If his life was a drama, this moment would be so very different than it is. But it isn’t. It isn’t and Minho finds himself wanting to be anywhere else but here in the apartment he shares with his younger brother. He can’t go back to school. He can’t face his friends. He is legitimately weighing the pros and cons of transferring mid-semester to another school. He can’t believe he ever listened to anyone. He should have just stuck to his own instincts instead of - “Are you alive?” Jeongin’s voice comes from somewhere near the doorway, breaking through Minho’s misery. Minho just continues laying there on the floor of his bedroom. He doesn’t make to answer or move; he’s not sure how to answer. “Yah, hyung.”
Jeongin takes a step farther into Minho’s room, and honestly Minho isn’t even sure Jeongin is here - maybe he's imagining his little brother standing there looking as though he's debating on teasing the hell out of him or fighting the world for him. But that seems to be all it takes before everything catches up to him and he can’t breathe, can’t see through the tears. He barely registers Jeongin dragging him up into a sitting position, his brother’s arms wrapping firmly around his waist and hugging him close. “I’m so stupid, Innie,” Minho laughs through his tears, curling up on himself to make himself small where he presses into Jeongin’s side.
“Normally, I’d agree,” replies Jeongin as he reaches up to smooth Minho’s hair back off his forehead like their mom used to do when he was little and crying about something, “but I won’t until you tell me what this is about.”
“I… I shouldn’t have listened to anyone. I knew… I knew it, but everyone said - they told me that there was no way that he doesn’t like me.”
“Oh.” Jeongin doesn’t really need Minho to tell him the rest, but he stays silent as his brother talks, anyway. He remains silent as Minho talks about having gone up to Jinseok, his long standing crush and one of his best friends, and having kissed him. He listens as Minho relates it to a nightmare instead of a dream as everyone had told him it would be.
“He just… he just stood there and then he gave me that smile - you know the one he gets when he doesn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings but he knows what he has to say is going to and he says it anyway?” Jeongin nods his head, knowing exactly what look Minho was talking about. Having spent several years around Jinseok, he knows it well. “Yeah, that one. That stupid smile and he told me he loves me, but only as a friend - that he likes someone else ‘like that’. God. Everyone was there. Everyone saw …” Minho’s voice breaks as his throat feels tight, like there’s something stuck in it.
It’s moments like this, with Jeongin hugging Minho tightly that the younger is reminded that his brother isn’t as cold as people mistake him to be. He’s soft, sensitive and sweet with so much heart. He knows that Minho has a reputation of being distant and cold, that he’s someone that doesn’t like anyone ever. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. He just gets focused on something and often ignores the rest of the world past what he’s focused on; it doesn’t help that his resting bitch face is one to rival the best of them. Despite that, he has the biggest heart and loves with all of himself. He deserves better, and Jeongin is determined to remind Minho of this.
While Minho’s busy wondering aloud how easy it would be to just pack up and leave (they both know it won’t really happen, they can’t really pass up the deal they have on their apartment), Jeongin carefully pulls out his cell phone and sends out a quick text into his group chat with Hyunjin, Seungmin, Jisung, and Felix. It’s a simple “119” and within moments there’s responses of being on the way, of bringing ice cream or soju (Jeongin isn’t going to question how Hyunjin got his hands on that) or snack foods. “Did you really just text the rest of the brats?” Minho asks, the sniffles as he does nullifying what could almost have seemed like a harsh comment. It’s a term of endearment, though, and Jeongin knows it.
“Yes. They’re bringing snacks. We’re going to binge eat until we pass out. So. Wipe the snot off your face before they get here.” Despite the situation, Minho laughs and reaches up to wipe at his face with the cuff of his hoodie sleeve.
It’s only minutes later that the noise level in the apartment raises three fold. The four boys Jeongin texted come shoving into the apartment (Seungmin has Hyunjin in a headlock because of something he had said in the hall while Felix and Jisung are practically a single entity, as usual) and they all have plastic sacks seemingly filled with different snacks and treats. Seungmin smiles at Minho, in an attempt to seem reassuring. Minho’s sure they’re all already aware of what happened. Surely the whole university knows by now. None of them say anything about it, though. They just settle into the living room while Jeongin hooks up the XBox. Seungmin sets to work opening the ice cream and dishing out a few scoops into each of the bowls Minho isn’t sure the source of. They hadn’t been there moments before, but he’s a bit distracted by Felix and Hyunjin manhandling him onto the couch right in the middle so he missed Jeongin bringing them into the living room in the first place.
It’s a mess of elbows and shouting and teasing and arguing and eating too much ice cream and drinking too much soju, but it makes Minho momentarily forget everything. He really does have some of the best friends. Even if Jisung snores against his shoulder and Hyunjin nearly cuts off the circulation in his opposite arm where he’s got both arms wrapped around Minho’s as they’re laying in a pile of limbs in the living room hours after the whole thing started.
Of course, the newfound happiness only lasts long enough for the weekend to come and go, and for Monday morning to rear her ugly, rainy head. Minho had forgotten. He had forgotten about what he had done until he walks into the art building, intending on heading to his art class. Only when he closes his umbrella and steps farther into the entrance hall, Minho pauses because he notices the way that people are looking at him. They are looking at him and they are whispering and his ears are turning red. Oh god. They all know. They had possibly been there. He had kissed Jinseok in that very building, down the hallway to the right near the supply closet. “I do love you,” he can practically hear Jinseok saying, as if it was happening all over again, “as a friend. You’re my best friend.” Minho closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. He can handle this. It’s not the end of the world. Jinseok is just a boy.
But he’s not. He’s not just a boy. He’s been Minho’s best friend since they were eight years old. He’s Minho’s best friend, and Minho is in love with him; but, Minho’s life is not a drama and he’s not the one who gets the boy in the end. He doesn’t get the best friend laughing and smiling and saying that he feels the same way too. Instead, he gets stares, whispers, looks of pity and amusement, and wet shoes - the later being from the rain outside, but it only adds to his misery. He was stupid. How could he think that no one would remember? That he could just show up and it would be like nothing had ever happened? Just because he’d stopped thinking about it, didn’t erase it from having happened.
Stupid. He is stupid. And ridiculous. And cold. And shaking. And heartbroken.
Minho doesn’t even realize he’s hyperventilating until suddenly he’s outside again, underneath the overhang to protect him from the rain while a warm, familiar voice coaches him through breathing slowly - in, out, through his nose, through his mouth. When he finally blinks several times, managing to clear away the fog that seemed to have taken over without him registering it, Minho finds himself looking into the warm smile of Bang Chan. “Oh, hyung,” Minho says, his voice as soft as ever though more unsteady than he would have liked it to be. “I’m sorry.”
“What are you apologizing for?” Chan’s brow furrows, but he laughs as he speaks and Minho feels like he can breathe again. He forgot just how comforting Chan’s very existence always seems to be.
“I don’t know?” Minho’s face folds in confusion, not entirely sure why he’s apologizing besides the fact that the little voice in the back of his head tells him that he needs to. He’s an embarrassment and a … well, the word escapes him, but he’s just not a good person to be around at the moment and the fact that Chan seems to want to be there is just … a lot. “Where have you been?”
It seems like ages since Minho has seen Chan around campus. Used to be, he could see Chan tucked away in corners with his laptop or a notebook and his headphones on his head. For quite a while, though, Minho has noticed a lack of Chan shaped blobs of hoodie and sweatpants in those spaces. Chan goes pink in the face, stutters over an answer like he’s surprised Minho has even noticed. “I went home for a little while. I just… I really needed to go home for a while.”
“Oh. Without telling anyone?”
“I told Felix.”
Which, of course. Okay. That, Minho should have anticipated. Whenever Felix isn’t attached to Jisung’s hip, he is to Chan’s. They bonded over the whole both being from Australia thing. It also makes something he had half way overheard while they were all meeting up for dinner one night make a lot more sense. Felix had been talking to Jisung, something about having gone to the airport earlier. Minho assumes now that Felix had gone to drop off Chan. Though he and Chan have not had the time to become the best of friends, Minho would consider them to be friends; and, he had definitely missed having Chan around. “I'm glad you're back.”
He says it without thinking, before he can convince himself not to. Chan smiles, a little tired but honest all the same. “Yeah. I would have preferred not having had to find you having an anxiety attack in the middle of the hall as a welcome back present, though.” The smile changes to an expression of concern that makes Minho’s ears burn.
Minho winces. He sighs, the action making his chest burn and scream at him in protest. “Sorry.”
“Finals can be rough …” Chan trails off when Minho shakes his head. “Not finals, then.” Minho shakes his head again and frowns as he glances toward the door of the building. He needs to get to his photography class. He’s going to be late. But his legs feel like lead and he doesn’t think he can make it all the way to the photography classroom without breaking down again. Which is stupid, he knows it is. He knows it’s ridiculous to be acting this way over a guy. “Well, whatever it is - and you don’t have to tell me - I’m sure it’ll be okay.”
Minho nods, taking a deep but shaky breath. He appreciates it. He’s not sure he could tell someone else what was going on. “Don't you have a class to get to?”
“No.” He does, but he has already decided that he isn't going to leave Minho alone right now. They may not have been the closest friends, but Chan isn't going to leave when he can easily see that Minho needs somebody. “I was going to go get some tea.” It isn't a lie. He had made plans to get tea when his class was over, but he doesn't see the harm in moving that plan ahead some. “Come with me?”
Minho nods, and Chan smiles. He takes the umbrella from Minho’s hands and opens it before linking his arm together with Minho’s so they can start the walk to the student center, where there is a little shop that makes the best teas on campus. They don’t talk as they walk. Minho focuses on small things, facts about anything he can focus on that doesn’t involve the art building or Jinseok. Chan’s name is Christopher, but he goes by Chan for a reason Minho never asked. He had just agreed when Chan told him during his first year there. His hair is naturally dark, but is bleached blond most of the time. He wears denim jackets and plaid shirts so much, sometimes Minho thinks that’s all he has in his closet. His voice is soothing and warm, and it takes Minho until they are only a few hundred feet to the student center to even realize that Chan had started talking, telling Minho about his flights and having spent some time with his family. Minho kind of wants to stop and hug him.
He opens the door to the student center while Chan closes the umbrella, instead. Minho doesn’t say anything as they walk to the shop that sells the tea, he just walks close to Chan’s side and continues to listen to him talking - this time it’s about how Felix had met him at the airport and tackled him to the floor at eleven the night before. It had been a good break, Chan insists, one that he had needed. Minho nods, not asking for clarification on why Chan had gone home or why he had needed a break - Chan will share when he feels like it. Chan orders for them, insisting on paying even as Minho made a barely conscious attempt at paying instead. Before he can really register any of it, they’re sitting down at one of the tables outside the door of the shop with a cup of tea each. Chan’s is hot while Minho’s is iced.
“I kissed Jinseok,” Minho says when he’s half way through his tea, condensation pooling around the bottom of the cup where it sits on top of the table. Minho watches as he twists it back and forth, glancing up at Chan when he hears Chan set his own cup of tea down on the table. Chan’s expression isn’t one that Minho can read. He doesn’t know what it’s saying and that makes his throat tighten. “I thought-” He breaks off, breathing out a slow, heavy breath.
“You don’t have to tell me,” replies Chan. His voice is soft and soothing, and he reaches over with one hand to place it on top of Minho’s that has been resting on top of the table.
Minho nods. He knows he doesn’t have to. But he wants to. “Everyone got my hopes up. I thought that maybe they were right, that he would want to be with me too. He likes someone else. He told me. I… It was in the art building on Friday. He just stood there. He stood there and then told me he likes someone else. He smiled at me like it was somehow hurting him. He’s not talked to me since.”
“Fuck him.” Chan’s short yet determined statement nearly made Minho jump in surprise. His eyes widen a little as he watches Chan shrug his shoulders. “You’ve been friends for how long? If he could ignore you after that, then that’s just … I mean, the whole thing sucks, and I’m not saying he should have lied to you; but, as your friend he should at least check to see if you’re okay!” Minho maybe agrees with the last part, but he isn’t sure he could handle Jinseok’s concern right now. “So, fuck him. Focus on you. Work on your portfolio, go to class, hang out with the kids and Woojin.”
Chan’s expression softens as he smiles, gently squeezing Minho’s hand. “Yeah, and me.”
»»———— ♡ ————««
Minho sighs as he sits down on the floor of the dance studio. It’s late. Everyone else has left. He can no longer hear the sounds of music in any of the other rooms. The hall outside the room he is using is dark, meaning the last of the staff has left as well. Thankfully, Minho is a favorite of the professor in charge of the dance hall, and he’s gotten the security code to let himself in and out. He had not planned on being there that late, but after everything … He needed the distraction. He had been tasked with creating a new choreography for a showcase at the end of the term, after the very last day of finals. He wasn’t going to perform. He could, he had been asked to - but Minho tenses at the thought alone. He’ll leave the actual performance to a better dancer. Having someone amazing dance his choreography is amazing enough.
He takes a drink out of his water bottle, breathing heavily through his nose. But then there’s someone in the doorway looking at him and Minho almost chokes on his water in surprise. “Holy shit, Chan,” he says through heavy breaths when he’s done coughing.
“Sorry,” Chan replies, having the decency to look apologetic as he walks into the room.
“How did you get in here?”
“Hyunjin gave me the code.”
Minho nods. He had forgotten that Hyunjin and Felix knew the code as well, from the time the three of them had worked on a project together. That had been done mostly after hours. “Did you need something?”
“Not really.” Chan laughs even as he answers, smiling as he walks over to where Minho is sitting on the floor. “I just finished working on this music project and thought I’d go get some barbecue to celebrate. I figured you were probably here after our last talk.” Minho had told Chan about him having to come up with the choreography for the showcase. Knowing that Minho was stressing about it, he had figured that Minho would be working on it despite everyone else having gone home for the evening.
Minho nods at Chan’s next words before he really registers them. “Wait, what?” he says, putting the lid on the bottle of water he had been drinking out of.
Chan chuckles at that, mumbling something about the expression on Minho’s face being cute. “I wanted to see if you wanted to go, too.”
“Oh. Yeah. I mean, I can. If you don’t mind the company.” Chan shakes his head with a smile that Minho easily returns. “Then, yeah. Okay. Let me just, uh … There’s a shower in the locker room. Let me clean up, first.”
“Yeah, sure.” Minho gets up with Chan’s help. He mumbles a thank you, which Chan simply nods at. “I’ll wait outside. It’s a nice night.”
“Okay. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
Chan heads out the front door of the building to wait on the steps while Minho gathers his things and heads back to the locker rooms. He doesn’t often like using the showers there, he prefers his shower at home; but, he doesn’t really feel like sitting around and eating dinner with Chan while smelling like sweat and looking all gross. If it was just Jeongin, he might not worry about it; but, it is Chan and, well, Minho kind of realized recently that he cares about what Chan thinks about him. Minho doesn’t take too long in the shower, though; just enough so that he smells clean and doesn’t look like a drowned rat. His hair is still damp, but not dripping when he makes his way out of the locker room and through the front doors. He locks up the building behind him. “Feel better?” Chan asks him as he turns around to face him.
Minho smiles with a nod. “Yeah,” he says. “Lead the way.” He gestures in front of them, and starts to head down the stairs when Chan does. He isn’t exactly sure which place Chan is wanting to go - but he doesn’t really care, either. He’s starving, though he hadn’t realized it until just then as he thought about food. “How was your day?”
“Good.” Chan sighs heavily despite his answer. “I’m just glad that I’m done with that music project. That was … incredibly stressful.”
“I’m sure it’s a wonderful song. I’ve heard your others.” Chan looks at him, eyes wide with surprise as a blush forms high on his cheeks. It stands out even in the dark, dim lighting from the street lamps. “Felix pulled up your Soundcloud the other day. It’s great.”
“Oh. Thank you. I try. Jisung, Changbin, and I did some of them together.”
“I saw that. You seem to have more fun with the songs they’re in, too.”
Chan nods, putting his hands into the front pockets of his jeans as they walk. “Yeah. It’s better to not have to work alone.”
Minho gets that. He doesn’t often get a chance to work with a partner, but he knows he has enjoyed the few times that he has. They continue talking about classes and their friends, about the weather and how the days are getting cooler - thankfully not to the point of needing a coat yet. There’s a slight bite to the air when the wind blows, letting them know that day will be coming soon enough. When they get to the restaurant Chan had chosen, they’re shown to a table in the corner and end up sitting on opposite sides. Chan tells him to order whatever without worrying about it. “We’re celebrating,” he reminds Minho.
So, they order some of their favorite meat dishes, plenty of rice and sides for both of them, and a bottle of soju each. There’s a small, friendly battle over who is going to do the cooking that Minho loses. He pouts and pours them each a shot of the soju instead. They make a toast to Chan’s finished project, and Minho hesitates for a few seconds for Chan to take his shot first. Minho does and then sets his glass down as Chan focuses on the grill, instead. Conversation doesn’t seem to stop as they sit there, even if a lot of the conversation is pointless. At the same time, they use the time to get to know one another more.
Chan shares with Minho about how when he first moved to Seoul, he was miserable and wanted nothing more than to go back home to Australia; but, he had taken out student loans and put his parents in a tight position to get him there. He had decided he was not going to let them down. Minho shares about his audition into the dance program at the university and how he didn’t actually get in until his second year because he had bombed his audition - it put him a year behind his same aged peers. Minho tells Chan about the two cats he had growing up and how he misses having a pet around, but that it had been hard enough looking after Jeongin and getting a pet is out of the question. He tells Chan about how his parents had left them enough money to get by, but only if they budgeted things well enough - he still had to take out student loans. Chan tells Minho about how the first day he met Felix, he had ended up crying - Felix had too but Chan would let Felix tell people that if he wanted to. He tells Minho about how sometimes when he’s really stressed, he goes to the park and skateboards for a while, just to get away from his thoughts and everything else.
At one point, while Chan was busy turning the meat on the grill, Minho finished readying a wrap and he held it up to Chan in offer for him to eat it. Chan looks surprised at first, but then he smiles and he eats the wrap that Minho gives him. He’s laughing around the wrap - it’s just a little too big and bits of rice are falling out of his mouth even as Minho tries to block the food with a hand in front of Chan’s lips - while Minho bites his lip in an attempt to keep from giggling too much as Chan struggles. They’re both out of breath when they finally stop laughing and Chan finishes eating the wrap, the meat on the grill is starting to burn a little and Minho finds he doesn’t want this moment to end.
After they were done eating, Chan insists on footing the bill, and Minho only ends up relenting after he promises to let Minho pay the next time they go out to eat. They stand out on the sidewalk, out of the way of the door so they are not blocking any customers trying to go inside. “Thank you for dinner, Chan hyung,” Minho says as he idly rocks back and forth on his feet a few times before standing flat footed again. “This was fun.”
“Yeah, it was,” agrees Chan. “I liked getting to know you more. We should do this again.”
“Of course. I have to pay next time, remember?”
Chan laughs as he agrees with a nod of his head. “I should get going. I’m sure Woojin is wondering where I am.”
“Right. Yeah. I’ll see you later.” Minho waves a little and then freezes when Chan presses a kiss to his cheek. A slow smile forms on his face as he stands there and watches Chan rush off in the other direction, toward where his and Woojin’s apartment is. He reaches up and presses his fingers to his cheek, continuing to smile to himself as he turns to make the walk back to his own apartment.
»»———— ♡ ————««
The days blend into one another, and winter break draws closer and closer. But first, finals. Minho groans as he lays his head on the open textbook in front of him. He just lifts his hand and shows Chan his middle finger when he hears Chan laughing at him from across the table where Chan is working on his own homework - some sort of math class, Minho was pretty sure. He is working on a paper, himself, for his English course. “Remind me again why I took this class,” he grumbles as he lifts his head just enough to cross his arms underneath his chin and lower his head so that his chin is resting on it while he is looking at Chan.
“Because it looks good on your transcript,” Chan answers, making Minho sigh. Damn him for being correct. Plus, Minho would like to be able to keep up with what Felix and Chan were talking about sometimes when the two of them would be giggling and smiling and talking in rapid English that he could barely keep up with. He won't say that much aloud, though. Chan smiles at Minho, crossing his arms over his own textbook while leaning forward just a little. “Want to take a break? It’s getting late. We should go get something to eat.”
Minho wants to argue. He’s only got one hundred of his needed five hundred or more words for his paper. His stomach rumbles loudly, however, and it causes his eyes to widen as his lips make a small ‘o’ of surprise before both of them are laughing. “I guess a small break won’t hurt.”
Chan smiles, and Minho already has no regrets about taking a break. They gather their things; pencils, notebooks, and textbooks being placed into their backpacks. “We can drop off our bags at mine if you want to go to that burger place,” Minho suggests. The apartment he and Jeongin share is about halfway between campus and that restaurant, which Minho knows is one of Chan’s favorites. “We can finish studying there after?”
“Sounds like a great idea,” Chan answers as he shrugs on his coat before picking up his backpack, tugging one strap on one of his shoulders.
As they walk, Chan eventually wraps his arms around Minho’s shoulders, tucking Minho into his side. It’s almost uncomfortable and makes them have to shuffle in an awkward manner. But it makes the way Minho had been shaking stop. He had not even realized he was cold until he was suddenly surrounded by warmth. “Jesus, Minho. Where’s your coat?” Chan questions, trying his hardest not to sound too scolding. He had not even realized that Minho did not have a coat there in the library until that moment. “It’s freezing out.”
“It wasn’t earlier.” Minho presses his face into the side of Chan’s neck, forcing himself to not think too much of the way that Chan shudders at the action. It’s just from the cold. “My hoodie was enough.”
“That was before the sun went down, idiot. If you catch a cold…” He breaks off with a sigh as Minho insists that he won’t. They continue their shuffle walk to the building that Minho lives in, but Chan doesn’t let him go until they are at the apartment. When they get there, he lets go of Minho and drops aside his backpack. He ignores Minho’s complaint about his shoes as he crosses the apartment and goes into Minho’s bedroom. Maybe it says something about how often Chan has been over at the apartment lately that he doesn’t even have to ask which room is Minho’s. When Minho reaches the door to his room, Chan is holding a sweater - it’s one of Minho’s favorites. It’s a little too big and falls past the tips of his fingers, but it’s thick and soft and incredibly warm. Chan presses it into Minho’s hands. “Wear this, and your coat. Or we’ll stay here.”
“Okay.” Minho doesn’t fight with Chan. He simply nods. The hoodie he has on is old, thin and almost not even worth considering a hoodie anymore. But it’s comfortable and helped keep the bite of the wind from being too cold earlier when the sun was still out and shining. Minho had never intended on being on campus after dark, but then he and Chan had decided to study together and he lost track of time.
Once Minho’s out of the hoodie, he pulls on the sweater, instead. He already feels much warmer than before. Chan fusses over him as he grabs a coat, insisting Minho grab a scarf as well. Minho doesn’t argue. He just lets Chan wrap it around his neck, loosely tying it into place. They share a smile and Minho leads the way back out of the apartment so they can head to the restaurant. “Maybe we should have called a cab,” Minho says as he looks around when they’re a few blocks away. His hands in his pockets are still really cold. Though he’s never lived anywhere else, it always surprises him just how quickly the temperatures turn bitter when the winter months are on them.
“We’ll get one on the way back,” promises Chan, reaching over and sticking one hand into Minho’s pocket to take a hold of his hand and squeeze his fingers. It makes Minho’s breath catch for a second before he’s smiling shyly down at the sidewalk as they continue. He’s not sure when Chan started causing him to react that way, but he isn’t wanting to dwell too much on it, either.
Neither one of them says anything else as they continue to the restaurant.
They both shrug out of their coats and Minho takes off his scarf. They choose a table and place their things on the chairs before going to place their orders. There’s no one in line, and Minho is pretty sure the girl behind the register is trying to flirt with Chan; but, Chan either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care enough to flirt back. He’s nice, of course, but Chan is always nice to everyone. He’s polite. Even so, he keeps most of his attention on Minho, especially as he complains when Minho pushes him aside to pay for both of their orders - they both ordered way too much for just the two of them out of habit; it’s not often they spend time together without all the others around. The girl’s smile falters for a second, but then she’s smiling again and she hands Minho the receipt with a promise their food will be out soon.
“Are you going home for winter break?” Minho asks Chan as they take their seats.
“No. I was just there a few weeks ago, can’t really afford another flight,” Chan answers. He seems okay about it, which almost catches Minho off guard. He would have thought that Chan would be sad if he couldn’t go home. “I love my family, and I’m going to miss them; but, it will be nice to have a Christmas without them for once. Start my own traditions.”
“Ah.” Minho nods a little. His own family had never really celebrated Christmas. Then when it was just him and Jeongin, they hadn’t really been able to afford it - though Minho had always managed to get Jeongin something small. He knows that Jeongin is making plans that year. He wants to have anyone staying in the city out of their friend group over for a celebration. He knows that it is possible that Seungmin was going to end up crashing at their apartment most of the break, with his roommate flying back to the States. Felix has plans to go back to Australia for at least part of break, and they are pretty sure he is bringing his new boyfriend, Changbin, home with him. Jisung had already started whining about his partner-in-crime ditching him. He isn't sure what Hyunjin is planning to do, or Woojin. “What about Woojin. Is he staying, too?”
“Yeah. He and I have a few ideas we might follow through with.” Chan nods his head a little as he speaks. Originally, Woojin had made plans to go home for Christmas, but after finding out that Chan, who is his roommate, is going to stay, Woojin decided to stay, too.
“Well, I think Jeongin and I might have some kind of party? I don’t know - but you could come. If you wanted.”
“Yeah? That would be cool.” Chan smiles and Minho can’t help but smile back.
By the time their orders are brought to them, Hyunjin and Seungmin have stumbled upon them and joined them at the table. There’s more than enough food for all of them, so Minho insists they don’t need to order anything but drinks if they want any. The four of them talk about finals and how awful studying is, and Hyunjin teases Seungmin about his crush on “Jeo-” Seungmin kicks him hard underneath the table and Hyunjin whines to Chan who just pats his head as a form of comfort.
Minho can’t keep from smiling as they talk and it’s when he offers Chan one of his cheese fries with his fork, making Chan smile at him before he takes a bite, that he realizes he hasn’t thought about Jinseok in days. It no longer hurts to think about the fact that Jinseok didn’t want him. And maybe, Minho realizes as he watches Chan throw his head back in laughter at some joke that Seungmin told, he’s started to like someone else.
Once they're done eating, Seungmin and Hyunjin leave to go do … something. Minho had not really been listening. He and Chan hail a cab like he had said earlier so that they don’t have to walk back to Minho and Jeongin’s apartment. Neither one of them say anything, but neither one feel the need to fill the silence between them. It's relaxing, and if the car ride was any longer, Minho probably would have fallen asleep on Chan’s shoulder. As it is, Chan has to pull him out of the car when they reach the apartment, making Minho stumble and giggle. “Sorry. I think I almost fell asleep,” he tells Chan as they walk into the building together. “I ate too much. I'm tired now.”
“I could go, let you get some sleep.”
Minho shakes his head and pulls Chan into the elevator with him. “No. I'll be ok. I just need coffee and then I'll be good to go.”
Chan would have laughed at the way his sentence was punctuated with a yawn, but he yawns, too, instead. “Maybe we both ate too much.”
Minho smiles as they get off the elevator on the floor that the apartment is on. “We could nap for a little while, then study.”
“I'm in jeans.” Chan wrinkles his nose as he says it.
Which, Minho can't blame him for. Sleeping in jeans is very uncomfortable. He wouldn't recommend it to anyone. “You could just wear your boxers, I'm not going to freak out about it.” It wasn't like he and Jeongin didn't share an apartment and walk around in tank tops and boxer shorts when it was really hot in the summer. Of course, that's his brother, not his newfound crush. Minho just doesn’t let himself think too much on it. They are friends first, it isn’t weird. Right? “Or I've got extra sweatpants you can borrow.”
“Yeah. Okay. But only for like an hour. Then, homework.”
Minho nods in agreement as they enter the apartment. It's dark and quiet in the main room, but Minho can see flickers of light under the bottom of Jeongin's door. The two of them gather their backpacks from where they had dropped them earlier, and carry them back to Minho’s room, using the flashlight on his phone to light the way. Once in Minho’s room, Chan shuts the door and turns on the lights. They both find places for their bags before Minho pulls out two pairs of sweatpants. “Bathroom is down the hall to the left, if you want. Otherwise…” Minho shrugs. He's not exactly the most modest person. He doesn't walk around naked or anything, but changing in front of a friend doesn't bother him or make him shy.
It's after he changes into the sweats that Minho realizes he's blushing a little from having noticed Chan pointedly trying not to look at him while changing into the pants he'd been given. Minho crawls into his bed after he's changed and pats the bed next to him. “Come on,” he urges when Chan seems to hesitate.
Chan smiles in response and nods before he's climbing into the bed to lay down next to Minho, facing him. “You sure that this is okay?” Chan asks. Minho wets his lips absentmindedly and nods. “Can I…?” He doesn't voice the rest of his question, but acts as though he's going to put his arm around Minho.
Minho stares at him for a few seconds and slowly nods his head. Then Chan's arm circles around him, drawing him in close. Minho almost goes cross-eyed and tries but not to focus on the fact that they are almost flush together. “Is this okay?” he hears Chan ask and he nods again before he shifts about to move so that his head is tucked underneath Chan's chin and his face is pressed against his collarbone. Chan holds him a little tighter for a moment and then relaxes. Minho figures he must be asleep after that because he has to be imagining Chan pressing a kiss to the top of his head.
Except, he’s not as asleep yet, so he must have just imagined it. “Hey, Chan?” he says quietly after several moments, not wanting to wake him if Chan had fallen asleep already. Chan hums slightly in reply, Minho takes that as a go-ahead to continue. “Why did you go home before?”
He feels Chan tense, and he starts to apologize, but then Chan relaxes and starts to answer. “I had a bit of a breakdown with everything going on in my classes. I’m not doing as well as I wanted to be, I wasn’t sleeping for days at a time, and I can’t keep up in one of them. I started talking to a therapist and he gave me these pills for anxiety. I’m only supposed to take them when it’s really bad, but I go see a therapist here, now.” Minho hugs Chan a little tighter and Chan gently squeezes him back. “I only told Felix and Woojin. None of the others know.”
“I won’t say anything.” It’s not his place to say anything. He couldn’t and wouldn’t do that to Chan.
“Thank you.” Minho smiles when he feels another kiss pressed to the top of his head. “Get some sleep.” Minho sighs softly and and closes his eyes, falling asleep faster than it took him to realize that neither of them set an alarm.
When he wakes up again, the first thing he registers is that he's warm everywhere. The second is that he's really got to pee but there's something heavy on top of him, pinning him down. Then he realizes there's sunlight coming through his window - it's dull and dim, like the sun is only just starting to rise. They slept through the night instead of just napping. “Chan, get up,” mumbles, shaking Chan's arm. “I've got to pee, let me up.” Chan grumbles out something but he rolls off of Minho, allowing him to get up and take care of his business.
When he's finished, Minho goes to the kitchen instead of his room. Jeongin is in there, eating some cereal and a banana with milk while looking like he'd just rolled out of bed with the way his hair was sticking every which way. “Morning class?” he questions, pulling out ingredients to make something to eat.
“No, I'm meeting Seungmin at the library so he can quiz me for my final this afternoon,” Jeongin answers. “That's a lot of food for -” He breaks off his sentence and looks to see Chan standing there after realizing that someone else had said good morning. His brows rose slightly when he realized Chan was wearing Minho’s sweatpants. “Morning?”
“Chan crashed here last night. We were only supposed to nap before studying.” Minho shrugs, pointedly avoiding looking at Jeongin directly.
“Do you need help with that?”
Minho says he doesn’t, but Chan helps him with it anyway. They share soft, sleepy smiles and quiet words while Jeongin silently eats his breakfast. He remains silent until after the door closes behind Chan when he leaves. Chan had changed back into his jeans, grabbed his backpack, and headed home so he can shower and get ready for class. “So…” Jeongin starts only to laugh when Minho glares at him. “Chan, huh?”
“Stop,” insists Minho, practically whining. He doesn’t have time to deal with harassment from his little brother.
“He’s better than Jinseok.” Jeongin nods decisively, ignoring the way that Minho just sighs in response while cleaning up the kitchen. Chan had offered to help, even though he needed to go get ready for his classes. Minho insisted that he didn’t need to, and it had taken a few minutes for him to convince Chan it was okay to leave. “He likes you.”
Minho stops mid-reach to putting one of the plates in the dishwasher, but then continues. He’s heard that before. Everyone told him the same thing about Jinseok. Jinseok had been his closest, longest lasting friend. Jinseok had been there to hold him when he cried about his and Jeongin’s parents dying, had been there when Minho fretted over whether he needed to drop out of school and get a job to support Jeongin. Thankfully, his parents had enough money set aside that he didn’t need to do that. He knows he will have to, soon, though. But! It was Jinseok who was there through all of that. He was the one that told Minho he would be okay, that he would get through it, that he had Jinseok there to help, that he’d always be there.
Weeks of radio silence from him said otherwise.
“Can we not do this?” Minho questions Jeongin with a heavy sigh. “Please, please let’s not do this.”
Jeongin sighs heavily as well, but he doesn’t argue as he gets up to rinse out his bowl before putting it in the dishwasher with everything else. “Fine, hyung. I’ve got to go, anyway. I’ll see you later.” Jeongin pats Minho’s shoulder and goes to get his things to meet Seungmin. Minho contemplates just laying down on the floor for the rest of the day; but, he’s got his photography class that he has got to get to.
»»———— ♡ ————««
“How do you think you did?” Chan asks Minho as they wait in line for the skate rental. Usually, the day after finals, Jinseok and Minho would celebrate by going ice skating and then buying a whole bunch of junk food to eat while binge watching some series they put off watching throughout the school year. When Minho had asked Chan if he’d like to celebrate with him a few days prior, Minho hadn’t actually expected him to agree; but, here they are, waiting in line together.
Minho sighs at the question, tilting his head back to look at the sky above them. His breath is visible above him as it swirls upwards, reminding him once again that it truly is winter. “I hope I did well enough,” answers Minho when he finally looks back to Chan. “I know I did fine in photography and art. My math class final was … okay. I think I failed that English paper, though.”
Chan nudges Minho with his elbow, smiling softly at him. “I’m sure you did fine. Don’t stress about it. Just have fun, alright?” Minho nods and smiles as they step up to the counter to rent their skates. After they have the correct sizes, they go to one of the bleachers surrounding the outdoor rink in order to change out of their shoes and into the skates. “You ready?” Chan takes a hold of Minho’s hand as they stand up and they carefully make their way out onto the ice.
Both of them are smiling and laughing as they start to skate. Minho is unsteady at first and almost falls over a couple of times, but eventually they start to move around the rink. They talk about nothing really important, just spending their time together and enjoying doing something that isn’t studying for the first time in weeks. Minho can’t keep the smile off of his face, even as the cold starts to turn his cheeks and nose red, something Chan points out with a quick poke to his cheek using his free hand. “You’re not any better,” Minho says with a pout. It’s replaced with a laugh seconds later as Chan just pulls him closer and they continue to skate.
What Minho fails to realize between his smiles and laughter with Chan is that Jinseok is there, standing next to the bleachers where they had taken off their shoes. He’s got his arms crossed over his chest and is watching the two of them with a frown on his face, even as Minho loses his balance and falls, tugging Chan down onto the ice with him due to their joined hands. They lay there in a small heap, both of them giggling and smiling. Their laughter slowly dies out as they lay there, Minho staring up at Chan in the slightly dim lighting of the white Christmas lights strung everywhere. He’s beautiful and it’s almost like a kick to the chest for Minho. It wasn’t like he never noticed Chan was attractive - he is objectively aware all his friends are unfairly attractive. Still, something about that moment just makes it seem even more. Chan keeps smiling and Minho just … lays there wondering if he’s staring too much. Chan doesn’t complain, though. He just reaches up to readjust the hat on Minho’s head before complaining that it’s cold while getting up and helping Minho stand. By the time they get up from the ice, skate a few more laps, and then decide to leave to get something warm to drink, Jinseok is gone and Minho doesn’t have the slightest clue that he was ever there in the first place.
“Okay, okayokayokay,” Minho says through his laughter as they walk through the park to a coffee shop that’s across the street. He’s trying to calm down and stop laughing from the joke Chan had made at the expense of their mutual friends. “But, what’s going on with Felix and Jisung? I thought the two of them were like … together.”
“Nah. I mean, they adore one another and are attached at the hip, but they consider one another platonic soulmates,” answers Chan. “Felix really likes Changbin.”
“Obviously. I mean, he’s taking him home to meet his family. I just … I don’t know. I was surprised when it wasn’t Jisung he started dating.”
“I think Jisung likes Hyunjin. Or Woojin. Maybe both?”
Chan’s brows scrunch together in confusion, making Minho smile and laugh softly. “Yeah, maybe. I don’t know. I don’t exactly have the best track record with telling when someone likes someone.” Chan opens his mouth to say something, but Minho cuts him off with a shake of his head and lifting a hand to press a finger to his own lips. It makes Chan close his mouth again with a smile. “Really, it’s okay. I’m over it. I don’t … I mean it sucks, but I, I’m pretty sure that I’ve moved on.”
“Oh. Is there … someone else?”
Minho can’t read the expression on Chan’s face as he asks the question. It looks, maybe a little hopeful but mostly just guarded. Minho nods slowly. “I think so.”
Chan smiles weakly in response, and Minho starts to say something, but Chan tugs on his arm to direct him across the street to the coffee shop instead. Minho hadn’t even noticed the light change to tell them it is okay to cross. They talk about how cold it is and how it’s nice to be inside when they finally get there, but neither one brings up Minho’s newfound feelings again. They order their coffees and take them to sit at a table by the window. There, they resume talking about their finals and what classes they’re looking forward to after the break.
It’s nice, comfortable. Minho is really glad that Chan agreed to come hang out with him. As they sit there drinking their coffee, it starts to snow, which makes Minho perk up a little in his seat when he notices. He’s always loved the snow. Jeongin always likes to tease him that he would have made a better Elsa than Elsa - Minho always likes to tell him how ridiculous he sounds. “Ready to head back?” Chan asks, smiling when Minho nods in answer.
They take the remainder of their drinks with them and head out of the shop to make the walk back to Minho’s apartment, where they’ve got Netflix and a bunch of snacks waiting. The snowfall is light, and the flakes melt as they hit the ground. It’s not been cold for long enough for it to stick easily, yet. Still, it’s beautiful and causes the world to sparkle around them. “It’s pretty,” Minho comments as the snow continues to fall around them, he looks up at the sky.
“Yes, it is.”
Minho looks over at Chan and finds that Chan is looking at him. It makes Minho stumble and Chan quickly reaches out with his free hand to steady him while Minho swears a lot. Chan chuckles and asks if he’s alright. “Yeah. Yes. I’m- Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Should I not?”
“No! I mean- I don’t- You- Why?”
Chan laughs again at the completely exasperated look on Minho’s face. His brows are furrowed with confusion at the entire situation. “Minho, I like you .” The words are in English, but Minho knows more than enough of the language to know what he said. It makes Minho stop walking and face Chan as Chan stops walking, too. “Sorry if it makes you uncomfortable. I know you said you like someone already an-”
“I like you, too.” He cuts off Chan’s attempt to apologize and promise that he would get over it. Chan sort of just stares at Minho for several seconds before they’re both smiling. Minho lowers his head so that he’s looking at the ground. Then he looks up at Chan again. He still has that silly smile on his face.
“You do? What about Ji-”
Minho shakes his head. “I don’t care about him anymore. No. That’s not… I mean, I still care. He was - is? He has been my best friend for too long for me to not care at all. I just… don’t want to be with him anymore. He’s not the one who gives me butterflies.” As he speaks, he feels like his heart will fall out of his chest from how rapidly it’s beating. He isn’t quite sure when his feelings for Chan started, if they’d always been there or if it happened after they started spending more time together. Either way, it is what it is, really. All Minho knows is that right then, Chan is the only one he wants to spend his time with.
Chan smiles with a laugh and a nod of his head. “That’s good to know.”
“Is this a date?”
“Do you want it to be?” Minho nods slowly, almost hesitant like he’s scared to know what Chan’s answer is going to be. Chan reaches over with his free hand to take a hold of Minho’s, squeezing his fingers gently. “Then it is.”
“Okay. Good. Great. That’s-” Minho cut off with a small laugh when Chan gently squeezes his hand again.
“It’s cold. Do you want to continue…?” He vaguely gestures in the direction of Minho’s apartment with the hand still holding his coffee cup.
“Right. Yes. Okay.”
Minho can’t keep the smile off of his face as they walk toward his apartment, maybe a little faster than they normally would have walked because of the cold. But soon enough, they’re throwing away their cups in the trash can that’s a few hundred feet away from the front doors to the building, and going inside. They don’t say anything as they ride the elevator up to the correct floor, but it still doesn’t feel awkward or stiff as silences tend to do. It’s like nothing has changed. Even if the way Chan hasn’t let go of his hand reminds him that everything is changing.
When the reach the door to Minho’s apartment, they can hear the sounds of someone inside - Jeongin is home. He was supposed to be spending the evening with Seungmin last that Minho knew. “We might have a guest for the rest of the … date,” Minho tells Chan with a small smile.
“That’s okay,” replies Chan as he shrugs his shoulders. “As long as I can still spend time with you.”
“Oh.” Minho fumbles with the door, trying to focus enough to keep himself calm so that he’s not blushing as they enter the apartment.
The look on Jeongin’s face when he stops dancing along to the song he’s got playing on the radio and looks at Minho tells him that he’s failing spectacularly. “You’re back,” Jeongin points out.
“Wow. Really? I had no idea. I thought we were still at the park.” Minho tries not to let a smile form on his face, even as Jeongin rolls his eyes at the sarcasm. He and Chan shrug out of their coats, finally letting go of one another in able to do so. They hang up their coats and Chan excuses himself to the kitchen to start the popcorn since he had already insisted earlier that if he was going to be there, he was going to help Minho with the snacks and not just sit around waiting for Minho to do everything. “We’re gonna binge some episodes of a drama we missed because of classes. Do you want to join us?”
Jeongin asks Minho a million and two questions with his eyes, questions that has Jeongin looking incredibly happy and smug all at once when Minho doesn’t respond. “Only if there’s candy involved,” he answers.
“Of course there’s candy involved,” Chan says as he returns to the room with the plastic sack of candies they had dropped off earlier that he hands to Jeongin. “What kind of binge marathon is complete without candy?”
Jeongin glances at Minho again, trying to judge whether or not he should actually join them. Minho doesn’t mind, thinks it might actually be good to have a buffer since they had not been able to actually talk much about the situation yet. Plus, if Chan is going to be in his life, Jeongin is part of the package. He had practically raised his brother, after all. “Sure, I’ll join. But if you two spend the whole night making heart eyes at one another, I’m out.”
“Innie!” Minho chastises him, while Chan just laughs - sounding a little startled but amused all the same.
“What?” Jeongin does his best to sound innocent and sweet in a way that Minho knows he isn’t. “I’m just saying what everyone’s noticed lately.” He shrugs and takes a seat on the floor in front of the couch, grabbing one of the pillows and the thin blanket that was bunched up in the corner in order to get comfortable. “So, what are we watching?”
Minho queues up the show as Chan goes back to the kitchen to grab the popcorn, only after a quick conversation about which one should since they both insisted until Chan just went to get it anyway. Jeongin makes some kind of comment about the show as he opens one of the candy packages and Minho sits on the couch - Minho’s too busy trying to center himself to really register just what it is that Jeongin is saying. Chan comes back with two bowls of popcorn, having split the bag between the two bowls, and hands one to Jeongin before he sits on the couch next to Minho. Once the show is started, Minho ends up resting against Chan’s side with his head on Chan’s shoulder. He’s hesitant about it at first, but when Chan takes a hold of his hand and links their fingers together, Minho relaxes completely.
It’s a few hours and half a season later that they decide to call it quits for the night. Jeongin stretches and groans as he stands up, still wrapped up in the blanket from earlier. “Chan, you might as well stay the night now,” he says with a glance to the clock. “We’re all supposed to be having breakfast in a few hours before Felix and Changbin’s flight.”
“Oh, right,” replies Chan. He nods his head, rubbing the back of his neck with one hand as he looks to Minho. Jeongin just smirks at his brother and disappears down the hall to his bedroom. “That’s … I mean, if you’re okay with-”
“Yeah. I mean,” Minho says, breaking off to clear his throat like he hadn’t just jumped in there with a quick response. “If you want to. It’s not like you haven’t stayed here before. You can borrow some clothes again, and, uhm, in the morning too.”
“Right, yeah. Okay.”
When they finish cleaning up the mess in the living room, they go back to Minho’s bedroom. Much like the previous time, they didn’t say much of anything as they changed into more comfortable clothes. Minho found an unused toothbrush in one of his drawers and offered it to Chan, who took it to the bathroom in order to brush his teeth and clean up a bit. When he was finished, they switched places and Minho got ready for bed while Chan folded his clothes neatly, placing them on Minho’s desk chair. When Minho returns to the room, Chan is laying in the bed, idly scrolling through his phone. He had already texted Woojin to let him know that he wasn’t coming home but would see him in the morning at the breakfast sendoff for Felix and Changbin. “I’m going to turn off the light, is that okay?” he asks. He mimics Chan’s nod and turns out the light before shutting the door to his room and making his way over to the bed.
There’s not a lot of light, just a little from the streetlight outside filtering in through the window though dulled by the curtains pulled closed. There’s some from the clock on the bedside table, but Minho has it facing the wall because it’s too bright to sleep with if it’s facing the bed. There’s giggling and apologizes as he knocks into Chan a few times in his attempt to crawl up the bed and lay down beside him. Once he’s laying there, though, he finds himself wrapped up in Chan’s arms again. This time, Chan’s lips brush against his forehead as he mumbles, “Is this okay?”
Minho’s voice catches in his throat and he attempts to nod, but it’s not really possible with the way Chan’s face is so close. So he clears his throat, instead. “Yeah, yeah, it’s okay.” Minho drapes his arm over Chan’s side, his fingers thoughtlessly twisting into the back of Chan’s shirt to hold onto it. There’s several minutes of silence between them, almost long enough for Chan to fall asleep before Minho speaks again. “I’m sorry this was a lame first date.”
“What?” Chan laughs, sounding as though he is not sure if he heard Minho correctly. “It wasn’t. It was great. We went ice skating and had a lot of fun, then there was coffee, and then we got to watch some TV together, and spend time with Innie. It was a good first date.”
“Is this weird now? Because of the date?”
“Does it feel weird to you?” Minho carefully shakes his head, not wanting to hit Chan in the face. “Then, there’s your answer.”
“Can I kiss you?”
The words are whispered so quietly that Chan isn’t sure he heard them at first, at least until he feels Minho trying to pull away at his lack of answer. Chan holds Minho closer and ducks his head down enough to gently kiss Minho - well, attempt to anyway as he can’t really make out Minho’s face in the dark. He knows the kiss is a little too off center, feels the corner of Minho’s lips underneath his own; but, he feels the way that Minho relaxes. It’s awkward, the way they both try to readjust enough to actually kiss one another in the dark of Minho’s bedroom, and by the time their lips finally meet, both of them are giggling and smiling. It’s not quite a kiss so much as it’s their mouths being pressed close as they laugh at one another, until suddenly it is and Minho is sighing through his nose as he pulls Chan even closer until there’s no space left between the two of them.
Chan’s the first one to break the kiss; but, even then he leaves a trail of feathered kisses in his wake along Minho’s cheek, jaw, lips, the bridge of his nose. It’s too much, but just enough all at the same time. Minho isn’t sure how to express that. He’s not sure he has to if the way that Chan keeps him held close is anything to judge by. “Good night, Minho.”
When Minho wakes up the next morning, he’s alone in his bed. The bed is still sort of warm next to him, though, leading him to realize Chan hasn’t been gone for too long. It’s as he starts to climb out of his bed that the door to his room opens and Chan comes in, drying his hair off with a towel. “Oh, hey,” Chan greets when he realizes Minho is sitting up. “I was just coming to wake you. Everyone should be here soon for breakfast.” Chan is wearing Minho’s clothes, and Minho in his sleep-dazed state struggles to focus on anything else but that fact. He nods slowly at Chan’s words, making Chan chuckle before he tosses the towel at Minho’s face. He whines in response and drops the towel aside with a glare. “You should probably get ready, Min.”
“Right,” he mumbles in response. “Right, yeah. Is anyone else here already?”
Minho isn’t surprised by this fact. Seungmin is over at the apartment a lot. He knows that Jeongin and Seungmin are close. He tries not to think about how close they’ve gotten over the years. He’s sure that Jeongin likes Seungmin, but as far as he’s aware, they’re not actually a thing. Still in a post-sleep daze, Minho gets up and gathers clothes to wear before shuffling down the hall to the bathroom so that he can get ready, grumbling under his breath about the fact he can hear Seungmin and Jeongin in the kitchen giggling about something. While he showers, Chan goes to the kitchen to help the younger two start to make breakfast for everyone. The boys, to their favor, don’t ask Chan the hundreds of questions they want to ask. Jeongin knows that Minho will tell him what exactly is going on with him and Chan later.
He tries to get a moment alone with Minho after Minho gets out of the shower, but Minho makes it impossible. Before Jeongin can ask any of the questions he’s dying to ask, the others start arriving and it is much too busy to try. He could call Minho out there in front of the others, but watching the shy smiles that Minho and Chan share with one another throughout breakfast while the others remain oblivious, he decides he doesn’t want to do that. Felix is practically vibrating with excitement as he talks about their travel plans. Their plane boards in a few hours, and they need to leave within the next hour and a half to give them time to get through security. There’s one layover on their flight. His parents are picking him and Changbin up from the airport. It’s been so long since he’s been home, he says he’s probably going to end up crying. Changbin is nervous. He’s never had a relationship where he’s met his significant other’s parents before - and this time he’s leaving the country to do so. It feels big and he’s nervous he’s going to make them hate him. Felix’s hand in his makes him relax and smile, though. “Bring back plenty of pictures!” Woojin insists between bites of eggs.
“Of course. And presents!” Felix insists with a nod of his head.
“You don’t have to get us presents,” says Minho, but his comment is unheard by everyone else’s loud tones and the sounds of everyone’s forks against their plates or cups being used. Though from the look on Felix’s face, Chan is sure Felix is just choosing to ignore it.
The rest of breakfast is filled with everyone’s Christmas plans. Woojin is staying in Seoul so Chan isn’t alone in their apartment. Seungmin and Jeongin talk about the party they’re planning - not necessarily celebrating Christmas but just to enjoy time with those that can make it. Hyunjin and Jisung both immediately agree to the party and jump in on helping to plan it while Felix insists he wants them to FaceTime him during the party. Woojin promises that they will.
All too soon, it’s time for Felix and Changbin to head to the airport. Woojin is taking them, so he says goodbye to everyone with a promise to bring dinner home to Chan as he leaves. Jisung is soon dragged out by Hyunjin with Hyunjin insisting that he needs to come see something. It’s almost eerily quiet in the apartment once it’s just Chan, Minho, Seungmin, and Jeongin again. The four of them start to clean up, talking about nothing important until everything’s picked up, and Seungmin has to leave. Chan follows soon after, though he’s hesitant to leave. Which Jeongin senses and he quietly heads back to his bedroom to give the two of them some space. “So, uh…” Chan says as he reaches up with one hand to rub the back of his neck. Minho bites his lower lip lightly, wringing his hands together in front of him. “I had fun last night.”
“Yeah. Me, too,” he agrees with a nod of his head. “We should … I-I mean … Would you like to …?”
“Go out with me again?” Chan finishes the question for Minho while dropping his hand to his side. Minho smiles and nods his head in response. “I’d like that a lot. I’ll call you later.” Chan quickly kisses Minho before he heads out of the apartment, leaving Minho standing there with a silly smile on his face.
Minho stands there for several long seconds, just smiling at nothing before he turns to head back to his bedroom. He only makes it a couple of steps before he’s stumbling over his feet as he comes to a stop because he realizes Jeongin is standing at the end of the hallway, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest and a smirk on his face that means absolutely no good. “Innie…” Minho doesn’t really know what to say to Jeongin, not entirely sure how much he had seen or overheard.
“So. Bang Chan, huh? He’s cute. I didn’t think he was your type,” teases Jeongin. His brother had only ever really had crushes on other dancers before. His biggest crush had been on Jinseok. He had fallen into the dancer category. Jeongin had never pictured Minho dating someone who wasn’t a dancer before. He likes Chan, though; but, most importantly, he likes the fact that Chan is the reason that Minho still has that soft smile on his face that Jeongin had not seen in a very long time.
“He’s not. Not really. But, I just… I don’t know. I like him.” Minho admits it with a small shrug, twisting the ring he wore on his right hand around his middle finger as he speaks. “I really like him, Innie.”
»»———— ♡ ————««
It’s snowing again outside, and the wind is bitter cold. It makes Minho glad that he and Chan are inside. They’re at a bookstore that he’s never been before. The lights are dim and there’s gentle music playing from somewhere. A fireplace crackles with life against the wall and warms a small seating area where he and Chan are occupying a couch as they drink their coffees and talk. There’s a small pile of books on the coffee table in front of them, ones that Minho is planning on buying. Chan has a couple of mangas that he has been looking for sitting on top of the books. Minho snaps a photo of Chan with his camera, leaning back over the arm of the couch to put some distance between them so the photo isn’t so up close. It turns out a little blurry due to both of them moving, but Chan’s smile is beautiful and Minho is already making plans to add the photo to his photography portfolio for his winter assignment. “Give me that,” Chan says, setting aside his coffee to grab the camera from Minho’s hands.
“No,” whines Minho, attempting to take the camera with one hand and shield his face with the other. “I’m not ready for photos. Chan!” Despite his whining and complaining, he’s trying hard not to laugh as they play fight over the camera.
Minho stops struggling when he hears Chan say, “You look beautiful.”
“Oh, shut up. That’s so ridiculously corny and bullshit.” Despite his words, Minho is grabbing Chan by the collar of his sweater and pulling him in close enough to kiss him - if someone were to ask, Minho would say that it most definitely was not to hide the way that he is blushing. He doesn’t pay much mind to the fact that they’re in public. It’s not the first time they’ve kissed in public since they started dating, and Minho hopes it won’t be the last. Especially with the way that Chan gently takes his face in his free hand and directs Minho to tilt his head just right so their lips are slotted together perfectly. For a few seconds, anyway, before Minho’s breaking the kiss and they’re both laughing because Minho has the camera back in his hands, having used the distraction to steal the camera back from Chan.
“Don’t delete them,” Chan insists as he scoots closer to Minho’s side, lowering his head to rest his chin on Minho’s shoulder while watching as Minho scrolls through some photos he’d accidentally taken in their struggle and while they were kissing. He had managed to get one that was very off center and you couldn’t really tell who they were; but it was cute and easy to tell they were kissing with the fireplace behind them. Chan wants a copy for himself.
“Okay.” Minho’s voice is soft and Chan almost doesn’t hear it, but he smiles and turns his head to press a kiss against Minho’s temple.
“We should probably get our books. I’ve got to head to work soon.” Chan had picked up a second job at a record store for the break, but he’s been thinking about keeping it versus the other job he had been working. It’s a lot more laid back and relaxed and he thinks that will help next semester with not getting so overwhelmed with everything again.
“If you have to,” sighs Minho, but then they’re getting up and gathering their things so they can go buy what they have picked out. Minho pays for Chan’s mangas as well, ignoring his protests the entire time.
They’re holding hands again, each one holding their own bag in the opposite hand, as they exit the bookstore and start to walk. There’s a bus stop a few blocks away that will be the best route for Chan to get to work from there. The fact that they don’t even have to talk about heading that direction is rather telling of how often they have made a similar walk from other dates in the area. Minho smiles, even if his coat is not enough to completely battle the cold and he’s almost wishing he had worn a different sweater. He’ll just grab a taxi to take back to his apartment once Chan is on the bus. They talk about the party that Jeongin and the others are planning to hold in a couple of days, and how it’s sad that winter break is quickly coming to an end. They’ve almost reached the bus stop - Minho can see it and the few people waiting for the next one to show up - when Minho stops walking because only a few steps away, Jinseok has stopped walking as well. He had stopped once he realized it was Minho and Chan walking there. “Hey, Minho,” he greets with a small smile.
Minho doesn’t realize how hard he’s squeezing Chan’s hand until Chan gently squeezes back. It makes Minho release a heavy breath and loosen his grip. “Jinseok.”
“It’s been a while.”
Minho wants to laugh. It’s been a few months since he’s heard from Jinseok. “Hey, my bus…” Chan speaks softly, gesturing to the stop where the bus can be seen pulling up. “Are you okay?” Minho nods and Chan smiles. It doesn’t quite reach his eyes and Minho almost refuses to let go of his hand, to insist Chan stay there with him, but he lets go because Chan has a shift to get to. They can talk later, which Chan promises to do before he quickly kisses Minho. He then rushes over to the bus, barely reaching it before the doors are shutting.
Minho puts his hands into his coat pockets, already missing the warmth of Chan next to him and Chan’s hand in his own. “How have you been, Minho?” questions Jinseok after a few moments of them just standing there looking at one another. Chan’s bus is gone, and Minho suddenly wishes that he went with Chan instead of staying there. “Do you want to grab a coffee or something? We can … We should talk, but it’s freezing out here.”
Minho sighs. He wants to say ‘no’ and to walk away, but it’s Jinseok. Jinseok who had been his best friend since they were kids. He owed him that much, at least. So, Minho nods but does not say anything as they walk to a coffee shop just down the street. He crosses his arms over his chest as they walk and keeps them crossed as they wait in line to order drinks. Jinseok looks at him a few times and smiles, but Minho’s eyes stay firmly on the board on the wall that states what there is to order. Minho orders his drink and doesn’t argue when Jinseok insists on paying for both of their orders. He just mumbles a thank you and walks over to one of the empty tables. Jinseok doesn’t join him until after both of their orders have been made. He places Minho’s in front of him before sitting down across from him at the table. “You never did answer how you’ve been,” Jinseok tells him.
Minho smiles a little and takes a drink of his coffee before shrugging as he says, “I’ve been fine, Jinseok. Finished the semester, been enjoying my break.”
“Yeah, I saw that.” He scoffs a little as he speaks. Then he picks up his cup and takes a drink of his coffee only to lower it with a sigh through his nose when he notices the way that Minho tenses even more across from him.
“What do you what, Jin? You’ve done nothing but avoid me since …”
“I’m sorry. I just- I needed to sort things out, Min. You just dumped that on me and I needed…” He trailed off with another sigh, and reached out to place a hand on top of Minho’s. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have d-” Minho quickly pulls his hand out from underneath Jinseok’s, looking out the window instead of at the way Jinseok frowns at the reaction. “I miss you.”
“Yeah. I miss you, too.” Minho isn’t going to lie. He does miss Jinseok, just not in the same way that he had at the start. He misses his best friend. Jinseok smiles at him and takes a hold of his hand again. “Would you stop that?” Minho pulls away again and crosses his arms over his stomach.
“Sorry, I’m sorry. I just- Mi-”
“Missed me, I know.”
“Yeah.” Neither one of them say anything for several seconds. Minho uncrosses his his arms to grab his coffee and take another drink. “I realized something.”
“Yeah? What is it?” Minho was fidgeting, toying with his coffee cup, twisting a napkin before setting it aside, fiddling with the bag with his books in them. He couldn’t seem to sit still or look directly at Jinseok.
“I love you.” Minho nearly knocks over his coffee and Jinseok smiles as Minho finally looks directly at him. “When you first told me, I didn’t really know what to say. You were my best friend, and I just never really thought about it. But then after you kissed me I couldn’t get it out of my head, or seeing you with Chan a while back. I-”
“You saw me with Chan before?”
Jinseok nods, trying not to pull a face at the thought. “You took him ice skating.” Minho bites his tongue to keep from stating that technically, Chan took him skating. “I think that’s when I started to realize.”
Minho just stares at Jinseok while listening to him talk, hearing him say things that he had wanted to hear Jinseok say. If Minho’s life was a drama, this would be the scene in which the male lead finally admits that he knew he had feelings all along, that he couldn’t live without the other, that he is in love. It’s the moment that Minho always wanted, the moment where he should be crying and happy, where he should be reaching across the table to pull Jinseok into a kiss. But all Minho really wants to do is to go see Chan.
He smiles, and Jinseok starts to reach over to grab Minho’s hand again but Minho is standing up and stepping away from the table before he can. The smile he gives Jinseok is tight, closed lipped and more polite than anything. “I’m sorry,” he says, but then he laughs a little and places his coffee down on top of the table. “Actually, I’m not. You were my best friend, Jinseok, and I loved you - I was in love with you. But, now I’m not. Maybe one day we can be friends again, and if we can’t then I’m going to mourn what was an amazing friendship when I needed it the most. But I’m with Chan. I’m happy with him. Why would I throw that away for someone who ignored me for months? For someone who only came to say how much he cares after I’ve moved on? That’s... “ Minho takes a breath and laughs with a shake of his head. That is his least favorite drama trope. “I got over you, and even if I hadn’t? I wouldn’t break up with someone just because you finally got your head out of your ass. You’re a shitty friend for coming to tell me this after you already knew I was seeing someone.”
“Good-bye, Jinseok.” Minho smiles politely again and thanks him for the coffee before grabbing his bag off of the table. He leaves the coffee shop in order to flag down a taxi outside. He gives the driver the address, and misses Jinseok exiting the coffee shop to come after him because he doesn’t look back. Instead, he focuses on his cell phone and texting Chan.
have you made it to work yet?
not yet. only a few stops more.
why? are you okay?
yeah, i’m fine
done talking with jinseok
oh? that was fast...
it’s okay, you know?
if you want to be with him instead
i get it
“Christopher Bang,” Minho says as he gets out of the taxi, seeing Chan frowning at his phone a short ways away from the door to the record store. It makes Chan quickly look up at him. He starts to say something, but it’s cut off by Minho kissing him. He smiles into the kiss when he hears Chan laugh and feels Chan wrapping both arms around his waist. He breaks the kiss by reaching up with the hand not holding his shopping bag to shove at Chan’s shoulder. Chan laughs as he asks what that was for and Minho huffs with a slight glare. “Did you really think I was going to get with hi-?” He makes a sound of complaint at the back of his throat as Chan cuts off his question with another kiss, but he kisses Chan back, anyway while grabbing the front of Chan’s coat to pull him closer.
“I don’t know. You could have,” Chan says when the kiss breaks again. He closes his eyes and rests his forehead against Minho’s while taking a deep breath before lifting his head again and smiling at Minho. “But, I’m really glad you didn’t.”
Minho smiles at Chan, mumbling at him to shut up while pulling him in enough to kiss him again. “I love you,” is the first thing Minho says when their lips separate again, making Chan still in his attempt to follow after.
Chan is just staring at him, and Minho almost wants to take it back as panic starts to grip his throat; but, then, Chan is smiling. “Oh, thank fuck,” he says, the words almost more air than actual voice which makes both of them laugh. “Because I’m kind of in love with you, Lee Minho.”
Minho swears he’s not crying as Chan leans in to kiss him again - he’s not that much of a cliche (except the fact that he is, but none of their friends are there to point it out or know about it later). They don’t quite get the chance to kiss one another because suddenly the door to the record store is opening and Chan’s manager, whose name is Youngjae, is leaning out the door and saying, “As touching as this little show is, Chan you’re late and you need to get your butt in here.”
They both laugh and smile at one another, and Minho steals another quick kiss from him. “Go,” Minho insists, carefully pushing Chan back toward the door of the shop so that he can head in for his shift. “Dinner later?”
Chan answers something, but Minho misses exactly what it is because of a car honking somewhere on the street. The smile on his face and the nod of his head is enough to let Minho know that he’s agreed. Minho is still smiling even as Youngjae is grabbing Chan by the collar and dragging him into the shop while saying, “Get in here, loverboy.”