“Have you heard the latest gossip going around?” Jaemin asked his group of friends as a form of greeting the moment he sat down at their table for lunch. He was met with blank stares from all three of the other boys. Really, even though they were a university filled with boys, one would think at least some of them would be updated with things around the school. They can’t possibly depend on Jaemin every single time something interesting happened.
“You guys are hopeless,” he continued instead.
Next to him, Hyunjoon rolled his eyes, “just spit it out, Nana, we don’t have all day.”
“Funny you’re the one saying that,” the pink-haired boy said with a small grin. “You’re going to be quite interested in this one, since it’s about you.”
“About Hyunjoon? This Hyunjoon?” Dongju asked immediately after, pointing his fork at the boy who sat across him. “Why would anybody talk about Hyunjoon?”
“Well,” Jaemin said before the other boy could complain further. “It’s not about him exactly. Somebody wrote on the bathroom wall some time this week. You know, the one on the 3rd floor that’s notorious for bringing couples together? It’s always updated with love confessions and the like, but this time, it wasn’t anything direct. All it had were Hyunjoon’s initials and a heart next to it, followed by a tiny note that said it was for a junior student.”
If that were so, then Hyunjoon definitely hadn’t heard about it yet. Although it was no surprise that Jaemin knew first, judging by the look on Dongju and Felix’s faces, neither of the other two knew either. Well, the latter had yet to say a word since he’s been eating his sandwich in a hurry to get to his next class earlier and copy homework, but he finally decided to swallow everything down long enough to get a few words into the conversation.
“Oh, I actually know this one,” Felix said in between gulps of water, surprising the rest of his friends. “Yeah, I heard it from Eric recently, since he’s friends with Hwang Hyunjin. You know, the only other student in our batch that has the same initials? Now there’s a bet going around about which one of you two would end up in a relationship with your secret admirer first.”
“Yup,” Jaemin confirmed, pleased that at least one of his best friends were useful. “No offense, Hyunjoon, but my bet’s on Hyunjin.”
“I feel so betrayed,” Hyunjoon said dramatically, heavy Busan accent pouring through with his emotions, pointing his spoon accusingly at the boy next to him with his other hand placed over his heart. He clutched at his chest and gave his best hurt expression, while Dongju and Felix watched, amused. “You’re just voting for him because he’s friends with Lee Jeno, aren’t you?”
The raven-haired boy turned to his other friends, “what about you guys?”
“I’m also betting on Hyunjin,” Dongju said solemnly, giving Jaemin a high five immediately after.
“Yeah, I already told Eric and Bomin that my vote’s on Hyunjin.”
“Some friends you guys are.”
The thing was, if anybody actually bothered asking Hyunjoon for his opinion on the matter, he would have agreed with his friends. He’s never really gotten a chance to talk to Hwang Hyunjin before, even if they were currently classmates for that year, but he’s definitely noticed the other boy. If anything, Hyunjin was someone who was hard to ignore, with the way he just seemed to carry himself with an aura that just made people notice him.
It didn’t help that they were classmates for the period Hyunjoon had right after lunch.
He entered the classroom all too aware of the whispers that began the moment he stepped in, along with the wary glances that was being thrown his way, and then towards the lone figure seated at the back of class. Hwang Hyunjin was already seated, but he seemed oblivious to what was happening around him, as he idly doodled something on his notebook. Trying his best to ignore the sudden attention himself, Hyunjoon sat himself in his usual seat, right in front of the other boy.
He tried not to jump when he felt a tap on his shoulder.
He only barely succeeded.
“Hyunjoon?” Hyunjin asked when the other boy had turned around to face him. “Heo Hyunjoon, right?”
“Y-yes,” the black-haired boy stammered out. He didn’t even know why he was acting so nervous, but he’s never really been good with talking to new people, and definitely not people who were distractingly good looking. He could practically feel rather than hear the whispers grow louder the moment they began to converse, but he tuned them out. It was easy focusing on the other boy.
Hyunjin smiled sheepishly, “sorry if this is sudden, I just couldn’t help but wonder if you’ve heard what’s been going around recently.”
“The writing on the wall, right?” Hyunjoon replied, thankful that he sounded much more stable now, although his Busan accent still threatened to jump into the conversation. “Yeah, I heard about it just earlier, actually. Kind of a hassle, don’t you think?”
“Definitely. I’m not used to so much attention.”
Really? That wasn’t something Hyunjoon would have expected coming from the other boy, who wasn’t just good looking, but talented as well. He was often the school poster boy for dance competitions, which Hyunjoon himself would have loved to join, if he wasn’t so often swamped with school work. Maybe he was a little bit of a nerd. That just made him all the more certain than the confession wasn’t meant for him.
Apparently, Hyunjin didn’t think so.
“My friends think it’s hilarious that I’m even considered and I have to agree,” the brunette said with a small chuckle, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. “They’ve all bet against me.”
“Really?” Hyunjoon asked, genuinely surprised. “My friends all bet against me, too. It feels great having their support and all, but I actually think they have a point this time.”
At that, the other boy had smirked a little bit, “is that so?”
“Yeah,” he continued to babble on before he could stop himself, since Hyunjoon always was bad at shutting up around attractive people, and the smirk on Hyunjin’s lips just made the other boy look even more attractive than usual. Honestly, Hyunjoon’s never really thought about him that way before, but now that he’s started, he couldn’t seem to stop.
“You’re way more good looking than I am,” Hyunjoon blurted out before he could stop himself, blushing immediately after, which he was certain would be way too obvious against his pale cheeks. Before he could say anything more, their professor for that class entered the room, effectively shutting up the whispers of the other students and also making Hyunjoon face back towards the front.
He was glad about that, at least, but he didn’t miss the way Hyunjin’s smirk merely grew wider.
A few seconds later, Hyunjoon could practically feel the way the boy behind him leaned in closer, before he heard a low voice speak right next to his ear.
“I think you’re cuter though.”
If he had looked back, he would have seen the pleased smile on Hyunjin’s face, no doubt from the way his blush had managed to spread from his cheeks all the way down his neck and towards the tip of his ears. It was a lot harder paying attention in class that time, but Hyunjoon had to force himself not to think about what just happened, chalking it up as a weird hallucination even if he knew very well that it wasn’t.
When class ended, Hyunjoon nearly tripped on his own two feet getting out of there as quickly as possible.
“Emergency,” he said when he bumped into Dongju in the middle of the hallway, immediately dragging the other boy with him before Dongju could even get a word in. He knew that they shared a break that time, anyway, with the other boy no doubt in the building exactly to look for company. Hyunjoon dragged him all the way to the fire exit that had stairs leading up to the rooftop, relaxing only when they were out in the open.
“Okay, so why am I burning under the sun for you?”
“I think Hwang Hyunjin just flirted with me.”
“You think?” Dongju asked. “You’re gonna need to rewind there, buddy.”
So Hyunjoon did, giving a quick recap of what happened in class, leaving out the parts where he found Hwang Hyunjin to be dangerously attractive. Although, guessing by the look that the other boy was giving him right now, his friend probably already had a few guesses. There was a palpable silence in the air after he finished, waiting for what Dongju had to say about the whole matter; frankly, he needed another person’s opinion on the whole thing.
“Wow, so he did flirt with you.”
“He did?” Hyunjoon squeaked, burying his face in his hands.
Naturally, his next course of action was telling the rest of his friends later that day when they all shared a similar break once more. It resulted in a flurry of reactions; mainly, Jaemin pretty much shrieking that he couldn’t believe Hyunjoon escaped the room and didn’t ask for Hyunjin’s number while Felix nodded in agreement. The latter voiced out that maybe he could get some more information from Eric, but Hyunjoon quickly rejected the idea.
“If you bring it up with Eric, it’s obvious that I brought it up with you,” the dark-haired boy stated pointedly. “The last thing I need is Hwang Hyunjin knowing I talk about him.”
“Why wouldn’t you?” Jaemin countered. “I think it’s safe to assume he’s interested in you.”
“A-all he did was compliment me,” Hyunjoon stammered out, trying to stop the blush from rising up his cheeks. He knew that it wasn’t every day he talked to Hyunjin and certainly not everyday that he received a compliment from the handsome, dashing brunette, but he just didn’t want to assume so quickly. He would rather not risk embarrassing himself further. It was just a compliment. Besides, even he technically complimented Hyunjin, right?
Unless Hyunjin took that as flirting to begin with.
Mortified with the idea that he was actually the one who initiated the flirting, Hyunjoon voiced out his concern to his friends.
“You don’t think I flirted with him first, do you, guys? I called him good looking.”
His three friends looked at one another before answering in unison, “definitely.”
The next day wasn’t any better. Ever since the news further spread about his initials on the bathroom wall, Heo Hyunjoon barely got a moment of peace as he walked down the halls. He could feel the stares and hear the hushed whispers coming from people he passed, even if they always looked away when he glanced at them. Some, however, weren’t as shy and would openly smile at Hyunjoon upon being caught.
Things only escalated from there.
Before Hyunjoon could locate his friends and their usual table for lunch, he was stopped by someone gently grabbing his elbow.
“Hey,” Hwang Hyunjin greeted with a smile, as if they’ve been friends their whole life; not that the other boy was complaining, although Hyunjoon wished he got a warning next time.
“I have an update on the bathroom wall situation.”
Oh. Hyunjoon’s first thought went towards the idea that whoever wrote it must have confessed to Hyunjin already, thus making everything end well, with the other boy in a relationship with the secret admirer. There was a slight tinge of disappointment in him when he thought about this though; not in the fact that he wasn’t the HHJ written there after all, no, but more on the idea that Hwang Hyunjin would be in a relationship.
The thought made him momentarily panic, before realizing he had yet to respond.
“What about it?” Hyunjoon asked, glad his voice sounded more stable.
“Apparently, the bets being placed are real,” Hyunjin said with a chuckle, while it dawned on the other boy that nobody had confessed. “I thought my friends were kidding when they told me, but I heard someone discussing it on the way over here. There’s a betting pool and everything.”
The dark-haired boy couldn’t help the slight blush on his cheeks, “no wonder, it feels like the attention I got today increased tenfold.”
“I’m sure that’s a lot,” the brunette said innocently. “Considering you already get plenty of attention any other day.”
Before Hyunjoon could process things further and wonder what the other boy meant by that, their conversation was cut short by the appearance of Lee Jeno next to Hyunjin’s side. The latter gave Hyunjoon a polite smile, which was how he usually greeted the other boy despite being classmates countless times before, and then proceeded to whisper something in Hyunjin’s ear. It prompted a quick nod from Hyunjin just as Jeno left the scene.
“Sorry, I have to go,” Hyunjin said, sounding truly apologetic. “See you in class?”
In the end, Hyunjoon ended up having lunch with just Felix, since the rest of their friends were nowhere to be found. When lunch break ended and class begun, things were a bit more hectic than before, which meant that while Hyunjoon was still very much aware of the boy who sat behind him, they didn’t really interact much. Hyunjin had smiled at him when he entered and looked ready to talk to him, but then their professor showed up and announced a surprise quiz.
“Please don’t tell me you ran away Hwang Hyunjin again,” were the words that came out of Dongju’s mouth upon running into Hyunjoon in the hallway after class.
“I won't tell you,” Hyunjoon said dutifully.
By the 8th day since the message was written on the bathroom wall, Hyunjoon had gotten used to a couple of things.
For starters, he was able to take the stares and whispers in stride, putting on a cool and emotionless expression on his face that took him a lot of practice to perfect. With his sharp eyes and features, it wasn’t all that hard. Although he still broke into stammers and pink cheeks whenever Hwang Hyunjin was around, he did manage to talk to the other boy more naturally. They only talked for a few minutes each day, usually right before their shared class would start.
It seemed like the whole school knew before Hyunjoon did when the message on the wall got a small update, since he had to meet up with Jaemin again before he found out.
He didn’t have classes on the 3rd floor, so what?
“Whoever wrote it wants to meet with you later up on the roof at 4PM,” Jaemin said suggestively, wiggling his eyebrows. “Nobody else is allowed to be there or else he won’t show up.”
“It could be Hwang Hyunjin,” Hyunjoon mumbled under his breath.
“Still, don’t you think both of you should go?” Felix pointed out. “It could be either of you, so why not, right?”
“And have one of us watch the other?” The pale boy countered. “Talk about awkward, Lix.”
Next to him, Dongju rolled his eyes, “just go. You’re not going to lose anything by going.”
Actually, Hyunjoon was beginning to think he was going to lose in either situation. If he was the one the wall talked about, then he would have to respectfully reject the secret admirer; he couldn't bare with the idea of agreeing to date someone in front of Hyunjin, whom he very much had at least a little bit of a crush on at this point. If it was the other way around, then that was even worse.
Still, when 4PM hit he found himself up on the roof. He didn’t even get the chance to see Hyunjin at all that day, since the class they shared had a free day to make up for a recent exam. Never in his life did Hyunjoon think he actually wanted to go to class, but if that meant seeing Hyunjin—despite still actively avoiding him every time class ended—then maybe it wasn’t so bad. He was sitting by the roof’s door when it swung open.
“Oh, Hyunjoon, you’re already here!” Hyunjin greeted with a bright smile.
Ever since they began talking, Hyunjoon noticed more than just Hyunjin’s good looks. Even if it were only a few conversations at a time, it was enough to know that Hyunjin just radiated a sort of kindness, despite being devilishly flirty sometimes. He laughed a lot whenever he would update Hyunjoon on how his friends still bet against him, pouted when he talked about how he didn’t know much on the exam, and smiled every time their eyes would meet.
It was cute and frankly, Hyunjoon was even more awkward around cute boys than he was around handsome ones.
“Guess this is where it ends, huh?” The dark-haired boy said conversationally, standing up and dusting himself off as he did so. “People can finally quit talking about the bet.”
“Yeah,” Hyunjin agreed, voice quiet.
There was a palpable silence in the air in the seconds that followed. Hyunjoon’s eyes kept darting from the floor towards the door, waiting for it to open. He tried his best not to stare at the other boy with him, especially with how awkward he felt. After what felt like a solid minute of silence, the brunette suddenly sighed loudly, capturing Hyunjoon’s attention. There was a clear shade of pink on his cheeks which confused the taller boy.
“Hyunjoon,” he started to say. “I haven’t been completely honest with you.”
A million things ran through Hyunjoon’s mind about what could happen next, except for the one thing that actually happened.
“I’m the one who wrote on the wall,” Hyunjin confessed, catching the other boy’s surprised look, making him look away. He scratched the back of his neck, clearly nervous as he let out an awkward, high pitched chuckle, before clearing his throat. When he spoke again, he tried his best to meet the other boy’s eyes, since Hyunjoon himself was in a dazed shock and just stared blankly.
“It was meant for you. I kind of hoped that it would cause a scene and that it would give me a reason to talk to you,” he continued shyly. “I hope it worked and that the wall’s weird magic thing is true because I’d really like to properly ask you out on a date.”
After panicking about the whole thing properly for a few minutes, Heo Hyunjoon said yes, of course. The two descended the rooftop stairs and emerged on the floor below it to a literal sea of people who were waiting for what would happen with bated breath. Nobody saw anybody else but Hyunjin go up to the rooftop, which left them in a confused mess that was only cleared upon seeing the two boys holding hands.
“I wrote on the wall, guys,” Hyunjin confessed, grinning teasingly. “I’m happy to say it worked.”
“You didn’t even tell your friends?” Eric yelled from somewhere in the crowd.
“You guys bet against me.”
“Technically,” Hyunjoon began to say, eyeing the flurry of students for his own group of friends and soon spotted Na Jaemin’s pink hair somewhere towards the side. He had a lot to tell his friends, who were all looking at him with expressions that varied from confusion, amusement, and surprise. He grinned as he continued, “nobody wins the bet, right? Since we got into a relationship at the same time and nobody won over the other.”
Someone in the crowd spoke up, “actually, Huang Renjun won. Don’t ask me how he knew, but he just did.”