It’s the start of their senior year, and Minghao is already exhausted. He nuzzles deeper into his make-shift arm pillows so that he doesn’t have to hear the rest of his classmates trying to figure out their school work. He took this class for the easy A anyways, so he’s not too worried about anything that’s going on. He needs his beauty sleep before he’s shuffled off to Mr. Choi’s chemistry class. This is the only class that he has a chance to take a decent nap in.
Minghao ignores his best friend Mingyu. He didn’t get much sleep last night because of said friend, and he’s not about to do his Chinese classwork for him too.
Minghao continues to ignore the boy. He’s going to continue to nap.
“Hey, Seokmin. Do you think Hao’s dead?”
Minghao resists the urge to roll his eyes. Instead, he burrows his head deeper into his arms. He finished the assignment way before Mr. Wen said they could get help from their friends. Minghao is not in a charitable mood, and he doesn’t want to help either Mingyu or Seokmin.
“I dunno, Gyu. Do you know CPR?”
“Hell yeah! I got certified last summer.”
“Want to give it a shot?”
This has Minghao sitting up straight in his chair to glare at his two friends. Mingyu grins widely at him while Seokmin smirks.
“I hate you guys,” he grumbles.
Just then, Mr. Wen passes by.
“I hope you guys are actually working on your assignment.”
“I finished already,” Minghao replies, handing his worksheet to Mr. Wen.
“Alright. Get started on your homework then.”
Seokmin and Mingyu stare at Minghao with betrayal shining in their eyes as Minghao begins to work on the homework. Minghao hums quietly under his breath as he writes his name and begins to answer the questions.
“I trusted you!” Mingyu laments. “What happened to the sweet kid who used to hang onto my every word and tell me that he needs me? Do you remember when Hao was a cute little freshman, Seok? So cute. So precious.”
Seokmin dabs at fake tears. “Ah. What a sweet child he was.”
Minghao rolls his eyes. “I grew a pair and realized what a bunch of dumbasses you are. Now suck it up and get your stuff done.”
Seokmin gives up readily with a sigh, but Mingyu isn’t so easily swayed. He begins making disgusting puppy eyes at Minghao. Minghao resists the urge to punch Mingyu in the face. Not because Mingyu’s cute or anything. No. It’s because Mingyu is annoying as fuck. Definitely because Mingyu’s annoying as fuck.
“Hey, Mr. Wen, do you need help grading the papers for Chinese 1?”
Mr. Wen ponders for a bit, eyeing Minghao’s desperate hand waving and Mingyu’s pout. Seokmin stays oblivious to the whole affair. Minghao widens his eyes and pouts slightly for effect. The Chinese teacher smirks internally.
“Sure,” Mr. Wen replies. “Consider that ten points extra on your next homework.”
“I trusted you,” Mingyu fake-sobs as Minghao packs up his things and stands to go to Mr. Wen’s desk. Seokmin laughs quietly but makes no comment.
Minghao only sticks his tongue out at Mingyu.
“Next time, don’t make me stay up until three playing Animal Crossing with you.”
Mr. Wen gives Minghao the stack of papers and Minghao sits down at his usual grading desk next to Mr. Wen’s desk. The teacher looks at Minghao with thinly-veiled amusement.
“Say, Haohao,” he says in quiet Cantonese so that the other students can’t understand. “What were you doing with Mingyu at three in the morning?”
Minghao resists the urge to stick his tongue out at his teacher.
“None of your business, Uncle Hui,” he replies brattily.
Mr. Wen pretends to wipe a tear from his eye.
“My little Haohao, all grown up and with his own boyfriend, leaving poor Uncle Jun in the dark. Oh, what a cruel world.”
“He’s not my boyfriend.”
Minghao curses under his breath because no, Mingyu is not his boyfriend. Why does everyone think that? Not that Minghao would want to date such an idiot anyways. Right?
“Watch your language, young man.”
Minghao rolls his eyes.
“Go to hell,” he mumbles.
(“Hey Hoonie, how much do you wanna bet that Hao and Gyu are going to be a thing by the end of the month?”
“Betting on your own students, Junhui? That’s hardly ethical.”
“Not if one of them is my nephew. Plus, he told me to go to hell today. Now tell me. How much?”)
In spite of Minghao’s harsh words during Chinese, he still waits for Mingyu by the entrance of the school so that they can walk home together. They’ve been walking home together for as long as they can remember, and Minghao isn’t about to break that tradition over a petty argument. Besides, he's grown used to having Mingyu walk with him, and he can't imagine not walking home with his giant friend.
Mingyu has already forgiven Minghao like the good-natured gentle giant that he is, and he slings an arm around Minghao while chatting obliviously about his day. Minghao pretends that his heart isn’t beating slightly faster when Mingyu stops talking and flashes his famous toothy grin at him. Nope. He’s not affected at all by Mingyu’s cute little canines and his bright sparkly eyes.
“You’re an idiot,” he says instead.
Mingyu pouts and releases Minghao from his hold.
“Haoooooo, love me,” he whines, grabbing Minghao’s face.
Nope. Minghao’s face is definitely not flushing red as he shoves Mingyu away. Definitely not. He pretends that he doesn’t see the hurt in Mingyu’s eyes as he rolls his eyes and continues on his way. Nope. Nope. Nope.
“No, I hate you,” he mumbles.
Minghao pretends that he doesn’t notice Mingyu becoming less touchy and more taciturn over the next few weeks. He tries focusing on his college applications and getting good grades. After all, Chemistry is still kicking his butt, even if Mr. Choi is slightly distracted now that he’s dating Mr. Hong.
Mingyu talks less when they walk home together, and he always seems distracted.
“You okay?” Minghao asks one day.
Mingyu grins at him, but it doesn’t seem sincere at all.
But when Mingyu doesn’t show up to walk home together, Minghao is a little bit worried. Mingyu always walks home with Minghao, no matter how much they’re fought or how much they’ve bickered. Mingyu always forgives him, and they always make up. This isn’t normal, and Minghao wonders if he might have gone too far this time.
Okay, scratch that, he’s really worried.
When he asks Mingyu the next day, the other boy shrugs it off, saying that he had help Seungkwan fix his calculator. Minghao doesn’t buy it, but he goes along with it anyways. Mingyu doesn’t show up to walk home with him anymore, and he always a new excuse. Minghao pretends that it doesn’t hurt when he walks home by himself and Mingyu doesn’t call him at two in the morning to play ridiculous games.
Nope. Minghao isn’t sad at all.
Not at all.
(“We need to stage an intervention.”
“Okay, but how?”
“I dunno, Seokmin. You’re the one that’s in the same grade as them.”
“Right, but since when has either one of them listened to me? Mingyu’s more likely to listen to you, and Minghao’s more likely to listen to you.”
“Yeah, whatever. They’re both being idiots. I’ll talk to Gyu and Hansol-ie can talk to Hao. Then we’ll smack their heads and let them know how stupid they’re being.”
“That’s a little harsh, Boo.”
“Shut up, Hand Soap.”
“Okay, that was totally uncalled for.”)
Minghao isn’t suspicious at all when Hansol invites him over to his house for junk food and a round of games. He becomes suspicious when Hansol won’t stop fidgeting through their second pizza.
“Spill,” he demands.
Hansol gulps down his current slice of pizza and continues to fidget.
“Okay. So you know how you and Mingyu haven’t been super touchy-feely, ‘I have a crush on you but I’m not going to say anything about it’ lately?”
Minghao glares at Hansol. Hansol gulps, this time without food.
“Okay, that was a little direct. But seriously. What’s up with you guys? Mingyu looks like a kicked puppy most of the time, and you’re being a lot sassier than normal. Last week, you told Chan that he was acting like a three-year-old without candy on steroids, and that cut deep, man.
“I don’t know,” Minghao replies stiffly. “Ask Mingyu why he stopped walking home with me.”
Hansol stares at Minghao in awe.
“You totally miss him.”
“Do- okay, then do you like Mingyu?”
“No!” Minghao replies defensively.
“That’s definitely a yes. You answered way too fast.”
Minghao groans. “Why does everyone think that?”
“Okay, then look me in the eyes and tell me with a straight face that you don’t like Mingyu.”
“I don’t like Mingyu.”
“Okay, that wasn’t supposed to work. How would you feel if Mingyu got a boyfriend or a girlfriend?”
“Are you my therapist?” Minghao snaps.
Hansol is at his wit's end at this point, and he throws a couch cushion at Minghao out of frustration. Minghao dodges it expertly.
“Just answer the question!”
Well, how would he feel? Minghao thought that he would have felt happy for his idiot of a best friend to finally get a significant other, but for some reason, he finds it hard to actually be happy thinking about such a scenario. He feels confused, instead.
Minghao finds that he isn’t able to answer the question. Hansol smirks.
“I think you know exactly how you feel now. At least start off by apologizing to him.”
(“Mingyu, stop crying. No seriously. Stop crying.”
“But what if he actually hates me?”
“When he says that he hates you, he actually means that he likes you.”
“Okay, maybe not all of the time, but like most of the time, probably.”
“Then should I talk to him again?”
“Well, don’t do anything stupid like serenade him in the middle of the night outside of his window.”
“How did you-“
Minghao is pleasantly surprised when Mingyu shows up to walk home with him the next week. The other boy doesn’t say anything at first, and they walk in silence for a distance. It’s finally Minghao that breaks the silence.
“I…I don’t actually hate you.”
“Nah. Sorry if that was harsh.”
They continue to walk in silence, but Mingyu’s steps are noticeably lighter. Minghao thinks about what to say as they continue to walk.
“I, uh. I’m sorry.”
Mingyu stops in his tracks. Minghao stops as well, confused as to why Mingyu has stopped.
“What are you sorry for?” Mingyu asks, confused.
“I guess I hurt your feelings? Hansol kind of gave me a talk about it. I’m…I’m sorry about that.”
Mingyu shakes his head. “Nah. It’s fine. I mean, I guess I was a little hurt. Because I thought that you really hated me, and I thought that was probably being too annoying.”
Minghao’s right eyelid twitches. He wants to reply that Mingyu is annoying sometimes, but he’s trying to mend bridge, not burn them. So he holds his tongue.
“And I thought maybe, I dunno. I was reading the signs wrong, or something,” Mingyu continues.
Minghao holds his breath. Is Mingyu about to say what Minghao thinks he’s going to say?
“Like, I dunno. Maybe…”
“Maybe what?” Minghao ventures.
“That maybe…I dunno. Maybe we could be more than friends?”
Minghao stares at Mingyu, and Mingyu stares back. From somewhere in the bushes behind them, they heard faint rustling.
“Just kiss already!” a voice that sounds suspiciously like Seungkwan’s yells.
The two of them stare at the bushes.
“Should we go somewhere a little more private?” Minghao suggests.
Mingyu frowns. “If you’re going to reject me, you can go ahead and just reject me in front of everyone. I’m okay with that. We can still be bros and stuff.”
Minghao rolls his eyes before grabbing the lapels of Mingyu’s coat.
“Kim Mingyu, you might be an idiot, but I don’t hate you. And I want to take this somewhere more private because I’m pretty certain that Chan is somewhere in those bushes, and I don’t want to scar him.”
“Shut up and kiss already!”
Mingyu grins at Minghao for the first time in weeks, and Minghao finds himself grinning back. His heart beats a little faster, but this time, he doesn't find the urge to push Mingyu away.
“Race you back to my house,” Mingyu challenges.
“Get ready to lose.”
They laugh as they run all the way to Mingyu’s house where they collapse in a giggling, breathless heap at Mingyu’s front door. Mingyu gives Minghao a tight hug, and Minghao hugs back even more tightly.
Things are back to normal. In fact, they’re better than normal.
No one bats an eye when Minghao and Mingyu walk into school holding hands the next day. Seungkwan wolf-whistles loudly, and Mr. Wen hands Mr. Lee a handful of bills sheepishly. Minghao pretends not to notice any of it. He simply smirks before gently pressing a kiss into Mingyu’s cheek.
Seungkwan yells something about him being a tease, and Mr. Lee makes a dry comment about PDA. But Minghao doesn’t care at all, because he’s too focused on Mingyu’s dazzling smile as he makes a comment about Mr. Wen and Mr. Lee’s PDA in the hall last week. Mr. Lee then promptly prepares to give Mingyu a detention for his insolence, and Mingyu drags Minghao off before they can both get into trouble.
“That was really stupid of you,” Minghao mutters.
Mingyu only grins.
Kim Mingyu may be an idiot, but he’s Xu Minghao’s idiot.