolling through the photographs. They all have an eery, mysterious vibe to them and when Wonwoo mentions that, Minghao nods his head with a smile, saying that it’s what he’s going for with the editing and lighting. It’s mostly pictures of architecture; buildings and empty streets in cities, but most of all there are portraits of people, taken in such a strikingly beautiful way that Wonwoo actually forgets to breathe for a second. He stops at a picture of a familiar face; sitting on a bed in front of a laptop, face only illuminated by its screen while the rest of the room is completely dark.

Mingyu looks tired here, dark circles under his eyes and his hair falling into his face in lazy strands; but he also looks, well, sort of ethereal.

"I can send you this one."

Wonwoo looks up from the phone screen. "Huh?"

"You’ve been staring at it for almost a minute now." Minghao gives him an odd look, like he knows something Wonwoo doesn’t, and Wonwoo quickly hands him the phone back, his eyes flickering to Mingyu’s side profile for a short moment.

"They’re all good," Wonwoo says and Minghao huffs out a laugh, shaking his head.

"Hey, Gyu." Minghao suddenly nudges said boy in the arm and grips his wrist. "Let’s switch seats. I need to talk to Seokmin."

Mingyu gives his roommate a confused look, his eyes swiftly moving to Wonwoo’s before looking away again. "You can talk to him like this too."

"No, I can’t. It’s secretive stuff. Now move your ass."

"What—"

Within five seconds Minghao has climbed over Mingyu’s lap and pushed him towards Wonwoo with more force than necessary. Mingyu grunts and swears under his breath, sitting upright again.

Wonwoo silently pops a piece of meat into his mouth, feeling more than just frustrated at how aware he suddenly is of every place Mingyu’s body is touching his. It’s just getting ridiculous, because Minghao sat a lot closer just a moment ago and Wonwoo didn’t care one bit.

"Sorry. Looks like you’re stuck with me again," Mingyu speaks.

Wonwoo gulps down the food and turns to look at him. "Did Chan tell you about his test today?"

Mingyu shakes his head. "No. I thought it didn’t go well because he didn’t text me so I didn’t want to ask."

"No, it went great." Wonwoo shrugs. "He must’ve forgotten because he was so excited."

Mingyu’s face lights up at Wonwoo’s words, and some of the tension leaves Wonwoo’s body at that. "Really? Fuck, I’m so glad to hear that. I would’ve felt horrible if he failed again."

"I think you’re doing a great job," Wonwoo says, clearing his throat when Mingyu shifts a bit closer. "I mean. Chan only has good things to say about you."

"Does he?"

"Yeah. He won’t shut up about you." He must sound annoyed, because Mingyu chuckles sheepishly.

"I’m sorry." He shrugs. "Don’t blame him though; it’s not his fault that I’m so charming."

Wonwoo frowns at Mingyu but the smile tugging at his lips betrays him and Mingyu looks way too smug right now. "Shut up."

"I didn’t say anything."

"Your stupid smile says enough."

"Stupid?" Mingyu holds his chest. "Hyung, you seriously need to stop hurting my heart."

It’s clear what Mingyu’s referring to but before Wonwoo can open his mouth (or try to make out that look on Mingyu’s face, the same one he had when they ran into each other at the store) Yuna reaches over to take Mingyu’s arm. Wonwoo reminds himself that she’s Mingyu’s cousin before she is Soonyoung’s girlfriend.

"Sorry for interrupting. This’ll only take a minute." She gives Wonwoo a quick smile before gripping Mingyu’s arm a little tighter, her expression hardening. "Why the hell did you think it would be a good idea to cancel your date with her?"

"Yuna, not this again—"

"You’ve been ignoring my text messages for two days now you idiot! I’m fuming, can’t you tell?"

"Oh, I thought that was the meat."

"Min—" She slaps Mingyu’s arm. "gyu!"

Wonwoo sighs and leans back against the wall, feeling slightly trapped between the cousins and also like he’s - once again - intruding. He can’t really escape right now, so he tries to tune their conversation out as best as he can.

"Can’t we talk about this later?"

"No. What you did was rude. She’s my friend, Gyu, and now I feel like I set her up because you left her hanging." Yuna glares when Mingyu rolls his eyes.

"Something important came up. I apologized to Sohye. She was cool about it, unlike other people."

"Of course she’ll be cool about it! She’s been crushing on you since middle school! How do you think she felt when you finally asked her out and dropped her after that like it meant nothing?" Yuna shakes her head at Mingyu and the latter has the decency to look embarrassed. Wonwoo tries not to smirk, but Mingyu looks like a child that’s being scolded and he’s honestly enjoying the sight. "Also what could’ve been so important for you to cancel your date?"

"I had to tutor a friend, okay? He had an important test and I couldn’t leave him hanging."

Wonwoo blinks at Mingyu and the latter glances at him at the same time, a smile forming on his face when he sees how Wonwoo makes the connection.

Yuna sighs. "Okay. I get that. But can you at least reschedule a date with her? Mingyu please. You didn’t see how heartbroken she was. I thought you liked her?"

Mingyu sighs. "Okay, just— stop. I’ll text her. Now get away, you’re being rude."

Yuna turns to look at Wonwoo with a timid smile. "I’m sorry Wonwoo, I didn’t mean to push you away—"

"No, it’s fine." Wonwoo gives her a reassuring smile and she leans back into her own seat.

"You better not back out again." Yuna whispers, shooting a glare in Mingyu’s direction. "Or I’m telling auntie—"

"I won’t. Chill and eat your meat like a good girl."

Yuna’s left eyelid looks like it’s about to start twitching. "Do you remember how much it hurt when I stabbed you with a fork in your foot—"

"Yuna, babe, calm down." Soonyoung throws an arm around her and Mingyu immediately glares at it which only makes Soonyoung shoot him a satisfied smirk.

"Can you two not," Wonwoo mumbles, sensing the tense air between Mingyu and Soonyoung as he quietly reaches for the rice bowl in front of him. Mingyu, for some reason, is incredibly protective over Yuna and if Wonwoo didn’t know better he’d think Mingyu was her brother rather than just her cousin.

"Keep your hands to yourself, Kwon," Mingyu mutters and reluctantly turns to face the food in front of him when Wonwoo gives him a judging look for his macho behaviour.

"She’s my girlfriend. If she allows me to touch, I will touch."

"Oh, really? And I will cut your dick off if you—"

"Boys. Behave," Jeonghan speaks up from the side, which surprisingly gets the both of them to shut up, like Jeonghan has some kind of hold on them (which, to be honest, he probably does).

"Just so you know," Mingyu says, preparing a salad wrap for himself. It takes Wonwoo a second to realize that he’s talking to him. "Chan talks about you a lot, too."

Wonwoo’s eyes follow the movements of Mingyu’s fingers as the boy folds the meat into the lettuce. "He does?"

Mingyu nods and takes a bite from the wrap. "You must be an amazing sibling. He says you’re always there for him and that you’re strong. He really admires you."

The words make Wonwoo furrow his eyebrows in confusion as he stares at the sizzling meat in front of them. "What?"

Mingyu stops chewing and talks through a mouthful, which Wonwoo should find disgusting but the only word popping up in his mind at the sight is "endearing" and that makes him want to slam his head into a wall. "Why are you looking like that? Don’t you two get along?"

"No. It’s not that." Wonwoo looks up again, shrugging his shoulders. "I just… didn’t expect him to say that about me."

Him and Chan do get along, that’s not really the problem. But it’s taken a huge toll on their relationship when Wonwoo left for college, when he basically left Chan alone to deal with their family’s problems. Everything got kind of messed up for Chan after that, the kids at high school picking on him for his asthma attacks once Wonwoo, his older brother, wasn’t there anymore to look out for him. Chan never said anything, he never once complained, but Wonwoo heard all of it from his mother and there was no way he wouldn’t feel guilty after that and blame himself for what happened.

He can’t understand why Chan would speak so highly of him despite all those things.

"Really?" Mingyu gulps down and gives Wonwoo a careful look. "Wait— Are you okay? You kinda look like you’re about to cry." His face falls. "D-Don’t cry. Uhm. Here, eat some meat."

Mingyu picks up a piece of beef with his chopsticks and brings it up to Wonwoo’s mouth, nudging it against his lips.

And Wonwoo just—

He completely freezes.

He has no idea what's happening, but he's staring at Mingyu, wide-eyed and confused as the younger tries to feed him and his heart suddenly feels like it’s going to break; it’s aching and twisting and blurry images are popping up in Wonwoo’s head, of him eating rice with his hands because no one-

And then he is tearing up.

Mingyu looks horrified when he notices Wonwoo’s glassy eyes. "Hyung— shit, I’m sorry! I should just stay away from you— I didn’t mean to make you cry." He starts to pull his hand back and Wonwoo moves to grip his wrist on instinct, keeping it close.

They look at each other like that, Mingyu looking worried and confused and Wonwoo trying to stop himself from choking up on those inexplicable tears welling up in his eyes. Mingyu carefully nudges the food against Wonwoo’s lips again and this time Wonwoo opens his mouth and lets the meat slip inside, his nose prickling when he starts chewing on it.

Mingyu takes a deep breath, his eyes mildly concerned as he watches Wonwoo eat. "Is it good?" He asks and Wonwoo honestly is just glad that Mingyu isn’t saying anything about Wonwoo nearly crying in front of him.

He feels embarrassed, stupid and confused at his own behaviour; he nearly cried, just because Mingyu tried to feed him. Wonwoo nods his head and blinks the wetness away, his face and neck feeling hot and his eyebrows furrowing in frustration.

Mingyu smiles. "You know, beef tastes amazing with honey. Have you tried it before?"

"No."

"Try it!" Mingyu picks up another piece and dips it into a bowl in front of Minghao, bringing it to Wonwoo’s lips again.

Wonwoo honestly doesn’t understand what’s happening to him; why his chest aches so much when he opens his mouth and lets Mingyu feed him again, why he feels so lost and vulnerable, or why he’s even letting Mingyu do this. "It’s nice."

"Right?" Mingyu sits back, his eyes subtly flickering over Wonwoo’s face as if to make sure he doesn’t start crying again. "Are you… okay?"

"Why wouldn’t I be?" Wonwoo is good at tricking people, he knows that.

"You just— you almost cried."

"Ah, no." He shakes his head, giving Mingyu a casual smile. "It’s my contact lenses. My eyes sometimes get dry and they start watering, that’s all."

Mingyu looks at him in silence for a few seconds, not looking as convinced as Wonwoo wants him to, but he thankfully doesn’t probe any further. "Those damn contact lenses, huh? You should stick with your glasses."

"Do you have some kind of kink? For glasses?" Wonwoo snorts and takes a sip from the liquor Jeonghan poured him a moment ago. Yeah, he wasn’t planning on drinking tonight, but after what just happened, he doesn’t think he can make it through the next few hours sober without worrying himself to death about it.

"Nope. Just when they’re on your face."

It reminds him of the night they met; when Wonwoo wouldn’t shut up about Mingyu’s teeth and Mingyu ended up asking him the same question, and Wonwoo ended up answering in the same manner. He thinks Mingyu must be reminded of it as well, because he’s smirking.

"You know, same way you feel about my teeth." He pokes his tongue out and runs it over his upper left canine and Wonwoo tightens his grip on the glass in his hands at the sight.

"I was drunk when I said that." He takes another sip.

"But you told me you meant it. At the club. Remember?"

"No."

Mingyu huffs out a laugh, shaking his head. "You’re just in denial."

"I was drunk, both those times. You can’t hold me accountable for the things I said."

"Well, now you're sober, and you still think I'm handsome, and you still have a thing for my teeth." He bites his lower lip for emphasis and Wonwoo actually has to peel his eyes from how the swell of his bottom lip turns white before returning to an even darker shade of pink than before.

"Believe what you want," Wonwoo grunts and before he knows it, he’s already pouring himself another glass of liquor. This is all Mingyu’s fault. He wouldn’t have to get drunk if it wasn’t for him.

Mingyu snickers and when Wonwoo turns to glare at him, his smile softens, turns almost fond, and Wonwoo’s glare fades. "You know hyung; you said I was confusing, but you have got to be the most confusing person I've ever met in my life."

 

 

 

The rest of the night passes easier than Wonwoo expected. If he looks past all the teasing, the subtle glances and smiles, Mingyu is a really nice person. He’s not as much of a dork as he pretends to be; yeah, he has a weakness for dogs and comics but he’s also really passionate about helping people who are less fortunate. Wonwoo asks what he wants to be doing ten years from now and Mingyu says he wants to be a teacher in a country where it's harder for children to get an education. He shows Wonwoo a kid on his phone, from Africa, a girl he’s been supporting since he started college and together with other people they managed to collect enough money for her to go to school.

He looks proud when he shows Wonwoo pictures of the little girl, almost like it’s his little sister and not a child on the other side of the world he’s never met before.

Wonwoo is surprised, all over again. Mingyu keeps doing that to him; he keeps getting in the way when Wonwoo tries to find a flaw in him.

"What kind of books do you want to write?" Mingyu asks between pouring Wonwoo some more bitter alcohol and stuffing his face with the leftovers on the table.

"I’m not sure." Wonwoo takes the glass from Mingyu’s hand, their fingers brushing. "I think I want to start with books for… younger people? I mean, I don’t know. Young adult books, or something."

Mingyu hums. "Any particular reason for that?"

"They’re easier to please," Wonwoo says in a joking way, both of them smiling at his comment. "I think people are more open to certain things at that age. More influenceable and all. I’d like to make a good influence, you know. Get them to think about important stuff they might not learn at school or from their parents. Like… sexuality, or racial discrimination. We never talked about those things at school. I guess in certain countries those things are just— more common. More accepted. I remember a girl coming to school with a black eye after her dad found out she had slept with a girl. She was kind of looked down upon for having sex in general, but also for doing it with a female, and I don’t think anyone ever helped her figure things out. Or told her that it’s okay. Since we’re always thought that sex before marriage is wrong, and we’re not even allowed to think about looking at the same gender like that. She was really nice, but she had no friends after that. I talked to her once, and she said there was an American author that helped her a lot, that their stories made her feel more… normal, in a sense. I think I’d be really happy if I could do that too, you know, for kids in our culture."

It’s only when Wonwoo looks up from his lap and into Mingyu’s eyes, when he spots the genuine surprise and something in them, that he realizes how much he just said. He doesn’t even remember the last time he talked so much without anyone asking him to. Mingyu definitely didn’t ask for it, and Wonwoo just gave him an earful of his worldviews.

"Sorry. I didn’t mean to—"

"I like you," Mingyu blurts and Wonwoo nearly drops the glass in his hands.

Minghao, who also picked up on Mingyu’s sudden statement, turns to give his friend a look that definitely says "Smooth."

Wonwoo gives Mingyu a confused look, or maybe he looks as freaked out as he feels because Mingyu’s cheeks turn red - like the chili paste on the table. "W-What? I mean I like the way you think. I agree… with all of that."

"Oh." Wonwoo feels relief washing through him, but that’s not all. There’s a hint of something different, a dull pinch in his chest, but he decidedly ignores it. "Cool. Thanks."

He hears Minghao snort and mutter something under his breath as he turns away again to Seungkwan and Seokmin. Wonwoo’s eyes are locked on Mingyu’s, who looks like he has something to say but he stays silent and gives Wonwoo a tight smile before he starts eating again.

Their legs are still pressed together; Mingyu’s presence warm and real and Wonwoo can’t describe how it makes him feel, so he drinks more beer instead.

 

 

"You’ve been eating for almost three hours." Wonwoo frowns at Mingyu when the latter starts emptying all the remaining side dishes. "Without breaks."

He’s not sure how late it is, probably somewhere around eleven, and everyone in the restaurant is positively drunk by now, especially the table with businessmen in the other corner who’ve gone from shouting along to songs to having deep, meaningful conversations with each other (one of them is weeping into his friends’ shoulders and Wonwoo feels like a horrible person for finding the sight amusing).

Soonyoung looks like an idiot. Like a puppy in love, hanging onto every word leaving Yuna’s red lips but she’s not any better off, her fingers stroking his hair out of his face lovingly, her shy smiles and sweet pecks on his cheeks.

They’re in that annoying honey-moon phase, but Wonwoo surprisingly doesn’t find it all that annoying. Maybe it’s because Soonyoung’s his best friend, and whatever makes him happy makes Wonwoo happy as well.

Seungkwan’s currently trying to console Seokmin — Wonwoo isn’t sure what’s going on, but he’s talking to him in hushed voices (and Seungkwan keeps pouring him more alcohol, as if it’s going to make his problems go away, but Wonwoo’s sure he only means well).

And then there’s Minghao, who somehow ended up in the middle of Jeonghan’s friends, who find him really mature and cute or something, and they’re having "adult conversations". They’re only two years older though, so Wonwoo doesn’t really get it.

"If I don’t eat it, it’ll be thrown away and that’s a waste," Mingyu mumbles, reaching for the last bowl which contains cooked spinach. He takes a deep breath, pulls a pained face and starts eating that too.

Wonwoo snorts, raising his eyebrows at him. "You sure you’re okay?"

"Yeah," Mingyu says and sets the bowl down. His face says otherwise; he looks like he’s about to faint. "Actually, no. I think I might die."

"I wonder why."

"Don’t lecture me right now. I created a food baby," He groans and presses his palm against his stomach. "I’m having actual contractions right now."

"Stop being dramatic—"

"Just take me to a hospital."

"Mingyu."

Said boy starts laughing but he still looks like he’s in actual pain. "No but seriously, I don’t feel good."

Wonwoo frowns at him. "Do you feel sick?"

"I don’t know."

"I swear to god." Wonwoo shakes his head and looks him up and down once. "Do you want to go outside?"

 

 

No one really cares what they’re doing anyways, so a minute later Mingyu and Wonwoo are outside of the barbecue place, sitting under the roof at the entrance on the cold pavement with their backs pressed against the even colder brick wall.

Random groups of young people hurry past them, too busy escaping the rain in their drunk states to pay them any mind.

It’s cold, but after being inside the restaurant for so long, surrounded by all the heat, fumes, scents and noises, it feels nice to be away from it.

Wonwoo wraps his arms around his upper body and glances at Mingyu. "You okay?"

"I just need a minute," Mingyu sighs and leans his head back against the wall, a hand on his stomach rubbing in circling motions. His face is only illuminated by the lantern at the end of the alley and the sign of the barbecue place.

Wonwoo hopes it’s because of the lighting that Mingyu suddenly looks so tired.

He’s not as drunk as he thought he would be, given the amount of drinks he’s had in there, but it’s probably because he ate so much before and in between, so he only feels a faint buzz in his head.

It’s still enough to make him feel relaxed, the liquor having stripped him of his usual reserve.

They sit in silence for a while, listening to the pitter-patter of the raindrops next to the music from inside, the random bursts of laughter or shouts.

"It’s been raining for weeks," Wonwoo says to break the silence.

"I know. It sucks." Mingyu hums and closes his eyes. Wonwoo watches him for a second before tearing his eyes away to watch the empty streets in front of them instead.

"You don’t like rain?"

"Not really. I’m more of a summer person. Aren’t you?"

Wonwoo shrugs. "I don’t know. I like summer too, can’t really deal with the heat though. I like rain more."

"That doesn’t surprise me." Mingyu smiles, eyes still closed.

"Why?"

"You seem like a person who likes rain." He shrugs and blinks his eyes open. "You’re really calm. I can imagine you bundled up in blankets on your couch, enjoying the rain at home."

"I don’t do that." He’s lying; he absolutely does.

Mingyu turns his head. "You do."

"You don’t know me." Wonwoo huffs.

"I would like to."

Wonwoo refuses to look at Mingyu but his resolve only lasts a few pathetic seconds.

Their eyes lock and Wonwoo can’t really fight this feeling in his stomach that comes back in full force, so demanding and overwhelming that it makes him feel dizzy.

"Are you feeling better?" He asks, dodging whatever subject would’ve come up otherwise, and he wishes he would’ve missed the flash of disappointment in Mingyu’s eyes.

"I feel like I’m going into labor, so no," Mingyu grunts and awkwardly pats at his stomach.

"Do you want to go home?"

Mingyu shakes his head. "I want to stay here for a while. With you."

There’s no way Wonwoo can ignore Mingyu’s words without coming across like an asshole. He blinks at him, feeling the back of his neck burn. "When you… say things like that. I— uhm. I don’t really know how to react, to be honest."

"Yeah. It’s not your fault. I said I’d stop." Mingyu licks his lips, his eyes boring into Wonwoos for a long moment. "Hyung, do you know when you have a crush on someone, how you can’t stop thinking about them?"

Wonwoo slowly shakes his head. "I’ve never had a crush on anyone."

He can’t even say if he’s lying at this point, because he’s looking at Mingyu and the only thing he knows is that his heart seems to be swelling in size, which is not possible in a scientific way but it sure as hell feels like it.

"You—" Mingyu tilts his head. "You’re kidding, right?"

"No."

"You’ve… never been in love?"

Wonwoo’s eyes widen at the question, and he feels anxious just from hearing those words.

Mingyu laughs at Wonwoo’s expression but it sounds a bit nervous. "I take that as a no."

"Have you?" Wonwoo asks, trying to ignore the awkward air around them.

"Been in love?"

"Yeah."

Mingyu hums. "I guess I have. Once."

"Who was she?" Wonwoo asks, and then he remembers Mingyu saying that he doesn’t care about gender and he corrects himself. "Or he?"

This makes Mingyu smile, gentle and warm and Wonwoo chokes down on a ridiculous sound wanting to escape his throat. "It was a girl. We went to high school together."

"Oh." Wonwoo nods his head and nibbles at his lip for a moment. "How long were you together?"

"A little over a year."

"Why… did you break up?" Wonwoo isn't sure if he's allowed to ask; Mingyu and him haven't known each other for that long and even if they did, he doesn't know if it was a messy breakup or if Mingyu might still be hung up on it. "You don't have to tell me—"

"No, it's fine. I'm over it." Mingyu says. "It was nothing dramatic, really. She had really conservative parents and she took the whole no sex before marriage thing really seriously. Not that I had a problem with that!" He quickly says when Wonwoo gives him a judging look. "But they wanted us to get married if we wanted to stay together because of that and hell, I was not ready for that at nineteen."

"That makes sense." It’s starting to rain harder and Wonwoo shuffles back, closer against the wall. "But she wasn’t the only person you’ve been with, right?"

"Nah, I've dated a lot of people. Too many." He snorts and Wonwoo wants to know who it was that’s caused that annoyed look in his eyes. He wants to know the people Mingyu was with and he doesn’t think that’s something he should be feeling.

Mingyu’s eyes focus back on Wonwoo’s face, and he just looks at Wonwoo for a long time until it starts making him feel nervous. "What?"

"I just…" Mingyu bites at his lower lip and shakes his head. "What happens if you do fall in love?"

"I doubt that’ll happen."

"You can’t know that."

"It’s complicated. I can’t just— It’s not that easy for me."

"But why not? Falling in love, it should be easy. It’s like— It happens whether you want it or not. You meet someone and it just kind of hits you." Mingyu’s eyes are too intense again. Wonwoo looks away.

"If I don’t want to fall in love, I just won't. I have control over that."

"Are you serious? No, you don’t. That’s not how love works—"

"So what, you’re telling me you could fall in love with a— with a pedophile or something?" Wonwoo feels weirdly on edge. He doesn’t want to be talking about this, especially not with Mingyu of all people.

"Hyung, that’s not what I mean and you know it." Mingyu sighs, his shoulders sagging. "The heart wants what it wants. That’s what I’m saying."

"My heart doesn’t really have a say in things."

Mingyu shakes his head. "What’s your plan? Are you going to spend your entire life alone?"

"No. I’m going to adopt cats." Wonwoo shrugs, and when he looks up Mingyu breaks out into a smile, which Wonwoo can’t help but return. The strange tension their… disagreement caused is thankfully gone.

Mingyu goes back to rubbing his stomach but he gives up after a moment, letting his hands fall into his lap with a sad sound. "I wish my mom was here. She gives the best tummy rubs."

Wonwoo feels a pang of something in his chest, the same thing he felt when Mingyu fed him earlier that night. "Does it still hurt?"

"Yup. Wanna help me out?"

"I’m not rubbing your tummy."

"Why not?" Mingyu pouts.

"Are you serious?"

"I’m in pain, and I think I’d feel a lot better if you’d rub my tummy."

"I’ll pass." Wonwoo snorts but Mingyu is still pouting and his neck looks a bit sweaty, like he’s actually in pain, but Wonwoo can’t just rub his damn tummy for god’s sake.

"Please?"

Wonwoo doesn’t even know why he agrees. He just reaches his hand out and places his palm on Mingyu’s stomach. It’s still flat, despite all the food Mingyu just forced down his throat, and it feels a lot harder than Wonwoo’s stomach does. Well, of course it does, because Wonwoo doesn’t even know how to spell the word fitness studio while Mingyu spends at least an hour there every day.

He feels the muscles ripple under his palm before Mingyu starts chuckling. Mingyu grabs his wrist and shakes his head, still looking very amused.

"Why are you laughing?" Wonwoo glares at him and tries to get his wrist out of Mingyu’s grasp but he doesn’t let go.

"I just wanted to see if you’d actually do it."

Wonwoo huffs and pulls his hand back, turning his head away to look at a couple running away from the rain.

"Aw, hyung are you mad?"

"Shut up."

"I’m sorry. Don’t be mad." Mingyu grips his wrist again to get his attention.

"I’m not mad."

"Then why aren’t you looking at me?"

"Because you’re ugly."

Mingyu makes a pained noise. "You’re seriously trying to break my heart tonight, aren’t you?"

This manages to make Wonwoo look at him again, because it’s the second time that Mingyu asks him to stop hurting him; Wonwoo ignored it the first time, and he knows he should ignore it again but it’s hard, okay?

Mingyu makes it hard to stay rational.

His fingers are still curled around Wonwoo’s wrist, and when Wonwoo meets his gaze Mingyu lowers it into his own lap. His grip is secure, but it’s gentle and warm. It feels nice.

Those things, they… they just feel nice. They feel nice with Mingyu.

Mingyu stares at him for a few seconds, and it’s really not fair how handsome he looks right now. "Hyung—"

"Here you are!" Soonyoung’s voice interrupts him. Mingyu lets go of Wonwoo’s wrist like he was burned and Wonwoo feels a lot colder all of a sudden.

"What are you two doing on the ground?"

"Mingyu was feeling gassy. He had to get rid of it."

Mingyu gives him an affronted look, like Wonwoo just betrayed his trust. "Hyung!"

"Too much info." Soonyoung frowns at him.

"Hey, I wasn’t feeling gassy whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean—"

"I don’t care about your indigestion, man. Might wanna see a doctor for that. We’re about to leave so get your asses in there."

Wonwoo gets up and dusts off his jeans, reaching a hand out for Mingyu who’s still glaring at him. He helps him to his feet and Mingyu’s glare turns into a smile when Wonwoo starts smirking at him.

They hold each other’s hands for a few seconds too long, and the way Mingyu looks at him is alarming.

And Wonwoo thinks he needs to abort mission right about now but it feels like it might be too late for that.

 

 

 

Wonwoo wouldn’t say he’s a violent person; heck, he hasn’t been involved in a physical fight ever since him and his friend got beaten up by some older guys back in middle school for calling one of them a fat-ass.

Well, maybe he needs to reconsider that statement, because maybe he is a violent person after all.

At least if he’s had some alcohol beforehand.

They say goodbye to the others and part ways with Minghao and Mingyu since they live in opposite directions of the city.

Everything's fine at first; it's not the best district of the town, known for being the area where illegal (...) things tend to take place, but it's not really dangerous.

Wonwoo sees a shadow in the corner of his eyes, like someone's trying to push past them, and Yuna abruptly turns her head with an irritated look on her face.

She turns back again just as fast and Wonwoo goes rigid at the look on her face; she looks scared.

Wonwoo looks over his shoulder and sees three guys walking a few feet behind them, clearly drunk, snickering to themselves.

"What just happened?" He asks her, making sure that Soonyoung doesn’t hear it since he’s already distracted by some kind of commotion on the other side of the street.

"Nothing. Keep walking," Yuna says way too quickly.

Wonwoo doesn’t. He stops walking and turns around to face the guys. "Hey!"

"Wonwoo—" Yuna hisses, almost urgently. "Don’t, let’s just leave—"

"Won, what’s wrong?" Soonyoung asks, eyeing the guys with a confused look on his face.

"What the hell did you just do to her?" Wonwoo asks them, and alright, that’s definitely the alcohol speaking because while Wonwoo isn’t exactly a coward he’s also very aware that he’s as skinny as a rake and couldn’t take down any of these guys.

"What are you talking about?" One of the guys says, the slur in his speech giving away just how drunk he is. "Keep walking, kid."

"Let’s go." Yuna grabs his arm and tries to turn him around.

"Listen to that pretty thing." The one with the cap says, giving Yuna a creepy smile.

"Dude, be careful what you’re saying," Soonyoung speaks up and steps in front of her.

"Take it as a compliment, man. Your friend’s got a nice ass; feels good, too." He laughs again and the other two join him.

"What the fuck?" Soonyoung looks at Yuna. "Did they touch you?"

Yuna glances at the guys with a worried look in her eyes and that’s all the confirmation Soonyoung needs.

They say when adrenaline starts to pump through your body, you don’t really think about what you’re doing anymore; your body just kind of acts on instinct.

Wonwoo would like to think that’s what happens in the next few moments.

Soonyoung strides over and punches the guy in the face, making him stumble to the ground. His friends look surprised for a second but after that, one of them shoves Soonyoung to the ground, kicking him in the stomach.

"Stop!" Yuna screams, trying to run to Soonyoung’s help but Wonwoo holds her back forcefully, and next thing he knows he’s pulling the guy off of Soonyoung and punches him in the face.

And after that, he honestly has no idea what the fuck happens. He hears Yuna screaming, and he sees Soonyoung on the ground getting kicked and he feels what has to be the most intense pain he's ever felt in his life in his lower abdomen, and then on the side of his face.

He’s pretty sure the punch actually knocks him out for a few seconds because Soonyoung’s trying to pull one of the guys away from Wonwoo when he opens his eyes, shouting profanities at them.

"Leave him alone!" Yuna screams just as one of the guys kicks Wonwoo in the stomach again.

"Don’t you know not to mess with guys twice your size?!" The guy grunts and is about to throw another punch in Wonwoo’s face.

Something happens; Wonwoo hears a sizzling noise, like someone’s spraying some deodorant or something, and then the guy above him howls in pain and falls backwards to the ground.

The guy starts sobbing and Wonwoo groans, blinks his eyes open. He sees Yuna looking down at him with tears in her eyes and a tube of something in her hands, and a second later his eyes start burning.

"What the fuck!"

"W-What?" Yuna sounds panicked. "Oh my god! Oh my god, Wonwoo I’m sorry I didn’t mean to—"

"Fuck! Fuck what is that?!"

"It’s pepper spray! It wasn’t meant for you! I’m sorry, Wonwoo, oh my god, I didn’t know what to do—"

And then the police arrive.

 

 

Wonwoo can’t stop crying.

They’re sitting at the police station, in the waiting room. The three guys are sitting in front of them on the other side; two of them only looking mildly beat up while the third is still crying his eyes out, his face blotchy and as red as a tomato. Wonwoo probably doesn’t look any better.

If he wasn’t the cause of Wonwoo’s split lip and the awful throbbing in his stomach and on his swollen cheek, Wonwoo would feel bad for him because damn, pepper spray has got to be a weapon straight out of hell.

Yuna sprayed that thing straight into the guy’s face, while Wonwoo only caught a small whiff of it and honestly, it still feels like he’s never going to be able to see again. His eyes are watering no matter what, and he can’t open them without them burning even though they’ve been sitting here for almost an hour now.

The police only give them an earful, telling them what could’ve happened if one of them got seriously hurt.

Soonyoung says he wants to press charges because one of the guys harassed Yuna by grabbing her butt (which Yuna finally admitted after the police officer asked her).

The three guys deny it. They say his friend dropped his phone and accidentally happened to touch her there, and that the only reason the fight happened was Soonyoung punching their friend for no reason.

And, of course, the police let them off the hook, because everyone involved (including Yuna) were intoxicated when it happened and they can’t fully trust anyone’s statement at this point.

They’re also really mad about Yuna possessing a pepper spray, since it's apparently not fully legal to own one without permission.

They take it away from her, but that’s as far as it goes; they’re allowed to leave after that.

 

 

 

 

Wonwoo’s entire body is just one single pain when he wakes up in the morning.

His lip looks okay, there’s just a cut on the side but his cheek is bruised. So are his ribs, and the front of his stomach. His knuckles are bruised too. He’s not nice to look at.

Showering is a nightmare. Walking hurts. Lying down hurts. Even eating hurts.

How lovely.

Soonyoung and Yuna come over in the afternoon after forcing Wonwoo to take the day off from work; he calls in sick, because telling his boss that he got into a fight and ended up at the police station probably wouldn’t be such a good idea.

Yuna feels horrible for what happened. She thinks it’s her fault and she’s upset about hurting Wonwoo with the pepper spray. She gives Wonwoo a lot of creams and healing patches for his bruises, cooks food for Soonyoung and him before they leave again, Yuna saying something about having to make sure Mingyu actually goes to his date this time.

Somehow, that information feels like another punch to Wonwoo’s stomach.

 

 

 

The universe doesn’t really like Wonwoo.

Because later that day, his mom calls him.

"Wonwoo? Wonwoo, baby, are you okay?"

Wonwoo blinks, his stomach dropping. There’s no way she could know about it, how could she? "Mom? What are you talking about-"

"Chan told me you got into a fight! What happened?"

What the hell? Wonwoo feels anger and frustration bubble in his chest; how on earth did Chan find out about it, and why did he tell his parents?

And then he vaguely remembers all the unread text messages on his phone when he woke up. Chan must’ve texted him but Wonwoo honestly was too out of it to answer.

"Mom, it’s nothing. Chan was just exaggerating—"

"He said you were at the police station! Wonwoo, are you okay? Do you know how worried I was when I heard?"

Wonwoo grits his teeth together. Damn it, Chan. "I’m fine. Trust me, it’s nothing. I’m not even hurt. It was just a bunch of drunk guys looking for trouble."

"Are you sure? Chan said you got hurt, Wonwoo. Please tell me the truth."

"I’m not hurt." Wonwoo feels too tired for this. He’s tired and he’s angry at Chan and he’s still in pain despite Yuna giving him some painkillers before she left.

"Are you lying to me?"

"No—"

"I won’t get angry Wonwoo."

"I told you I'm fine-"

"I’m just worried, please just tell me—"

"Mom, I’m not lying!"

It comes out too harsh. Too loud. He almost shouted.

His mom is silent for a moment, Wonwoo’s mind feels like it’s filled with cotton. "Mom—"

"No, it’s fine—" She starts and then there’s some rustling and Wonwoo hears her complaining right before his dad starts speaking.

"Did you just yell at your mother?" He sounds angry.

Wonwoo is silent for a moment. "I didn’t mean to."

"You know how sensitive she is right now, and you yell at her?"

"I said I didn’t mean to." Wonwoo repeats. He wants to hang up.

"I’m disappointed in you, Wonwoo. Getting into fights? Ending up at police stations? Where was Chan through all of this? Did you leave him home on his own?"

"It’s not as bad as it sounds. And he’s staying with Doyoon this weekend."

"What? I don’t even know who that Doyoon boy is, let alone his family. You can start going out again once our family situation has settled down, but right now there are more important things for you to do than getting drunk and getting into irresponsible fights…"

Wonwoo kind of tunes his father’s voice out for a few seconds. His temples are throbbing, his stomach is killing him, and his dad keeps raising his voice. He says he’s disappointed in Wonwoo, once, twice, says it was a bad idea to leave Chan with him. He says other things, but it’s nothing Wonwoo hasn’t heard before.

"… time to get a grip, do you hear me?"

"Yeah."

"And don’t raise your voice against your mom again, Wonwoo."

"Okay."

His dad hangs up without another word, and Wonwoo feels kind of numb when he opens Chan’s last message.

 

 

 

From Channie:

Hyung, are you okay?

 

To Channie:

why did you tell mom? <

 who even told you what happened? <

 

From Channie:

> I talked to mom and it just kind of slipped out.

> I’m sorry.

> Seungkwan hyung heard from Soonyoung hyung and then Hansol told me.

 

To Channie:

what the hell were you thinking? <

 

From Channie:

> I said I’m sorry, hyung.

> Are you angry at me?

 

To Channie:

do you even have to ask? <

 

From Channie:

I was just worried about you.

 

 

To Channie:

if you’re so worried about me stop reporting everything to mom and dad <

that was a pretty damn stupid move, even for you <

 

 

From Channie:

> I don’t know why you’re like this right now but don’t take it out on me.

> And thanks for calling me stupid.

> I’ll remember that for my next freaking math test.

 

 

Wonwoo glares at Chan’s words, and he doesn’t know if he wants to scream or punch himself in the face. He fucking knows how Chan feels about his grades, he shouldn’t have said that but fuck—

He throws his phone on the couch and slides down the wall, burying his face in his arms as he takes calming breaths. He remains sitting there until the sun goes down.

 

 

 

Wonwoo tries to go to sleep early because it’s too painful to do anything else anyways, and it would be a lie to say he isn’t feeling like shit.

The fight from yesterday, him upsetting his mom, his dad blowing up on him like he always does and Wonwoo kind of blowing up on Chan when it wasn’t really called for. He knows he should apologise but he doesn’t think he has the emotional strength to do that right now.

It’s still raining outside, it’s dark in his room, and Wonwoo turns to lie on his side, wincing in pain.

He closes his eyes in hopes of drifting off, but his phone suddenly starts buzzing and when he blinks his eyes open to see who’s calling him, he’s slightly taken aback to see Mingyu’s name.

Mingyu hasn’t ever called him before, which is strange on its own, but it’s almost nine in the evening. Shouldn’t he be on his date with Yuna’s friend?

For a fleeting second, Wonwoo considers not picking up like he always does; if it’s nothing urgent, they can just send him a message.

But this is… it’s Mingyu.

"Hello?"

"Hyung?"

It sounds silent in the background. Wonwoo figures Mingyu must've gone to the bathroom. "Why are you calling?" Wonwoo doesn’t mean to sound rude, but sometimes he just—

Yeah. There’s no real excuse. He’s a dick, straight up rude.

"Uhm. Sorry." Mingyu sounds a bit flustered and Wonwoo feels bad for being so blunt. "I just… I was with Yuna earlier, and she told me what happened. I’m sorry we weren’t there to help you guys."

Wonwoo shifts to lie on his back, blinking tiredly against the darkness of his bedroom. "It’s not your fault."

"I know. But still… you and Soonyoung wouldn’t have gotten beaten up."

"Yeah. That wasn’t so much fun."

"Hyung." Mingyu sighs. "Are you okay? Yuna said they kind of beat the hell out of you."

"I’m fine. It’s not that bad."

"Are you sure?" Mingyu is silent for a moment. "You sound weird."

Wonwoo smiles. He doesn’t know why he’s smiling. Maybe he’s finally going crazy. "Did you ever get punched in the face?"

"Can’t say I did."

"You wanna know how it feels?"

"Wonwoo…" Mingyu's voice is soft, and Wonwoo hears him gulp. "Hyung"

"Feels like getting hit by a medicine ball."

Mingyu chuckles but it doesn’t sound very happy. "Sounds painful."

"It is."

They’re silent after that. Wonwoo listens to Mingyu breathing. It’s soothing. "Mingyu."

"Yeah?"

"You shouldn’t keep your date waiting. It’s not very polite."

"What? How did you—"

"Yuna told me."

"Oh." Mingyu clears his throat. "I already dropped her off."

"Isn’t it too early? Did it not go well? "

"No. It was- uh. It was nice. But I…"

Wonwoo rubs at his eyes. "You what?"

"I couldn’t really pay much attention. It wasn’t fair."

"Oh… Why not?"

"I kept thinking of you."

"What?"

"I was worried about you. I’m— I still am."

Wonwoo gulps. "I’m fine, I told you."

"I know but… I’m fucking worried, okay?"

"Well. Don’t be. I’m okay."

"Can I see you?"

"Uh, what?"

"Can I come see you?"

"Like— right now?"

"Yeah. I’ll leave right after but I just— I want to see you, just for a minute."

There’s a lot of things Wonwoo doesn’t understand when it comes to Mingyu, and one of them is him agreeing to this.

 

 

Mingyu arrives almost an hour later. He’s wearing the baby blue beanie again, and Wonwoo doesn’t even know why, but the sight makes him feel even worse. Mingyu’s eyes immediately go to the nasty bruise on Wonwoo’s cheek.

"Hey," Wonwoo mumbles, slowly closing the door behind him.

"Hi," Mingyu mutters, his eyes still glued on the bruise, and if Wonwoo didn’t know Mingyu any better he might’ve been scared by the hard look on his face. "Fucking cowards. Three against two? How old were they? What the fuck— "

"It looks worse than it is," Wonwoo interrupts him.

"Yuna said they almost broke your ribs."

"They’re just bruised." Wonwoo sighs. "I’m fine."

"Can I see?"

Wonwoo crosses his arms in front of his chest, leaning back against the door. "That’s not a good idea. I told you it looks worse than it is." Wonwoo awkwardly says and Mingyu’s face falls.

"Hyung…"

"Mingyu, just drop it. People get beaten up way worse than this."

"I don’t care about other people. They shouldn’t have— "Mingyu’s shoulders sag. "They shouldn’t have done this to you."

"Yeah." Wonwoo chuckles, but it hurts his ribs so he ends up wincing and for some reason, it looks like Mingyu is the one in pain. "Shit happens."

Mingyu’s eyes look him up and down once, and Wonwoo remembers that he must look like crap right now.

"Do you need anything?" Mingyu asks and the genuine concern in his eyes squeezes at Wonwoo’s heart. "Painkillers? Did you cool the bruises?"

Wonwoo tries to smile but Mingyu worrying over him makes him feel all weird and dizzy; but maybe that’s just the painkillers finally kicking in. "Yuna kind of equipped me with everything I need. But— uhm. Thank you."

They stand looking at each other for an awkward moment before Mingyu speaks up. "I should leave."

You should stay.

Wonwoo nods but they both don’t move at all. Wonwoo really doesn’t want Mingyu to leave.

He feels weird. He doesn’t think being alone will help.

"Hyung, are you sure you’re okay?"

"Yeah." Wonwoo’s throat is closing up and he kind of helplessly looks up at Mingyu, who looks clueless about what he’s supposed to do. "I’m okay."

"What’s wrong?" Mingyu asks gently, stepping closer.

"Nothing."

"Wonwoo… Please."

"You should leave. I was about to go to sleep—"

Mingyu hugs him.

He cuts him off by wrapping his arms around Wonwoo and pulling him close, careful not to press into his bruises, and Wonwoo’s stiff in his embrace, not really sure what to do. Mingyu feels warm, and he smells so nice, his coat rough against Wonwoo’s mouth where it’s pressed against his shoulder.

"Does it really hurt that much?" Mingyu mumbles, holding him a bit tighter.

He’s talking about his injuries, and yeah, they hurt, but Wonwoo is hurting in a whole different way.

"It doesn’t hurt," Wonwoo says.

"Why are you lying?" Mingyu asks. "You keep lying. Do you think I don’t notice? You cried yesterday; you said it was because of the contact lenses, but you weren’t wearing them. You could barely read the menu card, hyung."

Mingyu starts to pull away after a beat when Wownoo doesn’t answer - as if he thinks Wonwoo really wants him to leave. Wonwoo’s hands shoot up to grasp the back of his jacket, stopping him from going anywhere.

It’s a huge step. Wonwoo isn’t drunk, not one bit, and he doesn’t know what any of this means or what he’s getting himself into.

"Do you want me to stay?" Mingyu carefully asks. "Until you fall asleep?" He doesn’t dig any further, doesn’t demand an answer to what he said a minute ago, and Wonwoo feels like an asshole all over again.

He should tell Mingyu to leave before he messes things up even more, but he doesn’t.

"Mingyu," He mumbles. "Why are you being so nice to me? I’m a dick."

"You’re not a dick," Mingyu answers. "I mean, you act like one, but I don’t think you’re a dick."

"Thanks." Wonwoo snorts, and it hurts his ribs again and he instinctively presses closer against Mingyu, like he’s stupid enough to think it’ll take the pain away. Mingyu rubs a palm over his back, and really, it makes Wonwoo forget about his bruises, even if just for a moment.

"Hyung…" Mingyu sounds like he’s smiling and Wonwoo feels his breath stutter when Mingyu leans his head against Wonwoo’s shoulder. "Why do you think I’m being nice to you?"

"Because you want to get in my pants?"

"How did you know?"

Wonwoo pinches his back and Mingyu squirms against him, laughing softly. It makes Wonwoo smile. It makes his chest ache in a nice way.

God… this is so hopeless. It’s so pointless. Wonwoo isn’t stupid, he knows what this means, he knows why his heart is pounding so demandingly against his ribcage whenever he so much as thinks about Mingyu.

"You know, I asked you yesterday, how you can't stop thinking about the person when you like someone, right?"

"Yes."

"Yeah. You see..." Mingyu makes a weird strangled noise, and then - before Wonwoo can begin to freak out - "I can’t stop thinking about you."

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The bruises start to fade little by little, Wonwoo sets things straight with Chan again and three days later, the fight and police station incident are nearly forgotten about.

Things go back to normal; school, work, stressing over deadlines and exams, worrying about his mom, having his dad worry over Chan’s wellbeing. Repeat.

 

 

It’s been a few days, and Wonwoo is avoiding Mingyu. He is; there is no sense in denying that.

He’s going out of his way not to come face to face with him, always checking with Chan if Mingyu has left before he comes back home from work or the library.

It’s wrong. Wonwoo knows that. It’s wrong, it’s childish, and it’s a coward move and most of all, it’s not fair towards Mingyu.

The tiles of the kitchen floor feel cold against the flimsy material of his shirt, and he just kind of blankly stares at the ceiling, wondering how they managed to get cookie dough stuck up there.

"What’re you thinking about?" Soonyoung yawns next to him.

Wonwoo closes his eyes. Maybe it’ll change the reality of the whole situation.

This reality, in which his good for nothing heart - for the first time in his twenty-two years of existence - seems to be starting to grow fond of another person.

It didn’t quite hit Wonwoo until that night, when Mingyu came over to his apartment just to check up on Wonwoo, and how he kind of prevented Wonwoo from physically falling apart by holding him before he— before he said what he said.

Wonwoo didn’t respond. He didn’t know what to say and even if he would’ve opened his mouth to give an answer (which was the only right thing to do) he doubts it would’ve been anything good.

Because as soon as Mingyu spoke out those words Wonwoo’s been dreading to hear, his anxiety just completely blew up.

He felt the need to push Mingyu away but at the same time he wanted to pull him closer and Wonwoo is starting to wonder how conflicted one’s mind can be before you kind of start going crazy.

And Mingyu… he simply took Wonwoo’s hand and made him sit down on the couch. He didn’t demand an answer, didn’t want any kind of response from Wonwoo. He turned on the TV and waited until Wonwoo dozed off on his shoulder, just like he said he would.

He was gone by the time Wonwoo woke up again the next morning, a blanket thrown over his form and his glasses neatly placed on the coffee table. Wonwoo couldn’t get rid of the tight feeling in his chest for the rest of the day, couldn't stop staring at his phone to check the lack of messages there.

So it kind of feels like Wonwoo isn’t the only one doing the avoiding in this entire scenario.

"Let me guess," Soonyoung speaks up after a beat. "It starts with an M and ends with a U."

"I don’t know what to do."

"Date him."

"Stop—"

"Date him. He likes you. You like him. Date. Him."

Wonwoo sighs and opens his eyes again, the smell of chocolate chips and butter filling his nose.

Soonyoung came up with the grand idea of baking cookies for Yuna just to prove that he can do something in the kitchen even though he really, really can’t. Wonwoo had to help him out and after their fourth attempt and three hours spent failing at creating eatable cookie dough, the cookies are now in the oven and the both of them are lying on the dirty kitchen floor.

They do that a lot, Wonwoo thinks. Lying on the ground, like that’s where they belong.

"Won." Soonyoung sighs and turns to lie on his side, his cheek getting squished when he places his face on his arm. "Mingyu is a nice guy. I get that he has a history of past... lovers, but he's just a natural flirt, that doesn't mean he's a bad person, right? Why not give him a chance? You need to face your fears one day, so why not now? You’ve got nothing to lose."

Wrong; Wonwoo has everything to lose. Like the little sense of control and safety he has left in his life. Accepting the fact that he might have actual feelings for Mingyu feels like taking the plunge and jumping from a cliff, not knowing if he'll be lucky enough to only hit the rough sea at the end or end up smashing against rocks hidden underneath the surface of the water.

"The problem isn’t— It’s not Mingyu." Except it kind of is. Everything about Mingyu is overwhelming and intimidating; his social skills, his laid-back nature, his charm, his humour; the complete opposite of Wonwoo. A lot better than Wonwoo.

Too good for Wonwoo… Yeah, that too.

"Then what?" Soonyoung asks, a serious look on his face. "What are you so afraid of?"

"I wish I fucking knew." Wonwoo presses the heels of his palms against his eyes until it starts to hurt. It’s giving him a headache, his own troubled thoughts are trying to split his brain apart, that’s what it feels like.

Soonyoung pulls his hands away from his face and pats Wonwoo’s chest comfortingly. "Maybe you should see a therapist. I'm not kidding, maybe there are some— I don't know, serious issues you have to work out. I just want you to be happy Won, kind of even more than I want my own happiness."

Wonwoo stares at Soonyoung just as the alarm of the oven goes off. His best friend scrambles to his feet to save the cookies before they can burn, and Wonwoo turns to look at the ceiling again.

A therapist?

It doesn’t sound like a stupid idea. Soonyoung has a point; there is something wrong with Wonwoo. He's known that he's not like his friends ever since he can remember, starting with his classmates pointing fingers at him for always sitting alone in the corner and proceeding to his teachers sending letters to his parents because Wonwoo was too quiet and never participated in classes.

Or that time a group of kids tripped him during recess when he was in his first year of middle school and he ended up spraining his ankle but he didn’t go to the school nurse until his PE teacher had to carry him there because he silently started crying when they had to run laps.

Soonyoung comes back and hands Wonwoo a fresh cookie. "They look alright." Wonwoo mumbles as he sits up and breaks it in half to make it cool down faster.

"They taste good too. We did a decent job, if you ask me," He speaks through a mouthful. Soonyoung carefully watches Wonwoo nibble on the cookie. "Do you promise to consider what I said earlier?"

"Which part do you mean?"

"About seeing a therapist?"

Wonwoo doesn’t have money or time to see a therapist, let alone the nerve to have his parents freak out about it if they’d ever found out. But Soonyoung only means well, and there’s only so much listening and giving advice a friend can do, especially if it’s concerning someone as frustrating as Wonwoo.

"I’ll think about it."

He won’t, but Soonyoung is smiling happily and slinging an arm around his shoulders, and everything else doesn’t really matter for the moment.

 

 

 

He runs into Mingyu a lot sooner than he expected or was prepared for; the next night, to be exact.

Because Wonwoo gets home after making sure that Mingyu isn’t there anymore, but as soon as he opens the door he spots a pair of familiar sneakers, right before he hears an even more familiar laugh. He stays like that for a second, his hand frozen on the doorknob as he tries to come up with a Plan B.

He'll just go back to the library, it's still opened for another half an hour and by then, Mingyu will surely have left—

 

The light of the hallway turns on and suddenly Mingyu and Chan are standing in front of him, the smile on Mingyu’s face fading quickly when their eyes meet.

He barely registers Chan’s greeting, his gaze locked on Mingyu’s unreadable expression.

"Can you see Mingyu hyung out? I’ve been holding in my pee for almost an hour holy shit—" He hears Chan mutter as the latter hurries away from them to the bathroom.

 

Mingyu and Wonwoo both jump out of their frozen stances when the bathroom door slams shut, Mingyu leaning down to put on his shoes and Wonwoo awkwardly clearing his throat where his heart seems to have found a new place to pound away.

He steps away from the still open door when Mingyu stands back up, his eyes flickering to meet Wonwoo’s and Wonwoo feels like he’s just a second away from throwing up all over the carpet.

"Your face— it looks better," Mingyu speaks up after what seems like an eternity and Wonwoo automatically holds his breath at the pleasant rumble of his voice.

"Y-Yeah. It’s almost faded," Wonwoo replies, his hand coming up to touch the greenish yellow bruise on his cheek. His ribs still look nasty - they’re still really tender too - but he’s not about to tell Mingyu that.

"Good. I’m glad." Mingyu smiles but it’s lacking the usual brightness, his eyes don’t quite crinkle as much and the corners of his lips are slightly droopy.

Wonwoo needs to get a fucking grip. He needs to get a grip right about now, because this is not how an adult should be solving their problems; by ignoring them and hoping they’ll magically just disappear into thin air.

"Mingyu— "

"Hyung— "

They both speak at the same time, their eyes slightly widening and Wonwoo can just sense how nervous Mingyu is and that in return heightens his own nervousness.

Chan leaving the bathroom interrupts them, and he gives them a curious look. "Is everything alright?"

Wonwoo can feel Mingyu’s heavy gaze on him when he turns to look at his brother. "I’ll be right back, okay?" He gives Chan a smile, drops his backpack to the floor and before he can overthink things again, he grabs Mingyu’s arm and tugs him outside into the staircase. He closes the door to his apartment behind them and makes Mingyu sit down next to him on the stairs, no matter how cold the tiles feel under his legs.

"Uhm. Chan doesn’t know… about this yet. I don’t want to distract him from school," Wonwoo explains as he looks up at Mingyu.

"Yeah, I understand." Mingyu nods his head. They both shiver at the gush of wind that hits them and maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to sit down here so late at night but Wonwoo really doesn’t want Chan to know about— whatever it is that’s going on between him and Mingyu.

"Mingyu…" He starts nervously. He doesn’t even know what to say. It’s nothing he wants to say, because just sitting next to Mingyu makes his chest feel weird.

"Can you please listen to me without saying anything?" Mingyu asks and Wonwoo looks at him again Mingyu is staring at the ground, a slightly pained look on his face. "I’m sorry for saying those things to you. I know how you feel about this whole… dating and romance thing, and it was kind of an asshole move to push that onto you. I don’t even know why the hell I did it. I mean, I already got rejected once so— yeah. I kind of suck at hiding my feelings, and you were so vulnerable that night and when I held you I just…"

Mingyu trails off and Wonwoo digs his fingernails into his palms to distract himself from Mingyu’s warmth next to him.

"I like you, Wonwoo hyung, and I don’t want to ruin our friendship. So I’d really appreciate it if you could pretend it never happened. I promise I won’t make you feel uncomfortable again—"

You don’t… You make me feel a lot of things but never uncomfortable…

Wonwoo just gulps down and presses his lips together that much harder, too scared of letting his thoughts slip out.

"And I’ll get over these feelings soon enough. I mean, in my mind I already understand, but I guess it just takes a while longer to get the message across to this guy." Mingyu pats the left side of his chest and Wonwoo swears he feels the touch like a pang in his own chest.

"I’m sorry," Wonwoo finally forces out. "You shouldn’t have to feel like this because of me."

 

Mingyu turns to give him a strange look, but his features are soft. He shrugs his shoulders. "You don’t have to apologize for not feeling the same way. It’s fine."

That’s not what Wonwoo is apologizing for; he’s apologizing for not telling Mingyu the truth, which is that Wonwoo can’t stop thinking about him either.

Not for one damn day.

"So, are we okay?" Mingyu asks, regarding Wonwoo with a barely-there smile on his face.

 

They’re sitting so close, and Wonwoo kind of loses himself in Mingyu’s eyes. He wants a lot in that moment, but all he does is nod his head. "We are."

"Mingyu," Wonwoo mumbles before Mingyu turns to leave. It squeezes at his heart, the look on Mingyu’s face when he turns around to face Wonwoo again. "Thank you, for visiting that night. You… you didn’t have to. But I’m—" Wonwoo doesn’t want to talk anymore. He’s so tired, and he hates himself, and he… he likes Mingyu and this isn’t what he should be doing. "I’m thankful you were there."

Wonwoo should ask Mingyu out, and they should go grab some food and see where things go from there but Wonwoo simply can’t.

If there was a switch-off button to his stupid issues, he would’ve pressed it a long time ago. But there is none, and Wonwoo hasn’t ever regretted it more than right now when Mingyu gives him a warm smile despite the whole situation.

"Anytime."

 

 

 

If he thought things would just go back to normal after their conversation, he was wrong.

Mingyu’s texts and snapchats stop coming on a daily basis, maybe once a week, before they stop completely.

Sure, Wonwoo could send him a message too, because it’s unfair to expect Mingyu to always be the one to make a move first.

But after he tells Soonyoung what happened, his best friend advices him not to.

"Look, Mingyu is trying to get over his feelings so you two can be friends again. He’s not about to achieve that when you two constantly keep flirting via snaps—"

"We were never flirting—"

"So he’s just keeping his distance, which is understandable. Give him some time. You can’t break his heart and expect him to still be running circles around you after that. That’s kind of selfish, if you ask me."

Soonyoung was probably right, but Wonwoo finds it hard to wrap his mind around the idea that Kim Mingyu might be heartbroken over scrawny, socially inept Jeon Wonwoo, but he guesses he stopped questioning that a while ago.

While Wonwoo was the one to go out of his way to avoid seeing Mingyu before their talk, it seems to be Mingyu mirroring Wonwoo’s actions now. Whenever Wonwoo gets back from the library or work, it is either to an empty apartment or Chan telling him that he missed Mingyu, that Mingyu just left a minute ago or something along those lines.

Wonwoo can’t even bring himself to deny the feeling of disappointment washing over him when he doesn’t spot Mingyu’s sneakers at the entrance of his apartment anymore.

For some reason, his friends also decide that it’s a good time to stop making plans together with the others for the weekends. It’s mostly just Wonwoo, Hansol and Seungkwan hanging out with Soonyoung and Yuna.

There’s no sight of Minghao or Jeonghan, meaning there’s no sight of Mingyu either.

 

 

The first week of not seeing Mingyu is okay.

The second week is fine as well. It’s not like Wonwoo needs Mingyu in his life, he’s just another friend and sometimes friends just go a long time without seeing each other.

Nearing the middle of the third week without a single form of communication between them, Wonwoo catches himself looking at the door of the café several times during work, hoping for a certain figure to appear, but it doesn’t happen.

"What happened to your friend?" Jisoo asks him, obviously having picked up on it as well since Mingyu used to visit Wonwoo here almost every single day before.

"What friend?"

"Oh, come on. The tall, good looking one. What was his name? Mingyeol?"

Wonwoo can’t stop himself from smiling. "You mean Mingyu."

"Yeah, him. Is he sick or something?"

"No."

"Okay..." Jisoo gives him a careful look. "Did you two fight?"

Wonwoo doesn’t want to elaborate; he’s barely told Soonyoung the whole truth about his feelings, and thinking about Mingyu - or the sudden lack of his presence in Wonwoo’s life - sends a wave of pain and guilt through his chest.

"Something like that," He answers, his jaw set as he wipes the countertop.

Jisoo purses his lips. "Oh… Well, I’m sure you’ll make up again."

Wonwoo’s eyes flicker to the door for the nth time that night, even though he knows there won’t be anyone there that could make him stop feeling like this. "Yeah."

 

 

 

 

To Mingyu:

 how are you? <

 

Wonwoo’s thumb hovers over the little paper plane symbol of the chat for a good minute.

It’s been a month. A whole month, and a few days more.

Wonwoo… he misses him.

A month should be enough, right? It can’t take that long to get over those fleeting feelings Mingyu thinks he has for Wonwoo, right?

So why is Mingyu still avoiding him?

Wonwoo stares at his phone screen for a few seconds longer, his eyes hurting from the brightness of it in his otherwise dark room.

He deletes the message and locks his phone, letting it fall on his chest with a sigh.

Maybe he’s got it all wrong. Maybe the reason Mingyu doesn’t want to talk to him isn’t because he isn’t over Wonwoo yet, but because he is.

Because he tried to make a move two times and Wonwoo rejected him both times and Mingyu understood that there’s no point in trying anymore and that he has better things to do than to chase after some guy that isn’t even worthy of his attention if he’d just stop and think about it—

Yeah, Mingyu probably - finally - did just that.

This is probably for the best, anyway. This way Wonwoo will get over his stupid feelings as well, and everything can go back to normal.

 

 

"Whose birthday is it anyway?"

It’s a Friday night; Wonwoo had an eight a.m class this morning and only got off work an hour ago before Soonyoung appeared in front of his apartment to drag him to some kind of birthday party.

"Yuna’s best friend," Soonyoung mumbles, pulling over to where Seungkwan is waiting with Hansol and Seokmin. They get into the car, barely greeting them since they’re too busy arguing over something Wonwoo doesn’t have the energy to try and ask.

"Why am I here, then? I don’t even know this person."

"Because she told Yuna she wants to meet my friends, since I already met Yuna’s. She’s really cool, I think you’ll get along."

Wonwoo sighs and leans his head back. He checks his phone and looks at the selfie Chan sent him from the movie night he’s having with the dance club at his school, Doyoon behind him doing a dab. It’s a pain to look at; he didn’t think people were actually still doing that.

"Minghao just texted me," Seokmin speaks up after a while. "They’re there too."

"Nice! Feels like we haven’t seen them in ages."

There’s a spark of hope in Wonwoo’s chest, which quickly turns into something uglier; like fear, because Mingyu probably doesn’t want to see him and Wonwoo actually doesn’t really want to see him either.

"Shouldn’t we bring that girl a present or something?" Hansol asks.

"We’re bringing ourselves. Isn’t that enough?" Seungkwan sounds genuine with his question, which triggers yet another argument among the three in the back seats.

Wonwoo leans his head against the cold car window, doing his best to blank out the nervous churning of his stomach.

 

 

It’s a house party, nothing huge. The house is huge, so whoever’s party it is, their family must be well off. The amount of guests is too big for Wonwoo’s liking too; it’s not enough to feel cramped but more than he can count and that’s too much for his liking.

They make their way through the crowd inside and Wonwoo just blindly follows Soonyoung until his best friend has found Yuna, who seems very excited to introduce them to her friend.

She walks off to go find her while Soonyoung pours them some drinks.

"Dude, shouldn’t you be like, not drinking?" Hansol frowns when Seungkwan accepts the cup Soonyoung hands him.

"It’s fine," Seungkwan says and takes a sip. "Unless I get completely shit faced, it shouldn’t kill me."

"Seungkwan…" Hansol starts to reach for his cup, looking genuinely concerned.

"I’m being serious. It’s fine, trust me."

"You sure?" Hansol snorts.

Seungkwan smiles and wraps an arm around Hansol’s shoulder, ruffling his hair. They’re arguing most of the time they spend together but everyone knows that deep down, they genuinely care for each other.

"This shit is nasty." Soonyoung pulls Wonwoo closer to his side, pulling a face at the taste of his drink. "Shouldn’t expensive liquor taste better?"

"Nah, screw that. Nothing beats the five buck vodka from Mr. Nam’s convenience store." Hansol chugs his drink in one go and groans afterwards.

Wonwoo isn’t able to pay their conversation any mind. He chuckles but his stomach is in knots and he keeps eyeing the crowd, looking for a certain someone without even meaning to do it.

"You’re being obvious," Soonyoung suddenly whispers, an arm around Wonwoo’s neck and close enough for his lips to brush the shell of Wonwoo’s ear. "He’s here. Don’t worry."

"I’m not woried." Wonwoo grunts, trying to brush his arm off but it only Makes Soonyoung hold him tighter.  "I don’t know what you’re talking about."

"Sure you don’t." Soonyoung snorts, putting on a big smile when Yuna suddenly emerges from the crowd, holding the wrist of who has to be her friend.

"Guys, this is my friend Sohye. It’s her birthday party and I actually just wanted my friends and Soonyoung’s friends to get to know each other a bit more."

Wonwoo blinks at the girl when she starts squeezing everyone’s hands with a warm smile on her face.

"Hey! I’m Sohye, and you are…?" She’s suddenly standing in front of Wonwoo, a sweet scent filling Wonwoo’s nose.

They shake hands. "I’m Wonwoo."

"Oh! You’re Soonyoung’s best friend? God, he seriously won’t shut up about you…" She keeps talking, and Wonwoo stares at her like an idiot.

It’s Sohye.

It’s the girl Mingyu went out with.

Why did it take Wonwoo so long to make the connection?

"… I’m so glad you guys made it. I’m sure you had better things to do." She chuckles a bit nervously. Wonwoo automatically shakes his head, giving her a smile.

"Thanks for inviting us," He says, which makes Sohye smile even brighter.

She’s so pretty. Her smile is stunning and her eyes are so dark and twinkling—

"Please move, the party just arrived." It’s Jeonghan’s voice, and Wonwoo is still dumbly blinking at Sohye even when his friends start mingling with the others.

He absently returns the half hugs from Jeonghan and Minghao and Seungcheol ruffles his hair and then— Mingyu is there.

Wonwoo doesn’t even realize he’s holding his breath until Mingyu has finished greeting his friends, until he turns around and his eyes flicker to meet with Wonwoo’s right away. It’s just Mingyu, with his dark hair, his penetrating eyes, his pink lips that are usually pulled into a lazy smirk but it feels like Wonwoo is meeting him for the first time.

Mingyu freezes for a split second and Wonwoo tries to ignore the unmistakable flash of uneasiness in his features. "Hey." Mingyu then says - smiling as if nothing happened - and gives Wonwoo a brief half-hug.

Short and meaningless; just a friendly greeting between bros. The scent of coconut is only there for a second but it’s enough to make Wonwoo want to turn around and leave the party.

Mingyu’s eyes stay on him for a moment longer, and then Sohye calls his name and Mingyu starts beaming, turning around just in time to open his arms as she throws herself into them. "Happy birthday, babe."

Babe?

Sohye tugs on Mingyu’s arm, and Wonwoo quickly averts his eyes when Mingyu glances at him before they disappear into the crowd.

Wonwoo feels like an absolute moron. Here he was, foolishly worrying over Mingyu needing more time to get over him when really—

"Come on." Soonyoung has one of his hands clasped with Yuna’s and is holding Wonwoo’s arm with the other one. They sit down somewhere, Wonwoo squished together between Soonyoung and Jeonghan who is already talking to a slightly older looking girl on his other side. "Here, drink this."

Soonyoung passes Wonwoo his own drink but Wonwoo shakes his head. "I don’t want to get drunk."

"You sure about that?" They both simultaneously turn their heads when a sudden noise erupts among the crowd, both of them witnessing their friends standing in a circle doing shots of some kind of black liquid. Mingyu is there too, his arm wrapped around Sohye as they both tip their heads back to down their shots.

"Not anymore," Wonwoo slowly speaks and Soonyoung chuckles, although it sounds very pitying.

"They’re not… a thing, if that’s what you’re thinking." Soonyoung offers, sipping on his drink while his hand is absently running through Yuna’s hair. It’s awfully cute.

"I’m not thinking anything."

"They’re just friends."

Wonwoo shrugs and snatches the drink out of Soonyoung’s hand, immediately taking a few big gulps.

"Woah, slow your damn horses." Soonyoung takes the drink away again and Wonwoo grows increasingly frustrated with how this night is turning out.

He hears Mingyu laugh - even over the music blasting through the house - and he’s trying to come up with an excuse to leave earlier when Jeonghan absently hands him his own drink.

"I don’t drink gin," He speaks over his shoulder when Wonwoo gives the back of his head a questioning look.

Wonwoo doesn’t object; he downs it in one go.

 

 

Two hours later, Wonwoo is proud to say that among his group of friends, he’s the least drunk one.

Who would’ve thought he would ever witness such a day? Not him, certainly.

A lot of the guests have left, but there are still too many unknown faces for Wonwoo to count, so he just focuses on the familiar ones littered around in the seating area where they're gathered together.

Soonyoung and Yuna are making out on the couch next to Wonwoo, who is currently getting his ears talked off by Seungkwan and Hansol simultaneously. He’s spotted Mingyu here and there, but they haven’t talked.

Mingyu hasn’t even spared a glance in Wonwoo’s direction but it’s probably Wonwoo’s fault for even paying attention to that. He should get over it, he knows that, but for some reason Mingyu’s indifference hurts a whole lot more than it should.

"No. No, I think you’re wrong." Seungkwan vehemently shakes his head.

"I didn’t ask for your opinion though. I’m telling you the truth! There is no heaven or hell—"

Seungkwan gasps dramatically. "How dare you?! Take that back!"

"No! I don’t have to believe in that stuff if I don’t want to."

"Then what happens to us when we die, huh? Where do we go?"

"Nowhere! We just cease to exist! Our bodies start to rot and we become a part of the earth and our soul just disappears like the flame of a candle when you blow it out."

"Shut up!" Seungkwan hisses. "Wonwoo hyung, tell him he’s wrong."

Wonwoo doesn’t even know why he’s here. "Actually—"

"There’s no such thing as an afterlife! Tell him, Wonwoo hyung."

"I don’t really—"

"Oh my god, are you an atheist now? Is that what you’re trying to tell us?!" Seungkwan pokes a finger into a very drunk Hansol's chest.

Wonwoo sinks back into the couch. Maybe he can just sleep until they leave.

"Maybe I am, what’re you gonna do about it—"

Someone suddenly starts catcalling and others join them, sounding like a bunch of barking dogs, and then one of them shouts "Hell yeah, get it Sohye!" and that’s what gets Wonwoo’s attention.

He wishes he would’ve missed it, he really does, because when he does look up, it’s just in time to see Sohye drunkenly stumbling over her feet, pushing Mingyu down on a chair before she climbs into his lap to—

She kisses him.

They’re kissing.

People around them are cheering them on, and Sohye is holding Mingyu’s face in her hands and Mingyu isn’t pulling away, his hands coming up to rest on Sohye’s hips.

Wonwoo forcefully tears his eyes away from the sight, his fingers clenched tightly around the cup in his hands, his heart dropping to somewhere around the pit of his stomach.

This isn’t right. He shouldn’t be feeling like this. He shouldn’t feel so— so hurt and betrayed, he has no reason to feel like this but here he is, feeling like the biggest idiot on the planet.

This, this stupid, nasty feeling in his chest, his stomach, everywhere, has to be the biggest part of the reason why Wonwoo usually shuts down when subjects like love and dating come up.

Mingyu and him are nothing, absolutely nothing more than friends that have known each other for a little while and Wonwoo already feels like this; he can’t even imagine how much worse off he’d be if he would’ve given in to Mingyu’s advances.

"Damn." Seungkwan purses his lips at the sight of it. "I thought Mingyu hyung had a crush on you?"

"What?!" Hansol gawks at Wonwoo. "What the hell? Is that true? Why did I not know that—"

"It’s not true," Wonwoo mutters, hating how his voice shakes.

"Bullshit, I could’ve sworn Mingyu hyung was all over you last time I talked to him—"

"Seungkwan, enough." Jeonghan suddenly speaks up from the other side. Wonwoo looks up, their eyes meeting, and he sees Jeonghan sigh heavily, almost like he already judged the entire situation and understood it better than Wonwoo ever could.

"I’m sorry," Seungkwan mumbles quietly, widening his eyes like he can’t quite understand why he was just scolded. He shrugs and nudges his shoulder into Wonwoo’s once he senses the tense atmosphere. "Whatever, Wonwoo hyung. Forget about him, there are plenty other good-looking people here. And you know what they say; the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else!"

"Hell yeah." Hansol lifts his cup in a silent toast.

"Wonwoo, come with me for a minute, will you?" Jeonghan gets up from the couch and sidesteps the coffee table, looking down at Wonwoo and waiting for him to get up.

Wonwoo doesn’t really think twice before he starts following Jeonghan; anything to get out of here.

"Some party, huh?" Jeonghan mumbles as he makes his way through the packed hallways of the house. He keeps looking over his shoulder as if to check if Wonwoo is still there and even in his current state of mind, Wonwoo can still appreciate it.

They walk to the back of the house, away from the loud music and the voices and the smoke, reaching some kind of balcony where they sit down on the floor. It’s cold outside, but Wonwoo welcomes it. It helps him calm down, clear his mind, stop being an idiot.

Jeonghan looks at him for a long time, not saying anything, occasionally taking a sip from his drink, until Wonwoo can’t take the silence anymore.

"Why did you want me to come here?"

"I thought you might want to get away from there." Jeonghan shrugs. "You looked like a caged in animal."

Wonwoo chuckles. "Sounds pretty accurate."

"Didn’t like what you saw in there, did you?"

"Can we not… talk about that."

"I think we should."

"I don’t want to."

"You know why he’s doing that, right?" Jeonghan raises his eyebrows at him. Wonwoo gives him a blank look, too tired to protest. "It’s because he’s an idiot. But you are one too, so you can’t really blame him."

"I’m not blaming anyone." Wonwoo sighs. "Jeonghan, hyung, please stop. I really don’t want to talk about it."

Jeonghan looks like he’s going to ignore Wonwoo’s request, but he just sighs very dramatically and tips his head back to stare at the sky. "I’m really good at playing amor, you know? So it physically pains me when I see two humans being as stupid as you two."

Wonwoo looks up at the sky too, but there must be clouds hanging there because there’s not one single star in sight.

They’re both silent for a long time, and Wonwoo’s neck is starting to hurt but he likes looking up at the black nothingness. It really helps him calm down, helps him stop thinking about… about…

Mingyu. Mingyu… why did he ever step into Wonwoo’s life? Wonwoo never asked for this. He really didn’t.

"Jeonghan hyung."

"Hm?"

"Are you gay?" Wonwoo looks at him. It’s a question that’s been nagging him ever since he met Jeonghan.

"You saw me kiss a woman before, Wonwoo." Jeonghan snorts, but his smile turns a bit softer once he sees the genuine confusion on Wonwoo’s face. "I’m into both; guys and girls."

"Oh." Wonwoo figured as much, but he wasn’t sure, so he didn’t want to jump to conclusions. "That’s cool."

"What about you?" Jeonghan asks, a strange glint appearing in his eyes. "Are you gay?"

"No." Wonwoo automatically answers, but he starts frowning immediately, because that can’t be true, right? Not anymore…

"No?" Jeonghan starts chuckling at the concerned expression on Wonwoo’s face.

"I don’t know." He really doesn’t. He’s never had a reason to believe he’s gay, but then again, he’s also never had a reason to believe that he’s straight either. "I’ve never been interested in anyone before."

"Never?" Jeonghan tilts his head. "You mean, you’ve never been attracted to a girl or guy before?"

Wonwoo slowly shakes his head. "Is there something wrong with me?"

Jeonghan smiles at him. "I don’t think so. There are a lot of people who feel like that. Are we talking about sexual or romantic attraction?"

"Uhm..." Wonwoo shifts a little. "Both, I guess."

"Well... stuff like that isn't black or white, you know? If you're not interested in, you know, sex, people usually call that being asexual. And the other term is aromantic, but that's for people who don't want romantic relationships or can't develop romantic feelings for anyone. I don't know about your sex drive but I mean, you like Mingyu now, don’t you? So I doubt you're aromantic, but you know, who am I to judge that." Jeonghan takes a deep breath and starts chuckling, like he didn't just drop such a bomb on Wonwoo.

Wonwoo doesn’t answer. His mind is suddenly one big mess.

Silence engulfs them again, and Wonwoo shakes his head to get rid of those consuming thoughts, suddenly coming up with an idea. Well, drunk slash tipsy Wonwoo has an idea. Sober Wonwoo would discard an idea like that the second it popped up in his messed-up brain.

Jeonghan looks really handsome right now, his bangs falling into his eyes, the sidecut framing his face, and Wonwoo is pretty sure he's wearing a bit of eyeliner too.

No wonder he’s got guys and girls swooning over him wherever he goes.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" Jeonghan asks, and he sounds like he knows what’s going on in Wonwoo’s mind, and Wonwoo briefly feels scared at how good Jeonghan is at reading people but he quickly disregards the thought because he has a plan, okay? And he’s going through with it. "Wonwoo…" Jeonghan speaks again, his voice wary.

"We should kiss."

Jeonghan still seems taken aback by the words because he gapes at Wonwoo for a moment. "We really shouldn’t."

"Why not?"

"You’re drunk, for one."

"I’m not that drunk." Wonwoo doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. "Do you not want to kiss me?"

"That’s not it." Jeonghan furrows his eyebrows. "You’re really cute but we can’t. You and Mingyu, that’s a fucking mess, and I don’t want to get involved in that."

"Mingyu doesn’t care." Wonwoo scoffs. "And he wouldn’t know about this anyways."

"Of course he cares, what are you talking about? Do you think he kissed Sohye because he likes her?"

"Look, are you going to kiss me or not? Because if not I’m going to find someone else."

Jeonghan looks surprised for a second, and then he starts laughing again. "Wait, is this because of what Seungkwan said earlier? About getting under someone else to get over Mingyu? Because I can guarantee you, kissing me won’t help you with that."

"That’s not it, okay?" Wonwoo groans. Well, it kind of is… "I’ve never kissed a guy before. And I would like to. And you’re my friend, right? You’re the only gay person— I mean, the only guy I know that’s into guys as well, so there’s no one else I can ask."

It’s stupid, there’s no way Jeonghan is going to agree to this—

Oh, okay. Nevermind.

Jeonghan is suddenly crouching in front of Wonwoo and Wonwoo presses back against the reeling of the balcony, their faces inches apart.

"Don’t fall in love with me. You hear me?" Jeonghan says and Wonwoo just kind of dumbly nods his head. "Close your eyes."

The last time Wonwoo kissed someone was at a random party in his first year of college. Some girl found him cute for some reason, and she kept kissing him, and Wonwoo remembers thinking that it felt like kissing the back of his hand. Warm and wet and bland.

So he doesn’t expect it to feel all that different this time around.

Jeonghan presses his lips against Wonwoo’s very slowly, and the only word Wonwoo can come up with when Jeonghan starts kissing him is sweet. There are no sparks flying, no fireworks, his heart doesn’t go crazy; none of that stuff.

It’s nice, but it’s just that. Nothing more. And Wonwoo seriously thinks something’s wrong with him, because even though he hasn’t kissed that many people, he can easily tell that Jeonghan’s kissing skills are more than just above average. His lips are soft and he tastes of something peachy.

It doesn’t even last that long, just three short pecks, maybe five seconds at most, before Jeonghan has already pulled back again.

"First things first; are you in love with me?"

"No." Wonwoo huffs.

Jeonghan smiles, clearly relieved, before he moves back to his seat at the other side of the balcony. He stares at Wonwoo for a second, and the both of them start smiling at the same time. "So, how was it?"

"It was… nice."

"You don’t have to lie, Wonwoo." Jeonghan chuckles. "It was… like kissing the back of your hand, wasn’t it?"

Wonwoo bites at his lower lip. "So there is something wrong with me?"

"Some people need to have actual feelings for the person in order to feel something when they kiss. I mean, you’re clearly one of those people too. If you’re kissing someone you like, or you know, love, kissing feels ten times better than what you felt just now."

"Did you like kissing me?" Wonwoo wonders and Jeonghan starts to smirk at him.

"You have nice lips, and you're good looking, so yeah. I did."

Wonwoo must look slightly panicked because Jeonghan rolls his eyes and waves him off.

"Not in a romantic way. I meant physically, or you know. Sexually."

"Sexually?" Wonwoo starts blushing all over the place and Jeonghan just keeps laughing, like he didn’t just admit to being sexually attracted to Wonwoo—

"Relax. I’m joking." He snorts. "For the most part."

"Hyung!"

Jeonghan laughs, throwing his head back like he finds amusement in Wonwoo’s misery. "Wonwoo, seriously, Mingyu’s already called dibs on you and I’d never stab my friends in the back like that."

Right. Mingyu.

Who’s probably still making out with Sohye in there. Beautiful, social, cute Sohye, who’s way more suitable to be at Mingyu’s side, and who isn’t as complicated as Wonwoo is.

Only a complete idiot would choose Wonwoo over Sohye, so he can’t even blame Mingyu for his actions.

"You two should talk." Jeonghan shakes his head with a solemn smile on his face. "I know it’s hard for you, Wonwoo, but communication is key if you want to make things like this work. You already know what happens if you keep your mouth shut about your feelings."

And he knows Jeonghan’s right, but it seems like it’s too late for that anyways, so Wonwoo just tilts his head back and opts for staring at the empty sky.

 

 

He only sees Mingyu again when he’s leaving the party. He’s holding Sohye’s arm while she looks like she’s about to pass out and he stops walking when he spots Wonwoo at the door, waiting for Soonyoung who’s busy bringing Yuna to bed since she fell asleep on his shoulder.

"Are you leaving?" Mingyu asks, his eyes trailing over Wonwoo’s face. Wonwoo didn’t expect Mingyu to talk to him at all, and it’s stupid how his chest tingles when their eyes meet.

"Yeah. I’m waiting for the others."

"Oh." Mingyu shifts to wrap an arm around Sohye’s waist because she sways dangerously on her feet.

"Is she okay?" Wonwoo asks, genuinely concerned. It’s not her fault, none of this is. She seems like a nice girl. Wonwoo can’t be mad at anyone but himself.

"She, uh, had a bit too much to drink," Mingyu says, brushing the hair away that’s covering her sweaty face. He’s really gentle with her, and he says a few hushed words to her like he’s trying to stop her from passing out.

Mingyu seems to be good at taking care of people. He took care of Wonwoo too when he was drunk out of his mind that night when they first met. And he was really gentle with Wonwoo too.

"I can see that." Wonwoo forces a smile and blanks out those thoughts. "Do you need help?"

"No, it’s fine," Mingyu rushes out, almost a bit too fast and Wonwoo doesn’t know why but his chest hurts again.

"Okay."

Mingyu opens his mouth to say something but he closes it again, and they stand there in the empty hallway looking at each other until Sohye makes a small noise of complaint that startles both of them.

"Tired." She slurs and turns around to bury her face in Mingyu’s chest.

Wonwoo thinks he deserves a pat on his back for not letting the pain he feels show on his face. "You should take her to her room."

"Yeah." Mingyu bites down on his lower lip, and Wonwoo isn’t sure why he feels so guilty all of a sudden when he sees the strange look in Mingyu’s eyes. They pause, like one of them is supposed to say something, but they stay silent and Mingyu starts to turn away. "I’ll see you."

Wonwoo nods but he doesn’t know if Mingyu really means that, because things are weird between them and Wonwoo is just kind of tired of this mess.

Soonyoung guides him out of the house with a secure arm around his shoulders a moment later, reminding him that at the end of the day, he still has his best friend.

 

 

After the party, Wonwoo decides that things need to change. He's allowed this nonsense to mess with his mind and feelings way too long and it's making him feel like an idiot. He doesn't usually let his feelings control him to the extent of him not being able to think about anything else.

Even when things were crazy at home, he always used to be able to blank those things out and focus on school or keeping Chan away from their house until his mom went to sleep so he didn't have to see her in that condition.

But it's like that control has just completely slipped through his fingers, and it's all Mingyu's fault.

"Hyung, why aren't you eating?"

Wonwoo looks up from his plate, his fork still forcefully stabbed into the chicken breast. "I was thinking about something." He replies and starts eating the food, mostly to get Chan to stop worrying.

"You've been really weird lately," Chan carefully says. Wonwoo hands him a napkin and points to the corner of his mouth where some sauce is stuck and Chan wipes it away with an amused grin. "Seriously, is there something wrong?"

"No. I'm just a bit stressed with school and work, I guess." He quickly says, smiling at his brother.

Chan doesn't seem all that convinced. He pushes the noodles around for a while before looking up at Wonwoo again. "It doesn’t… it doesn’t have something to do with Mingyu hyung, does it?"

"What?" His entire posture tenses at the question, especially at the sudden mention of Mingyu's name. "Of course not." Wonwoo laughs it off, or at least he tries to.

"He's acting strange too." Chan shrugs. "Every time he comes over it's like, I don't know. He's like really nervous, but he relaxes once he knows you're not here."

He tries really hard not let his face fall, but it's difficult, hearing those words. If even Chan picked up on it, Mingyu really must not want to be around Wonwoo.

It shouldn't hurt this much, because Mingyu and him have only known each other for a few weeks, maybe a month or two, so it's not like they used to be close friends or something. But things happened in that short amount of time - or they started happening - before Wonwoo kind of messed it up. And now it's over before anything even started.

"Did you guys have a fight or something?" Chan asks with a frown on his lips, repeating the same question Jisoo asked Wonwoo at the start of the week.

"We're not that close, Chan." Wonwoo pushes his plate away, not feeling hungry anymore. "We didn't fight."

Chan raises his eyebrows, like he doesn't believe a word Wonwoo is saying but he shrugs his shoulders with a sigh and continues eating. "Are you free tomorrow night?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Could you do me a favour?"

"Sure."

"Mingyu hyung found some of his old math books from high school, you know, with solutions and notes and everything. I need them over the weekend to study but I don't have time tomorrow to pick them up because I have practice, and he has to work so he can't bring them over. It'd be awesome if you could go pick them up for me."

"Pick them up where?"

"At Mingyu hyung's workplace."

Wonwoo blinks at his brother, and he's about to say he can't because he's busy but he just told Chan that he's free tomorrow so that probably wouldn't work. "Can't you pick it up on Saturday?"

"Nope. Mingyu hyung is going home over the weekend."

... He is?

That's not the point, stop getting so distracted!

Wonwoo really, really doesn't want to. Even if it's just to pick up some old books, even if he'll see Mingyu for only a single minute. He has to get control over his feelings first before he can face him again.

"Hyung, please? I wouldn't ask you if I had time, but I really need them or else I'm screwed."

"I don't know, Chan. I really have to work on my assignment tomorrow—"

"It'll only take you half an hour, I swear! It's only about fifteen minutes from here."

This makes Wonwoo realize that he doesn't even know where Mingyu is working.

How come he never asked? And why didn't Mingyu tell him about it?

Wonwoo didn't even know Mingyu had a job, at all.

He really doesn't know that much about Mingyu. Close to nothing. So why does Wonwoo feel this way? Is it because Mingyu is handsome and somewhat popular?

It's something he should've questioned from the get-go. Wonwoo always thought that if one day, for some reason, he actually develops those kinds of feelings for a person, it would happen after a long, intense time of getting to know them. See their flaws, their weaknesses, their passions, their worries—What the hell does Wonwoo know about Mingyu apart from what he’s majoring in and his love for Marvel comics?

"So, will you do it?"

Yeah, he doesn't know shit.

If he really thinks about it, Wonwoo's probably only fooled himself into believing he has feelings for Mingyu, because no one before him has ever shown interest in Wonwoo like that, so he kind of latched on to the first person like an idiot when it finally happened.

His feelings aren't real; it's just a side effect of having been shown attention and affection from a good-looking person.

"Hyung?"

Wonwoo looks up at Chan and shrugs his shoulders.

"Yeah, sure. Tell me when and where."

 

 

Where does someone like Kim Mingyu work?

Before Chan gave him the address, Wonwoo expected the name of a restaurant, where Mingyu would be the most requested waiter, getting numbers slipped to him on a daily basis. Maybe a barista like Wonwoo, but more popular and equipped with charming smiles and witty comebacks. Or maybe he'd be working in a grocery store, packing the bags for the old people and making them wish they’d have a lovely grandson like him.

But Wonwoo is standing in front of a small store with spectacles displayed in the shop windows, and there isn’t even a sign anywhere. Chan wasn’t kidding when he said the shop doesn’t have a name, and Wonwoo still isn’t sure if his brother gave him the right address.

He’s starting to freeze standing outside like that, so he sighs and gingerly steps inside the shop. The bell at the door jingles and Wonwoo has to squint his eyes to see better because the lights inside are so faint.

It looks very small and the walls are covered with illuminated shelves stacked with hundreds of specs. Apart from that, the inside looks more like a workshop than a shop.

There’s an old man sitting at a huge workplace, the table littered with different utensils and stacks of paper.

He looks up when Wonwoo awkwardly clears his throat. "Can I help you?"

"I. Uhm." Wonwoo feels a bit nervous under the old man’s gaze, especially because he seems annoyed that Wonwoo interrupted his work. "I was looking for Mingyu?"

"Mingyu?" The man pulls away his own glasses and they dangle on his chest where they’re attached around his neck with a string. "Who are you?"

"I’m a friend."

"That brat has friends?" The man’s lips suddenly pulls into a smile and Wonwoo automatically relaxes because it makes him look much friendlier.

Wonwoo shrugs. "Seems like it."

"Well, he’s not here yet." The man says and stands up, his joints cracking loudly. He pulls a pained face, tell-tale signs of his aged body starting to give him a hard time. "Late as always. He’s been working here for over a year and I’ve yet to see the day that kid arrives on time."

It doesn’t sound so surprising, but it makes Wonwoo smile nonetheless.

"You can wait in the back. It’s where he works."

Wonwoo looks in the direction the man is pointing at and spots another working desk that is partially separated from the front by some huge plants and a very old looking lamp. "Alright. Thanks."

"Do you want something to drink?"

"No, I’m fine. Thanks."

"Good. I forgot to go shopping so I don’t have anything to offer anyways." The man sits back down on his desk and Wonwoo just awkwardly smiles before hurrying to the back.

The workplace that supposedly belongs to Mingyu is a lot messier than the old man's. There are schemes and utensils scattered everywhere and what looks like a model of specs Mingyu is currently working on.

He sighs and looks at his phone, maybe awaiting a message from Mingyu telling him when he intends to show up but there's nothing and Mingyu's only late five minutes anyways. He ends up sitting down on the chair in the corner and pulls out his textbooks from his backpack, deciding to get some studying done while he waits for Mingyu.

 

 

Mingyu arrives twenty minutes later.

"I’m sorry, the bus kind of broke down and I had to walk here." He says, slowly pulling the beanie from his head while his eyes move over Wonwoo’s face.

Wonwoo gets up from the chair so fast his textbooks end up falling to the floor. "It’s fine."

Their eyes meet for a long moment, neither of them speaking, and Mingyu looks so good even though his hair sits funny because of the hat, and Wonwoo seriously just wants to get those books and run—

"I’m leaving!" The old man from before shouts, making only Wonwoo jump, almost like Mingyu is used to the shouting already. "Don’t forget to lock the doors again. I’m too old to clean up after your—"

"Okay, uncle!" Mingyu interrupts him quickly. "Have a good weekend."

The doorbell jingles again and then it’s just Wonwoo and Mingyu, and the store feels even smaller than before.

"He’s your uncle?" Wonwoo carefully asks.

"Oh, no. Hell no." Mingyu chuckles. "We’re not related. It’s just easier to call him uncle."

Wonwoo nods his head in understanding. He’s about to ask for the books, but then he realizes that it’s almost eight and he can’t help but wonder if Mingyu is going to spend his Friday night working here on his own.

"The books." Mingyu suddenly jerks and grabs his bag, pulling out a stack of heavy looking books. "Chan knows what to do with them. I— I hope they help him."

They’re damn heavy and Wonwoo has no idea how he’s supposed to carry those home without waking up with sore arms tomorrow. He kind of holds them against his chest, still stupidly blinking up at Mingyu.

"How long do you have to work?"

"Until I’m done with this model." Mingyu points at the desk, his face falling a little at the sight of it. "Or you know. The whole night."

He looks back at Wonwoo and Wonwoo grips the books harder.

He’s an idiot.

"Do you mind if I, uhm. Keep you company for a while?"

Mingyu looks taken aback by the offer, but a smile appears on his face, small and timid but so freaking adorable—

Wonwoo is the greatest idiot alive.

 

 

They work mostly in silence.

Mingyu is completely focused on his work, scribbling notes on the schemes in front of him, a pen behind his ear, his tongue stuck out in concentration.

It’s absolutely endearing and distracting but Wonwoo does his best to only pay attention to his notes on the table.

Wonwoo knows he should leave because it’s getting late and there’s no valid reason for him to stay here any longer because a while has already turned into almost two hours.

But Mingyu looks like he doesn’t want Wonwoo to leave, and Wonwoo decides to extend a while even more because he can only imagine how boring it must be for Mingyu to stay here working on a Friday night.

They don’t really talk; Wonwoo asks a few questions about the specks Mingyu is working on, and Mingyu gives very enlightening answers to those, but after that they just fall into silence again.

It’s unnerving, and it’s frustrating, but Wonwoo doesn’t know how to make it go away so he just keeps his mouth shut and stuffs his brain with more information for his upcoming midterms.

He somehow loses track of time after that, because the next time he checks it’s already past ten and it’s completely dark outside. Wonwoo yawns and closes his books, rubbing at his eyes and wincing at the pain he feels in his neck from sitting in the same position for so long. He looks up to find that Mingyu has actually fallen asleep.

He considers leaving without waking him up, but he doesn’t want Mingyu to end up sleeping here the whole night on his own either.

"Mingyu." He says, his voice cracking from the lack of use. Mingyu barely stirs in his sleep and Wonwoo is about to reach out and shake him but something stops him from doing so.

Mingyu’s cheek is pressed against the bend of his elbow, his other arm stretched out on the desk and his knuckles easily grazing Wonwoo’s textbooks on the other side. His hair is tousled, and his cheeks are a bit flushed.

Wonwoo slowly leans down to rest his chin on his arm, trying to get a better look on Mingyu. Their faces are only inches apart like this, and if Mingyu was awake, this would definitely freak Wonwoo out.

But Mingyu looks peaceful like this. He looks young and harmless and Wonwoo is suddenly overwhelmed by the wave of longing washing over him; he wants nothing more than to be a normal person for a second, just so he can feel how it is to be with Mingyu like that.

He doesn’t really think when he reaches his free hand out to brush Mingyu’s bangs out of his eyes, the way he wanted to a while ago when he started to accept the feelings he had for him (or when he started freaking out over that fact).

Mingyu twitches in his sleep, and Wonwoo smiles, well aware that his eyes are too fond and that he needs to take a huge step back because this isn’t part of his plan.

This isn’t helping, this isn’t what you do when you’re trying to quench your feelings for a person, but he can’t really help himself. He’s not sure if he’ll ever be able to do this again anyways.

Wonwoo’s smile slowly fades, his knuckles brushing over the bridge of Mingyu’s nose, and he just— fuck… something just painfully squeezes at his heart. This boy, all those feelings Wonwoo has for him…

He sighs, burying his mouth in the bend of his elbow as he rubs his thumb over one of Mingyu’s eyebrows. It’s pretty.

This is probably really fucking creepy; Wonwoo stops himself when he finally realizes just what the hell he’s doing right now, but it’s too late because Mingyu suddenly opens his eyes and looks at him.

Wonwoo is about to pull his hand back even though it's obviously too late to pretend Mingyu didn't just catch him doing something he shouldn't have. Mingyu grips his wrist, not letting him move away while his face displays confusion and something else Wonwoo doesn't really dare put a finger on.

"I wanted to wake you up," Wonwoo says when he finds his voice again.

"By watching me sleep?" Mingyu asks, but it's a bit muffled since his chin is still propped up against his arm. "Isn’t that a bit creepy?"

Wonwoo swallows nervously, freeing his hand from Mingyu's grip. "I wasn't."

It doesn't seem to be what Mingyu wants to hear, because the corners of his lips droop a little.

And while they sit like that, staring at each other like they're waiting for the other to say something, it grows increasingly harder to stop himself from doing something stupid; because Mingyu is too close, and he has that look in his eyes and everything about him confuses the hell out of Wonwoo.

Mingyu lets out a long exhale, and he shakes his head like he's giving up, crossing his arms to rest his head on top of them. Their knuckles are brushing, and they both don't pull away, so Mingyu presses them together with more purpose.

"It’s pretty late. I should leave." Wonwoo slowly blinks at Mingyu, his eyes drifting down to where Mingyu has started playing with Wonwoo’s fingers, the touch gentle and buzzing on his skin.

Mingyu doesn't answer, instead he trails his eyes over their hands, the tips of his fingers running over Wonwoo’s. "You have cute hands."

"Cute?"

"They’re kind of small."

"They’re normal." Wonwoo huffs, trying his best to sound annoyed, but all he can do is stare at the soft expression on Mingyu’s face.

He presses their palms together, spreads their fingers as if to prove his point. The tips of Wonwoo’s fingers only reach to the last joints of Mingyu’s.

Mingyu looks up, raising an eyebrow and Wonwoo shoots him a half glare. "It’s because you’re a giant."

"Maybe." Mingyu shrugs, slowly lacing them together until they are - once again - holding hands. His eyes flicker up to Wonwoo’s, like he’s trying to see if Wonwoo is fine with this. Wonwoo doesn’t even know if he’s fine with it; his heart seems to like it though, and Wonwoo isn’t pulling away even though he knows he should. Isn’t Mingyu seeing Sohye? Oh man, this isn’t alright. They shouldn’t be doing this— "Why did you kiss Jeonghan hyung?"

The question comes out of nowhere, breaking the silence that had stretched out between them.

Wonwoo doesn’t speak for a moment, too taken aback, too confused how Mingyu even knows about the kiss. "How do you know?"

"Does that matter?" Mingyu does a good job in keeping a straight face but Wonwoo sees the dull emotions behind his eyes. "Do you… like him?"

Wonwoo tenses, his hand suddenly feeling like it doesn’t belong to him where Mingyu is still holding on to it. "What?"

"Jeonghan hyung. Do you like him?" Mingyu’s thumb brushes over Wonwoo’s just the way he did that night in Soonyoung’s bedroom and Wonwoo’s body shudders under the touch, just the way it did back then as well. "Is that why you kissed him?"

"No." Wonwoo frowns and shakes his head.

He definitely didn’t want Mingyu to know about the stupid kiss, he didn’t think he would find out. And looking back, he definitely wouldn’t have asked Jeonghan to kiss him. Of course he wouldn’t have, but he should know by now that he tends to make stupid ass decisions while under the influence. "I don’t like him."

Mingyu’s face falls even more. "Then why?"

He looks upset and Wonwoo feels like a dick for causing that but Mingyu is at fault too; there’s no reason for him to be upset. Doesn’t he feel guilty at all? Is he not thinking about Sohye? "Is it really that important? It was just a kiss."

Yeah, right. Just a kiss. Wonwoo is the last person on this planet to treat any form of intimacy as just. But Jeonghan’s a friend, and the kiss was innocent, and Wonwoo was honestly just trying to find out how it feels to kiss a man, if he’d like it, and the alcohol made it seem like a good idea to ask Jeonghan for help at the moment.

"I have to go," Wonwoo says, starting to pack up his stuff. "I don’t want to miss the last bus."

Mingyu nods his head without looking at Wonwoo and Wonwoo grits his teeth together, hating the strange atmosphere between them as he shoves his things into his bag with more force than necessary. He helps Wonwoo carry the books at the entrance until Wonwoo has put on his coat again and when Wonwoo tries to take them back, Mingyu doesn’t let him.

He just looks at Wonwoo, with this strange expression on his face. It’s dark, since only the back of the shop is illuminated and Wonwoo doesn’t know how or when or why they ended up standing so close but Mingyu won’t stop looking at him like that.

Something about it makes his heart pound against his chest so demandingly it almost aches and Wonwoo just doesn’t know what to do with himself. He wants to take those feelings and throw them far away where they can’t get to him anymore—

"I want a kiss."

"What?"

"You asked me if there’s something I want in exchange for helping Chan. I want you to kiss me." Mingyu says, and he tilts his head and he’s so intimidating again because Wonwoo has no idea why those words are leaving his mouth, or what’s happening in Mingyu’s brain.

He knows by now that Mingyu isn’t one to simply ask for a stupid thing like that, and definitely not someone who’d want anything for helping his friends’ brother out, so he doesn’t know what brought this on.

Wonwoo grips the strap of his bag a bit harder, his hands suddenly feeling really sweaty. "This isn’t funny."

"I’m not joking."

"Are you serious?" Wonwoo frowns at him, anger and confusion coiling in his stomach. "What about Sohye? Do you always go around your girlfriends' back and ask to kiss other people—"

"What? My girlfriend?"

Wonwoo furrows his eyebrows at the perplexed expression on Mingyu's face. "Aren’t you with her?"

"What? Why would I— No, of course not." Mingyu looks genuinely confused and Wonwoo is confused too, to say the least.

"But you… you kissed, and you took her out on a date—"

Mingyu steps closer and Wonwoo automatically steps back. "You know I only went on a date with her because of Yuna. And the kiss… She told me that she wants a kiss from me for her birthday and I just— I didn’t have the heart to say no." He stops and drops his gaze. "I mean, it was just a kiss after all, right? No biggie."

Wonwoo thinks of something to say but his mind comes up blank and Mingyu is just way too close, his eyes too sharp and too handsome.

He grabs the books in Mingyu’s hands, trying to take them but Mingyu isn’t letting him.

"I’m going to miss the bus—"

"You’re going to kiss Jeonghan hyung, but not me?"

Mingyu is irritating him, and Wonwoo has the urge to drop the heavy books on his feet. "I’m not kissing random people left and right, okay?"

"Random people? Is that what I am to you?" Mingyu tries to mask it but he looks hurt and what the hell is Wonwoo supposed to do?

"That’s not what I meant." Wonwoo tries. "We said we were going to be friends, why are you doing this now?"

"Is it that, or are you just scared to kiss me?"

"Why would I be scared?" He scoffs but his heart tightens in fear at Mingyu’s words.

"You are, aren’t you?"

"I’m not."

"So kiss me."

"I don’t want to kiss you."

"Yeah. Of course not. Because you’re terrified—"

The books are in the way but Wonwoo makes it work anyways. He leans up and presses his lips against Mingyu’s just for a fleeting second before he pulls away again.

It could hardly be described as a kiss, their lips barely touched but Wonwoo is still holding his breath, because he can’t believe he just did that.

"What was that?" Mingyu asks after a beat of silence, his lips slightly parted.

Wonwoo’s face feels extremely hot and he tries to shrug off whatever just happened. "I kissed you."

"Hyung, that— that was not a kiss." Mingyu chuckles and for a second Wonwoo forgets all about the situation, about this tense air between them, because he sees Mingyu smile again, as genuinely as he did a while ago when they were sitting in front of the barbecue place in the rain.

"Our lips touched, as far as I know that’s what a kiss is about…" Wonwoo trails off because Mingyu steps closer, and he places the books on the table next to them, and then he steps even closer until the tips of their shoes are touching.

Wonwoo knows what he should do; he should pick those damn books up and leave because nothing good can come out of this, but they’re so close and Mingyu looks so warm and inviting and Wonwoo’s entire body feels heavy all of a sudden, like it’s being drawn towards Mingyu like a magnet.

Because Mingyu is right, because Wonwoo is scared shitless when Mingyu carefully lifts a hand to cup the side of Wonwoo's face, when he starts leaning in slowly like he's approaching a wild animal.

There's a second when their eyes meet and Wonwoo's heart does a weird thump, and then he closes his eyes just in time to feel Mingyu’s lips press against his own.

It isn’t like kissing that girl years ago, or Jeonghan last week, and definitely not like kissing the back of your hand.

Mingyu’s palms are on Wonwoo’s cheeks and Wonwoo’s gripping Mingyu’s sweater on his sides to keep himself steady, trying hard not to let Mingyu’s touch and his scent and his warmth get to him but it’s the only thing he’s aware of; if someone asked Wonwoo for his name right now, he’d end up saying Mingyu’s name instead.

He pulls Mingyu closer, and Mingyu kisses him deeper and Wonwoo is absolutely mortified at the strange sound escaping his throat. It makes Mingyu slow down, makes him kiss Wonwoo like he’s trying to calm him down, like he’s trying to reassure Wonwoo that it’s okay but absolutely nothing is okay.

Because he’s kissing Mingyu and it feels nothing like any kiss he’s had before. Just like Jeonghan said.

 

If you’re kissing someone you like, or you know, love, kissing feels ten times better.

Chapter Text

 

 

When Mingyu pulls away, it’s like he sucks the air out of Wonwoo’s lungs with it, because he feels like he just came up for air after staying underwater for too long.

Wonwoo stumbles, and Mingyu keeps him steady with his hands on his waist. Mingyu’s chest is rising and falling faster than before and it’s nice to know Wonwoo isn’t the only one who’s so thrown off by that kiss.

"Did Jeonghan hyung kiss you like that?" Mingyu asks after they both catch their breaths again. His lips are brushing against Wonwoo’s temple.

"Definitely not."

"Good."

Mingyu pulls him closer and Wonwoo just lets it happen. Because this is Mingyu, annoying, sweet, caring Mingyu, and Wonwoo is kind of going crazy over him and kissing him makes Wonwoo want to never kiss anyone again who isn’t Kim Mingyu. He turns his head, and that familiar scent of him is a lot stronger on Mingyu’s neck.

It’s somewhat comforting, and it’s probably part of the reason why Wonwoo isn’t freaking out.

"You always smell like coconut."

Mingyu hums and Wonwoo closes his eyes when he feels him run his palms over Wonwoo’s back, still trying to calm him down, like you would do to a scared child. "My sister does her own skin products. She’s a hardcore vegan, so she doesn’t let me use anything else."

Stop overthinking. It’s fine. It’s just Mingyu…

"It’s nice." Wonwoo says, doubting that Mingyu even heard him but Mingyu tightens his hold on him so maybe he did.

"I can give you some of her stuff. You might smell like me, though." He mumbles. "Not that I have anything against that idea."

Wonwoo snorts but he can tell Mingyu is smiling and everything about this situation makes his heart swell, like it’s just totally done with Wonwoo’s brain’s bullshit and wants to make the decisions for once in his life.

"I tried to stop—" Mingyu starts once the silence starts to get too heavy, and he tries to pull away but Wonwoo isn’t ready to face him yet after what they just did, so he tightens his grip on the back of Mingyu’s sweater and keeps him in place, close to him. Mingyu sighs and wraps his arms back around Wonwoo, shaking his head. "I tried to stop, you know. I thought staying away from you would help, but it just made things worse. I missed you."

Wonwoo gathers all his courage, the words almost refusing to leave his mouth. "I missed you too."

He can hear the hitch in Mingyu’s breath, the gentle rise and fall of his chest against Wonwoo’s. "Really?"

"Yeah."

This time when Mingyu pulls away, Wonwoo lets him, and his heart kind of drops when he lifts his head to meet Mingyu’s eyes.

"Can you tell me what’s going on in that head of yours?" Mingyu asks, and he looks tired, sounds a bit deflated, like he’s expecting another rejection.

The third time is the charm, isn’t that how it goes? Will Mingyu give up after the third time of being rejected?

Wonwoo couldn’t blame him, but the thought scares him more than he thought it would.

"There’s… a lot going on." Wonwoo mumbles.

Mingyu smiles softly. He brings his hand up to tap Wonwoo’s temple with his index finger. "What…" He licks his lips and Wonwoo has the urge to lean in and kiss them again. "What happens when you think of me?"

Wonwoo laughs, a bit hysterically maybe, because Mingyu looks concerned at his reaction. "I don’t know. It’s— It’s a mess. When I think of you."

"A good or bad mess?"

"Bad." Wonwoo says, regretting it when he sees the flash of hurt in Mingyu’s features and he thinks he deserves a slap to the face for causing that awful look on Mingyu’s face so many times. "Do you remember what I told you when you said... you said the heart wants what it wants?"

He doesn’t expect Mingyu to actually remember, it was more of a rhetorical question, but as always, Mingyu catches him off guard by nodding his head. "You said something like— that your heart doesn’t call the shots."

Wonwoo blinks at him, said heart jumping in glee just because Mingyu was actually paying attention to Wonwoo’s stupid words. "Y-Yeah." He stammers, not able to stop staring at Mingyu like he just told Wonwoo all the secrets of the universe.

"What about it?" Mingyu asks.

"When I think about you—" Great, now Wonwoo’s palms are starting to sweat.

All he wants to say is that Mingyu makes Wonwoo want to let his heart call the shots for once, but he’s too stupid even for that. He isn’t used to this, talking so openly about his thoughts, his feelings, and it’s so hard; he has no idea how other people do it.

"It’s fine, you don’t have to tell me." Mingyu whispers when he spots the troubled look on his face and Wonwoo grows so damn weak for him.

"I didn’t like it" Wonwoo makes another attempt, deciding to say it like this, because he doesn’t know how else to make it clear how he feels about Mingyu. "When I saw you kissing someone else. It hurt."

Mingyu looks taken aback by the words, and he opens his mouth a few times but no words come out. "I’m sorry."

Wonwoo is quick to shake his head. "Don’t be. If anything, I should be the one apologizing. I’m making a huge deal out of something so simple."

"No. You made your intentions clear from the start. I’m the one who went ahead and fell for you—"

They both freeze, Mingyu’s ears turning red and Wonwoo’s heart threatening to burst in his chest.

That can’t be. Mingyu can’t have actually fallen for Wonwoo, right?

A crush is already pushing it, but falling for someone— it’s more than just liking them, isn’t it?

"Hyung, I—" Mingyu starts, and he looks lost and somewhat scared right now, and Wonwoo doesn’t want him to feel like that.

He doesn’t know what comes over him, what makes him do what he does next, but his chest is heaving and his blood is rushing everywhere and he’s suddenly leaning up, pulling Mingyu down by his neck to press their lips together again. Mingyu makes a soft sound against his mouth, but he kisses back like this might just be the last kiss they’ll ever have.

Wonwoo pulls back for air, his mind pleasantly numb and the air around them filled with their hasty breathing, and Mingyu leans in again, his arms around Wonwoo, his mouth on Wonwoo, warm and soft and slick and kind of perfect.

"Are you okay?" Mingyu whispers against his mouth when they pull away again. Wonwoo tilts his head up, brushing their lips together because he really can’t get enough. "You’re so calm." Mingyu breathes, and Wonwoo shudders at the soft groan leaving his lips when Wonwoo kisses him silent.

"Is that bad?"

"No." Mingyu kisses the corner of his mouth and Wonwoo’s eyes flutter shut. "I’m just scared you’ll freak out later."

Yeah, Wonwoo’s scared too, but he doesn’t think he could not want Mingyu like this after tonight, no matter how much his anxiety and worries will swallow him up tomorrow. "I’ll be fine."

"This doesn’t have to mean anything." Mingyu speaks against his lips. "It can mean whatever you want. Just— there’s no pressure. Not from my side. I don’t want to overwhelm you."

They’re such simple words, but it’s like Mingyu took half of the heavy burden resting on Wonwoo’s shoulders away with it, making it easier to breathe, easier to think. "Thank you." He mouths, and Mingyu kisses him again, like he can’t help himself and Wonwoo feels it to the core of his bones.

"I won’t kiss anyone else if you don’t want me to."

"You can… if you want." Wonwoo hesitantly answers, even though he doesn’t really like the idea of Mingyu kissing other people, not too keen on experiencing those emotions he had watching Mingyu kiss Sohye again.

"I don’t want to." Mingyu shakes his head. "What about you?"

"What about me?"

"I mean. I’d rather you wouldn’t. Kiss other people. If that’s okay. Wait, no... I mean, shit, I don’t want to control you, you can kiss whoever you want, but it would probably—"

"I won’t." Wonwoo interrupts him, a smile tugging on his lips. He can’t believe Mingyu thinks there might be people queuing up to kiss Wonwoo like there are for him. "I don’t want to kiss anyone else."

Mingyu’s lips stretch into the prettiest smile Wonwoo has seen on him, a faint blush appearing on his cheeks.

Wonwoo wishes he could take a picture of it without ruining the moment.

 

 

 

When Wonwoo wakes up the next morning on the couch in his living room and the first thing popping up in his mind is the fact that he kissed Mingyu - and no, it was not a dream - he expects a lot of things to happen.

He expects himself to crawl into the shower and try not to have a mental breakdown, most of all.

There’s a message from Mingyu on his phone, sent at one in the morning when Wonwoo was already asleep.

It’s a picture of the finished model Mingyu was working on.

Wonwoo sends him a thumbs-up emoji.

Mingyu sends him a smiley back.

It’s just a stupid smiley face, but somehow it feels like it’s supposed to convey a lot of things at once.

And contrary to Wonwoo’s expectations, he does not freak out.

He thinks about how happy Mingyu looked last night, and how nice the kisses felt and then his lips stretch into a stupid smile.

Wonwoo only stops smiling when Chan walks out of the room and freezes at the sight.

"Why are you smiling?"

"I’m not."

"You were… smiling. It’s nine in the morning. What happened? Are you sick?"

Wonwoo turns to reassure Chan that he’s fine but fuck, he’s smiling again.

Chan frowns. "I’m scared."

 

 

Mingyu is - like Chan told him - spending the weekend back home with his family, so it feels like something’s missing when they all go out to grab some drinks.

Wonwoo doesn’t tell anyone about what happened, not even Soonyoung. He knows a good friend wouldn’t keep things like that to himself, but Wonwoo hasn’t figured out what all of it means yet and he doesn’t want to create a fuss over nothing.

He was scared that things would get weird between Mingyu and him again after what happened. Not just the kiss (or kisses, plural), but mostly because of what they said.

They basically agreed on not kissing anyone else… It sounds like a pretty weird thing to do and truthfully, it does make Wonwoo feel slightly anxious, but he tries to suppress it as best as he can.

He tries to repeat Mingyu’s words in his mind. There’s no pressure.

It’s Mingyu, and for a reason Wonwoo doesn’t understand, he trusts Mingyu a lot.

Things seem to be okay between them. Mingyu is back to sending Wonwoo stupid snapchats, a voice message where he recorded an old couple arguing in the train over the man always buying the wrong kind of bread (and Mingyu said they kissed in the end to make up).

It’s like in the beginning, except it’s not. Because Mingyu’s words kind of mean… things, even if it’s just a simple "goodnight" or "did you eat yet?". Even his smileys have Wonwoo imagining the expression on Mingyu’s face and it’s always somewhat of a dopey smile or warm eyes and it makes Wonwoo feel stupid and giddy because he wants to see it in person.

On Sunday night when Mingyu is back, right before Wonwoo is about to go to sleep, Mingyu finally addresses what they’ve both been more or less avoiding.

 

From Mingyu:

> are you okay?

 

 

To Mingyu:

 yes, why? <

 

From Mingyu:

> aren’t you freaking out?

 

 

To Mingyu:

 no <

 

From Mingyu:

> so if i tried to kiss you again, would you let me?

 

Wonwoo thinks back to Mingyu’s arms around him and the kisses he placed on Wonwoo’s lips and his face feels a bit warmer when he types his answer.

 

To Mingyu:

probably. <

 

From Mingyu:

> really???

 

Wonwoo tries to fight the smile on his face but it’s completely useless. He doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s usually better at controlling his muscles.

 

To Mingyu:

 :) <

 

From Mingyu:

> is that a smiley!?

> wait are you smiling right now?

 

 

To Mingyu:

 no <


From Mingyu:

> you so are!

> i wish i could see you right now

 

 

Wonwoo stares at the screen, Mingyu’s words making his stomach twist.

 

From Mingyu:

> hyung, i know i said i don’t want to pressure you and i swear i don’t

> but i need to know where we stand

> cause i have no idea if we’re on the same page

 

Yeah, of course Mingyu wants to know. Who wouldn’t? Doesn’t mean the arising conversation doesn’t make Wonwoo’s finger shake when he types back.

 

To Mingyu:

what do you want to know? <

 

From Mingyu:

> what exactly do you want us to be?

 

He’s been thinking about this for a while now. Wonwoo knows exactly what he wants them to be, but it’s nothing he feels comfortable with.

 

To Mingyu:

do we have to label it? <

 can’t we just be us? <

 

From Mingyu:

> …does that entail me kissing you?

 

To Mingyu:

i thought i already answered that <

 

 

From Mingyu:

> alright then

> i’m fine being us :)

 

 

 

Being ‘them’ isn’t all that different from being the way they were before, is what Wonwoo finds out in the following couple of days.

Mingyu shows up at the café whenever Wonwoo is working again, much to Jisoo’s amusement.

He’ll come up to the counter and always ask for Wonwoo even if it’s obvious that Wonwoo is busy taking care of other customers. And when Wonwoo finally manages to take care of Mingyu’s order, the boy will just stand there and smile at him until Wonwoo starts blushing and preparing Mingyu’s drink without waiting for him to say anything. He mostly orders the same drink anyways.

Wonwoo still writes Mingyu’s name wrong, but it gets harder every time because he runs out of ideas but it’s worth it because it makes Mingyu laugh. 

Mingyugh has Mingyu giggling like a little school girl when he walks in on Friday morning with puffy eyes and flash cards in his hands.

He looks tired, but he takes the cup and looks up at Wonwoo with a cute smile on his face and Wonwoo takes a deep inhale, willing his heart to stop doing summersaults in his chest.

"I love your brain." Mingyu mumbles sleepily.

Wonwoo tries to distract himself by wiping the countertop. "You look tired."

Mingyu hums. "I have an exam today. I was up really late."

"Good luck." Wonwoo gives him a sympathetic look, knowing the feeling all too well himself.

"Thanks. I’m gonna need it." Mingyu snorts, looking completely dejected and Wonwoo stops cleaning the counter, a weird feeling washing over him.

"Hey. You’ll do fine." He leans closer because he knows Jisoo is listening to them so he can tease Wonwoo later. "You’re smart."

Mingyu gives him a strange look, his features softening at Wonwoo’s words.

The air shifts a bit, and Wonwoo knows they're both thinking about it, the night at Mingyu's workplace and he can't help himself when his eyes flicker down to Mingyu's lips.

"Did you want something?" Mingyu asks, tilting his head with that stupid half smile on his face.

Wonwoo tears his eyes from his face, huffing as he begins cleaning again. "I was going to give you a free brownie but not anymore."

"What?" Mingyu gapes at him with his eyebrows furrowed. "What did I do?"

"Bye Mingyu."

"Please give me the brownie." Mingyu almost whimpers. "I’m going to screw up the exam, I know it. I just fucking jinxed myself—"

Wonwoo turns around just in time to hide the smile on his face. He walks over to the food display and picks up a chocolate fudge brownie. Mingyu has this cute, kicked puppy look on his face when Wonwoo returns and places the small bag with the brownie on the counter.

"For good luck."

"For free?" Mingyu asks with raised eyebrows, like he can’t believe such a gesture of kindness.

"Yeah."

Mingyu stares at him for a moment, and then he quickly looks around as if to check if anyone’s watching and before Wonwoo can figure out what he’s doing he leans over the counter and kisses Wonwoo’s cheek.

He doesn’t pull away immediately, and Wonwoo just kind of stands there, frozen in place with that familiar scent attacking his senses and his skin tingling everywhere.

"Thank you." Mingyu whispers into his ear, and it has Wonwoo shuddering. He looks a bit flushed when he pulls away and like he expects Wonwoo to get mad at him for doing that in public but Wonwoo’s too far gone to care.

Wonwoo is too damn fond of him for the short period of time he’s known Mingyu. "You’re welcome."

Mingyu breaks into a relieved smile, all pearly, crooked teeth, and he starts walking away backwards. "See you tonight!"

He gets a half-assed wave from Wonwoo in return because he's still a bit shaken up by what just happened.

When he turns around it’s to Jisoo giving him a scandalised look.

"Just friends my ass!" He hits Wonwoo with a towel, and doesn’t really stop pestering him until their shift is over four hours later.

 

 

Wonwoo doesn’t know why, but they end up at the gas station slash Burger King later that night because some of them (Seokmin and Hansol) can’t go drinking with an empty stomach.

They end up buying some bottled alcohol-free drinks from the store while the others are getting their food and Mingyu - because he’s a child trapped in a man’s body - grabs two lollipops for them as well.

He unwraps one of them, the watermelon flavoured one, and Wonwoo opens his mouth rather willingly when Mingyu presses it against his lips.

"Good?" Mingyu asks while he’s unwrapping his own candy.

Wonwoo nods his head. "I like watermelon flavour."

"Oh, really?" Mingyu hums, making Wonwoo give him a suspicious look but of course Mingyu acts like he didn’t catch it.

It’s quite cold outside but it’s a clear night for a change; a welcome feeling after the never-ending rain in the past few weeks.

There are other people scattered around the gas station, most of them blasting music through their cars with bottles of liquor in their hands.

Mingyu opens the trunk of his car so they can sit down there and Wonwoo is slightly irritated when he sees that Mingyu’s feet are touching the ground while Wonwoo’s are dangling above it.

That Mingyu does catch up on, and he sends Wonwoo a smug smirk.

"What does yours taste like?"

Mingyu takes the candy out of his mouth with a ‘pop’ and Wonwoo finds it hard to peel his eyes away from how Mingyu’s lips slide around the lollipop.

"Here." He says, holding the lollipop in front of Wonwoo’s face.

"That’s gross." Wonwoo frowns at the shiny candy even though the thought of licking something that was in Mingyu's mouth makes him feel extremely weird things he'd rather never feel again.

"Hyung, we kissed, if you’ve forgotten." Mingyu suddenly says, addressing the issue like it’s nothing. "We already exchanged saliva, so you finding this gross is a bit hypocritical."

It rubs Wonwoo the wrong way, that Mingyu mentions the kiss so offhandedly after Wonwoo’s been worrying about it for so long, so he grabs Mingyu’s hand and wraps his lips around the candy, giving it an obscene suck that makes Mingyu’s jaw drop.

"You could’ve just told me it was sour apple." Wonwoo says after releasing the candy again.

Mingyu keeps blinking at him with owlish eyes and if it wasn’t so dark outside Wonwoo might’ve been able to tell if Mingyu was blushing again. This would probably be a good moment to discuss things with Mingyu, to ask him if he was just joking around and wanted to see how it was to kiss Wonwoo but of course Wonwoo doesn’t ask.

"What?"

"Nothing." Mingyu clears his throat and pops the candy back into his mouth, directing his gaze elsewhere, mainly the group of kids at the other end of the parking lot. He suddenly freezes and leans a bit forward, squinting his eyes. "No fucking way." He mutters under his breath.

Wonwoo isn’t wearing his glasses or contact lenses so he doesn’t even try to see what he’s looking at. "What?"

"That— That girl over there." Mingyu leans into Wonwoo’s space. "It’s Minghao’s ex."

"Which one?"

"The one in the high heels."

"There are two."

"The insanely pretty one!"

It makes Wonwoo give Mingyu a side glance, that same weird feeling popping up in his stomach.

"So, what’s so bad about that?"

"You don’t understand." Mingyu shakes his head, oblivious to Wonwoo’s concerns. "Minghao was crazy about her but she said he was too skinny for her."

 Wonwoo frowns at the girl, or rather the slightly blurry figure of a girl next to her group of friends. "Ouch."

"Yeah." Mingyu scoffs and puts the candy inside his cheek, making look like a hamster. "That’s why Minghao’s been working out like a lunatic."

"I thought he’s doing it just because he’s a health freak." Wonwoo shakes his head. "He shouldn’t change himself for anyone, especially not someone like that."

"Don’t worry." Mingyu has a satisfied smile on his face. "He’s only doing it to get back at her. You know, make her want to go out with him when she sees him but blow her off the way she did with him."

"I think you guys are watching too many dramas." Wonwoo sighs. It’s stories like these that make him feel glad about his lack of history in relationships. He honestly doesn’t have the nerve to deal with stuff like this.

The others come back a while later and Minghao nearly drops the food in his hands when Mingyu whispers something into his ear. He turns around, his eyes scanning the parking lot until they land on the girl Mingyu mentioned.

"I’m ready." He suddenly says and Wonwoo has a feeling that this isn’t going to go well.

"Wait" Mingyu gets up from his spot and starts fixing Minghao’s hair and jacket. "You should’ve worn more eyeliner, dude."

Minghao glares at him. "I didn’t know it was going to happen today, okay?"

"What’s happening today?" Hansol asks through a mouthful.

"Eunji is here." Mingyu says, and that seems to be enough, because Seungkwan suddenly springs into action and pushes Seokmin into the car.

"Bon Jovi! Quick!" He shouts, almost shaking with excitement.

"I don’t have that downloaded!" Seokmin complains and Seungkwan hisses something about streaming it on YouTube instead.

"Is that really necessary?" Minghao groans, his eyes nervously darting towards his ex.

"Yes, now go." Mingyu pushes him just as the music starts playing.

Wonwoo doesn’t understand what’s going on until he recognizes the song that’s playing.

Seokmin is blasting it so loud it directs everyone’s attention on the parking lot on them and Wonwoo has never wanted to be somewhere else more than right now.

"Oh my god." Soonyoung snickers next to Wonwoo when Minghao starts walking. "This is amazing!"

It’s like he’s walking in slow motion, wearing that leather jacket with his hand pushing his hair out of his face. The song playing in the background like that makes all of this seem like it’s a stupid scene out of a western high school movie where the new kid steps out of the car and every single girl at the school gets blown away by his looks, backed up by some sort of 90s rock song.

"Shot through the heart and you're to blame- You give love a bad name"

Even the girl behind the drive-through window stops what she's doing to stare at Minghao’s straight-out-of-a-movie bad boy walk.

The girl gets nudged in her side by her friend and when she looks up she freezes, gaping at Minghao who’s strutting towards her like he owns the place and it’s all so ridiculous and comical and Wonwoo briefly wonders if he’s high or something.

Minghao stops in front of her and Mingyu is suddenly gripping Wonwoo’s arm, a high-pitched squeal leaving his lips. He’s clearly way too excited about this entire thing.

"Yes!" Seungkwan fist pumps the air at the shocked expression on Eunji’s face while Hansol just gapes at the sight in front of them.

Minghao and Eunji talk for a moment and then—

Eunji hugs Minghao.

"Wait—" Mingyu frowns. "What the hell is going on?"

"Seokmin, turn the music up! That idiot is getting weak for her again I swear to god—" Seungkwan frantically shouts.

Seokmin turns it up and Wonwoo feels the music vibrate inside his chest, it’s that loud.

But Minghao doesn’t seem fazed by Bon Jovi’s words at all.

He hugs her back.

And even the song seems to understand that this is a lost cause because it goes "Whoa! You're a loaded gun. Whoa! There' s nowhere to run. No one can save me."

"Well that was a fucking fail." Seokmin mutters after getting out of the car again, another song silently and miserably playing in the background.

"I should’ve known." Mingyu sighs, sitting back down next to Wonwoo. "He’s still in love with her. Of course this wasn’t going to work out."

Minghao comes back with a meek look on his face, scratching the back of his head. "Uhm."

"Did you not hear the music? We nearly busted our eardrums for you Hao! The plan was perfect." Seungkwan whines through the burger he’s furiously chewing on.

"I don’t know what happened. I saw her and I just— I asked her to give me another chance and she said yes."

"Duh!" Seokmin throws a fry at his head.

"I’m sorry." Minghao looks worried for a moment but Mingyu gets up and pulls him into a hug, patting his back.

"It's fine, but seriously, Hao. If she hurts you again, I won’t have it." Wonwoo hears him mutter.

"She better not." Minghao grumbles despite his still flushed cheeks and the glances he throws over his shoulder to where Eunji is still looking in his direction. "I made a damn fool of myself for her."

Seokmin tries to imitate Minghao’s walk, his eyes squinted in a failed attempt to look sexy. He ends up tripping over his feet and Wonwoo tries really hard not to give him the satisfaction of making him laugh but this entire night’s been way too weird, and he can’t really help himself and he bursts out laughing.

Mingyu sits back down next to him, his eyes glued to Wonwoo’s face with a smile tugging on his lips.

"That was kind of awesome." Wonwoo can’t stop laughing and his stomach is starting to hurt. "Did you guys really plan this?"

Mingyu is full on smiling now and his eyes don’t leave Wonwoo for a second. "Seungkwan did. He wanted to do a lot more but that would’ve been kind of over the top."

Wonwoo finally manages to calm down but Mingyu is still staring at him and it’s getting a bit strange. He has to wipe the corners of his eyes, having teared up from laughing so much. "What?"

"You—" Mingyu starts, and he looks happy for some reason. "Hearing you laugh is really nice."

"Oh."

"Oh?"

"What do you want me to say?"

"How about: Why, thank you Mingyu! I will make sure to laugh more often from now on."

"How about no."

Mingyu smiles at him and Wonwoo takes a deep breath, leaning back against the car with his eyes trailing over Mingyu’s handsome features.

"You want to say something, don’t you." Mingyu tilts his head to the side and Wonwoo is pretty sure Mingyu can see straight through him. He’s also pretty sure Mingyu has been doing all of this on purpose just to get a reaction out of Wonwoo.

"No." He shakes his head and the disappointment on Mingyu’s face is enough to tell him that Mingyu is better at reading him than Wonwoo feels comfortable with.

 

 

 

From Dad:

- I transferred more money for Chan to your bank account.

- Let me know if you use some of it for yourself.

 

Wonwoo reads the message over and over again, then replies with a simple 'ok'.

He's never touched his dad's money before, yet every time he acts like Wonwoo does, it feels like a slap to the face.

He opens his dad's contact details and - after a moment of hesitation - changes his contact name from dad to hyunsik.

 

 

 

Things just kind of settle down from there.

Wonwoo isn’t sure what he expected, but they don’t talk about the kiss again, they don’t talk about the obvious tension between them either.

Mingyu acts like they’re nothing but friends, and Wonwoo tries to shrug it off, but it gets harder each time they meet.

Their friends are oblivious to what took place between them, how could they not be? Wonwoo and Mingyu haven’t told a soul. They all think they’ve sorted their feelings out are back to being friends but that couldn’t really be further away from the truth.

Because friends don’t give each other those lingering looks across the table on a night out. They don’t press their legs together under the table the way Mingyu does whenever they sit together.

They don’t hook their feet together how Mingyu has started to do when Wonwoo studies and he’s working on another model he has to finish. Wonwoo spends a lot more time at Mingyu's workplace too, and he tells himself it's because he can study there in silence and not because he wants to spend more time with Mingyu.

 

The uncle at Mingyu’s work acts like he’s annoyed by their presence, but he’ll always bring them some tea and a plate with snacks when they end up working really late and Mingyu reassures Wonwoo that the man actually cares about them but his grumpy grandpa pride won’t let him admit it.

It’s all very confusing.

He doesn’t understand why Mingyu is keeping his distance now that he knows he probably wouldn’t get rejected if he tried anything.

Maybe Mingyu’s one of those people that only love the chase, the ones that lose interest once they get what they want?

Whatever it is, Wonwoo’s getting frustrated, and he has no idea how to convey his feelings to Mingyu.

 

 

 

He decides to put an end to it when Minghao asks him to come over to their place because he needs help with a language assignment and Wonwoo turns out to be the only literature major in their circle of friends.

"Mingyu isn’t here." He says when Wonwoo arrives there after his shift at the café. He’s never been at Mingyu’s place before but it doesn’t look much different than any other apartment people their age have. It’s messy and looks like they aren’t done unpacking with the little furniture they have — Wonwoo knows the struggle.

"I didn’t ask."

"But you wanted to." Minghao snorts and before Wonwoo can sass back he spots Jeonghan sitting in the living room with a laptop on his lap.

"Wonwoo!"

"What are you doing here?" Wonwoo frowns. It seems like an odd combination, he didn’t know Minghao and Jeonghan were that close.

"Chilling."

"Why here?" Wonwoo wonders.

Jeonghan shrugs. "Why not?"

"Just ignore him." Minghao grumbles when he comes back from his room with his laptop. "Can we start?"

Wonwoo nods and sits down on the kitchen table with him to help him write his assignment. It doesn’t take all that long but Wonwoo gets that it must be harder for Minghao with the language barrier that’s still there even though you can’t tell him apart from a native speaker when he talks.

He’s about to leave to go home and get some studying done before Chan comes home but he gets a message from Mingyu, telling him to stay together with a blushing emoji and Wonwoo always thought he was stronger than this, but turns out he isn’t.

Because he drops his bag and sits down next to Jeonghan, trying to come up with an excuse why he’s not leaving.

"Got a date with Mingyu?" Jeonghan asks him out of nowhere.

"What? No. Of course not."

"So you guys made up?" Jeonghan snickers and raises his eyebrows at him, like he’s saying "Who are you fooling?"

"Seriously, why are you here?" Wonwoo huffs, grabbing a pillow to distract himself with it.

"My internet at home doesn’t work and Minghao’s apartment is the closest to mine so I’m here using them for free WiFi. Does that answer your question?"

"Yes."

"Good. Now stop avoiding mine."

"I’m starting to think you’re only friends with me so you can talk about Mingyu." Wonwoo tries to avoid the topic as best as he can, especially since he ended up kissing Jeonghan last time it happened.

Which, speaking of, doesn’t seem to have made things awkward between them at all. Not that Wonwoo was too worried about that; Jeonghan seems way too laid back to make a big deal out of things like that.

"Alright baby, what else is on that cute mind of yours?"

Wonwoo falters at the choice of words and Jeonghan smirks at him some more and if Wonwoo didn’t know how much of a natural flirt Jeonghan is, he’d probably be a bit worried, or you know, flustered because god, how can a human being be so beautiful?

There actually is something on Wonwoo’s mind; something that’s been bothering him ever since it happened, because while it might seem like such a stupid thing to worry about, Wonwoo simply can’t shake the feeling that there’s more behind it since he can’t seem to stop thinking about it.

He makes sure that Minghao’s still in the shower because even though he might be talking about his feelings to Jeonghan, he isn’t ready for others to hear such intimate things about him.

"There’s something wrong with me." Wonwoo simply states.

Jeonghan’s playful demeanour vanishes quickly. "And why do you think that?"

"Actually, there’s a bunch of things that are wrong with me but— I don’t know. I don’t know where to start…" Wonwoo trails off, realizing what he’s doing right now. Why is he asking Jeonghan for help? Jeonghan can’t fix him. He can’t help Wonwoo get over his issues and plus, Jeonghan probably has better things to do than help his friends’ mental issues during his free time. "You know what, just forget it. It’s nothing."

"Hey" Jeonghan grips Wonwoo’s arm, shaking his head. "Don’t do that. Something’s obviously bothering you and if you need someone to talk, I’d love to be that someone."

"I don’t know if you can help me."

"Well, I can try. I’m not a therapist, you know? But I think I can judge if you actually need a professional or just some friendly advice."

"I don’t need a professional. I’m not depressed or something like that."

"Okay. Why don’t you give me an example why you think there’s something wrong with you?"

"On your birthday— at the barbecue place." Wonwoo starts. "Someone—"

"Mingyu." Jeonghan nods his head and Wonwoo sighs.

"Yeah, well. He, uhm, fed me? And I— basically I started crying because he fed me."

"Mingyu fed you. And you cried." Jeonghan repeats and Wonwoo tries not to cringe at the memory. "Because Mingyu fed you, or because you were fed?"

"No, not because of him. I think him feeding me triggered it."

Jeonghan frowns at him for a long time. "Was the food that bad?"

"Hyung…"

"Sorry. Fuck, I'm way too sleep deprived." Jeonghan snorts and shakes his head, taking a deep breath. "Okay. Let me see… Feeding someone usually comes from that person not being able to eat themselves, right? The person needs to be taken care of. So what about people taking care of you in general? Do you cry too when that happens?"

"Do you have to say it like that?" Wonwoo’s voice is muffled because he has his chin pressed against the pillow. "It makes me sound like a damn cry-baby."

"Baby… A baby!" Jeonghan suddenly exclaims.

"What?"

"Did you feel like a baby when he fed you?"

"Hyung, what the hell? You probably should take a nap-"

"No, I mean, did it remind you of your childhood? Maybe you just got emotional. You know, because you live away from home, and your mom used to feed you and all."

It sounds logical but Wonwoo didn’t feel that way when it happened. It didn’t remind him of his childhood. He can’t really recall a memory of his mom feeding him…

That—

Oh.

"Wonwoo?" Jeonghan pats Wonwoo’s cheek after a long pause. "Hey, you okay?"

"Y-Yeah. I think you’re right. Makes sense."

Jeonghan furrows his eyebrows, looking at Wonwoo with concern in his eyes. "What’s wrong?"

Wonwoo is about to open his mouth and reassure him that he’s fine when Jeonghan suddenly smiles and pulls away from him. Mingyu is standing there with something like a pout on his face.

"You have the worst timing, don’t you?" Jeonghan rolls his eyes at Mingyu’s reaction and opens the lid of his laptop again. "Let’s continue talking some other time, Wonwoo. Don’t think I’m letting you off the hook so easily."

"What are you doing here?" Mingyu asks, pulling his beanie from his head. Wonwoo, despite the weird feeling from the discovery before still lingering in his chest, can’t help but smile at the bed hair on his head. Mingyu catches it and smiles back and it nearly makes Wonwoo forget about the unpleasant thoughts he had a moment ago.

"Stealing your internet." Jeonghan answers without looking up from his laptop.

Mingyu sighs and decides to leave it at that. He walks over to where Wonwoo is sitting and nudges his knee with his own. "You wanna come with me?"

Wonwoo ignores the sly smirk appearing on Jeonghan’s face as well as the wink he sends him and grabs his things to follow Mingyu into what he assumes is his room.

It’s not as messy as Wonwoo expected it to be. Not that he imagined what Mingyu’s room looks like before…

"So, do you agree, with what I said about Jeonghan hyung?" Mingyu asks him after he drops off his things somewhere on the floor.

Wonwoo looks away from the pictures on the wall and immediately faces them again after he sees that Mingyu is changing into another shirt. He clears his throat, willing himself to stop blushing like an idiot. He’s obviously seen other naked guys before. But Mingyu—

"About what?"

"That he’s a good listener?"

"Oh. Yeah. He’s great."

"What are you doing?" Mingyu sounds like he’s smiling.

"Are you decent?"

"Yes." Mingyu chuckles.

Wonwoo waits another second for good measure before he turns around again, giving Mingyu an indifferent shrug when he snickers.

He starts gathering the comic books on the floor and Wonwoo walks over to the stacks, picking one of them up. "You have a lot of these."

"Yeah, I should get rid of them." He sighs and messily sweeps them out of the way.

Wonwoo sits down on the new empty space. "I’ve never read a comic book before, you know?"

Mingyu gives him a scandalized look. "Then we need to change that asap. Scoot over."

The reason Wonwoo’s never picked up a comic book before has always been that he had this mindset that comic books weren’t books. It also made him roll his eyes when people said they were reading comic books. What the hell was there to read?

He knows he was wrong when he starts reading the original Captain America one Mingyu claims Wonwoo will like. It’s not all that different from a book, if he thinks about it.

You still have the conversations written down to read, but whereas in books the characters, their clothes, their expressions are described in words, in comics you have actual images that leave nothing to the imagination. Same goes for the surroundings of the characters.

Wonwoo still prefers books. He likes imagining things the way he’d like them to be.

He’s a couple of pages into Captain America when he notices Mingyu staring at him. "What?"

Mingyu shrugs and fiddles with the corner of the comic he’s holding. "Jeonghan hyung… He’s really good looking."

"Uhm. Yeah. He is." Wonwoo frowns at the weird expression on Mingyu’s face.

"Is he…"

"Mingyu. Is something wrong?"

Mingyu groans and buries his face in the comic, mumbling something that Wonwoo doesn’t understand since it’s muffled by the book.

"What?"

Mingyu repeats himself. "Is he a better kisser?"

They stare at each other for a tense moment, Mingyu looking very red around his ears and Wonwoo trying to figure out why Mingyu’s acting like this.

"A better kisser than you?"

"Yeah, who else- Wait, did you kiss someone else after me?" Mingyu asks, the corners of his lips pulled down. "I mean. That would be cool. Totally. Yeah."

"I didn’t." Wonwoo raises his eyebrows, trying to get the point across. "I thought we said we wouldn’t kiss other people. Did you— Did you kiss someone else?"

"No. Of course not."

"Oh."

"So. Is he?"

"No." Wonwoo clears his throat, nudging his glasses back into place. "I didn’t like kissing him. But I… I liked kissing you."

It’s ridiculous, how easy it is to make Mingyu happy but Wonwoo doesn’t even care, he’d honestly go to great lengths just to see Mingyu beam at him the way he does right now.

They look at each other for a moment before Mingyu goes back to burying his face in the comic book and Wonwoo can’t stop his heart from swelling for the boy, neither can he stop the stupid smile spreading on his face.

 

 

Wonwoo is almost at the end of the book but he stops reading for a second, a question popping up in his mind.

"Mingyu?"

"Hm?" Said boy hums without looking up from his book.

"Is Steve in love with Bucky?"

This gets Mingyu’s attention, who slowly lowers his book. "What? No. They’re bros. Best bros. Steve’s in love with Peggy. Did you miss that?"

Wonwoo shakes his head, frowning down at the colourful pages. "No, I know that. But I mean… wouldn’t it make more sense? For them to be in love?"

Mingyu looks very amused at Wonwoo’s question. "I don't know. I never thought of them like that. But either way, I don't think the comic book world is quite ready yet for gay superheroes."

 

"Yeah. Makes sense." Wonwoo doesn’t even realize he’s pouting until Mingyu starts chuckling.

"Why do you look so disappointed?"

"I don’t know. I’m not. I just think they’d be better together than him and Peggy." Wonwoo shrugs and looks up at Mingyu again, a glare etching itself into his features when he sees the wide grin on Mingyu’s face.

"Aww, hyung you’re shipping them!"

"Shipping them where?" Wonwoo grunts in annoyance and nudges his glasses again and before he knows it Mingyu practically pounces on him, making them both topple over.

He wraps his arms around Wonwoo, squeezing so hard he nearly crushes Wonwoo in his hold.

"Mingyu!" Wonwoo tries to shake him off but Mingyu makes those weird noises you’d make when you fuss over a baby and only squeezes Wonwoo harder. Wonwoo is torn between complaining and laughing. "What are you doing?"

"I can’t handle your cuteness!" Mingyu whines and finally loosens his hold, still not letting go of Wonwoo. "You’re acting like a cute little grumpy puppy all the time and you keep fixing your glasses with your little fingers and it’s doing things to my heart."

Wonwoo tries to get him off at first, feeling embarrassed at the things Mingyu just said but the boy only holds him tighter with another weird noise against his chest and Wonwoo gives up struggling.

He’s flustered and a bit shocked at how much he likes it when Mingyu calls him cute, more than he’s ready to admit. "You’re heavy. Stop."

"Then stop being so cute."

Wonwoo laughs and Mingyu finally pulls back, taking the warmth of his body with him.

It’s only now that Wonwoo fully realizes what position they’re in and how close Mingyu is.

And for once, Wonwoo’s mind is completely blank.

He can just take in Mingyu’s eyes on him, his dark bangs brushing against Wonwoo’s temple from how close he is and most of all, his lips.

His pretty lips, how he kissed Wonwoo which was already two weeks ago. Wonwoo can’t help the shudder running through his body at the memory, his hands twitching to reach out.

Mingyu is looking at him like he’s thinking about it too, his tongue running over the swell of his bottom lip.

Why isn’t Mingyu doing anything?

 

"Stop thinking." Mingyu says. "Do what you want."

And Wonwoo—

He just does.

He barely has to lean up at all to press their lips together. The kiss is fleeting and Wonwoo has to pull back too fast to catch his breath but Mingyu doesn’t give him much time. He’s kissing him again and all Wonwoo can think is finally, his hands kind of tugging on Mingyu’s shirt. Mingyu kisses him until they’re both are out of breath, his body warm and heavy on top of Wonwoo.

"I have no idea how I managed to hold back for so long." Mingyu is biting down on his bottom lip, grinning at the same time.

"Why did you hold back?" Wonwoo doesn’t know what to do with hands but Mingyu gives him an encouraging smile so Wonwoo awkwardly places them on his waist.

"I wanted you to make the first move." Mingyu sighs and kisses Wonwoo again, long and deep and Wonwoo has no idea why it feels so good, why he feels the warm slide of Mingyu’s lips to the tips of his fingers.

"I didn’t know that. I’m not good at reading signs like that." Wonwoo mumbles, closing his eyes again when Mingyu kisses the corner of his mouth and then his cheek, peppering it with kisses until Wonwoo’s cheeks bunch up into a smile under the touch.

"I know. It wasn’t fair but I didn’t know how else to get you to come out of your shell." Mingyu stops kissing his cheek and nudges their noses together, placing another sweet peck on Wonwoo’s mouth. It doesn’t feel like just a kiss, somehow. Mingyu is way too gentle, and there are too many emotions involved, and Wonwoo knows he should feel alarmed by now but it’s like Mingyu is pushing the boundaries and Wonwoo is calmly letting him do it. "But you did. I’m proud of you, hyung."

Again, Wonwoo sort of just goes rigid for a second at Mingyu’s words and it reminds him of the conversation he had with Jeonghan but he pushes the thoughts far away and focuses back on Mingyu’s concerned eyes.

The silence between them stretches on until Wonwoo notices the look in Mingyu’s eyes.

"Are you okay?"

Mingyu nods but Wonwoo doesn’t miss the hesitation before that. "Hyung I— I think I should tell you something."

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

"Hey, don’t look at me like that." Mingyu laughs a bit nervously, his eyes flickering over Wonwoo’s face.

"How can I not" Wonwoo shrugs and slowly closes the comic book that fell from his hand when Mingyu tackled him to the ground a moment before. "Sounds like you’re going to tell me something bad."

Mingyu shakes his head, a sigh falling from his lips. "No, nothing like that. I mean— it’s not exactly good either but it just feels wrong to keep it from you because I know you wouldn’t want me to know something like that about you so I thought—"

"Mingyu."

"Okay, look. I think it slipped out. I’m pretty sure Chan didn’t mean to tell me. He was really scared you’d get mad at him, so please don’t blame him."

Wonwoo narrows his eyes. "What slipped out?"

"Something— Something about you" Mingyu starts. "And your dad."

"My dad." Wonwoo’s stomach does an unpleasant flip because he already knows where this is going. He didn’t plan on telling Mingyu - only a handful of people outside of his family know about it - and it’s just, it’s not something he feels the need to mention out of nowhere. It’s like you’d tell someone your confession while introducing yourself, like "Hi, I’m Jeon Wonwoo and I’m a Buddhist."

Like it’s a fact, but nothing someone else needs to necessarily know about you right off the bat.

Same goes for Wonwoo’s relationship with his dad.

"He’s not my real dad." Wonwoo carefully takes in Mingyu’s reaction after the words leave his mouth. "Is that what he told you?"

Mingyu nods, looking taken aback by the lack of reserve in Wonwoo’s answer. "He said that you’re only half-brothers."

"Yeah. We have different dads."

The silence stretches until Mingyu shuffles around a bit, his eyes trailing over Wonwoo’s face. "So, uhm. Did your mom and your dad split up?"

Wonwoo shakes his head. It would be easier to explain if it were that way; his dad and mom got a divorce, his mom remarried and had another child (Chan) and her new husband adopted Wonwoo. Well, at least the last part isn't far from the truth.

"No. Not exactly." Wonwoo looks up at him, frowning to himself when he realizes what he’s doing. Why is he telling Mingyu any of this? "I’ve never met my biological father. I don’t even know who he is."

The way he explains it he should know it would raise questions, and the confused look on Mingyu’s face is only proof of that. "I… don’t get it. How do you not know who your own dad is—"

"Can I—" Wonwoo lets go of a breath he wasn’t aware he was holding in. "I don’t really like talking about it. I’m sorry."

Mingyu gapes at him and quickly shakes his head. "No, don’t apologize! I’m stupid, I shouldn’t have asked."

Their eyes meet for a tense moment and Wonwoo - definitely not for the first time - feels things he doesn’t usually feel; like him wanting to tell Mingyu personal things about himself. It catches him off guard and makes him want to pack his things and leave.

"No, it’s fine." He gives Mingyu a small smile. "Maybe I’ll tell you some other time."

"Yeah, sure." Mingyu bites his lower lip and Wonwoo wonders if it’s just a habit of his or if he’s doing it on purpose because he knows that Wonwoo has this weird thing about his teeth. "No pressure."

Wonwoo clears his throat and picks up the neglected comic book again. "So, what exactly does ’shipping’ mean?"

Mingyu smiles and shuffles closer until they’re sitting side by side, his body radiating warmth and Wonwoo trying to fight off a stupid smile at how nice it feels to have Mingyu this close to him. Mingyu opens the book to the pages where there’s some interaction between Steve and Peggy. "They’re already romantically together, right? As in, the writer or director displays them as a couple. That’s what fans call canon."

"Canon...?"

"Yup." He flips back to a page where Steve is talking to Bucky and makes a circle around them with his pointer finger. "Steve and Bucky are only friends though, but there’s like a bunch of people who want them to be more than friends. That’s called shipping. They want them to, like, kiss and have sexy times and stuff."

Wonwoo frowns when Mingyu wiggles his eyebrows at him. "How do you know all of that?"

"This girl I was seeing did some crazy fanart of—" Mingyu stops mid-sentence and Wonwoo acts like it’s no big deal, like it doesn’t make him feel like he’s not enough for Mingyu when the boy talks about the cool people he used to date. "But just so you know, I kind of ship you with me."

Wonwoo laughs and pushes Mingyu away by his shoulder, mainly to cover up the fact that Mingyu’s words are making him blush like a hormonal teenager. He remembers Mingyu’s words from before and furrows his eyebrows in confusion. "But aren’t we already canon?"

Mingyu slowly sits back up again, blinking at Wonwoo with his mouth slightly agape. He stays like that for a few seconds.

"Did I say something wrong?"

"You think we’re canon?" It looks like Mingyu is trying hard not to smile.

"Uhm. Yeah. We’re not?" Wonwoo doesn’t get this whole shipping thing; he thought he did but Mingyu’s reaction confuses him, more so when Mingyu stops gaping and starts beaming at Wonwoo instead.

"No. It’s fine. We are." His grin is threatening to split his face apart and Wonwoo doesn’t know why but he feels like he just accomplished something huge by making Mingyu smile like that.

Mingyu gets a strange look in his eyes, and he starts leaning in, and Wonwoo kind of braces himself because Mingyu wants to kiss him (it’s such a foreign feeling, nothing Wonwoo thinks he can get used to; knowing someone on this planet wants something like that from Wonwoo). Their lips are only a breath apart—

"Gyu, can I borrow your electric razor mine won’t—" Minghao opens the door with no warning, looking up from the razor in his hand just in time to see Wonwoo and Mingyu move apart like they’ve been burned. He kind of freezes with one hand on the door handle, slightly gaping at the two of them with the corners of his lips twitching.

"What do you want?" Mingyu asks, clearing his throat. Wonwoo pretends to look out the window but his eyes still catch the sight of pink dusting Mingyu’s cheeks and it takes great effort for him not to grin like an idiot.

"Your razor. Can I borrow it?" Minghao asks, a smirk on his face.

"Yes, now get out."

"Sure." Minghao glances at Wonwoo, his smile widening. "You two have fun… reading."

Minghao leaves and Mingyu grumbles something under his breath and it’s way too endearing how embarrassed he looks. You’d think someone like Mingyu was used to getting walked in on by his friends but maybe not.

They do actually end up reading - just reading - until Wonwoo leaves again which is when they end up standing at the door like idiots for about ten seconds before Mingyu sighs and leans in to press a kiss on Wonwoo’s cheek.

"Text me when you’re home?"

Wonwoo doesn’t want to leave like that. He wants to touch Mingyu, wants an excuse to touch him, but there is none so he settles for a smile and a nod of his head.

 

 

 

When he gets home he finds Chan sitting at the coffee table, doing his homework. He looks up at Wonwoo and if he had to describe the look on his brother’s face, it would be fear.

Chan looks positively scared.

Scared of Wonwoo.

"I’m not mad." He drops his bag and approaches Chan. "Stop looking at me like that."

"I’m sorry." Chan lowers his pen. "I’m sorry I told Mingyu hyung. I know it was stupid. I don’t know why I did it."

"It’s okay."

"I swear I didn’t mean to—"

"I said it’s okay."

Chan finally seems to register Wonwoo’s words. "It’s okay?"

Wonwoo sits down on the couch. "I know you didn’t mean any harm. You’re more open about those things. I’m fine with Mingyu knowing."

"You only recently told Soonyoung hyung about it." Chan gives him an incredulous look. "And you’re fine with it?"

He’s right but Wonwoo doesn’t know why he doesn’t have a problem with it. He doesn’t really understand the things he feels when it comes to Mingyu.

"Yes." He nods and Chan looks at him suspiciously. "I’m going to take a shower."

"Hyung—" Chan stops him from leaving and when Wonwoo turns to look at him he can tell there’s something on his mind.

"What?"

But Chan shakes his head and picks his pen up again. "It’s nothing."

Wonwoo thinks about pressing the subject but decides against it, figuring his brother will approach him if it’s something important.

 

 

 

Later that night, Wonwoo gets torn from his sleep by the sound of someone crying.

By Chan crying.

He gets up from the couch and into his room faster than he’s ever moved in his life, turning on the lights only to find Chan still asleep; crying in his sleep.

"Chan." He says and crouches down next to his bed, gently shaking his brother’s shoulder. "Chan, wake up."

Chan whimpers and Wonwoo feels his chest ache at the tear that runs down his cheek. He pats his cheek, saying his name again and freezes when Chan whimpers again. "Mom."

Wonwoo stays like that for a few seconds, until Chan’s crying turns into wheezing. He starts gasping for air and it only takes a second for Wonwoo to finally move, hurrying to grab Chan's backpack which is hidden half under the bed and fumbling to find the puffer inside.

"Chan!" He says with more force once he’s back at the side of the bed, shaking the puffer in his hand. "Wake up!"

He does. He blinks his eyes open with a gasp, and promptly starts crying harder while he’s still struggling to get air into his lungs.

"It was just a dream. Sit up. You’re having an asthma attack." He grips Chan’s arm when he doesn’t react in his panicked, sleep-drugged state and makes him sit upright. "Here. Come on. You know the drill, Channie."

He holds the puffer against Chan’s lips and lets go of a relieved breath when Chan finally reacts and opens his mouth to take a long inhale when Wonwoo presses down on the puffer. Wonwoo watches Chan’s chest deflate, the wheezing subsiding.

"Better?"

Chan looks at him and brings up his sleeve to rub at his wet eyes. "I’m sorry."

Wonwoo sighs and places the puffer on the table next to the bed. "What were you dreaming of?"

"Mom." Chan says and his chin wobbles a bit. "I think something’s wrong, hyung."

"It was just a dream, Chan. Those don’t mean anything." Wonwoo shakes his head. "You talked to mom earlier. She’s fine."

"She called me in my dream and she asked me to help her. She was crying so bad." His brother looks down on his lap. "What if she doesn’t get better? What if she tries to—"

"She won’t." Wonwoo quickly cuts him off. "You trust me, right?"

"Yeah." Chan says without hesitation, and Wonwoo has the urge to reach out and hug him because Chan suddenly doesn’t look like he’s already seventeen years old. He looks like he’s nine again, sneaking into Wonwoo’s bed at night because he was scared of sleeping alone after their rooms got separated.

"Then just trust me on this. She’ll get better. She just needs some time to recover."

Chan blinks at him for a while, sniffling and Wonwoo reaches out to grab a tissue and handing it to him with a faint smile on his face cause there’s snot running down his nose. "I’m sorry for waking you up."

"It’s fine." Wonwoo starts getting up but Chan makes him stop again, like he did in the living room earlier.

"Do you hate me?"

"What?"

"Do you— Do you still hate me?" Chan asks, his voice shaking a bit.

Wonwoo stares at him for a moment, his thoughts one big mess in his head. He’s tired and he wants to go back to sleep because he has an early class tomorrow but he can’t, not when Chan’s looking like this. "Why would I hate you?"

"I’m not stupid." Chan sniffles again. "I know how much you used to hate me. You wanted me gone. Me and dad."

"Chan—"

"I’m sorry for everything, hyung. I’m sorry you had to go through all of that and I’m sorry I was part of the reason why. And I’m sorry for my dad—"

"Hey, stop it, okay?" Wonwoo tries to laugh it off but he fails and ends up sounding a lot harsher then he wanted. "I don’t hate you. Don’t think that."

"You don’t?" Chan has this expectant look on his face and Wonwoo knows what he wants to hear; he wants to hear that Wonwoo loves him, that he’s glad to have him around.

"You’re my brother." Is all Wonwoo can say and the disappointment is evident in the way Chan’s shoulder sag, the resigned nod of his head and Wonwoo can’t help but feel like he’s let him down again.

 

 

 

 

Wonwoo doesn’t like to brag but if there’s one thing he’s good at besides being a sorry excuse of a son, it’s video games.

He doesn’t lose. Ever.

And Soonyoung - being the competitive little shit he is - never gives up on his dream of beating Wonwoo at Call of Duty one day.

So that’s why they’re sitting in Wonwoo’s living room on a boring afternoon a few days later, trying to kill off each other on the screen with some greasy potato chips and a shared bottle of sticky iced tea sitting between them.

For some reason, Wonwoo can't really keep his head in the game. He keeps having near-death experiences and his kills are less than impressive unlike how they usually are. After the fourth time Soonyoung manages to get a good shot at Wonwoo, his best friend starts growing suspicious and gives him an amused glance.

"What’s up with you today? You’re playing like crap."

Wonwoo pauses the game and stares at the screen for a few seconds until Soonyoung nudges his thigh with his foot.

"What’s up with you?" He asks. "Why’d you stop the game?"

"Do you know someone who’s asexual?"

Soonyoung furrows his eyebrows in confusion. "Asexual? As in someone who can’t get it up?"

"No." Wonwoo feels mad at Soonyoung’s words when he knows he shouldn’t. He doesn’t think he would’ve probably understood what the term meant a month ago if Jeonghan didn’t make him go look it up on google. "As in someone who isn’t like... you know, interested in sex."

"Wait, people like that actually exist?" Soonyoung gawks. "But— it’s sex. How can you not like it?"

Wonwoo shrugs uneasily. This doesn’t go unnoticed by his best friend, who immediately turns more serious.

"Is there something you wanna tell me?"

"No. I don’t think so."

"You don’t think so?"

"Yeah."

"Well, what brought this on then?" Soonyoung asks. "You’re not asking me about asexuality out of the blue, are you?"

"I don’t know why I asked. Let’s just play." Wonwoo unpauses the game only for Soonyoung to pause it again with his own controller.

"Won, stop for a second." Soonyoung sighs and turns to face him properly. "Are you… you think you’re that?"

Wonwoo stays silent for a while before he meets Soonyoung’s eyes. "I don’t know why else I’ve never had the desire to… you know."

Soonyoung stays silent for a while, like he’s trying to grasp the idea of that possibility. "Well, I mean, I know you don’t sleep around and stuff but I thought that’s just because you’re one of those people who only have sex in relationships. And considering you’ve never been in a relationship I figured that’s why. But asexual? Isn’t that a bit, you know, far-fetched?"

"Why would it be far-fetched? I never once thought about having sex with someone. That’s not fucking normal at my age."

"I mean, if you feel that way that’s totally cool, Won. I swear, whatever floats your boat but— but I feel like this is one of those don’t knock it till you try it-situations."

Wonwoo gives Soonyoung a wary look. "You’re saying I should have sex."

"That’s exactly what I’m saying. You need to get laid before you jump to any conclusions." Soonyoung nods his head encouragingly. "If you don’t like it then you know for sure."

"You don’t get it. I don’t even feel like doing it." Wonwoo pulls a pained face at his own words. A normal guy shouldn’t be saying something like that.

"That’s because you don’t have someone you feel comfortable enough with to try it out." Soonyoung shrugs. "I mean, I’d do it with you but I’m not into dick and I don’t think Yuna would appreciate it all that much—"

"Shut up." Wonwoo kicks Soonyoung’s leg with his foot, making his friend topple over with an amused laugh.

"Stop being such a prude Won. We’re in college. People do the do all the fucking time."

"Yeah, I’m sure your mom would be really proud of you if she knew." Wonwoo snorts at the flash of horror on Soonyoung’s face.

"Times have changed. Do you really think they don’t know what kids these days are up to?" Soonyoung sounds a lot like he’s trying to reassure himself. "Do you think they don’t know what the DVD bangs are actually used for?"

Wonwoo scoffs, remembering all the times Soonyoung’s told him about him and his girlfriends going to a movie room to do things that had very little to do with actually watching a movie before he had his own apartment.

"Just don’t get Yuna pregnant and you should be fine."

"Uh, yeah, I don’t think that’s a concern." Soonyoung has a weird look on his face that makes Wonwoo raise his eyebrows at him.

"What do you mean?"

"What do you think I mean?"

"You guys aren’t… doing it?"

Soonyoung shakes his head. "Yuna is still a virgin."

"Uhm." Wonwoo clears his throat. "I don’t feel like I should know that."

"I tell you everything, it’s fine." Soonyoung rolls his eyes.

"Does she want to wait until marriage?"

"No, it’s not that. She says she was waiting for the right person to do it with."

"But you’re the right person." Wonwoo frowns. "You love each other, don’t you?"

"Yeah, but that’s it." Soonyoung bites at his lip. "I really don’t want to screw it up with her. I’ve never felt like this about anyone before."

"So you’re scared."

"Yeah. I don’t know. I feel like I’m going to taint her or something. Does that sound stupid?"

Wonwoo chuckles. "A bit." He sighs and places the controller on the floor. "Soonyoung, come on. You’re not going to taint her. That’s like saying she’ll be worth less once she’s not a virgin anymore."

"That’s not what I meant."

"Yeah, but it sounded like it. She loves you and you love her; just do what feels right."

"There’s another problem." Soonyoung snorts. "Mingyu’s watching her like a hawk. I feel like he’ll rip my dick off if I touch her like that."

This makes Wonwoo pause for a while, especially because he’s worried Soonyoung might’ve caught the nervous flicker of Wonwoo’s eyes at the mention of Mingyu’s name.

His best friend doesn’t know about the things that have been happening between him and Mingyu. Wonwoo doesn’t know why he hasn’t told him yet, but it’s like there’s been an unspoken agreement that Mingyu and Wonwoo aren’t going to tell their friends about it.

"She’s old enough to make her own decisions." Wonwoo finally focuses on the conversation again.

"Yuna says he’s just looking out for her. Since she doesn’t have a brother and all. I mean, I’m glad he cares for her but fucking hell, that dude knows how to be a cockblocker."

Wonwoo smiles and he almost slips. He almost says Don’t worry, I’ll talk to him.

And then he’s a bit terrified that that was his first reaction, like he’s in a place to talk to Mingyu and get him to stop being so overprotective.

The way you would if you were in a relationship with someone.

"Mingyu couldn’t harm anyone." He chuckles nervously.

Soonyoung looks up and smirks. "Yeah, you would know about that, wouldn’t you?"

"What’s that supposed to mean?"

"I don’t know. You tell me."

Wonwoo blinks at him, the room feeling a lot smaller all of a sudden. "I don’t know what you’re talking about."

"Yeah, when do you ever." Soonyoung rolls his eyes and picks up his controller again. "Whatever. You should consider him though, you know."

They resume the game and Wonwoo tries to focus on it as best as he can. "Consider him for what?"

"For the sex thing." Soonyoung mumbles, his tongue sticking out as he tries to use a quick scope to kill Wonwoo in the game. "I’m sure he’d be more than willing to help."

Wonwoo dies the second Soonyoung finishes talking.

And while Soonyoung is doing a ridiculous celebratory dance for beating Wonwoo at Call of Duty for the first time, Wonwoo is too busy staring off into space to care about his defeat.

He suddenly feels really, really hot.

 

 

 

 

Wonwoo and Mingyu mostly only talk via text messages. Sure, Mingyu drops by the coffee shop some mornings but the visits are short and the words they exchange very held back due to Jisoo’s eyes on them and the fact that Wonwoo doesn’t have much time to chat since he’s supposed to be working.

And Wonwoo doesn’t want to be at the spectacle shop too much either, not wanting to be a nuisance to the grumpy uncle and to Mingyu who is always busy working on different models of specs that have to be finished by the time the customers come to pick them up.

When they go out on the weekends, it’s with the rest of their friends, and their interactions are restricted to short glances and hidden touches of their hands here and there.

It gets frustrating but Wonwoo knows he isn’t in a place to complain.

It’s all his fault to begin with, so all of this must be ten times more annoying for Mingyu.

All of this results in Wonwoo thinking about Mingyu more than he can deal with. He thinks about kissing him while serving a customer, and he thinks about Mingyu giving him that smile while he’s writing an exam.

And he doesn’t know if Mingyu feels the same or if Wonwoo is alone with his emotions.

He could just ask Mingyu, but he’s Jeon Wonwoo so he can’t.

 

 

 

Mingyu calls him one evening when Wonwoo is at the library, trying to get some very necessary studying done. Wonwoo waits for the call to be over before he picks up his phone and texts him.

 

 

To Mingyu:

i’m at the library, can’t talk. <

what is it? <

 

 

From Mingyu:

> when are you leaving?

> i want to see you

 

 

Wonwoo pauses, throwing away the urge to collect his things because he wants to see Mingyu right away.

 

To Mingyu:

 in about half an hour <

 

 

From Mingyu:

> wait for me outside.

> i’ll pick you up :)

 

He has never struggled so much in memorizing the notes on his flash cards like he does in those following thirty minutes.

 

 

True to his words, Mingyu is waiting on the other side of the road across the campus. He’s sitting in his car, face tilted downwards and illuminated by what has to be his phone.

Wonwoo crosses the street and knocks on the window, which makes Mingyu jump, his phone slipping from his fingers. Wonwoo chuckles at his clumsiness and Mingyu breaks out into a cute smile.

"Hi." Mingyu says when Wonwoo climbs into the passenger seat a moment later.

"Hey." Wonwoo looks up at him after putting his seatbelt on, his lips automatically stretching into a smile at how Mingyu is looking at him.

"Here, this is for you." Mingyu hands him a pack of something before he drives off.

"Energy gums?" Wonwoo reads the label of the pack in his hands, giving Mingyu’s side profile a curious look.

"Because you always stay up so late studying." Mingyu explains, shrugging his shoulders. "You don’t like coffee and all those energy drinks aren’t healthy for you."

Wonwoo stares at him for a moment, a bit taken aback by Mingyu’s thoughtfulness. "You didn’t have to."

"I wanted to." Mingyu glances at him, chuckling at Wonwoo’s expression. "They’re just gums."

But they’re not just gums, that’s the thing. Wonwoo clears his throat and looks away, slipping the package into his backpack.

"Thank you." He says, willing the weird feeling in his chest to go away.

"Don’t mention it." Mingyu glances at him again and Wonwoo can feel his eyes scanning Wonwoo’s face.

"Watch the road, Mingyu." He says, his voice firm but his insides feeling warm.

Mingyu does but there’s a smile playing on his lips. "I’m sorry."

Wonwoo turns his head away to hide his smile. They fall into silence and Wonwoo watches the darkness outside, not many people roaming around since it’s a working day tomorrow and it’s already pretty late.

"Where are we going?" He asks when he notices that Mingyu is leaving the city.

"There’s something I need to take care of. Hao usually helps me but he’s with Eunji tonight." Mingyu says. "It won’t take long."

"What is it?"

"Don’t worry about it." Mingyu says but he has a weird smirk on his face and Wonwoo thinks he should probably worry about it a lot, but he decides to drop it for now.

"What song is that?" He asks instead, trying to figure out if the tunes seem familiar to him.

"It’s called All we know."

Wonwoo has never heard of that song. "Are you a secret hipster?"

"Hm." Mingyu bites his lip but it can’t hide the smile underneath. "Maybe. Or maybe you’ve just been sleeping under a rock."

"Yeah. Maybe."

They talk about mindless things for most of the ride; Mingyu complains about school and Minghao not having time for him anymore ever since he got back together with Eunji. Wonwoo tells Mingyu about strange customers he’s had at the café and Mingyu spends a good minute laughing about it. Wonwoo doesn’t mind; Mingyu laughing is a very nice sound, it sounds like it comes straight out of Mingyu’s heart and his eyes turn into small crescents.

He looks so happy that Wonwoo doesn’t really care about anything else in that moment.

 

 

They’ve been driving for about fifteen minutes when Mingyu suddenly pulls the car over to the side of the street.

They’re practically in the middle of nowhere, right next to a cornfield.

It’s silent for a few seconds after Mingyu turns the engine off.

"Is this where you murder me?"

Mingyu laughs. "Get in the driver’s seat and wait here for me."

"What?" Wonwoo watches Mingyu unbuckle his seatbelt and does the same, mainly to hold the younger back from leaving the car. "Don’t fucking leave me here next to a creepy cornfield!"

"Look, it’ll only take three minutes. Just be ready to drive away when I get back."

"Mingyu what—"

But Mingyu doesn’t listen. He just gives Wonwoo a smirk and climbs out of the car and then he disappears into the night.

Wonwoo has a really bad feeling about this. He can’t see anything around him and he nervously starts humming a happy tune to himself, climbing over the gear shift between the seats to sit in the driver’s seat like Mingyu told him to.

It’s way too silent and Wonwoo has seen one too many horror movies where the protagonists run off into cornfields only to get brutally murdered by a damn scarecrow—

"Nope." He turns the key once to make the lights and the radio of the car turn back on and relaxes a bit when one of Mingyu’s indie songs fills the silence in the car.

Mingyu doesn’t come back after three minutes and Wonwoo grows genuinely worried, thinking about going out there to look for him when the passenger door suddenly gets ripped open. He nearly jumps out of his skin, cursing loudly when Mingyu jumps into the passenger seat, panting heavily.

"Go!" He urges Wonwoo. "Hyung, fucking go!" He sounds a bit hysterical but he’s also laughing and Wonwoo simply does as he’s told, stepping on the gas pedal and driving off.

"Mingyu, what the hell?" Wonwoo looks at Mingyu once they’re away from the cornfield. Mingyu is still breathing a bit heavily but he’s smiling like everything’s okay, like he didn’t just pull a weird action movie stunt on Wonwoo. "Are those cherries?"

"Yeah, want some?"

"No!" Wonwoo huffs incredulously. "Did you steal them? Is that what you were doing?"

"Yes."

"Why?!"

"Because that farmer deserved it." Mingyu shrugs and pulls off his beanie, his hair sticking out in every direction. He looks absolutely stupid but to Wonwoo he’s still the most beautiful person he’s ever seen.

"You’re crazy. You could get arrested, you know that, right?"

"It’s fine. He didn’t see me."

"Mingyu, farmers around here carry freaking rifles with them! What if he shot you?"

Mingyu laughs. "Hyung, you’re being dramatic. I’m fine. I’m a pro at this."

"Don’t tell me you do this regularly."

"Me and Hao do this every week."

"You’re crazy." Wonwoo repeats, shaking his head when Mingyu smirks and turns up the volume of the music.

"Maybe."

 

Mingyu tells Wonwoo to drive to the lookout of the city which earns him another skeptical look from Wonwoo because the lookout is only a few minutes away from the graveyard.

"I can’t shake the feeling that you want to murder me tonight." Wonwoo mumbles after parking the car, shivering against the cold air when he gets out.

Mingyu puts his beanie back on and rolls his eyes. "I like having you around way too much to do that."

The lookout is empty, of course it is — it’s a Wednesday night and no sane person would come up here willingly so late at night.

"Your shirt’s all stained." Wonwoo points at Mingyu’s white shirt that is covered in red and pink streaks.

Mingyu sits down on the grass. "Yeah, that wasn’t very smart." The cherries fall into his lap when he starts dusting off his shirt and Wonwoo smiles because even his hands are stained at a few spots.

"You have to pour boiling water over it. Or use vinegar."

Wonwoo sits down next to him. It’s been a while since he came up here; they used to come here a lot after going out, sitting on the rocks at the edge of the lookout to watch the lights of the city and question their existence together with Soonyoung.

"How do you just know those things?" Mingyu whines.

"It’s called google. You should try it some time." It’s mostly called being forced by circumstances for Wonwoo, having to wash Chan’s clothes when his mom was… unable to do it. But he doesn’t mention that.

Mingyu snorts at his sarcasm and pushes Wonwoo away by his shoulder, and Wonwoo laughs at the pout on Mingyu’s face.

The grass is a bit damp but not really enough to wet their clothes. Wonwoo huddles deeper into his jacket because while it’s technically already spring here in the city, the weather is still frosty in the early hours of the mornings and chilly at night. The lights look prettier tonight, or maybe that’s just because Wonwoo is up here completely sober for the first time.

Mingyu hands him a cherry and Wonwoo takes it. "Shouldn’t we wash those? You know, pesticides and stuff?"

"Nah, don’t worry. That bastard’s an organic farmer." Mingyu pops a cherry into his mouth and spits out the stone. It lands a few feet away from them, disappearing somewhere in the grass.

"That might grow into an actual cherry tree."

"That would be awesome."

It’s silent between them for a moment and Wonwoo listens to the noises of the city, mostly just the engines of cars, dogs barking, music playing from open stores.

"Are you going to tell me what makes you steal from him? Every week?" Wonwoo finally asks, leaning back on his hands.

Mingyu purses his lips, which turns into a pout after a moment. "That farmer killed a bunch of baby kittens a few months back."

"What?" Wonwoo gapes, accepting another cherry Mingyu gives him. Wonwoo isn’t the biggest fan of cherries but he has to admit that these ones really do taste very sweet.

"I guess he didn’t know what to do with them. I don’t know what the hell his reason was— but he put them in a box and dropped them on the highway."

Wonwoo frowns at the thought. "How do you know it was him?"

"There’s a kid in one of our classes who used to help him out on the farm. He told us." Mingyu explains and even looking at his profile Wonwoo can tell that he’s upset. "So Hao and I decided to punish him ourselves since the police won’t do shit and we don’t have actual evidence that he did it."

"You’re punishing him, by stealing fruit from him?"

"Not just fruit. Whatever we can get our hands on. Hao once took a whole canister of milk. I’d burn down his stupid farm but I feel sorry for the animals living there."

Mingyu looks up at him and Wonwoo doesn’t really know what to do when he finds that Mingyu’s eyes look wet.

He’s pretty sure Mingyu is crying because those poor kittens were murdered like that. Wonwoo doesn’t think he’d ever cry over an animal’s death, especially not if the animal didn’t belong to him but he should know by now that Mingyu and him are a whole lot different from each other.

"I think the kittens would be really happy if they knew some guys were avenging their death."

Mingyu blinks at him for a moment and starts laughing, sounding a bit choked up. "Fuck, I’m crying over kittens."

"It is pretty sad." Wonwoo shrugs a bit helplessly. He wishes he was better at this, so he could offer Mingyu emotional comfort like any other person would, but he can’t and he feels like an awkward, cold rock.

"Why the hell would anyone ever do that? It’s like killing human babies. Where’s the difference? Just cause they’re animals?" Mingyu aggressively eats another cherry and spits the stone out so forcefully it disappears over the edge of the lookout. "Screw that. I fucking hate humans."

"You’re one too."

"I know but like, we do eat defenseless animals, don’t we? We’re monsters. But— shit, that’s not the point. I swear I want to punch the shit out of that guy. Killing little baby kittens! I hope he rots in hell."

Wonwoo doesn’t really know what he’s supposed to say to help Mingyu calm down right now, so he just wordlessly hands Mingyu a nice-looking cherry which he takes with a thankful smile.

"At least his cherries taste good." Mingyu shrugs.

"You should try to get a watermelon next time." Wonwoo suggests.

"I don’t think those are ripe yet though."

"Yeah, probably not."

"I’ll get you one." Mingyu says. "Just give me a month or two."

Wonwoo opens his mouth when Mingyu tries to feed him another cherry. They share a look that gives away what the action reminds them of. Wonwoo looks away and Mingyu sighs softly, thankfully not bringing up the incident from the barbecue place again.

"Would you get mad if I told you I missed you?" Mingyu asks after a beat of silence.

Somewhere in the distance Wonwoo can hear sirens of an ambulance and he briefly wonders what happened; if it’s a young girl that needs medical attention or if it’s an old man in his eighties. How bad is their condition? Are they dying right now while Wonwoo and Mingyu are sitting up here, eating cherries without a care in the world?

"I hope they’re alright." Wonwoo mumbles, not really expecting Mingyu to understand what he’s talking about but it wouldn’t be the first time Mingyu catches him off guard with the things he does.

"I’m sure they are."

Wonwoo turns to look at Mingyu and he feels slightly overwhelmed by the urge to touch him. "I wouldn’t get mad."

Mingyu wordlessly looks into his eyes and he looks so endearing, so handsome, blinking because a few stray strands of hair are falling into his eyes, peeking out from underneath that baby blue beanie that seems to be glued to his head.

He wears it all the time, because his sister made it for him, because Mingyu cares so damn much about the people around him.

Wonwoo wants to be like that. He wants to be like Mingyu, caring, loving, warm but that’s probably not an option— at least not in this life.

"I missed you too."

They saw each other yesterday but that hardly counts. Them meeting yesterday is nothing compared to them being here right now, sitting so close together, talking about murdered kittens and eating stolen organic cherries.

Mingyu hands him the last cherry with a thoughtful look on his face and Wonwoo stares at the fruit on Mingyu’s palm, feeling like a huge asshole all of a sudden.

He doesn’t take the cherry, instead takes Mingyu’s hand in his own.

"I’m sorry." Wonwoo slowly says. "That this is so— that I’m making things so frustrating."

"Frustrating?"

Wonwoo looks at their hands, and he can’t even put into words how much he likes feeling Mingyu’s skin against his own. "Because we don’t go on dates. And we don’t even really talk when others are around."

Mingyu doesn’t give him an answer and it’s something Wonwoo’s been dreading, that Mingyu might get fed up with all this childish secrecy.

"Mingyu— if you want to see other people that’s fine." Wonwoo clears his throat. "I mean, you can do whatever you want. You can, like, kiss other people. Or sleep with other people. Or if you like someone… I just don’t want you to feel like you owe me some sort of loyalty because I can’t expect that from you without giving you anything in return—"

Mingyu shuts him up by kissing him. He’s cradling Wonwoo’s face, and his lips taste sweet like cherry and Wonwoo kisses him back and shit, he does not want Mingyu to do this with someone else. He wants Mingyu. He wants Mingyu to himself.

"What were you saying?" Mingyu asks after pulling away.

"I said you can—"

Mingyu leans in again, kissing the words right off of his lips. "I can what?"

Wonwoo licks his lips, opening them to talk again but Mingyu is already kissing him again to shut him up.

"Okay. I get it." Wonwoo mumbles when Mingyu’s lips finally leave his own.

Mingyu bites down on his lower lip - and yes, it definitely is a habit of his - and Wonwoo watches closely how his eyes flutter shut when Wonwoo curls his fingers around his arm. "I’m fine with this. I just want you."

Wonwoo licks his lips, unconsciously trying to chase the taste of Mingyu’s mouth.

And then he wonders why he’s chasing Mingyu’s taste when his lips are right there

And then he’s kissing Mingyu again. He has his palm on Mingyu’s nape, his fingers curling into his hair and Mingyu moves easily, leaning into him to deepen the kiss.

Mingyu kisses him. And he kisses him again, and again.

And Wonwoo kisses him back.

 

 

 

 

Soonyoung used to ask him why he gets like this sometimes.

Why sometimes Wonwoo doesn’t leave the house if he doesn’t have work or classes, why he shuts off his phone and acts dead to the world.

The first few times it happened - back at the very start of their friendship - Soonyoung went absolutely crazy, calling Wonwoo’s parents and driving to his house at midnight because Wonwoo wouldn’t answer his phone the entire weekend.

Wonwoo was confused why Soonyoung found it so weird, because it’s how Wonwoo’s always been and to his family it was something they were used to.

They knew to give Wonwoo space and time on his own, they knew when to leave him alone, because Wonwoo needed to recharge.

Recharging is the best word Wonwoo can come up with to describe this weird mood he gets into from time to time. After being around people for too long it gets draining and Wonwoo physically has no power left to even bother opening his mouth and talk to someone, let alone go outside and do social things.

When that happens, he locks himself in his room and spends time with himself. Thinking about the universe and questioning human existence. Ignoring the piles of textbooks on his desk and ignoring the fact that there might be people out there who are worried about him.

It’s selfish and his dad used to say Wonwoo just wants attention and it hurt the first time around, until Wonwoo realized that this wasn’t something he had control over. He couldn’t even go outside without immediately wanting to go back home again when he felt so drained.

Soonyoung knows by now when exactly Wonwoo will get into those moods so he leaves him alone until Wonwoo reaches out for him again.

But most people don’t know.

Mingyu doesn’t.

So when Wonwoo’s phone runs out of battery one day and he doesn’t recharge it on purpose, staying in his bed and reading a book the entire weekend, he does what Soonyoung did the first time.

He shows up at Wonwoo’s apartment.

Wonwoo isn’t in the mood to talk to anyone. He gets snappy and he feels like shit but Chan is out at practice and he has to physically drag his body out of bed to go open the door.

Mingyu looks taken aback by Wonwoo’s appearance and Wonwoo is pretty sure that if his strange character isn’t reason enough for Mingyu to drop him, this moment right here will be.

"You didn’t reply." Mingyu carefully says. "Since Friday. I was worried."

It’s Sunday night now.

Wonwoo clears his throat, his voice cracking from the lack of use. "My phone died."

It’s a stupid excuse, why not simply recharge it? Why does Wonwoo look like death?

Why is Mingyu here?

"Are you sick?"

"No."

They look at each other for a long time and Wonwoo has never been more aware of their differences than right now; not just in their social status but also physically. Mingyu looks so effortlessly handsome and Wonwoo looks like he doesn’t know what the word shower means.

"Do you want me to leave?"

Wonwoo expects himself to say yes because he doesn’t want Mingyu to see him like this. He doesn’t want this thing between them to end yet; wants to be with Mingyu for a while longer before things go downhill.

But he shakes his head no, and Mingyu quietly steps inside, wordlessly follows Wonwoo into the living room and slips under the covers on the couch with him without questioning anything.

"I’m sorry." Wonwoo mumbles, lying on his side and staring at the letters printed on Mingyu’s university sweater. "Sometimes I need to be alone."

Mingyu nods his head. "Okay." He scoots closer carefully and Wonwoo is a bit tired from holding back, from always overthinking his every move, so he shuffles closer too until Mingyu wraps his arm around his waist and pulls them flush together. "Tell me if you want me to go."

"I don’t want you to."

"Good. Cause it’s way too toasty here to leave."

Wonwoo laughs, the sound muffled against the blanket and Mingyu’s sweater. He wraps his own arm around Mingyu, his hand resting on his spine and he thinks he can feel Mingyu’s warmth even through the clothing.

He likes how Mingyu doesn’t ask any questions, he appreciates how he simply stays here in silence with Wonwoo even though Wonwoo’s behaviour is more than just questionable. Wonwoo doesn’t know how long it will last, how long Mingyu will be nice and patient before he gets tired of all of this, so he squeezes his eyes shut and presses himself closer into Mingyu’s warmth.

Mingyu rubs his palm over Wonwoo’s back and Wonwoo feels his lips brush against his hairline when Mingyu speaks. "Going out sucks when you’re not there."

"Where did you go?" Wonwoo quietly asks.

And Mingyu starts telling him about the weekend.

He tells it like he’s telling a child a bedtime story, and it works because Wonwoo gets really tired.

"Are you falling asleep?" Mingyu snickers, nudging Wonwoo’s shoulder when he notices Wonwoo dozing off against him.

"Tired."

He blinks his eyes open and Mingyu is looking down at him with a soft look in his eyes. "Then sleep."

So Wonwoo does.

 

 

 

 

"I saw you with Mingyu hyung." Chan says the next day when they’re eating dinner.

Wonwoo stops chewing for a second and looks up to meet Chan’s eyes. He’s not sure what he expected to find there, maybe anger or annoyance.

Maybe disgust.

"We fell asleep."

"I saw that." Chan puts his spoon down and looks at Wonwoo with his eyebrows furrowed. "Does he like you?"

Wonwoo shrugs. "We’re just friends."

"I know you think I’m still a kid, but I’m not stupid." His brother raises his eyebrows as if to get the point across. "I see the way he looks at you."

"You’re mad?" Wonwoo tries to figure out why Chan sounds like that, almost like he’s worried.

"No." Chan shakes his head but there’s something in his eyes that Wonwoo can’t pinpoint. "I just… I’m a bit surprised. I didn’t know you liked guys."

"I don’t." Wonwoo says too quickly and he belatedly realizes how stupid he’s starting to sound, constantly denying it. "I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know if I like him."

Such a hypocrite.

Chan doesn’t really seem convinced either, he picks up his spoon again and lets go of a long exhale. "I hope he knows you don’t easily trust people. I like Mingyu hyung, but he better not do anything stupid."

Wonwoo scoffs. "Thanks, but I don’t need you to look out for me."

"Well, someone has to." Chan mutters, not looking up from his food. "You’re good at looking out for others but you don’t really give a shit about yourself."

They don’t really talk anymore for the rest of the dinner.

Chan takes his things to the sink and leaves without a word and Wonwoo thinks that if everyone’s going to react like this to the possibility of Wonwoo liking Mingyu, he’d rather not tell anyone at all.

 

 

 

 

He’s trying, he really is, but as hours morph into days and their busy schedules don’t leave room for private meet-ups, Wonwoo thinks he’s not trying hard enough.

Or maybe the progress is just too slow, because it’s been almost two months since Mingyu kissed him for the first time and they’re still trapped in this unspoken rule of not telling anyone about them not exactly being just friends anymore.

Mingyu doesn’t talk about it, he doesn’t complain, but Wonwoo can see how sometimes the smile Mingyu gives him from across the room when their friends are around doesn’t reach his eyes. And how they sometimes go without seeing each other for over a week, and when they do they’re with the rest of their group and they have to settle for a hug that lasts a bit longer than you could deem friendly but no one takes notice of it.

Wonwoo knows he needs to get a grip, he’s not being fair, but everything that’s happened between him and Mingyu already feels like such a huge step away from Wonwoo’s old habits that he doesn’t know how he’s supposed to change himself even faster without his anxiety swallowing him up whole.

 

 

 

Mingyu seems to be in a bad mood tonight. He still gave Wonwoo his trademark smile, still hugged him like he wouldn’t be able to hug Wonwoo ever again, but there’s something off about him.

He’s concentrating on his work, handling the different utensils on the table like an expert, and Wonwoo tries to make it not too obvious that he's staring at him rather than his textbooks in front of him.

It’s already past nine, and Wonwoo wants to go home and sleep but he doesn’t want to leave Mingyu alone at the shop, especially not when something is obviously not okay.

Mingyu once catches him staring and Wonwoo doesn’t even bother looking away to act like he wasn’t doing it. "Why are you staring at me?"

Wonwoo shrugs his shoulders. "Is everything okay?"

"Yeah. Of course." Mingyu answers a bit too fast and his smile is a little too forced.

He’s lying and Wonwoo doesn’t know why.

"Okay."

If Mingyu wanted to tell him, he wouldn’t have lied before, so Wonwoo drops the issue and suppresses the unpleasant feeling in his stomach.

But that doesn’t mean he’s not bothered by the fact that Mingyu seems to be upset. He wants to cheer him up but he’s not sure how.

Wonwoo tries to imagine what Soonyoung would do in this kind of situation but none of it is something Wonwoo feels comfortable with.

There’s only one thing his mind comes up with, so he gets up to grab his bag. Once he finds what he was looking for he walks over to Mingyu’s side and nudges his arm.

Mingyu looks up at him and then at whatever Wonwoo is holding in his hand, a smile appearing on his face once he sees it. "Is this going to be our thing?"

He takes the sour apple lollipop from Wonwoo and looks at it for a moment.

Wonwoo feels a bit awkward, giving Mingyu candy like he’s a kid and not a grown guy. "I bought it for you last week but didn’t have the chance to give it to you."

"You bought it for me? Why?"

"Because you were sad over those kittens." Wonwoo shrugs. "I wanted to cheer you up. But it seems like you could use it now as well."

Mingyu peels his eyes away from the candy and looks up to meet Wonwoo’s instead. "That’s really nice of you."

"It’s... just a lollipop." He basically repeats what Mingyu said after he gave Wonwoo those energy gums in the car.

Mingyu puts the candy down and then leans forward to wrap his arms around Wonwoo’s back. He presses his forehead against Wonwoo’s chest and lets his shoulders sag, his eyes squeezed shut.

Wonwoo stands frozen for a few seconds, his arms hanging at his side uselessly but then he hears the shaky inhale Mingyu takes. He steps closer to the chair so it’s more comfortable for Mingyu, who pulls Wonwoo that much closer and sighs in something like relief when Wonwoo places his hand on the back of his head.

He can’t see Mingyu’s face, he can’t tell what he’s feeling right now. Mingyu acting like this is worrying because he’s usually all smiles and teasing words, but not this. Not… so sad. "Mingyu…"

"Can you please just hold me?" Mingyu’s voice sounds small.

"Okay." Wonwoo wants to ask, but he shakes his head to himself and gently starts petting Mingyu’s hair, carding his fingers through the silky strands.

He wants to know what’s bothering Mingyu, but he thinks about how Mingyu didn’t ask for answers when Wonwoo ignored him for almost three days.

So he keeps his mouth shut.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

"Chan, do we have ice packs in the freezer?"

Wonwoo sits up from the couch and rubs his eyes, his phone in one hand where he has his chat with Soonyoung open.

"Why are you asking me?" Chan shouts back from the bedroom. "Hyung, this is your apartment!"

"I never use the freezer and you keep rummaging through everything." Wonwoo sighs and gets up to walk into the kitchen. "I thought you might know."

"I bought some ice cream last week. Didn’t see any ice packs." His brother’s head pops up in the door frame, blinking at Wonwoo who has his own head halfway inside the freezer now. "No ice packs?"

Wonwoo shuts the freezer with a resigned shake of his head. "No ice packs."

"What do you need them for anyway?" Chan follows him to the hallway and watches him put on his shoes. "You’re not hurt again, are you?"

Wonwoo looks up at him and gives his brother a smile at the worried expression on his face. "They’re not for me. Soonyoung got his wisdom teeth removed and he has nothing to cool his cheeks."

"But why is he calling you? Isn’t that what girlfriends are for?" Chan asks.

"Nope." Wonwoo grabs his wallet and denim jacket from the clothes rack. "And don’t ever say that again, Chan. Especially not around a girl."

"Why not?"

"It’s sexist."

"Sexist?" Chan frowns. "I don’t know what that means."

"Very funny."

"Hey, I’m serious."

Wonwoo freezes and gives his brother an incredulous look. "Really?" Chan innocently nods his head. "Jesus" Wonwoo sighs and turns to open the door. "I’ll explain it to you later."

"Hyung, wait—" Chan stops him when Wonwoo is already halfway out the door. "About last week, uhm, about you… you and Mingyu hyung."

Oh, yeah.

That.

Wonwoo knows Chan’s been pretty much avoiding that issue whenever they did talk together, and he was waiting to see if Chan would simply shrug the whole idea off and pretend he didn’t see anything.

But Chan’s Chan, and he’s never been very fond of the saying ignorance is bliss.

"Yeah. What about it?"

Chan shrugs. "I talked to Mingyu hyung. I mean… I asked if he, you know, likes you. I mean of course he likes you, but if he really really likes you"

"I get it." Wonwoo snickers but it sounds more like he’s trying not to have one of his mental breakdowns again.

"Annnnd… it made him laugh. He said you were just friends and that he’s not even interested in guys." Chan sighs. "I’m sorry I didn’t believe you, hyung. I just really thought that Mingyu hyung had like, I dunno, romantic feelings for you. It was disrespectful of me either way."

Wonwoo has to remember to close his mouth and he also has to try hard not to let any emotions show on his face.

He knows he should be glad that Mingyu denied anything going on between them but the truth is—

It does not feel very relieving.

Not at all.

It’s the exact opposite, really.

His stomach doesn’t like it, his heart doesn’t either.

"Hyung? Everything alright?"

Wonwoo’s head snaps up and he clears his throat to get rid of his thoughts. "Yeah, of course. Uhm. Yeah, what, what Mingyu said. We’re just—" He stops and suddenly he hates himself ten times more than he usually does. Is this how Mingyu's been feeling all this time? "Just friends."

"Cool." Chan beams at him. "I’m glad that’s out of the way."

"Yeah. Me too." They look at each other for a moment and Wonwoo doesn’t feel like talking or answering any questions anymore, so he turns around again. "I’ll see you later."

"Tell Soonyoung hyung hi from me!"

 

 

 

Wonwoo’s mind is a mess.

Yeah well, when is it not.

But it’s just more of a mess than it usually is.

People around him are going about their lives, holding their significant others’ hands, taking their dogs for a walk, carrying their groceries home. Cars are honking, tired business men stuck in traffic jams contemplating their lives and the real bigwigs all about to go through major burnouts. It smells of smoke and sizzling meat and then of pancakes when he passes a colourful food stand somewhere.

And here Wonwoo is, walking through the streets with his face carrying a frown so deep it might just never disappear again. And all of that just because a guy told someone else that they’re just friends.

He knows why Mingyu gave Chan an answer like that, he knows he was trying to protect Wonwoo since Wonwoo isn’t ready for others to know about what’s going on between them.

Wonwoo would be a damn hypocrite to hold it against him.

So why on earth does he feel like this?

Why does it make him feel so… so betrayed?

He stops walking on a red light, buries his hands in the pockets of his jacket and takes a deep breath.

Wonwoo watches how the cars speed past him, how the green lights for them start blinking in a warning that they're about to turn red so Wonwoo can cross the street.

And just as the light for him turns green, he gets it.

It’s because Mingyu added the part of him not being into men.

The light is green but Wonwoo just keeps standing there like an idiot, and he thinks about Sohye and Mingyu, and he thinks about Mingyu telling him about his first girlfriend back in high school, and then he remembers Mingyu mentioning his other ex-girlfriend that was an artist and—

And Mingyu never mentioned a boy.

"Hey you, it’s green!"

Wonwoo jumps, his head snapping up to see a girl walking backwards over the street. "What?"

"I’d hurry up if I were you." She smiles and points at the green traffic lights. "It’s about to turn red."

He gets his feet moving, and while he crosses the street, Wonwoo can’t keep his eyes from gluing themselves on the sway of her hips or her long hair that curls around her slim waist.

Mingyu would be attracted to her, wouldn’t he?

But then why…

His phone starts ringing and Wonwoo picks it up without checking the caller ID, too occupied by his thoughts to wonder if it might be someone else but Soonyoung.

"Stop calling me. I’m on my way."

There’s a pause and then "Uhm. Sorry?"

Wonwoo stops walking once he hears that it is in fact not Soonyoung calling. "Mingyu? Sorry, I thought you were someone else."

"Clearly." Mingyu chuckles. "Is this a bad time? I can hang up—"

"No! No, it’s not. I was just surprised. Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, of course. I was wondering if we could meet up?"

"…Now?"

"I mean, if you don’t have time it’s okay."

"No, it’s just— Soonyoung got his wisdom teeth removed and I was about to visit him."

"Oh, okay, I get it." Mingyu says. "I’ll just see you… uh, whenever."

"No, Mingyu, let’s— let’s meet." Wonwoo stutters. "Soonyoung’s bored so having you around might cheer him up."

"Are you sure? I don’t wanna, like, intrude or something."

"Oh, shut up. You won’t."

Mingyu smiles, Wonwoo can tell from the sound of his voice and he momentarily stops worrying about everything. He really just looks forward to seeing Mingyu because it’s a little ridiculous how much he misses the boy when they go without talking for a couple of days. "Alright. Where are you right now?"

"I uh, I have to buy ice packs for him so… let’s meet in front of the shop? The one where the employees wear these pink uniforms."

Mingyu chuckles. "Okay, I’ll see you there."

 

 

 

Wonwoo waits in front of the shop for Mingyu after successfully buying the ice packs. It doesn’t take him too long to arrive. He actually catcalls to get Wonwoo’s attention, who turns to look over his shoulder to see Mingyu walking towards him with that toothy grin of his.

"You know, if I didn’t know you better I’d think you were a massive douchebag." Wonwoo snorts. Mingyu comes to a stop right in front of him, tilting his head to the side.

"And why is that?"

"Don’t know. Might be the cat calling. Or the leather jacket."

"You don’t like it?"

Wonwoo drops the act, and his chest feels all warm and airy when both their lips stretch into a smile at the same time. "How are you?"

"Better now that I saw you."

"Please don’t." Wonwoo tries to fight off the smile on his face as they start walking down the nearly deserted street.

"You look good, hyung." Mingyu hums after a moment, glancing down at Wonwoo from the side.

"Says you." Wonwoo snickers, totally avoiding the main issue here, but Mingyu laughs a bit and he brushes their hands together like he wants to hold Wonwoo’s.

"Oh, wait, before I forget it." Mingyu reaches into the pocket of his leather jacket and pulls out two lollipops. One in a pink wrapper, one in green.

"You were serious." Wonwoo takes the pink one. "About this being our thing?"

"I don’t know. It’s like I have to buy them whenever I see them at a check-out." Mingyu nudges their unwrapped lollipops together the way you’d do in a toast. "Reminds me of you."

Wonwoo looks at him, and he laughs at how stupid Mingyu looks. The jacket hugs his broad shoulders and makes him look like some kind of bad boy straight out of a chick-flick but then there’s the pastel coloured beanie on his head and the lollipop stuck in his mouth, bulging his cheek out like a little kid's.

Wonwoo is so… he’s so ridiculously smitten.

"What?" Mingyu eyes him with a teasing smile playing on his face.

"You… You look cute." Wonwoo admits unexpectedly, and it seems to catch Mingyu off guard too, because the teasing smile turns into a sheepish one.

"Says you." Mingyu repeats his words from before, and Wonwoo lightly shoves him away but Mingyu - being the clumsy giant he is - nearly ends up on the street so Wonwoo quickly grabs his arm and pulls him close to his side again. "Aw, were you scared? That’s cute."

"You’re annoying but I don’t want you dead."

Mingyu laughs, his eyes all crinkled up and warm and yeah… Wonwoo can barely keep his eyes away.

It feels different tonight. They feel different. There’s a strange feeling in Wonwoo’s chest that wasn’t there before, dull yet demanding and it’s hard to ignore.

It makes him want to hold Mingyu’s hand in front of everyone and it makes him want to do a lot of other stupid things too.

Maybe that’s why Wonwoo asks what comes next. "Chan asked you about me, didn’t he?"

He looks down at their shoes; Wonwoo’s are dirtier than Mingyu’s but they’re both wearing the same brand. Mingyu’s are white, Wonwoo’s are grey.

"Yeah." Mingyu answers after a second. "He asked me if I have feelings for you." He chuckles but it sounds a bit forced. "Guess I’m that obvious, huh?"

Wonwoo keeps his eyes on the ground, the careless atmosphere from before suddenly gone. "He saw us sleeping on the couch. I think that’s why."

Mingyu looks at him for a few seconds before he shakes his head. "I didn’t tell him anything. I swear."

"I know that." Wonwoo frowns at him. "That’s not why I asked, Mingyu. I know you didn’t."

"Then what’s wrong?"

Wonwoo decides to ask whatever’s on his mind. Somehow he feels more daring tonight and he’s not sure when he’ll ever get that feeling back, so he wants to make the most of it. "You told him you’re not interested in guys."

He kicks at a pebble on the pavement, and then kicks at it again after a few steps, nervously waiting for Mingyu to say something.

"I said that to make it more believable." Mingyu shrugs and gives him a confused look. "It was my fault Chan got suspicious in the first place and I mean, there’s no way he’ll suspect anything after that, right?"

"No, Mingyu, I don’t…" Wonwoo grows frustrated, and not at Mingyu but at himself.

"Should I not have?" They pass a couple that seems to be fighting over something and Wonwoo strangely feels like Mingyu and him aren’t all that different from them right now. "You don’t want anyone to know about this. I thought you’d be glad."

"I thought so too."

"But you’re not?"

"No."

Mingyu puffs out his cheeks. "This is... confusing." He sighs. "I can't read your mind. You have to tell me if I do something wrong... Or tell me to back off if I’m pressuring you too much—"

Wonwoo grips Mingyu’s wrist and shakes his head when Mingyu stops to look at him. "You’re not, okay? You’re being way too nice. I’m the only dick here."

They’ve stopped walking now and looking at Mingyu feels so damn scary yet somehow reassuring at the same time.

"Good thing I’m into dick, then." Mingyu says.

"Oh my god." Wonwoo starts walking again and Mingyu quickly catches up with him, wearing a stupid grin on his face and Wonwoo can’t really stop himself from laughing.

"That was a good one, admit it."

"If you say so."

"Hey, hyung." Mingyu’s voice is more serious again, softer. "Are you really okay?"

"I am." Wonwoo sighs. "Are you?"

"Yeah." Mingyu smiles, but it doesn’t reach his eyes and Wonwoo feels a bit sick to his stomach, knowing that this ugly look on Mingyu’s handsome face is his fault only.

Knowing that he could make it go away easily but he doesn’t have the guts to do it.

Mingyu brightens up again and grabs the bag in Wonwoo’s hand. "Come on, let’s go pinch Soonyoung hyung’s hamster cheeks."

 

 

 

 

It's been a while since Wonwoo has seen Jeonghan, and since he isn't exactly a regular at the café Wonwoo is a bit surprised to see him stand at the counter that night, asking for a chat with Wonwoo.

"Here you go." Wonwoo sets the Iced Americano down on in front of Jeonghan before taking a seat on the couch next to him.

"You sure I’m not holding you back from work?" Jeonghan asks, sucking his cheeks in as he takes a sip from the coffee through the straw.

"No." There are barely any people left in the café; for some reason, Tuesday nights are their least busy hours of the week, so the tables are practically deserted save for a few couples hidden in the corners to spend some time with each other in secret. "I wasn’t supposed to be working either way, but Jisoo got sick, so."

"Oh, he did?" Jeonghan raises his eyebrows. "Is he fine?"

Wonwoo smiles. "It’s just a cold." He shakes his head, chuckling at Jeonghan’s expression. "You still haven’t given up on him?"

"What?" Jeonghan keeps acting like he has no idea what Wonwoo is talking about. "I’m just a concerned friend. I’m completely innocent."

"Hyung, whenever you see him you have this predatory smirk on your face and your eyes are glued to his ass—"

"Okay, correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think we’re here to talk about me… or Jisoo’s marvellous butt."

"Yeah." Wonwoo’s smile slides off his face and he nervously twists his hands together on his lap. "Right."

"Now" Jeonghan turns on the couch to face Wonwoo properly. "Update me on what’s happened since your comic book reading session in Mingyu’s bedroom."

"Hey— how do you know about that?"

"I was sitting outside?" Jeonghan widens his eyes like it’s perfectly obvious. "Minghao couldn’t stop smirking after he walked in on you—"

"We were reading."

"Yeah… okay. If that’s what you wanna call it."

"I’m going back to work."

"No, wait. I’ll stop." Jeonghan laughs, pulling Wonwoo back down on the couch. "But on a serious note, what’s up? I can tell something is."

Wonwoo isn't exactly sure what happens in his brain in that very moment. When he thinks back to it later, he'd like to think it's one of these situations where the awkward protagonist of a story just kind of breaks out of their shell and says fuck it.

"I like Mingyu." But he’s Jeon Wonwoo, so it’s more like he trips over his feet and cracks his head and all his thoughts sputter out of him. "I like him. Like, a lot. And we kissed. More than once. And I’ve been hanging out with him for a few weeks and we’re not exclusive, not at all, but I like him and I thought I should let you know because no one else knows and I think I’m going insane."

He’s out of breath by the time he stops talking and he’s just kind of staring at Jeonghan with wide eyes who has this eerily satisfied expression on his face.

Jeonghan slowly brings his Iced America up to his lips, opens his mouth and takes a long, calm sip from the coffee.

"I already know that, Wonwoo." Jeonghan snickers at Wonwoo’s bewildered expression. "You two aren’t exactly very subtle about it, did you know that? I mean, the others are idiots so you can’t expect them to notice anything, but I’ve known for quite a while."

"Then why… why didn’t you say anything?"

"Because I know this is a big deal for you. And I also know there must be a reason why you guys aren’t exclusive yet, so I thought I’d keep quiet about it and wait for you to approach me. Which you did. And now here we are."

Wonwoo blinks at him, his heart still racing and then it hits him that he just confessed his feelings for Mingyu out loud to someone that’s not the awfully familiar silence that surrounds him late at night.

"I think I need to stop it." Wonwoo mumbles.

"Excuse me? Stop what?"

"Things with Mingyu."

"What?" Jeonghan furrows his eyebrows. "Did you not just tell me that you like Mingyu?"

"That’s why." Wonwoo bites down on his lip. "The next logical step would be to start a relationship and I can’t. I can’t possibly be in a relationship, not even… not even with Mingyu."

"Wonwoo." Jeonghan slowly says. "First of all, this isn’t a romantic movie or one of your novels you read, okay? This is real life. There’s no such thing as logic in love."

Love…

God, no. Hell no—

"And second; what do you mean you can’t be in a relationship? Aren’t you already in some kind of relationship with Mingyu?"

"But we’re not— we’re not official. He’s not my, like, my… my boyfriend." Just saying it sends chills down his spine, and not the good kind. Wonwoo feels terrified, for seemingly no reason, but that’s how he feels and it’s horrible.

"Okay, let me get this straight" Jeonghan points his index finger at Wonwoo. "You like Mingyu, and he likes you. You kiss, and you go on secret dates together, but no one knows about you two and you’re not actually together…?"

It sounds so damn stupid, hearing it out loud. "Basically."

"So, since you’re not together, Mingyu could technically kiss and sleep with whoever he wants without it being considered cheating."

Wonwoo gulps, his hands clenching together tighter in his lap. "Yes."

"And Mingyu is fine with that?"

"I don’t know. I don’t think he’s fine with it, he’s just too nice to say something…"

There’s a long pause, and the happy bubblegum-pop song playing in the café sounds a lot like it’s mocking Wonwoo’s situation right now.

"Wonwoo, how is this going to work out?" Jeonghan asks, his voice gentle. "Relationships are there to give both sides a sense of security and loyalty. There are rules that should be followed so you don’t end up hurting the other’s feelings or betraying their trust. You and Mingyu both have feelings for each other, but doing what you guys are doing now… that just can’t end well."

"I know… hyung, I know that." Wonwoo mumbles miserably. "I’m scared, but I don’t know why and I don’t know how to change it. Remember how I told you that I thought there’s something wrong with me? This is part of the reason why."

"There’s nothing wrong with you." Jeonghan pats his knee. "It’s called commitment issues, although I have a feeling yours are a bit more deep-rooted than the usual. But I mean, that’s just what I got from our conversations before."

"I’m sorry for bothering you with this stuff." Wonwoo rubs his eyes with his hands. "We don’t even know each other that well."

"Come on, I was your first gay kiss. That should count for something." Jeonghan gives Wonwoo a big smile that he can’t help but return, no matter the circumstances. "I like talking to you. You’ve got a lot on your mind, and I definitely love listening and giving advice, so I don’t see a problem here."

"Thank you. For uh, listening."

"That’s okay, Wonwoo, but are we really done here?" Jeonghan arches an eyebrow and lowers it again when he doesn’t get an answer. "Let me ask you something: do you want to be with Mingyu? Yes or no."

"I can’t—"

"No, just answer me. Let’s pretend you’re fine with dating and relationships and all. This is just a theoretical question, so relax. Do you want Mingyu to be your boyfriend?"

"Of course I do." Wonwoo answers and his voice shakes a bit, but he means what he says, and it takes him by surprise how easily it slipped out.

Jeonghan grins, satisfied and proud and nods his head. "Good. We have to go about this the right way. We can’t just take your fear of relationships away, the only way you can conquer that is by facing it, which would mean you’d have to go out with someone."

"You know, you said you wouldn’t make a good therapist but you really sound like one right now." Wonwoo mumbles.

"Thanks, but focus." Jeonghan taps his fingers against the plastic cup in his hands, his lips pursed. "There are two main problems: One, you’re not ready to be with Mingyu. Two, Mingyu won’t wait forever."

Wonwoo feels his heart plummet to his stomach, and the panic must show on his face.

"I’m sorry Wonwoo, but I think you’re aware of that too… aren’t you?"

"I am."

"Okay, look. I have a suggestion, but it’s up to you to decide whether you’re ready for that or not. It would make you two a little more exclusive without labelling it as anything."

Wonwoo gives him a wary look.

"How about you… simply hold his hand, or kiss his cheek when we are around? It’s not much, but at least everyone would know that you two are, you know, something."

He can’t.

There’s no fibre in Wonwoo’s being that feels capable of such a move.

And he’s about to say that to Jeonghan, but he stops himself before he can, because he thinks of Mingyu.

He thinks about holding his hand and he thinks about Mingyu smiling at him and kissing him and it’s making him feel warm all over, and the only thing Wonwoo thinks after that is that he doesn’t want to let Mingyu down.

More than that, he doesn’t want Mingyu to grow tired of waiting, and Wonwoo knows he needs to grow a pair if he doesn’t want that to happen.

"I’ll do it." He says, and watches Jeonghan nod his head like a proud dad.

"Good boy." Jeonghan reaches out to pat Wonwoo’s head.

"Don’t ever say that again." He grunts and dodges the touch, Jeonghan merely laughing at his reaction.

Wonwoo tries really hard to ignore how his body just reacted to the affectionate touch and the praise. He knows it’s an issue, has known it ever since the feeding incident with Mingyu, but it can wait for now.

 

 

The following days, he once again starts drowning himself in revisions and books and showing the new employees at the café around, which is a lot more stressful than it sounds because most of them are freshman at college and way too eager to do well, which results in one of them dropping a coffee on a customer and another one almost killing this girl who had a hazelnut allergy and somehow received a latte with hazelnut milk in it.

It’s been a stressful week to say the least, and by the time the weekend comes around, Wonwoo has almost completely forgotten about what he told Jeonghan.

That is until they announce their plans in the group chat, and Wonwoo just kind of sits there, frozen on the couch with his phone in his hands and a mildly concerned looking Chan glancing at him from the other side.

"What’s with that look?" Chan asks and Wonwoo quickly closes the chat and shoots up from the couch.

"Forgot to hand in a paper. It’s due tonight." He lies and rushes into his room, where he proceeds to press his back against the door and takes a deep breath.

There’s a barbecue tomorrow.

It’s also Mingyu’s birthday.

Everyone is going.

His phone buzzes in his hands; a text message from Jeonghan.

 

 

From: Jeonghan

> Tomorrow, it’s going down ;)

 

Wonwoo doesn’t reply but all he can think is that if anything goes down tomorrow, it’s him.

 

 

 

There’s a lot of ways Wonwoo imagined it to happen.

He thought he’d stand next to Mingyu and just grab his hand, lace their fingers together and wait for the others to notice it.

Maybe he would’ve done something corny like put his head on Mingyu’s shoulder, or like Jeonghan suggested, go even further and kiss his cheek when everyone was paying attention.

It’s been eating him up for too long, his mind coming up with different kinds of scenarios where Mingyu pushes him away, or where their friends react in a bad way, or how he might ruin things by not asking Mingyu for permission beforehand.

The barbecue is at a park and there are way more people around than he expected there to be, and that doesn’t help with his nerves either.

The music is too loud, it’s dark and smells of weed and beef and alcohol and everyone is already way too drunk by the time him and his friends arrive.

Mingyu is sitting on a picnic table, his feet resting on the seats and there are people sitting left and right of him that Wonwoo doesn’t recognize. He spots Wonwoo first, and a smile spreads on his face before he’s already up and pushing through the crowd to reach Wonwoo.

They stand still like that, and Mingyu must be doing it on purpose because he looks so, so good tonight, his hair pushed back and his face illuminated by the huge campfire in the middle of the park.

"You’re late." Mingyu says, quiet enough so that only Wonwoo hears it. Not that anyone is paying attention; their friends are too busy hugging the living daylights out of each other, acting as if they haven’t seen each other in over a year.

"Seokmin couldn’t decide what to wear." Wonwoo shrugs, his heart hammering in his chest, like he’s about to explode, like he’s keeping a secret from Mingyu — which he is, in a way. "Happy birthday." He adds, sounding out of breath from how nervous he is.

Mingyu pulls him into a hug, nothing that is too intimate, but he still buries his nose in Wonwoo’s neck, still whispers a thank you there than sends shivers down Wonwoo’s spine. Wonwoo closes his eyes and grips Mingyu’s jacket, taking in his scent and hoping to calm down but it’s only making it worse.

Having Mingyu so close definitely isn’t calming him down at all.

"Mingyu! Birthday boy, come here!" Seungkwan shouts and a second later Mingyu is pulled out of Wonwoo’s arms and into a huge group hug instead.

Jeonghan gives Wonwoo a reassuring smile from afar, and Wonwoo takes a deep breath.

Right.

He can do it.

 

 

It’s an hour later, and Wonwoo can’t do it.

Whenever he tries to approach Mingyu, someone else starts talking to him. And it’s not just someone, it's either a pretty girl or a buff guy, and then it’s a pretty girl again, and then it’s Yuna introducing one of her friends to Mingyu and Mingyu has been chatting with her for the past twenty minutes and there’s just nothing Wonwoo can do.

"You know, take your time and all, but do it while everyone’s still sober enough to remember it tomorrow." Jeonghan appears next to him, leaning in close to talk into Wonwoo’s ear like he’s either the angel or the devil sitting on Wonwoo’s shoulders, constantly telling him what to do.

"He’s busy."

"Oh, come on." Jeonghan rolls his eyes. "Stop making up excuses and do what you have to do. I can distract her, if you want."

"Oh, no you won’t!" Yuna suddenly pushes her small frame between them both, stabbing a finger into Jeonghan’s chest. "Stay away from them. God knows how long it took me to get them talking."

Jeonghan scoffs at her. "Why on earth are you trying to set Mingyu up with one of your little friends all the time?"

"Because" She takes a deep breath, her shoulders sagging afterwards. "Mingyu needs it, okay? He hasn’t been on a date in over a year. I know Mingyu. He’s feeling lonely but for some reason he just keeps rejecting everyone that even mildly shows interest in him."

"Yeah." Jeonghan glances at Wonwoo, a smirk playing on his lips. "I wonder why."

Yuna sighs and shrugs her shoulders. "I just want him to be happy. He seems to like her, don’t you think? Eunha. They look good together."

Wonwoo slowly looks at them and sees how Eunha laughs at something Mingyu said, probably a stupid joke he just told her, and yeah, they do look good together.

He gulps and looks at the ground again, something lodging itself in his throat.

"I don’t think they fit." Jeonghan muses and while Wonwoo appreciates his help he knows he’s lying. "Mingyu looks pretty bored, if you ask me." Jeonghan adds, louder this time, to get Wonwoo’s attention.

Wonwoo looks up at him, sees him move his eyes towards Mingyu almost urgently and Wonwoo follows his line of sight, his eyes immediately locking with Mingyu’s.

Mingyu is looking at him while Eunha is saying something to him, and he nods his head, looks at her to quickly reply before he goes back to staring at Wonwoo.

It’s like Mingyu is trying to tell him something really important right now, or maybe he’s trying to get a question across, Wonwoo can’t tell.

A few seconds pass where Wonwoo just stares back at him, and then Mingyu’s jaw sets and he looks downright sad. He looks away, his attention back on Eunha, and Wonwoo’s heart suddenly slows down dramatically.

That heroic fuck it moment Wonwoo was thinking about a few days ago - the one he kind of messed up with Jeonghan at the café - that moment happens the second Wonwoo sees the disappointment in Mingyu’s eyes, when he realizes Mingyu isn’t going to stick around forever and wait for him to get his shit together.

And yeah, Wonwoo might’ve thought he would do something harmless like hold his hand or sling an arm around his shoulder, but one second he’s busy counting to three and the next he’s standing right in front of Mingyu, both him and Eunha giving him confused looks.

Mingyu opens his mouth but before he gets to speak Wonwoo pulls him down by his neck and kisses him.

Wonwoo kisses Mingyu, in front of everyone, in the middle of a huge crowd, and his hand shakes on Mingyu’s nape and his chest is heaving a bit and this is probably the craziest thing he’s ever done.

He faintly hears their friends screaming, first Soonyoung, then Seokmin, then Hansol.

"Oh my god! What the fuck is happening?!""

"Pay up bitches! You owe me ten bucks!"

"Wonwoo hyung is gay?!"

He hears them but their words don’t really make sense. Wonwoo pulls away a little, in desperate need of air, and Mingyu stares at him with wide eyes and flushed cheeks.

"Wonwoo…" He starts, their faces still close enough for them to whisper. "I thought you didn’t want—"

"I want them to know." Wonwoo stutters, about to pull his arm back but Mingyu quickly shakes his head and pulls him closer, their noses nudging together. 

"Are you sure?"

"Look, if I think about this too much I will really freak out so can we not—"

Mingyu smiles, so wide Wonwoo worries it will split his face apart, and then he pulls Wonwoo into a hug, one that’s so intimate no one watching might mistake it for anything else but what it really is, which is Mingyu kissing Wonwoo’s neck and Wonwoo hiding his relieved smile in Mingyu’s shoulder.

"Jeon Wonwoo come here I will fucking whoop your skinny ass—" He hears Soonyoung shout from somewhere, but someone probably shuts him up because it’s followed by a very unmanly screech right after he’s cut off.

Mingyu grabs Wonwoo’s hand and leads him away from the crowd before their friends are on them, away from the campfire and towards the parking lot.

"H-Hey, wait a second." Wonwoo tugs at Mingyu’s hand when he starts guiding them away. He takes them to Soonyoung’s car, being the designated driver for the night, and unlocks it to grab Mingyu’s present from inside. "Happy birthday. Again." He quickly presses it into Mingyu’s hands.

"You got me a present?"

"Well. It’s your birthday."

Mingyu looks up from the little wrapped up box in his hands, and Wonwoo feels overwhelmed by the warm look in Mingyu’s eyes. Too warm, and too intimate.

God.

Wonwoo did that.

He actually did it.

Why isn’t he freaking out?

"It’s nothing huge." He quickly says before he can start having a nervous breakdown. He doesn’t feel all that anxious.

Wonwoo just feels relieved, and he feels nervous but like, the good kind, and Mingyu is staring at him and Wonwoo can’t really help but stare back and he feels like he’s in… like maybe he might be…

"You already gave me the best present in the world." Mingyu bites down on his lip and his eyes are actually shining, like he’s radiating happiness. "I can’t believe you did that."

"Me neither." Wonwoo breathes, chuckling nervously. "But I— I would do it again. For you."

Mingyu’s lips part, and he’s blushing again and Wonwoo kind of likes how their roles seem reversed for once. "I’m like, so happy right now, like this is the best birthday ever but hyung, you’re— you’re okay, right? I get that you want to make me happy but I don’t want it to be at your expense."

"I’m fine. I think." Wonwoo shrugs. "If we take it slow and just… no labels. For now. Please. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think— "

"It’s fine." Mingyu stops him. "We don’t have to be anything. But I can... I can hold your hand, and kiss you and stuff, when other people are around, yeah?"

Wonwoo nods, feeling his smile falter at Mingyu’s question - because Mingyu shouldn’t have to ask a question like that. He shouldn’t sound so hopeful, or anxious, like Wonwoo might change his mind.

This wasn’t Wonwoo being fair to him, this was Wonwoo giving him a taste of something he’s not sure he’ll ever be ready to give to Mingyu.

"Open your present." Wonwoo says, not wanting to ruin the mood with his sudden thoughts. They’re still there, nagging at the back of his mind, but Mingyu’s smile is so beautiful right now and Wonwoo wants to focus on that tonight.

Mingyu does, and he laughs once he sees what it is, but he’s also trying not to let the secret nerd living inside of him break free at the sight of the present, Wonwoo can clearly tell by the excited glint in his eyes. "You were actually reading what I texted you?"

Wonwoo nods. "You didn’t get it in the meantime, right?"

"No." Mingyu shakes his head, looking at the action figure in his hands. "But that was months ago when I told you. And you hated me back then."

"I never hated you."

"But you didn’t like me."

"I didn’t know you well enough. And I was a little scared of you."

"Scared?" Mingyu laughs. "Of me? I’m like a human puppy, what’s there to be scared of?"

"You’re intimidating, Mingyu. You might not realize it."

"Well… but you like me now, right?"

"I wouldn’t have gone to a dozen comic book stores to find that action figure for you if I didn’t."

Mingyu smiles. "How romantic."

"I’m trying." Wonwoo laughs, and Mingyu laughs too, and it would be really nice if things could be this normal and careless forever. But knowing Wonwoo and his messed-up brain, it’s only a matter of time before reality foils him.

"I know." Mingyu steps closer and grabs Wonwoo’s hand, lacing their fingers together. "Let’s go back before they come here."

"Let’s not." Wonwoo mumbles, following Mingyu out of the parking lot. If Mingyu notices how tightly Wonwoo is holding his hand, he thankfully doesn’t mention it.

"Don’t worry, I’ll protect your skinny ass."

 

 

 

 

The aftermath of the little stunt he pulled in the middle of the park is a lot less worse than Wonwoo was expecting.

Sure, the first couple of times they hang out together is an absolute nightmare.

Their friends start smiling and giggling whenever Mingyu so much as sits next to Wonwoo, but Jeonghan puts them all in their place one night when Hansol starts squealing loudly over Wonwoo brushing an eyelash from Mingyu’s cheek, and the teasing stops after that.

Soonyoung doesn’t talk to him for two days after the barbecue, sour about the fact that Wonwoo kept this from him for such a long time but more upset that he told Jeonghan before him.

Wonwoo can understand why he’s mad, but it only takes a sincere apology and some greasy take-out food over RoboCop playing on the TV to win his heart back.

Things seem okay.

His life is going well.

And that scares Wonwoo more than anything else, because it’s like he’s just waiting for something bad to happen and ruin his luck.

 

 

 

 

"Mingyu! Where are you?" Wonwoo groans into the phone, squinting his eyes to protect them from the rain pouring down on him. "The shop is closed and I left my umbrella in the bus and it’s raining cats and freaking dogs!"

Mingyu's laugh is muffled, backed up by other voices. "Look I'm sorry, I'm on the bus I'll be there in three minutes."

 

Wonwoo hangs up without saying another word. There's no shelter on this street whatsoever, except for a tree a few feet away but he knows better than to stand under a tree when there's a thunderstorm. He slides his backpack from his shoulders and holds it over his head, his heart breaking a little knowing that his books might get soaked if Mingyu doesn't hurry the hell up.

 

There isn’t much in this world Wonwoo is good at, but he definitely is a pro at losing his umbrellas. He leaves them in the library, in the bus, borrows them to a friend and never gets them back.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that in his two years of university life, Wonwoo has bought and lost at least twelve umbrellas and the number just keeps going up.

Wonwoo hears feet splashing over the wet pavement and turns his head to squint in the direction of the person jogging towards him.

"Hyung!" Mingyu sounds out of breath when he comes to stand still next to him, his hair wet by now too. "Shit, I’m really sorry, I’m so late."

Wonwoo grumbles to himself and wills his teeth to stop chattering as he watches Mingyu fumble with the keys for the shop. "Where’s your umbrella?"

"Don’t have one." Mingyu glances at him as he pushes the door open.

"Idiot."

Mingyu grins and Wonwoo tries to ignore the strange emotions washing over him when their eyes meet.

It’s so much warmer inside and once Mingyu closes and locks the door behind them, a lot more silent too, the thunder and rain only a dull noise in the background.

"Wonwoo, you’re soaked." Mingyu says after switching on the lights. "You’re going to get sick."

Wonwoo pulls his drenched jacket off and hangs it over the cold heater. "You guys don’t have any towels here, do you?"

"We do!" Mingyu’s mouth forms a big O, like an idea just popped up in his mind. "Just wait here."

Wonwoo feels miserable. Everything is wet and sticking to his skin, even his socks are soaked. By the time Mingyu comes back from the bathroom he’s only wearing his jeans and the damp shirt.

Mingyu grins at the sight of Wonwoo’s bare feet. "Here." He hands Wonwoo the towels. "I sometimes shower here to save time."

"Are these dirty?" Wonwoo takes the towels and grins at the wounded expression on Mingyu’s face.

"They are not." Mingyu huffs. "And even if they were, it’s me." He guides Wonwoo to the back of the room with a hand on the small of his back. "You should feel honoured."

"I’m very honoured to have your dead skin cells all over my body." Wonwoo replies after sitting down on the old couch in the corner. He shivers and wraps one of the towels around his shoulders, using the other one to dry his dripping hair.

Mingyu sits down next to him with a hum. "I think I liked you better when you were shy and blushing at every word I said."

"I didn’t do that."

"Yes you did." Mingyu swats his hands away and takes the towel on Wonwoo’s head. "You still do."

"No." Wonwoo closes his eyes when Mingyu starts rubbing his hair with the towel, focusing on how gentle Mingyu is being.

Mingyu pulls the towel back a little so it isn’t covering Wonwoo’s face anymore. "I’m sorry I’m always so late. I really hope you don’t get sick."

Wonwoo smiles, his eyes fluttering shut again when Mingyu picks up rubbing his head with the soft towel. "I rarely get sick. I haven’t been sick in almost two years."

"You liar."

Wonwoo blinks one eye open. "I have a really good immune system."

"Yes, I’m sure having a diet that consists of only instant noodles does wonders for your immune system."

Wonwoo reaches a hand out to punch Mingyu but he’s faster, gripping his wrist with a stupid chortle.

"My diet has gotten a lot better since Chan moved in." Wonwoo is glad his face is partially covered by the towel because Mingyu only lets go of his hand after stroking his thumb over Wonwoo’s knuckles, like that’s something necessary.

Like he always has to make sure Wonwoo gets flustered around him, like it isn’t already happening enough.

"I would hope so." Mingyu hums. He suddenly starts rubbing the towel over Wonwoo’s hair ridiculously fast and they both start laughing while Wonwoo tries to get him to stop acting like a lunatic.

Their laughter dies down again, and Mingyu very softly dabs Wonwoo’s hair dry as best as he can and Wonwoo is once again very aware of his closeness and how much Wonwoo has opened up to this boy in such a short amount of time.

"You should get out of your shirt, hyung." Mingyu hums after dumping the towel in his lap. "It’s really wet around your shoulders."

"I don’t have anything else to wear."

"So what? It’s warm in here." Mingyu gets up and reaches his hand out. "Take it off. I’ll blow dry it for you."

"If you’re doing this to see me shirtless then don’t." Wonwoo pats his chest. "There’s nothing impressive here to see."

"Okay, first of all I’m doing this because I don’t want you to get sick and second—" Mingyu stops and his eyes start trailing over Wonwoo’s upper body.

"Stop doing that."

"Sorry." Mingyu gives him a lopsided smile. "But seriously, take your shirt off."

"You’re starting to sound like a pervert, Mingyu."

"Fine, get sick then. See if I care." Mingyu rolls his eyes and they stare at each other for a moment before Mingyu gives up with a whine. "I don’t want you to get sick hyung. Look, I’ll even close my eyes." He covers them with hands like a child and Wonwoo’s lips stretch into a smile at the sight.

He pulls the damp shirt over his head and gets up to hang it over the chair. It’s not too wet, so it should dry within a short amount of time.

"What are you doing?" Mingyu asks, eyes still hidden behind his palms.

Wonwoo sits back down and pulls Mingyu’s hands away from his eyes. "I’m naked."

Mingyu blinks his eyes open, and Wonwoo doesn’t know what he expected to happen - maybe he thought Mingyu would check him out, or he would smirk and say suggestive things - but Mingyu’s eyes only trail over his naked chest for a few seconds before he suddenly gets up and leaves the room.

He comes back a moment later with another dry towel, and while Wonwoo is too busy being surprised by the blush on Mingyu’s face, Mingyu sits back down and wraps the towel around Wonwoo’s shoulders.

"Uhm. Thanks." Wonwoo pulls the towel some more around his shoulders, his eyebrows furrowed as he tries to make sense of Mingyu’s reaction but Mingyu won’t meet his eyes. He chuckles a bit since Mingyu is acting so weird all of a sudden. "You okay?"

"Do I look okay?"

"Is it because I’m so skinny?"

"What?" Mingyu finally looks at him again. "No! What are you even saying?"

"Then why are you acting like this?"

"Because you’re shirtless, and you’re fucking pretty and your hair’s all wet and I haven’t got laid in like, four months, so give me a break!"

Wonwoo closes his mouth, staring at Mingyu who stares back at him with his red ears.

He suddenly remembers his conversation with Soonyoung, about this whole asexuality thing, and he’s suddenly also very aware that if Wonwoo wanted to, he could probably do… things with Mingyu right now. Right here.

And that makes him feel really dizzy and hot and he clears his throat, averting his eyes, pulling the towel a bit more over his chest and what the fuck, why is he acting like a middle schooler? They’re adults. They’re in college.

Sex is a thing.

Or maybe it’s not for Wonwoo. That’s what he’s supposed to find out, isn’t it?

Goddamnit.

 

"What?" Mingyu asks.

"What?"

"You just cursed."

"Oh." Wonwoo frowns. "I must’ve thought out loud."

They stare at each other for a second, and then they just kind of laugh, the awkwardness slowly fading again.

"I’m sorry. For my outburst. I’m not, like, going to jump you or something."

"It’s fine." Wonwoo says. "I mean, don’t… jump me."

If Mingyu feels… sexually frustrated now already, how much longer is he going to last?

Wonwoo is gonna have to sleep with him if he doesn’t want Mingyu to do it with someone else, doesn’t he?

But Wonwoo has never wanted to have sex with anyone before. He doesn’t know if he wants to do it with Mingyu, either.

But fuck, what if Wonwoo actually is asexual? What would Mingyu do?

Would he leave?

"Uh-Oh, you’re thinking. You’re worrying." Mingyu slowly says. "I freaked you out, didn’t I?"

"No." Wonwoo quickly says, scared his thoughts slip out of his mouth again. "Let’s talk about something else." He gets up from his seat, mainly to check his phone where Mingyu plugged it in to charge on the cupboard.

"Okay…" Mingyu hums, like he’s thinking about a topic to talk about. "I found a maggot in my broccoli the other day."

Wonwoo turns to look at him over his shoulder with a disgusted look on his face. "That’s gross."

"Hate to break it to you hyung" Mingyu says and gets up from the couch, stretching his back which makes it crack loudly. "but you probably already ate a bunch of maggots with your broccoli before."

"No way. I always wash them." Wonwoo turns to look at the cupboard again. He hasn’t really paid it much attention before, but there are a lot of things behind the glass display. Just little knick-knacks, but they’re all very colourful, and Wonwoo has no idea what any of them are.

"That’s cute. But unless you let them sit in salt or vinegar for at least half an hour, chances are you’re going to eat a maggot. They’re really small and look like the stems of the sprouts—"

"Okay, I get it, please stop."

"I used google. Like you told me to." Mingyu says and Wonwoo smiles, seeing Mingyu’s reflection in the glass in front of him.

"What’s all this stuff?" He asks, pointing at the things behind the glass. "Do they belong to uncle?"

"Hm? Oh yeah." Mingyu comes to stand next to him. "His wife used to collect a lot of things, and he never threw them away after she died."

"She’s dead?" Wonwoo turns to look at Mingyu, suddenly feeling really sad about calling the man grumpy all the time. It can’t be easy to go on with your life, losing your significant other after such a long time spent together.

Mingyu nods. "She died from lung cancer nine years ago. Look, that’s her, when she was a young girl." Mingyu opens one of the doors to the cupboard and pulls out a faded picture sitting in a small, copper picture frame. "Pretty, wasn’t she?"

"Yeah." Wonwoo nods, looking at the girl in the picture. It’s so weird, she couldn’t have been older than eighteen in that picture, and now she’s already dead.

She’s a stranger, but the thought still saddens him.

"Uncle must feel really lonely." He mumbles, putting the picture back to its original place.

"I think he is." Mingyu answers. "I think that’s why he keeps working so much. To distract himself. And he always brings us food because he actually enjoys having us around." He smiles at the last part and Wonwoo chuckles a bit, thinking about how the man always complains about Wonwoo being here too much.

Wonwoo spots an old looking wooden box. It’s very light and there seems to be something written on it, but the letters look like they’re in another language and they’re really faded too. "What’s this?"

"Open it."

There’s a metal device screwed into the box. Wonwoo has no idea what it could be, but it looks very old, some parts already rusted, and then he notices the small metal handle sticking out from the box. "I don’t get it."

"Are you serious?"

"Do I not look serious?"

"Hyung, it’s a music box!" Mingyu points at the handle, a pout on his face. "A very old one. But they used to look like this."

"Does it still work?"

"Of course! Turn the handle!" Mingyu steps closer until his side is glued to Wonwoo’s and Wonwoo looks up at him, their eyes meeting for a second and they both chuckle at Mingyu’s eagerness.

Wonwoo turns the handle a few times, and for a moment nothing happens and he thinks Mingyu was just screwing with him, but then the wheel inside starts turning and the long metal sticks start moving too, creating a tinkling melody.

It sounds a bit out of tune, probably because some of the strings have rust on them, but the melody is beautiful, in a very, very melancholic way.

Wonwoo doesn’t know if it makes him happy or want to cry.

"It sounds really pretty." He says quietly, turning the handle again when it stops playing. "Do you know where this melody is from?"

"It’s a Japanese song." Mingyu hums, his chin resting on Wonwoo’s shoulder as he watches him play with the music box. "It’s called Sayonara no Natsu."

"And what does that mean, Mingyu-san?"

Mingyu snorts. "It means Summer of Goodbye. Which is really sad, because uncle made this music box for his wife before she passed away."

"He must’ve really loved her." Wonwoo closes the box and strokes his finger over the letters in the wood. "Why does all of this look so old, though? If it’s only been nine years…"

"Uncle threw everything away after she died, when he was still grieving. But then he realized that those are the only things he has left of her, so he went and collected them all again from where they were sitting in a garbage bag in his garden for weeks."

"You and uncle are a lot closer than I thought." Wonwoo carefully puts the box away.

"Well, we don’t only work here, you know. He doesn’t have anyone else. Everyone needs someone to talk to, don’t they?"

"Like you did when you were so sad last time we were here?"

Mingyu blinks at him, and this time Wonwoo doesn’t miss the flash of hurt in Mingyu’s expression. "Well, I’m not sad anymore, am I?"

"Why were you, though?" Wonwoo turns to face him properly and somehow, despite being the taller one, Mingyu seems a lot smaller in that moment.

"Can that be a story for another time?" Mingyu asks. Wonwoo can see he doesn’t want to talk about it, and a part of him just really wants to know what’s wrong, but he knows he has no right to dig deeper into issues that don’t concern him.

"Okay." He nods and picks up the music box again. "Tell me the mechanics of this music box please."

Mingyu looks a bit taken aback by the quick change of subject, but he also looks thankful, and he starts laughing, taking the music box from Wonwoo’s hands.

"Why are you laughing?"

"I don’t know. You said please." Mingyu shrugs. "It’s kind of cute."

Wonwoo looks at Mingyu’s fingers playing with the little wheel inside the box rather than up at his face, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of knowing how Wonwoo feels when Mingyu calls him cute.

"The little bumps on the wheel control the pace. The actual melody comes from these little metal stripes…" Mingyu looks adorable, how immersed he is in explaining how this music box works to Wonwoo just because Wonwoo asked him to. "The longer they are, the deeper the sound will be, and vice versa obviously. They are thicker at the tip, that’s to give the melodies more depth otherwise it would sound really odd, I mean shrill, I think, but what do I know I didn’t invent this thing."

Wonwoo laughs and Mingyu gives him a clueless look.

"What?"

"Nothing. Keep going."

Mingyu frowns but looks at the music box again. "Technically you could use any kind of strings for a wheel, it would roughly sound like the melody you’re going for, but since the length and thickness won’t be correct, it will sound like a drunk person playing the piano. You know?"

Wonwoo laughs again and Mingyu puts the music box down, clearly frustrated.

"If you don’t like my explanations just go google it instead, and stop laughing at me it hurts my feelings."

And then Wonwoo just kind of leans up and presses a soft kiss on Mingyu’s lips. Because he can’t not.

"I’m sorry for laughing."

Maybe it’s the sadness from the uncle’s cruel fate still lingering inside of him, maybe it’s the feeling the song from the music box has left behind, but Wonwoo suddenly fears losing Mingyu more than his silly fear of calling him his boyfriend.

Mingyu looks taken aback by Wonwoo initiating any kind of intimacy but he pulls Wonwoo closer when he tries to step away, his hands on Wonwoo's hips. Wonwoo winds his arms around Mingyu and the towel is kind of forgotten on the floor by now, and Mingyu says something that Wonwoo doesn't catch. Before he can ask about it Mingyu leans in to kiss him again, and he does it right this time. Slowly, languidly until Wonwoo's blood is rushing in his ears and the warmth of Mingyu's mouth is the only thing he can think about.

It’s the first time his mind is so calm, and maybe that’s why they repeat the kiss over and over again.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Their first official "date" is not exactly how Jeonghan had planned it out for them.

He told Wonwoo to choose a public place, somewhere that would prove to Mingyu that Wonwoo didn’t mind others knowing about their feelings for each other.

They ended up choosing to go to a bookshop instead, and Jeonghan literally facepalms when Wonwoo tells him about their plans.

"Babe, that's cute and all, but a bookshop... is like, the last place I would've chosen to go public with my relationship."

"We’re not going public." Wonwoo sighs. "I just want to… I want to go about it like a normal person would. I asked him out on a date, and he was fine with it. What’s wrong with that?"

"Oh Wonwoo." Jeonghan starts gathering his things and empties his cup of coffee. "You have so much to learn."

"Well." Wonwoo picks up the cleaning cloth and tray from the table, standing up together with Jeonghan. "That’s what I have you for, right?"

"What’s the point if you don’t listen to me?" Jeonghan snorts. "I told you to take him to the campus café or the mall or something. Somewhere a lot of people will see you."

"I didn’t feel comfortable with that." Wonwoo mumbles, thinking about how much courage it took him to ask Mingyu out at all. It felt like he was asking him to be his boyfriend but Mingyu reassured him that he knew what it meant and that they were just going to hang out together like they would at the spectacle store, just somewhere else instead.

It calmed Wonwoo down a little, but made him feel guilty at the same time.

It’s something he’s been feeling a lot lately when it comes to Mingyu; guilt.

"I know." Jeonghan sighs and leans in to give Wonwoo a hug. "You’re doing good, I’m just joking, you know that right?"

"Yeah." Wonwoo walks with him to the door and tries not to roll his eyes when Jeonghan sends a wink in Jisoo’s direction.

"Hey, Wonwoo." Jeonghan stops before he steps out of the door, giving Wonwoo a warm smile. "You seem a lot better lately, did you notice?"

"Better? In what way?"

"You look a lot more… carefree. Happier."

Wonwoo wasn’t aware there had been a change in his demeanour. "I… do?"

"You smile a lot more." Jeonghan shrugs. "I think we both know who’s responsible for that."

Before Wonwoo can say anything else, Jeonghan leaves the café and Wonwoo stares at his retreating back with a fuzzy feeling in his chest and only one name in his mind.

"Why are you smiling again?" Jisoo asks with a raised eyebrow when Wonwoo joins him behind the counter a moment later.

"I’m not." Wonwoo denies, but the smile lingers on his face, and so does the gentle throbbing in his chest.

 

 

It’s already been over two weeks since they told their friends and Wonwoo has yet to tell Chan that he’s been lying to him this whole time.

He decides to do it before his first official date with Mingyu, just so he can tell Mingyu that he isn’t scared of people knowing about them anymore, and because he wants to start trying to face his fears more.

And coming clean to people about his thoughts and feelings has got to be one of the things Wonwoo fears the most in his life.

They’re watching a horror movie, Chan getting the popcorn anywhere but his mouth, and Wonwoo thinks things haven't been going so well between them as it is, so he might as well just get it over with.

"I talked to mom today." Chan says just as Wonwoo opens his mouth to tell him.

Wonwoo closes it again and stares at the demon on the screen for a good minute before he speaks again. "How is she doing?"

Chan turns to look at him. "She’s okay. She says she’ll make it to my graduation."

"That’s good." Wonwoo nods, clearly seeing the accusation in his brother's eyes.

"She asked if you’re mad at her." Chan mumbles. "She thinks you are."

"Why would she think that?" Wonwoo sighs, already tired before the conversation has even started.

"You know how she is." Chan frowns. "When you get like this… you know, distant, she thinks it’s her fault. She blames herself and it’s not helping. It’s triggering her panic attacks."

Wonwoo keeps looking at his brother with a blank look on his face, not really knowing what to do with the information. "You make it sound like it’s my fault she relapsed."

Chan shrugs. "No, but you could try a bit harder to help. She thinks you’re starting to blame her for…" He says carefully, like he’s treading on thin ice. "For the things you went through—"

"I don’t blame her." Wonwoo interrupts him harshly, his jaw clenching.

Why does everyone think Wonwoo is suffering because of his past? Why the hell isn’t anyone just asking him how he feels about it instead of treating the subject like something that needs to be avoided in order for Wonwoo to hold himself together?

He’s not a ticking time bomb. "I’ve never blamed her. You guys keep thinking that."

"It wouldn’t hurt you to call her. She’s our mom. When was the last time you talked to her?"

That would be the night after Wonwoo and Soonyoung got into that fight. They message each other from time to time but no, Wonwoo hasn’t made an effort to call her.

"I’m not good at talking." Wonwoo shrugs. It’s not exactly a lie, but it’s not the whole truth.

He doesn’t want to talk to her.

Because he’s doing okay, he’s not as much of a mess anymore and he has somewhat of a control over his life and his emotions. He’s feeling okay, and he doesn’t want it to end yet.

It would drag him down with her again, like it always does. Her depression.

That, and he knows his mom always feels worse after talking to Wonwoo. He’s overheard her saying it to his father once.

And Wonwoo never said he was a good son. That’s Chan’s job.

"Sometimes I wonder if you’re really the hyung here." Chan mutters under his breath. Wonwoo instantly tenses at his brother's words. Chan opens his mouth in shock, shaking his head. "I’m sorry hyung, I didn’t mean that—"

"Yeah, you did." Wonwoo sits up and throws the blanket over the back of the couch instead. "I’ll call her tomorrow."

Chan’s face falls. "Hyung, please—"

"I lied" Wonwoo interrupts him once he’s stood up. He takes a deep breath before he says "I like Mingyu. Not just as a friend."

Chan blinks at him with owlish eyes. "You…"

"We’re not… we’re not really dating, but I thought you should know." He leaves the room, and his face crumples a bit because Chan’s words hurt more than he’d like to admit.

He takes a cold shower and writes Soonyoung back who invited him over earlier, and Mingyu sends him a selfie with a bunny filter while he’s on his way, and somehow it only makes his heart ache more.

 

 

 

 

Soonyoung drops the screwdriver with a loud whine, falling backwards until he hits the floor as well. "Why do I suck so much at this?"

"You suck at everything." Wonwoo is concentrating on reading the instructions for the coffee table they bought for Soonyoung’s living room after the last one broke.

Soonyoung still refuses to tell Wonwoo how it happened, and Wonwoo is trying to think of ways to get it out of his best friend.

He might threaten to tell Yuna some really embarrassing stories about him but the thing is, Soonyoung isn’t one to be easily embarrassed.

Heck, he’d probably be proud of all the stupid decisions he’s made in the past.

"Why are you here anyway?" Soonyoung asks, sitting up on the floor. "You said no at first."

Wonwoo shrugs and places the first pair of legs on the underside of the tabletop where they're supposed to be according to the instructions. "Aren't you glad I'm here? You'd be screwed without me."

"Unlike this piece of shit." Soonyoung picks up the screw he’s been wrestling with for the past ten minutes and hurls it across the room.

"We need that later, man. Go pick it up."

Soonyoung rolls his eyes and goes to search for it. "Seriously, Won. Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, sure."

"Okay, that sure did not sound okay, buddy." Soonyoung drops the screw on Wonwoo’s lap before sitting down next to him. "Trouble in paradise?"

"It’s got nothing to do with Mingyu."

"Why do you automatically assume I’m talking about Mingyu?"

Wonwoo glares at him, fighting the urge to wipe that stupid smirk off his best friend's face.

"Did something happen with your mom, then?" Soonyoung turns serious again.

"It’s just Chan." Wonwoo shrugs and starts screwing the first leg in its place. "We haven't been really getting along lately. I don’t know."

"Why not? That kid adores you."

"Look, it’s nothing. It’s stupid. Let’s not talk about it."

"Uhm, no. Let’s." Soonyoung snatches the screwdriver from Wonwoo’s fingers and raises his eyebrows at him. "I’ve been crying about my relationship problem to you for the past two weeks and you’ve not opened your mouth about Mingyu or anything once. Just spit it out. I want to help."

Wonwoo stays silent for a long time before he finally speaks. "I think he feels let down. Or… like I don’t care about our family. About mom. I haven’t really talked to her lately."

"Why not?"

"Because—" He shrugs, feeling like shit saying it out loud. "Everything’s been going well and I just… Whenever I talk to her I feel miserable. I’m being a fucking asshole, I know, but I hate calling her only to hear her lying to me about her getting better. She’s not. Every time she hears my voice she starts crying."

Soonyoung purses his lips and tilts his head. "Won, you’re not an asshole, okay? You’ve went through a lot of shit because of her—" He stops, his eyes widening. "I mean, fuck, not because of her, but because of the entire situation. It was fucked up. It fucked you up. You really need to stop blaming yourself."

"My mom gets uncontrollable panic attacks whenever she thinks of it." Wonwoo says. "She wouldn’t even be like this if I was never born. No, Soonyoung, don’t fucking tell me otherwise." Wonwoo rushes out when his best friend tries to speak up. "If I was never born she would be healthy and she would be living a nice life instead of being such a damn mess."

"Hey, man… don’t say that." Soonyoung mumbles, his voice shaking a bit. "Yeah, maybe she wouldn’t be depressed if those things didn’t happen, but have you ever asked her how she feels? I’m pretty sure she’d suffer through so much worse than just depression if it meant having you as her son in return."

"Screw a son like me." Wonwoo picks the screwdriver up again. "She'll get better again if I stay away."

"Won, come on, don’t say that."

"Whatever."

"Wonwoo—"

"Stop!" Wonwoo’s hand slips and he nearly digs the screwdriver into his hand. "Please just stop. I’m done talking about it. I’ll be fine."

Soonyoung blinks at him and slowly picks up the instructions, fiddling with the pages. "No matter what you say; I’m glad you were born. You’re my best friend for a reason. You’re amazing and I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side. Okay. I’m done talking now, please don’t hit me. "

Wonwoo stops twisting the screwdriver, feeling some of the anger sweep out of him. He looks up at Soonyoung and instantly feels bad for lashing out at him. "You're my best friend, too."

"Fuck" Soonyoung blinks his eyes a few times. "This just got way too serious."

"Are you crying?"

"Shut the hell up."

Wonwoo laughs and dodges the instruction manual Soonyoung throws at him. "I won’t tell anyone."

"Let’s just get this done with before Yuna gets here."

 

 

 

The way the human mind works is fascinating.

Because when the day arrives, the day of his first "official" date with Mingyu, Wonwoo feels more nervous than he’s ever felt in his entire life.

Except for the three seconds right before Wonwoo kissed Mingyu in front of everyone.

It’s really stupid, because Wonwoo has hung out with Mingyu enough times before for him not to feel so anxious about it anymore, but the fact that they’re hanging out this time with both of them fully aware that it’s a date, is enough for Wonwoo’s mind to go into mental breakdown mode.

"It’s just Mingyu." Wonwoo mumbles, staring at his pale reflection in the bathroom mirror. He looks down at his contact lens case, and then at his wire-rimmed glasses right next to them and then, instead of going for the lenses like he usually does when he knows he’s going to see Mingyu, he picks up the glasses.

He pretends he’s not doing it for Mingyu. Pretends he doesn’t want to make Mingyu happy by wearing them and tells himself that he does it because his eyes have been really dry and sensitive lately from wearing his contacts so much.

 

 

Jeonghan might’ve not understood why on earth Wonwoo would pick an old, shabby bookshop as a place for their first date. And yeah, it makes sense, Wonwoo gets it; it’s not very romantic at all, you can’t talk much, and it smells of old books and mould in there.

That’s why Wonwoo was worried about asking Mingyu about it in the first place. Mingyu once told him that he’s never read an actual book in his life before. The only ones he’s read were school books or the ones they were forced to read back in high school, and even those he just skimmed through or looked up their summaries on the internet.

So Mingyu doesn’t like books all that much, and maybe taking him to a goddamn bookstore was one of the worst ideas in Wonwoo’s life.

But it’s something like Wonwoo’s safe place.

And this date with Mingyu scares him. A lot.

So he thought being somewhere he felt comfortable with would calm down his anxiety about this whole thing.

The bookstore is like the barbecue place they went to weeks ago; a hole in the wall place, barely visible for people who don’t know about the store’s existence.

It resembles Mingyu’s workplace in a way; it’s dark inside, but it’s a warm kind of darkness, and even though the place is quite packed with rows and rows full of bookshelves as well as tables for people to either study there or read, it’s a thousand times more inspiring than the public libraries at their universities.

Wonwoo’s best assignments were written in here, and the ones that flopped miserably were written next to a noisy medical student who stuck his chewing gums underneath the table, thinking no one saw him.

Wonwoo saw him, and he judged him, but it’s because of him that he started looking for another place to study, so maybe he should be thankful for his effrontery.

 Mingyu is already there when Wonwoo arrives, and just the sight of his back, his broad shoulders and his long legs has Wonwoo’s heart beating faster and his stomach doing stupid summersaults.

He takes a deep breath and approaches him, tapping him on the shoulder to make him turn around. Mingyu does, looking confused for a second, but then his features soften. They melt into the warmest smile Wonwoo has ever been given, and it takes him a lot of effort not to do something stupid, like maybe cry.

"Have you been waiting for long?" Wonwoo asks, feeling a bit warm in the face when Mingyu won’t stop smiling at him.

"No, I just arrived." Mingyu assures him. He bites his lower lip, looking like an excited school kid. "You look good."

The statement takes Wonwoo by surprise, because he really doesn’t, and he’s about to tell Mingyu as much, but then he remembers that this is a date, and that it’s probably a normal thing to say to your date when you see them.

"Thank you." He answers. "You too."

"You’re wearing your glasses again." Mingyu points at them, a teasing glint in his eyes. "For me?"

Wonwoo scoffs and pushes past him to open the door. "My eyes were hurting. Don’t flatter yourself."

Mingyu snickers behind him and follows him into the bookstore. Wonwoo greets the woman behind the front desk and she greets him back with a warm smile, the smile growing bigger once she sees Mingyu trailing after Wonwoo like a puppy.

"I don’t feel like I belong here." Mingyu whispers, and Wonwoo can’t stop the smile spreading on his face when he notices that Mingyu is actually holding on to the hem of Wonwoo’s shirt, like he might get lost if he lets go.

"Why?"

"Because this is a place for people who appreciate books." Mingyu sighs. "And I don’t. And I think the books know. They’re judging me."

Wonwoo is relieved to find that his usual spot is free, at the very back of the store behind the last bookshelf is a couch and a coffee table. Most people prefer higher tables and actual chairs when they’re studying, but Wonwoo’s back starts aching when he sits in that position for too long so he’s usually found with the laptop on his lap and his feet on the coffee table, which is probably not so appropriate but no one ever comes to back anyway so no one’s ever witnessed his criminal acts so far.

"They’re books, Mingyu." Wonwoo scoots over on the couch so Mingyu can sit down next to him. "They have no feelings."

"Hey, not so loud." Mingyu shushes him. "They might hear you."

Wonwoo shakes his head, trying not to give Mingyu the satisfaction of having made him laugh. Mingyu turns on the couch so he’s facing Wonwoo, and they’re sitting quite close together as it is so when Wonwoo slowly turns to mirror him, their knees end up touching.

Turns out Mingyu sneaked in some food despite it not being allowed in the bookshop but like Wonwoo said; no one ever comes to the back, so while they eat the food, the woman at the front desk is none the wiser.

And while they eat the chocolate and talk about how school is going and how the uncle keeps giving Mingyu more work than a single person could ever possibly handle, Wonwoo suddenly realizes that he knows close to nothing about Mingyu’s family.

The only thing he knows is that Mingyu has a younger sister, and that they own two dogs, and that his family is very loving and caring, which is why Mingyu is so attached to all of them.

"Would you tell me more about your family if I asked?" Wonwoo asks while Mingyu is stuffing his mouth with Maltesers.

"My family?"

Wonwoo shrugs, feeling a bit uneasy now about having asked. "I mean… only if you want to."

Mingyu chews on the chocolate, a strange look appearing on his face, and once he has swallowed the food he reaches into his bag and takes his phone out. He scoots closer until their faces are only a breath apart, and Wonwoo instantly feels the warmth radiating from Mingyu’s body.

It’s a nice way to describe Mingyu. Warm. He’s a warm person, inside and out.

"Don’t be nervous about asking me that kind of stuff." Mingyu looks up at him. "It makes me happy when you want to know things about me."

"It does?" Wonwoo meets his gaze and for a second he thinks Mingyu is going to kiss him judging by the look in his eyes, but he doesn’t. Instead he nods his head and looks back down at his phone. And Wonwoo pretends he isn’t disappointed about it.

"My parents." He says and turns his phone, revealing a picture of two middle-aged people. The woman has a kind face, soft eyes and a gentle nose. The father might as well be Mingyu in twenty years.

He tells Mingyu as much and it makes him laugh. "I hear that every time. You should see our baby pictures, we look like the same person."

"Your mom is beautiful." Wonwoo says, and he remembers his conversation with Chan and thinks about his own mom, and he thinks that lately he can’t decide whether he’s the bigger disappointment as a son or if she has failed him as a mom.

To make things worse, he wonders how it would be to have a mom like Mingyu’s. A strong woman who’s always there for you and he instantly feels like crying for even thinking such a thing.

"She is." Mingyu hums and when Wonwoo looks up from the phone screen he can the love in the Mingyu’s eyes and it makes his chest ache, because he doesn’t think he’s ever looked at his mom with that kind of emotion. "She’s a stay at home mom. At least for now. My dad and her own a cake shop. I used to eat cakes every day when I was little."

"I bet you were a chubby kid."

"Oh hell yes." Mingyu laughs a bit nervously. "I was the victim of many bullies up until high school."

"Wait" Wonwoo’s smile falters. "Are you serious?"

Mingyu shrugs. "You know how kids are. And I was a really easy target. I never fought back."

"You should’ve." Wonwoo feels angry just thinking about it, especially since he knows it so well from Chan who used to get bullied too. "I would’ve fought them."

"I don’t doubt that." Mingyu laughs after a moment of just staring at Wonwoo. "Yuna told me all about it, how you beat those guys up that night."

"I got my ass kicked, Mingyu." Wonwoo snorts. "It was pathetic."

"Yeah... I still want to rip their balls off for that."

Wonwoo remembers the night Mingyu came over to check up on him, and how much Wonwoo already liked Mingyu back then and how he couldn’t have ever imagined to be at this point only a few months later.

Wonwoo suddenly blurts and his face feels like the sun is burning down on it. "Back then. When you… when you came over. I think that was when… I mean— when I realized that I felt different about you."

Mingyu opens his mouth and closes it again a few times before he speaks. "You’ve liked me for that long?"

"Yes."

"But you were so— you kept pushing me away. Everyone kept telling me to give up because it looked like you hated me."

Wonwoo shrugs. "I was scared, and it was easier to push you away than… I don’t know. Accept my feelings."

"You really made me suffer." Mingyu furrows his eyebrows. "No one’s ever done that to me."

Wonwoo doesn’t know what to say, and he’s not sure if Mingyu’s angry and if Wonwoo should apologize or not.

"But it’s fine" Mingyu says before Wonwoo can open his mouth. "I’ve never liked a person as much as I like you. So it was all worth it."

"How can you just say stuff like that?" Wonwoo manages to ask despite the warm feeling spreading through his body.

"You mean being honest?"

"I mean… being so straightforward. Aren't you, like, scared people will take advantage of it?"

Mingyu shakes his head. "I’d rather let you know how I feel about you instead of regretting not doing it." He pauses and pops another chocolate piece into his mouth. "I think you should always let people know how you feel about them. Nothing good ever comes out of keeping it to yourself."

Wonwoo gives him a weak smile and nods his head, saying that he'll keep it in mind, and he knows that what Mingyu is saying is true but more than that he knows that he'll never be able to open up to others the way Mingyu does.

"What about your sister?" Wonwoo changes the subject. "You always mention her but I don’t really know anything about her."

Mingyu licks his lips, and after a moment of hesitation, swipes to the right to reveal a picture of him squeezing a little girl to his side. It looks like she’s suffocating in his hold but she’s laughing and Mingyu’s eyes are small crescents from how hard he’s smiling.

But that’s not what gets Wonwoo’s attention.

It’s the girl’s hair.

Or… the lack of.

Wonwoo feels his heart drop to the pit of his stomach, the worst thoughts coming to his mind at the sight, and he can’t even bring himself to look at Mingyu again.

"She’s—" He starts, but he doesn’t know what to say. "Is she—"

"Oh." Mingyu quickly shakes his head, giving Wonwoo a concerned look. "Don’t worry, she’s not."

"What?"

"She’s not sick." Mingyu chuckles nervously. "I mean, she doesn’t have cancer. Thank god."

"Oh god." Wonwoo closes his eyes. "I thought…"

"I’m sorry." Mingyu suddenly touches his cheek, a gentle and fleeting touch. "I should’ve told you before."

"So… I mean, her hair…" Wonwoo doesn’t know how to ask without sounding rude or ignorant. He’s honestly just curious as to why she doesn’t have any hair.

Mingyu snickers and shakes his head. "Don’t ask me. One day I came home for Christmas and she was bald. Said something about girl empowerment and how she wants to prove that girls don’t need long hair to be pretty and stuff."

"How old is she again?" Wonwoo smiles.

"She's twelve." Mingyu deadpans. "I mean, I guess it's good that she's passionate about it, but she's into so many things lately. She turned vegan when she was nine. Nine. My mom nearly had a heart attack."

Wonwoo laughs at Mingyu’s puzzlement. "She sounds… like a handful."

"Oh trust me, she is. Whoever’s going to marry her should do it at their own risk." Mingyu sighs. "But I mean… she’s great. In her own way. She would really like you."

"I think I might be too boring for her."

"No, she likes good people. People who have a kind heart." Mingyu nudges his knee into Wonwoo’s. "Like you do."

Wonwoo would deny that instantly, but there’s something off about Mingyu’s tone, and Wonwoo doesn’t know why but he thinks the way Mingyu seemed a bit down lately, like back at the shop when he asked Wonwoo to hold him, might have something to do with this.

"Mingyu… is everything okay with your family?" Wonwoo asks, a bit uncertain, because he might be wrong entirely. "They’re all okay, right?"

"Yeah, they’re fine." Mingyu assures him. "But enough about them now."

"Why?" Wonwoo frowns. "Something’s obviously wrong."

"Uh, let's not talk about bad things on our first date."

"But you’re sad." Wonwoo gulps. "I can tell."

"I’m not sad. I’m never sad around you, hyung." Mingyu tilts his head in such an adorable way that Wonwoo nearly misses what he’s trying to do; how subtly he’s trying to change the subject. Mingyu sees the way Wonwoo’s eyes harden and he lets go of another sigh. "Look, I promise I’ll tell you some other time. I can’t tell you without it turning into a dramatic story, and I’ve had enough of that lately."

"Promise?"

"Of course." Mingyu smiles. "Don’t look at me like that. It’s not about my family, just life being a bitch."

Oh, Wonwoo knows that feeling all too well. "Okay… but let me know if there’s anything I can do for you."

"You could just go on a second date with me after today?"

Mingyu sounds genuinely nervous and Wonwoo just nods his head. "Of course."

"Of… course."

"Yeah."

"Huh?" Mingyu gulps nervously. "Are you just joking? W-Why did that answer come so easily?"

"Well, I like you. Who else would I want to go on a date with?"

Mingyu blinks at him and Wonwoo can actually see how his ears start turning red. He makes a weird noise and hides his face in Wonwoo’s shoulder, squirming around until Wonwoo almost topples over.

He has no idea what the hell just happened to Mingyu, but it takes him almost an entire Minute to push him off and two more minutes for Mingyu’s face to stop resembling an overripe tomato.

He asks Mingyu about it, but Mingyu acts like nothing happened, so Wonwoo reluctantly shrugs it off as Mingyu being weird again, like he was when he attacked Wonwoo with a hug when they were reading comics in his room.

"You know" Mingyu starts after they’ve been through the entire bag of Maltesers, and he just magically pulls out an entire bag of lollipops, letting Wonwoo chose one and smirking like an idiot when Wonwoo obviously goes for the watermelon one. "When you got angry at me at the cinema, and you told me that I was trying to woo you…"

Wonwoo nod his head with the lollipop stuck in his mouth. "Yeah?"

"You were… kind of right about that. About how I thought you would come around. That I thought I could win you over." Mingyu shakes his head before Wonwoo has time to react to his words. "At least that’s how I felt in the exact moment you said no. But then I got to know you and I realized I didn’t want to win you over, like, I just… I hoped you would feel the same way sometime. And I know I was an ass most of the time, you know, teasing you and all that like a middle schooler. So I guess what I'm trying to do is, you know, apologize."

Wonwoo chuckles. "You were really annoying sometimes."

"Yeah." Mingyu rubs at his nape, looking like he’s trying not to cringe at the memory so Wonwoo decides that - since this is their first date, and since he really wants to make Mingyu happy for once - he’ll help him out.

"But you were… really cute, too." He mumbles, staring at his lap as he says it. "And charming. In a way."

"Charming, huh?" Mingyu smirks and Wonwoo reaches out to pinch the muscle between his shoulders and his neck, making him squirm in pain.

"Every time I try to compliment you, you make me regret it instantly."

"I’m sorry. I’m just nervous."

"Nervous?"

"Because this is our first date. And I don’t want to screw it up."

Wonwoo gives him a curious look, feeling surprised by Mingyu’s words. "You’ve been on plenty of dates before, right? There’s no need to be nervous. It’s just me."

Mingyu sighs and he carefully touches their hands together, the tips of their fingers starting to play with the others’ like they’ve done so many times before. And it still feels too intimate, because this is Kim Mingyu, and he’s touching Wonwoo because he wants to touch him, and it still sends tingles all the way up his arms. "Hyung, you really don't get it, do you?

Wonwoo doesn’t. And maybe he doesn’t want to get it, because it feels like the meaning behind Mingyu’s words go way beyond the feelings of a simple crush, or superficial adoration.

"You have kind of chubby fingers." Wonwoo doesn’t know what to say or how to change the subject, so he settles for an insult, that isn’t even true because Mingyu’s fingers are beautiful, like everything else about him. From the little mole on his cheek to the scar on his neck to his crooked front teeth.

So much for trying to make Mingyu happy.

Mingyu blinks at him, and then he starts pouting, and Wonwoo swears he feels his heart swell in size in his chest, throbbing and shouting at Wonwoo to open his eyes because this person in front of him is one of a kind.

Wonwoo presses his lollipop against Mingyu’s lips to make the pout go away, and it does the job. Mingyu licks over his mouth and winks at him. "We just indirectly kissed."

"Sometimes I think you’re a ten-year-old trapped in an adult’s body."

"Yeah, I worry about that too." Mingyu’s eyes trail lower until they get stuck on Wonwoo’s mouth. "I wonder…"

He waits for Mingyu to continue but he doesn’t. "You wonder?"

"How sour apple and watermelon taste together."

Wonwoo furrows his eyebrows in confusion and holds his lollipop back against Mingyu’s mouth. "So take a lick of both."

"God…" Mingyu smiles and gently lowers Wonwoo’s hand, guiding it back to his own mouth instead. "That’s not what I meant."

"I don’t get it."

Mingyu looks like he either wants to laugh or cry but he doesn’t get the chance to do either because he moves and the bag of candies in his lap drops to the floor. They roll over the floor, and it’s too damn loud in the otherwise completely silent store.

"Mingyu—" Wonwoo hisses quietly when Mingyu grabs the bag and rustles it around with no care in the world. "We’re going to get kicked out."

"Relax, we won’t."

 

 

They do get kicked out.

"Hyung, come on, it was kind of funny." Mingyu sighs and tries to get Wonwoo to stop walking.

"You know, if she didn’t like me so much I would’ve got barred." Wonwoo says.

"Well, you didn’t right?" Mingyu shrugs. "And what do you mean she likes you?"

Wonwoo frowns at the look on Mingyu’s face. Like an unhappy child. "What are you thinking? Mingyu, she’s like, forty."

"So what?" Mingyu huffs. "That doesn’t pacify me in the slightest. I like older women, too."

"Oh, do you now?"

"Yeah."

"Well, then you might wanna get your eyes checked. I’m neither a woman nor am I anywhere close to being forty years old."

"That’s cause you’re an exception. I don’t mind your youthful looks. Or your penis."

"Don’t talk about my penis."

"Uh, yeah. Sorry." Mingyu clears his throat. "But I really didn’t mean to get us kicked out."

Wonwoo sighs. He wasn’t really angry to begin with.

It was amusing how Mingyu nearly started fighting the woman over the bag of candies.

"It’s fine."

"Do you want to go eat something?" Mingyu asks. "I’ll pay."

"Yeah, I’m kind of hungry." Wonwoo answers. "But you’re not paying."

"Why not? I want to."

"I’m the older one. I should pay."

"Oh come on, what century are we living in? Just let me pay. I behaved like an idiot just now, and I kind of ruined our date."

"You didn’t ruin it Mingyu." Wonwoo finally gives in and chuckles a bit. "It was kind of funny."

"Oh, okay. Good."

 

 

Mingyu ends up paying for their dinner and when Wonwoo tries to object he tells him that Wonwoo can pay on their second date.

They're sitting in a quite popular chicken restaurant, and there are young people all around them, some of which Wonwoo even recognizes from his classes and they give them curious looks, but that's about it.

Nothing major happens.

They're just two guys eating together, at least that's how it must look from a stranger's point of view.

"You know, about what you said earlier." Wonwoo speaks, fumbling with the chicken wing in his fingers. "About liking older women… I mean. Uhm."

"Just say it." Mingyu has some sauce on his lower lip and Wonwoo is momentarily distracted by the pink tongue darting out to lick it away.

"You’ve only mentioned having, well, girlfriends in the past. And when I met you, I only saw you flirting with girls too." Wonwoo shrugs. "I was wondering if I’m, like, the only guy you… you know."

Mingyu hesitates before answering. "I don’t know if you’re going to like my answer."

"Oh."

"I mean. You know I wasn’t exactly… conservative, right?"

Wonwoo nods and picks at the chicken wing, not really meeting Mingyu’s eyes.

"I’ve slept with a few guys." Mingyu says. "But I’ve never had romantic feelings for one before." A shadow crosses his eyes, but it's gone as fast as it came. "Well, before I met you."

"So, only girls?"

Mingyu gives a hesitant nod and Wonwoo sees his Adam’s apple move up and down. "Is that a problem?"

"No. Of course not..." Wonwoo quickly shakes his head. "I was just curious."

"Hyung" Mingyu sighs. "It’s not that I prefer girls or something, okay? I don’t know if you remember but the night we met I told you that I didn’t care about a person’s gender. And I meant that. If someone took your entire person and planted into a female body I would’ve liked you just as much."

"That was really poetic." Wonwoo chuckles after a moment of hesitation.

"I try." Mingyu licks his lips again and after a beat of silence where they look into each other’s eyes, adds "I would never screw you over."

 

 

Mingyu insists on walking Wonwoo home no matter how ridiculous it is.

He wants to finish it like a proper date and Wonwoo doesn’t know if he wants to smack him for being so damn cheesy or if he wants to kiss him until Mingyu forgets all about his stupid idea.

"What are you doing tomorrow?" Wonwoo asks while they walk down the sidewalk leading to Wonwoo’s apartment. He huddles closer into his jacket; it’s really cold tonight and he’s already scolded Mingyu for only wearing a thin sweater, telling him that he’d get sick which Mingyu only shrugged off.

"I have to finish an assignment." Mingyu answers after a moment of thinking about it. "And Hao and I need to do our thing again. What about you?"

"I have to start working on my short story-" He stops there, only now realizing what Mingyu just said. "What do you mean your thing?"

"You know, where we turn into the Avengers and pay that farmer a visit."

"Mingyu" Wonwoo stops walking. "Are you serious? You’re still doing that?"

Mingyu snorts and gives him a confused look. "I told you we’re doing it every week."

"Well, stop it." Wonwoo huffs. "It’s fucking dangerous. Farmers are allowed to shoot anyone that enters their land without permission because of all the robberies that have been happening."

"Hyung, relax, we’re not being reckless. That man doesn’t even know anything’s being stolen." Mingyu tries to calm him down.

"Stop doing it." Wonwoo shrugs. "You could get hurt."

"We won’t." Mingyu says. "We’ve been doing it for months now and nothing’s happened. And nothing will."

"That’s what everyone says before something does happen." Wonwoo rolls his eyes. "Just be careful, okay?"

"Of course." Mingyu smiles at him and Wonwoo feels frustrated at how quickly it makes his anger dissolve into thin air.

They reach Wonwoo’s apartment and Mingyu gives him an expectant look. Wonwoo sighs and starts to lean in but Mingyu stops him.

"Whoa, what are you doing?"

"I thought you wanted—"

"I don’t kiss on the first date."

"Oh my god." Wonwoo mutters under his breath, wanting to walk inside and slam the door in Mingyu’s face.

Mingyu smiles. "It was nice, you know. Being somewhere else instead of the uncle’s shop."

"Yeah." Wonwoo looks at the ground. "I’m sorry you had to wait so long."

"It’s fine." Mingyu makes him look up at him again. "As long as this isn’t our last date."

"It’s not."

"Good."

"… Good."

They stare at each other for an awkward moment. "Don’t I get a kiss?"

"You just said—"

"On the cheek."

Wonwoo frowns but decides to play nice for once, leans up to kiss Mingyu’s cheek and he should’ve seen it coming.

Mingyu turns his face in the last moment, Wonwoo’s lips landing on Mingyu’s instead of his cheek.

Wonwoo laughs and pulls away, Mingyu starting to walk backwards with a dopey smile on his face. "You’re an idiot."

"Stop insulting me on our first date!"

He knows his smile is too fond while he watches Mingyu walk away, and he also knows that something has changed about his feelings for Mingyu tonight, and he's torn between deciding whether it's a good or bad change.

 

 

 

Mingyu gets sick, just like Wonwoo said he would. Two days after their date he comes down with a fever and Minghao texts Wonwoo in middle of the evening, telling him to come look after him because he’s being a pain in the ass.

So that’s what Wonwoo does.

"Thank god." Minghao sighs when he opens the door and finds Wonwoo standing there. "I’ll be gone for a while." He pats Wonwoo’s shoulder and quickly squeezes past him, like he was actually waiting for Wonwoo to arrive so he could leave.

Maybe flee is the better word.

Wonwoo walks into Mingyu’s room and isn’t surprised to find that it’s almost completely dark even though the sun hasn’t completely set outside yet. The blinds are shut, and so are the windows, and the room feels really stuffy and smells like it, too.

He places the bag in his hand on the floor and slips out of his jacket, his eyes trailing over the lump under the bed sheets.

Wonwoo spots the action figure he gave Mingyu in the middle, right at the front of his figure collection, and he didn't really expect Mingyu to put it there since he has a lot more expensive and rare action figures in that collection.

"Get out." The lump suddenly groans.

"But I just got here."

Mingyu freezes under the covers, and then he shoots up into a sitting position so fast he nearly falls from the bed. "Hyung? What are you doing here?" His voice sounds a bit weird too, the way it does when you have a sore throat. It makes him sound really cute, but Wonwoo won’t say that out loud.

Wonwoo walks closer and sits down on the edge of the bed. Mingyu really does look sick; his eyes look a little glassy and there’s sweat running down his hairline, his cheeks flushed. "Minghao gave me a call for help."

"He started beating me up with a pillow because I asked for some tea." Mingyu mumbles, and then clears his throat awkwardly when it clogs up. "Sorry. I’m really gross right now."

"I’m sure you asked for a lot of things before that as well." Wonwoo chuckles thinking about Minghao losing it and going as far as attacking his roommate with a pillow over a cup of tea. "I brought you some stuff."

Mingyu hums and shuffles closer. There are goosebumps all over his exposed skin on his legs and his arms and when he subtly tries to snuggle into Wonwoo’s side for warmth, Wonwoo lets him. "You didn’t have to." It’s like he realizes something, because his eyes widen suddenly. "You shouldn’t be here! This room’s a freaking germ factory right now."

Wonwoo snorts and picks up the bag he left on the floor. "We’ll open the windows later. And I already told you I almost never get sick. I wasn’t lying."

"But if you do end up getting sick I’m going to feel awful." Mingyu moves closer again and Wonwoo feels bad when he sees him shiver against the fairly warm air in the room.

"I won’t." Wonwoo assures him. "Minghao said you don’t have a lot of things for fevers and sore throats."

"We’re a bit short on money right now." Mingyu sniffles. "Didn’t want to spend so much money on some medicine I was only going to use once."

Wonwoo hums in understanding. "Well, Chan gets sick a lot, so my mom—" Wonwoo falters for a second because he’s never mentioned her before but Mingyu doesn’t seem to notice the hesitation in his voice. "She basically packed their entire medicine cabinet into his luggage."

"Sounds like a nice mom." Mingyu mumbles. He rests his head on Wonwoo’s shoulder, apologizing and saying that he has a headache and that he’s tired.

Wonwoo tells him not to apologize, that he can rest his head there, and he’s not quite sure if his flushed face is just from being sick after that.

"You were right about me getting sick." Mingyu mumbles sleepily. "Should’ve listened to you."

"The only thing you should listen to me about is stopping that thing with the farmer."

"No can do, hyung." Mingyu smiles and Wonwoo has half a mind to move away so Mingyu face plants into the bed, but he doesn’t have the heart to do it when he’s already so weak.

"Have you eaten anything?" Wonwoo turns to look at him, their faces only inches apart with Mingyu basically dozing off on Wonwoo’s shoulder. "You shouldn’t take these on an empty stomach."

"I’m not really hungry."

"It’ll make you feel better. I promise." Wonwoo doesn’t know what comes over him, but he reaches his hand out to run it through Mingyu’s slightly sweaty hair. Mingyu closes his eyes and leans into the touch and while he’s usually a much more physical person than Wonwoo is, he also isn’t as needy as he’s acting right now.

So far it’s always been Mingyu taking care of Wonwoo and not the other way around. Seeing Mingyu so vulnerable and weak makes Wonwoo feel incredibly protective of him.

Wonwoo makes him a soup with some left-over chicken he finds in their fridge, and while it isn’t the tastiest thing in the world it’s warm and salty and will hopefully help Mingyu feel a bit better.

He ends up having to feed Mingyu, and he starts to understand why Minghao was so fed up with his roommate, but well.

Wonwoo doesn’t mind.

Mingyu is acting all soft and sleepy, and Wonwoo nearly has to force his mouth open to spoon some soup into it. But it’s like Mingyu is in a better mood already when they’re halfway through the bowl and he keeps saying sorry for acting like a baby, especially when the soup dribbles down his chin and Wonwoo has to clean it up for him.

It’s not really so bad. It’s nice. Wonwoo likes taking care of people, especially when it’s people he… when it’s people he cares about.

He gives Mingyu something for his fever after that and also pops a throat lozenge into his mouth.

"Are you feeling a bit better?" Wonwoo asks after a while once Mingyu looks more relaxed.

Mingyu nods, his eyes closed. "Thank you. You’re the best."

Wonwoo sits down next to him again and eyes the hoodie Mingyu threw on after Wonwoo forced him to eat in the kitchen instead of his bed. It isn’t really helping with his fever, but Wonwoo knows he’s cold so he leaves it.

"You need a haircut." He mumbles after a while, looking at Mingyu’s fringe that’s nearly reaching the bottom lines of his eyes. His undercut isn’t as short anymore either.

"I know." Mingyu blinks his eyes open and leans down to press his flushed cheek against the cool kitchen table. "No money for a hairdresser."

Wonwoo tilts his head. "I can cut it for you."

Mingyu blinks at him and then starts laughing, only to stop when he remembers he has a sore throat which makes him pull a pained face. "No offence hyung but my hair is sacred. I’m not letting normal ordinary mortals touch it. Like, not even you."

"Not even me? What’s that supposed to mean?"

"You know. You’re not an ordinary mortal to me. You’re like, a handsome-slash-cute-grumpy-mortal that I have to protect."

"I really hope those are the drugs talking." Wonwoo mumbles.

Mingyu starts smiling at him, and his teeth seem a lot brighter than usual, but maybe that’s because his face is so flushed. "Why are you blushing?"

"I’m not." Wonwoo kicks his leg. "Look, I’m serious. I’ve been cutting Chan’s hair for years." He’s not lying; Wonwoo is good at it. He’s been cutting Soonyoung’s hair too ever since they started college. "You shouldn’t spend so much money for it."

Mingyu seems to think about it for a while. "But I’m scared. What if it looks stupid?"

"It’s just hair. It’ll grow back." Wonwoo sighs.

"But I won’t look handsome anymore until it does." Mingyu starts pouting now.

"You will." He stands up and reaches a hand out to help Mingyu get up. "I promise I won’t screw it up."

Mingyu looks at his hand for a second before taking it, albeit a bit hesitatingly. Wonwoo leads him to the bathroom and Mingyu takes out the electric razor, obviously having no clue what the different heads for it are used for.

"I only use that to shave my beard." He mumbles when Wonwoo puts on another head on the device.

He tries not to laugh. As if Mingyu could grow a beard already. But he knows from personal experience how much it hurts a guy's pride when people comment on the fact that their facial hair game isn't as strong as they'd like it to be. "I’ve never even seen you with a stubble before."

"And you never will." Mingyu rubs at his eyes sleepily, looking like a child about to fall asleep.

"We don’t have to do this now if you’re not feeling well."

"Nah, let’s just get it over with."

"Okay." Wonwoo points at the bathtub. "Go sit in there."

Mingyu gives him a confused look. "What? In the bathtub?"

"It’ll make a huge mess otherwise." Wonwoo walks over and pulls the shower curtain to the side. "And take your shirt off too."

Mingyu does as he’s told and starts groaning right after he drops the hoodie and the shirt underneath on the floor. "It’s too cold."

Wonwoo briefly looks up at him and looks away just as quickly, nearly dropping the razor in his hand.

He’s never felt like that before; actually wanting to look at someone’s naked body, but the urge is definitely there and it’s a little overwhelming. Mingyu is handsome, that’s out of the question, but it’s a bit unfair because he also has a naturally defined body that Wonwoo couldn't compete within a hundred years.

"You’re so cute." Mingyu snickers and climbs into the tub, shivering again when his naked feet touch the cold porcelain. "I’m going to freeze my balls off."

Wonwoo gulps, scolding himself for getting so worked up over a little bit of naked skin. He climbs into the tub behind Mingyu and kneels down to have a better view of his head. "How short do you usually have your undercut?"

"I don’t know." Mingyu shrugs, wrapping his arms around himself to keep warm. "I think, like, an inch?"

"It might be a bit shorter this time." Wonwoo turns the razor on and starts combing it through the bottom half of Mingyu’s head where the undercut it.

Mingyu hums. "That’s fine."

Wonwoo works in silence for a while, keeping Mingyu’s head in place with a hand. The cut off hair sticks to Mingyu’s shoulders and he shudders a bit when Wonwoo brushes them off with his hand.

The sun is setting outside and it’s casting shadows inside the bathroom, one ray of sunlight hitting Wonwoo directly in the face. He shuffles a bit forward so it moves away from his face, but Mingyu obviously thinks it’s for another reason.

He looks over his left shoulder to smirk at him and Wonwoo places his palm on his head, forcefully turning it back around again. "Keep still."

Mingyu snickers but does as he’s told, and Wonwoo tries to focus on not messing up Mingyu’s hair instead of the urge to smile like an idiot all the time.

It’s strangely peaceful. The only noise around them is the buzzing of the razor and the occasional sniffle from Mingyu. He’s being really quiet too; he asks Wonwoo little questions here and there, and nods his head when Wonwoo asks if he’s okay. It’s weird seeing Mingyu like this. So silent and a little out of it.

Once Wonwoo is done with the undercut he brushes his hands over Mingyu’s shoulders to clean them and he can’t help but notice how soft Mingyu’s skin is. It feels hot because of his fever, but it’s incredibly smooth looking and the muscles underneath ripple a bit at Wonwoo’s touch.

He shakes the thought off and leans closer to blow the tiny hairs from Mingyu’s ear and Mingyu draws his shoulders up, starting to giggle.

"What?"

"It tickles!"

Wonwoo smiles and feels the urge to wrap his arms around Mingyu, but he doesn’t and instead gets up to change the head of the razor to do the rest of Mingyu’s hair.

His eyes keep going back to the scar on Mingyu's nape, a thin line but the skin is definitely damaged there. His fingers move to it before he can stop himself, and Mingyu shudders hard at the touch.

"Sorry" Wonwoo pulls his hand back but Mingyu shakes his head.

"It's fine. I'm just sensitive on my nape." He chuckles.

"How did you get the scar?"

"My cousin pushed me when we were kids and I walked into a rusty ass nail." Mingyu snorts and reaches back to touch it. "Does it look nasty?"

Wonwoo gently moves his hand away to touch it again. "No. It's pretty."

"Pretty?" Mingyu turns to look at him. "You're serious?"

Wonwoo suddenly feels stupid for having said that and he shrugs, but he can't stop himself from blushing, which Mingyu obviously notices.

"Kiss it better?"

"It's a scar. It won't get better." Wonwoo forcefully turns Mingyu's head around again and then, acting on impulse, leans down to press a gentle kiss against the scar despite his words. He lets the kiss linger for a moment, Mingyu's skin hot even against his lips.

Mingyu turns strangely quiet at the action and Wonwoo's lips pull into a smile as he takes in how the tips of Mingyu's ears turn red again like they always do when he's flustered.

"You know" Mingyu mumbles after Wonwoo has been dealing with the rest of the hair for five minutes. "Uncle’s birthday is coming up."

"Is it?"

"Mhm." Mingyu shudders again and if Wonwoo didn’t have to concentrate so much he’d try to hurry up, not wanting to make him suffer any longer than necessary. "I thought we should get him something. Or take him out to eat with him or something. Since he doesn’t have anyone."

Wonwoo nods his head. "That sounds nice."

"I think it would make him happy."

"I’m sure it will." Wonwoo says, telling Mingyu to stay still when he starts squirming around. "When is it?"

"Next week."

"Okay. We’ll think of something."

He tells Mingyu to turn around once he’s done, wanting to check his fringe to see if it looks even with his hair down. Mingyu turns around and stretches his legs so he has Wonwoo caged in between them, giving him that dopey smile that makes Wonwoo’s heart go crazy.

Wonwoo combs his hair down and is glad to see that his fringe looks okay and only reaches down to his eyebrows. "I think it looks fine." He ruffles his hand through Mingyu’s hair to get the stray hairs out.

"Nice." Mingyu yawns. "Thank you."

"Don’t you want to see it?"

"Nah. I was kidding before. I trust you." He mumbles.

Wonwoo blinks at him for a second before clearing his throat and placing the razor on the counter next to the bathtub. "You look like you’re going to fall asleep."

"I’m really tired." Mingyu stares at him, his eyes moving all over Wonwoo’s face. "And cold."

"You can put your shirt on again."

"Or you could hug me."

"You’re not getting a hug."

"Then I’m taking one."

And he does. It’s a bit awkward because Wonwoo’s legs are in the way, but that doesn’t stop Mingyu at all. Wonwoo gives up and wraps his own arms around Mingyu, feeling like he’s hugging a furnace.

"God, Mingyu." He mumbles into his shoulder, running his palm up and down his warm skin. "You’re burning up."

"I don’t feel like it at all." Mingyu shivers and shuffles closer, like he’s trying to hide himself in Wonwoo’s body to feel warm again.

"That’s good. Your body’s just trying to fight the fever."

"Hmm." Mingyu coughs a bit and presses his face into Wonwoo’s neck. "Your hands are cold."

"Sorry." Wonwoo tries to pull them away but Mingyu stops him.

"No, don’t. It feels nice."

He’s not sure how long they stay like this, but Mingyu starts dozing off on Wonwoo’s shoulder after a while, so Wonwoo wakes him up and takes him to his bed instead.

By the time Mingyu is fast asleep again it’s dark outside, and Wonwoo needs to get home to finish his assignment he needs to send in by the end of the week. He leaves the medicine on his nightstand and checks his fever again. It's not as bad anymore, but he hopes Minghao will get home sooner or later so he can keep it in check.

And while he does that, he sees Mingyu's phone light up with a message, and it's not that he purposefully looks there but it just happens, and he kind of wishes he didn't see it at all.

It says "I miss you."

Wonwoo doesn't know who it's from, not having read the name and he's not about to go through Mingyu's phone, so he quickly leaves the room and tries to stop the worried crease forming between his brows.

It might've been his mom or his sister for all he knows.

He must've been rushing to get out of the apartment because  Wonwoo literally bumps into Minghao on his way out, their heads almost knocking together.

"Oh, are you leaving?"

"He just fell asleep." Wonwoo nods his head, still a little thrown off by that stupid message. "I, uh, left some medicine in his room. He can take one in the morning again if his fever isn’t gone by then. But he should see a doctor if it doesn’t get better."

Minghao nods his head, a strange look in his eyes. "He wasn’t being an annoying bitch?"

"No, he just was a bit of a baby."

"Sounds about right." Minghao smiles and bites down on his lip, looking at Wonwoo hesitatingly. "Wonwoo hyung, if you don’t mind, can I ask you something?"

"Uhm. Yeah, sure. What is it?"

"Are you in love with Mingyu?"

Wonwoo’s heart skips a beat and his mouth drops open. The question came out of the blue and Wonwoo has no idea how to react.

"I’m sorry, that was…" Minghao sighs. "That’s not what I meant. Look, Mingyu isn’t just my roommate. He’s my best friend. I would’ve been really lost if he wasn’t here to guide me around and help me learn the language." He gives Wonwoo another one of those strange looks. "He really likes you. I’ve seen Mingyu with other people before, and he’s never been like this with any of them. And I know it’s more complicated with you. I get that, and I’m not blaming you for that. But are you, like, one hundred percent sure you feel the same way about him?"

It’s like Minghao is staring him down, and even though he says he’s not blaming Wonwoo, the look in his eyes says otherwise. "I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t."

Minghao nods, relaxing a bit. "I just wanted to make sure. Sometimes I just, I don’t know. It’s like he’s walking on eggshells around you whenever we hang out. Like he’s scared he’s going to do something that will scare you off. And that’s not how a relationship should work, right?"

"Yeah but we’re not—" Wonwoo starts, not feeling too good about what leaves his mouth next. "We’re not exactly in a relationship."

"I know. But why not? You’ve known each other for months. Mingyu is crazy about you, and if you like him too—"

"It’s not that easy." Wonwoo interrupts him. "And it’s not Mingyu’s fault. It’s because of me."

They stare at each other for a long time before Minghao speaks again, and what he says hits the nail right on the head.

He strikes Wonwoo where it hurts most.

"I know you probably don’t have any bad intentions, but it’s not okay for you to lead him on just because you can’t sort out your feelings." Minghao gives him a pointed look. "I’m serious. That's not cool. Don’t lead him on if you don’t plan on ever calling him your boyfriend."

Wonwoo must look as lost and anxious as he feels because Minghao’s hard gaze softens.

"I like you, Wonwoo hyung. You’re a nice person. But I won’t just sit back and watch my best friend be miserable because he thinks he’s not good enough for you."

"Y-You’re right."

"I’m sorry." Minghao does look sorry, but it isn't helping right now. "I didn’t mean to be so disrespectful."

Wonwoo shakes his head. "No, you weren't. I get it. "

Minghao’s face falls and for a second, Wonwoo thinks he’s going to hug him but he doesn’t. "Be careful on your way back, okay hyung?"

Wonwoo nods, and then he leaves, and Minghao’s words keep ringing in his head over and over again.

And then he gets off the bus somewhere close to his apartment and he just kind of stops walking.

He’s not sure why or how, but he’s suddenly pressing Jeonghan’s name on his phone, who almost immediately picks up.

"Wonwoo?" He asks, already sensing something’s wrong since Wonwoo never voluntarily calls anyone unless it’s an emergency. "Did something happen?"

"Hyung." Wonwoo grips the phone tighter. "I’m leading Mingyu on."

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Wonwoo can’t really explain what happens after Jeonghan picks up the phone.

You know when you fill a cup up to the brim with water, how it doesn’t spill over despite the surface of the water rising above the rim of the cup? And then you try to see how much more it can take and let some more water drip into it, and you think it’s going to spill over any minute now but it still manages to stay together?

Wonwoo feels like he’s on the brim of spilling over.

Jeonghan is out with some friends when he tells Wonwoo that he’ll meet him, and Wonwoo tries to protest at first, but Jeonghan hangs up and ten minutes later, he arrives at the park Wonwoo has agreed on waiting for him.

"You look horrible." Jeonghan sits down next to him on the cold, rusty roundabout, and it creaks like it’s letting out a painful grunt.

"I’m sorry for calling you." Wonwoo’s voice cracks a bit. "I freaked out."

"It’s fine. Seungcheol was getting on my nerves anyway." Jeonghan suddenly pulls a cigarette out of his jacket’s pocket.

"You smoke?" Wonwoo watches him place it between his lips and puff out some smoke after lighting it, not even trying to hide the judgement in his voice.

Jeonghan turns his head away so the smoke doesn’t hit Wonwoo in the face. "When I’m stressed."

"What’s stressing you?"

"Things," Jeonghan answers, and that’s all he says, like he doesn’t want to elaborate.

Wonwoo looks away from him and at the empty playground instead.

It looks almost eerie this way, empty in the middle of the night, and if Wonwoo tries really hard, he can almost hear the laughter of the children that usually come to play here.

There’s absolutely nothing he misses about his childhood, except for being a child.

No matter what was happening around him, he was careless back then.

Everything always seemed like it was going to be okay.

"Is it Jisoo?"

Jeonghan doesn’t answer immediately, and simply says "I’m over Jisoo."

Wonwoo doesn’t believe him one bit, because there’s a flash of something on Jeonghan’s face, like pain, and Wonwoo has never seen that look on him before. "Are you sure?"

He gives Wonwoo a curt nod and something about the air he gives off tells Wonwoo that it's best to drop the issue.

That doesn't mean Wonwoo isn't curious or worried about it, but he respects Jeonghan enough not to press the subject.

They sit in silence until the cigarette in Jeonghan’s hand is nearly burned down to the filter. Jeonghan drops it on the floor and stubs it out with his heel before turning to face Wonwoo.

"Alright. Tell me what happened."

"I don’t want to cry about my problems to you." Wonwoo shakes his head. "I think I just… I just wanted to hear your voice."

Jeonghan’s eyes widen. "Woah, hey there-"

"Not like that!" Wonwoo interrupts with a groan. "When I talk to you I’m more… calm. I can think a lot clearer."

"Okay. I’m flattered." Jeonghan fully turns around and leans his back against the metal bar that acts as a hand-hold for little kids when the roundabout spins. It also creaks, and Wonwoo thinks this whole playground looks like it could break apart any second. "But you’ve been doing fine. So what was that whole I’m leading Mingyu on-thing about? Did he say something to you?"

"No, he didn’t." Wonwoo doesn’t know if he should tell him that Minghao’s words made him feel so down again. He doesn’t want to make Mingyu’s best friend look bad when the guy was only telling the truth. "I don’t want to hurt him. But I feel like… I feel like I might."

"So don’t." Jeonghan tilts his head. "I think I’m missing something here. It’s not like you’re making him fall for you and you’re going to dump him at the end—"

Wonwoo slowly looks up at him and Jeonghan puffs out his cheeks once realization hits.

"Oh."

"I’m not playing with him," Wonwoo weakly says. "But I can’t—I know Mingyu will wait for me to be ready, but I don’t know if I ever will be."

"Wonwoo." Jeonghan sighs. "What would be so bad about being in a relationship with him? Mingyu is like, the nicest guy on this planet. I mean yeah, he’s a bit too in love with himself if you ask me, and I think he once flirted with Jisoo so that’s—"

"Hyung"

"Mingyu is the nicest guy on the planet," Jeonghan smoothly continues. "So where is the problem?"

"It’s not him. Mingyu isn’t the problem." Wonwoo feels like he’s repeating himself, like he’s saying the same things over and over again but no one seems to understand him. How could they, if Wonwoo doesn’t even understand himself what his cluster fuck of a mind is doing ninety percent of the time?

He’s doing it again, he’s getting too much into his head. "It’s just…" Wonwoo hides his face in his hands, his temples throbbing as all those thoughts hit him like hundreds of tiny arrows. "My mind isn’t shutting up. It was okay before Mingyu came, and now I’m just—"

He’s a walking mess.

Wonwoo is keeping all his thoughts to himself, and Mingyu definitely is keeping something from him too, and at the same time Wonwoo’s trying to figure out if he might be asexual like that’s an urgent matter right now but like, it’s there, in the back of his mind, with everything else that shouldn’t be such a big deal but they are to Wonwoo, and everyone keeps asking them if they’re together and Wonwoo honestly just wants to run away when they do that, and Minghao probably hates him and Chan and him keep fighting over stupid shit and he’s been ignoring his mom for the past four weeks and his step dad isn’t even here but he’s still breathing down his neck, waiting for him to fuck up again and he just wants to be alone—

"Woah, hey" Jeonghan moves closer and grips Wonwoo’s shoulders when Wonwoo’s hands start shaking. "Hey, stop. Calm down."

He tries. To calm down, that is. He takes a few calming breaths, his heart slowing down as minutes pass, and luckily the pulsing in his head stops.

Jeonghan gives him a worried look and swiftly pulls him into a hug. "God, it hurts me to see you like this."

Wonwoo feels embarrassed, that Jeonghan saw him like that. He isn’t usually like this. He doesn’t know why he couldn’t control himself. "I’m sorry."

"I think you need to talk to someone. Someone who’s more qualified than me." Jeonghan says. "Wonwoo, something isn’t right. Something… something happened to you in the past, didn’t it?"

Wonwoo ducks his head, suddenly feeling like a caged in animal and all he wants to do is run away. "N-Nothing happened."

Jeonghan is a smart guy, a mastermind, really, and while he can easily tell that Wonwoo is lying, he lets it go. For now.

"It’s not just tearing you down, Wonwoo. It’s making it impossible for you to have normal relationships." Jeonghan pulls away and Wonwoo can’t even meet his eyes. He’s treating him like he’s mentally unstable.

Is Wonwoo really that bad?

"But I don’t feel depressed," Wonwoo mumbles.

"You don’t just go to a therapist for depression, you smartass." Jeonghan chuckles weakly. "A lot of people have a therapist, for various reasons. There’s nothing wrong with that."

Wonwoo thinks about it. He really does. He doesn’t just nod his head only to forget about it later on.

He imagines him going into one of those rooms and sitting down in front of a faceless person, and then exposing everything about himself to them.

"I just— I really don’t think I can open up."

"You can try." Jeonghan nudges his chin up so Wonwoo’s facing him again. "You can’t tell me it doesn’t bother you. I can see it does." His eyes flicker over Wonwoo’s face. "I don’t know what you went through, Won, but it couldn’t have been easy. Sometimes you just need to accept the fact that you can’t solve everything on your own. I can’t force you to do anything; but it’s up to you if you want to get better or if you want to keep suffering."

"I’m—" Wonwoo starts, feeling a little lost again. Get better? That means Wonwoo isn’t in a good place right now.

Which shouldn’t be news to Wonwoo; he was the one who went to Jeonghan about his issues in the first place, but hearing someone like Jeonghan tell him as much hits him like a brick in the face.

Jeonghan purses his lips. "I know some therapists personally, I’ll make an appointment for you if that freaks you out too much."

"Wait, hyung no, I’m not ready—"

"I’m sorry but you are. You’re overdue. I’m going to talk to her tomorrow, and I’m going to fix an appointment for you."

Wonwoo shuts his mouth. He feels angry, and annoyed, frustrated.

Scared, most of all.

"Promise me you’ll go."

Wonwoo averts his eyes. "I can’t."

Jeonghan looks at him for a long time before he sighs and lights another cigarette.

 

 

 

Wonwoo doesn’t stop thinking about Jeonghan’s words. How could he, when Jeonghan sends him the appointment he made for him the next morning?

It’s in two weeks.

 

From: Jeonghan hyung

> You have to cancel at least 24 hours beforehand if you don’t wanna pay for the entire session.

> Plus I’ll be coming for your skinny ass so you better go.

 

Two weeks.

Wonwoo has two weeks to mentally prepare himself.

He’s going to wait until the very day before, and if he’s still not ready by then, he will just cancel it.

But for now he saves the date in his phone, pretending his fingers aren’t trembling while he does it.

 

 

 

"Soonyoung, how is this supposed to help me?" Wonwoo sighs.

His best friend rolls his eyes and parks the car, turning off the engine.

They're in an empty parking lot next to an equally deserted sports field. It's a sunny day and most people are out and about shopping, or the daring ones have already gone to the beach since they can't wait for summer to come around.

"I thought this would give you some inspiration." Soonyoung shrugs and climbs out of the car. Wonwoo follows him after a moment of hesitation, and walks behind him like a toddler following its parents.

Soonyoung hops on top of the bleachers and starts walking on them like some kind of tightrope walker, one foot after the other, and Wonwoo can’t stay annoyed at the situation when Soonyoung looks back and tells him to do the same with a silly grin.

Wonwoo does as he's told, hoping no one's watching them, because it might come across as slightly questionable, two grown-up guys playing around like that on a sunny afternoon. Wonwoo pushes at Soonyoung’s shoulders, causing him to lose his balance.

"Stop!" Soonyoung yells, but he’s laughing, and Wonwoo chuckles to himself while they make their way to the end of the field.

It’s a nice day, not too warm but just enough to wear whatever you want without getting chills. There’s a gentle breeze and Wonwoo can hear the wind rustling through the trees surrounding the field.

He trails his fingers along the metal fence, causing it to rattle slowly.

"Are you inspired yet?" Soonyoung shoots him a genuinely curious look over his shoulder, and Wonwoo laughs, shrugging.

"Not yet." He says.

Wonwoo is having the worst writer’s block of his life. He’s used to having those by now, but this one is worse because it doesn’t leave. Wonwoo usually gets over them within a few days, maybe a week or two, but he hasn’t been able to write anything he could remotely be proud of in almost two months. He has a huge project coming up, a big opportunity where his work could get published in a collection of short stories for kids, but the deadline is coming closer faster than Wonwoo feels comfortable with.

He has a little more than a month left, and a little more than ninety percent of the story left to write.

Lovely.

Soonyoung hums and starts jogging towards the middle of the field, where he promptly sits down and waits for Wonwoo to do the same. The grass looks like it was just cut, bright green and a little damp from the rain the day before.

Soonyoung sighs, squinting his eyes as he looks at the big, empty field around them. "It’s been ages since we last came here."

Wonwoo nods his head in agreement. They used to come here so much during their first year at college, when life was even more overwhelming than it is right now. When they wanted to quit and drop out because things got too much, when they were eating instant cup noodles every single day and were barely getting by.

Not that things are so much better now, but they learned to deal with it a lot better.

Soonyoung and him used to grab the cheapest bottle of vodka in the convenience store, the one that smelled like nail polish remover, and proceeded to get drunk by themselves in the middle of this field, questioning their whole existence like the sky would magically open up above them to give them their much-needed answers.

They didn’t have many friends back then, only had each other pretty much, and while the both of them were fine with doing weird stuff like that, they quickly learned that others considered it lame and a waste of time, so they just kind of stopped doing it once they started hanging out with other people.

Soonyoung leans back and lies down flat on his back, his arms and legs spread apart like he’s about to do a snow angel. He closes his eyes and Wonwoo gives up trying to act like this is annoying him, so he lies down on his back, and then they stay like that for a few silent minutes, Wonwoo’s skin slowly warming up from the sun shining down on him.

"I think you should just write." Soonyoung speaks after a while, his voice hushed and gentle, like he doesn’t want to disturb this comfortable bubble around them. "You know, fight the writer’s block instead of waiting for it to pass."

"I tried that." Wonwoo sighs. "Doesn’t work. Every word turns out like shit."

"Yeah well, it doesn’t have to be good" Soonyoung continues. "What you write, I mean. Even if it’s total crap, at least you’ll have something. You can always delete it, or edit it. But it’s better than having nothing, am I right?"

Wonwoo furrows his eyebrows, letting the words sink in for a moment. So far Wonwoo has always just sat in front of his laptop for hours on end without writing just because nothing good came out of it. It’s not like Soonyoung just came up with a genius idea, but he does have a point. Turning in something shitty is better than not turning anything at all. "You are right."

"Why do you sound so surprised?" Soonyoung laughs and kicks his thigh with his leg.

"Cause your advices are usually bullshit."

"They are not. You just do a shitty job in following them." His best friend says. "Did you have sex with Mingyu?"

"What."

"See." Soonyoung blinks one eye open, turning his head to look at Wonwoo. "Told you to do it weeks ago. You didn’t."

Wonwoo doesn’t answer, instead turns to face the sky again and keeps his eyes open until they hurt and start to tear up because of the brightness of the sun.

A fly lands on his knee but Wonwoo doesn’t bother swatting it away. "Soonyoung."

"Hm?"

"I really…" Wonwoo takes a deep breath, closing his eyes, and then he can almost see Mingyu’s bright smile. It makes him want to pick up his phone and tell him to come here, even though they saw each other two days ago when they went to buy a present for uncle’s birthday.

Mingyu looked so surprised when Wonwoo took his hand in the shops, where everyone could see, and he proceeded to knock over several boxes of cereal from how startled he was. He bought Wonwoo a beanie in pink, almost a copy of the one his sister made for him, and Wonwoo told him not to, saying he wasn’t ever going to wear it and that it was a waste of money.

He did wear it though, at home, when Chan and Mingyu were studying for his finals at the dinner table, and the smile on Mingyu’s face when Wonwoo stepped out of his room wearing it was brighter than the sun warming them up right now.

"You really what?" Soonyoung asks when Wonwoo stays silent for a good minute.

Wonwoo turns his head away from Soonyoung when he senses a fond smile tugging on his lips. "I really like him."

Soonyoung opens his mouth and freezes like that, and then props himself up on his elbows. He has a few strands of grass sticking to the back of his head. "Mingyu?"

Wonwoo looks at him and nods and before he knows it, Soonyoung rolls over and tackles him in a tight hug. Wonwoo laughs and tries to shove him off and they wrestle on the ground for a while like kids until Wonwoo accidentally knees him in the groin.

Soonyoung falls back with a groan but he sits back up just as quickly, a bright grin on his face. "Wonwoo."

"What?"

"I’m so proud of you."

"Stop."

"No, man. Seriously. Look at you." Soonyoung bites his lip, gently kicking Wonwoo’s leg again. "This wouldn’t have been imaginable just a few months back. Look what Mingyu did to you."

Wonwoo looks at the ground, mainly to try and hide the stupid blush spreading on his face. "I guess."

"He’s good for you, Won."

Wonwoo lifts his head, meeting Soonyoung’s eyes that are crinkled up into crescents and filled with genuine happiness. "Yeah. He really is."

A child screams somewhere and when Wonwoo turns his head, he sees a little boy running towards the field on the other side. His parents are behind him, and the boy laughs when the dad starts chasing him.

Soonyoung says something, but Wonwoo keeps watching the family, how the mom smiles when the dad catches the child and lifts him up to throw the boy over his shoulders.

The kid laughs and screams, and they all look so happy, and to Wonwoo the whole scene seems like something straight out of a movie.

Except it’s not, because this is how a family works, right?

The dad sets the kid down, and both the mom and him lean down to take the boy’s hands in their own, swinging him up in the air.

Wonwoo feels a dull feeling of sorrow bloom in his chest, his fingers curling into the grass.

"Wonwoo!" Soonyoung is wearing a concerned expression on his face, and he hesitatingly looks over his shoulders, following Wonwoo’s line of sight.

When Soonyoung turns his head back, his eyes are…

They’re full of pity.

Pity.

God, Wonwoo hates that.

Soonyoung knows he does, and he quickly clears his throat and chucks a hand full of grass in Wonwoo’s face, which manages to tear him out of his frozen state.

Wonwoo blinks at him and shakes off the heavy feeling in his heart, chuckling softly when Soonyoung screams after realizing that a slug is stuck on his palm.

"Are you okay?" Soonyoung asks with a wistful tone in his voice after successfully freeing his skin of the slug.

"Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?" Wonwoo shrugs it off and Soonyoung has this resigned look in his eyes, the one that says You know what I mean but he also knows that he’s treading on thin ice, and that this subject is not one they ever address.

They go back to bathing in the sun, and Wonwoo has no idea how much time passes, but he’s feeling sleepy and his shirt is starting to stick to his back, and it still feels like a stone is pressing down on his heart, but that feeling is always there, so it’s nothing new.

Like a tinnitus in your ear, constantly there but sometimes you don’t hear it because you get so used to living with it.

"I’m going to ask Mingyu to be my boyfriend." Wonwoo tells the sky out of the blue, but Soonyoung’s obviously around, and somehow Wonwoo doesn’t really mind his best friend hearing it as well.

"What?!" Soonyoung’s mouth forms a big O. "What the fuck, you better not be joking Won!"

"I’m not." Wonwoo blinks at him. He isn’t. He didn’t think about it too much before deciding, but maybe he really did get inspired by this place.

"Are you sure?"

Wonwoo isn’t sure, but he wants to get better. He wants to face his fears. "I think so."

"Oh shit!" Soonyoung opens his mouth and closes it like a fish. "When are you going to do it?"

"I don’t know." Wonwoo shrugs. "After my birthday?"

"But" Soonyoung gasps. "That's in two weeks!"

"I know."

Soonyoung’s smile grows even bigger. "Wonwoo…. Fuck, I’m so proud of you. I mean it."

Wonwoo smiles back, his smile a little unsure because of his nerves.

In two weeks, he’s going to see a therapist, and he’s going to stop making Mingyu run circles around him, and he’s going to start fixing himself.

Jeon Wonwoo’s life usually does not play out the way he plans it to.

He should know that by now.

 

 

 

 

Mingyu is on his phone a lot.

Not when he’s alone with Wonwoo, but when they’re hanging out with their other friends, or when he thinks Wonwoo isn’t looking.

And there is always something off on his face when he puts it away. Like whatever he is doing is putting a burden on him.

Wonwoo tries to ignore it.

But the day after Wonwoo tells Soonyoung that he wants to go exclusive with Mingyu, when they’re working together in silence at the back of the uncle’s shop, Mingyu’s phone lights up on the table, and Wonwoo sees him clench his jaw after reading the message without picking it up. He even goes as far as quickly pressing the power button, like he doesn’t want Wonwoo to see it.

They might not be boyfriends, so Mingyu doesn’t exactly owe him an explanation, but they’re at least friends, and Wonwoo is worried about Mingyu so he puts his pen down and gathers some courage before he decides to simply ask him.

"What’s going on?"

Mingyu acts like he’s concentrating on his work. "What do you mean?"

"Who are you—" He starts, remembering the ‘I miss you' someone sent him the week before and tries to shake off every single thought that goes in the wrong direction. "Just tell me what's wrong. You're always on your phone, and last week you said you didn't want to talk about bad things on our first date. So you can tell me now."

It looks like Mingyu isn’t going to answer him for a couple of seconds, but then he closes his eyes and drops the utensils in his hands, looking up at Wonwoo with a resigned look on his face. "I’m sorry for acting strange, okay? But hyung I… I honestly don’t think it would be good for you to know."

Wonwoo can’t help but frown at that. "What do you mean?"

"We only just started going on dates, and I don’t— I really don’t want to ruin things." Just as he finishes talking the screen of his phone lights up again, both their eyes darting to it. Mingyu gulps and turns his phone around so the screen is facing down and Wonwoo’s stomach suddenly twists uncomfortably. Why would he do that if he didn’t have anything to hide?

"Are you… seeing someone else?" Wonwoo manages to ask. "Because you can tell me if you like—"

"No! What the fuck?" Mingyu’s voice shakes and he looks a little devastated at Wonwoo’s question. "I’m sorry. Shit. Hyung, no. I like you. I literally can’t get you out my head no matter what I do, so please don’t assume anything like that again, okay?"

"Then what is it?" He looks into Mingyu’s eyes, the relief he feels at Mingyu’s words overwhelming him for a moment. He wants to tell Mingyu that he feels the same, that Wonwoo’s starting to like him so much it scares the shit out of him, but he stays silent and patiently waits for Mingyu to explain what’s going on.

"It doesn't have anything to do with my family." Mingyu finally says after a long pause.

Wonwoo genuinely thought he was right with his assumption, especially after he saw how Mingyu's mood dropped when they looked at his family's pictures. "I just assumed... You said you didn't want to talk about bad things when I asked about them."

"I meant—" Mingyu starts and shakes his head. "I meant bad things about me."

"About you?"

"Ah, fuck, this is too complicated." Mingyu sighs nervously. "Please, hear me out before you say anything."

He's too confused. He didn't think Mingyu had any major secrets, didn't even think about him possibly having things from his past that he kept to himself, which is egoistic of him to think.

Wonwoo is keeping things from him, so why wouldn't Mingyu do the same?

"Okay… what happened?"

"I fucked up." Mingyu starts. "I… I had a best friend back in high school. We grew up together since our moms were close friends. In our junior year of high school we had this… genius idea to kiss each other, just to see how it was to kiss a guy. We started messing around after that and said we were just going to help each other figure out our sexualities and stuff, no feelings involved, so we could still stay best friends. Which was fucking stupid, of course."

Mingyu isn’t meeting Wonwoo’s eyes while he tells the story, and Wonwoo wishes he would look at him, because he can’t really tell what Mingyu is feeling right now. "This almost went on for a whole year, but then I met my girlfriend, the one I told you about. And I obviously stopped this whole thing I had going on with him, but he got angry. He punched me and started crying, and… I realized that he fell in love with me but it was a bit too late for that. That was the last time we talked. I mean, I tried to apologize, but he wouldn't have it, and he moved to Europe with his family right after that, so things kind of just... ended there."

Mingyu carefully looks up at Wonwoo, who doesn't really know what to say to all of that. It's a lot to take in. "He came back a few weeks ago."

"Oh." Is all that leaves Wonwoo’s mouth.

Mingyu clears his throat. "He's been staying at my parents' house until he finds a place on his own. That's why I went back home recently... to see him."

There must be something on Wonwoo's face, because Mingyu looks really alarmed all of a sudden.

"It’s not like that." He says, almost urgently. "I swear, I've never had those kinds of feelings for him. I didn't lie to you when I said that you're the first guy I have feelings for, Wonwoo."

He was the one who sent Mingyu that text message.

Wonwoo might not be very experienced when it comes to relationships, but he’s not stupid. He can read the look on Mingyu’s face, and he puts two and two together.

"Is he still in love with you?"

He suddenly wishes Mingyu would deny it. He selfishly wants it to be the end of that story but he knows it’s not, and it scares him.

Mingyu drops his gaze. He’s wearing the same expression he had when he was acting so down for the first time a few weeks ago, the same look in his eyes that appeared when in the bookshop when Wonwoo naively thought it was a simple family issue. "It’s complicated."

Silence envelops them once again and Wonwoo just tries to stay calm. There’s no use in jumping to conclusions.

"Will you be okay?" Wonwoo asks when he realizes Mingyu isn’t going to start talking on his accord. "I mean, you two?"

"Yeah, we’ll get there." Mingyu gives him a strained smile. "It’s just a stupid situation. I’ve known him since I was three and knowing someone like that just hates you… that you hurt them so much, is like, really kind of crushing."

Wonwoo fiddles with his pen, trying to push his own feelings aside because he knows Mingyu needs his support. "You didn’t purposefully hurt him. I’m sure he isn’t blaming you anymore."

"He’s not." Mingyu sighs. "He’s too kind for that."

There’s a pang of something in Wonwoo’s chest when he gives Mingyu a weak smile.

"It’ll be fine." Mingyu says, like he knows how Wonwoo feels. "Please don’t worry about it. And I’m sorry for being so absent lately."

"You two must’ve been close. It’s normal for you to feel that way."

Mingyu looks at him for a moment before he suddenly gets up and walks around the table, taking his chair with him to sit down next to Wonwoo instead. "What are you thinking?"

"What do you mean?" Wonwoo tries to laugh it off.

"I can tell you’re having thoughts about it. And not the good kind." Mingyu moves closer, his knuckles nudging against Wonwoo’s knee as if to get his attention. "I didn’t keep it from you because I wanted to do something behind your back. I knew it would make you worry."

Wonwoo looks down at Mingyu’s hand, wanting nothing more than to reach out and hold it. "I’m not worried. I’m glad that you told me, because I didn’t like seeing you so down. But you don’t— you didn’t owe me an explanation. I don’t want you to feel like that."

Mingyu shakes his head. "Maybe I do." He brings his hand up to make Wonwoo look up at him, cradling his cheek. "Maybe I want to owe you an explanation for things I do. I want you to ask me why I looked at a girl’s butt or why I was flirting with a guy when you weren’t looking." He stops and chuckles at Wonwoo’s confused expression. "I’m not doing these things, but if I would, I don’t want you to say ‘You can do whatever you want’. Do you understand?"

"I do." Wonwoo finds himself leaning into Mingyu’s touch, suddenly needing the reassurance that Mingyu still wants him.

There is no way Wonwoo could compete with his childhood best friend. Someone he undoubtedly shares many memories together, someone he’s experienced intimate things with Wonwoo could never replace. For that person to come back into his life after such a long time, still harbouring these kinds of feelings for Mingyu, it makes Wonwoo feel threatened.

Like he might lose Mingyu any moment now. He knew something like this would happen sooner or later, but he thought he would have more time.

It makes him think of Minghao’s words again, how he told him to stop leading Mingyu on, how right he was.

Of course Mingyu would prefer someone who didn’t hesitate in showing their love and appreciation for him, someone who doesn’t have problems calling him his boyfriend.

It’s like there’s an invisible timer somewhere, urging Wonwoo on to get the hell over his little problem if he doesn’t want Mingyu to leave him.

Wonwoo is very aware of the possibility, and he decides to do everything he can to not let it happen. He will start by making things official with Mingyu, but with this new information, he already finds his courage to do it faltering.

"I know you’re not ready to be with me" Mingyu then says. "But please just don’t- Don’t act like you wouldn’t care if I was with someone else. It... it hurts."

Wonwoo doesn’t do those things because he doesn’t care. Of course he cares. He probably cares too much but he didn’t think it was hurting Mingyu. It’s the last thing he wants. He doesn’t think he could take it, seeing Mingyu hurt because of him. "I’m sorry. I do… I do care."

"Look, I'm not an insecure guy, you know that. I mean, usually I’m not. But with you I’m… I’m kind of terrified I’m going to make a wrong move and you’ll be gone."

"I won’t." Wonwoo rushes out, and he’s suddenly standing, towering over Mingyu who’s still sitting. "I want to be with you and I— I just—"

"Need more time?" Mingyu finishes for him, standing up too. He steps closer until their shoes are touching. "I’m giving you all the time in the world, hyung."

He doesn’t know what he did in another life to deserve someone like Mingyu because he sure as hell doesn’t deserve him in this one, but when Mingyu says that and Wonwoo kind of helplessly stares into his eyes, it’s like he’s falling for him all over again.

Wonwoo fell for him that first drunk night when they met, and then again at the club, and then again every single time they saw each other, and then there was no going back once Mingyu kissed him and he thought it would stop after that, but it didn’t.

Every time Mingyu smiles, laughs, tells a stupid joke or pouts over a silly thing, every time he sends Wonwoo an annoying dank meme, every time he gives Wonwoo that overwhelmingly fond look, every time he holds Wonwoo’s hands, every time he kisses him or says something just like this Wonwoo just kind of stops, the realization of just how much Wonwoo likes him sinking in.

It keeps hitting him and he doesn’t know if it will ever stop.

"We need to stop being so sappy." Wonwoo says and Mingyu snorts and pulls Wonwoo against him.

"You better get used to it." And then he leans in, the tips of their noses brushing and Wonwoo holding his breath before Mingyu closes the distance and kisses him.

They haven’t kissed in a while, not since that small peck after their date last week.

They don’t nearly kiss enough, is what Wonwoo realizes when Mingyu nips on his lower lip in a way that sends tingles over his skin. Wonwoo usually doesn’t kiss Mingyu because he’s, well, Jeon Wonwoo and Mingyu doesn’t kiss him because he’s scared of scaring him off and Wonwoo decides it needs to change.

Wonwoo pulls Mingyu closer by his shoulders, throwing his concerns out the window for once.

Mingyu sucks in a breath when Wonwoo parts his lips to deepen the kiss, and Wonwoo thinks he’s going to push him away for a second, but Mingyu only tightens his arms around Wonwoo’s waist with a soft sound against his mouth.

The kiss is different. It’s deep and languid and has Wonwoo squeezing his eyes shut tighter, his legs tingling and Mingyu pressing them together until there’s no space left between their bodies.

Wonwoo stumbles when Mingyu moves them to press Wonwoo against the working table, the metal bars on the side digging into Wonwoo’s spine painfully from the impact. He flinches and Mingyu pulls away a fraction, breathing a little heavier against Wonwoo’s lips.

"Shit, I’m sorry, baby" He whispers. "Are you okay?"

Wonwoo sucks in a breath, his hand in Mingyu’s hair tightening.

Baby.

"I’m fine." He answers, a whine nearly making its way through his throat, because Mingyu calling him that feels so new and so strange but— good. It feels better than it should.

Mingyu nods, an almost knowing look in his eyes as he leans closer again, pecking Wonwoo’s lips. "Are you hurt?"

Wonwoo shakes his head, chuckling a bit breathlessly. "I’ll survive, Mingyu."

Mingyu smiles and looks at him in a way no one has ever looked at Wonwoo before; it has Wonwoo’s neck prickling, his skin flushing. He presses another kiss against Wonwoo’s lips, and then to the corner of them, moving to Wonwoo’s jaw where he starts pressing kiss after kiss into Wonwoo’s skin.

Wonwoo’s eyes flutter shut, a new kind of warmth pooling in his limbs. "Mingyu." Wonwoo breathing out his name is enough for Mingyu to lean up and kiss his lips again, and Wonwoo doesn’t really know what happens, but Mingyu licking into his mouth and his hands gripping Wonwoo’s hips suddenly make him feel so—

"Boys."

Mingyu stumbles back when Wonwoo pushes him away, the chair behind him toppling over and landing on the floor with a loud crash. Both of them turn around, still trying to catch their breaths and Wonwoo feels his heart skip a beat when he sees the uncle standing there with a blank look on his old face.

"Uncle—" Mingyu starts, sounding really nervous. Wonwoo is pretty sure he hasn’t told the man about any of this, and he also knows how older people tend to react to same-sex relationships, so he feels kind of sick to the stomach right now. He stands close to Mingyu who nearly takes his hand but stops himself last minute. "I’m really sorry."

The man grumbles something under his breath, his eyes flickering between Mingyu and Wonwoo for a while before he lets out a gruff curse. "To hell with it. I don’t care what you two punks are up to. Just don’t do it in here." He starts to turn around.

"W-Wait, uncle" Mingyu sounds extremely lost. "You’re not mad?"

The old man sighs and Mingyu rushes to bring him a chair to sit down. Wonwoo just kind of awkwardly stands there, his skin feeling hot and feeling strangely… alive from how Mingyu just kissed him, how he touched him.

He knows it’s a serious situation, but he can’t stop staring at Mingyu, and he can’t stop feeling butterflies fluttering around in his chest when Mingyu glances at him while he helps the man sit down.

Mingyu flashes him a quick smile, another knowing look in his eyes, and Wonwoo can’t help but smile back, feeling giddy and so damn happy all of a sudden.

"I might be an old geezer but I was young once too." The man says, watching how Wonwoo and Mingyu try not to stand too close together like two idiots. "You two are not as subtle as you think you are."

Wonwoo clears his throat and glances at Mingyu who looks like he’s trying really hard not to blush. "I meant… because we’re, you know—"

"Because you’re boys." The man finishes for him, nodding his head thoughtfully. "I won’t lie to you. When I was your age, me and my friends used to beat up a kid. Call him all sorts of homophobic names cause we saw him kissing a fella behind the school."

Wonwoo flinches a bit and Mingyu suddenly walks over to him and takes his hand and Wonwoo nearly pulls away, too scared in front of the uncle, but he realizes Mingyu isn’t doing it to reassure Wonwoo; Mingyu’s hand is trembling. So Wonwoo squeezes his hand and steps closer until he can feel Mingyu’s arm against his own.

The uncle silently watches them and Wonwoo has no idea what the man is thinking. "Then I met Minhee." He goes somewhere, the uncle, Wonwoo can see it in how distant his eyes become. He’s thinking of his wife. "That woman was really something, I tell you. She knocked some sense into this thick skull." He points at his head where he’s wearing a worn-out cap. He looks kind of cute with his chubby cheeks and the moustache, but his eyes are incredibly sad.

It’s his birthday today, and he has no one to who will give him a present.

No one who remembers it, no one who cares.

Wonwoo’s heart aches again and he instinctively clings onto Mingyu’s hand some more.

"I see two people who are in love. I don’t care about anything else. And screw everyone who thinks otherwise." He suddenly says. Wonwoo and Mingyu both freeze a little at his choice of words, Wonwoo’s heart beating a lot faster, but he doesn’t correct him.

They were kissing. They’re holding hands.

It’s only normal for the man to assume how they feel about each other.

And maybe he’s not even that wrong, but it’s too early, and Wonwoo doesn’t need another reason to freak out right now.

"T-Thank you." Mingyu stutters. "We, uhm. We will be more careful from now on." His palm is sweaty against Wonwoo’s, and Wonwoo wonders if it’s because the uncle spoke of love in relation to them.

Maybe Wonwoo isn’t the only one freaking out all the time.

And then something weird happens; the uncle looks at them, and then he smiles. The grumpy uncle that used to shoo Wonwoo away because he spent too much time in the shop smiles. "I was hoping my eyes weren’t just tricking me. You make a nice pair." He starts getting up then, holding his back as he goes. "Now let’s go eat. I’m hungry."

He leaves a flabbergasted Wonwoo and Mingyu behind.

"I thought he was going to beat us with his walking stick." Mingyu mumbles, his shoulders sagging in relief as he pulls away from Wonwoo’s hold.

"I thought he was going to chase me through the entire town with it."

Mingyu laughs, and Wonwoo lifts his eyes, finding that Mingyu looks really happy. Happier than he’s been lately.

It makes Wonwoo think that this whole situation with his best friend must’ve really bothered him. It still does, but Wonwoo doesn’t want to think about it too much for tonight.

He just wants to pretend everything’s okay. That they are okay.

"Come on. Let’s not keep him waiting." Mingyu reaches his hand out for Wonwoo to take again. Wonwoo presses their palms together, intertwining their fingers when Mingyu starts pulling him out of the shop.

"I think uncle ships us." Wonwoo whispers into Mingyu’s ear.

Mingyu laughs, his eyes crinkling in amusement, and pulls Wonwoo closer into his side.

 

 

They eat at a small restaurant run by a local family where the uncle seems to be a regular at.

Wonwoo’s never really talked much to the man, mostly because he isn’t very talkative to begin with but also because he’s always had the notion that the man doesn’t really like Wonwoo that much.

Tonight they do talk, and the uncle even goes as far as praising Wonwoo for his hard work at school, and thanking him for helping Mingyu concentrate a little more at work.

Mingyu smiles the entire time, and the uncle and him go back and forth with their teasing, and Wonwoo can just see how much the man actually cares about Mingyu. If he didn’t know their relationship, he’d honestly think the man was his grandfather even though he might still be a little too young for that.

He’s turning sixty today.

They had a hard time finding a present for him, since he kept saying that he didn’t want anything whenever Mingyu asked him. Wonwoo and him spent an entire day trying to pick something that the man might like, and they finally decided on getting him a new cap, since the one he’s wearing right now is really worn out.

It’s an expensive designer hat. Not that uncle can tell the difference. He gets flustered when they give it to him, like he hasn’t received a present in ages, which he probably hasn’t.

They drink a little bit and the restaurant owner plays some really cheesy trot songs and Wonwoo can’t tell if the pleasant buzz in his body is from the alcohol or Mingyu’s hand on his knee under the table.

"Hey, uncle…" Mingyu starts when it’s starting to get late and the uncle starts looking a little sleepy. "I’m sorry if this is rude of me to ask, but you rarely talk about it and I was just curious—"

"You want to know about my Minhee?" The man asks, once again getting this distant look in his eyes, like he’s remembering her.

The way he calls her his makes Wonwoo smile sadly down at his half-empty cup.

Mingyu nods, his thumb rubbing over the side of Wonwoo’s knee.

"We met in high school." The man starts after a heavy exhale. "She was a good girl, and I was the troublemaker of school. She got into detention because of me and for some reason, she fell in love with me after I gave her a letter where I apologized." He smiles at the memory. "When she came into my life… she turned it upside down." He starts. "I made a complete fool of myself for her. I was a rascal, an airhead that thought the world was at my feet. She didn’t just teach me otherwise, every day I spent with her was a day she taught me how to be a good person. She made me decent."

Mingyu gives the man a comforting smile, handing him a napkin when the uncle starts blinking like he’s trying to stop his tears.

"I spent almost forty years of my life with her. When she died, I didn’t have a reason to wake up anymore. All I wanted to do was go after her." The uncle clears his throat, and his hands are shaking when he reaches for his beer. "I hated god. I hated everything for taking her away from me. I blamed myself for not spending more time with her, until I realized that no time in the world would’ve ever been enough. When you find your soulmate, nothing with them is ever enough."

It sounds nice. Having someone like that. Wonwoo doesn’t know why the story hurts him so much but it’s almost enough to make his nose prickle and he’s taken aback by his own reaction. He doesn’t usually cry that easily. Mingyu leans over, his lips brushing Wonwoo’s ear, hand squeezing his knee reassuringly. "Are you okay?"

Wonwoo nods, and he tries to find Mingyu’s hand under the table, fumbling with their fingers before he laces them together like someone might try to break them apart.

Mingyu gives him a concerned look and when he leans back, he subtly pulls Wonwoo’s chair closer to him, brushing his thumb over Wonwoo’s knuckles to soothe his nerves.

"You’re both still young." The uncle continues. "You don’t know what will happen in the future. You might end up with someone completely different, but make the best of the time you spend together." He gives them a pointed look. "One of the worst feelings in the world is regret. Make sure you don’t regret anything if you ever end up not being together anymore."

The atmosphere has turned so serious all of a sudden, serious and sad, at least that’s how Wonwoo feels after listening to the old man.

It isn’t like he’s wrong. They’re young and stupid, and with Wonwoo’s issues on top of that, they likely won’t last.

Wonwoo gulps and looks down at their intertwined hands, and he’s nearly clinging to Mingyu’s at this point, enough for the younger to give him another concerned look.

Mingyu changes the subject, clearly sensing how much it has upset Wonwoo, and the rest of the night is spent with light-hearted jokes and the uncle softly singing along to the oldies playing in the restaurant.

 

They take him home when it’s nearing midnight, and the man thanks them for keeping him company today and Mingyu sighs and hugs him, Wonwoo watching a little too fondly how the uncle pats Mingyu’s hair with an annoyed grumble.

Mingyu holds his hand out for Wonwoo to take, and Wonwoo gently laces their fingers together when they start walking.

"Mingyu" Wonwoo tugs on his hand when they reach the street where they should separate since both their apartments are in different directions. Mingyu keeps walking in the direction of Wonwoo’s apartment though. "Where are you going?"

"You’re feeling down." Mingyu tightens his hold on Wonwoo’s hand. "Uncle’s story upset you, didn’t it?"

Wonwoo doesn’t say anything and has half a mind to bend down and pick up the empty cigarette box from the ground to throw it away. He doesn’t really talk until they’re only minutes away from his apartment. "I feel bad for him. He’s all alone. And he’s—" He clears his throat, feels Mingyu’s gentle eyes on the side of his face. "He’s still so in love with her. How can someone live with that feeling?"

Mingyu stays silent for a moment, apologizing quietly when he bumps into a girl that rushes past them. They turn to take a shortcut through an empty alley, having to walk closer together since it’s quite a narrow passage.

Mingyu suddenly brings their hands up and presses his lips against Wonwoo’s knuckles softly. It’s a tiny gesture, but so gentle and so intimate Wonwoo feels his breath get stuck in his lungs. Mingyu seems to be embarrassed about it a second later, lowering their hands again. "I don’t know how he does it. But I strongly believe he’ll be with her again, sometime."

Wonwoo still feels his heart thump wildly, still not used to Mingyu’s intimate touches. His kisses. "You believe in heaven?"

"I… I go back and forth." Mingyu shrugs. "But I don’t believe that all of us just goes away once we die. I think, our souls they, you know, go somewhere. Somewhere nicer than here."

Nicer than earth.

That shouldn’t be so hard.

It’s beautiful here. The nature is breathtaking, the animals are fascinating, humans are beautiful like art yet— it’s all just a facade, right? All those wars, the suffering, the poverty, the hate, the famine, the destruction of the planet, the lies and scams and diseases…

If there really is something like an afterlife, it can only be better, right?

"Like a fresh start?" Wonwoo asks, his voice quiet.

"Yeah, maybe." Mingyu squeezes his hand.  "Don’t be sad about uncle anymore." Mingyu makes him stop walking right before they enter Wonwoo’s street. "He’s going to meet her again. Both of them will be seventeen, and he will have his dashing looks back and his Minhee will be the most beautiful girl ever."

Wonwoo laughs, but his eyes are a little wet and Mingyu steps closer and pulls him against his chest. He presses his lips against Wonwoo’s temple, their hands still locked together at their sides, Mingyu’s free arm wrapped around Wonwoo’s waist securely.

"That sounds nice." Wonwoo touches his fingers to Mingyu’s arm, feels the tiny knob in Mingyu’s elbow and makes him giggle when Wonwoo mindlessly starts playing with it. Wonwoo smiles and presses closer into Mingyu’s embrace, and for once his heart doesn’t go completely crazy in Mingyu’s presence.

The thumps are slow and steady, and his thoughts are clear, and the only thing he knows is that if there is someone like Minhee for Wonwoo in this world, it has to be Mingyu.

"Are you okay now?" Mingyu pulls back and Wonwoo looks up at him, his eyes trailing over Mingyu’s handsome features silently. "Hyung?"

"Do you want to come upstairs?"

Mingyu blinks at him, his eyes widening a little. "Upstairs?"

"You can stay over." Wonwoo says, only then realizing how his invitation might’ve sounded. He wasn’t even thinking about it, and now he’s left staring like an idiot at Mingyu who in return looks like an owl with how wide his eyes are.

A very cute owl…

"Oh. Uhm. Do you want me to?" Mingyu’s ears are once again very, very red and Wonwoo suddenly can’t look away from the flushed skin.

Wonwoo is reminded of his conversation with Soonyoung earlier this week, and something about tonight is different, but this isn’t Wonwoo asking Mingyu to come upstairs so he can… experiment with him.

He doesn’t want Mingyu to leave yet.

That’s all there is to it.

"I’d like it." Wonwoo shrugs and gives Mingyu a nervous smile.

Mingyu smiles back, bright and beautiful. "Okay."

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Wonwoo turns the lights on once they step into the apartment, and while this isn’t the first time he’s alone in here with Mingyu, it’s the first time he’s so aware of Mingyu’s eyes on the back of his head as the younger follows him.

"Where’s Chan?" Mingyu asks, standing rather awkwardly in the open space between Wonwoo’s kitchen and living room.

"He’s staying over at his friend’s place." Wonwoo says, turning around to face him properly. "They’re working on their final project for school."

Mingyu nods his head, giving a small hum.

They look at each other for a few tense seconds, the ticking from the clock on Wonwoo’s kitchen wall suddenly sounding louder than ever.

A smile tugs on Mingyu’s lips, and just like that, all the tension is gone, and Wonwoo finds himself smiling back at him.

"Please stop looking at me like I’m going to rip your clothes off." Mingyu sighs a moment later.

Wonwoo leans back against the kitchen counter and clears his throat. "I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to."

"I wouldn’t do anything you’re not ready for." Mingyu says, his voice gentle and his tone serious and something is just different about him tonight, not that Wonwoo could exactly pinpoint what it is.

He’s always been careful, always made sure that Wonwoo felt comfortable with everything they did, but Wonwoo is just more aware of every admiring look Mingyu gives him, and how genuine his words sound.

Wonwoo has rarely ever felt so cared for in his life.

He really hasn’t. No one’s ever treated him the way Mingyu has.

"I know." He finally says, moving away from the counter and towards Mingyu instead. He takes Mingyu’s hand and pulls him closer. "I know you wouldn’t."

Mingyu nods, staring into his eyes. "Good."

Wonwoo squeezes his hand. "Are you hungry?"

"I can always eat, if that’s what you’re asking." Mingyu purses his lips, smiling when Wonwoo laughs.

"I’m just asking if you want anything before we go to sleep."

"Nah, I’m fine."

Wonwoo nods and pulls Mingyu towards the bedroom.

"Hyung, are your hands always this cold?" Mingyu asks quietly, holding Wonwoo’s hand a bit tighter in his own.

"Yeah." Wonwoo looks down at his pale fingers. "My feet too."

"But is it uncomfortable for you?"

Wonwoo shakes his head as he turns on the lights of the bedroom. "My hands sometimes kind of hurt but it’s medically okay, so. I don’t really care."

"I’ll keep them warm. I’m always warm."

He really is.

Wonwoo snorts and lets go of Mingyu’s hand. "You’re really cheesy tonight."

"Not just tonight." Mingyu says, watching Wonwoo move around the room. "I usually just control myself around you so you won’t freak out."

"Why not tonight?"

"Because… you’re making me lose control."

Wonwoo turns around and gives Mingyu a blank look before shaking his head. Mingyu laughs and apologizes but Wonwoo shrugs him off when he tries to hug him.

It’s pretty late by now and Wonwoo feels the exhaustion from the day settle in his bones, his eyes starting to shut on their own.

Wonwoo rummages through his closet for a while until he finds a shirt that might fit Mingyu and doesn’t even bother looking for pants, since they’d be too tight and too short on Mingyu’s body. He finds one spare 99 cent toothbrush in a pack of ten in the cabinet under his sink and has no idea who bought and placed them there or what happened to the other nine of them.

It must’ve been Soonyoung, since he used to stay over here a lot more before he met Yuna.

They brush their teeth in front of the bathroom mirror and when Wonwoo looks at Mingyu through the mirror; Mingyu tries to give him a smile which results in toothpaste dribbling down his chin.

Wonwoo laughs and ends up spitting some of his own toothpaste on the mirror.

They create a bit of a mess but Mingyu looks so happy and Wonwoo feels happy so he doesn’t really care.

It’s so silent in the apartment and it feels strangely dreamy, Mingyu yawning behind him and making sleepy sounds when Wonwoo opens the window to let some fresh air in. He shuts the blinds in case it starts to rain and stops with his arms in the air when Mingyu steps up behind him, leaning his head against Wonwoo’s neck.

"What are you doing?"

"I’m sleepy." Mingyu whispers against his skin. He brings his arms up to give Wonwoo a lazy hug. "Put me to sleep."

"You’re not a baby, Mingyu." Wonwoo smiles and finishes rolling down the blinds. He doesn’t move once he’s done, if only to stay in Mingyu’s warm embrace for a moment longer.

"Maybe I want to be your baby."

"You do?" Wonwoo turns around, laughing when he’s met with Mingyu’s lazy smile.

"Mhm. Hey there, handsome."

"What’s up with you?" Wonwoo snorts. He reaches out to fix Mingyu’s bangs, his eyes taking in the boy’s features when he closes his eyes and lets Wonwoo card his fingers through his hair.

"I’m tired." Mingyu yawns. "And I’m being needy. Ignore me."

Wonwoo smiles and leans up to press a fleeting kiss against Mingyu’s cheek. He knows he’s not the most affectionate person in the world while Mingyu is the exact opposite. It must be frustrating for Mingyu but Wonwoo tries to be better for him.

It works because Mingyu blushes and lights up. "You’re cute."

Wonwoo snickers and reaches out to turn Mingyu around and guide him to the bed before Mingyu can come up with more cheesy lines that will probably make Wonwoo blush.

They slip into the bed, and Wonwoo proceeds to lie on his back rigidly, only now actually realizing that Mingyu is lying beside him. In his apartment.

In a bed.

This is where they should… this is where Wonwoo has to kiss him and try to turn him on so that Mingyu can get rid of his sexual frustration, right?

"Stop thinking." Mingyu mumbles - like he can hear Wonwoo’s thoughts - and he rolls over, throwing an arm around Wonwoo and pulling him into his chest.

He’s spooning Wonwoo.

Wonwoo is frozen in Mingyu’s embrace for three whole seconds before he wills himself to stop acting like an idiot and melts into Mingyu’s warmth. Mingyu’s palm is pressed against the space between his stomach and his chest, and Wonwoo feels the warmth of his skin seep through his shirt.

"Is this okay?" Mingyu asks, his lips brushing against the back of Wonwoo’s neck. Wonwoo shudders, almost shying away from him because it sends tingles all over his back. It tickles but at the same time it’s too much.

It’s his sensitive spot, but no one really knows that.

"I think I should be the big spoon." Wonwoo mumbles, smiling when he feels a laugh rumble in Mingyu’s chest.

"But you’re so tiny." Mingyu whispers. "It would be awkward."

"I’m older."

"That doesn’t matter."

"I’m more manly."

Mingyu cackles at that and only stops when Wonwoo stabs his elbow into his ribs. "Just messing with you."

Wonwoo feels so, so sleepy. Mingyu’s soothing voice and the distant feeling of his gentle heartbeat against Wonwoo’s back are nearly lulling him into sleep right away.

They stay silent for a minute or longer, and while Wonwoo blinks his eyes against the darkness he wonders why Mingyu isn’t even trying anything with him. This would be the perfect opportunity to do it, so why isn’t he?

Does he not want to?

Or is he waiting for Wonwoo to give him his okay? Wonwoo doesn’t think he’d ever be okay with that level of intimacy, but he knows it would make Mingyu happy, and that’s kind of all that matters to him at this point.

If Mingyu was telling the truth, he hasn’t slept with anyone ever since this thing between him and Wonwoo started and while Wonwoo can’t relate, he knows that a lot of people would go insane if they went that long without having sex.

Wonwoo feels like he owes him. Because Mingyu likes him and because Mingyu still hasn’t abandoned him and because Mingyu has treated him better than anyone ever has—

"Mingyu?"

Mingyu takes a second to respond, like he was on the brink of falling asleep, his voice already a little rough and muffled. "What?"

"What would you do if I told you I was asexual?"

Wonwoo holds his breath and squeezes his eyes shut when he feels Mingyu freeze behind him.

"W-What?"

"Do you know what that means?"

"Huh?" Mingyu sounds so lost. "Uhm, y-yeah. Of course. I know someone who is, uh, that."

"Asexual."

"Yeah… Asexual." Mingyu clears his throat. "Uhm. Are you?"

Wonwoo nibbles on his lower lip for a long time before he speaks again. Might as well get all his thoughts out now that he brought the subject up. "I've never had sex before. I was never— I was never attracted to anyone like that. So I don’t really know what that makes me."

Mingyu is silent for a few seconds, and Wonwoo feels on edge as he waits for him to speak. This can’t be easy to take in. Wonwoo is in his twenties and he’s never slept with anyone before. That’s not exactly a major turn-on nor can it be considered normal. And there is the fact that Mingyu is a young guy with a natural sex drive. Wonwoo telling him right now that it might never happen between them is bound to scare him off, right?

"It doesn’t have to make you anything. Screw labels." That’s all Mingyu says, as if the part about Wonwoo still being a virgin doesn’t matter to him at all.

"But… what would you do? If we—" Wonwoo feels his face get a little warm. "If we tried something, and I wouldn’t like it."

Mingyu takes his sweet time before he answers and Wonwoo feels his anxiety skyrocket again. He shouldn’t have brought it up. Mingyu may be sweet and understanding but this isn’t about that. This is something huge, and Wonwoo just dropped it on him out of nowhere.

"I would go and buy some lotion." Mingyu slowly says. "Cause I’d be jerking off a lot more from now on."

It takes Wonwoo a moment to understand what Mingyu means, and once he does, he sags against Mingyu’s chest, feeling relieved and overwhelmed but also… disappointed. And scared. Wonwoo doesn’t know why, but he almost wanted Mingyu to say that he wouldn’t be okay with it.

Any valid reason to… push Mingyu away.

"We could never have sex." Wonwoo tries.

"I would probably jack off to your voice." Mingyu makes a weird noise. "If you’d be fine with that."

"Mingyu."

"What do you want me to say?" Mingyu forces him to turn around, wearing a tired expression on his face. "Of course I want to have sex with you. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve thought about it a lot. But if you— hyung, if you were asexual, that would be okay. It’s not like that’s what defines you, and it’s definitely not the reason I like you so damn much."

Wonwoo stares at him, feeling at a loss for words. It doesn’t make sense. Mingyu liking Wonwoo just for who he is doesn’t make any sense. Mingyu accepting the fact that Wonwoo might never have sex with him and still choosing to be this nice to him doesn’t make sense. "Why are you so nice to me?"

"Because I like you."

"What’s there to like?"

Wonwoo wants to take his question back as soon as it’s out. He shouldn’t have.

Mingyu’s face falls and Wonwoo wants to turn it into a joke because he can’t handle the serious atmosphere. Mingyu looks crestfallen as he pulls Wonwoo closer, pressing a hesitant kiss against Wonwoo’s forehead. "Everything?"

Wonwoo has such a hard time believing in that. It doesn’t seem logical or right but he bites down on his tongue and tries to convince himself that Mingyu is telling the truth. That maybe Mingyu really does have that perception of Wonwoo when most people clearly don’t.

"You’re kind of amazing, Mingyu." Wonwoo says, feeling a lot better when Mingyu wraps his arms around him more securely.

"It hurts." Mingyu whispers against his temple. "That you think so lowly of yourself."

Wonwoo frowns to himself. "I didn’t mean to hurt you. I won’t say that again."

Mingyu tightens his arms around him. "Wonwoo hyung…"

Wonwoo doesn’t like the waver in Mingyu’s voice, and he knows he caused it, so he wraps his arms around Mingyu and nuzzles into his neck. "Stop. I’m okay."

"Are you really?"

"I promise."

Mingyu sighs, his lips brushing against Wonwoo’s forehead. "Sweet dreams, Wonwoo hyung."

"Sweet dreams, Mingyu."

 

 

 

Wonwoo has a strange feeling of déjà vu when he wakes up the next morning.

His head is resting on Mingyu’s outstretched arm which is partially curled around Wonwoo’s neck and shoulders, the same position they were in back at Soonyoung’s place after they went to see that horror movie at the cinema.

But that’s not the only familiar thing about the whole situation.

Something hard is pressing against Wonwoo’s thigh.

Mingyu’s dick is pressing against his thigh.

Wonwoo tries to untangle himself without waking Mingyu up, not wanting to make things awkward, but he isn’t successful in doing so because Mingyu stirs the moment Wonwoo tries to move away from him. He sleepily blinks at Wonwoo, and if the situation was different, Wonwoo would think that Mingyu's waking-up-face was the cutest thing in the whole world.

Mingyu looks disoriented for a moment, but it’s like he notices his situation just as quickly, because his ears turn red and he tries to move away not so subtly.

"This is so inconvenient after our conversation last night." He says, his morning voice raspy.

But his words cut the tension, and Wonwoo laughs before climbing out of the bed. "Happens to the best of us." He’s about to walk out of the room to go take a shower when Mingyu suddenly stops him.

"Hyung, wait" He says, sitting up on the bed. His hair is all over the place, and he still has one of his eyes squeezed shut, like half of him wants to be asleep.

Wonwoo has a hard time tearing his eyes away from his shirt hugging Mingyu’s torso for a moment. "What?"

"Do you jack off?"

"Do I what?"

"Do you jack off?" Mingyu repeats, slower this time. "Jerk off? Clean your rifle? Oil your pipe—"

"Stop it!" Wonwoo interrupts him, his face probably rivalling an overripe tomato. "I know what you mean."

Mingyu gives him a sleepy smirk. "So, do you?"

"Yes. I do." Wonwoo decides to answer honestly. It’s the least he can do, no matter how uncomfortable this subject makes him feel.

"Really?" Mingyu asks. "I thought asexuals don’t… Uh."

"I think that might be a misconception." Wonwoo chuckles nervously.

Mingyu looks embarrassed as he nods his head. "So… What do you think about when you do it?"

"Uhm. Nothing, really."

"…Nothing?"

"Yeah."

"But how do you get hard?"

"I just… do. I don’t have to think of someone to get hard."

"That— doesn’t sound right."

"Well, it works for me."

"Do you watch porn?"

"No."

"Have you ever watched porn?"

"Soonyoung made me watch some once."

"Huh? You watched porn with Soonyoung?!"

Wonwoo sighs. "I have to go shower."

"Are you gonna jack off in there?"

Wonwoo looks down at Mingyu’s lap, having had enough of his questions and decides to give him some of his own medicine for once. "Are you?"

Mingyu’s ears turn even more pink, if that’s even possible at this point, and Wonwoo knows the smile on his face when he turns around is more than just a little smug.

 

 

Their conversation before the shower might’ve been just mindless banter and not very serious, but it still got Wonwoo thinking.

Would he get hard if he thought about, like… Mingyu?

The thought doesn’t leave him even after he’s out of the shower, or even when he’s back in his room where he can’t help but notice the pillow now expertly placed on Mingyu’s lap to hide his problem.

Wonwoo tries to think of something else, because Mingyu being in the room and the two of them talking about such intimate things since yesterday night isn’t helping him calm down at all. He’s facing his closet while he quickly tries to change into a clean shirt when Mingyu’s voice interrupts him.

"Hyung, what is that?"

Wonwoo turns his head to give him a look over his shoulders. "What’s what?"

"On your back." Mingyu throws the pillow away, the tent in his boxers gone by now, before he gets up from the bed. He steps up right behind Wonwoo before he squats down and touches Wonwoo’s lower back.

Wonwoo faces his closet again, trying not to shudder when the pads of Mingyu’s fingers run over the knobs of his spine. "What is it?"

"You have bruises."

"What?" Wonwoo frowns and tries to look down his back but he doesn’t see much. "Where?"

"Here." Mingyu gently presses his index finger into the knobs of his spine. "Three of them."

"Oh." Wonwoo turns to face the closet again, shrugging his shoulders. "It must’ve happened when you pushed me against the table yesterday."

"What?" Mingyu sounds horrified. "Did I push you that hard?"

Wonwoo gives him a smile over his shoulders. "No, I just bruise easily. It didn’t even hurt."

"But it looks really bad." Mingyu looks so worried that it makes Wonwoo’s heart ache. "I can’t believe I actually hurt you."

"Mingyu, you didn’t do anything." Wonwoo says. "I get bruises all the time. I promise."

Mingyu says something Wonwoo doesn’t catch and when he turns around to ask he sees Mingyu kneeling down behind him. "What —"

"Turn around." Mingyu places his hands on Wonwoo’s waist and gently motions for him to turn back around. Wonwoo doesn’t know if he likes where this is going but he does as he’s told, and before he can ask what Mingyu’s doing he feels him press a kiss against one of the bruises.

Wonwoo freezes a little, his skin prickling. "What are you doing?"

"I’m kissing it better."

"You don’t have to—" Wonwoo starts, but Mingyu presses another kiss into his skin and he cuts himself off, holding his breath while he waits for Mingyu to stop.

But Mingyu doesn’t really stop; he just hesitates for a second after kissing all three bruises and then he just continues pressing his lips against Wonwoo’s skin, over his spine. They’re just soft kisses, gentle and warm, but something about the situation makes them seem so much more intimate.

Wonwoo’s eyes close on their own and he hopes Mingyu can’t see how his skin starts to prickle with goosebumps but he probably does, because the moment a shudder runs down Wonwoo’s spine Mingyu pulls away.

"Do you want me to stop?" Mingyu breath is right against the bottom of Wonwoo’s spine, so close and hot and Wonwoo has no idea where this is going.

"No." Wonwoo says before he starts overthinking. "Keep going."

Mingyu’s grip on Wonwoo’s hips tighten and when his lips are on Wonwoo’s skin again, the kisses are different; it’s like there’s an intention behind them and Wonwoo thinks Mingyu’s intention is to make Wonwoo pass out or something, because he starts peppering his skin with kisses until Wonwoo’s gut starts feeling tingly and hot.

Wonwoo gathers the little courage he has in his body before he slowly turns around, Mingyu’s hands falling from his hips. He looks down at him where Mingyu is still kneeling on the ground, his face dangerously close to what so far has been off limits to anyone that wasn’t Wonwoo’s own hands.

Mingyu stands up and they look each other in the eyes, Wonwoo’s heartbeat feeling like it’s counting down something and before Wonwoo can try to speak Mingyu steps into his space, cups his face and kisses the words right off his lips.

The room feels so warm, the air around them weighing down on Wonwoo; everything’s so hot and heavy that Wonwoo can’t really breathe, can’t really think of anything else but Mingyu’s mouth and his arms around Wonwoo’s waist.

It’s the most skin on skin contact Wonwoo’s ever had, and it’s almost too much but he— he really doesn’t want it to stop.

He pulls away from the kiss to catch his breath, and he feels Mingyu’s heavy exhales puff against his lips before Mingyu moves to his neck, the way he did yesterday night.

Wonwoo is too damn sensitive, and when Mingyu softly suckles on the skin he gives a full body shudder. Mingyu kisses him there as if to calm him down and then he’s pressing Wonwoo up against the closet, careful of his bruises.

He pulls their bodies flush together, and Wonwoo tries not to freak out over the fact that their hips are pressed together, that he can feel Mingyu, and that this is actually happening. Mingyu gently bites into his skin, his teeth sinking into Wonwoo’s shoulder and Wonwoo’s hips buck into Mingyu’s on their own at the feeling.

"Hyung can we—" Mingyu starts when things start getting a little frantic and desperate, and his voice suddenly sounds so much deeper. "If you want to stop you should tell me now."

"N-No" Wonwoo feels confused but more than that he feels— he feels almost a bit needy for Mingyu’s touch and his lips and the way his body is caging him in. "Don’t stop."

Mingyu comes up to face him and Wonwoo bites down on his lip when he sees the look in Mingyu’s eyes; they seem darker and full of want and unmistakable lust, something Wonwoo has never had directed at him.

He looks confused and Wonwoo gets it; this isn’t exactly what he must’ve prepared himself for after Wonwoo practically told him he might not be interested in sex last night.

Mingyu pulls Wonwoo away from the closet and has him pressed down against the bed only moments later. He kneels down on the mattress and reaches a hand behind his neck, pulling his shirt off in one swift moment.

Wonwoo silently watches him, his chest heaving because of his nerves and how good Mingyu looks. He’s seen him shirtless before but not in this context.

Definitely not in this context.

Mingyu gives Wonwoo a smile because he can’t stop ogling him like a creep, and then he shuffles forward, gently parting Wonwoo’s legs so he can move between them. He does this slowly, his muscles flexing beneath his golden skin and Wonwoo just can’t look away.

He’s never seen anything more beautiful than Mingyu.

Wonwoo makes a weird noise when Mingyu moves one of his hands down to grip Wonwoo’s thigh, gripping it almost a little possessively and bringing it up to press it against his hip.

"What?" Mingyu asks, making Wonwoo wrap his leg around his hip.

"Nothing." Wonwoo assures him, but his voice shakes. He knows he’s too old to be this nervous about something as simple as sex, but he feels like a complete virgin.

He is a virgin, and Wonwoo can’t help but think about the fact that Mingyu stopped being one years ago, back in high school where he did all those things with his best friend, and with many other people after that as well.

"Don’t" Mingyu whispers. "Don’t overthink this. If you don’t like it we can stop anytime you want."

"I’m sorry." Wonwoo says, like a knee-jerk reaction. He doesn’t even know what he’s apologizing for.

Mingyu furrows his eyebrows, looking confused and like Wonwoo’s words pain him. His eyes are searching Wonwoo’s, and it feels like Mingyu’s trying to see through his walls, like he’s trying to find out what exactly Wonwoo is hiding that makes him act the way he does.

And Wonwoo really can’t have that, so he quickly pulls Mingyu down to press their lips together.

He closes his eyes when Mingyu runs his tongue over his bottom lip. He didn’t realize Mingyu was holding up his own weight until he shifts and lowers himself, their hips slotting together.

Wonwoo sucks in a breath and pulls away from the kiss, his lips parting against Mingyu’s, unmoving for a moment.

"You’re hard." Mingyu whispers, sounding a little confused but mostly surprised and excited. He has Wonwoo caged in, holding himself up on his forearms, their noses touching and breaths mixing between their lips.

"I’m… aware."

"Am I still okay to go on?"

"Y-Yeah."

Mingyu hesitatingly presses his hips down, and he does this until Wonwoo’s loins start burning in the best way possible, his stomach heating up and thighs tingling. Wonwoo bites down on his lip so hard the skin turns white, too scared of making any sounds. Mingyu doesn’t seem to approve, and it only drives him on more, trying to get those sounds to leave Wonwoo’s mouth by massaging Wonwoo’s lips open with his own.

He succeeds, and Wonwoo barely has time to be embarrassed about the whimper leaving his mouth.

It isn’t like the feeling on its own is new. Wonwoo knows how it feels, he knows what this kind of pleasure feels like, but not when it’s another causing those feelings.

But then again, this is Mingyu. It’s Mingyu’s scent around him, it’s his body pressing down on him, warm and solid and heavy, Mingyu’s soft exhales against his ear.

Mingyu is an exception in every way possible.

It’s all running so smoothly, but of course whatever higher power controls these kinds of things wouldn’t ever allow things in Wonwoo’s life to do something ridiculous like running smoothly.

That higher power sends his little brother barging into the room.

"Hyung I’m ba—AAAH oh my god!"

Wonwoo knees Mingyu in his crotch in his haste to get him off, and as if that wasn’t already enough he ends up knocking Mingyu from the bed. He throws him a pillow so Mingyu can cover himself and ends up whacking him in the face with it. Wonwoo is practically beating Mingyu up, what the fuck

"What’s going on?" Soonyoung suddenly appears behind Chan, wearing a confused expression that quickly turns into one of great satisfaction once he makes sense of the entire situation.

Wonwoo looks at his brother who looks so red in the face Wonwoo fears he might either pass out or have another asthma attack.

Then he looks at Soonyoung who might just be seconds away from taking a Snapchat to send it to their friends.

And he briefly glances at Mingyu who is sitting on the floor with a pained expression on his face, hands cupped around the front of his boxers in a pathetic attempt to hide his very obvious boner. Either that or he’s massaging his balls since Wonwoo nearly broke them just now.

"I’m so sorry for interrupting." His best friend sends them a smug smirk, and his eyes - very slowly - travel south to Wonwoo’s underwear. He arches an eyebrow at Wonwoo who quickly mirrors Mingyu and cups his hands around the front of his underwear. "Please continue."

Mingyu suddenly gets up to throw a pillow on Wonwoo’s lap, trying to shield him from Soonyoung’s eyes. "Stop staring."

Wonwoo glances at Mingyu and in any other situation, he would've laughed at the rather endearing glare Mingyu sends in Soonyoung’s direction.

"He’s my best friend, dude." Soonyoung rolls his eyes. "It’s nothing I haven’t seen before."

Chan, who’s been standing there in silence so far, awkwardly clears his throat and points his thumb behind his back, slowly backing out of the room. "I’ll just… uhm, go and bleach my eyes or something."

Wonwoo wants the ground to swallow him up whole.

 

 

 

"So if you’re not asexual" Soonyoung tilts his head, his eyes narrowed as he watches Wonwoo struggling to get the cream whipper in his hand to work. "What are you, Jeon Wonwoo?"

Wonwoo doesn’t even bother looking up at him, trying to unscrew the lid of the can again to see what on earth is preventing the cream from coming out. Soonyoung hasn’t stopped teasing him about that incident ever since it happened two days ago, so Wonwoo is trying to give him the cold shoulder.

Jeonghan sighs from where he’s sitting next to Soonyoung at the counter, calmly sipping on his milkshake with his eyes focused on Wonwoo. "Don’t be so dramatic, Soonyoung."

"I’m not dramatic." Soonyoung turns to face him. "I just want to help him understand himself better."

"Never asked for your help." Wonwoo quietly says, like he’s repeating himself for the umpteenth time. He screws the lid back on and presses the handle of the whipper down, causing something inside to click.

The whipped cream practically explodes, all over the counter and on Wonwoo’s apron. He stares at the mess for a few seconds, his friends both bursting into laughter in front of him simultaneously.

Wonwoo really hopes no one but the two of them saw that happen.

He starts cleaning up the mess, looking up to glare at his friends because they’re still kind of wheezing from laughter.

"Oh come on, Won. That was fucking hilarious!"

Wonwoo drops his serious act and gives Soonyoung an embarrassed look. "I bet it looked really stupid."

"Looked like something really dirty, actually." Jeonghan chuckles, his smile widening when Wonwoo rolls his eyes at him.

"Soonyoung can’t relate." Wonwoo mumbles as he cleans the white streaks from his arms.

"Hey!" Soonyoung gives them both an affronted look when Jeonghan laughs, clearly amused. "Look at him, he got the D once and now he’s—"

"I didn’t!" Wonwoo hisses. "And my boss is here, tone it down."

"This is fun. You two are like a bunch of high schoolers." Jeonghan snorts, taking the lid of his milkshake off so he can lick at the whipped cream on top.

"Anyway," Soonyoung says. "Let’s continue talking about you and Mingyu doing the dirty in Chan’s bed—"

"It’s my bed" Wonwoo leans over the counter so quickly his best friend nearly falls from his chair in his haste to save his own life. "And we didn’t do anything."

"But you wanted to, and that’s exactly the point. I don’t get it." Soonyoung sighs after sitting up properly again. "You were so confused about this whole asexuality thing, and now you’re just shrugging it off like it’s not important?"

"I’m not shrugging anything off." Wonwoo takes the dirty towels over to the sink to rinse them off. "I’m just confused, okay?"

"Yeah well, luckily we have this very reliable source to turn to in these situations. They’ve never let us down before." Soonyoung pulls out his phone as he speaks.

"Who are you talking about?" Jeonghan wants to know, wearing an amused expression.

"Almighty google." Soonyoung looks at his screen for a moment, a frown appearing on his face. "I have no idea what to search."

"Give that to me." Jeonghan snatches the phone out of Soonyoung’s hands, starting to type away on the touchscreen once it's in his hands. "Does demisexuality say something to you?" He asks after looking at the phone for a few moments, looking up at Wonwoo to show him that the question was directed at him.

"Uhm. No? Should it?"

"I’ve never heard of it, so I guess not." Jeonghan shrugs. "Alright, so apparently demisexuality is somewhere on the ace-spectrum. It says demisexuality is a sexual orientation where you feel sexual attraction only to someone you have an emotional bond with." He looks up at Wonwoo again, raising an eyebrow. "Does that seem about right?"

Wonwoo stands there like an idiot, a dripping towel in his hand, taking in the new information. "Maybe."

Jeonghan smiles and gives Soonyoung his phone back. "Well then, congrats. Now you know."

Soonyoung is gaping, and so is Wonwoo.

"Are there actually labels for everything these days?" Soonyoung asks. "Like, I don’t mean to be offensive but come on."

"Nah, it might seem stupid to you, but some people actually need to know those things in order to identify themselves. Helps you understand your body and your mind a lot better. Nothing wrong with that." Jeonghan shrugs and sips on his strawberry milkshake again.

"I guess so." Soonyoung mumbles after a beat of silence, sounding slightly embarrassed. "Hey Won, I’m really sorry I was such an insensitive fuck."

"As expected of you heterosexuals." Jeonghan sighs, ignoring the glare he gets from Soonyoung.

"That's discriminating, hyung."

"What did you just say?"

"I said you were being discriminating."

"No, I wasn't. That's not even possible."

"I don't care. I feel discriminated."

"Sit your straight offended ass back down before I show you my ugly side." Jeonghan blinks at him, completely serious.

Wonwoo laughs at them, finally remembering to throw the towel away. He gets them to stop bickering like two little kids and Soonyoung pouts, apologizing to him again. "I’m not mad at you, Soonyoung. I wouldn’t know what I was doing with my life if it wasn’t for you guys." He gives them both what he hopes is a thankful smile, and feels his chest warm up when both his friends give him warm smiles in return.

He thought he’d feel a lot better if he knew more about his sexuality, but he doesn’t feel all that different. If anything, it feels like he’s been trying to force a label on himself.

Sure, it’s extremely nice and comforting to know that there are people out there that might actually feel just like Wonwoo. That he isn’t as abnormal as he thought he was. And things make more sense now as well; why he couldn’t get it up with that one girl that he made out with at that party, or why he could never imagine himself doing anything sexual with anyone, no matter how attractive they were.

But Mingyu told him to screw labels, and apparently, Wonwoo has lately started taking Mingyu’s words to heart without even realizing it.

Wonwoo is just Wonwoo at the end of the day, and he thinks that’s all that matters.

 

 

His birthday approaches a lot faster than Wonwoo expected and with that, two major headaches; his appointment at the therapist Jeonghan fixed for him and more importantly, his plans on officially asking Mingyu out.

Wonwoo has no idea how to do it and he is not sure if he’s ready for it. Not at all.

But it’s been months, and he knows he’s made Mingyu trail after him like a puppy and it’s just not fair.

And really, he’d rather have his anxiety swallow him up whole than risk losing Mingyu for good.

Two nights before his birthday Mingyu texts him and asks him to get ready and that he will be picking him up in half an hour.

Wonwoo wants to know why but Mingyu doesn’t care to elaborate, so Wonwoo quickly puts on a hoodie since it’s already dark outside and bound to get colder the later it gets. He tells Chan as much, who nods and has this look in his eyes - the one he’s had ever since he walked in on him and Mingyu.

Like he expects them to be doing that whenever Wonwoo tells him that he’s hanging out with Mingyu.

And honestly, after all the teasing he’s went through courtesy of his friends and the first few awkward days between him and Chan he just doesn’t really have the nerve to tell his little brother that Mingyu and him do not go at it every time they see each other.

Mingyu and him haven’t talked about the incident either apart from Mingyu apologizing for putting him in an uncomfortable situation when they saw each other again for the first time after it happened. Wonwoo assured him that he didn't. Then there was a moment of silence before Mingyu cleared his throat and nervously looked at him to ask him if he would've gone further if they didn't get interrupted.

Wonwoo tried to hide his own nerves since he saw how much it must’ve kept Mingyu awake for the past few days, so he gave him a quick smile and told him that he’s pretty sure he would’ve liked whatever they would’ve done if Chan and Soonyoung didn’t walk in on them.

Mingyu blinked at him before breaking out into one of his breathtaking smiles. He took Wonwoo’s hand and said he was relieved to hear that and Wonwoo is pretty sure Mingyu was thinking about it right then, because he suddenly got extremely flustered and his tell-tale red ears were back, too.

 

 

Mingyu’s already waiting for him in the parking lot by the time Wonwoo arrives. Wonwoo slides into the passenger seat, putting his seatbelt on before he turns to greet Mingyu. They smile at each other for a moment, both of them kind of blushing for seemingly no reason.

He guesses they should really stop acting like this given how long they’ve known each other already, but Wonwoo doesn’t think he minds it all that much. He still gets butterflies around Mingyu and wonders if Mingyu feels the same.

Probably not.

"Where are we going?"

"It’s a surprise." Mingyu says as he pulls out of the parking lot. He’s wearing shorts and a soft looking hoodie, his hair a little messy and Wonwoo feels the sudden urge to hug him, which he quickly tries to shake off.

It smells like pink sands in Mingyu’s car. That’s not how exactly how Wonwoo would describe the smell - it's sweet and fruity mixed with something that reminds him of the salty scent of the sea - but it’s what’s written on the little air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror.

The windows are rolled down and Wonwoo blinks his eyes against the warm night air. Summer’s getting closer rapidly and the weather’s been really warm for the past two weeks. Wonwoo might be more of a rainy weather person, but he likes this as well.

The calmness of the night, the warm breeze, the whole city seemingly more alive and… happier. Like the people aren’t ready to go to sleep yet, staying up to do things like having long and deep conversations on their balconies with a few bottles of cheap beer and peanuts that are way too salty.

Not that Soonyoung and him did that yesterday night.

"We’re going to the lookout again?" Wonwoo asks once he realizes which road Mingyu is taking.

"Yeah. Is that okay?"

Wonwoo gives him a smile. "Yeah, sure." It’s been a while since they last came here, even though it feels like it was only yesterday.

Mingyu grabs his backpack from the backseat after parking the car and he hesitatingly reaches his hand out for Wonwoo to take. It hurts a bit that Mingyu still thinks Wonwoo will reject him, but he guesses that’s mostly his own fault.

Wonwoo grabs his hand and laces their fingers together tightly, standing close enough to Mingyu for their arms to press together.

And Mingyu just looks so happy, hiding his smile by looking at the ground and the sight makes Wonwoo’s heart swell in his chest achingly slow.

The lookout isn’t empty like it was last time; there are a few couples and groups of people sitting on picnic blankets on the grass, listening to music, drinking, kissing.

Wonwoo stumbles when he sees three girls sitting together, all of them subtly feeling each other up, and he nearly does a face plant in the ground if it weren’t for Mingyu who quickly catches him by his arm.

"Didn’t know you were into voyeurism." Mingyu snickers at the blush high on Wonwoo’s cheeks.

"Shut up." Wonwoo stutters, clearing his throat as he averts his eyes far away from anything that’s going on around them. Mingyu looks way too amused, the stupid smile on his face not even fading when Wonwoo elbows him in his ribs.

Mingyu pulls him to the very front of the lookout, right in front of the immediate drop behind the small guardrail where there are no people.

It’s almost the same spot they sat in last time and when Wonwoo tells Mingyu as much, the younger nods his head and says "The cherry tree still hasn’t grown."

Wonwoo laughs at that and helps Mingyu spread the blanket on the ground. "You came prepared."

"Well, yeah. I have plans."

"Plans?"

"You’ll see." Mingyu gives him a lopsided smile and Wonwoo wants to kiss him, but he holds himself back and sits down on the blanket next to him.

Wonwoo can hear people making out behind them and he’s not sure why; they’re at least twenty feet away from them. It makes him feel slightly embarrassed, like they’re invading those couples’ privacies. He gets distracted by the noises when Mingyu opens his backpack and pulls out something big and round and green.

A watermelon.

Wonwoo’s face lights up at the sight of the fruit; he hasn’t eaten any this year yet and he can’t even hide how much he’s been craving it. Mingyu smiles at his expression. "Good surprise?"

"Very good surprise." Wonwoo replies, but then he notices a dried graze on Mingyu’s shin and remembers how he actually asked Mingyu to get him a watermelon last time he stole those cherries from that farmer. "You stole it."

Mingyu stops cutting into the watermelon and shakes his head. "I would never."

"Where is this from, then?" Wonwoo leans closer and brushes his fingers over the small injury. It's nothing bad, but he really doesn't like seeing Mingyu hurt in any shape or form.

"I, uhm. Fell."

"You’re not a good liar, Mingyu."

"You get angry when I mention it." Mingyu sighs and sticks the knife into the melon for a moment to look up at Wonwoo. "Yeah okay, I stole it from that asshole farmer. Scraped my knee on the fence when we had to run."

Wonwoo wants to scold him, but Mingyu obviously did it to make Wonwoo happy, and Wonwoo doesn’t have the heart to ruin Mingyu’s mood right now. He places his palm over the scrape and nods his head. "Just be careful."

Mingyu seems a bit surprised about Wonwoo dropping the issue so easily, but he quickly nods his head and starts cutting the watermelon again. He hands Wonwoo a slice and when Wonwoo bites into it he’s glad that it isn’t an overripe one. He hates it when they get all mealy.

They make a huge mess, because the juice drips everywhere and it gets on Wonwoo’s shirt and Mingyu’s shorts. Mingyu looks concerned but Wonwoo smiles and says it’s okay, since it’s mostly just water anyway.

Mingyu spits the seeds at him and Wonwoo is angry at first because it’s disgusting but Mingyu starts attacking him with them like a freaking kid, so Wonwoo gives it back to him twice as bad. One of the seeds Wonwoo spits out ends up hitting Mingyu’s eye.

Mingyu starts crying.

Wonwoo is torn between laughing and apologizing and Mingyu wails that he’s blind and Wonwoo leans closer, still giggling like a maniac as he tries to blow some air in Mingyu’s watering eye.

Mingyu just stares at him once Wonwoo pulls back, still laughing a bit.

"What?" Wonwoo asks because Mingyu keeps looking at him.

"You have such a pretty smile." Mingyu says, his cheeks reddening. "My heart… like, it flutters like crazy whenever you smile."

Wonwoo has no idea what’s gotten into Mingyu, why he’s being so… so loving lately and he also doesn’t know how to handle it, so he ends up doing what he always does; he blushes like mad which makes Mingyu grin from ear to ear.

Mingyu did come prepared after all, because a moment later he pulls out a small pack of baby wipes and pulls Wonwoo’s hands into his lap, starting to clean them with the wipes.

"I can do it myself." Wonwoo mumbles, feeling a little warm in the face which isn’t caused by the humid air around them. Mingyu is being too gentle with him, carefully cleaning Wonwoo’s palms and arms where the juice ran down.

Wonwoo looks up at him, at Mingyu's concentrated face, his glowing skin, his long eyelashes, and feels his heart shout at him, pounding wildly inside his ribcage. Whenever Mingyu treats him like this, with so much care and kindness, Wonwoo wants to hide in his room and ignore the whole world for a few days.

It’s too much.

Wonwoo isn’t used to actions like that.

Mingyu notices his eyes on him and stops cleaning his hands, lifting his head to meet his eyes. "What?"

Wonwoo shakes his head. "Nothing."

Mingyu’s eyes flicker over his face and he’s suddenly wearing the same expression he had a few days ago when they were starting to get intimate; like he’s looking for an answer to his questions. "Wonwoo hyung, why… why do I sometimes feel like you’re hiding things from me?"

They stare at each other for a few seconds, Wonwoo feeling strangely caught. "What do you mean?"

"I don’t really know." Mingyu puts the baby wipes away and instead starts tracing mindless patterns on Wonwoo’s open palms. "When I do certain things, you get this look in your eyes. It makes me scared, in a way. You look really sad. Like… Like it’s completely foreign to you that people treat you in a certain way."

Wonwoo looks down at their hands, the paleness of his own skin, how tiny his fingers look compared to Mingyu’s. He should really eat more. Soonyoung is starting to drill his ass again about it—

"Hyung." Mingyu whispers, trying to get his attention again. Wonwoo was silent for too long. "What’s wrong?"

"Nothing." Wonwoo quickly says. "I’m sorry if it made you worry. You shouldn’t worry."

"Well, I do. You mean a lot to me, if you didn’t know."

"You mean a lot to me, too." Wonwoo swallows nervously. Mingyu gives him a warm smile that encourages Wonwoo to give him some sort of explanation, but he doesn’t even know what he’s supposed to tell Mingyu at this point. "I don’t hide things from you."

Mingyu gives him a confused look, but he slowly nods his head. "You can talk to me if something is bothering you. You know that, right?"

Wonwoo wonders if he should tell Mingyu that he’s going to see a therapist, but he’d rather not risk scaring him away with it. It makes things sound more serious than they really are.

"I know. But there is nothing to talk about." Wonwoo says. "I promise."

Mingyu gives him a long look before he suddenly leans in and kisses Wonwoo’s cheek. "I just want you to be okay. I hate feeling like there’s something wrong and I can’t help. I want you to be happy."

Wonwoo feels a little overwhelmed by Mingyu’s words. He knows Mingyu likes Wonwoo to a certain degree, but he still can’t figure out just what kind of feelings Mingyu has for him. "I’m happy." He says, clearing his throat as his face heats up. "You make me happy."

It makes Mingyu smile timidly. "Good. Because you make me really happy, too."

Does he really?

People usually feel annoyed by Wonwoo’s presence and how complicated he is. He’s not very funny, doesn’t really have any talents.

His grandmother used to say he was like the huge stones that were stuck in the soil and wouldn't budge when she tried to get them out; a nuisance and waste of space.

Wonwoo ignores his thoughts and reaches for the pack of baby wipes, cleaning Mingyu’s cheeks that are a little stained. He laughs when Mingyu makes an embarrassed noise, complaining that Wonwoo should’ve told him sooner. He also cleans Mingyu’s sticky hands and Mingyu’s eyes are extremely fond while he watches Wonwoo do that for him in return.

Once he’s done he impulsively leans in and pecks Mingyu’s lips, grinning when Mingyu gets flustered and quickly reaches into his backpack again.

He’s holding a long, rectangular box in his hands. It’s wrapped in blue wrapping paper (the same colour of Mingyu’s beanie he usually wears around almost every day) and it even has a bow on it. He holds it out for Wonwoo to take.

"What is this?" Wonwoo asks, not immediately taking the box.

"I know your birthday is in two days but I… I couldn’t wait." Mingyu explains a little sheepishly. "I finished it today and I’ve been working on it for over a month now and I really just want to give it to you—"

"W-Wait" Wonwoo interrupts Mingyu’s rambling. "You made something for me?"

Mingyu clears his throat, his ears red. "Yes."

"You shouldn’t have made me anything." Wonwoo doesn’t know why he feels so shaken. "I don’t need anything, Mingyu."

"I know that. But it’s your birthday. You usually give people presents on their birthday." Mingyu chuckles.

"But Mingyu—"

"Hyung, just open it."

Wonwoo realizes that it’s really not polite of him to leave Mingyu hanging like this, especially when he actually made something for Wonwoo himself. He carefully takes the box from Mingyu’s hands and starts to open it, careful not to rip the wrapping paper.

"It’s just wrapping paper. You can rip it." Mingyu laughs.

He finally manages to get the box out without tearing anything even though Mingyu told him to. Wonwoo has no idea what to expect when he opens the lid, and there’s a layer of fabric covering the inside so he carefully folds it open and then he just kind of stares at the object lying inside.

"You—" He starts after he finds his voice again. "You made this?"

"Uncle gave me time to work on it… I had to pull a few all-nighters but I wanted it to be perfect." Mingyu mumbles. Wonwoo can hear how nervous he sounds and he wishes he could give him a better reaction, but he’s just so taken aback.

He gulps heavily and forces himself to pick the item up. It weighs almost nothing and the frame looks so delicate and beautiful Wonwoo fears he’ll break it.

"They’re really sturdy. Don’t worry." Mingyu encourages him. "If the correction isn’t good I can change the lenses or if the temple tips or nose pads aren’t comfortable I can adjust them but I checked and they should be fine. Or… uhm, if you hate it that’s fine too—"

"It’s pretty." Is all Wonwoo says, his voice lost in the midst of all the conversations going on in the background.

Wonwoo knows Mingyu makes spectacles, and he’s good at his job, having learned everything from uncle, but he doesn’t think he’s ever seen a model as beautiful as this one.

They're wire-rimmed, like Wonwoo’s old glasses, but the frame is golden, a tinge of pink in the colour when he tilts them. The surface is matte rather than the faded silver of his usual glasses. It looks so pristine and expensive. Definitely not something that should belong to Wonwoo.

He knows the spectacles at uncle’s shop are rather high-end since they’re completely hand-made and the shop is quite well known all across the country.

There’s something engraved into the inside of the left temple and Wonwoo has to squint his eyes to read what it says.

It says Made by Mingyew

Wonwoo feels his heart stop a bit. Mingyu wrote his name wrong. How is Wonwoo supposed to tell Mingyu that he wrote his name wrong—

And then it hits him.

"Mingyew." He says, and then he laughs, his eyes burning. That seems like such a long time ago, too.

"I was thinking about writing asswipe but uncle wouldn’t let me." Mingyu explains. Wonwoo looks up at him, not really knowing what to say. "Do you like it?"

"Of course I do." Wonwoo says. "This must’ve been so much work. You could’ve earned so much money in that time, Mingyu, why did you—"

"Hey, stop." Mingyu shakes his head. "It was worth it. If you’re happy, it was worth it."

Wonwoo feels kind of helpless in that moment. Helplessly attached to this guy and his big heart and everything about him. Wonwoo shuffles closer until Mingyu gets the hint and pulls him into his arms. Wonwoo hides his face in Mingyu’s neck, careful not to break the glasses. "Thank you. This is the best present anyone's ever given me."

Mingyu buries his nose in the crook of Wonwoo’s neck, pulling him in even closer with his arms wrapped around Wonwoo’s waist securely, whispering against his skin. "Anything for you."

Mingyu's words make his heart feel too big for his chest. No one has ever done anything like this for Wonwoo. No one has ever sacrificed so much time and effort for him.

Wonwoo burrows himself deeper into Mingyu’s warm embrace, wishing he could give Mingyu back half as much as Mingyu is constantly giving him. "Mingyu… Mingyu I—"

Maybe it’s good that Mingyu’s phone starts ringing right there. Wonwoo doesn’t know what was going to leave his mouth if it didn’t interrupt them.

"Your phone." Wonwoo mumbles when Mingyu doesn’t move to answer it. They both seem reluctant to let go of each other and Mingyu actually pulls him closer instead, groaning into his neck.

"I don’t really care."

Wonwoo smiles and gently pushes him away. "It might be important."

Mingyu sighs and reaches into his pocket. His face does something weird when he sees the caller ID and Wonwoo immediately has a bad feeling about this.

"Hello?" Mingyu speaks into his phone, averting his eyes from Wonwoo’s face. "I’m out with… a friend."

Wonwoo’s heart sinks a bit.

A friend.

They’re not friends.

They’re so much more than that.

He looks at the glasses in his hand, gently brushing his thumb over the smooth surface. He blanks out Mingyu’s voice. Somehow he just knows he won’t like what he would be hearing if he did listen.

The cautious look on Mingyu’s face when he hangs up a minute later proves as much. "That was Junhong." He says. The name doesn’t ring any bells. "The friend I told you about? Who’s staying with my parents?"

That Junhong. Mingyu’s childhood friend. Mingyu’s first kiss. Mingyu’s many other firsts.

"Oh." Wonwoo gives him a nervous smile. "What did he say?"

"He’s coming to visit me." Mingyu watches Wonwoo’s expression carefully.

"Oh." Wonwoo needs to stop saying oh. "That’s nice."

Mingyu puts his phone away, nodding his head. "Yeah. You’ll probably like him. He’s a huge book nerd." Mingyu smiles and Wonwoo can’t help but feel scared.

Junhong might just be a better version of Wonwoo.

"I’m, uh, excited to meet him." Wonwoo’s voice cracks and he closes his eyes, hating himself for not being able to hide his emotions. His hands are shaking, too, and he has no idea why he’s suddenly acting like this.

Mingyu moves closer to him on the blanket, and he quietly takes Wonwoo’s glasses off, folding them before he places them on his backpack. He takes the new glasses from Wonwoo’s hands and carefully puts them on Wonwoo’s face, Wonwoo closing his eyes while Mingyu secures them on his nose. "Does it hurt anywhere?"

Wonwoo looks up at him. "No."

"You look really good." Mingyu smiles, almost a little proudly. "So damn cute."

Wonwoo wants to scold him for treating him like a freaking baby or something, but he suddenly feels so tired. He just smiles and averts his eyes.

Mingyu sighs and pulls Wonwoo into another hug.

This one feels a little desperate.

Wonwoo clings to Mingyu’s back, his face pressed into Mingyu’s neck, taking in his comforting scent, a mixture of coconut and deodorant and a little sweat from the warm weather.

He doesn’t know why it feels like he will lose Mingyu once he pulls away, so he holds as tightly as he can.

 

 

Choi Junhong is everything Wonwoo expected him to be and more.

When Mingyu introduces him the night before Wonwoo’s birthday, Wonwoo doesn’t know if he’s in awe of Mingyu’s childhood friend or if he wants to run away and hide himself from the eyes of the world.

He is that kind of person that could wear a stained, baggy shirt together with worn out sweatpants and still look like he’s ready to walk down a runway.

There’s a certain aura surrounding him that just gives away that he’s a foreigner, that he’s spent half of his life in a foreign country, made memories many people could only dream of, and that he can introduce himself in at least five languages.

"Junhong, this is Wonwoo hyung." Mingyu says, giving Wonwoo a cute smile. One of his hands is resting on Junhong’s shoulders while his other reaches for Wonwoo’s hand.

Mingyu stops himself and pulls his hand back to his side before he can touch Wonwoo and Wonwoo doesn’t understand; they’ve started holding hands in front of their friends a while ago.

Does Mingyu feel uncomfortable doing it in front of Junhong?

Wonwoo can’t figure it out, but he really, really wanted Mingyu to hold his hand.

"Wonwoo? Are you a new one?" Junhong asks, his smile bright as he shakes Wonwoo’s hand. His grip is strong, on the brink of being a bit uncomfortable but his hands are soft and warm. He also has this eye smile everyone usually dies for and his voice is pleasant and low. "Mingyu’s never mentioned you before."

Oh.

That’s why Mingyu didn’t want to hold his hand.

Mingyu’s face falls, and when Wonwoo meets his eyes there’s a hint of desperation swimming in them, as if Mingyu’s saying hyung, it’s not like that.

"You could say that." Wonwoo forces himself to smile. This isn’t Mingyu’s fault. He has absolutely no right to blame Mingyu. It was Wonwoo who didn’t want to label their relationship, so it’s only natural for Mingyu not to mention him to anyone apart from their friends who already know that they are involved in one way or another.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel like a punch to the gut.

"Nice glasses." Junhong points at them in Wonwoo’s face, giving him a sincere smile. "Love the colour!"

Wonwoo is wearing the glasses Mingyu made for him, and he nervously glances at him and finds that Mingyu is suddenly avoiding his gaze, his lips pressed together tightly. "Thank you." Wonwoo answers.

 

Their friends love Junhong.

While Wonwoo doesn’t really have a conversation with him and rather watches him get along with his friends, he can see that he has a great sense of humour and seems to be an easy-going, laid back guy. He’s charming and sophisticated, a confident smile grazing his features the whole night.

Wonwoo thinks Junhong is that type of guy that can juggle and lick his elbow, someone who could easily survive on a deserted island and he’s probably great with kids, too. The type of guy moms would swoon over; the perfect son in law.

The reason as to why Wonwoo is so painfully aware of the guy’s every word and move is because Junhong is sticking to Mingyu like glue the whole evening.

He never leaves Mingyu’s side, which means Wonwoo and Mingyu don’t really talk much either. Mingyu keeps looking at him, and he keeps sending him those adorable kicked-puppy looks and while Wonwoo feels the same way, he just feels so damn small.

They look good together. They’re both handsome, both popular, they look so comfortable together, too.

Only a fool would choose Wonwoo over someone like Junhong.

Throughout the night, Junhong expresses an overly attached behaviour towards Mingyu. It’s obvious in the way he smiles at him, how attentively he listens to everything Mingyu has to say, his arm resting around Mingyu’s shoulders, him leaning in close to whisper something into Mingyu’s ear that will make Mingyu laugh, his hand on Mingyu’s thigh almost possessively, like he wants everyone to know that Mingyu belongs to him.

Minghao picks up on it too, and he sends Wonwoo a long, unreadable look before he stalks out of the room with an annoyed expression on his face.

The worst part about it all is the way Junhong looks at Mingyu; he looks at Mingyu with so much longing and admiration and devotion in his eyes it makes Wonwoo feel a little sick to the stomach.

Junhong is completely in love with Mingyu.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

"Happy birthday Wonwoo!"

"Thank you, mom." A smile spreads on his face.

She sounds good.

She sounds better; happier.

"I wish I could be there." His mom sighs into the phone. Wonwoo can hear birds chirping in the background and he imagines her sitting in the garden in the countryside, drinking some ginger tea with a slice of lemon and a teaspoon full of honey in it. "How is your day going?"

"Mom, it’s nine in the morning." Wonwoo chuckles, leaning against the kitchen counter. "I just woke up."

"What do you mean you just woke up?" His mom sounds a little hysterical. "What about work? What about classes?!"

Wonwoo gets a bowl out of the cupboard after hearing Chan walk out of the room. His brother is sleepily buttoning up his school uniform, giving Wonwoo a grumpy nod in greeting. "My boss gave me the day off, and I don’t have any classes today."

"Is that mom?" Chan asks, reaching for the bowl of rice Wonwoo hands him.

Wonwoo nods. "Chan says hi."

"Oh, I just talked to him yesterday night." He hears the smile in the tone of her voice and tries to ignore the pang of guilt in his chest. Chan talks to her every day while Wonwoo has been very neglecting towards her. "Are you having a nice birthday party tonight?"

"I’m turning twenty-two" Wonwoo throws a napkin at Chan’s head when his brother gets the rice all over his uniform. "There’s no need for that."

"Oh, nonsense." His mom scolds him. "I don’t want you to spend your birthday on your own again, you hear me?"

Wonwoo sighs. "I’m not. Soonyoung’s forcing me to go out."

"That’s good!" His mom says enthusiastically. "I can always count on that boy. I’m glad you have friends like him."

Wonwoo decides not to mention to her how Soonyoung nearly flooded his entire apartment yesterday night after spotting a spider in his bathroom.

Or how he called Wonwoo right after, crying about having murdered said spider.

"Wonwoo, am I going to hell?"

"Soonyoung, cut it out it’s two in the morning—"

"But it was self-defence! I didn’t mean to kill the poor spider. What about its children? They’ve lost their mom or dad because of me. Oh my god, I’m going to hell Wonwoo!"

"You’d be going to hell for a lot of other things before the murder of a spider, Soonyoung."

He clears his throat, avoiding Chan’s eyes. "You sound better." His eyes flicker up and he catches his brother hiding his smile behind his bowl of rice. "How are you feeling?"

"I’m feeling a lot better." His mom says, her voice a mixture of serenity and guilt. "I think we will go back home after Chan’s graduation."

"That’s good…" Wonwoo trails off.

"You’ve been a huge help, Wonwoo. You know that, right? Your dad and I are so grateful for everything you've done."

"I didn’t do anything." Wonwoo laughs awkwardly.

"You did." She sighs. "When I get back, there are some things I want to talk to you about. I think we’ve been avoiding certain subjects, and it’s caused you more pain than it caused me."

Wonwoo’s face falls. He turns away from Chan. "I’m fine. There’s nothing to talk about."

"Wonwoo, please don’t do this again. I talked to your grandparents. They’re old now, Wonwoo. They don’t have time to be spiteful and they want to mend their relationship with you—"

"I don’t want to." Wonwoo interrupts her. He takes a calming breath, not wanting to lash out at her again like he did last time. "I honestly have zero interest in digging up things from the past."

There’s a moment of silence and Wonwoo just listens to the soothing sound of his mom’s breathing. "I understand. But in order for us to move on, we need to talk about everything eventually. Please don’t shut us out."

Wonwoo shakes his head. "I have to go."

"Okay just— Don’t skip your meals. Chan tells me you don’t eat enough. You’re fragile as it is, Wonwoo. Take care of yourself, okay? Don’t make me worry too much." She stops, as if she’s going to hang up but she makes an excited sound that startles Wonwoo. "Oh my gosh! Don’t think I’ve forgotten about your short story! I know you will write something brilliant so I’m not too worried. That’s all. I’m sorry for taking up your time. Have a nice birthday, love."

He didn’t think his mom would remember. He didn’t even think she was listening to him when he mentioned it offhandedly a few months ago. The guilt is threatening to swallow him up whole.

Wonwoo misses her so much. He just wants to sit down and talk, or rather simply listen to her talk and go on and on about her customers and show Wonwoo new decorations she’s bought for work because that always used to calm his nerves.

"Thank you for remembering." Wonwoo shakily says, gripping the phone tighter. "I will— I will make you proud."

"You always make me proud." His mom is smiling again and Wonwoo feels the urge to tell her so many things. Tell her about his appointment with the therapist… about Mingyu. "It was nice to hear your voice. I miss you a lot, Won."

Wonwoo hesitates, trying to answer her, but she hangs up before he can.

I miss you too, mom.

He puts the phone away and tries to shake off the heavy feeling in his chest.

Chan gives him a curious look when Wonwoo turns to face him again. "Everything okay?" His voice is muffled, a few grains of rice flying from his mouth as he speaks.

"Yeah. She sounded happy." Wonwoo clears his throat and goes to grab a bottle of water from the fridge.

"I know. She’s getting better, right?" Chan’s voice is filled with a childlike hope. Wonwoo walks over to his brother and ruffles his hair.

"Of course she is. Now eat up or you’ll be late for school."

Chan hums and reaches out to grip Wonwoo’s wrist when he’s about to walk away. "Here. Almost forgot."

Wonwoo looks down at his hand where Chan pressed something into his palm. "What is this?"

"Your birthday present." Chan looks a bit embarrassed and he runs his wrist over his mouth nervously. "I didn’t have any money and you didn’t like most presents I got you in the past anyway, so… I figured I’d give you something more boring. You know, like you." Chan laughs at the glare he receives but starts nibbling on his lower lip nervously when Wonwoo looks down at the present.

Wonwoo lifts the item up to inspect it and is a little surprised when he realizes that it’s a polaroid picture of him and Chan. He can’t remember when or where this was taken but judging by both their haircuts it’s a recent picture.

Wonwoo is sitting on a couch, looking rather uncomfortable and like he was forced to stay still for the picture and Chan is standing behind him, his arms curled around Wonwoo’s neck from behind and their cheeks squished together. Chan is doing a peace sign, smiling brightly into the camera.

There are messy words scribbled down with a black marker right under the picture where the white frame is bigger than on the other sides.

Happy birthday Wonwoo hyung :) Thank you for everything you always do for me. I know you don’t wanna hear this but I really love you! Best hyung in the world

Wonwoo doesn’t really know how to react. His chest feels all tight and weird and Chan is giving him this hopeful look. "When was this taken?"

Chan deflates a bit but he quickly masks his disappointment, putting on a wide smile. "Soonyoung hyung’s girlfriend took it when we went to his apartment to play Battlefield. It was like… a month ago? Don’t you remember?"

"Oh." Wonwoo does remember, but he was exhausted that night and nearly fell asleep with a controller in his hands. "Yeah, I do. I look half dead."

Chan laughs. "You always do, though."

Wonwoo softly smacks him upside the head before taking a look at the picture again. "Uhm. This is— this is really nice, Chan. Thank you."

He wants to say more but it’s not working, so he gives Chan a genuine smile which seems to be enough; Chan lights up and he looks like he did something right, as if Wonwoo liking his present really did mean that much to him.

Wonwoo puts the picture away in his wallet, tucking it in securely to make sure it won’t fall out.

 

 

 

Soonyoung drags him out of his apartment that night, saying that he shouldn’t spend his birthday locked up at home on his own. Wonwoo’s never really been too keen on celebrating his birthday; the most he always did was buy a cake and blow out candles at home with his family and Soonyoung.

But Soonyoung says they’re going to have a few beers over at Seungcheol’s house and that just a few of the guys will be there and it sounds nice enough, so after eating some cake with Chan, they walk to Seungcheol’s place.

It’s not as warm tonight; not the way it was when Mingyu took him to the lookout two days ago. It’s humid and feels like it’s going to rain.

Wonwoo feels on edge for no reason. There’s this hollow feeling of anxiety in his gut.

But everything is okay so maybe the strawberry milk he had earlier was out of date.

Soonyoung is talking to him about something while Wonwoo has his gaze fixed on the pavement, hands buried in his pockets.

"Hello? Are you even listening to me?"

"Sorry, I kind of zoned out. What were you saying?"

Soonyoung blinks at him before shrugging. "Forget it, it’s not important."

 

 

Turns out it’s not just a night in with the guys; there are more people present than he can count on both hands, and that’s only the ones that are within his line of sight.

When he walks into the place everyone in the room falls silent, turning around to give Wonwoo odd looks like they’re thinking what the hell is he doing here?

Wonwoo starts to feel uncomfortable after about three seconds of this, and he nearly turns around to hide himself behind his best friend but before he can do that, everyone breaks out into smiles, and suddenly there’s confetti and balloons everywhere and all of them are wishing him a happy birthday by screaming through the whole apartment.

Jeonghan comes out of nowhere and pulls him into a tight embrace, laughing at the dumbfounded expression on Wonwoo’s face. "Happy birthday Wonwoo!"

Soonyoung is grinning at him from where he’s standing behind Jeonghan. "Surprise?"

Wonwoo chuckles a little nervously, smiling awkwardly at all the people coming up to him to pat his back and ruffle his hair. They’re all there; Hansol, Seungkwan, Jisoo, Seokmin, Yuna, Jeonghan and a bunch of other people Wonwoo has never met before yet they still shower him with enthusiastic hugs and greetings.

The only missing person is—

"Hey, Jeon Wonwoo!"

He’s in the middle of being squished together by Seungkwan and Hansol and when he hears the voice, the strange feeling he had when he was walking here with Soonyoung momentarily vanishes into thin air.

Wonwoo doesn’t even try to stop the smile spreading on his face, pressed into Hansol’s shoulder before the younger is pulled away from him.

Mingyu huffs at Hansol’s protests and pushes him into Seungkwan so he can deal with the already half-drunk boy.

Then he looks up and meets Wonwoo’s eyes.

Mingyu starts smiling from ear to ear and Wonwoo has about half a second to think how happy he is that Mingyu is here before said person pulls him into another hug.

This one is Wonwoo’s favourite.

"Why are you going around hugging other guys, hm?" Mingyu mumbles into his ear, still smiling as he holds Wonwoo close.

Wonwoo snorts at the not-so-serious question yet melts into Mingyu's embrace embarrassingly fast, his eyes slipping closed. "Because you weren't here."

Mingyu hums and when no one’s looking, kisses a spot behind Wonwoo’s ear. "Happy birthday."

When he opens his eyes, they land on a new yet already familiar face; Junhong is standing behind Mingyu, clearly keeping his distance.

The smile on his handsome face is kind yet there is something wary about it as he watches Wonwoo and Mingyu interact. He looks confused but he’s doing his best to hide it.

Wonwoo gently pushes Mingyu away and gives Junhong what he hopes is a sincere smile. "Hi, Junhong."

Junhong’s eyes flicker between Wonwoo and Mingyu for a moment before he catches himself and clears his throat, starting to beam at him. "Hey there! And happy birthday. I hope it’s okay for me to be here? Mingyu said it would be fine but I wouldn’t want to intrude."

"It’s okay." Wonwoo assures him. They’re standing in a triangle, and all three of them keep giving each other these weird looks and it’s so awkward it makes Wonwoo want to run away. "I don’t know most of the people here anyway." Wonwoo tries to be friendly and relaxed and when he looks at Mingyu he can tell he’s trying to do the same.

But Mingyu is watching Junhong almost anxiously, and Wonwoo has no idea what to make of it.

"What are you guys doing standing around here?" Jeonghan suddenly appears next to Wonwoo, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. "There’s something waiting for you in the kitchen, Won. Come on."

Wonwoo happily lets himself be lead away from the living room and from that uncomfortable situation with Mingyu and his childhood friend, who is so in love with Mingyu it hurts to watch.

In the kitchen Seungkwan, Seokmin and Soonyoung are all gathered around the table, shouting unintelligible things at each other. Yuna tries to peer over their shoulders before letting out a horrified shriek, slapping Soonyoung’s back who only chuckles nervously.

Jeonghan immediately walks over to Jisoo and Wonwoo raises his eyebrows when he sees the weird look the both of them exchange. Jeonghan smiles at him and Jisoo quickly looks away and… is he blushing?

"What are you guys doing?" Wonwoo asks, stepping up next to Yuna. Seungkwan immediately blocks his sight, shooting him a warning death glare over his shoulders.

Yuna rolls her eyes. "They’re being stupid. They wanted to surprise you but they messed it up."

"Yuna!"

"Don’t Yuna me! You wouldn’t let me do it and now it looks like shit."

"Baby, don’t swear." Soonyoung pouts but it only makes his girlfriend stick her tongue out at him.

"Move." Mingyu pushes all of them out of the way, looks down at the table and bursts out laughing. "This is terrible!"

Wonwoo stands next to him and laughs quietly at what he sees.

It’s a round chocolate cake and on top of it - very messily - his name is written with some kind of red paste. It says "Happy birthday Wonw" in large letters and then, as the space obviously wasn’t enough, both Os are squeezed in at the side.

"The cake is still delicious so get over it." Seungkwan rolls his eyes and hands Seokmin a lighter after sticking one single candle on top.

People gather around the table and to Wonwoo’s absolute horror, they start singing.

Wonwoo weakly tries to get them to stop, but it only makes them sing louder. Everyone’s looking at him, and it’s too much unwanted attention.

Mingyu wraps an arm around him, pulling Wonwoo against his chest enough to draw attention more on the action and away from Wonwoo, like he could sense Wonwoo’s discomfort. He nuzzles his nose into the back of Wonwoo’s hair comfortingly. "Relax."

Wonwoo tries to, but then he catches Junhong’s frown from across the room and the unknown feeling from before comes back twice as hard.

 

 

It’s a repetition from the night before, and two hours into the party the cake from before feels like a brick of stone in his stomach.

Wonwoo isn’t purposefully avoiding Mingyu, he really isn’t.

The only reason he sticks with his friends throughout the night is because… it’s because whenever Mingyu so much as looks at Wonwoo, Wonwoo can feel Junhong’s gaze on him.

And it’s not even like Mingyu’s friend is acting possessive or jealous, no, it’s so much worse.

Wonwoo can see the confusion and hurt in Junhong’s eyes, can tell that it’s breaking his heart once he slowly starts to put the puzzle pieces together.

He shouldn’t care, he doesn’t even know that guy, but something about Mingyu’s behaviour, him always checking if Junhong is looking before he decides to talk to Wonwoo, him not telling Junhong about them makes question marks pop up in Wonwoo’s mind.

Like right now; Mingyu and him are talking, their hands subtly touching between their bodies but Mingyu keeps checking on Junhong, his attention not entirely on their conversation and Wonwoo feels lost and slightly upset.

"You don’t have to talk to me if you don’t want to." Wonwoo frowns, pressing his lips together tightly when Mingyu turns to face him with widened eyes. He shakes his head, looking at a loss for words.

"No, hyung of course I want to—"

"Gyu?"

Mingyu completely sweeps Wonwoo’s words under the rug just so he can turn around and include Junhong into their conversation, seemingly not realizing how damn uncomfortable both parties feel as soon as their eyes meet.

Wonwoo excuses himself and puts his drink down on the counter, not wanting to get even more drunk and do something stupid, whatever that might be. Mingyu opens his mouth to stop him from leaving, but in the end he stays silent and lets Wonwoo go.

Things are tense and Wonwoo is not feeling good; adding alcohol to the mixture doesn’t seem like the best idea.

He pushes past the people gathered in the living room and is about to walk outside into the garden when a hand stops him from doing so.

"Are you okay?"

Wonwoo gives Jeonghan a curt nod of his head. "I need some air."

Jeonghan’s eyes flicker over his features, scanning him and quickly analysing the whole situation. "What’s going on with Mingyu and his friend?"

The question feels like a jab to his stomach. Wonwoo shrugs his shoulders. "I have no idea."

"Wonwoo."

His shoulders sag, and Wonwoo leans against the wall, tilting his head back. "He has feelings for Mingyu. I-I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on."

"Shit." Jeonghan puffs out his cheeks, eyeing Wonwoo carefully. "Let me guess, he doesn’t know you and Mingyu are a thing?"

Wonwoo shakes his head. Jeonghan lets out a humourless chuckle.

"This is a fucking mess, Wonwoo." He says. "Like those dramas Seungkwan and Hansol always watch."

"I know."

"You guys need to come clean. The atmosphere is really not cool right now and I’m not a psychic or something, but I feel like shit’s going to blow up."

"I was going to ask Mingyu out tonight. Like… officially." Wonwoo shrugs, his chest hurting a little when he thinks about how Mingyu’s been ignoring him the whole night in order to give his full attention to Junhong. "But he’s different with his friend around. I don’t really know what’s wrong."

Jeonghan sighs and taps Wonwoo’s chin to make him look up. "Don’t be so down tonight, babe. It’s your birthday. Things with Mingyu and you have always been confusing so this isn’t anything new, right? Just ask Mingyu what his problem is so you can sort things out."

Wonwoo nods and manages to give Jeonghan a smile. "You’re probably right."

"Always am." Jeonghan wraps an arm around Wonwoo’s shoulder, slowly guiding him back down the corridor towards the living room again. "Stop sulking, okay? It’ll be fine."

Yeah. It will be fine.

 

 

 

"Hansol, where is Seungkwan?" Wonwoo frowns down at the boy who is swaying dangerously on his feet. "And why are you so drunk?"

After his talk with Jeonghan, Wonwoo and him joined their friends who were sitting in a circle around Seungcheol, listening to him teaching them important life lessons. Wonwoo’s pretty sure most of them were too drunk or high to even understand what Seungcheol was saying, but it was amusing to watch Soonyoung ask him about how he’s supposed to deal with his girlfriend’s random mood swings, which made him chase Yuna through the entire house begging for forgiveness.

Wonwoo managed to get through half an hour of sitting across Mingyu and Junhong before he couldn’t bear Mingyu’s heavy stares on him anymore and got up to leave the room.

Which is how he ended up finding Hansol lying on the stairs like a bag of trash, slurring incomprehensible things and giggling to himself like a child.

Hansol steadies himself by clinging to Wonwoo’s arm, groaning miserably. "He fell asleep. Yuna makes some mean drinks. I feel… sick."

"Please don’t throw up." Wonwoo sighs and starts pushing him in the general direction of where he hopes the bathroom is. His friends are all in the living room, so no one really bothers to help Wonwoo deal with the drunk boy in his arms.

The bathroom is occupied.

Wonwoo groans, looking down at Hansol helplessly. He’s never been in Seungcheol’s house before but it’s huge so there ought to be more than one bathroom.

To his luck, a guy he knows to be a close friend of Seungcheol walks passed them with a pretty girl pressed into his side and Wonwoo unwillingly stops him by touching his shoulder.

The guy looks annoyed at first, but once he recognizes Wonwoo his expression morphs into a friendly smile. "Hey there, birthday boy! How you doing?"

"Fantastic." Wonwoo says, sighing when Hansol makes an alarming sound next to him. "Do you know where I can find another bathroom? This one’s locked."

The guy makes a face as he looks down at Hansol who is looking more than just pale in the face. "Oh man, yeah. Just go upstairs and walk down the hall, there’s a bedroom at the end on the left. Has a bathroom that’s likely free."

"Thanks." Wonwoo gives him a brief smile before hurrying down the hallway. "Hold on, Hansol. Don’t throw up yet."

"I’m trying." Hansol whines, lying his head on Wonwoo’s shoulder as he stumbles over his own feet.

Wonwoo groans and practically bursts into the bedroom once they’re upstairs, not even caring to check if it’s occupied or not. He finds the bathroom, opens the lid of the toilet and a second later Hansol is already down on his knees, retching into the toilet bowl.

Wonwoo pulls a face and closes the door behind them, walking closer to the younger to start rubbing his neck.

Hansol whines miserably. "I’m sorry."

"It’s fine." Wonwoo smiles down at him and simply rubs his neck when Hansol starts emptying his stomach again.

He patiently waits for Hansol to finish, handing him some toilet paper every now and then. Hansol keeps apologizing and Wonwoo keeps telling him to stop; maybe it’s the fact that he’s one of Chan’s best friends that makes Wonwoo feel slightly protective over the boy, so he doesn’t mind spending his night in a bathroom and taking care of him on his birthday.

Just as Hansol leans back against the wall with a tired sigh, Wonwoo hears some voices in the bedroom outside. He freezes a little, his first thought being that someone is about to get it on in the bedroom while Hansol and him are kind of locked up in here, and how damn awkward would that be?

But then he recognizes the voices, and he freezes for an entirely different reason.

"What’s up?" He hears Mingyu say and even Hansol, in his drunk and half passed out stage, widens his eyes and shoots Wonwoo a confused look.

"Can we sit down?" The second voice asks. It belongs to Junhong.

Of course it does.

"Uhm. Sure." There’s a pause before Mingyu speaks again. "You’re kind of worrying me, Junhong. Why’d you drag me all the way up here?"

This isn’t good.

Wonwoo shouldn’t be here.

Wonwoo doesn’t want to be here, but he’s stuck, frozen in place despite Hansol’s urgent hand on his arm.

There are so many damn rooms in this house; how did they end up coming in this one?

"Let’s go." Hansol whispers. "We can just—just walk out. I’ll cover you, I’ve been working out, I can hide you—" He slurs.

Wonwoo shakes his head, telling him to stay quiet by pressing his palm against his mouth. The last thing he wants is for Mingyu and his friend to find out Wonwoo was hiding in here, listening to their conversation.

"I know you don't want to hear this, but I gotta get this out." Junhong slowly starts. "It’s why I came to visit you. I mean, it’s why I came back here at all."

Wonwoo should leave. Hansol is urging him to go with him, but Wonwoo stays rooted to his spot, avoiding Hansol’s concerned gaze.

"Junhong, look—"

"I still love you, Gyu." Junhong interrupts him, his voice shaking as he speaks.

Hansol gasps, muffled against the palm Wonwoo has still placed over his mouth. Wonwoo slowly lowers it after hearing those words, his eyes burning from not blinking.

"Please don’t…" Mingyu’s voice is pained.

"Please just listen to me. I—I know I should be over you. It’s been years. But Gyu, I’ve been in love with you ever since we were kids. Forever. And I tried to get over it. You know how many people I’ve been with but I realized that I just kept looking for you in them, and that’s so wrong."

"Oh man, this is so fucked up." Hansol whispers again, clumsily trying to stand up but failing. "We need to leave."

Wonwoo feels a little numb as he helps Hansol sit back down, his heart racing in his chest.

"I’m sorry." Mingyu speaks after what seems like forever. "Junhong you… you’ve always been like a brother to me."

"A brother." Junhong chuckles. "Last time I checked you didn’t fuck your brother."

Wonwoo flinches and Hansol looks like he’s a second away from placing his hands on Wonwoo’s ears to stop him from hearing the conversation. He knows he shouldn’t be hearing this, but he can’t move.

"That was in the past." Mingyu says, voice tight. "You know I’ve never felt that way about you. We’ve been here before, let’s not… let’s not fight again, please. I don’t want to lose you again."

"Did you even try?" Junhong asks. "Did you even consider the option of seeing me as something more than just your best friend?"

Mingyu is silent for too long, and Wonwoo’s chest aches. "It doesn’t matter. Not anymore. I’m with—" Mingyu stops, and the way his voice just cuts off squeezes even more at his heart.

"W-Wait… So it’s true, then? That Wonwoo guy, he’s your boyfriend?" Junhong finally asks. There’s a long pause and it feels like everyone in the room is holding their breaths.

"Not yet." Mingyu’s voice is small as he says this.

"What’s that supposed to mean, Mingyu?" Junhong asks, sounding tired. "I’m laying my goddamn heart open for you here. You gotta give me more than that."

"It’s complicated. Wonwoo hyung isn’t— He’s different. He’s not ready for a relationship yet."

"How long has this been going on?"

"I don’t know. I met him half a year ago." Mingyu speaks quietly, so softly, like he’s remembering the night despite all the unnecessary hardships Wonwoo’s been putting him through.

"Half a year?" Junhong repeats incredulously. "You’re kidding me, right? He’s been leading you on for half a year?"

"It’s not like that, Junhong. Just stop it." Mingyu sounds irritated. He sounds tired. And he sounds hurt.

"I would never do that to you." Junhong continues. He sounds like he’s about to cry. "I’d show the whole world how much I love you. How proud I am to be with you. But you chose to let some random guy toy around with you instead—"

"Stop."

"No! Mingyu, look at yourself. This isn’t like you. You’re not one to run circles around someone who doesn’t… who doesn’t give two shits about you." Junhong sounds calm but there’s hidden anger and hurt in his voice. "He’s leading you on. If he cared about your feelings he would’ve come around by now. If he wasn’t ready he shouldn’t have started anything with you in the first place."

Mingyu is silent, Hansol gives him a devastated look and Wonwoo’s hands start shaking again.

"Give me a chance." Junhong says, more quietly. "Please, Gyu. Don’t waste your time with someone when it’s not going anywhere. He’s going to break your heart."

"Wonwoo isn’t—" Mingyu starts, but he stops, like he doesn’t know what he should say. "He wouldn’t…."

"You don’t sound sure at all." Junhong chuckles, voice laced with disappointment. "If he truly cared about you, if he treated you the way you deserve to be treated, I’d back off. No matter how much it pains me, I’d leave you alone, Gyu. I want you to be happy. But he’s going to break your heart, and I want to prevent that from happening. I don’t want to lose you to someone like him."

"I have feelings for him, Junhong." Mingyu is… god, is he crying? Wonwoo wants to go out there and hug him, make him stop crying because Kim Mingyu doesn’t cry. He smiles and laughs obnoxiously with his whole body. But Wonwoo is the source of Mingyu’s sadness, so he doesn’t even deserve a chance to try and console the boy.

"I’m sorry Mingyu… But listen to me, please. He doesn’t deserve your love. You’re making a mistake."

Wonwoo holds his breath, and all of a sudden, the world seems to slow down around him. Like he’s going underwater.

He doesn’t deserve your love…

Hansol is saying something but Wonwoo is simply staring at the mint blue tiles on the floor, his blood pumping heavily in his ears, his mind fuzzy and so damn numb all of a sudden.

 

"Hyunsik, please. I’m begging you. I know it’s not easy for you, but he’s our son—"

"Your son. He’s not mine." Wonwoo’s hand freezes on the door handle to his parents’ room. He steps back, cowering a little. "He looks just like that bastard. Everything about him. His eyes, his nose. He looks nothing like you."

"You can’t blame a little kid for the mistakes I made."

"That kid nearly drove you insane!" His stepdad raises his voice. "I nearly lost you because of him and you've gotten even worse since he arrived here!"

"It’s not his fault." His mom repeats, her voice shaking. She’s crying. She’s been crying a lot lately. "He needs our love and support."

"Do whatever you want." His stepdad says. "But don't expect me to treat him the way I treat Chan."

Wonwoo takes a step back, not really understanding why his stepfather seems to hate him.

Maybe Wonwoo just has to try harder, so that he deserves his love.

 

"Wonwoo hyung!" Hansol whispers harshly.

Wonwoo’s head snaps up a little, Hansol’s worried face coming into view. "Huh?"

"I’m sorry. F-Fuck. I’m so drunk. None of this would’ve happened if I didn’t…"

You’re making a mistake…

 

"Stop crying!" She groans, rubbing at her temples. "You’re giving me a headache. Stop crying before I lose my patience."

"I didn’t mean to open the gate, grandma." Wonwoo hiccups softly, trying his best to hold his tears back. "My ball flew in there and I wanted to get it—"

"So why didn’t you close the gate again? All of our cows are gone! All eight of them! Oh dear god, help us… Do you even know what that means, Wonwoo? How are you going to make up for it?"

"I’m s-sorry."

"This was a mistake." She places her head in her hands. Wonwoo feels like he’s the worst kid on the planet. His granddad will be so furious. Wonwoo’s scared. "We should’ve given you away when we had the chance. I knew we were making a mistake. This was all such a mistake."

You’re a mistake.

 

Wonwoo blinks slowly, trying to rid himself of the thoughts.

Hansol is already up on his feet, carefully pulling Wonwoo up as well. "Hey, you listen to me. Don’t listen to him, okay?"

Wonwoo nods and lets himself be led out of the bathroom. The bedroom is dark and empty, all traces of Mingyu and Junhong long gone.

"H-Hey, you’re kind of freaking me out." Hansol slurs once they’re out in the corridor. "Can you say something?"

Wait, Wonwoo is supposed to be taking care of Hansol, not the other way around. "Are you okay?"

Hansol blinks at him, his eyes unfocused and slightly glassed over. "What."

"I’ll take you home—"

"Wonwoo hyung, I think you and Mingyu hyung are about to break up or something, why… on earth are you so calm?"

Wonwoo chuckles but it sounds weird even to his own ears. "I’ll take you to Seungkwan. I’m guessing he’s crashing here, yeah?"

Hansol makes a confused sound. "I guess, b-but. Hey. You’re not going to break up, right?" He whines, clinging to Wonwoo’s hand as Wonwoo carefully guides him down the corridor to find the bedroom Seungkwan is sleeping in. "Please don’t break up. You’re cute together."

Wonwoo opens the next door and sighs in relief when he finds Seungkwan sleeping soundly on the bed inside. "Don’t worry about us. You need to sleep. You’re going to have one hell of a hangover tomorrow."

"I’m okay." Hansol falls down on the bed with a groan, letting Wonwoo take his shoes off. Seungkwan grumbles a little before rolling over and throwing his arm and leg over Hansol. "Seungkwan’s my best friend. We fight a lot but he’s my one and only. In like a, no homo way."

"You’re my best friend too." Seungkwan sleepily mumbles, before starting to snore again.

"Uhm. Okay. Just stay here and sleep, yeah?" Wonwoo grabs the blanket and throws it over them.

"Okay." Hansol mumbles. "Wait! Wonwoo hyung…" He stops Wonwoo before he can leave, and Wonwoo stops to look at him. "Promise you won’t leave Mingyu hyung. Please?"

Wonwoo takes a deep breath. "Go to sleep, Hansol."

 

 

He leaves the party without anyone noticing. Slips through the back door, avoiding the people in the garden and climbing over the fence like a criminal.

It’s raining outside, soft and warm raindrops with thunder growling in the distance. It makes Wonwoo’s shirt cling to his back and some of his bangs stick to his temples.

This is one of those nights where Wonwoo contemplates taking the next train to the airport to book a flight to nowhere. Just so he can get away. So that he can avoid his problems.

Push them back and pretend everything’s fine until something like this happens and everything just kind of seems to blow up in his face.

Which is exactly what happens.

 

 

 

Wonwoo ignores his phone the next day. He ignores everything. Maybe he’s in a state of shock or panic but it feels like anything he touches might break, so he doesn’t.

He couldn’t sleep the whole night, Junhong’s words haunting him and making him toss around on the couch restlessly.

He goes to the bookstore where he went with Mingyu and gets some writing done and without noticing, ends up writing down the exact words Junhong said yesterday. He deletes them with shaky hands but the words are still there, floating in his mind, piercing through his chest.

By the time he gets home it’s dark outside.

There’s a shadow in front of the apartment and despite wearing the glasses Mingyu gave him, he can’t make out the person until he’s standing on the path leading straight to the entrance.

It’s Mingyu.

He’s sitting on the steps with his head hanging low between his shoulders.

Wonwoo stops walking, freezes a little at the sight of the person he didn’t want to see at all today.

Because this is it.

Wonwoo can feel where this is going and that’s what he was avoiding, what he’s been trying to delay the entire day.

But Mingyu is here, and there’s nowhere to run, so Wonwoo grips the straps of his bag tighter until his knuckles have turned white and starts approaching him.

Mingyu’s head snaps up at the sound of his footsteps and his eyes are a storm; relief washes through them once he meets Wonwoo’s eyes, but it’s quickly replaced by an emotion Wonwoo’s never seen there before.

"What are you doing here?" Wonwoo asks when Mingyu doesn’t do anything but stare at him. He looks exhausted, like he didn’t sleep at all last night. His hair is wild and lips bitten red and raw.

"I tried to call you the entire day." Mingyu says. His voice cracks and Wonwoo can’t help but wonder how long Mingyu has been waiting for him here.

"I left my phone at home."

Mingyu looks so damn tired when he nods his head in something that looks to be resignation, or maybe disappointment. He slowly gets up and walks towards Wonwoo until he’s only an arm’s width away from him. His bangs are casting shadows over his face and the bright orange from the street lamp a few feet next to them turns Mingyu’s features into that of a stranger. "We need to talk."

"Can’t it wait until tomorrow?" Wonwoo tries. He sounds pathetic even to his own ears.

"I’ve waited two hours for you." Mingyu’s gaze is heavy on him and Wonwoo can’t decide which is more suffocating; Mingyu’s eyes or the warm, humid air around them.

Mingyu's been waiting for so much longer than just two hours, though. He's been waiting all this time, patient and understanding, but his patience must've finally run out.

And Wonwoo suddenly can’t focus on anything but the things Junhong said yesterday night.

It’s like he’s being thrown back into his childhood, to a lot of shouting and finger pointing for all the things Wonwoo did, and for all the trouble he used to cause.

He thought maybe it had changed, but apparently not.

He still causes harm and he still hurts other people.

Wonwoo should’ve never, ever given in to Mingyu’s advances.

"Hyung, look at me." Mingyu sounds pained and exhausted. His face is a proper reflection of his emotions. Wonwoo did that. Wonwoo is fucking things up again. "You’ve been ignoring me the whole day—"

"I told you I forgot my phone at home." Wonwoo whispers.

"What about last night, then? You left without a word."

"You were with Junhong."

Mingyu hesitates before speaking again. "And you were with Jeonghan hyung. As always."

Wonwoo gives him a confused look. He doesn’t know how to deal with Mingyu when he’s like this. He seems angry.

"What’s that supposed to mean?"

"Do you have feelings for him now?" Mingyu suddenly asks. Wonwoo’s head snaps up, his eyebrows drawn together in confusion.

Wonwoo opens his mouth, completely baffled at Mingyu’s words. "What? Jeonghan hyung?"

How on earth can Mingyu ask him something like that?

"You spent the whole night with him. And I know you guys have been hanging out a lot."

"Mingyu—" He starts, his thoughts jumbling together horribly. He can’t really think straight. His mind’s racing, the conversation between Mingyu and Junhong replaying itself over and over until Wonwoo is thrown back again into his childhood, sitting in a corner, cowering in fear. "Jeonghan hyung is just a friend. You know that." Is what he ends up saying.

"How would I know?" Mingyu quietly asks. "It’s not like I can demand answers from you. We’re not together, right?"

This is the first time Mingyu has explicitly brought up the issue and Wonwoo is glad he has never before; it makes his heart drop into his stomach, fear shooting up his spine like lightning.

Why is Mingyu doing this now?

Wonwoo is about to ask, but then it hits him.

Junhong.

All those things he said to Mingyu in that bedroom yesterday, they got to him.

He’s done running circles around him and he’s done waiting for Wonwoo’s okay for literally anything he does. Maybe he was done a long time ago, and Junhong gave him the push he needed to face Wonwoo like this.

"I wouldn’t do that to you." Wonwoo tries to calm down. He’s an adult. He needs to handle this like an adult. He’s not a child anymore, he can’t cover his eyes and ears and hum a lullaby to himself and pretend bad things aren’t happening around him.

For a moment, Mingyu’s eyes soften, and the familiar fond look is back but he closes them and shakes his head, his shoulders slumping. "You tell him more things than you tell me. I feel like—I feel like he knows you better than I do even though we both met you at the same time. It makes me feel like shit."

"Mingyu—"

"Do you not trust me enough to tell me those things?"

"That’s not it." Wonwoo shakes his head, closing his eyes.

Mingyu studies his face for a while, his tongue darting out to wet his lips. "Why did you avoid me the whole night?"

Because your best friend is in love with you and he kept looking at me like I was tearing his heart out.

"Why didn’t you tell Junhong about us?" Wonwoo finds himself asking back. "You couldn’t even hold my hand in front of him yesterday."

Mingyu opens his mouth and closes it again, clearly at a loss for words. "What should I have told him? That I’m hanging out with a random guy who I occasionally kiss and hold hands with?"

Wonwoo flinches. Mingyu’s face falls, but he doesn’t apologize or take his words back.

Silence engulfs them. A heavy and suffocating silence that presses down on Wonwoo’s shoulders and chest to make him feel even smaller.

"He’s in love with you." Wonwoo says, not meeting Mingyu’s eyes.

"And I’m in love with someone else." Mingyu finally breaks the silence. "But he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me, so I’m wondering if I’m just being lead on."

Wonwoo takes a shaky breath, blinking against the burning of his eyes. "You're not in love with me."

Mingyu gives a chuckle, but it's a bitter one. "Do you even realize how hurtful you're being?"

"I—" Wonwoo just wants out. He wants to not have this conversation. It's too much talking, too many raw feelings on the line. "Mingyu, I don't know... I don't know what you want to hear from me."

"I want to hear that you want to be with me." Mingyu answers without hesitating. "And I want you to tell me what's going on. With you. With your family."

Wonwoo looks up at him. "What if I can't do that?"

Mingyu's face falls even more and all Wonwoo wants to do is ignore this whole issue that seemingly arose from nowhere. He wants to stick a stupid sour apple lollipop into Mingyu's mouth and hope it'll fix everything.

He could fix everything with one single sentence. Be my boyfriend, Mingyu.

He wanted to speak that sentence out loud today. But somewhere along all those touches and kisses and the affection Mingyu’s been showering him with, Wonwoo seemed to have forgotten his place.

He belongs on the sidelines with his mouth shut, making sure he doesn’t cause trouble, making sure he stays clear of anyone’s attention.

Junhong - as ironic as it is - was his wake-up call.

"Then maybe we should stop."

"Stop?"

"Yeah."

They stare at each other, both unmoving, maybe even the world around them stops moving. It definitely seems like it.

"M-Maybe we should."

He wants to say please don’t leave me but he stays silent.

And to make things even worse, Wonwoo's answer brings tears to Mingyu's eyes. "That's it?"

Wonwoo can barely meet Mingyu’s eyes. "If that’s what you want."

"That’s all you’re going to say?" Mingyu looks like Wonwoo just punched him in the face. "Is it that easy for you?"

"There’s no need to make this more dramatic than it is." Wonwoo puts on a blank expression. "We both knew this wasn’t going to work out."

"Dramatic." Mingyu repeats, his features equally as blank as Wonwoo’s. "Do you even give a damn about my feelings? I’m in love with you. How can you be so fucking cold?"

Wonwoo flinches again, his shoulders drawing up defensively, arms wrapped around his torso like a lost kid.

"Stop being so cold, Wonwoo. He’s your brother. Hug him back."

"What’s wrong with you? Why are you so damn cold? Say something when I’m talking to you! Don’t just stand there!"

The anger leaves Mingyu’s eyes once he sees the state Wonwoo is in. For a second, Wonwoo thinks Mingyu is going to reach out and hug him, but he doesn’t. Instead he opens his mouth, like he’s going to say something, and Wonwoo kind of wants to cry at Mingyu’s wet eyes.

But Mingyu does none of it. He curses under his breath, wipes his sleeve over his eyes.

He gives Wonwoo one last look, and then he walks past Wonwoo and leaves.

Just last night Mingyu was hugging Wonwoo, smiling into his skin, kissing his cheek like Wonwoo was the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

He hears Mingyu get into his car and drive off and the reality of the whole situation slowly starts to sink in as nothing but mocking silence follows Mingyu’s departure.

He doesn’t know how long he keeps standing there, staring at the spot Mingyu was standing on just a moment ago.

"Wonwoo?" Someone shouts after what seems like hours, jogging towards him, their hands gripping Wonwoo’s shoulders to turn him around. "What the hell man, I’ve been calling you the whole fucking day. I was so worried and Minghao just sent me this weird message—"

Wonwoo looks up at his best friend, and he gulps heavily, still not quite able to comprehend what the hell he just did.

Soonyoung's face falls. "Oh no."

 

 

 

 

Breakups are always different.

Sometimes things end on friendly terms.

Sometimes they don’t.

Wonwoo and Mingyu’s breakup is nothing like Wonwoo imagined breakups to go.

There are no tears and there are no raised voices. There are no smiles and promises to stay friends.

All that’s there is a painfully hollow feeling in Wonwoo’s small chest as he lies down on his couch with Soonyoung holding his ankle from where he’s already passed out on the ground.

There’s this numbness in his head and an itch in his fingers to reach for his phone and text Mingyu and apologize for everything.

Mingyu would text back, right? Mingyu always texts back.

Wonwoo never finds out, because he never texts Mingyu, and that’s the end of that.

 

 

 

"Institute for person-centered psychotherapy and counselling, Doctor Kang’s office here, Lee Joohyun speaking."

Wonwoo clears his throat, gripping the phone tighter. "H-Hello. My name is Jeon Wonwoo. I have an appointment with Doctor Kang tomorrow?"

"Hello Mr. Jeon. How may I help you?"

"I have to cancel the appointment."

"I see. Do you wish to reschedule?"

Wonwoo hesitates and squeezes his eyes shut. "No, I don’t."

 

 

 

The following days, Wonwoo drags his body in and out of his apartment while at the same time trying to hide the fact that he isn’t constantly in a state of wanting to cry.

If Chan picks up on his behaviour, he doesn’t comment on it. His little brother is busy with preparing for his graduation anyway and Wonwoo doesn’t want to distract him with his silly little broken heart.

But it’s how he feels. He never knew emotions could cause a person so much pain.

It’s only been a week and Wonwoo can’t even begin to describe how much he misses Mingyu.

He feels so sorry, but deep down he knows this is for the best. Mingyu has already wasted so much time on Wonwoo, he needs to find someone else, someone who’s as carefree and happy as Mingyu is. Not someone who will drag him down the way Wonwoo did.

"Wonwoo, you’re suffering." Soonyoung says when he’s visiting him together with Yuna. "Just call him and put an end to this. I’m sure Mingyu would understand if you explain it to him. That guy is too crazy about you to just leave you over something as stupid as this." Yuna nods beside him, giving Wonwoo an encouraging smile.

"I can’t." Wonwoo shakes his head. "You don’t get it. It was a mistake."

"What was?"

"Mingyu." Wonwoo mumbles, his eyes burning just saying his name. He just misses him so much, but he guesses he should get used to the feeling. Mingyu isn’t going to come back on his own and Wonwoo isn’t going to fix things either. "Everything."

 

 

 

It could be worse, is what they say.

Wonwoo doesn’t really understand what could be worse than hurting the only person in his life that managed to make Wonwoo feel things no one else ever could, but he finds out soon enough.

He’s working the late shift at the café, his body is running on three hours of sleep from the night before and tonight marks the second week since Wonwoo last saw Mingyu.

Wonwoo wonders what he’s doing. If he’s back to his usual, bubbly self. If he’s back to flirting with beautiful people left and right.

If Junhong has already replaced Wonwoo.

"Just go home." Jisoo grips his wrist when Wonwoo passes him with a stack of dirty dishes in his arms. They’re clinking from the subtle trembles shooting through Wonwoo’s arms. He’s fine, he just needs to sleep a little more. "I can handle it alone."

"No, it’s fine."

"It’s not busy tonight. Just leave. You look exhausted." Jisoo gives him a pitying look. Wonwoo guesses his co-worker knows what’s up, given how he’s been hanging out with Jeonghan a lot lately.

"I said it’s fine. Thanks, Jisoo." He gives him the best smile he can muster before disappearing into the washing room in the back. He dumps the dirty dishes in the sink before turning around again, about to leave the room when he notices his phone on the counter; the display is lit up with several notifications.

Wonwoo picks it up and his heart sinks a bit when he sees all the missed calls and messages from Chan and then, at the very bottom, Minghao.

Why would Minghao call him? And not just once but four times, too. He hates Wonwoo. Minghao wouldn’t talk to him unless it was absolutely necessary—

Wonwoo is pressing the call button before he can finish the thought, not really breathing while he waits for him to pick up.

"Wonwoo." Minghao says after picking up.

"Minghao? Why did you call me?"

"I don’t know why I called you. I panicked." Minghao sounds shaken. His voice is unsteady and unusually high. "I probably shouldn’t have but… Oh fuck it, that doesn’t matter. Mingyu is at the hospital."

"W-What?" Wonwoo is pretty sure his heart is somewhere near the pit of his stomach right now. "Why? What happened? Is he okay?"

"He’s fine." Minghao doesn’t sound like he’s fine. He sounds like he was crying. "It was my fault. We were at the farm again and I got stuck on that fucking tree and he wanted to help me get down but the branch… it broke. H-He hit his head."

Wonwoo has a hard time making sense of Minghao’s words. Mingyu… Mingyu’s hurt?

Wonwoo told him not to do it anymore. Wonwoo told him not to go that stupid farm anymore. Why didn’t Mingyu listen to him?

"Is he okay?" Wonwoo asks again, knowing he sounds scared. He is scared. He doesn’t think he’s ever felt so scared in his life.

"He has a concussion. And his shoulder got dislocated but… He’s sleeping right now. They said he’ll be fine." Minghao clears his throat. "But I don’t know why I’m telling you any of this. You didn’t care about him at all, last time I checked."

Wonwoo starts tearing up, his chest aching at Minghao’s words. And the thought of his Mingyu being hurt pains him more than he could explain. "Are you okay? Did you get hurt, too?"

Minghao hesitates and Wonwoo hears him sniffle. "I’m fine. But I should’ve hit my stupid head instead of him. It was my fault."

Wonwoo sags against the counter, his head hanging low in exhaustion. He wants to see Mingyu. He wants to scold him for being so reckless, he wants to see with his own eyes that Mingyu is okay.

"Wonwoo hyung" Minghao starts but he stops, sighing heavily. "He’s here until tomorrow morning. If you want to come see him."

Of course Wonwoo wants to see him. He wants to yank his apron off and go there right now, apologize for everything and take care of him the way Mingyu always did for him—

"I don’t think I should." Wonwoo swallows heavily. "He’s better off with me out of his life."

Minghao curses silently. He’s still sniffling and Wonwoo feels bad for him; he must’ve been really scared. Mingyu and him are basically attached at the hip. "You’ll regret letting him go."

"Yeah." Wonwoo takes a deep breath but it doesn’t ease the pain in his chest. "I know."

Minghao mutters a goodbye and hangs up and Wonwoo feels like all the life has been sucked out of him, just from hearing Minghao’s voice. Just because right now, in this moment, Minghao is the closest he can get to Mingyu, and that seems so unreal because just a week ago, Mingyu and him were up on the lookout and they were kissing and everything was fine.

"Hey, is everything okay?" Jisoo asks, half of his body hidden behind the door. "That didn’t sound good."

Wonwoo honestly just wants to pass out and sleep. Mingyu hit his head. It could’ve been so much worse than just a concussion. He can’t believe Mingyu was so stupid—

But of course Mingyu was. It’s Mingyu. He’s the person to do something stupid without thinking twice. Wonwoo wants to laugh, but he also wants to cry.

"It’s… It’s Mingyu, he—"

His phone starts buzzing again. It’s only then that he remembers all the other notifications that were on the screen before he called Minghao back. This time it’s Chan calling him.

"Wait a second." He says, not missing the worried look in Jisoo’s eyes before he picks up the call. "Chan, what is it?"

"Hyung you need to get here right now." Chan starts babbling right away. "There are police everywhere and they keep asking me questions and I’m kind of overwhelmed with all of this—"

"Wait what? Chan, what police? Where are you?"

"I’m home! At the apartment! I got home from practice and I saw something like flashlights flickering in our apartment and when I went upstairs I saw that the door was broken in, so I called the police and they’re here now. Shit, hyung they broke into, like three apartments in the whole building in the span of an hour. They were inside ours too but I don’t think they stole anything—"

"Chan this isn’t funny. I have to work—"

"I’m not joking! I’m telling you the police are here and I’m scared and I need you here. Please!"

Chan’s voice quivers and Wonwoo quickly realizes that his brother is telling the truth.

There hasn’t been a single case of burglary in the area ever since Wonwoo moved there. It’s known to be one of the safest places in town.

"Hyung!?"

"I—" Wonwoo doesn’t even know what to say. He doesn’t know how to react. This is starting to feel like a nightmare. "I’m on my way."

"What now?" Jisoo frowns at him when Wonwoo pulls his apron off quickly, hands shaking and face stricken with something worrying.

"I’m sorry Jisoo, I have to go. Someone broke into our apartment."

"W-What?!" Jisoo gapes at him, following him to the back of the room and handing Wonwoo his belongings. "What the hell, did anything get stolen?"

"I don’t know. I have to go check. I’m really sorry. I’ll take over your morning shift tomorrow—"

"Hey, stop. It’s fine. I’m freaking worried about you, Won. Just be safe, okay?"

Wonwoo nods his head and leaves, running to the bus stop so he can catch the next bus. His heart is beating wildly in his chest and his hands won’t stop shaking and Mingyu is hurt and Chan could’ve walked into those burglars and god knows what they might’ve done to his brother—

He has no idea how he gets to the apartment but once he does, he can spot two police cars parked in front of it from afar. Many of the other residents are gathered outside, some of them reporting to the police offers about what happened.

There’s generally a huge turmoil.

Wonwoo carefully approaches them and feels a little relieved when he sees Chan standing with one of the police offers, gesturing wildly with his hands as he explains something to them. He stops once he spots Wonwoo and he quickly pushes past the police officer to run to Wonwoo and hug him.

"Hyung I’m so sorry." Chan mumbles into his shoulder. He looks really scared. "This wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t go to practice. The apartment is such a mess, I’m so sorry."

"It’s okay." It’s not okay. Nothing is okay, but Wonwoo tries to stay calm.

The police officers say that their colleagues are done with gathering evidence in his apartment. He’s allowed to go upstairs and roughly check for missing things.

The apartment looks like shit. Cupboards are torn open, their contents strewn across the floor, like a tornado swept through the entire place.

Luckily, there weren’t many valuables in here. The TV must’ve been too big to carry and Wonwoo actually borrowed his PS4 to Hansol a few days ago, so that thing is saved as well.

Wonwoo is a broke college student, so the joke’s on those stupid burglars but still, it feels like their whole privacy was violated.

This is Wonwoo’s home.

Having had strangers in here with such malicious intentions just feels wrong in so many ways.

He gulps, picking up some things that the burglars threw on the floor when a sudden thought strikes him. Wonwoo  drops the random book in his hands and runs into his room, nearly splitting his head open when he ends up slipping on the floor.

He reaches under his bed where his bag with his laptop inside is—

Where it should be.

But it’s not.

It’s gone.

His laptop is gone.

Wonwoo’s mind completely shuts down. He simply stares at the empty space, unmoving.

Everything was on that laptop. His essays, his assignments, his stories, his drafts.

His short story he is supposed to hand in by the end of the month, the one he had almost finished writing.

It’s all gone.

And despite everyone’s warnings Wonwoo did not, for one single second, think about storing any of them on an external drive, or even a fucking USB-stick that could’ve saved his life right now.

Why— Why does Wonwoo keep fucking up?

Why can he not do a single thing right?

"Wonwoo!" Soonyoung appears in his room, panting with his hair all over the place. "Holy shit! I came here as fast as I could."

Wonwoo looks up at his best friend, his eyes blurry and his heart breaking into millions of pieces. Mingyu is hurt and Wonwoo can’t even go see him, all the things he’s worked so hard on are gone, everything is kind of going to shit and it’s all Wonwoo’s fault.

"Soonyoung…" He says and then - finally after everything - Wonwoo starts crying.

"Oh man." Soonyoung is right there in front of him, hugging him close, rubbing his back, being the best friend in the world as always. "Won, I’m so sorry. You don’t deserve this. Shit, please don’t cry. I can’t take it."

Wonwoo tries, he tries to stop crying, but his heart hurts so much and he’s just so tired.

He sags into Soonyoung’s chest, silent sobs wracking his body, his head hurting from all the tears spilling from his eyes.

He didn’t even drink that much today, how is so much liquid escaping his body?

"Everything will be okay. I promise."

And if there’s one thing Wonwoo knows for sure, it’s that Soonyoung is always right.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Wonwoo can’t remember the last time he slept past eight in the morning.

When he wakes up the next day, it’s already lunch time and his head feels like it’s filled with cotton.

It’s noon. Wonwoo completely overslept; he missed all his morning classes.

He throws on some passable clothes and is about to run out of the apartment but stops to do a double take at the state of the living room.

It’s clean.

All the items that were scattered across the floor yesterday night are back on their old place and in his sleep influenced state, Wonwoo thinks the burglars felt bad and came back to clean everything up, but then he sees Soonyoung and Chan standing in the kitchen and feels really stupid.

"Oh, you’re awake!" Chan’s face lights up after he spots Wonwoo. "We made breakfast! Or well, lunch now…"

Wonwoo carefully approaches them. "Why aren’t you at school, Chan?"

His little brother waves his hands defensively. "The police officers called dad yesterday since I’m still underage and we couldn’t reach you. He dispensed me from school today."

"He knows?" Wonwoo might have slept nearly twelve hours but he still feels tired to his bones. It’s only now when he slowly drops his bag to the floor that he allows himself to think about everything that’s happened yesterday night.

About Mingyu being injured.

About his laptop being gone.

About Wonwoo crying into Soonyoung’s shoulder for so long he felt like passing out, which he eventually did, because he does not remember how he ended up in his bed or in his pyjamas.

He shoots his best friend a timid look. Embarrassment or awkwardness has never been a thing with him and Soonyoung, but Wonwoo has never been like that in front of his friend either.

In front of anyone, for that matter, and he doesn’t know how to feel about it. He feels stupid and weak, and he feels like he should’ve handled the situation a lot better. He shouldn’t have cried.

There was no reason to cry.

But Soonyoung sends him a wide smile, like he doesn’t care one bit.

"He’s not mad." Chan quickly says. "They were really worried but they’re coming here for my graduation soon and dad said he’d help you replace the things that were stolen."

Wonwoo frowns at that. It’s not like his stepdad to want to help Wonwoo out with anything.

"Anyway, how are you feeling?" Soonyoung asks as he steps forward to place a bowl of vegetables in front of him.

"Why didn’t you wake me up? I missed my classes." Wonwoo slowly mumbles. "I’m also late for work—"

"Nope." Soonyoung shakes his head. "I called Jisoo and he changed your shift with some Minhyuk guy, so you have the whole day off."

"W-What?" Wonwoo stutters. "No, I already went home earlier last night, I can’t just stay home. I need to go."

"You need to sit your ass down and eat, that’s what you need to do." Soonyoung sighs, taking his hand to make him sit down at the dining table in the kitchen. "Think about yourself for once, hm? We’ll figure everything else out later."

Wonwoo sits down and stares at the food. "You didn’t have to clean."

"It was mostly just the living room anyway so it was no big deal." Soonyoung sits down in front of him and starts eating gleefully, making Wonwoo question if they’ve been waiting for him.

He looks up at the both of them, not really knowing what to say. "What do I do now?"

Everything feels kind of hopeless.

Chan widens his eyes at him, looking at a loss for words. "What do you mean? You pick up your chopsticks and eat—"

Soonyoung interjects quickly with a gentle yet concerned look gracing his features. "Don’t worry about anything for now. I’m sure they can find your laptop and if not, I… I can help you write that story! Or Yuna can, she used to write these weird fanfictions and she was quite good at it—" He trails off, his eyes widening as he starts flailing around Wonwoo’s face with his hands. "Oh you’re crying again, oh my god what’s happening, Won please don’t you’re breaking my heart—"

"Stop it." Wonwoo smiles but his voice sound wobbly and he just… he feels so strange and small and so damn weak and he has no idea how to make it go away. He wipes his nose and nods his head towards his friend. "Don’t you have classes? What’re you still doing here?"

"Nah" His best friend shakes his head. "I’m not leaving you alone today."

"I’m not alone" Wonwoo sighs. "And I can take care of myself—"

"No you can’t." Chan chimes in, shrugging his shoulders innocently when Wonwoo shoots him a glare.

"You’re not ditching school because of me." Wonwoo tries again.

"Watch me." Soonyoung snorts, and doesn’t leave the apartment the entire day.

 

 

 

There is no fitting word for the state Wonwoo is in during the next two days.

He goes back to school and work and tries to remember the exact way he wrote his story so that he can re-write it, but it doesn’t work.

Nothing comes out as good as it was before, and Wonwoo can’t remember it word for word, so he’s left frustrated and exhausted after writing only half a page.

He forgets trivial things like drinking water or taking his iron supplements, which in return makes him even more tired and lifeless.

Chan has trouble sleeping after what happened. He wakes up at every sound resonating in the apartment at night, thinking someone’s trying to break in again, so Wonwoo starts sleeping next to him on the floor to make Chan feel more safe.

It doesn’t really matter where he sleeps, he just ends up tossing around restlessly anyway, and for him it has nothing to do with those burglars, but he also refuses to believe that something as stupid as heartache is causing him so much distress.

Wonwoo feels out of it, disoriented and confused, like he has no idea what to do or say or where to go next.

Like he needs someone to take his hand and steer him around.

 

 

"Come on. Sit down." Jeonghan takes his hand and steers him away from the door and into Wonwoo’s living room. They sit down and Jeonghan still doesn’t let go of his hand.

Wonwoo looks down at them, noticing that their skin complexion is almost the same.

Someone else's skin always looked so sun-kissed next to his own.

"What’s up?" Wonwoo asks when Jeonghan does nothing but stare at him with his inquiring eyes.

"What’s up?" Jeonghan chuckles. "How about you tell me what’s up?"

"Nothing. I just got back from the library."

"You canceled your appointment at the therapist." Jeonghan states, putting on a serious expression. "Did you seriously think I wouldn’t find out?"

"Did you call her and ask if I went or not?" Wonwoo snorts, but it doesn’t sound amused. It sounds rather bitter and slightly pathetic.

"Why?" Jeonghan’s eyes move over his face and Wonwoo suddenly hates how he seems to be always analyzing him, like he’s looking for signs so he can stop Wonwoo before he does something extremely stupid, like… like break up with Mingyu and not trying to patch things up again afterwards.

It’s been a month since Wonwoo last saw Mingyu. Soonyoung told him that Mingyu was fine, that he has his arm in a sling because of his dislocated shoulder. Soonyoung says that Wonwoo shouldn’t worry about Mingyu, but it’s all Wonwoo can do because he hasn’t seen Mingyu in so long.

And as dramatic as it might sound; time seems to pass so painfully slow without Mingyu in his life.

"Wonwoo." Jeonghan gently pulls him back into reality.

"Sorry."

"Soonyoung told me" He slowly starts. "He told me about your reaction, a few nights ago. I’m worried about you."

"I cried." Wonwoo sighs. "I don’t know why, but I did, and it’s no big deal. You guys need to stop worrying about me. I’m fine. I’m great."

Jeonghan rolls his eyes. "You want to know what I think?"

"Not really."

"You know I’m good at reading people and the way I see it, you’ve been keeping things bottled up for so long that you couldn’t hold it in anymore. First your fallout with Mingyu, then the burglary. Anyone would feel a bit overwhelmed with such a situation."

Wonwoo doesn’t talk for a while, just letting his friend’s words sink in slowly. He can’t really meet Jeonghan’s eyes, his fingers fumbling with the hem of his sweater.

There’s a huge tomato sauce stain on it. Not only is Wonwoo an emotional mess, he’s also dirty and disgusting.

"I—" He starts, clearing his throat when it cracks. "I cancelled the appointment because it… it felt pointless."

"Why?"

Wonwoo shrugs. "I wanted to go to be better for him. You know." He tries to say Mingyu’s name out loud but it’s like he can’t.

It’s painful to think about Mingyu now.

Jeonghan sighs and moves a little closer on the couch. "It’s nice that you wanted to get better Wonwoo, but you have to do it for yourself. Not for Mingyu or for anyone else. You need to want your own happiness, do you understand?"

Wonwoo swallows and nods his head, only looking up when Jeonghan nudges his knee, but meeting his eyes sends a pang to his heart because Jeonghan’s eyes are full of understanding and warmth. Everyone keeps looking at him that way lately but Wonwoo doesn’t think he deserves it.

He smiles at the frown he receives from Wonwoo before letting his shoulders drop. "If I fix another appointment for you, promise me you will go?"

"Jeonghan hyung—"

"No, Wonwoo, I’m sorry for saying this but you have problems. Stop denying it. You have to accept the fact that something is causing you pain."

Wonwoo clenches his jaw, a second away from sticking his fingers into his ears like a child so he doesn’t have to listen to Jeonghan’s lecture.

"It’s okay to accept help, you know? It doesn’t make you weak or stupid or whatever it is your cute little head seems to make you believe." Jeonghan raises his eyebrows at him expectantly. "Promise me?"

Wonwoo stares at Jeonghan for a while, and he thinks about his future, about the possibility of him finally letting go of whatever it is that’s making his life so miserable, so that he can be better for his family and friends and… that he can stop hurting for seemingly no reason.

He knows that if he doesn’t change something, he’ll just keep on feeling bad.

And he really wants this suffocating feeling around his lungs and heart gone, and if that means he has to sit down in some random person's office and talk to them about his problems while he stares at their many degrees lined up on the wall behind them, so be it.

"Okay." Wonwoo slowly nods. "I promise."

 

 

 

A week later Wonwoo is sitting in Jeonghan’s passenger seat, feeling like he’s being taken to his own execution.

"I could’ve gone by myself." Wonwoo mumbles, clenching his fingers into fists because they’re trembling from how anxious he is.

"I know." Jeonghan shrugs. "But I was scared you’d back out again."

"I wasn’t going to."

"Good." Jeonghan says, and that’s all they speak for the rest of the ride.

 

 

Jeonghan walks him all the way to the building despite Wonwoo’s protests, and Wonwoo feels like a child rather than a twenty-something year old college student.

"Here we are."

Wonwoo stares at the huge glass door, reading the words the lady on the telephone said when Wonwoo called to cancel the appointment last time.

He reads the words psychotherapy and counselling and wants to run away.

"Hey, it’ll be fine." Jeonghan chuckles and squeezes his shoulders. "You can do it."

Wonwoo nods, swallowing nervously. "Y-Yeah."

Jeonghan laughs but it’s a warm and encouraging sound. He pulls Wonwoo into a hug, holding him so tight it feels like he’s trying to slowly piece him back together. "I have a few things to do in town, but I’ll be back here in an hour to pick you up, okay?"

"You don’t have to—"

"In an hour." Jeonghan repeats, his voice leaving no room for discussion. "You better get inside now."

Wonwoo almost asks him to stay and go inside with him, but that’s ridiculous. He isn’t a child anymore. He needs to do this alone, like any other adult would. So Wonwoo gives him a curt nod before reaching his hand out to push the heavy door open.

 

 

The waiting room is completely painted in white, a few artistic paintings hung on the wall with the occasional bright green plant standing in the room. There isn’t much to look at, and to avoid glancing at the other people here or reading the confusing psychotherapy self-help brochures everywhere, Wonwoo focuses on the water dispenser standing in the corner.

He focuses on the whirring sounds it makes in order to ignore how tense he is and how much he wants to get up and flee the room as the other patients get called one by one, until it’s only Wonwoo left.

He’s seriously considering ditching this whole thing. Surely he can get over his issues if he just pushes them back a little bit more—

"Mr. Jeon" The girl from the registration desk is standing there with a friendly smile. "Mrs. Kang is ready for your appointment. If you would follow me, please?"

Wonwoo gulps and nods his head, his eyes probably resembling those of an owl. He gets up and follows her until she stops in front of a door where the tag next to it reads Dr. Kang Sohee, Psychotherapy and Forensic Psychology.

… Forensic psychology? Isn’t that for criminals?

Oh god, why on earth is Wonwoo here? Is this because of the fight he got into all those months ago with Soonyoung—

"Mr. Jeon?" The woman sitting behind the desk in the room stands up with a friendly smile on her face. "Please come in."

The girl closes the door behind him, and Wonwoo proceeds to awkwardly stand in the room, not able to stop himself from wondering where the couch is where the patients are supposed to lie down.

That’s how it’s always shown in movies, right?

"Please" The woman gestures to one of the chairs standing in front of her desk. "Have a seat."

Wonwoo finally manages to snap out of it and stop acting like an idiot. He carefully sits down on the chair and clears his throat.

The room looks a lot like the waiting room. A few plants and flowers, a few paintings, countless degrees framed and lined up on the wall for Wonwoo to be impressed about.

"I am Dr. Kang, as you already know." She introduces herself. "I will be your therapist, if that’s fine with you. If you decide you hate me after today’s session, you can request someone different."

Wonwoo forces himself to smile at the joke. At least she seems friendly. She has a round, wrinkly face surrounded by short, black and curly hair. She's wearing makeup and delicate jewellery and gives off a strong and trustworthy vibe.

Wonwoo tries his best to relax.

"Would you like me to address you as Mr. Jeon or Wonwoo?"

"Wonwoo is fine." He quickly says.

"Alright, Wonwoo. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself before we start?" She presses a button on a small device on the desk, tapping it when Wonwoo focuses his eyes on it. "This will record our session. I prefer to have my full attention on my patients during the sessions and write everything down later. Is that okay with you?"

Wonwoo nods his head, not sure what else to do. He knows that’s her job, but he doesn’t know how to feel about the fact that every little thing he says is going to be on record.

"Uhm." Wonwoo clears his throat. "I’m in my third year at college. I study literature. I live on my own, but my brother is living with me for the meantime."

"Literature?" She says. "I love literature. Do you want to become an author?"

"Maybe."

"I see." She looks up at him again, smiling. "So, your friend Jeonghan fixed an appointment for you here. Why are you here today, Wonwoo?"

Here we go.

Wonwoo has no idea what to say, but he tries to remind himself of Jeonghan’s words, that there’s no right or wrong here.

"I have some issues." He slowly says. "And— I’m making things really difficult for me and others."

She nods again, looking at him with a curious expression. "What kind of issues, Wonwoo?"

"I just… struggle when it comes to certain feelings, or things like— like commitment. I think I hurt other people with the way I am."

I really hurt Mingyu.

"Do you have an idea why you struggle with those things?" She calmly asks him. "Of course I am here to help you understand your feelings and those issues you’re facing, but sometimes people already have a notion as to why they’re facing certain problems."

Wonwoo shrugs his shoulders uneasily. He lies and shakes his head. "No."

"Alright." She nods once again. She keeps nodding, smiling, tilting her head, and Wonwoo can’t decide if it’s calming or creeping him out. "We develop a lot of our characters in our childhood, so I think it would help me understand your situation better if you told me about your past."

"My past…" Wonwoo freezes a bit. "was okay."

Wonwoo doesn’t want to talk to a complete stranger about his stupid childhood.

He doesn’t want to talk to anyone about it.

She calmly looks at him before nodding her head, like she came to a conclusion. "I know it’s not easy to talk to a stranger about such intimate things, but the fact that you came here today proves that you want to get better. Unfortunately, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me the truth, Wonwoo. I’m not saying you have to reveal everything to me right now. Just tell me as much as you’re comfortable with. The more I know in the first session, the sooner we can start actively treating your issues."

Meaning Wonwoo has to tell her everything right now.

He knows how this stuff works. If she doesn’t make a diagnosis by the end of this session, his insurance won’t cover the costs of the therapy sessions, and there’s no way Wonwoo can pay for them himself.

Wonwoo gulps. He stays silent for so damn long he worries Dr. Kang is going to get annoyed and scream at him, but she doesn’t. She gives him time, waiting patiently.

He knows that if he doesn’t leave this office today having talked about everything, he won’t ever do it.

It’s basically now or never.

"I don’t…" He starts, his voice wobbly as he watches Dr. Kang give him an encouraging smile. "I don’t like talking about it."

"Okay." She says. "Have you ever talked to anyone about it?"

"My best friend, he… he knows. Some of it."

"That's good that you have someone you can trust that much," She says. "Do you think you can tell me some of it as well, Wonwoo?"

Wonwoo looks at his lap for a long time, his heart beating a mile a minute, and he reminds himself that he’s here for a reason.

He needs to get better.

He wants to get better.

So he looks at her, and nods his head, and then Wonwoo kind of turns his emotions and thoughts off, opens his mouth, and talks.

He talks about how his mom fell in love in her first year of college. He was her boss when she was an intern. He tells her about their affair that went on for over a year before he got her pregnant, which was bad, because her boss was married and had a wife and children.

He bribed his mom to keep her mouth shut and to get an abortion. His mom refused, but her parents forced her into it as well, not wanting their only daughter to bear an illegitimate child, too concerned about their family’s name and pride being defiled.

His mom went to get an abortion against her will, but she backed out last minute in the doctors’ room. The boss denied anything that had to do with the child, so there was no name written down in the father’s place on Wonwoo’s birth certificate.

She didn’t want to give up school because she knew she would have to support her child on her own in the future, so after Wonwoo was born, she had to send him to her parents when he was only seven months old, to the countryside where his grandparents reluctantly took care of him.

Wonwoo can’t remember much from the time before he turned five years old but he remembers getting punished and blamed for a lot of things.

He doesn’t tell Dr. Kang about the physical punishments because he doesn’t think it matters. He used to get hit with things or slapped a lot but he was a kid, and all of that was so long ago. Maybe he just made things up.

Dr. Kang asks him if he had any friends and Wonwoo says no. Everyone knew Wonwoo was a bastard, so the kids in the village avoided him.

He remembers the kids at school making fun of him one day because he ate his food with his hands instead of using chopsticks. His grandmother never taught him, and she never really fed him either, so he started to eat with his hands because he didn’t want to make her angry by using her spoons or forks.

He stops there, his heart aching because he’s suddenly thinking of Mingyu, at the very start, when Mingyu wanted to feed him food and Wonwoo started crying and couldn’t come up with an explanation for his reaction.

Mingyu.

Wonwoo’s chest constricts, his fingers digging into his palm painfully. Dr. Kang gently calls his name, and Wonwoo hadn’t even realized that he started zoning out. He clears his throat and shakes his head when she asks him if he needs a break.

Wonwoo continues to tell her how he moved to his mom’s and his stepdad’s place when he turned seven, and how Chan was already two years old when he arrived.

He was kind of lost because he didn’t know Hyunsik and Chan and it was weird that this was suddenly his new family. He remembers missing his grandparents despite how they treated him.

His stepdad didn’t really accept him and similar to his grandparents, he didn’t try to hide it. He would get Chan twice the amount of presents for Christmas. He wouldn’t acknowledge Wonwoo’s good grades at school, or just generally ignore Wonwoo’s presence.

His mom was very loving towards Wonwoo, but later she got depressed, and then she didn’t love anything anymore.

Wonwoo found her crying on the floor in the kitchen when he was twelve for the first time. She was so loud that it scared Wonwoo, and she didn’t even notice him standing there, and he didn’t know what to do, so he called his stepdad, who came rushing home and took her to the hospital where Wonwoo saw them give his mom medicine to calm her down.

This happened a lot; the second time during dinner when she looked up at Wonwoo with remorse and endless sadness in her eyes. She started tearing up, before she had another attack.

Wonwoo thinks he caused them.

His stepdad told him to keep his distance from here for a while, so Wonwoo went to school and after that straight to his room when he got home. This made him and his mom grow distant but it also lessened her attacks and that was more important than anything.

But it wasn't all that bad, because it brought him and Chan closer together. He played with Chan a lot during that time to distract him from everything that went on at home.

Wonwoo stops there because he suddenly chokes up out of nowhere.

Dr. Kang hands him the box of tissues and says that they must have a strong bond.

Wonwoo doesn’t say anything and declines the tissues, sucking his tears up.

His relationship with Chan isn’t the best, which is mostly Wonwoo’s fault, but if he thinks about it, Chan was the first person that simply loved Wonwoo because he was his brother and that’s all that mattered to him. Chan never treated him like he was a mistake or a nuisance.

Wonwoo really wants to fix his relationship with Chan. He owes a lot of his happiness to Chan.

"Is that enough?" Wonwoo quickly asks. He doesn’t want to talk anymore. He’s never told anyone so much about his past and he really doesn’t ever want to do it again. It’s a dark place in his mind and he usually lets it remain untouched and forgotten.

"Of course."

After that, she talks for a long time. She mentions things like child neglect and child abuse, emotional abuse and she mentions a few different diagnoses that Wonwoo doesn’t really want to hear.

He doesn’t care for the medical terms of his issues as long as there’s a way to get rid of them.

She says emotional child neglect is a huge problem that's rarely talked about, and that it combined with verbal and physical abuse can have a horrible impact on one's personality.

She says it’s not Wonwoo’s fault. She says that a lot, keeps repeating it, and Wonwoo wants to believe it but it’s not that easy. Nothing about this is really easy.

She says that she will help him understand that he deserves all the love and care in the world just like any other person, and that he didn’t deserve all those things that happened to him.

Wonwoo does listen to everything he says, but after talking for such a long time he feels strangely empty. It feels like someone just took off some bricks that were previously attached to his shoulders.

Like everything has left his body after he poured his words out.

She finishes the session by already fixing Wonwoo’s next appointment, telling him that they will focus on the present and on ways to help Wonwoo deal with his past and slowly change this false perception he has of himself, so he can find closure and peace.

Wonwoo takes the little piece of paper she hands him, accepting the fact that he will be coming back here next week.

And the week after that, until he starts to get better.

 


Jeonghan is waiting for him in front of the building like he promised, sitting on the bench with a cigarette stuck between his lips.

"I thought you only smoke when you’re stressed." Wonwoo says, his voice cracking from how much he just talked in the past hour.

He feels like so much changed within the past hour, but everything is still the same. The sun is still bright but not in a good way. It's hurting his eyes.

Jeonghan gets up and throws the cigarette on the ground, putting it out and picking it back up to throw it away later. "I am stressed. I was nervous for you."

Wonwoo gives him a tired smile, walking towards the car next to him.

"How’d it go?" Jeonghan carefully asks once they’re sitting in the car, both doors closed and silence surrounding them.

Wonwoo licks his lips and slowly sinks back into the seat, exhaustion creeping into his bones.

He did it. Wonwoo finally did it. "Good."

"Good?" Jeonghan asks. "Meaning you’ll go back?"

Wonwoo nods. "I think so."

Jeonghan sighs in relief, slumping into his seat as well. "How are you feeling?"

He doesn’t answer for a while and then he lets out a long exhale before he speaks. "Relieved."

Wonwoo looks up at Jeonghan after a long moment of silence and is immediately engulfed in a tight hug. "I’m proud of you, Wonwoo."

For once, Wonwoo lets himself relish in the feeling washing over him after hearing those words.