It takes Seungyoun twelve hours to understand the gravity of the situation.
Hangyul kissed him.
And he kissed him back.
Now that he’s had some sleep and time to think over it, he realises that he shouldn’t have. In the light of day, Seungyoun’s actions make him feel uneasy, like there were questionable morals about the way last night unfolded. Not on Hangyul’s part, of course, but from his end; after all, he’s the only one who knows the gravity of what the kiss meant. Yes, not only did Hangyul consent to the kiss, he suggested it in the first place – but he did all that without knowing that Spiderman is not a distant and separate entity to Seungyoun. If he knew who was actually under the mask, he surely wouldn’t have even entertained the thought.
As Seungyoun lies in bed, staring blankly at his ceiling, he feels his stomach churn with guilt. He really shouldn’t have kissed Hangyul. He’s the older one, the one who should’ve known better. He should’ve reined in his emotions and approached the situation with a clear head. Instead, he acted selfishly and recklessly, uncaring as to what the implications of such a thing would mean.
It’s not like Hangyul even likes him that way. Or at least, he’s never indicated such feelings to him.
It is this thought that really hammers the last nail in. Yes, the kiss was wonderful, if a little awkward, and carried him into the new year on a wave of complete bliss… But it was a kiss that was ultimately meant for someone who isn’t him. Latching onto the event and what it could mean would be wrong. At the end of the day, there’s no way to move forward with this – what’s he meant to do? Juggle a life as Cho Seungyoun the weird, embarrassing hyung and Spiderman the vigilante boyfriend who never shows his face? He can hardly remain at a platonic distance from Hangyul when the mask is off and then snog him senseless when he’s donning the suit.
Besides, a voice in his head whispers, the you that really matters is the one he doesn’t want anyways.
A tear spills from the corner of his right eye. Sniffing, Seungyoun brushes it away impatiently, only for another one to take its place. And then another.
He rolls onto his side and prays his pillow soaks them all up.
After he cries for longer than he cares to admit, Seungyoun deals with his heartbreak the only way he knows how: by burying himself in music.
He holes up in his room for most of the day, either rotating through a collection of sad songs that despair about the pain of unrequited love or writing his own. His headphones have a permanent address on his head and the muscles in his back ache from how he hunches over his desk studio for hours on end. Cup ramen and energy drinks litter his desk alongside the glasses of water his mother brings up, voicing her worries about Seungyoun staying locked up all winter. He brushes it off by explaining that he’s just getting his assignments for university out of the way – which technically isn’t a lie. Now that he’s miserable, his drafts for his final Instrumental Composition assignment are out of this world.
Agony truly does make for the best artists.
To put it succinctly, Seungyoun avoids everyone. He sends a few messages on the group chat about how studying has claimed his arse so that no one’s suspicions arise when he goes radio silent, even when he replies to videos of Kookheon’s dog with only five hearts opposed to the usual twelve. He keeps his conversations with Wooseok during his patrols brief under the guise that he’s feeling tired recently. With everyone being in the same boat, it’s easy for his excuses to fly under the radar.
As for Spiderman?
Well, in a display he knows is, to put it lightly, worthy of a dickhead’s, he only returns to walk Dohyon home the one time once the younger returns from Japan and that’s just to let the brothers know that he won’t be back for a while. The excuse he offers is the recent corruption cases that have demanded the Avengers’ attention and though Dohyon nods understandingly (albeit after grumbling about how he’ll miss his favourite hyung), the look Hangyul shoots him suggests he doesn’t buy it in the slightest.
Seungyoun would be hard-pressed to call the encounter pleasant. Whenever Hangyul addresses him in the conversation – which isn’t much, for that matter – his tone is lukewarm at best. He seems to be reluctant to make his anger too blatant for fear of Dohyon catching on, but the fact that he refuses to even spare a glance in Seungyoun’s direction is about as obvious as a dancing neon sign that screams how they’ve fallen out to the world. The walk home is tense and awkward, seeming to last for eons where once Seungyoun felt like they couldn’t stretch on for long enough. Part of him thinks he should just ramble off an excuse and fly off into the night, but Dohyon’s persistent attempts to lighten the mood keep him rooted. He even brought up sports.
So Seungyoun stays with them until their house looms before the trio. He can’t help but stare at the building. As though his eyes can pierce through the brick and mortar through to the spindly tree on the other side where this mess began. As if reading his mind, Hangyul’s face snaps in his direction, expression as foreboding as the cold that nips at his exposed cheeks. For a moment, all he does is study Seungyoun wordlessly.
Helpless, he can only stare back.
“We should go inside,” Hangyul mutters after a moment. He nudges Dohyon as he starts to turn for the door before biting out over his shoulder, “I guess we’ll see you round eventually.”
Though he knows he deserves it, that doesn’t stop the note of hurt that Seungyoun feels at the spite in his farewell. He doesn’t blame Hangyul for receiving him so coldly – after all, as far as he’s aware, Seungyoun kissed him one night and then flat-out avoided him for the next week. Of course, he’s pissed off.
Still, the hard set of his jaw when he turns away stays in Seungyoun’s memory for days afterwards.
Having resolved to avoid everyone in the supposed name of exams, Seungyoun doesn’t particularly expect anyone to drop by his home without a heads-up and thus dresses to impress only his reflection. Which, in his current state, counts anything unstained as the pinnacle of fashion so the bar’s not set too high.
Realistically, the only people who would turn up without warning are Wooseok and Byungchan. If his Snapchat story indicates anything, the latter is spending the day at Lotte World which is why, when his mum yells up the stairs that his friend is at the door and he yells back that she should just send him up, Seungyoun is fully prepared for Wooseok’s pouting face to enter the doorway. He doesn’t even bother to change out of his pyjamas into something presentable.
It’s not Wooseok.
“So you are alive,” says Hangyul, pushing open the door. His eyes are sweeping across the room when Seungyoun shoots up at the sound of his voice, so he misses the way he gapes at him. “Your room’s cool, by the way. Looks a bit like a café with all these decorations.”
“What are you doing here?” blurts Seungyoun. When he receives a raised eyebrow, he hastily amends, “I mean, how did you get my address? I mean – you know what I mean. My brain is fried and this – this visit is a bit unexpected. Sorry.”
Hangyul cracks a smile. It’s so different from the last time Seungyoun saw him although still not quite as bright as it used to be. Regardless, Seungyoun latches onto its warmth with more fervency than is good for his health.
“Wooseok hyung gave it to me,” he says. “Said I should make sure you haven’t died in the middle of composing a song.”
“Not quite,” Seungyoun jokes weakly.
Inside his head, he curses the day he met Wooseok. Always an inconvenience at the most inopportune times, that one. Even when he doesn’t intend to be, he’s the Woosatan that plagues his life. And Seungyoun is always the one to suffer for it.
Hangyul hesitates on the threshold to Seungyoun’s room, shoes edging the hinge of the door. “Can I come in?” he asks tentatively.
He starts. “Oh! Oh, of course, did I not invite you in already? Sorry, I’m so used to the others just barging in here whenever they like, I forget that some people have manners.” He slides out from underneath his duvet and shoves his feet into a pair of fluffy slippers. “Actually, tell you what. I’ll take you to my super-secret spot since it’s your first time here.”
Drifting over to him, Hangyul snorts, “Is that meant to be a pick-up line?”
It’s a joke, but Seungyoun immediately splutters a denial and flushes a colour he hasn’t succumbed to in a while. He garners an odd look for it in return before Hangyul reassures him that he’s just teasing.
“I knew that,” Seungyoun mutters petulantly. Turning away in embarrassment, he moves with purpose to his window and pulls it up, a cold blast of frigid winter air smacking them across the face. “C’mon, little Gyul-ie. Make sure you grab some of my blankets, it’s a bit nippy outside.”
“You don’t say.”
It turns out that Seungyoun’s super-secret spot is just the bit of the rooftop he can access from his bedroom. He’s used the hideout ever since he was a kid who was plucky enough to brave climbing out of his window despite the risk of breaking his neck on the pavement below; even now, he’s meticulously cleaned the snow off so that he can sit out here in winter. The two of them squeeze onto the dry spot, the sole blanket Hangyul grabbed wrapped around their shoulders.
“This is a nice super-secret spot,” Hangyul tells him, head tipped back to look at Seoul’s afternoon sky. It’s the palest shade of blue they’ve seen in a while, almost white at the edges. He lets out a low whistle. “God, that’s a view.”
Seungyoun tries not to be cliché in the way he gazes at his profile, but he fails and murmurs, “Yeah. It really is.”
“I don’t blame you for becoming a hermit if this is where you hang out.”
“As if,” he snorts, dragging his eyes back forward before Hangyul notices him staring. He looks down at the street of his neighbourhood, empty at this time of day due to the biting chill. Everyone’s inside cosied up next to the fire, leaving the streets bare of life. “I’ve just been sat at my desk studying or making music. Been making a lot of that recently, actually. You could say I’ve been inspired by recent events.”
He can practically taste Hangyul’s curiosity on what he means by that, but the younger doesn’t voice the question on his tongue. He’s glad for it, not sure what he would’ve replied with or why he even said it in the first place.
Instead, Hangyul switches the conversation to explaining the plot of an American drama he’s started watching recently. As always, he really gets into it, hands gesturing under the blanket, eyes bright as he passionately denounces the protagonist for double-crossing his best friend for his own goals. Seungyoun listens, attentive, swept up by the way Hangyul loses himself in his interests for the hundredth time. A soft smile plays on his lips as he absorbs Hangyul’s words. He feels so damn fond just sitting next to the younger boy.
It should be surprising how easy it is to talk to him considering what recently happened, but it’s not. Talking to Hangyul has become as easy as breathing since their not-date; with the other boy unaware of the kiss’ true recipient, it’s still the same on his end. Guilt should probably eat away at him in light of that, but Seungyoun’s too selfish to let it grip him just yet. He simply enjoys the moment while it lasts.
He laughs when Hangyul cracks wisecrack after wisecrack. He responds to his teases with his own jibes, poking into the other boy’s side to reprimand him. He offers advice when Hangyul confesses his worries about his upcoming recital, the wrinkle of his frown marring the handsome landscape of his face. He lets Hangyul shuffle closer to him when a particularly cold gust of wind sends a shiver through him like a ripple in a pond.
Because at the end of the day, Seungyoun is still half in love with this boy. He might be heartbroken, and he might hate himself for it later, but in the moment, all he cares about is savouring the seconds with Hangyul where Seungyoun’s not doing anything other than enjoying his company. Seconds he can commit to memory without feeling like he’s betrayed Hangyul’s trust.
“Fucking hell, it’s cold,” Hangyul grumbles after they’ve spent close to an hour on the rooftop. “Why does your super-secret spot not come with a fireplace?”
“Sorry, I should’ve asked for the builders to install it when they made the house,” Seungyoun deadpans. He nudges Hangyul by the shoulder to get up. “Let’s go inside if you’re feeling cold. I can make hot chocolate and we’ll watch a movie downstairs or something.”
“You had me at you making me something,” Hangyul says. He pushes himself to his feet with a groan, stretching his arms up high. “Ugh, I’ve got pins and needles in my legs. And I’ve literally lost all feeling in my toes. Yah hyung, your super-secret hiding spot has just cost your dongsaeng his toes, what are you going to do now?”
Seungyoun doesn’t get to tell him what he’s planning on doing now.
Because when Hangyul turns around to pretend to square up to him, he slips on a patch of ice that’s stubbornly clung onto the tiles despite his efforts to sweep it away and topples backwards off the roof with a yelp.
Seungyoun screams his name.
His hand flings out and a streak of white shoots out from his wrist. Frantic with his heart hammering in his chest, Seungyoun scrambles to the edge of the roof and peers over the edge, already fearing the worst. Speechless, Hangyul meets his gaze from where he hangs suspended in the air inches from the ground. His eyes are as wide as saucers.
“Oh God,” Seungyoun gasps. The tiles are freezing against his cheek when he sinks against them in relief. “Oh, you’re not dead. Thank God. You’re okay. You’re okay.”
He jumps down to a crouch beside Hangyul, the smack of his slippers muffled by the remnants of the snow in his driveway. Hand wrapping around the web secured to Hangyul’s torso, he tears it clear from his hoodie and tosses it to the side. He brushes away the stray strands anxiously.
“You’re not hurt, are you?” he asks, scanning Hangyul as if he’ll be able to tell through his clothing. “I mean, you might get some bruising, but I think you should be okay. No broken bones or anything though? Anything feel out of place?”
Hangyul doesn’t say anything. Just stares at him, dumbfounded.
It is then that Seungyoun realises what he’s just done.
He reels back so quickly it’s a wonder he doesn’t get whiplash. “I should go,” he squeaks, and then tucks tail and literally runs into his house as fast as he can. He slams the door shut behind him.
Shit, shit, shitty shitfuck. He’s fucked up. He’s well and truly fucked up. There’s no coming back from this – it’s official, he might as well leave Seoul forever. São Paolo here he comes. It’s been a few years and his Portuguese is rusty, but he’ll get by there, he’s sure of it. Anything to avoid the reckoning that’s sure to come once Hangyul gets over his shock and realises who he’s been spending all his evenings with for the past couple of months.
Kind of like he is now.
Snow crunches against the gravel of his driveway as Hangyul storms up to the house. His fist hammers on the other side of the door in a furious tempo.
“Seungyoun hyung, open the door!” he barks. When he makes no move to, he says, “I’m being serious, open the door!”
Oh God. His heart’s actually going to give out. He’s not ready for this confrontation, didn’t have enough time to prepare for the possibility that Hangyul might ever find out the truth.
Seungyoun screws his eyes shut in panic. “Go away!” he calls back. He feels like a three year old when crying such things, but he can’t face Hangyul yet. Or ever, for that matter. He just can’t. “Go home, Hangyul!”
“I’m not going anywhere, hyung. So you can open the door now or in seven hours for all I care. I’ll just stay out here yelling your name until you do.”
As if possessed by Wooseok’s spirit – and in quite possibly the worst moment he could’ve chosen for demonic inhabitation – Seungyoun scoffs, “You’re really going to spend all that time here? Do you not have a life to get to?”
“Just open the damn door.”
“Go away, Hangyul!”
“CHO SEUNGYOUN, OPEN THE DOOR.”
That does it.
“Fine!” Seungyoun cries, whipping around and tearing the front door open to reveal Hangyul on the other side, hand still curled into a fist in mid-air. He hisses, “Fine, I’ll open the door. There! It’s open. Now you can shout at me for fucking deceiving you all this time and not telling you who I really am. You can smack me across the face if you’d like or – or, punch me if that makes you feel better. I know, I get it, I understand, and I don’t blame you if you want to do that. I get it, you must think I’m a fucking creep who stalks you in his spare time, but I promise that’s not what I was doing.
“I genuinely just wanted to walk Dohyonnie home from cram school – I mean, I didn’t even know he was your brother when I first made the offer and I couldn’t just back out and leave him by himself when I did find out, that’s not who I am, but that doesn’t mean I meant for it to snowball into the rest of this. You might not believe me when I say this and I don’t blame you if you don’t, I clearly haven’t given you many reasons to trust me – but, but I’m sorry, Hangyul. I honestly am.”
His speech comes to a screeching halt. His chest heaves from running his mouth for so long without taking a breath and he sucks in a much-needed gasp of air. Hangyul watches him, unimpressed.
“Are you done?” he says flatly.
It’s a rhetorical question, but Seungyoun nods anyway. “Sorry,” he repeats. “I just… I’m so sorry for all of this. I know you must be freaked out. And I don’t blame you for it, but I promise I didn’t mean for this to happen. It just kind of… did.” He trails off with a wince.
God, that sounds beyond pathetic.
But it’s the only explanation he can offer.
None of this occurred with malicious intentions on his part and he really isn’t sure how it ended up coming to this point. This was never part of the plan. For months now, he’s been content to pine from the side, never making a move or attempting to seduce Hangyul into doing it for him. He put all suggestions to do that out of his mind, willing to just enjoy his company as a friend in both forms.
And then the kiss happened.
And now they’re here.
A line appears in the middle of Hangyul’s brow as his eyebrows pinch together. Seemingly deep in thought, he glances away to the side before he comes to a conclusion, draws himself together and says softly, “Hyung, I already knew it was you.”
What the fuck.
He blinks. “What? You what?”
“I didn’t at first,” he admits. He seems hesitant to meet Seungyoun’s eyes, instead watching his own fingers as he wraps them around the doorframe. “Like when we had that whole conversation about – about Spiderman’s arse and stuff, I didn’t know. Although it puts a lot of that day into perspective in hindsight, to be honest. But yeah, I had my doubts early on and I knew for certain by the time I spilled the Fanta on you. I just didn’t say anything because I figured you were keeping it secret for a reason.”
“I – ” Seungyoun’s mouth has forgotten how to work. He opens and closes it several times before finally spluttering, “How the fuck did you even guess that I’m – that it was me?”
This, Hangyul seems to find funny. He glances up at him in amusement, a wry grin curling the edge of his mouth.
“You’re not very subtle, hyung,” he tells him. “You kept slipping up with details here and there.”
“What? No, I didn’t. I am the King of Subtlety, I’ll have you know. A subtlety connoisseur some might say.”
“Hyung. You literally spoke Portuguese to me both in the suit and out of it. How many people in Seoul of all places speak Portuguese?”
“You thought it was Spanish!” he shoots back indignantly.
Hangyul bats off the retort with a shrug. “Does it matter? The point still stands. You kept messing up and it just confirmed my suspicions that you were Spiderman. Like you kept asking me stuff about Dohyon that I’d only told Spiderman or talking about things that I’d only told Seungyoun hyung. You referred to Byungchan as Byungchannie about half a dozen times whenever we spoke about him, like you knew him or something. You once – “
“Okay, I get it,” he interrupts weakly. “I’m a lot worse at this double identity thing than I thought.”
“You’re terrible at it,” he says with the utmost sincerity.
Seungyoun frowns. “Thanks.”
Okay. So Hangyul has known about the true identity of Spiderman for most of the time that he’s been meeting up with the alter-ego. Out of respect for the secrecy, he chose to remain silent about his knowledge of the matter until Seungyoun accidentally slipped up around him in a way that even he couldn’t ignore. Okay. That’s not what he expected to find out today, but it’s okay.
If he knew who Spiderman really was this whole time, then that means that…
As if knowing exactly where his thoughts have lead him, Hangyul nods and mutters, “Yeah. I knew who I was kissing on New Year’s Eve. I knew it was you, hyung.”
If Seungyoun thought accidentally revealing himself was a shock to the system, this revelation just about makes his brain explode. There’s absolutely no way that Hangyul could’ve willingly kissed him knowing he was Seungyoun – but then again, that’s the only explanation that works. Unless he was somehow being mind-controlled into snogging him for whatever reason. And though not that’s not beyond the realms of possibility in this world, he has a hard time trying to figure out what kind of sick freak would waste their time getting a kick out of that shit.
“Y- You – I… what?” Seungyoun stammers, incredibly eloquent as per usual. His jaw drops, completely slack. “I – that doesn’t make any sense.”
Hangyul looks like he’s physically holding himself back from succumbing to the biggest eye-roll in history. He heaves a sigh. “Look, hyung, if we’re going to have this conversation, can we at least have it somewhere where I’m not freezing to death? Didn’t you say you were going to make me a hot chocolate earlier? I’d like to cash in on that offer before hypothermia kills me off.”
How can he think about hot chocolate at a time like this? Seungyoun’s torn between shaking the boy’s shoulders in exasperation and continuing to melt into an incomprehensible puddle.
He settles for nodding mutely and stepping aside in invitation. Hangyul’s shoulders slump in relief with a murmur of thanks and he brushes past him without hesitation, diving into the nearest room. It happens to be the living room, thankfully unoccupied by Seungyoun’s mother so they can continue their conversation freely.
When Seungyoun enters, Hangyul is crouched beside the fireplace, hands closer than they should be to the grill. He looks up at Seungyoun and seems to steel himself for the conversation ahead.
“Okay,” he says. “You can ask me whatever questions you want now.”
Seungyoun’s not even sure what the questions he wants to ask are. His brain is still struggling to process what’s happened. “You kissed me,” is what he settles for.
Hangyul nods. “I did. You kissed me back.”
“And then ignored me.”
Seungyoun winces. “Yes. I can…explain that.” A sudden thought occurs to him. “Wait, but if you knew it was me, then how come – I mean, you were pissed off with me the last time we saw each other at the cram school, and I was in my suit. Understandably, of course. But then you came here today and were completely normal. How come you’re not – “
“Not ripping you a new one for treating me like a dickhead?” he suggests. When Seungyoun winces, he explains, “Not going to lie, if I had run into you a few days ago, I probably would’ve. What you did to me really hurt, hyung. But then Wooseok hyung mentioned that you seemed off to him recently and I realised that you were probably taking this a lot harder than I thought. That maybe you weren’t just being a jackass for no reason and there was something more to it. So I figured I’d come here and see what was up with you. And of course, once I did come here, I couldn’t even stay mad at you properly. Just being next to you made it fade away.”
He trails off, looking pensive.
When he speaks again, his voice is quiet. “You’re so confusing, hyung. I thought you – it seemed obvious that… Look, the way you act around me sometimes made me think that I had a chance. But when I gave you the opening, you threw it back in my face the next day. And like an idiot, I can’t even hold it against you. Even now, I can’t even stay mad properly. I just… I can’t.”
His words cause Seungyoun’s stomach to seize with a fresh wave of guilt. All this time, he’s been so caught up in how he feels about the situation that he didn’t fully grasp how hurtful his actions were. Even if it was the case that Hangyul only likes Seungyoun when he’s Spiderman, that still doesn’t give him the right to just disregard his feelings and blow him off without an explanation.
“I’m sorry,” he says. The apology gets caught in his throat with all his shame and regret, escaping him in a choked whisper.
Hangyul looks at him, oddly wistful. “Yeah,” he says heavily. “Me too.”
“I thought – “ Seungyoun starts.
He cuts himself off with a bite of his lip, not wanting to dive headfirst into his explanation without properly thinking his words through. Not when he’s already messed up so much. After a moment’s thought, he moves so he’s sat down directly next to Hangyul, looking at him eye-to-eye rather than down at him from across the room. When he speaks, his words are slow with consideration but sincere.
“I’m not trying to excuse what I did, but I can give you an explanation,” he says. “And you might not agree with it or like what I say, but it’s the reasoning I had. That sounds more arrogant than I intended and I’m sorry for that, but I want to speak truthfully with you. Even if it comes across a little frank.”
“Okay,” Seungyoun echoes. He exhales a long puff of air. “Okay. Look, I’ve fancied you since pretty much the first time I laid eyes on you. You probably already know this considering what I said in the library – please don’t remind me of it, it makes me cringe whenever I think of how embarrassing I am – but I’ve liked you for months now. Not just because I think you’re really attractive, even though you’re honestly one of the best looking people I’ve seen in my life, but because – because I like who you are as a person too.
“I like how you tease Dohyon like it’s your day job, but also hype up everything he does like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I like how passionate you get about whatever you’re talking about and how you love dance and how you can hold your own in everything you say or do. I like how we can talk about absolutely shit all for hours and I’ll still have a fun time. And I really, really like being able to know all of these things.”
As he reels off his list, Hangyul steadily turns pinker under the constant shower of compliments. He fidgets, looking off to the side.
“You say all that,” he says, “but that doesn’t explain why you blew me off. Especially after telling me you liked me that night.”
“Because I thought my feelings were one-sided,” Seungyoun replies. “I’ve liked you for months, embarrassed myself in front of you like mad for most of them, but you never seemed to be into me the same way.”
At that, Hangyul snaps his head back, quick and fierce. “That’s not true!” he protests. “I’ve been plenty obvious about liking you. I literally asked you out on a date!”
“You asked out Spiderman, not me. You were interested in Spiderman, not me,” he says gently. “Not Seungyoun.”
“You are Spiderman,” Hangyul says. “It’s not like I practically fell in love with one but not the other. All the traits that I like in Spiderman are the same ones I like in the Seungyoun hyung that’s my friend. It’s the whole reason I even suspected that you guys were the same person in the first place. I thought I was going mad at first, trying to force the two of you into one person, but I know you, hyung. I know how you act, how you speak, how you move. How could I not realise you’re Spiderman?”
It’s a sweet statement, but Seungyoun’s stuck on one sentence and one sentence only.
“You’re in love with me?” he breathes.
Hangyul freezes in the middle of his passionate speech. The blush bounces back into his cheeks like an elastic band that’s just been released.
“I thought you’d realised,” he says, avoiding the starry expression on Seungyoun’s face. “Byungchan always made out like I was so obvious about it. Said I had constant heart eyes around you. It’s why he kept bringing up Spiderman, to see if you’d react or get jealous.”
“I’ve never seen these supposed heart eyes before?”
“Hyung. I’ve literally checked you out while you were shirtless. So you’re either blind or about as observant as a brick wall.”
“You have never – oh.”
Seungyoun stops short, remembering the Fanta incident. The dazed look as Hangyul gaped at Seungyoun’s torso, the odd flush in his neck, the strangled squeak of his voice. He thought Hangyul was coming down with something; he never even entertained the thought that he might’ve been checking him out.
“I thought you were judging me for my tattoos.”
“Trust me, I was doing anything but judging you that day.”
He’s not sure how to react to that, though his cheeks decide an appropriate response is to visibly warm. Something in his chest croons with pride at the revelation.
Clearing his throat, Seungyoun returns to his previous point. “Well, I didn’t realise you liked me. I thought it was just Spiderman you fell for. At first, I thought I’d be okay with it because just being your friend was enough for me. But then we kissed, and I enjoyed it, but it was irresponsible of me to have done it in the first place. I mean, it’s not like I could kiss you as Spiderman but pretend like you weren’t anything to me when I was Seungyoun. I realised there wasn’t a way it would work moving forward which is why I avoided you afterwards.
“I’m not saying it was right or that I wasn’t a dickhead with the way I went about it, but that’s why I did what I did. It was selfish, I know, and I really am sorry that I hurt you with my actions. I’ll understand if you don’t think it was a good enough reason to, I just – “
“Stop,” Hangyul interrupts.
Seungyoun does so. “Um. Why?”
“You already know I’ve forgiven you.”
“I… I do?”
He sighs, “Yeah. I told you before that I can’t stay mad at you when I’m with you. Two minutes in the same room as you and I’ve already stopped being angry. And you look so sad and pitiful that I can’t help but forgive you. Especially because the way you talk makes me think that you think that you’re not as good as ‘Spiderman’ which is stupid because you are Spiderman so you’re only comparing yourself to yourself. Like, it’s not like I fell for Spiderman and then transferred those feelings to you when I realised you were him; I fell for you as a whole.” He looks Seungyoun dead in the eye, adding fiercely, “Spiderman’s just a suit, you know? The person you are when wearing the mask is still you. You don’t magically get a new personality with the costume. Stop thinking there’s a difference.”
Seungyoun doesn’t even know what to say anymore. He offers a tentative “okay” to appease Hangyul and receives an acknowledging nod for it.
Honestly, he’s a little exhausted from the constant twist of events. First, Hangyul sprung a surprise visit on him out of the blue. Then he gave Seungyoun the fright of his life when he fell off his roof, only to be stopped by Seungyoun’s enhanced reflexes. Then he dropped the truth bomb on him when he admitted to knowing Spiderman’s true identity all along and kissing him despite that – no, not just “despite it” but because of it, even. Now he’s found out that Hangyul has liked him for weeks now, dating back to at least as early as the Fanta incident, and not just because he’s Spiderman. But because he’s Cho Seungyoun. Sleep-deprived Musical Composition student and resident crackhead.
It’d be a lie to say that Seungyoun magically stops feeling like there’s a divide between his two personas with these revelations, that he no longer feels inferior to his superhero persona. That sort of insecurity doesn’t just disappear overnight, especially when it’s been built up over months. But his words do help.
“Thank you,” Seungyoun says after a moment. “That actually means a lot.”
Hangyul offers him a small smile. “I’m glad. I really hope you start to believe it, hyung. You deserve to see yourself the way the rest of us do.”
He hopes he does too.
“I hope it’s flattering,” Seungyoun jokes, aiming to lighten the atmosphere after the solemnness of their heart-to-heart. He leans back on his hands and pulls on a cocky grin. “It’s nothing less than I deserve, after all. Don’t you think?”
Hangyul responds with a shove to his chest. “Think again,” he scoffs over Seungyoun’s shriek as he topples to the ground. He muses, “You know for someone who has super-strength and enhanced reflexes, you are always caught off-guard.”
“It’s to even the playing field,” Seungyoun bluffs.
“Even the playing field? That’s really rich coming from the one who kept using his superpowers during our snowball fight.”
He shoves himself up onto his forearms, hissing, “That was different. That was war.”
“You’re a dork,” Hangyul informs him before placing his hands on Seungyoun’s shoulders and kissing him.
He collapses to the floor.
Needless to say, it’s embarrassing. He’s embarrassing. By this point, he should probably be used to it, but it’s like Seungyoun is determined to outdo himself every time. He doesn’t even bother to move, just lays on the ground and wishes that a sudden hole would materialise just to swallow him into the pits of the earth so he can escape the way Hangyul looms over him, equipped with a flat stare.
Half-helpless, half-defensive, Seungyoun says, “You caught me off-guard,” in answer to the unspoken ‘seriously, hyung?’ in Hangyul’s expression. “It came out of nowhere.”
“You’re right, I should’ve given a heads-up,” says Hangyul, only half-joking. He adjusts so that he’s lying parallel to Seungyoun, one calf strewn over his leg so he can hover over him. His hand comes up to cup Seungyoun’s face, his touch as light as a feather. “I’m going to kiss you now if that’s alright.”
His throat suddenly feels very dry. “Yeah, that’s alright,” he says faintly.
Kissing right-side up is much better than kissing someone when hanging upside down from a tree. It’s still soft and warm, but there’s also a sense of solidness, of being in the here and now. When there’s a body that’s pressing down on him, fingers splayed across his cheek, Hangyul’s chest against his as he moves to deepen the kiss. It feels less like a fairy tale dream this way and so much more real. Seungyoun’s hands move of their own volition to circle around Hangyul’s back as the seam of his mouth comes undone beneath him. He pulls him down, pulls him closer, relishing in the way the other is half-draped over his body, pinning him to the carpet.
Because Hangyul is here and he’s real. He’s not just some shadow of imagination cooked up in the hot white flashes of a crush. He’s not a caricature of the boy that Seungyoun has latched onto in his infatuation. He’s here in his entirety, kissing Seungyoun on his living room floor because he’s half in love with him.
When they pull apart, Seungyoun can count every lash that frames Hangyul’s eyes. Eyes that crinkle at the edges with soft joy as he looks down at him. Seungyoun feels his cheeks bunch up as he answers with his own exhilarated smile.
“You know my mum could walk in at any moment,” he says conversationally.
Hangyul reels back from him from him so quickly it’s a wonder he doesn’t snap his neck in the process. “Don’t say things like that!”
“What? It’s true, she could. She’s home, you know.”
“Still,” he insists. “I want to make a good impression on her. Not be the kind of guy she walks in on making out with her son the first day she’s met me.”
Seungyoun sits up, still grinning. “Aw, that’s cute. You care about impressing my mum.”
“Well, if I’m dating her son, then why wouldn’t I?”
Dating. The word sends a spark of excitement through his body all the way down to the tips of his toes. He feels the elation taking hold of him by the second. On the outside, though, he chooses to tease, “Who said we’re dating?”
For a moment, there’s a shadow of fear stamped across his features, but then he catches Seungyoun’s gaze – must see the jest that glimmers there, or the rosy smitten hue of how he truly feels – and responds with a light smack to Seungyoun’s thigh. He pretends to turn his back on him in indignation.
“Well, if you’re going to act like that, I don’t see why I should date you.”
Laughing, Seungyoun moves forward so he can drape himself over his back, arms wrapping around his waist and cheek pressed against Hangyul’s. “Don’t be like that,” he chides. “We didn’t go through all this pain just to back out now. We can date all you want.”
“You mean all you want,” he scoffs, even as he places his hands on top of Seungyoun’s and guides them to sit on his midsection. Their fingers rest on his torso, still interlocked. “You’re the one who likes my face so much.”
“I thought we agreed never to bring that up.”
“I am literally never going to let you forget it,” Hangyul promises. After a moment, he adds, “Although I can be persuaded to keep quiet if someone buys me lots and lots of lamb skewers. Out of the kindness of their heart, knowing that I am a student with about 3000 won to my name who has recently had his heart broken and could sure use the pick-me-up.”
“I mean, I’m also a broke student – “
“What’s that? You think my face is – “
“ – but I guess we have a deal,” Seungyoun finishes hurriedly. He presses a fond smile into Hangyul’s hair. “It’s a date.”
“I knew it,” Byungchan crows, standing on top of the table in the SU when he spots Seungyoun and Hangyul walk in together hand-in-hand. “I knew it! I knew that you two would get together. Call me Raven Baxter everyone because Choi Byungchan is officially a psychic.”
Wooseok rolls his eyes. “Everyone knew it, idiot. We all saw it coming from a mile away.”
“Well, I knew it first. After all, I am the mastermind behind HASHTAG OPERATION OTP SEUNGYUL FOR LIFE and I’m the one who brought them together.”
“You did nothing.”
“Literally name one thing you did that got them together – “
Seungwoo sighs, warily tracking the tread of Byungchan’s feet on the table. He pulls his chips close to his chest. “Byungchannie, please get off the table. People are eating here.”
“Yeah, you tramp,” Wooseok adds, eager as ever to throw fuel onto the fire. “People eat off this table.”
“You’re just jealous because I’m, like, five feet taller than you now,” Byungchan says.
Staring him dead in the eye with an eerily blank face, Wooseok jabs the blunt end of a pencil into Byungchan’s exposed ankle. He shrieks, leaping back from the assault. Of course, since he’s standing on the table of a six seater booth, this just means that he ends up standing on Kookheon’s arm and crashing down into the crack between the table and the booth, long legs splayed awkwardly in the air. Kookheon screams, a wayward limb knocks into Seungwoo’s chips which sends them flying into every direction, and Wooseok bursts into a round of laughter so fierce that he nearly dry-heaves.
Seungyoun and Hangyul arrive at the booth just in time to see the madness unfold first-hand.
“What the fuck did I just see?” Hangyul asks blankly.
“Byungchan’s very excited,” Jinhyuk replies in a calm manner that only someone who’s known Byungchan since they were toddlers can carry around him. He pushes his chips across to Seungwoo who has not moved an inch since he lost his food, either in shock or simply resigned to his fate. “Wooseok is Wooseok. The usual really.”
The two watch Wooseok record Kookheon frantically try to shove Byungchan’s limbs to where they need to be. He hasn’t once stopped laughing. The man’s literally gone hysterical.
“Sometimes… I regret befriending the gang gang,” Hangyul says after a moment.
Seungwoo sighs. “Me too, Hangyul,” he says, pained. He mechanically places a sole chip into his mouth, looking as though it tastes like ash on his tongue. “Me too.”
Since it doesn’t look as if Byungchan and Kookheon are going to be done anytime soon, Seungyoun opts to slide into the booth beside Jinhyuk. The other shuffles up to Wooseok to make room, arm draping over his shoulder, and then Seungyoun pulls Hangyul in beside him, the two of them squeezing into the space for one. It takes some manoeuvring, but once they’ve settled, they share a soft, private smile and Hangyul squeezes his hand.
Seungwoo coos from the other side. “Aw, you two are sweet,” he says, a teasing lilt to his compliment. “Seungyounnie’s in love.”
He doesn’t even bother with a snarky rebuttal. Rising to such taunts is below him now that Seungyoun is well and truly in the honeymoon stage. Clearly, the same sentiments are not shared by his best friend because Wooseok somehow manages to simultaneously insult Seungwoo for being “old and alone” while also claiming that Seungyoun and Hangyul are sickening (albeit while defending that they’re within their rights to be as a fresh couple).
“I mean,” he adds with a shrug that tells Seungyoun he’s about to drop some hot goss about him, “if I had to suffer through months of him mooning over Hangyul and whining about how he’ll never be good enough for him, this is nothing. At least he’s happy now.”
Sighing in resignation, Seungyoun closes his eyes. “Thanks for that,” he says. Way to make him look suave in front of his man.
“Anytime,” he simpers.
“Wait, is this why you were so mean to Hangyul for a while?” Kookheon asks Wooseok as he shoves the last bit of Byungchan’s leg underneath the table. He sinks against the back of the booth, exhausted. “I was wondering what he’d done to piss you off.”
Hangyul gasps. “I knew I wasn’t just imagining it!”
“I wasn’t mean to him,” Wooseok says stiffly although he is careful to avoid looking in their direction. He pretends to be very busy with sipping his boba tea. “I was perfectly civil.”
“Which is Wooseok-speak to mean you froze him out.”
“Hey,” Jinhyuk protests, coming to his boyfriend’s defence, “he could’ve been worse.”
“I don’t think I want to know what’s worse.”
At that, Wooseok sends Hangyul a smile. It’s only a small quirk of his pursed mouth, but it’s cold and merciless.
“Break Seungyoun’s heart and you’ll find out,” he says, the promise as saccharine as fresh tangerines on a summer morning. When the younger visibly gulps, he smiles much more genuinely – which is somehow all the more terrifying. He admits, “I do like you, Hangyul. You’re a good match for this idiot.”
“Hey!” Seungyoun protests. “I’m not that much of an idiot.”
“Debatable,” Byungchan says. “Hangyul told me you thought he was judging you for being a rogue, anti-social and rebellious hooligan from the streets because of your tattoos. Not that he was trying to hold himself back from mounting you there and then.” He ignores the swift kick Hangyul lands on his leg, adding, “You should’ve seen him when he was describing the scene to me. There were buckets of drool coming from his mouth, hyung. I thought I was going to have to whip out an umbrella soon.”
“Stop lying,” Hangyul exclaims. “You chat so much rubbish.”
“I’m honestly going to kill you if you don’t shut up.”
Such threats have never fazed Byungchan, else he would’ve stopped his antics several years ago. He meets Hangyul’s embarrassed glare with a cheeky smile.
“Oh yeah, that reminds me,” he says after a moment. “Now that you’re with Seungyoun hyung – which I called, by the way, I knew it would happen before the end of the year – how are you going to break the news to Spiderman? It’s kind of obvious the guy has a huge crush on you.”
Wooseok snorts into his boba tea.
Ignoring him, Seungyoun turns to Hangyul to see what his response is going to be. At first, he assumed that the other confided his suspicions to Byungchan about what Spiderman’s real identity is, but Hangyul reassured him early on that he hadn’t shared them with anyone out of respect for Seungyoun’s secret. He wouldn’t have blamed him if he had turned to Byungchan about the issue since they’re best friends, but it’s rather touching to see that he cares so much. Even when he was going crazy about whether Seungyoun and Spiderman were the same person, he kept it to himself.
Even now, Hangyul just shrugs. “I’m sure he’ll be okay with it. He doesn’t seem like the type to get annoyed if I’m interested in someone else.”
This time, both Jinhyuk and Wooseok start to snicker to each other.
Meanwhile, Byungchan is all gasps. “But it’s Spiderman!” he exclaims. “He’s so cool. And rugged. No offence, Seungyounnie hyung. I love you and everything, but you know Spiderman is, like, Seoul’s sweetheart. Anyone would die to date him.”
“Anyone would die to date Seungyoun hyung too,” Hangyul says defensively. “He’s just as good as any spandex-wearing superhero.”
“But what about Spiderman’s arse?” Wooseok, ever the opportunist when it comes to making fun of his friends, leans across Jinhyuk to smirk at the new couple. The sick bastard is enjoying this far too much. “Are you sure you want to let that go?”
Seungwoo lets out a soft, disapproving tsk under his breath. “Wooseokie,” he says reprimandingly.
“What, Seungwoo hyung? All I’m saying is that the general consensus at this table is that Spiderman has an impressive physique and I just think that – “
“I’m happy with Seungyoun hyung,” Hangyul interrupts. His fingers, still intertwined with Seungyoun’s, squeeze his hand comfortingly and he meets his gaze, firm and determined. When he speaks, his voice is soft at the edges. “He’s the one I fell in love with.”
A small silence falls upon the table.
Then Wooseok breaks the quiet with a round of exaggerated gagging which sends everyone into peels of laughter, Hangyul and Seungyoun included (though they can’t help but also roll their eyes in exasperation). Throughout the chaos, Seungyoun keeps his attention trained on his boyfriend and the sincerity and genuine happiness he sees there softens his heart. A steady warmth builds from the very heart of his body and spreads across the surface of his skin like electricity until he’s sparking at the tips of his fingers.
In a swift, split-second decision, Seungyoun turns to face his friends. “Actually,” he says, just loud enough to be heard over their laughter, “I have something to tell you guys.” He waits until he’s sure he has everyone’s attention before he admits, “I’m Spiderman.”
Byungchan laughs a little disbelievingly. “You’re what?” It’s clear he thinks it’s a lie.
Now Seungyoun could try to argue his case with words or explain the whole crazy thing from start to finish like he did with Wooseok when he caught Seungyoun in his suit over a year and a half ago. But because it’s Byungchan and he kind of wants to see the little brat freak out, he answers by shooting a small web onto his phone and snatching it out of his grasp.
Byungchan gapes at him in shock.
Hangyul whispers, “That was kind of hot.”
And then the table explodes with noise once again. Byungchan literally screams, jumping up to launch across the table and grab Seungyoun’s wrists, pressing his eyes to them as if he’ll be able to ascertain how the fuck that happened through fucking microscopic analysis or whatever. The chips that Jinhyuk kindly offered to Seungwoo aren’t snatched out of harm’s way in time so end up squished under Byungchan’s hip, much to Seungwoo’s distress.
(Meanwhile, Wooseok demands to know exactly why that was supposedly hot since he is of the opinion that it was rather unhygienic.)
“Did you know this?” Byungchan cries, eyes swivelling across their group. They land on Hangyul. “Did you know?”
Hangyul laughs. “Damn right I did.”
As Byungchan demands a thesis of an explanation to be presented to him right away and Kookheon despairs about how he swooned over Spiderman’s arms in front of the man himself and Jinhyuk excitedly recounts how he found out to Seungwoo, Seungyoun remains a pillar of calm in the middle of the madness. He never expected to reveal his secret to so many people, even if he knew his crazy group of friends can be trusted with his life. But he supposes this is all part of the journey of accepting that Spiderman and Seungyoun truly are one and the same, part of letting the two parts of his lives marry.
He thinks of how all of this started all those months ago when Byungchan decided that they were all to adopt a friend he made from the dance department; when Seungyoun, sleep-deprived and struggling through his textbooks, took one look at Lee Hangyul and promptly surrendered his heart, soul and what remained of his dignity to the younger boy. He thinks of Dohyon with his baby cheeks and odd sense of humour that sets him apart, of how Hangyul dotes on his little brother, and how he loves with such a big heart that Seungyoun couldn’t help but want to see more of it, experience just a taste of what he has to offer.
What a rollercoaster of a journey it’s been, getting to this point.
And though he took some wrong turns along the way, free-falling and threatening to crash and burn, here Seungyoun is. His hand secure in Hangyul’s and his mask just that tiny bit looser.