I stifled a jaw cracking yawn as I trudged down the hall of the music corridor, bringing a hand to my face to brush away the tears brought on by the yawn. I had been practicing for hours. When I needed a break from my violin, I would sit down at the piano to play a few songs. When I grew tired of the ivory keys, I would switch to the strings of my guitar. When my fingers refused to listen, I would sing. It was a never ending cycle. My fingers were aching, calloused, my throat sore and scratchy and my stomach was rumbling. I had finally allowed myself to leave the four walls of the practice room I had reserved for the day, telling myself I would only take an hour for lunch before holing back up in the room to continue practicing into the night.
“Just an hour. Just grab something to eat real fast, rest for a bit then straight back to work,” I mumbled to myself as I entered the large, bustling cafeteria of campus.
I glanced around the two story, brightly lit room. The right side was a wall of windows, floor to ceiling, allowing the light of the sun to shine through and bounce off the white floors and walls. The staircase leading up to the second floor seating area was in the back corner to my right as well. All the food options were displayed on the left side of the cafeteria. Drink machines lined the wall straight ahead if students preferred a soft drink rather than the different juice and flavored milk options the cafeteria provided.
I stepped into the line, craning my neck around the person in front of me to get a better view of the items available for consumption. I didn't really feel like anything hot, already having been too stuffy while practicing. Maybe a packaged salad or sandwich. My eyes lit up as they landed on the last veggie sub wrapped in plastic. I bounced in place as I grew closer, mouth watering at the thought of biting into it.
“Mine, mine, mine,” I whispered.
As I reached out to grab it from the shelf, I was bumped from behind, causing my aim to be thrown off and my fist to close around thin air.
“Yah! I was reaching for that,” I complained as I saw the hand of the person standing behind me snatch it up.
I turned on my heel, pouting as I faced the one holding my sandwich. Brunette, bit shorter than me but not by much, brown eyes alight and full of curious emotion. He was smiling, holding the sub in both hands. My eyes raked down, taking in his black tank top and sweatpants. The hair framing his face was dark and damp with sweat.
“I'm sorry. It's the last one. Do you want to share it? There's plenty for two,” he grinned at me.
He waved the sandwich in indication. Half was better than nothing. I nodded shyly. I hadn't expected to be having lunch with anyone. I normally kept to myself, focused on my studies.
“What's your name?” he asked curiously, leaning closer to peer into my face.
“Henry,” I mumbled as I dropped my head to the side to help hide the blush filling my cheeks.
Nobody had ever paid me much attention since I started attending here. It wasn't anyone's fault but my own. I wasn't very social, preferring to submerse myself in my music. It was the reason I was here, after all.
“Well Henry, I'm Donghae. Let's have lunch. My treat!”
Donghae didn't give me the chance to respond. He looped his arm in mine and lead the way as we followed the line to the checkout. He had me pick out my drink to add to the tray he carried. I tried to protest that I could at least buy my own drink, but he wouldn't listen. He quickly paid and we stood in the middle of the room, looking for a spot to sit down.
“Do you want to eat down here or up on the second floor?” he asked as he turned his head to look at me.
“Uh either is alright with me,” I replied as I glanced down at the sandwich, arm still hooked in the crook of his elbow awkwardly.
“Hungry?” he chuckled.
“I skipped breakfast,” I shrugged as I disentangled my arm from his.
He hastened the search for a table after that. He let out an excited yelp when he saw a free one next to the windows, rushing over to it before someone else could claim it. I strode over to join him, sitting down across from him as he unwrapped the sandwich and placed half on a plate before sliding it my way. We ate in silence for a few minutes. I kept my head down, feeling his amused gaze on me as he sipped at his water.
“Henry,” he started, almost as if testing the sound of my name. “I don't think I've seen you around campus before,” he observed lightly.
I shook my head, “I spend most of my time studying. I'm either in my dorm or practicing in the music rooms.”
“Music? You're a music major?” he asked curiously as he leaned forward in his chair.
I nodded, shifting in my seat as I glanced up at him.
“What about you … Donghae?”
“Dance,” he replied with a smile.
I blinked. From looking at him I could tell he was athletic, but for some reason I would have never guessed dance. Some sort of sport like basketball.
“You seem surprised,” he mused.
“I wasn't expecting that.”
“You were expecting I was an athlete?”
I nodded, grabbing my bottle of milk to twist off the cap.
“What instruments do you play?” he questioned as he finished off the last of his sandwich.
“Violin, piano, guitar and drums. I write songs, sing and dance as well,” I admitted quietly.
“Whoa! Look it you!”
I ducked my head sheepishly, pulling my shoulders up.
“I'd like to hear you some time,” he smiled as he sat back in his chair and crossed his arms.
“What?” I asked as I peeked up at him, shocked. “Hear me do what?”
“Any of it. All of it. I wouldn't mind seeing you dance either.”
More blood rushed to the surface of my cheeks as I watched his eyes sweep down my sitting figure.
“Maybe … maybe sometime … when I'm free.”
“Do you have a mobile?”
“Hand it over.”
“Why?” I asked even as I did as he instructed.
I fished my cell out of my pocket and handed it over to him. He flipped it open and began typing swiftly. The next moment, a jingling sound issued from his pocket and he slid my phone shut, handing it back over.
“I put my number in and now I have yours,” he cheered as he pulled his own phone out of his pocket. “So you can tell me when that free time rolls around and we can get together. As for now, I should head back to class. I told the instructor I was going to the bathroom.”
I watched as he stood from his chair, gathering up our trash and placing it on the tray, lifting it to take with him.
He bent at the waist suddenly, bringing his face down to my level. His warm breath wafted over my already heated cheeks.
“We should do this again tomorrow,” he whispered down to me. "Planned this time."
“You mean … like a date?” I flushed.
“Exactly,” he nodded firmly.
Donghae swept my hand up into his, folding my fingers over as he brought it to his mouth so he could brush the back of my knuckles with his soft lips.
“You owe me one. I saw you standing in line as I was walking down the hall and hopped in behind you. I only took that sandwich cuz I saw you were going for it. I'm going to be scolded for being late getting back. Tomorrow. I'll meet you in the music wing, same time. I'll text if I get lost.”
And with that, he strode off, dumping our trash into a dispenser before turning back to look at me, offering me a wink as he swept through the doors.
“Donghae,” I whispered to myself, eyes still wide and blush still clinging to my face and neck.