Hyunchul put his hands at the edge of the kitchen counter and leaned forward. Taking a deep breath, he opened his eyes and looked at the things he laid in front of him: lettuce, carrot, strawberry, peach, and potato – all of which he got inside their refrigerator.
"Retasu," he said, pointing at the lettuce.
"Ninjin," he said, pointing at the carrot.
"Ichigo," he said, pointing at the strawberry.
"Momo," he said, pointing at the peach.
Taking another breath, Hyunchul pointed at the potato. He bit his lip and shook his head. He could not remember what it's called in Japanese. Frustrated, Hyunchul rested his elbows at the top of the kitchen counter and buried his face with his hands. He hated how he couldn't remember the Japanese word for the damn crop.
"Jagaimo," a voice said from behind. Hyunchul quickly straightened himself up and saw a hand took the strawberry lying in front of him.
"Hyunmin," he said, realizing who it was.
"Still having problems remembering a potato?" Hyunmin asked, grinning.
Frowning, Hyunchul nodded.
"There, there," Hyunmin said, as he wrapped his arm around Hyunchul's shoulder, "I'm pretty sure you'll remember it soon, you already know most of the Japanese words you need anyway."
Annoyed, Hyunchul replied, "That's the point! I already know most of them, but why can't I remember 'potato'? We're just weeks away from going to Japan. I hate it!"
"What's going on here?" Suhoon asked as he entered the kitchen.
"Hyunchul's about to rage war again potatoes," Hyunmin answered, earning himself a harsh nudge on his side courtesy of Hyunchul's elbow, "ouch!"
Suhoon stared at his dongsaengs and raised an eyebrow as he opened the refrigerator to get a pitcher of water. He never really understood how the minds of Hyunchul and Hyunmin work even after years of spending every single day with them. However, if there was one thing he learned through the years, it was to just ride along with their craziness. "What did the potatoes do to piss our lovely Hyunchul?" he asked, taking a glass from the rack.
Grinning, Hyunmin answered, "They won't let him remember their Japanese name."
Rolling his eyes, Hyunchul pushed away Hyunmin's arm from him and said, "Stop making fun of me! It's irritating!"
"Wow, this is something new," Suhoon said, taking a sip from his glass, "you never really get annoyed at Hyunmin or anyone inside the group no matter how much we make fun of you. Those potatoes are something."
"Hahaha, very funny, hyung," Hyunchul said, sarcastically.
Smiling, Suhoon stood to Hyunchul's other side, and said, "I don't know if this will work but...why don't you try, uhm, looking at a potato every day or every night? Or try memorizing some sentences with potato in it?"
"Is that what you did?" Hyunchul asked, looking at his leader. Suhoon shook his head, making Hyunchul raise an eyebrow at him. "Then how am I supposed to know that it'll work?" Hyunchul asked, pouting.
"Well, you'll never know until you try," Suhoon said, taking another sip from his glass, "it works on other people anyway."
Still doubtful, Hyunchul turned to the boy on his other side, who's grinning at him. "I also have 'brown' to worry about," he said, sighing.
Chuckling, Hyunmin playfully pinched Hyunchul's nose.
"What the hell!" Hyunchul exclaimed, slapping away Hyunmin's hand. Turning back to Suhoon, he whined, "Hyung! Hyunmin's being childish again!"
Suhoon laughed and walked towards the sink, shaking his head.
"Just remember," Hyunmin began, leaning his closer to Hyunchul's, "potato is 'jagaimo' while brown is 'chairo.'"
Hyunchul glared at the other boy until he left the kitchen. Shaking his head, he looked at his leader, who was watching the two of them with so much interest, and asked, "Honestly, what's with him? He's creeping me out lately."
"You don't know?" Suhoon asked, grinning.
Hyunchul shook his head.
Suhoon sighed and said, "That's too bad. I guess you just have to wait until he tells you why."
Hyunchul was about to protest when Suhoon patted him on the shoulder and left him alone inside the kitchen.
Hyunmin yawned as he walked towards their kitchen early in the morning. Usually, he would not be awake at this time of the day, but since it was their first day in Japan, Hyunmin was still not used to his new environment. He was rubbing his sleepy eyes when he heard Hyunchul's voice from the kitchen saying "Are these potatoes?" in Japanese.
Groaning, Hyunmin thought, 'Please don't tell me he's talking to potatoes again!' Unfortunately, when Hyunmin got inside the kitchen, Hyunchul was sitting at the table with a potato in hand.
"Oh God, Hyunchul, you're still not done with this?" Hyunmin said, taking a glass from the rack.
Putting the potato down, Hyunchul leaned back on his chair and said, "I still can't remember what that stupid potato is in Japanese."
"It's 'jagaimo,' Hyunchul," Hyunmin replied, exasperated, "you know 'chairo' already, how come you're still stuck with 'potato'?"
"How should I know?" Hyunchul said, staring at the ceiling, "All I've learned from this is I hate potatoes."
Chuckling, Hyunmin shook his head and joined Hyunchul at the table. "What's for breakfast?" he asked, taking the subject from potatoes.
"I made kimchi fried rice," Hyunchul answered, picking up the potato again to turn it around in his hands, "how did you memorize j-jaga – potato? It's so hard."
Raising an eyebrow, Hyunmin said, "You want to know?"
Serious, Hyunchul nodded his head.
"From you," Hyunmin answered, resting his head on his hand, "you kept on trying to remember what 'jagaimo' is, so I picked it up."
Pouting, Hyunchul said, "That's unfair! I should be the one who can remember it, not you!"
Hyunmin laughed as Hyunchul buried his face into his arms, mumbling, "It's been months since we started studying Japanese and now we're already in Japan, but I still can't remember what potato is in this country! I really hate potatoes!"
Shaking his head, Hyunmin sort of felt sorry for Hyunchul. He could understand where the other boy was coming from though. Hyunchul had always done well in everything he did. Though he's not a perfectionist, Hyunchul could quickly master a lot of things and being unable to remember the Japanese of potato can frustrate people like him. Hyunchul was excellent in school, and even though Hyunmin always brags that he's the best, he knew that Hyunchul was better than him. Same with soccer, Hyunmin could remember how he said that he'd score more points than Hyunchul during Idol United despite knowing he could never do that. Hyunmin never really intend to compete with Hyunchul, all he wanted was to get the other boy's attention. Unfortunately, because of Hyunchul's difficulty in remembering the potato's name in Japanese, most of the boy's focus was on potatoes. 'Ah yes, I hate potatoes too, Hyunchul,' he said to himself.
Deciding to comfort the other boy despite the silly circumstances, Hyunmin reached out and took Hyunchul's hand. "Don't worry, you'll get over this anytime soon," he said, hoping the other boy would cheer up.
Hyunchul felt Hyunmin intertwining their hands, making him look up immediately. "What are you doing?" he asked, staring at their hands.
"Nothing," Hyunmin answered, smiling at Hyunchul.
Feeling his cheeks burning up all of a sudden, Hyunchul pulled his away from Hyunmin and avoided his gaze. "I-I think it's time for us to...to eat...I'll wake Injoon and Jihwan...you go wake Suhoon-hyung," he told Hyunmin as he stood up from his chair and left the kitchen without looking at Hyunmin.
Shaking his head, Hyunmin began to smack his head and said, "Stupid. Stupid. Stupid!"
"Who's stupid?" a voice asked out of nowhere.
Hyunmin turned to the direction of the voice and saw Suhoon sitting on the chair Hyunchul occupied awhile ago.
"I hate you," Hyunmin said, glaring at his leader.
Confused, Suhoon raised an eyebrow and asked, "What did I do?"
"You're the one who told him to stare at potatoes every day so that he can remember what it's called in Japanese. Now he won't even notice me!" Hyunmin whined, scratching his head.
Suhoon stared at his dongsaeng in disbelief. "Just because you can't get him that doesn't mean you're going to blame other me," he said, indignantly, "but it seems that you got your point across, he was flushing when I saw him head to Injoon and Jihwan's room."
"I think I freaked him out," Hyunmin said, slumping his head on the table, "I shouldn't have held his hand."
"I doubt it was more than just holding his hand," Suhoon said, smirking.
"Shut up, hyung," Hyunmin replied, still not looking up.
"You know what, all you have to do is to tell him everything," Suhoon said, crossing his arms across his chest, "you don't have anything to lose – if he doesn't feel the same way about you, he'll still be your friend. I think that would be much better than just taking advantage of him."
Hyunmin raised his head from the table and looked at Suhoon incredulously. "I wasn't taking advantage of him!" he said, defensive.
Smirking, Suhoon said, "I know, I just don't know how to call it properly."
Looking away from the older boy, Hyunmin picked up the potato that Hyunchul laid forgotten. "Stupid potato...but I can't help but wish I'm one now."
Suhoon could not help but laugh at what he had heard. 'Oh my, this boy is beyond hopeless,' he thought, patting Hyunmin's shoulder and went to gather plates and utensils for breakfast.
"Hyung, help me right here," Hyunmin said, desperate.
"I honestly don't know what you should do," Suhoon told him, shaking his head, "Hyunchul's not really insensitive, you know. He could easily pick up what other people are feeling."
"Well, it's because he's too preoccupied with remembering the word 'jagaimo' that he couldn't pay attention like he used to," Hyunmin said, still blaming the potatoes.
Walking back to the table, Suhoon placed the plated with a little force and said, "If you seriously think that it's all the potato's fault, why don't you do something to get his attention away from it and at the same time help him finally remember 'jagaimo,' so he can end this whole potato thing?"
As Hyunmin shrugged in defeat, their manager entered the kitchen with the three other boys, and said, "All of you are going to get a haircut today."
Hyunmin was about to protest when an idea hit him. Feeling like a genius all of a sudden, Hyunmin could not help but smile in victory.
Hyunmin got out of their van and went straight up to their apartment to show the other members his new haircut. Though Hyunmin already had a hair cut a couple of days ago, their management thought that it would be good if Hyunmin got another one in preparation for their scheduled appearance in Made in BS Japan this coming Monday. Unlike the first time, Hyunmin was able to get the haircut he wanted, and he could not wait to show it to everyone, especially to Hyunchul.
When he reached their dorm, Hyunmin went over Suhoon, who was watching Injoon and Jihwan play video games. "Where's Hyunchul?" he asked, excited.
Suhoon turned to him and widened his eyes. "You're totally out of your mind," he said, shocked.
Curious as to why their leader was shocked, Injoon and Jihwan paused the video game and turned to Hyunmin. Like Suhoon, the two younger boys widened their eyes in surprised.
"Wow, hyung, what a makeover," Injoon said, standing up from the floor to look closely at Hyunmin's new haircut.
Joining his hyungs, Jihwan snorted and said, "You look like a potato, hyung."
"What did you say?" Hyunmin asked, grabbing the maknae to wrap his arm around him.
"Nothing, I didn't –" Jihwan said, hoping Hyunmin would not get mad.
Laughing, Hyunmin ruffled Jihwan's head and said, "Don't worry, I heard what you said, I just want you to repeat it."
Still uncertain, Jihwan repeated, "You look like a potato, hyung?"
Turning to Suhoon, Hyunmin exclaimed, "You heard that, hyung ? Jihwan said I look like a potato!"
"And you're the only person I know who'd be happy to hear about that," Suhoon said, shaking his head in disbelief.
"Of course!" Hyunmin replied, happily, making Injoon and Jihwan look at him as if he had gone mad.
Confused, Injoon asked, "Hyunmin-hyung, do you mean to tell us that you had a sort of military cut so you can look like a potato?"
Hyunmin looked at Injoon and nodded proudly, making the younger boy turn to Suhoon for help.
Jihwan snuck out of Hyunmin arm and took the telephone from the table. "Here, hyung," he said, giving the phone to the older boy, "manager-hyung said we could call home when we get depressed or sad, okay? I know we're all going crazy here because of homesickness, but we just have to do call, so we can stay sane as much as possible until we get used to the living far away. They're letting us use the long distance anytime we want. You should make the most out of it."
Furrowing his eyebrows at the younger boy, Hyunmin asked, "What are you talking about? I'm not crazy."
"Yeah, you're not," Suhoon said, rolling his eyes, "you just got a military cut to look like a potato – a pretty normal thing to do."
"Is this some method to help Hyunchul-hyung with his potato dilemma?" Injoon asked, curious.
Turning to Injoon, Hyunmin smiled widely, and said, "Right you are there, Injoon!"
Comprehending the whole situation, Jihwan sighed and said, "Oh my God, this is unbelievable. You're not only crazy, but you're also desperate too!"
"What's wrong with sacrificing your hair to help your friend?" Injoon asked, confused.
Jihwan raised an eyebrow at Injoon, and said, "Nothing, if that's what the real intention is."
"Okay, enough of this," Hyunmin said, looking around, "where's Hyunchul?"
Resigned, Suhoon answered, "Bedroom."
"Thanks," Hyunmin replied, leaving the three boys in the living room.
Jihwan turned to their leader and asked, "This is ridiculous, hyung."
"Tell me about it," Suhoon replied, rolling his eyes.
"What's going on?" Injoon asked, turning to Suhoon as well.
Jihwan shook his head at Injoon's cluelessness, and said, "Hyunmin-hyung likes Hyunchul-hyung, got that?"
Injoon widened his eyes in shock and asked, "Since when?"
"For a long time now," Suhoon answered, getting up from his seat, "I have a feeling something interesting is about to happen, would you like to listen?"
Jihwan smiled knowingly and nodded his head. Smirking, Suhoon pulled the two younger boys to the direction of their bedroom to eavesdrop on Hyunmin and Hyunchul.
Standing outside their shared bedroom, Hyunmin took a breath and opened the door. "Hey, what are you doing?" Hyunmin asked Hyunchul, who's surrounded by papers on his bed.
Looking up, Hyunchul answered, "Suhoon-hyung asked me to – what in the world did you do to your hair?"
Grinning, Hyunmin sat on Hyunchul's bed and asked, "What do you think?"
"I don't know...it's – well – different and...weird," Hyunchul told him, raising an eyebrow, "you look like some serviceman or a guy who's about to enter the military. All you need is a uniform, and you're good to go."
"Is that bad?" Hyunmin asked, frowning.
Hyunchul shook his head, saying, "No, but I'm not sure if it's good either. What were you thinking?"
"You hate it?" Hyunmin asked, worried.
"I can't say that. Maybe right now, yes? Because I'm not yet used to it," Hyunchul answered, not wanting to sound harsh, "this will take time, okay? I thought you're just going to trim your hair."
"Well, actually, I thought of shaving my whole head," Hyunmin told him, laughing, "but manager-hyung and the stylist thought it might not work well with the audience."
"Neither is this. What will your fans say?" Hyunchul asked, worried.
Hyunmin shrugged, and said, "I'll worry about them later. What matters to me now is what you think."
"What?" Hyunchul asked, confused.
"Well, this is all about you," Hyunmin answered.
Hyunchul widened his eyes and asked, "What do I have to do with your hair?"
"I did this for you," Hyunmin told the other boy.
"Wait, what?!" Hyunchul exclaimed in disbelief, "I didn't tell you to do this."
"Well, you and your obsession with potatoes made me do this," Hyunmin said, looking away.
Shaking his head, Hyunchul said, "Now, this is even more unbelievable. What do the potatoes have to do with this?"
"You're always looking at them!" Hyunmin answered, making Hyunchul even more confused, "Every morning, when you wake up, when you go to the kitchen and cook breakfast, you stare at them and say its name in Japanese many times. Same goes every night! You even have one under your pillow!"
"No, I don't!" Hyunchul said, defensive, "Not right now, at least. I put the last one back in the fridge."
"See!" Hyunmin replied, exasperated, "That's what I'm talking about!"
"You're not making any sense," Hyunchul said, getting annoyed.
"I'm jealous of those potatoes! I want to be a potato so that you would look at me too and say my name for a hundred times!" Hyunmin whined.
"This is getting stupid!" Hyunchul snapped, "Of all things that would make you insecure, Woo Hyunmin, and you chose potatoes?"
"It's because of you!" Hyunmin told him, desperate, "Can't you see what I'm trying to tell you here?"
"No," Hyunchul answered, sharply, "so either you're going to tell me what this is all about or you're going to get out of this room. You're making me lose my temper."
"Fine," Hyunmin muttered and reached his hands towards Hyunchul to cradle his face and pull him for a kiss. Fortunately for him, Hyunchul was too shocked to push him away. After a couple of seconds, Hyunmin leaned back and looked at Hyunchul's eyes, and said, "I like you. Is that clear enough?"
Not knowing what to say, Hyunchul just looked away.
"I'm sorry," Hyunmin said, standing up, "I'll leave you alone for now."
However, Hyunchul quickly got off his bed and blocked Hyunmin from getting out the door. "You-you like me?" he asked, looking at Hyunmin earnestly.
"I do," Hyunmin answered, looking directly at Hyunchul.
"This isn't some sick joke, right?" Hyunchul asked, biting his lower lip.
"What? Of course not!" Hyunmin said, slightly offended, "I love pulling out pranks, but I would never ever toy on anyone's feelings...especially yours."
"How can I be sure you're serious?" Hyunchul asked, raising an eyebrow.
Snickering, Hyunmin smiled at Hyunchul, and said, "I'm someone comfortable about who I am. Even though there are others better than me when it comes to some things, I don't get insecure easily. But for you, I got jealous of stupid potatoes that I even cut my hair to look like one. Isn't that enough? I like – no – I love you, Park Hyunchul. I would rage war against anyone who wants to have you to prove that to you."
Hyunchul laughed and replied, "Is that why you're raging a war against potatoes?"
"Yes," Hyunmin answered, proudly, "call it silly or stupid but yes."
Nodding in understanding, Hyunchul said, "So Suhoon-hyung telling the truth."
Confused, Hyunmin asked, "What?"
"Hyung told me during our first day in Japan that you...you like me," Hyunchul explained, putting his hands on his back pockets, "I don't know if you remember, but you held my hand that morning, and I felt something different from you, so I told him about it. At first, he didn't want to tell me but I managed to get it out of him," he continued, grinning, "I thought he was joking, so I didn't believe him. But he pointed out a lot of things that you would do for me to get my attention, so I decided to observe, but I didn't get anything because I thought you're just being you."
Nodding, Hyunmin asked, "So you already know about it?"
Hyunchul shook his head and answered, "No. I told you, I didn't believe it until now...not unless this is just a huge prank."
"I told you I would never ever dare to toy you around," Hyunmin assured the other boy by putting both of his hands on Hyunchul's shoulders.
"Thank you," Hyunchul replied, smiling at Hyunmin.
"So...this means that you're going to go out with me, right?" Hyunmin asked, expectantly.
Hyunchul furrowed his eyebrows, and said, "No."
"What? Why?" Hyunmin asked, panicking.
Chuckling, Hyunchul said, "You didn't really ask me to go out with you. You just told me how you feel."
Rolling his eyes, Hyunmin said, "Fine. Park Hyunchul, will you go out with me?" he asked, intertwining one of Hyunchul's hands with his.
Grinning, Hyunchul answered, "I would love to."
Outside the door, Suhoon, Injoon and Jihwan turned to look at each other.
"That's the most ridiculous confession ever," the maknae said, cringing.
Grinning, Suhoon began to walk back to the living room, saying, "Well, it doesn't matter now. Stupid as it may be, the confession got what Hyunmin wanted."