Now, Seungmin wasn’t really well-acquainted with his neighbours after moving into his college dorms a few weeks ago.
He works the night shift at the e-mart24 down the road, so his near-daily schedule looks a little like this:
- Wake up at noon, or later.
- Go for classes, if there’s any.
- Take a good, afternoon power nap.
- Report for work at nine PM.
- Reach home at three-thirty, take a shower, and sleep.
There isn’t really much time for him to go around knowing his neighbours, except Lee Felix, the good kid right next door who presented him with housewarming brownies the day he moved in.
And that was fine for Seungmin.
For two or three weeks, he maintains this routine. And Seungmin is a man of routine, if anything else—he is, pretty much, your predictable, stereotypically boring college undergrad with too much work and too little time, and Seungmin prides himself on being simple.
Well, he tries his best to be.
Not that he can, really, when he has an aspiring Twitch streamer as a shift co-worker that makes him do weird ass shit for ‘content’.
Han Jisung isn’t really that bad of a co-worker, all things considered. He pulls his weight with stock check and closing, so Seungmin isn’t really complaining; plus, the stupid shit he does on stream provides some entertainment during an otherwise dreadful six-hour shift, helping them pass the time faster.
So, sometimes, Seungmin eases up on his commitment to be simple and humours Jisung and his chat by doing some stupid shit, as well.
In summary: Seungmin has a routine, he doesn’t talk to his neighbours and he does weird shit, sometimes.
“What,” Seungmin says, staring Jisung dead in the eye, after hearing his co-worker rattle off a donor request that somehow involved him.
“Dude, you have to do it,” Jisung rambles, mischief lighting his eyes. “Bestcatbutler donated and asked for it! You have to do it!”
“I have to bark for a whole day,” Seungmin deadpans, squinting his eyes at Jisung’s phone screen. “For five thousand Korean won. I can’t even buy myself a meal with that.”
Jisung grins, and Seungmin narrowly avoids the elbow Jisung shoves in his direction right after. “C’mon, it’ll be super funny. I’ll let you use all my employee discounts for the month!”
Seungmin frowns at Jisung, contemplating. Employee discounts at e-mart24 are sacred. God knows just how strategically he plans to use his own to maintain his awful, unhealthy stash of instant ramen at home.
Then Jisung delivers the final, killing blow. “I bet you can’t do it,” he says, eyes glinting.
“Eat shit, bestcatbutler, I hope you’re seeing this,” Seungmin instantly snaps back, childishly sticking out his tongue at Jisung’s camera and watching his person on stream catch on a few moments later. “Meong.”
The bet goes on uneventfully, on most counts, because the donation had come in a little past one AM and the stream of customers had mostly ebbed off by midnight.
They only get one customer during this time, some short, stocky guy with a sharp-ish chin wearing a black hoodie with his hood up and hands stuck in the pockets of his jeans.
Some emo, edgy kid, Seungmin concludes, up until said guy places five economy-sized packs of gummy bears on the counter.
Seungmin judges him for a full five seconds as the guy moves to pull out his wallet, and nearly forgets about the bet until Jisung, from his hiding spot below the counter, kicks him.
“Meong,” Seungmin sighs, gesturing to the cash register display.
Five Economy-sized Packs Of Gummy Bears freezes almost comically, his card pulled halfway out of his wallet, and then stares at Seungmin with so much confusion that Seungmin almost giggles. Jisung is right. This shit is kinda funny.
“Um,” Gummy Bear Dude blinks, once, twice, and then clears his throat, handing his card over to Seungmin for payment. “I don’t need a plastic bag, thanks.”
“Meong,” Seungmin acknowledges, taking his card and doing all the fancy payment processing things with it.
While doing so, he spots Gummy Bears trying to look around subtly; probably for cameras or anything that would clue him in to this just being a hidden camera prank instead of him meeting some random, deranged dude at one-fifty in the morning at a convenience store of all places.
“Meong,” Seungmin says, passing back the card. Economy-sized Gummy Bears looks like he’s ready to run, as he scoops up his packets of gummies in his arms and starts to back away.
“Meong, meong!” Seungmin adds for good measure, when the guy all but nearly skedaddles out of the store, the joyful chiming of the bell on the closing glass doors signifying his exit.
It’s only when Jisung crawls out from below the counter, a few moments later, and their eyes meet, that they finally burst out laughing.
Jisung wipes a tear from his eyes. “Dude, I don’t think he’s coming back here ever again!”
“I don’t think so,” Seungmin wheezes, clutching onto his side as he leans against the counter to balance himself with how hard he’s laughing. “You should’ve seen his face, holy shit. He looked like he was about to cry!”
By the end of their shift, Seungmin ends up barking to his advantage, using it to randomly cut Jisung off or bark louder than him whenever he tries to thank a donation or a new subscriber.
So, for one, that was Seungmin filling up his do weird shit sometimes quota for the day. And then he continues his routine, reaching home at three-thirty, starting a shower—
Remember how he never talked to his neighbours?
Well, that all changes tonight.
Seungmin’s barely out of his shower when some Rhythm God from Hell knocks out such a fancy beat on his door that it makes him feel like tap dancing at four in the morning.
Four in the morning.
Seungmin briefly wonders if the building is on fire when he opens the door and meets the eyes of the perpetrator, who clearly wasn’t expecting the door to open and nearly punches him in the face.
Seungmin narrowly dodges the fist; but he’s also effectively useless without his glasses, which he didn’t manage to grab before opening the door, so all he sees is a blurry head on top of a blob of highlighter pink.
“Sorry, I—” Pink-Shirted Door Knocking Guy starts, then pauses.
And then he suddenly points a finger accusingly at Seungmin, “hold on, you’re the weird furry guy who kept barking at me just now!”
With that, it only takes Seungmin a few more seconds to catch up as he squints at the finger pointed at him.
He opens his mouth, about to ask if he’s that terrifying guy who bought five economy-sized packs of gummy bears, when Pink Neighbour Dude cuts him short.
“I came here to complain,” he announces, voice sharp and cutting. “Can you stop showering at three in the morning? My room’s right below the water pipes, and it wakes me up every single time, and I just want to sleep. Please.”
Maybe it’s because it’s four in the morning and logical, coherent brain waves are no longer allowed to exist.
Or maybe it’s how Seungmin had said nothing else but barked for two hours straight before heading home.
Or how he literally has no idea what to respond, because his gummy bear-loving, neighbour guy just asked for the impossible. How can he not shower after coming home? Seungmin’s not about to climb into his bed all stinky and gross and filled with the day’s germs and other miscellaneous, yucky stuff, no fucking way in hell.
Whatever it is, Seungmin claims no responsibility over the cursed word that escapes his lips next.
“Meong,” he automatically says in response.
And then he slaps a hand over his mouth, mortified.
Gummy Bear Neighbour Dude looks equally mortified, from whatever Seungmin can see with his reduced, shitty vision.
Then he takes a step back, squeaks out a frantic never mind, good night and literally runs away from Seungmin.
Seungmin would’ve found this funny if it wasn’t for the dawning realisation that he’s now probably seen as a weird furry guy to his neighbour that he’s never properly met or talked to before the convenience store shenanigans.
fuck u, he texts Jisung, later. hope u get a dmca takedown.
｡･ﾟﾟ･ 멍! ･ﾟﾟ･｡
han jisung (emart) [10:13am]
that’s so mean of you :”(
“Oh, yeah,” Felix says, through a mouthful of brownie the next morning, after listening to Seungmin’s tragic story. “That sounds like Changbin-hyung. He’s really nice, helped me out when I moved in.”
“That makes things worse,” Seungmin whines, head in his hands. The microwave in their dorm pantry gives off a cheery ding! and he slowly gets up, dragging his feet to collect the cup of instant rice that he’d shoved in there earlier. “I made a nice guy think I’m a weird furry dude that only barks at people.”
“Don’t worry about it, he’ll probably come around,” Felix reaches over, giving Seungmin a consolatory pat on the shoulder when he sits back down across him. “Here, have a brownie, they make everything better.”
“Thanks,” Seungmin sighs, placing the brownie on top of his rice. Felix winces.
“I’m sure you’ll have a chance to prove yourself otherwise,” Felix continues, but his line of sight is glued to how Seungmin spoons out a bite of rice with a bite of brownie and shovels that in his mouth. “Yeah. Yup. You can definitely prove to Changbin-hyung that you’re not weird.”
“Thanks, Lix,” Seungmin says, while still chewing on his food. “You’re the best.”
Felix doesn’t even bother hiding his pained expression as he gives Seungmin a thumbs-up.
Felix was right. The chance for Seungmin to prove that he was more than a weird barking dude arrives that very same day—in fact, that very same afternoon.
The chance arrives in the form of a cramped campus bus, the one Seungmin takes every afternoon to try and make it to class on time.
A few disclaimers first, though.
One, it was a cramped bus. Fully packed. There’s just something about college students that gets them all squeezing onto one creaky, old bus in a whole pretense of trying to get to classes on time and having their life together. Would Seungmin categorise himself as one of them? Sure.
Secondly, fine, Seungmin doesn’t think he’s that tall. But he believes he’s at least slightly above average, slightly above enough to comfortably look over the shoulders of a bunch of people on the bus.
Thirdly, the person who’s squished right in front of him has a pretty big phone. Said phone is also at maximum brightness, and the font size is also ridiculously big. So if Seungmin happens to read off the screen a few times, well, that’s normal, right?
Fourth, well, it’s also not his fault that the shoulder he happens to look over into their phone is Changbin’s.
And lastly, Seungmin’s not easily amused, so he blames Changbin’s friend for being funny.
The KakaoTalk conversation he happens to read over Changbin’s shoulders goes a little like this:
i was just thinking!
a thought crossed your mind?
must have been a long and lonely journey!
Yang ♡ [2:31pm]
It also doesn’t help how Changbin comically freezes at that moment—he literally stares at his phone, his thumbs hovering over his keyboard.
So it’s not really his fault when Seungmin, without realising it, snorts out loud. “That’s a good one.”
Changbin spins around so fast that he loses his balance, and when he stumbles backwards, Seungmin’s hand shoots out to catch him, grabbing his shoulder before he crashes into another student.
Changbin squeaks at the contact, but regains his balance, now holding tightly onto the handrails above him.
“Sorry,” Seungmin says, immediately letting go and stuffing his hands back into his pockets, trying not to smirk at how far Changbin’s arm has to stretch for him to firmly grip onto the handrails, which are at Seungmin’s eye level.
“You can actually speak,” Changbin gapes, after a moment.
Seungmin snorts. So he remembers me.
“I actually can,” he affirms, raising an eyebrow in amusement. “Unless, of course, you’d rather I bark at you?”
Changbin purses his lips and narrows his eyes, almost as though he’s contemplating all his possible dialogue choices before choosing not to address it altogether.
“Why were you peeking at my phone?” He accuses, eyebrows furrowing. He looks miffed, maybe even annoyed, but at that moment all the thoughts occupying Seungmin’s head is a thought crossed your mind? Must have been a long and lonely journey! and he ends up snorting again.
“What the hell,” Changbin says, and now he definitely looks pissed.
“You were literally pressed up against me,” Seungmin begins.
“That’s not a valid reason for invading someone else’s privacy—”
“And I can’t really help it,” Seungmin shrugs casually, as he ignores Changbin and continues. “At this height, I end up seeing everything below me, even without trying.”
Changbin gasps in full offense. “What is wrong with you?”
Seungmin knows the perfect answer to this. He’s having too much fun teasing Changbin, even if they aren’t exactly friends; the elder’s reactions are great.
All of his earlier worries about being seen as a weird furry disappears with the amusement that he’s gaining at the cost of Changbin’s ire.
He knows Changbin’s annoyed, irritated at him, maybe, but not pissed. If he was pissed, or genuinely upset, Seungmin would stop. He’s not that mean, honestly!
But for now—
“Meong!” Seungmin beams, with meaning.
Changbin shuts his mouth, then, and turns away from Seungmin with a loud huff. He doesn’t use his phone anymore, or even move, but when the bus pulls up at the next stop, Changbin gets off, stomping his entire way out, and then sits himself down resolutely at the bus stop, refusing to even glance back at the bus.
Cute, Seungmin grins. Then, wait, what?
｡･ﾟﾟ･ 멍! ･ﾟﾟ･｡
Seungmin’s standing on top of a table.
He has a portable mic in his hand, staring eye-to-eye with Changbin, whose cheeks are flushed so red and who’s swaying so hard Seungmin’s slightly worried he’d fall right off and bonk himself on the head.
The music is so loud, his head is pounding along to the beat of whatever EDM track is playing at the moment.
He honestly doesn’t know how he landed himself in this situation.
Or maybe he does.
A week prior, Jisung invited him to a party as his plus one. Seungmin had refused, of course, because a party isn’t part of his routine, but then Jisung had started to bitch and whine and fake cry on stream and then proceeded to bribe him with covering a week’s worth of closing clean-up.
And, well, Jisung knows him too well, unfortunately, so the moment he’d cocked his head to one side and innocently said it’s okay if you don’t wanna come, Minnie, I know you absolutely cannot handle parties Seungmin had agreed.
Seungmin doesn’t like to lose, okay?!
Now, at the party, ten minutes ago, probably for some trivial and stupid reason that Seungmin had already forgotten because it was that trivial and stupid, Jisung started to pick a fight with a very tipsy Hwang Hyunjin.
“No fucking way!” Hyunjin yelled, hands flying as he gestured wildly at nothing in particular. “Changbin-hyung is the best at rap!”
“Oh yeah?” Jisung had yelled back then, eyes wide and face extremely red—whether from alcohol or exertion or something else, nobody really knows anymore—and then Seungmin felt himself being shoved forward. “Seungminnie here is our local rap god, and he’ll prove it to you, you shitface!”
And then he didn’t really have a choice. Because now that Han Jisung has labeled him their local rap god, Seungmin has to rise to the challenge.
“You jus’ gonna bark throug’out?” Changbin slurs, drunkenly, pointing a finger right at Seungmin’s face. Seungmin’s eyes cross trying to follow his finger, and this action alone sends a sharp pain up the back of his head. “Tha’ all you can do?”
The crowd hollers at Changbin’s sudden diss, and Seungmin frowns hard.
For a short, fleeting moment, a Felix-like voice mentally pleads wait, seriously, Seungmin, really? Please don’t do it. Don’t do it, Seungmin.
Another voice scoffs, drowning out the little Felix-like voice. C’mon Seungmin, nobody’s gonna remember this after tonight. What’s a little fun gonna do to your life?
That one suspiciously sounds like Jisung.
Seungmin brings the mic up to his lips, and opens his mouth. “What if I do? Meong meong, bitch.”
Seungmin’s five minutes of fame as an appointed local rap god starts and ends with him just furiously barking off-beat to the heavy EDM blasting in the background, much to the amusement of everyone else.
At one point, Jisung even screeched out a whole KIM SEUNGMIN YOU ABSOLUTE MADMAN! which caused Seungmin to break character and start laughing on stage.
Surprisingly, Changbin’s also part of the crowd that was amused by Seungmin’s tomfoolery.
Changbin takes the impromptu diss battle seriously at first; well, as serious as he can while being drunk, anyway, but eventually gets reduced to giggles by Seungmin’s nonsensical barking, paired with some outlandish expressions.
He concedes defeat after Seungmin pulls off a stupidly complicated string of barks to some BTS track, howling with laughter.
“How the fuck do I beat tha’,” Changbin wheezes, clutching at his stomach. “You win, pup. You win.”
Seungmin beams, pumping his fist into the air in victory; his heart is also racing, for some reason, but he decides that it’s probably because of the euphoria he gets from winning.
Or the shot he downed a little while ago.
Whatever it is, it’s definitely not because of the way Changbin’s grinning at him, looking as though Seungmin just announced him as the lottery winner of a million dollars. Yeah, no. It was definitely the shot.
By the end of the night, their roles seemed to have reversed a little; Changbin is much more sober than before, and Seungmin had gotten a few more drinks in, making him decidedly not sober at all.
“Let’s go home,” Changbin tugs on the sleeve of Seungmin’s jacket, trying to pull him off the table that he’s somehow become one with. “Heeeey. C’mon, pup. Up we go.”
“Mmmf,” Seungmin whines; his head is spinning and throbbing and he’s pretty sure his legs aren’t exactly working. He determinedly squishes his cheek against the table harder. “Don’ wanna.”
“You gotta. It’s gonna be three soon. Don’t you need your three-thirty AM showers?”
That point somehow resonates with him enough that he tries to push himself up, but what really happens is that Seungmin’s hands slip, and he crashes onto the floor in a tragic heap.
Changbin has the audacity to giggle instead of helping him up. “Get up, pup.”
“Can’t,” Seungmin groans, trying to roll himself into a standing position. He doesn’t quite understand why rolling on the floor isn’t helping him get to his feet. “Where’s Jisung?”
“Gone,” Changbin says simply. “Just you and me left. And a bunch of others, of course. But no Jisung.”
“Huh,” Seungmin replies. Then he rolls onto his back and shuts his eyes.
“Hey, no,” Changbin’s voice calls out. “Sleep in your own bed. Come on, I’ll carry you—hey, Yeonjun, help me here—”
Seungmin regains consciousness a little while later, when his chin ends up colliding with something hard.
“Ow,” he whimpers, pulling away from whatever it is that hit him, eyes filling with tears.
“Ow to me too,” a voice responds. “That’s my shoulder you hit—wait, what, why are you crying?”
“I’ hurts,” Seungmin cries. He doesn’t know why he’s crying either, just, the tears started spilling out and it feels better to let them run down his face than to try and hold it in. He tries to swipe at them, but then in doing so, realises that he’s let go of his grip on the mystery person and sends himself flying backwards.
“Woah!” The person yells, somehow reacting fast enough and tilting forwards enough for Seungmin to continue staying on his back. “Don’t do that, we’ll both fall!”
There’s an annoyed lilt to his voice, and Seungmin, to his horror, belatedly realises that it’s Changbin’s back that he’s on. “Where are you taking me?”
“Home,” Changbin replies simply. “Not together, if you’re wondering, I’m just going to dump you at your door and hopefully you pass out and don’t shower at four AM so I can get sleep.”
Oh. Yeah, that’s right, Seungmin showers at godforsaken hours and makes people annoyed with it. Tears start filling his eyes again.
Distantly, he hears Changbin mutter something that sounds strangely like help me, an emotional drunk.
“Why are you doing thi’?” Seungmin slurs, trying to pull himself away from Changbin’s back. He doesn’t really succeed, because all that happens is that he’s hit with another wave of nausea and dizziness. “Don’ you hate me or somethin’?”
There’s a pause. “Why would I hate you?”
“I ge’ on your nerves,” Seungmin starts off. He’s crying again, but he doesn’t really care anymore. “I annoy you. I annoy a lot of other people, bu’ they won’t tell me. Either tha’ or I’m too boring, too serious. Or I’m not helpful…”
Changbin doesn’t say anything for a while, and that ends up sobering Seungmin up a bit. He sniffles, and is about to apologise for unloading when Changbin cuts him off.
“I don’t know you well enough to tell you that you’re wrong,” he begins, “but if you wanna be helpful, at least right now, there’s something you could help me with.”
Seungmin perks up, blinking his tears away. “I can do it!”
“Seems like you’re not that bad when you’re being an emotional drunk!”
Now this gets a little on Seungmin’s nerves. “Do you wan’ my help or not?”
Changbin snorts. “Yes, Your Highness, but first could you please stop moving so much so we both don’t fall?”
Seungmin pouts. Changbin can’t see it, but he pouts hard. When he’s done pouting, he sticks himself firmly onto Changbin’s back, opting to use his shoulder as a headrest.
(He tries hard not to think about the way Changbin’s grip tightens on his legs.)
“Thanks,” Changbin laughs a little, then, and Seungmin can feel the rumbling deep in his chest. This makes Seungmin feel sleepy, wrapping his arms tighter around Changbin for more warmth. “Now, don’t kill me but—”
“I’ll kill you,” Seungmin echoes sleepily.
“—we’ve kinda been walking around for twenty minutes aimlessly because I don’t really know the way home and I don’t have enough hands to use my phone.”
“What?” Seungmin gapes. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“You were sleeping,” Changbin points out.
“You could’ve woken me up!”
Changbin stops walking. “Look, do you want to go home or not?”
Seungmin wants to, so he obliges, albeit a little grumpily; as he tries to get his own phone out, he vaguely hears Changbin grumble about mood swings, but at that moment, Seungmin’s tired and drunk brain is struggling with something else.
“Google Maps or Apple Maps or Naver Maps?”
Changbin groans. “Does it matter?!”
“It does!” Seungmin yells back, a little too loudly, because Changbin flinches away from him. “Sorry. It does.”
“Fine, then use whichever you usually use!”
That seems logical. But then Seungmin’s brain pulls up empty and his eyes water again. “I don’t remember.”
Changbin breathes. He hasn’t continued walking, and he still has Seungmin on his back, so Seungmin feels each breath he takes—in, and out. In, and out. The slow and steady breathing makes him feel sleepy but Seungmin struggles to keep his eyes open; he was supposed to be helpful, after all.
Then, Changbin says, as calmly as he can, “Naver Maps.”
“But I think Apple Maps is more accurate—”
Seungmin opens up Naver Maps. He keys in the address for their dorm’s building, and informs Changbin that it’s only an eight minute’s walk away.
From then on, theoretically, things should have been smooth-sailing. Theoretically, Seungmin would’ve given Changbin the instructions as written on Naver Maps, and they would’ve been home by now.
Theoretically, that is.
“Seungmin,” Changbin says evenly, as they come to a stop, in front of a fenced-up field, fifteen minutes later. “This is a dead end.”
“I know,” Seungmin replies, shrinking. “I’m sorry.”
“What are you sorry for?”
“I might’ve deliberately given you wrong instructions,” Seungmin says, in a small voice. “I thought there was a shortcut we could take…”
A pause. “I’m going to put you down right now.”
Changbin drops him.
Seungmin yelps, flailing, but he lands feet first, initially, at least, before he stumbles over said feet and hits the ground on his ass. Then he realises it wasn’t that high of a drop, and his ass doesn’t hurt as much as he expected.
“Wait,” he fumbles, trying to get back on his feet but failing. “Wait, don’t go without me—”
“Oh my fucking God,” Changbin sighs, crossing his arms and looking slightly impatient. “You’re acting like a child. Okay, then—convince me. Why should I continue to lug you home if you’re going to mess around with me?”
Seungmin gapes, and he flounders, for three whole beats. Shouldn’t it be obvious? The answer should be: “meong.”
Changbin purses his lips. He closes his eyes, pinches the bridge of his nose, and then lets out a breath so long that Seungmin, even in his drunken stupor, starts worrying a little.
“I can’t stand you,” he concludes, after a long while.
“Then sit down,” Seungmin says, confused.
Changbin turns towards the fence and screams.
Seungmin wakes up the next morning with his back hurting like a little shit; he realises, very soon after, that it’s because he’d spent the entire night out slumped against his front door. Outside of his apartment.
He doesn’t quite remember how he even managed to get himself home last night.
And fuck, does his head hurt.
Eventually, he pulls himself up enough to unlock his door so that he can sleep on a better surface—the couch is all he manages to make it to before he passes out, again.
(Seungmin never ends up seeing the pink Post-It note that was stuck to his forehead which fell off sometime during his sleep, or the bottle of water and painkillers that was left outside his door with him.)
｡･ﾟﾟ･ 멍! ･ﾟﾟ･｡
As much as Seungmin hates to admit it, he’s a slight pushover.
So when Felix puts on his puppy eyes and begs him to consider going on this blind date with this Australian-Korean senior of his, Seungmin begrudgingly obliges.
Please, Felix had begged, turning up the puppy eyes a notch further. I think you guys will really hit it off together. Just give it a try?
Seungmin’s give it a try ended up being him flustering over first impressions, throwing out half his closet on the day of the dinner itself, and eventually being late.
Sorry, he’d texted the number that Felix had given him earlier, am running late, will be there soon!
The number had replied a few minutes later: same, haha, am wearing black btw.
So when he enters the diner and spots the first wearing-black-and-sitting-alone-near-the-tables guy, Seungmin makes a beeline for that table.
“I’m really sorry,” Seungmin starts, pulling out the chair across said guy and moves to sit down.
“Don’t worry about it,” the guy replies, waving a hand to dismiss the matter altogether, eyes glued to the menu in front of him.
And Seungmin blinks.
“You’re not Bang Chan,” Seungmin says, dumbly, as he stares at the man he thought was Felix’s senior.
Changbin looks up, then freezes. Recognition appears on his face. “And you’re not Lee Minho.”
“I’m not Lee Minho,” Seungmin repeats, body frozen in a half-sitting, half-standing posture, hand still on the chair that he’d pulled out before realising he’s got the wrong table. “Um. I’m sorry, I’ll, uh...”
I’m gonna look like such an idiot if I get up and leave, his mind despairs. But then I’ll be standing up Felix’s Chan-hyung...
Changbin thinks for a moment, before cracking a small, awkward grin and gesturing at the chair. “Nah, just stay. This could be interesting.”
Seungmin blinks at him, slowly pulling out the chair across Changbin’s and sliding into it. “Here for a blind date too?” He asks, tentatively.
“Was forced into it,” Changbin laughs, shrugging a little. “Our local baby put on his puppy eyes—or fox eyes, actually—so I couldn’t say no.”
Somehow, knowing that they’re both put in the same awkward situation again by their friends helps Seungmin feel much less tense.
“Same here,” he breathes out, allowing himself a little smile. “My local sunshine pulled a Puss in Boots on me—hey, wait, you know him. It’s Felix.”
“Felix,” Changbin hums, then his eyes light up when he remembers. “Ah, Brownie boy?”
Seungmin’s small smile grows at the endearing English nickname. “Brownie boy,” he repeats, nodding.
“Well, who can say no to him?” Changbin grins back, closing the menu. “Did he bribe you with his brownies too?”
“Not for this one,” Seungmin nervously chuckles. “He might kill me, however, for standing his hyung up.”
“He might,” Changbin agrees, his grin becoming mischievous. “He’ll knock you unconscious with his third degree black belt in taekwondo.”
Seungmin’s mouth runs dry. “Third degree black belt in what?”
“Taekwondo!” Changbin repeats, cheerfully, as though he just didn’t inform Seungmin of certain death a few seconds ago. “You didn’t know, did you? He sure doesn’t look like it, but he can really pack a punch! Saw a bunch of those certificates when I was helping him move in.”
Seungmin’s jaw drops. His mind blanks. Then, he blurts out: “you talk a lot.”
At that, Changbin raises an eyebrow. “You have a problem with that?”
“No,” Seungmin quickly replies, flustering. “Of course not.”
“Great!” Changbin’s polite smile returns as he passes Seungmin a copy of the menu, and the way he’s not breaking eye contact with Seungmin makes him squirm a little in his seat. “I thought you hated me because you never dropped me that text.”
Seungmin frowns. “What text?”
Changbin frowns back. “Y’know, the note I stuck to your head asking you to text me after you woke up so I’d know you were still alive?”
“What?” Seungmin’s confusion grows. “When did you do that?”
Changbin opens his mouth—and leaves it open for a few seconds, before shutting it and sighing, albeit with a small, amused smirk. “You don’t remember, huh?”
“No,” Seungmin admits, slumping against his seat. Then he straightens up. “No, tell me,” he demands.
Changbin’s smirk turns into a shit-eating grin, now that he has something to hold over Seungmin’s head, a memory he can’t quite remember.
Usually, Seungmin would be annoyed at someone deliberately withholding information from him; heck, if it was Jisung doing that he’d be getting an earful, but today he finds himself just feeling lost, confused, slightly bewildered and yearning.
He’s not sure where the yearning comes from.
“Maybe next time,” Changbin eventually says, now smiling fully.
Seungmin pouts at him.
They place their orders a little while after, calling over a waitress who looks like she’d rather be anywhere but here. Changbin orders a simple carbonara, while Seungmin opts for baked pasta.
“There’s something I was always curious about,” Seungmin says, as he watches the waitress walk off with their orders.
“Why did you buy five economy-sized packs of gummy bears?”
Changbin stares at him for a few moments, stunned. And then he starts laughing.
“I don’t know if you’ll believe me,” he chuckles, clearly embarrassed. “But it was for Jeongin—that kid I mentioned that got me into this blind date thing—he works at a daycare, so he needed some last minute treats for his kids the next day because he’d run out of Oreos.”
“And you couldn’t say no to him.”
“I couldn’t say no to him,” Changbin laughs harder, pulling at his reddening ears. “The daycare he works at is called Golden Bear, so I thought I was being slick by getting him gummy bears, y’know? Turns out that wasn’t my smartest moment.”
“No, it was pretty smart,” Seungmin retorts, grinning. “The part that wasn’t smart was you getting five packs of it, and then running away from me.”
“Look, if some random dude started barking at you at two in the morning, you’d run away from him too!”
“No, I’d bark along with him.”
Changbin groans, throwing his head back and whining. “You’re being difficult on purpose, I swear!”
“You like it,” Seungmin sing-songs, cupping his face with his hands.
“Unfortunately,” Changbin sighs, folding his arms, but he’s grinning.
When their food arrives, Changbin seems rather pleased by how Seungmin seems to eat everything on his plate.
“Hyunjin is a super picky eater,” Changbin explains, sighing in fond exasperation. “Won’t eat any veggies, especially eggplants. Sometimes I wonder if he even shits.”
Hyunjin. Seungmin recognises that name. “He’s the one that argued with Jisung at the party that time?”
“Oh, yeah, that’s Hyunjin,” Changbin affirms off-handedly, twisting his carbonara into a fancy pile on his fork. “Wonder what’s up with that, it was so weird.”
“Jisung is always weird,” Seungmin comments off-handedly. “You’d be surprised at how many hundreds of people watch our e-mart streams at night.”
Changbin narrows his eyes suspiciously. “What did you say? E-mart streams?”
Seungmin freezes. “You didn’t hear anything,” he says breezily, pulling his iced tea closer and aggressively stirring it. “You heard nothing!”
“I heard everything,” Changbin snaps, frowning. “E-mart streams. Explain.”
“Meong,” Seungmin tentatively tries, trying to summon the energy from the party that night, where his barking could make Changbin dissolve in laughter.
It… well, it doesn’t work. Not very effectively, at least. Changbin simply frowns harder, although the murderous intent in his eyes lessen.
“You think you’re being funny, but you’re not,” Changbin says, lips slowly curling into a pout. “Wait, is this being streamed live too? Am I being a clown against my consent? God, what about all those other times—”
“Calm down, hyung,” Seungmin cuts him off. “It was just that very first time at the e-mart. Someone donated to have me bark for a day.”
Changbin looks perplexed as he processes the information. “How many people watched me embarrass myself?”
“A few hundred,” Seungmin admits, but then hurries to clarify when he spots Changbin starting to pale. “Your face wasn’t revealed, don’t worry, all chat got to see was an angled shot of my non-existent ass while I barked at you. That’s all.”
“Your ass isn’t non-existent.”
Changbin clears his throat. “What’s your livestream channel, then?”
At this, Seungmin laughs. “I’m not the streamer, it’s Jisung. I’m just his unfortunate accomplice on convenience store stream nights.”
“Oh,” Changbin hums, looking deep in thought for a moment. Then he asks, “what’s Jisung’s channel, then?”
The rest of dinner passes by in a similar fashion, just the two of them talking about various things; from their friends, to the shows they watch, the music they like, to themselves.
At one point, they even wondered about their original blind dates.
“Do you think they’re still here, somewhere, waiting for us?” Seungmin asks. He’s checked his phone only once throughout dinner, just to make sure Felix’s Chan-hyung wasn’t still looking for him.
There was nothing—the last update was still Bang Chan informing Seungmin of his attire. Honestly, Seungmin had felt pretty bad not updating this Bang Chan about his sudden change in plans, but what was he supposed to say, anyway? Sorry, I mistook someone else for you and sat down at his table, then decided to stay because he was more interesting, not that I could’ve compared, because I’ve never met you—
Felix would kill him. With the skills obtained from his third degree black belt in taekwondo.
“I think they found each other instead,” Changbin muses, scrolling his own phone for the first time since dinner started. “I have, like, twenty-six notifications ranging from Jeongin screaming bloody murder at me to him sending me confused updates about his Minho-hyung’s mystery man that’s somehow not you.”
“Well,” Seungmin cracks a smile. “I guess fate works in mysterious ways?”
“Indeed,” Changbin agrees, smiling back. “So, where did we stop?”
They say time flies when you’re having fun, and for the first time in a long while, Seungmin loses track of time. They end up ordering more food, chattering around, and it’s only when they’re on their third round ordering and the waitress kindly informs them that the diner is closing that they finally realise that hours have passed.
On the way home, Changbin even drapes his jacket over Seungmin’s shoulders—Seungmin felt a small twinge of something, but it disappears quickly when he sees Changbin on his tippy toes trying to do so, bursting out into laughter.
Changbin smacks him on his arm in retaliation.
But the jacket remains draped around Seungmin’s shoulders.
Contrary to how their dinner was filled with endless exchanges, the walk home was quiet, but it was a comfortable silence.
And Seungmin really appreciates that.
When he glances over his shoulder, at Changbin who’s now whistling a merry tune to himself, the little twinge of something returns, but Seungmin dismisses it for now.
“Well,” Changbin smiles, stretching out his arms as they step out of the lift, at Seungmin’s floor. “That was fun.”
“It was,” Seungmin echoes, feeling a smile of his own surface. “See you around, then, hyung?”
“No goodbye meong for me?” Changbin teases.
Seungmin rolls his eyes in mock exasperation, but obliges. “Meong! There. Happy?”
The grin that splits open on Changbin’s face right there and then is so bright that Seungmin’s momentarily stunned.
It’s almost as though someone had taken a remote and pressed slow on his life, and in that one split second, Seungmin suddenly sees. He sees the way Changbin’s eyes seem to sparkle as they slowly curve up, how his grin is quirked a little to his left; he notices Changbin’s slightly crooked tooth, and the tiny scar on his chin.
An indescribable rush of emotions hits him then; and it feels a little like that one time Seungmin stood under the water bucket at the water park—it hits him, hard, soaks him all over and leaves him frozen to his feet, shaking, but wanting more.
That was fun, let’s do more, he’d laughed to his friends back then. Now, his brain echoes the sentiment, almost like a battle cry. More. More, I want more.
“Very,” Changbin laughs, then, and waves goodbye. “See you around!”
It’s when he starts getting a little dizzy and his vision begins to go spotty that Seungmin realises that he actually forgot to breathe.
Ah, he thinks, as his brain starts putting the pieces together. Shit.
｡･ﾟﾟ･ 멍! ･ﾟﾟ･｡
Having a Realisation™ fucks with Seungmin’s routine and life more than he thought it would.
First of all, he stops showering at three-thirty in the morning.
No, Seungmin doesn’t just climb into bed like an unhygienic worm after a whole day’s worth of work. At first, he looks into no-rinse body cleansers and dry shampoo, and then baulks at the price. Then he looks up the details for a membership at the gym next building over, finds out there’s a discount for their uni’s students, and signs up for it.
Just to shower at ungodly hours without waking a certain neighbour up. And maybe consider working out. Maaaaybe.
(He doesn’t, though.)
A few days later, he realises that Changbin doesn’t even sleep until five in the morning—and Seungmin finds out about this because Changbin’s started watching old clips off Jisung’s streams, sending Seungmin choice clips of his own stupidity at ungodly hours.
changbin hyung (neighbour) [4:21am]
[video link attached]
i cant believe yall stacked 13 COKE CANS??
AND THEY FELL LOL
did yall have to pay for them
the 13 destroyed cans i mean
if youre not sleeping by 3:30
im gonna continue showering at 3am 3:<
and yea jisung paid for it
changbin hyung (neighbour) [4:32am]
but u know u can always just shower right
it doesn’t really matter
anymore, i mean
changbin hyung (neighbour) [4:35am]
Two nights later, Changbin ends up inviting himself into Seungmin’s dorms at four AM, sprawling face-first into his couch.
“I wasn’t even showering,” Seungmin says, in slight dismay, closing the door behind him.
“Exactly,” Changbin replies, voice muffled from how his face is half-buried into Seungmin’s couch pillows. “I don’t want you to be a stinky pup, so I’m here to watch you go shower.”
Changbin rolls over and stretches out on the couch, yawning. “Can’t hear the gushing water pipes from here.”
“Are you serious,” Seungmin deadpans. “You can totally hear the shower from here.”
“Can’t hear anything,” Changbin mumbles, turning around so that his back faces Seungmin. “Go shower, stinky pup.”
So Seungmin does as told. He tries to be as quiet as he can, even going to the extent of only screwing the shower tap open a tiny bit so that the flow of water is considerably more quiet, and when he finally emerges, towel around his shoulders, he finds Changbin snoring away on his couch.
“Dumbass,” Seungmin sighs quietly, smiling.
(When Changbin continues to crash on his couch for the next few days, Seungmin gives up and asks if he wants to just sleep on the bed instead.
Changbin refuses, and Seungmin won’t let him sleep on the couch, so they end up forming a consensus with each other, clearing out a space on Seungmin’s living room floor and laying blankets out there.
So they both sleep on the floor. For a few days.
Or more like: Changbin slept. Seungmin just lies awake, hears his heart go wild, and simultaneously tries not to combust.
“You could’ve just gone to his dorm upstairs to shower, though?” Felix logically points out, a few days later. “And then go back to your own dorm to sleep.”
“Oh. You’re right,” Seungmin blinks, and yawns. “Didn’t think of that.”
Felix gives him an odd look, but Seungmin forgets about it a minute later.)
Then Changbin starts interfering with their e-mart streams.
It begins innocently. Changbin comes into the convenience store at ass o’clock, grabs a few snacks, gives Seungmin some suggestive eyebrow raises, gets smacked by Seungmin, and then leaves.
It unravels further when Jisung interrupts their whatever-they’re-doing and boldly introduces himself to Changbin. And then Changbin starts hanging out in the store and talking to them.
“Don’t you have better things to do?” Seungmin complains, after he’s messed up for the third time that night ringing up some grumpy, old man’s purchase.
“No,” Changbin, on the other side of the counter, cheekily says, propping his face up with his hands.
Seungmin deliberately avoids looking in that direction. Seungmin is better than some teenager with hormonal urges that can’t concentrate when faced with their cr... crus—
“And here we have an interaction of two animals in the wild,” comes Jisung’s narration, in a dramatic rendition of Sir David Attenborough, from somewhere in the background.
Seungmin snaps around and tries to muster the most deadpan expression ever as he stares pointedly into Jisung’s stupid camera.
“Ah, here we see a puppy, otherwise known as canis lupus familiaris, in its angered state. I would advise you guys to not approach,” here, Jisung barely dodges Seungmin’s half-hearted swing with a low whoop, “woah, that was dangerous! Sorry for the rollercoaster ride, guys—oh, shit, hyung, I accidentally caught you on camera, is that okay with you?”
“Sure!” Changbin straightens, face brightening up to an alarming extent. “Always wanted to be a famous pop star!”
Seungmin watches as Jisung lets out a triumphant yell, panning his camera to capture Changbin. There’s a strange, icky feeling slowly rising as he sees Changbin throw up a victory sign for the camera, smiling, and laughing as Jisung starts reading out chat’s borderline thirst comments over him.
The strange, icky feeling peaks and then bursts when someone donates Jisung fifty thousand Korean won asking for Changbin’s number.
“Get back to work,” Seungmin snaps, and both of them turn to stare at him. Much to his credit, Changbin at least looks apologetic, but Jisung sticks his tongue out at him defiantly.
“I’ll report you to Younghyun-hyung,” Seungmin warns, picking up the nearest thing his hands can reach—one still packaged ready-to-eat sausage that Changbin had bought earlier—and points it threateningly at Jisung.
Younghyun is their store manager, but he barely even turns up anymore. That, in part, was a very large reason why Jisung’s streaming shenanigans went largely unchecked for the past couple of months.
“You can’t,” Jisung hollers, gesturing wildly with his camera. “Hyung actually watches my streams! He says it brings this place business! Hi, hyung! Are you watching?”
Seungmin doesn’t buy it. “Did hyung bribe you?”
“He didn’t,” Jisung says, confidently. “He just said I can do whatever I want as long as I help him clock in and pretend— fuc— ah, shit! This is a family-friendly channel! I wasn’t supposed to say that!”
Seungmin rolls his eyes so hard that he feels the strain on his eyes. “Family-friendly my ass.”
“Hey!” Jisung hollers indignantly, as Changbin chuckles in the background. “Don’t insult my channel!”
Seungmin gives Jisung a less-than-placating look for a second, then pulls out his phone. To Jisung’s credit, the latter immediately catches onto what Seungmin’s about to do, shrieking as he abandons his camera and jumps onto Seungmin to prevent him from playing ostensibly copyrighted music.
“Look at this guy! He’s trying to get me DMCA-ed!”
“I’ll get you DMCA-ed and fired—”
Changbin picks up the camera and points it away from the scuffling duo, an amused smile parked on his lips. “Sorry all, think we’ll be ending the stream tonight! And sorry about um, whoever donated that fifty thousand won, I’m not sure if Jisung does refunds but I’ll be keeping my number a secret tonight!”
Somehow, through their tussling and tossing, in which Seungmin is, expectedly, gaining the upper hand, Jisung manages to belt out, “I don’t do refunds! It’s in my terms and conditions!”
“You heard him, he doesn’t do refunds,” Changbin repeats amicably. “Good night!”
(And if Changbin thinks he’s being slick by buying snacks or drinks, opening them, then suddenly claiming to be full and leaving said snack or drink by Seungmin’s counter—well, he really isn’t.
“I know exactly what you’re doing,” Seungmin frowns, after Changbin leaves a banana milk carton that he’s barely taken a sip out of next to the cash register.
“You do?” Changbin looks a little too proud of himself at that moment, he even puffs up his chest as he grins. “Great! Now I don’t have to pretend to eat them. Here, drink up.”
Seungmin sighs. “Why are you doing this?” He asks, but takes the banana milk anyway. The first few times he refused to ‘clear up’ after Changbin, Changbin had threatened food wastage on him. And Seungmin hates the idea of wasting food the most. He hates it more than the idea of someone wasting their money on him.
Changbin’s smile widens. “So our lil’ pup will be all fed and grow up strong and healthy.”
“What you’re feeding me isn’t exactly healthy,” Seungmin points out, then sips on the milk.
“This one is,” Changbin defends himself. “Besides, eating anything is way better than eating nothing.”
“I don’t eat nothing—”
“Felix told me you tend to not eat dinner before shifts,” Changbin cuts him off smugly, folding his arms.
Seungmin groans in defeat, after being called out like that, and Changbin’s smug, victorious smile grows larger.
“They’re having a lovers’ scuffle,” comes Jisung’s barely contained whisper-commentary from behind them. “Why watch K-dramas when you can watch this, every other night, at 9PM KST?”)
And lastly, knowing Changbin means knowing more of his neighbours, because Changbin is somehow friends with so many of them.
One of those neighbours ends up being Yang Jeongin, who lives next door to Changbin, on the floor above Seungmin’s.
They hit it off pretty well, at least for Seungmin, well enough that Seungmin ends up rambling to Jeongin when the younger crashes his dorm uninvited again.
“I barely even know you,” Jeongin groans, but he’s already made himself comfortable on Seungmin’s couch, and is clearly at home enough to reach for the unopened can of potato chips. “Why are you telling me your life story?”
“Because you barely know me,” Seungmin emphasises. “So you won’t tease me for it.”
Jeongin squints suspiciously at him, twisting the can lid open. “I can start. I can totally start teasing you.”
“You’re a clown for having a crush on Changbin-hyung and not telling him about it.”
Seungmin’s jaw drops as he feels the blood slowly rushing to his face. “That’s not even teasing, that’s straight up just an attack.”
“Which part?” Jeongin casually munches on a chip, unfazed. “The clown, or the crush?”
“Both,” Seungmin glares.
“You’re not even denying it,” Jeongin says gleefully.
“Neither,” Seungmin corrects, grimacing at the way he can see everything Jeongin’s chewing in his mouth. “Don’t talk when you eat, brat.”
Jeongin opens his mouth wider in retaliation and Seungmin turns away, groaning. He vaguely hears Jeongin eat a few more chips, then hears the lid being put back on the can.
After a while, Jeongin pipes up again. “So, the crush? What are you gonna do about it?”
“Nothing,” Seungmin shoots back, grabbing a pillow for comfort. Then, he mumbles, “am I that obvious?”
“Not as obvious as Changbin-hyung’s hopeless crush on you, that’s for sure,” Jeongin replies casually, leaning back on the couch.
“Cool,” Seungmin says. “At least it’s not that obvious, I guess.”
Jeongin snickers. And that was when Seungmin realises that he didn’t quite catch exactly what the younger just said.
“Wait—say that again? What did you just say?”
Jeongin’s mischievous grin just grows deeper in a way that’s strangely reminiscent of Changbin's.
“Someone once said three things never come back,” he says, with added flair, “the spent arrow, the spoken word, and, alas, the lost opportunity.”
“Are you quoting someone at me?” Seungmin frowns, unimpressed. He feels icky, extremely unsettled with the knowledge of having missed out on something important. Something pivotal. “Tell me! Please.”
Jeongin leans forward, fox-bright eyes glinting. “Why don’t you ask Changbin-hyung and find out yourself?”
(“What? I don’t know anything.”
“But Jeongin told me to ask you,” Seungmin whines in dismay. “I thought you would know!”
Changbin lets out a slow breath, again. After having spent a good amount of time together, Seungmin came to observe that Changbin frequently did breathing exercises when he felt himself running out of patience, and this was another one of those times where Seungmin had probably made a request so ridiculous Changbin had to physically make himself calm down.
“I’m sorry,” Seungmin concedes with a sigh, turning to walk back to his own apartment. “Forget about it.”
“No, wait—” Changbin grabs his wrist. His fingers are warm, and the touch sears his skin, but not in an unwelcome way. But Seungmin flinches, involuntarily, from the sudden contact, Changbin catches onto it almost instantly, and drops his hand.
Seungmin hates himself.
Changbin, seeing that Seungmin’s not about to leave, hurriedly continues. “Maybe I do know, but you have to be more specific about your question. Jeongin says you know something really doesn’t ring any bells.”
It’s about my crush on you, he bitterly thinks, then nearly laughs at how forlorn and stupid his inner monologue sounds. Jeongin told me something that felt like it would change things, but I wasn’t paying attention and now I’m being annoying.
“It’s fine,” Seungmin eventually says, managing a half-hearted smile. “I’ll figure it out myself.”
He misses the look of dismay that flits across Changbin’s face as he turns his back on him and walks off.)
Seungmin, unfortunately, never really figures it out himself. Jeongin never mentions it again, despite all the additional prompting and pestering, only cryptically maintaining that if Seungmin wants to know, he should ask Changbin himself.
But Changbin-hyung said he doesn’t know what you’re talking about, Seungmin said.
That’s because both of y’all are idiots, Jeongin had retorted. And, for good measure, he’d added, idiots in denial.
What do you mean? Seungmin had demanded, but to no avail, as Jeongin had just stuck his tongue out at him and ran away.
The rest of his friends gave similar responses whenever Seungmin asked them for their thoughts about it. Felix had told him that he was overthinking it. Meanwhile, Jisung offered to ask his chat about it.
I think most of them are saying that it means he likes you, Jisung concluded, after they had peered into his phone screen, reading the comments for a good few minutes.
No way, Seungmin had frowned. That can’t be.
So he never really figures it out.
Until a few days later, when Changbin calls him in the middle of the day.
“Are you free later?”
“How later?” Seungmin asks, in return. “Tonight?”
“Yeah, tonight. Actually, no, maybe around evening? Are you free?”
He mentally runs through the rest of his daily schedule for a second, before replying that he is, indeed, free.
Somehow, he can hear the smile in Changbin’s voice when he says, “great! Meet me downstairs at six.”
“Okay,” Seungmin says, unable to resist a small smile of his at Changbin’s cheery tone. “See you later.”
“See you! Remember to dress warmly.”
At five-fifty, Seungmin finds Changbin already waiting outside their building, dressed in a ridiculously fluffy jacket and jeans, with his hair tucked neatly under a beanie.
He’s leaning against the wall, one hand tucked in the pockets of his jeans, the other absently scrolling his phone. If Seungmin didn’t know Changbin at all, he would’ve been extremely intimidated with how fierce his resting face looks.
“Hyung!” He calls out, skipping down the stairs two at a time.
Changbin looks up, then, and a warm smile surfaces when he spots Seungmin. “Hey, pup.”
Seungmin nearly trips over his feet, but regains his balance before face-planting.
Hell, that’s not safe for his heart. Changbin should just stop smiling.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Seungmin says, sticking his hands into the pockets of his long, white padded coat.
“Nah, I only came down a minute or two ago, don’t worry,” Changbin reassures, giving him a light pat on the arm as he starts walking.
Seungmin follows him. They leave the building gates, and take a left turn. “Where are we going?”
“A bunch of places,” Changbin says, breezily. “Kinda wanted to just stroll around with you, if you don’t mind?”
Seungmin laughs. “I don’t mind.”
The smile on Changbin’s face grows brighter.
Their first stop is the e-mart that Seungmin usually works at. He shoots Changbin a questioning glance, but Changbin only shrugs in return.
“Welcome,” the employee at the cashier greets boredly, never looking up from her phone as they enter.
“You know her?” Changbin asks, as he heads straight for the sweets and snacks aisle.
Seungmin shakes his head. “It’s either Jisung, or nobody else. No one else really comes in to cover unless we both can’t make it.”
“I see,” Changbin hums, then pulls out two packets of sweets; one gummy bears, and one gummy worms. “Which one?”
“The bears,” Seungmin replies instantly, pointing at the price label. “They’re on sale, and half off if you buy two.”
“Spoken like a true e-mart employee,” Changbin congratulates, then puts the gummy worms back and grabs three more packets of gummy bears. “Guess I’ll get four, then.”
Seungmin, having seen worse, is barely phased. “You’re buying them for Jeongin’s kids again?”
“No, they’re for us,” Changbin replies, now moving towards the drink-filled fridges lined up at the side of the store.
Seungmin watches him scan over the drinks, and without really realising it, starts humming along to the e-mart jingle.
Then, abruptly, Changbin comments, “your voice is really beautiful.”
“What?” Seungmin flusters. “It’s just the e-mart song!”
“Not just the e-mart song,” Changbin grins. “It’s the e-mart song in your voice.”
“That—it’s still the e-mart song!”
“Nope.” Changbin pulls one of the fridge doors open, and plucks out two banana milks. “You make it special.”
And then, Changbin turns to face Seungmin, barely balancing all his gummy bears and banana milks on both arms.
“You make everything special,” Changbin emphasises, grinning in a way that Seungmin can’t really comprehend properly, before striding away towards the cashier.
“Did you leave something in school?”
This time, Changbin’s the one that looks slightly confused. “No? Why?”
Seungmin blinks back at him. “So we’re just taking the campus bus for fun?”
Changbin’s confusion dissipates from his expression at that, replaced with a smirk. “Why not?”
“Nothing, it’s just…”
It’s a Friday evening, and most classes had already ended by this time, leaving the campus bus mostly empty. They’re seated near the back, and Seungmin belatedly realises that this is, surprisingly, one of the first few times where he’s managed to get a seat on the campus bus. Or seen the bus being this empty.
“I like bus rides,” Changbin shrugs. The seats are, strangely, rather small, and so they had ended up sitting rather close together—which brought some warmth despite the cold weather. Their close proximity, however, meant that every small action had them bumping shoulders. “What about you?”
“I like them too,” Seungmin admits. “When we get to sit down like this, of course. And when the bus rides are long, and I have my earphones in, just watching the scenery fly past.”
Changbin’s smirk turns into a knowing smile. “Luckily for us, I’ve brought earphones!”
Seungmin can’t stop himself but playfully quip, “only the earphones?”
Changbin lets out an audible sigh as he also pulls out his phone. “And my phone, of course. You underestimate me.”
This makes Seungmin giggle, as he watches Changbin plug in his earphones and offers one side to him. And then Changbin passes his phone to Seungmin, the music app already open on it.
“You choose,” Changbin says.
Seungmin takes the phone, but hesitates when the keyboard pulls up. Despite knowing Changbin for a while, he realises that he doesn’t actually quite know the elder’s music taste. And while Seungmin takes pride in his own music collection of ballad and sappy love songs, he’s also aware that these two genres in combination point towards him being a boring, old man.
Stop overthinking, the little Felix in his head scolds. Just follow your heart.
One song starts playing in his head, then, and Seungmin cautiously types the title into the search bar, is pleasantly surprised to find out that Changbin already has the song downloaded into his phone, and hits play.
The intro drum beat barely starts playing when Changbin leans over, casually pressing into Seungmin’s arm, then hums a note of delight when he sees the song that Seungmin’s picked.
“I love that song,” Changbin says, pulling back, but only slightly, such that their arms are still touching. “Really expresses what I want to say.”
It takes half of Seungmin’s self-control to not drop the phone right there and then, and the other half to stop his thoughts from spiralling into Overthinking Land, as he focuses, instead, on the scrolling song title on the screen.
“I Like You” — DAY6.
“Where is this place, anyway?”
It’s a street that Seungmin, off the top of his head, absolutely cannot recognise, yet there was still something strangely familiar about it that he can’t really place.
“You don’t remember, huh?” And the smirk appears again; the one that Changbin puts on when he knows too much and Seungmin knows too little. It unnerves him, but not in a bad way.
“No,” Seungmin admits. But somehow, that exchange sparks a little bit of dejá vu, and something clicks into place. “Wait, was this related to that one other time I couldn’t remember?”
“Bingo,” Changbin grins. “Smart pup!”
Seungmin straightens up. There’s pretty much nothing left of the path in front of them, since it leads to a fenced up area.
“Is now the next time?” He asks, remembering what Changbin mentioned before at dinner.
“I guess so,” Changbin answers, sauntering up to the fence and peering over it. “We were at Jackson-hyung’s party. The one where we had the rap battle, if you remember that?”
Memories that Seungmin would rather not remember resurfaces. “Yeah, I remember.”
“You zonked out afterwards,” Changbin continues smoothly, almost as though he’s simply reading out a bedtime story. “Jisung ditched you for Hyunjin, and since we lived in the same building, I thought we should just go home together.”
“Mm,” Seungmin nods. And then, “wait, Jisung ditched me for who?”
“Hyunjin,” Changbin confirms, turning back, amusement lingering on his face. “I asked Hyunjin a while ago. They’re, well, having some kind of—”
“Continue, please.” Seungmin doesn’t really want to know what his co-worker gets up to outside of working and waking hours.
Changbin chuckles. “You were completely zonked out—”
“You already said that.”
“—but you were supposed to help navigate us home. With Naver Maps. Instead, you led us here. And it was almost five AM.”
The way Changbin is casually recounting this encounter with the most lighthearted tone he can muster makes Seungmin laugh. “You were annoyed at me, weren’t you?”
Changbin gives him a knowing smile. “I asked you for a good reason why I shouldn’t just ditch your ass right there and then.”
A slightly more ominous thought surfaces in Seungmin’s mind, and his laughter dies down. “Wait—fuck—did I bark at you?”
Changbin bursts out laughing. Seungmin groans, covering his face with his hands. “Look, I’m sorry, when I’m drunk I—”
“You were really cute,” Changbin interrupts, beaming. “That was the moment I realised I could never say no to you.”
Seungmin’s heart jumps into his chest. He’s confused—he’s fucking confused, why is Changbin saying all these… these heart-fluttering things? He wants to scream.
So he does.
He turns towards the fence and screams into the void, all while Changbin’s laughter continues to ring melodiously in his ears.
It’s only when Changbin leads them to the diner where they first got to know each other better, that Seungmin, at long last, starts to realise that something is up.
The trip to the convenience store. The random ride on the campus bus. The walk along the street where they got lost.
And now this—the diner where they had their blind date.
“Is this a date?” Seungmin blurts out, finally connecting the dots.
The smile that breaks out on Changbin’s face, right there and then, is so bright that it could nearly parallel the sun. “Thought you’d never ask!”
Seungmin opens his mouth to say something, but his thoughts are in shambles, flitting between different variations of what the fuck and how the hell did I not realise—
Changbin’s smile dims a little at his lack of response. “Do you not want this to be a date? Did I assume things wrong...?”
“No!” Seungmin yelps, and then realises how his answer could be interpreted completely wrongly when Changbin’s smile dips fully. “No, I mean, I w… I—”
“Hey, Seungmin, it’s completely okay if you don’t want—”
“I want this!” And to further prove his point, he grabs Changbin’s hand, and interlaces their fingers together, like the way Changbin had done so earlier on. “But, I… just… why?”
Changbin glances down at their intertwined hands, then back up at Seungmin, and then takes a visible gulp before clearing his throat. All his earlier confidence seems to have vanished in a second.
He lets out a nervous chuckle. “Ah, well, yes, Jeongin warned me about this, he said you were denser than a brick so I had to be really obvious, and I thought I was being super obvious earlier on.”
Seungmin’s mind grinds to an absolute halt. “Earlier on? You mean…”
Changbin barely manages a smile as he nods, then continues.
“So, the thing is, y’know how we weren’t even friends when we met? Like I was really annoyed at you.” The tips of Changbin’s ears start to turn red. “But then, y’know, we started being friends? And, um, I guess somehow I figured that I don’t want to be friends anymore—but not like, go back to being annoyed at you or anything, just, more like… I want to start… dating you?”
“Oh,” is all Seungmin says.
But what’s in his mind is: SHADLHSDKLSADHAS
Changbin quirks an eyebrow at him, as if to say, so you have nothing else to say for me?
“I’m not good with words when I’m flustered,” Seungmin rambles in defense, bouncing a little on his feet to try and rid all the adrenaline rushing into his blood. “And you’re flustering me now.”
“I figured, since you spent half the time barking at me,” Changbin tries to laugh it off, but his ears and cheeks are flaming red. “So…?”
“Yes.” Seungmin squeezes their linked hands, trying to convey just how much of a yes he means into the squeeze. “Yes to all of that.”
The warm smile that blossoms on Changbin’s face then blows him off his feet, like the spring breeze that tugs at him, bringing along the cherry blossom leaves; it’s the middle of autumn, but somehow, for Kim Seungmin—it feels like spring is here.
g__f__b donated ₩155,000
changbin-ssi pls drop ur instagram ur so hot pls
Before Jisung can even say anything or thank the donator, Seungmin shoves them both away and glares resolutely at the camera.
“No,” he says, furrowing his eyebrows and crossing his arms. “Binnie is not giving away his Instagram, or Twitter, or Facebook or number or whatever other personal contact details no matter how much you donate!”
“You heard him,” Changbin looks like he’s barely able to suppress his laughter anymore. “You’ll have to ask my boyfriend first.”
“I’m the boyfriend,” Seungmin juts back in, half-yelling. “And my answer will always be no!”
At that, Changbin finally bursts out laughing.
“Thanks for the donation,” Jisung finally says, shoving himself back in. “And that concludes our fortnightly K-drama series, y’all, can someone please come and save me from this...”
“Stop laughing,” Seungmin turns his attention back to Changbin, pouting angrily. “I don’t know why people keep asking and throwing money, they’re so—”
“You’re so cute when you’re mad,” Changbin cuts him off, his eyes twinkling with delight as he reaches over for Seungmin’s hand. “My boyfriend.”
Then Changbin raises a brow at him as he laces their fingers together and gives his hand a gentle squeeze. “Meong?”
Seungmin rolls his eyes, but squeezes Changbin’s hand back. “Meong.”