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Dream Daddy

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It was stupid. So stupid. Minghao doesn’t even know why he’s doing this, staring at the screen, with his cursor hovering over the little icon. A pink heart, taunting him in all its stupid glory. He could just leave. Close the screen and walk away like this whole thing hadn’t been planned and he hadn’t spent half his day struggling with constantly disconnecting Wi-Fi in order to download the game now nestled comfortably on his desktop. But no, Minghao was no quitter. In fact, he was going to play the game just because he told himself he shouldn’t!

Which… doesn’t make a lot of sense. But Minghao firmly believes that one’s biggest rival is oneself, so what better way to improve his pettiness than to go against his own wishes?

Pressing the button, Minghao waits as the game loads. He taps his knee absentmindedly, having settled on the cool, hardwood floor the minute he got home from school. It had taken him awhile to get back, mostly because he was trying to find out where the Wi-Fi signal was strongest so he could download the game faster (hey, the university had unlimited Wi-Fi, and he paid them an arm and a leg to take classes there – the least they could do was let him download stuff), but now that he was, Minghao was too lazy to get on his bed (despite it being less than a meter away).

The game finishes loading as Minghao comes out of his head. He cringes as the music plays full blast – having forgotten to turn down the sound (that always happens for some reason; Minghao doesn’t even listen to music that loudly, he always uses earphones anyways!) – and quickly turns it down before anyone can hear the very obvious and slightly embarrassing lyrics coming from the game. Sure, maybe no one was home right now, but that didn’t mean Minghao couldn’t be careful. For all he knew Junhui had installed cameras and microphones all over the house, Minghao wouldn’t put it past him. As long as Junhui could tease Minghao, the older boy would do whatever was needed to get dirt on Minghao.

Contemplating whether or not he should wear earphones, Minghao decides that the extra protection it would give him was worth it. Leaning over, he grabs at his fallen bag, fumbling as his fingers just miss the straps, before managing to grab on and drag the object closer to him. Rummaging through it, Minghao absentmindedly regrets having haphazardly thrown all of his books in before. Finally untangling his earphones from the umbrella he had shoved into the bag that morning, Minghao plugs the device in.

“This is weird,” Minghao mumbles to himself, examining the different characters on the main scene. His mouse hovers over the exit button – it wasn’t too late yet – before he clicks New Game with a deep breath and slightly closed eyes. No turning back now.

As the game starts up, Minghao finds himself falling into a trance. The whole set up wasn’t too bad – though a bit weird – and after customizing his own character and naming it promptly after himself, Minghao begins to get sucked into the storyline. It wasn’t long until Minghao was actively pursuing the character that had grabbed his interest right from the introduction. The fictional character had really struck a chord with him, for whatever reason, and Minghao find himself laughing along as he continued along the plotline.

Nearing the end of the game, Minghao sniffles as he reads the final lines of dialogue before the screen fades to black and the credits roll out. Wiping at his eyes, the Chinese boy stares as the lines and lines of names creep up the screen – determined to at least look at them in exchange for all the work they put into making the game. He might not read every single name (or care about them much), but they worked hard and Minghao could at least respect them enough to wait a couple of minutes while the credits scrolled through.

After which, Minghao is soon rewarded with the final photo of his chosen plotline. Squealing at the prize (for Minghao had so painstakingly went through every option in that game in order to get the perfect S-level ending), Minghao doesn’t realize he’s being watched before the earphones are pulled out of his ears and Junhui’s voice replaces the cheery background music of the game.

“Dream Daddy?” Junhui asks, amused yet slightly intrigued. Minghao wants to die. “I didn’t know you had this game.”

“I,” Minghao licks his lips, mouth suddenly drying up at being caught. He didn’t know if he should be embarrassed at being caught or annoyed that Junhui had snuck on him. Besides, it’s not like it was a crime to be playing the game. Just a little weird. It was a dad dating simulation after all – and Minghao was, well, not a dad. Yet. But that was something for another time. The bottom line was that the game was popular enough that it had attracted Minghao’s attention while the boy had been mindlessly scrolling through Tumblr, and seeing as a percentage of the audience obsessed with the game were very clearly not dads, Minghao thinks he’s at least got an upper hand being very clearly male and homosexual.

Basically, Minghao should not, in the slightest, be ashamed of playing the game. Yet the younger boy can’t reach Junhui’s gaze. Instead, Minghao feels his face heat up with embarrassment as Junhui leans over again.

“You went for Mat?” Junhui observes, looking at the prize picture still on Minghao’s screen. “That’s cute, I went for Robert the first time. It took me a couple of tries because damn is his good route hard to get but I’m not a quitter – as you know – and I got it eventually.”

“What?” Minghao says, ever the eloquent fellow.

“Yeah, well,” Junhui ponders to himself, “I did end up using a walkthrough thing because I was getting tired of saving and backtracking whenever I messed up. But hey, it’s the thought that counts right?”

“No, that’s not what I meant,” Minghao clears his throat, slowly regaining his processing ability and speech functions.

Junhui tilts his head to the side, “Oh? What did you mean then?”

“You’ve played Drea- this game?” Minghao still flushes whenever he even thinks of the game’s name. There’s no way he’d be saying it out loud.

“Hm? Yeah. I family shared with Jihoon last week – finally the dick kept refusing even though we all know he has the most games out of everyone – and he had it in his library. Said he got it as part of a bundle or something but I’ve gone on his computer and he has over 20 hours on that game. Regardless I decided to try it out for myself – it’s pretty fun. All the storylines are really interesting and the characters are so complex don’t you think?”

Minghao blinks, “I guess…?”

“Oh right, you’ve only played Mat’s route – you wouldn’t really know about the others yet,” Junhui nods to himself. “Who are you going to play next? Actually, better question, why’d you choose Mat first? Most people go with Robert or Craig, bro,” Junhui snickers to himself, “I would’ve thought you’d go for Craig too actually.”

“What? Why?” Minghao asks. A part of him is still wondering whether he’s actually having this conversation or not, but the bigger, more prominent part of him is just glad that Junhui seems to have no problem with him playing this game.

“I don’t know, you seem to be into the whole bro thing,” Junhui shrugs. “Then again, I think you’re more like Craig so I guess it does make sense as to why you didn’t go for him. You don’t seem like the type of person to be attracted to someone that’s exactly like you.”

“Oh,” Minghao subconsciously nods. Why Junhui had suddenly become an expert in the matters of Minghao’s mind and heart was lost to the slender male, but at least he wasn’t teasing him or anything. That was definitely a plus, kind of. Actually, Minghao isn’t sure if this conversation is a whole lot better.

Junhui shrugs. “So, why did you go after Mat?”

“He,” Minghao falters, still unsure if this was an elaborate hoax set up by Junhui so he could, at the end, reveal that there were secret cameras livestreaming the whole thing and now Minghao’s image was completely and utterly ruined. “He’s nice,” Minghao finishes lamely, to which Junhui groans much like Seungkwan did when the gossip he was following didn’t end up the way he predicted.

“I’m going to need more than that honey,” Junhui drawls. “Give me the details. You’ve been single for so long I’m interested to see what kind of man you’re looking for.”

“It’s a game Junhui,” Minghao reminds, “just because I go for a certain type of character there doesn’t mean that’s my type for real life.”

“That’s a lie and you know it,” Junhui responds. “People always look for traits they’re attracted to – even in games.”

Minghao is silent for a moment, knowing full well that Junhui was right. The older boy smirks at him, staring into his eyes and making Minghao squirm before the slender boy finals break down. “Okay, okay,” Minghao huffs, “I chose him because he’s cute.”

“They’re all cute Hao,” Junhui rolls his eyes, “they were practically designed that way.”

“I mean Robert and Craig are kind of more on the hot side,” Minghao mumbles before he can stop himself.

Junhui’s eyes widen. “I knew you liked Craig! And hey, stay away from Robert he’s my man.”

“Whatever,” Minghao shakes his head at Junhui’s theatrics. “Anyways, to be more precise, I guess… Mat is just really endearing?” Minghao thinks about it. “When you first go into the Coffee Spoon he’s like, bumbling around and rambling and it’s just really, really precious. That’s when I knew I’d have to go for him because like, look at him!” Minghao gestures at the laptop screen. “Such a precious little bean that rambles and word vomits and then tries to be cool and utterly fails – absolutely adorable.”

“Wow,” Junhui’s eyebrows raise. “You really like Mat, huh?”

“W-what?” Minghao stammers, not liking the look in Junhui’s eyes.

“I mean, to already know you were going for him from the first scene,” Junhui gestures vaguely. “I looked around on the internet before deciding to try for Robert first. Though maybe other people are like you and just go with their gut – though the whole thing has been hyped up since it’s release so most players already know who they want before they play. I take it that you didn’t really look into any of the characters before playing though?” Minghao shakes his head. “I knew it.”

“Moving on,” Junhui continues, “I never thought you’d like someone like Mat, but it makes sense now. You’re kind of emotionally constipated, so it would work for you to go for someone that’s more sensitive and emotional to kind of balance that out. Besides, your need to protect everything that you find precious works along well with Mat’s kind of silent, hidden strength and support. I like it. Would you date him if he was real?”

“Why are you psychoanalyzing me based on my choice of Dad?” Minghao questions, narrowing his eyes. “Did you even take psychology?”

“One does not have to be an expert in order to have an opinion,” Junhui replies sagely.

Minghao scoffs. “True, but,” the younger boy points at Junhui condescendingly, “usually an opinion like that is highly misinformed and ignorant – leading to a useless and sometimes hurtful opinion. People like that are the reason why others believe stupid things like how vaccines cause autism or some shit.”

“Regardless,” Junhui continues with a flourish, as if Minghao hadn’t completely stomped on his point and spit it back out. “You haven’t answered my question. Would you date Mat if he was a real person?”

“I guess?” Minghao replies, eyebrows furrowed together. “But he’s not real. Why are you asking me this?”

“Because you’re being insanely obvious with your intentions,” Junhui answers.

“Intentions?” Minghao asks, slowly stretching out the word as he sees Junhui begin to smirk. Actually, it was more like a mix between a smirk and a grin – meaning the older boy was more amused than mischievous, but Minghao feared the expression nonetheless. Sure, Junhui might be one of the sweetest and softest people Minghao knows, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have an impish side. In fact, Junhui was often the cheekiest with people he loved – he was kind of like a cat that way.

“I mean, you’re being really transparent,” Junhui explains. “You start playing a dating simulator and the first thing you do is go for the cute, bumbling fool with a soft heart that tries his best? Doesn’t that sound like someone we know?”

“…no…?” Minghao tries, shaking his head slowly. Junhui sighs, like Minghao had disappointed not only him, but his grandmother and cow as well. (Knowing Junhui, he probably did). “I’m guessing that’s the wrong answer.”

“If you knew it was the wrong answer then why did you say it?” Junhui scolds, playfully frowning. He puts his hands on his hips, and only then does Minghao realize that the other boy has been standing this whole time. No wonder his neck hurt from looking up. Reaching upwards, Minghao grabs onto Junhui’s wrist and pulls the elder down to sit with him on the floor. Junhui plops down with as much gracefulness as a plate of pudding before arranging his limbs into a more respectable and comfortable position.

“I didn’t know it was the wrong answer,” Minghao insists, “I just inferred it was from your reaction.”

“Now whose psychoanalyzing who huh?” Junhui challenges. He barrels on, however, when he notices that certain glint in Minghao’s eyes – the one that meant that you had messed up somehow (whether that be through speech or actions) and the shorter boy just had the perfect comeback to not only poke fun at your mistake, but to immortalize it for the rest of history. Because that’s just how Minghao was – the boy would never (could never) let anyone go.

“Moving on,” Junhui glares at Minghao, and the younger one closes his mouth and refrains from speaking his mind (for once in his life). “I’m just saying, Mat reminds me of someone we know in real life – someone you know really well too. And are friends with. Maybe more. Basically, this certain person in which a fictional character in a dating simulation reminds me is very close to you and has me questioning whether you’re really just friends.”

“Junhui you’re not making sense,” Minghao states bluntly. He crosses his arms, uncomfortable with the whole situation. He really shouldn’t be, Junhui was just being really vague (and should really tag it as such) – like he tends to be – and so there was no reason for Minghao to feel like he was being lectured. Yet, just like how he didn’t necessarily need to be ashamed for playing a game called Dream Daddy, Minghao can’t help but feel a little embarrassed and very guilty.

“Whatever,” Junhui throws his hands up. The older boy stands up, knees cracking and bones aching, before dusting off his pants. “You can ignore the glaring truth all you want – I’m out of here. I need to take a bath.”

“Don’t sit in the hot water for too long old man,” Minghao calls as Junhui walks away, “you’ll get arthritis.”

“I’m not that old shut the fuck up Hao,” is the response he gets. It makes Minghao smile, as if the last snarky comment had won him the battle – when in reality Minghao felt like he lost the war. Leaning back against his bed, Minghao stares at the now dark screen of his laptop. He knew exactly who Junhui had been referring to. He had always known, from the minute Mat appeared on screen in the game – yet Minghao had a special ability to push such thoughts to the back of his mind. A coping mechanism was what Wonwoo called it. To Minghao though, it was merely another part of his being. Best to push things away and deal with them later (or not at all, that was really the best outcome).

Smiling lifelessly at the thought, Minghao shakes his mouse and watches as the screen comes back on. Pressing the ‘next’ button, the picture of Mat goes into the gallery and Minghao is once again faced with the opening sequence in which all the dateable dads line up in a row. Looking over each character design, Minghao groans. Junhui had called him a Craig because of his ‘bro mentality’, but honestly, Minghao – with his tendency to avoid present problems – felt more like Robert.

 

 

The thoughts that Minghao had pushed to the back of his mind don’t bother him for another two weeks. Enough time for Minghao to partially forget them, but not long enough so that Minghao’s brain deems them unimportant. They resurface, possibly at the worst time, but looking back, Minghao could definitely see it coming.

They were gathered at Jihoon’s house. They being the majority of the so called ‘gamers’ of the group. There was Jihoon of course, well known between their squad to be the most intense gamer. He had the full set up, from three screens to a personalized gaming computer he had built and invest in himself. He had a whole room set up for PC gaming alone, as well as another one for different consoles. As such, Jihoon’s house was usually the location for ‘gaming get togethers’ – as Junhui called it. A childish name for sure, but he had said it with such innocent conviction that no one at the time had the heart to call him out on it. As such, it stuck.

Next was Wonwoo. Though many viewed Wonwoo as your typical book worm, he was quite the opposite. While most people assumed Wonwoo hated all technology in favour of a good, worn book, he often proved them wrong by being quite the accomplished Overwatch gamer. Whenever him and Jihoon were in the same room playing the popular game, Minghao would walk straight out. It was either that or have his ears assaulted by trash talk and screaming for the next couple of hours.

The last one to complete the so called ‘gaming trio’ of their group was Seungcheol. Minghao wasn’t too close with the older boy, only knowing him through mutual friends in their too large rag tag group of friends, but they had talked multiple times before and he was nice enough. Big and intimidating looking, with a soft heart on the inside, Seungcheol was quite the character. He liked playing support, Minghao learned, and would often join Wonwoo and Jihoon in their Overwatch matches whenever he had time. Apparently, according to Junhui, Seungcheol had played more often a couple of years back. But then he graduated and life caught up with him so he could only do it on the weekends. A little sad (Minghao retches every time he thinks about growing up and doing actual adult things) but at least Seungcheol still made time to visit and play with the rest of them.

Junhui was there too, though Minghao wasn’t sure why. He hadn’t known the older Chinese male to be into video games much. Usually he played them once in a while, when they were at a party and the host had set up Mario Kart or something. Regardless, Junhui definitely wasn’t a hard-core gamer (though none of them other than maybe Jihoon and Wonwoo were). Minghao suspects he only came because he was with Wonwoo before the older boy arrived. Naturally, Junhui had probably tagged along – like he often did.

Similarly, Minghao and Mingyu were present as well. The two didn’t play games that often – though Minghao played more than Mingyu – so Minghao was very confused as to why Mingyu was there. Minghao, you see, actually did play games – sometimes. The Chinese male usually only played non-competitive, single player games – not liking the adrenaline inducing, competitive games his friends enjoyed – and he even had a favourite game (Pyre) as of late. Mingyu, on the other hand, had probably never touched a controller in his entire life. Actually, Minghao thinks, scratch that. The slender male seems to recall Mingyu playing Just Dance once while drunk, but that didn’t really count.

Regardless, Minghao was confused. Honestly, he wouldn’t even be there right now if he hadn’t gone over to Jihoon’s house a couple of hours before to ask for help. He needed someone to edit his paper before handing it in the following day and Jihoon was the first one to come to mind. He could’ve asked others (Wonwoo and Jisoo were his initial choices) but he needed someone quick and efficient. Wonwoo would get too wrapped up in trying to improve Minghao’s writing style while Jisoo was a little too passive-aggressive and roundabout in his criticism. Best to go to Jihoon – who was both well educated and blunt – in order to finish his paper in time.

And he did end up finishing the paper (though he had internally cried after Jihoon first got through with editing – he knew the older boy was blunt but he never realized how harsh he could get), but just as he was about to leave, Wonwoo (and Junhui in tow) came knocking. Startled by the guests, Minghao had been coerced into hanging around. Though, to be fair (and like Jihoon pointed out), Minghao didn’t have any other plans for the night. After Wonwoo and Junhui made a nest in Jihoon’s couch, Minghao was sent to grab some snacks from Jihoon’s pantry. When returning, the group had grown by two and now Minghao was wedged next to Mingyu (who had come with Seungcheol for whatever reason) while Junhui and Wonwoo faced each other in Just Dance.

“So,” Minghao starts, eyes deliberately focusing on Junhui and Wonwoo instead of looking over. Had he done so, he would’ve seen Mingyu start at his words, the taller man turning to Minghao in surprise at Minghao initiating conversation. Normally, Minghao hated small talk under all circumstances. It was tiring, didn’t really accomplish anything, and was layered with so many stupid pleasantries and hidden judgements – exactly what Minghao hated. This time however, Minghao couldn’t stand the awkward tension that stretched between the two of them.

It’s not like they were strangers either. In fact, Minghao and Mingyu got along very well. They were probably one of the closest pairs in the group (though, to be honest, them plus Wonwoo and Junhui were kind of interchangeable in terms of ‘pairings’) and everyone else knew it. Where Minghao was, you’d most possibly find Mingyu – they came as a packaged deal despite only having met at the start of their university career. They, Minghao remembers (though Mingyu, being severely drunk at the time despite only have two beers – the lightweight), had met at a frosh week party. Minghao was going out to clear his head, only to walk in on Mingyu vomiting gracefully onto a potted plant.

The two had stared at the plant, only to realize, slowly, that it was the prized possession of the host’s mother. Minghao doesn’t remember the host’s name – only that they threw parties every Thursday for some reason – but he does remember that the host’s mother was insanely into gardening. Apparently she entered (and won) almost every competition she could find. Therefore, seeing as Mingyu had not so elegantly projected bile onto her still budding rose plant, Minghao could only burst out laughing. Mingyu, startled by the noise and realizing what he had just done, began to cry instead – causing Minghao to haul the taller man out of the garden before the host could catch them. The two ended up stumbling home, a mixture of laughs and tears, before crashing in Minghao’s living room. Ever since, the two had been inseparable.

So, Minghao wasn’t sure why he felt so awkward sitting beside Mingyu. All he knew was that one, things had been really weird lately, and two, Mingyu was definitely giving him weird looks. Before Minghao can follow up with his awkward conversation starter, the two are interrupted by Jihoon suddenly standing up and stopping Junhui and Wonwoo’s dance off.

“Hey! I was going to win!” Wonwoo insists, throwing the remote at Jihoon softly. The shorter boy catches it easily, muttering dark threats about damaging his possessions, before scoffing.

“You didn’t even have a single star,” Jihoon remarks. “There’s no way in any world you’d be able to beat Junhui in dancing – even if it’s Just Dance.”

“Isn’t there some theory where dancers actually do really bad in Just Dance?” Wonwoo says in his defense (Minghao doesn’t think it’s a very good one). “I think I saw a video on that somewhere.”

“Enlightening,” Jihoon rolls his eyes. Minghao laughs. Wonwoo glares. “Anyways, I’m tired of this, what do you guys want to play?”

The typical suggestions are thrown out. Mario Kart. Super Smash Bros. Another round of Just Dance. Seungcheol brings up Guitar Hero but is immediately shot down by Wonwoo. After another good fifteen minutes of discussion, they’re back where they’ve started plus one sulking Seungcheol. Minghao sighs, leaning backwards as he watches Jihoon absentmindedly sort through his extensive collection of games. Minghao hated it when things came down to this – wanting to do something yet not knowing what to do. It’s like being in the mood to sit down and binge watch a series on Netflix – only to be stumped on what to watch. A waste of both time and energy.

“Hey,” Junhui says, brightening. “Why don’t we play Dream Daddy? Wonwoo hasn’t played it yet but he said he wanted to.”

“I did,” Wonwoo’s eyes brighten. “I want to go after Hugo.”

“Wow you’re such a fucking bookworm,” Seungcheol chortles loudly – probably as revenge for Wonwoo dissing Seungcheol’s choice of games (though, to be fair, Minghao thought Guitar Hero was outdated too).

“Says the guy who went for Craig – don’t you think you go to the gym enough?” Wonwoo shoots back. Seungcheol frowns, about to respond before Jihoon throws a pillow between the two of them.

“Shut the fuck up before I throw someone out,” Jihoon declares, effectively quieting the room. He motions for Seungcheol to move over before settling down on the floor. Connecting the TV screen to his laptop, the shorter boy immediately starts up Dream Daddy and soon enough, the telltale opening music begins to play through the TV speakers.

“We’re actually doing this?” Minghao mumbles, more to himself than anyone else. Everyone hears him for some reason – as they always do – and he’s met with a smirking Junhui. “Don’t,” he starts, trying to silence Junhui with his eyes, only for the other Chinese male to grin wickedly.

“Yes, we are,” Junhui says slowly, “after all, you only finished Mat’s route last time you played, right? Didn’t even get to experience the other dads – what a waste.”

Minghao sighs, closing his eyes temporarily as he resists the urge to lunge across the room and choke Junhui. When he opens them, he’s met with a curious Mingyu and a laughing Junhui. “You went for Mat?” Mingyu asks.

“So what if I did?” Minghao replies, defensive.

Mingyu shrugs. “I’m just asking. He’s not one of the popular ones.”

“Well fuck you too,” Minghao says in lieu of a response. Wonwoo snorts and Jihoon roll his eyes before the owner of the game presses play and they’re all sucked in. The introduction is just as quirky and adorable as Minghao remembers, and though they have a good ten minute discussion every time a decision comes up (plus at least thirty minutes of trying to figure out what their Dad was going to look like), Minghao has a good time.

They end up going for Hugo – courtesy of Wonwoo – and Minghao finds himself chuckling as they delve deeper and deeper into his route. Near the end of the game, Minghao full on cheers at Hugo’s infamous line before they all quiet down for the ending. As the credits roll through, Minghao can tell they’re all more affected by the game than they initially thought they would. The game did that, Minghao thinks, it was good at it too. You go in thinking it’s going to be a cute and funny dating simulation only to come out thinking about how realistic and complex some of the characters are. Quite a feat, seeing as the game length wasn’t too long, and Minghao respected that. Minghao respected that a lot.

“I think Hugo might be my second favourite Dad now,” Seungcheol declares. Jihoon nods – though Minghao isn’t sure what his number one Dad is.

“That’s not fair, he was mine first, get your own Dad,” Wonwoo argues, sniffling. Minghao isn’t sure when the older boy started to cry, but somewhere between trivia night and the wrestling match, Wonwoo had completely broken down. Something about breaking the stereotypes of bookworms had probably resounded with him – at least, that’s Minghao’s theory.

“I have a Dad,” Seungcheol says and Minghao wants to cry at how weird that statement was considering the context. “Craig is still my number one, I’m just saying that Hugo is a close second.”

“Is it because he wrestles? Why are you always so into sports?” Junhui’s nose wrinkles. The three of them get into a slightly heated argument, topics ranging from the best Dad to Seungcheol’s weird kink for the gym (it’s not yet confirmed, merely speculated by Junhui and supported by Wonwoo, but Minghao is slightly interested yet mostly resigned to not look into it any further).

Minghao sighs as the three of them continue to talk over one another. He looks around the room, seeing Jihoon pick up some trash and go to the kitchen – probably to order them a pizza or something. They had been there for a good three hours already (five for Minghao) and the only food that had gone into their mouths was processed and very unhealthy. Then again, it’s not like pizza was much better, but at least they could say they had a meal.

“Is Mat still your favourite Dad?” Mingyu asks, startling Minghao out of his thoughts. The slender boy readjusts himself on the couch, legs tucked underneath him and toes pressed into Mingyu’s thigh, before he nods. “Ah.”

“What about you?” Minghao inquires, though he still feels a bit weird talking about this whole thing.

“I don’t have a favourite one yet,” Mingyu states, “I have to think about it a bit more I guess. Though Amanda and probably Betsy are fighting for first.” Minghao snorts at that. Of course Mingyu would prefer the dog to actual characters. “I know Jihoon’s favourite is Damien though.”

“Huh,” Minghao blinks. “That oddly fits.”

Mingyu nods knowingly and they lapse into silence. As they sit next to each other and watch as Seungcheol’s, Junhui’s, and Wonwoo’s argument evolves into something a little more physical, Minghao can’t help but feel awkward again. There was something bugging him, something related to this whole Dream Daddy nonsense – as well as Mingyu – but he couldn’t figure out what it was. All he knew was that he didn’t feel comfortable that Mingyu knew he had a thing for Mat. It kind of reminded him of what Junhui had said before – how his choice of Dad reflected his preferred type. Though, looking at that thought process, it didn’t make sense to Minghao why that would bother him. Mingyu had been his wingman before, plenty of times even, so it would seem sensible for him to know Minghao’s type… right?

“Okay guys, break it up,” Jihoon walks back into the kitchen, hands on his hips and looking like the ideal mom (though he definitely didn’t act like it). “I said,” Jihoon narrows his eyes when the trio doesn’t stop. “Break. It. Up.”

Immediately, sensing the underlying threat in Jihoon words, the three young adults (Minghao retches internally at the term) straighten up and sit down like model children. Minghao resists the urge to laugh, though he notices Jihoon smother a smile. Settling down in his usual spot – the padded chair beside the couch – Jihoon leans back. Junhui yawns, blinking tiredly from the fight, before leaning onto Wonwoo entirely. The other boy doesn’t seem to mind, merely bringing a hand up to brush Junhui’s locks away before opening his mouth to speak.

“Hey, what if we were Dads?” Wonwoo says, and Minghao can’t help but snort. It definitely wasn’t the most eloquent thing Wonwoo has ever said. “Like if we had our own cul-de-sac, who would be who?”

“Junhui would be Damien for sure,” Seungcheol announces. “A soft little precious bean with a cool aesthetic exterior? But is secretly a dork? And likes puppies? That’s got Junhui written all over it.”

“I wanted to be Robert!” Junhui pouts. “He’s cool.” The Chinese male huffs, looking like a five-year-old. It only goes to prove Seungcheol’s point. Despite Junhui’s cries of justice, everyone wholeheartedly agrees upon Seungcheol’s comparison.

“I can see Seungcheol as Brian,” Wonwoo says next.

“What?” Seungcheol grunts.

“I can too,” Jihoon nods. “The usual image of a dad – that’s you. Then he’s got that disgustingly sweet soft side that just wants what’s best for his daughter. It’s decided, you’re Brian.”

“I wanted to be Craig,” Seungcheol complains, only to be cut off by Junhui’s glare.

“Well we don’t always get what we want, do we?” Junhui remarks, and Minghao snorts. The older Chinese male looks over at Minghao, to which the slender boy gives him a thumbs up. “Nice, Minghao gave me his sign of approval. I feel blessed.”

“Speaking of Minghao, I think he’d be Craig,” Wonwoo continues. “Sporty, into exercising, works himself to the bone yet does it all for the people he cares about – it fits don’t you think?”

“He’s pretty wild at parties too,” Mingyu adds, grinning.

Junhui grins impishly, “you would know.”

“Of course,” Mingyu says confidently, not catching the quick glance Junhui and Wonwoo share. “Anyways, I don’t think Wonwoo fits any of them but if anything, it’d probably be Hugo?”

“I was thinking Robert,” Jihoon says. “Because of that rough exterior yet soft, vulnerable inside Robert has going on. Plus, he’s got a fucked up sense of humour – just like Wonwoo.”

“Same could be said for you,” Wonwoo points out. “But I think you might be like Hugo too – being the stick in the mud but only because you want what’s best for others, even if they don’t see it.”

“You two can be interchangeable then,” Seungcheol declares. “That leaves Mingyu,” the eldest in the room turns to examine the resident puppy – causing everyone else to stare too. Surprised from the sudden increase in attention, Minghao watches as a slight flush takes over Mingyu’s tanned cheeks. The taller boy shifts uncomfortably under everyone’s stares, large hands clasping and unclasping as he waits in awkward silence.

“Mat,” Jihoon, Seungcheol, Wonwoo, and Junhui decide unanimously.

“Awkward,” Junhui lists off, holding up a finger as he continues to rattle off similarities between Mingyu and Mat, “bumbling, rambles a lot, sensitive, strong on the inside, stubborn, a good chef – I’d say you’re a perfect match Mingyu.”

Oh.

That’s why.

Minghao blinks, staring at Mingyu – who merely shrugs and accepts the title. The rest of the group continues their discussion like nothing happened, moving onto the next game they were going to play. Minghao hears their voices, but they sound far away, like he was in a tunnel or something. Their voices seem to meld together as Minghao falls deeper into his own thoughts, unable to think about anything other than the fact that Junhui was right. There was someone in Minghao’s life that resembled Mat almost perfectly – but Minghao had been too stupid to figure out who it was. Until now.

Junhui had asked before, whether or not he would date Mat if the character actually existed in Minghao’s life, and Minghao had said yes. He hadn’t thought about it, though, realistically, he probably would end up falling for someone like Mat if he ever stumbled across them. And that had been that, Minghao had swept that thought to the back of his head – only for it to be brought out forcefully now.

Now, Minghao understood that while Mat was a fictional character in a dating simulation, there existed a real person that resembled the character. One that was very close to Minghao and was currently watching him carefully, as if he thought Minghao was sick and would fall over at any given moment. Normally, Minghao would glare at whoever treated him like a piece of glass. At the current situation however, Minghao merely flushes with embarrassment. It was odd, felt weird even, to look at Mingyu. After Junhui and the others had made that comparison, all Minghao could think about was how alike Mingyu and Mat were. And yeah, Minghao liked Mat a lot – romantically even – so doesn’t that mean Mingyu could potentially be like that?

Minghao shakes his head. He had never thought about that before. Mingyu and him were always just friends. He didn’t need to go down that path now.

“Hey,” Mingyu shuffles closer, ignorant to the inner turmoil in Minghao’s head. “Are you okay?” Minghao shakes his head, nodding even though he can feel the heat from Mingyu’s hand on his thigh through the fabric of his jeans.

“You don’t look okay,” Mingyu observes, and Minghao curses the taller boy’s gentle and caring nature. Just like Mat. Minghao frowns at that though, no, he had to stop comparing the two. Mat was fictional, Mingyu was real – and his own person at that. It wouldn’t be fair for Minghao to project Mat onto him.

“I’m fine,” Minghao says, only to be ignored. Mingyu stands up, dragging Minghao with him, before promptly leaving the living room.

“Minghao seems sick, I’m going to go with him to get some fresh air,” Mingyu calls behind his back. Minghao thinks he can hear Junhui snicker while high fiving Wonwoo, but an insistent tug from Mingyu makes him stumble forwards – unable to look back for even a second.

Walking out into Jihoon’s small garden, Minghao is instructed by Mingyu to take multiple deep breaths. The slender boy obeys, mostly because he wasn’t sure what to say, and soon enough Mingyu makes them sit on the grass. Minghao isn’t sure if fresh air was really going to do much if he was actually sick, but he plays along with it while Mingyu tugs at the overgrown grass in the yard. The two lapse into a silence as Mingyu seems to retreat into his own thoughts. Minghao bites his lips, confused as to why there was such an obvious tension in the air, before fiddling his thumbs and waiting nervously for Mingyu to speak up.

“So,” Mingyu says finally. Minghao nods. “Junhui told me something the other day.” Mingyu pauses, looking over at Minghao, who merely tilts his head in confusion. “About Dream Daddy.”

“Oh,” Minghao’s mouth opens, forming a small circle as the soft noise escapes him.

“Nothing bad,” Mingyu ushers out. “Kind of.” Mingyu’s eyebrows furrow. “I, uh, kind of knew Mat was your favourite before today.”

“Okay,” Minghao blinks, not knowing yet knowing too well where this conversation was going.

“So,” Mingyu licks his lips, obviously uncomfortable with the situation. “Uh,” he barrels through nonetheless – because that was Mingyu, all jumbled thoughts and not enough self-control. “I guess, what I’m trying to say,” Mingyu falters again. Minghao smiles a little at that. It was kind of cute, how Mingyu always seemed to have a million ideas in his head but they ran around whenever he opened his mouth so that nothing ever came out sounding right.

“I do like Mat,” Minghao says, sighing. He didn’t want to face the situation that was currently happening, and had been hoping that as long as he ignored it, it would go away. Obviously, with Mingyu trying so hard to address the whole thing, that was not going to happen. Might as well speed up the process – like ripping off a Band-Aid. “And what I’m assuming you’re trying to get at is, well, you’re like Mat, right?”

“Yes,” Mingyu replies, “kind of.”

“Kind of?” Minghao asks, raising an eyebrow.

“I like you,” Mingyu blurts out. Minghao wants to laugh. He also kind of wants to cry. But he always wants to cry so that’s nothing new.

Mingyu covers his mouth. “Wow, that wasn’t supposed to come out like that.”

“I’ll bet,” Minghao comments. He stares as Mingyu’s cheeks redden. The taller boy bites his lips, unsure of whether to continue spewing his word vomit or not. Minghao decides to help him out.

“Are you inferring,” Minghao asks, “that because you’re like Mat and I like Mat and you like me, that we could be something more?”

“Maybe,” Mingyu admits. He stares down at his feet. “Yeah.”

Minghao goes quiet at that. He didn’t know the day would end up like this, but he was sure his subconscious had already been pairing up Mingyu and Mat since Minghao downloaded the stupid game. Regardless, Minghao isn’t sure what to do. He could accept things, give Mingyu a chance, but it didn’t seem fair. If they became a thing, Minghao felt like their whole relationship would be based on the fact that Mingyu reminded him of a fictional character – and that wasn’t fair to Mingyu, who was his own person and his own unique qualities. However, if Minghao rejected Mingyu, he would be devastated. As of right now, Minghao didn’t know his true feelings for Mingyu, but he did know for sure that if he rejected Mingyu and the taller boy never spoke to him again, then Minghao wouldn’t be able to handle it. And, well, that had to mean something.

“I don’t know what to tell you Gyu,” Minghao sighs. “I’ll be honest in saying I’ve never really thought about us together in that way, but I can’t straight up reject you because I feel like I am feeling some things, I just don’t know what they mean yet.”

“Oh,” Mingyu lets out a breath. “I guess that’s better than nothing.”

“I’m sorry,” Minghao sighs again. “I feel bad.”

“It’s alright,” Mingyu refuses to meet Minghao’s eyes for a couple more moments before he raises them. “You know, I think it’s better this way. So I don’t have to live with the feeling that you agreed to date me only because I remind you of Mat.”

“That’s what I was thinking,” Minghao laughs. Mingyu follows, and thought it sounds a little hollow and bitter, Minghao relaxes.

The two sit there again, looking up at the sky as the sun begins to go down. The tension is relieved – thought not entirely gone – and Minghao finds that he can once again breath comfortably around Mingyu.

“Hey,” Mingyu nudges Minghao a while later, when the sun is almost set. Minghao hums to show that he’s listening. “This isn’t a no right?”

“No,” Minghao says. “It’s a maybe, an I don’t know.”

Mingyu grins. “Good, that means I still have a chance, right?” Minghao turns and regards Mingyu with a curious stare. “Well, I’m just saying, if you don’t want to date me because of the whole Mat thing, I’ll just have to woo you over so your ideal type changes from Mat to Mingyu – that’s simple enough.”

“We’ll see about that,” Minghao rolls his eyes. He can’t help but blush a little when Mingyu grabs at his hand.

“I’ll just have to try my hardest then,” Mingyu sings, and Minghao tries to pretend that he doesn’t melt under Mingyu’s gaze. “I’ll win you over, watch out fictional character Mat Sella, by the end of this… route? Sure, we’ll go with that,” Minghao lets out a giggle, only for Mingyu to shush him, “by the end of this route, I’ll be your dream daddy.”

 

 

 

 

“That is so gross please never say that again.”