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Of words and how to find them and of bubbles and how to pop them

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Seunghyun finds his words. He talks a lot, he jokes a lot. People laugh with him and his smile has that confident edge. He is secure and independent, has made a name for himself. The fans scream and known and unknown persons slap his back and tell him how great he is, time after time. Sometimes he thinks that his only shortcoming is that he can't dance that good, or rather, his band mates are so much better. He laughs it off and makes it his cute little flaw that the fans can adore.

He feels himself become bigger, greater. If he notices the bubble he has surrounded himself with, he chooses to ignore it.

Then they go to Japan and, just like that, all the words evade him. They are not his anymore and they do most certainly not want to cooperate. He is practically a mute with no translator around. His eyes flicker during interviews and his laughs are tense and disappear too soon. Bits and pieces of the conversation are flying over his head to land somewhere too far away for him to pick up before they are replaced by new sentences that he can hardly, if at all, decipher. When he is asked something, his answers don't correspond to the question and take so long to say that the interviewer starts to laugh nervously and Youngbae has to save him, again and again. His confidence is faltering and his dancing gets even worse. His tall and handsome frame is suddenly an even bigger mess of uncooperative and too long limbs that stumble across the stage. Even the most devoted fans, he thinks, are finally seeing him as the giraffe he really is, nothing cute even if they squint.

At a loss for words, at least he finds his thoughts. From this point of view, he clearly sees the Seunghyun that he is back in Korea. A happier, but also a slightly blinder version of his Japanese alter ego. Somehow he awes Seungri and his unwavering confidence even though the boy hardly ever finds the right words, neither in Japan nor in Korea. Just like it doesn't matter being awkward at its best. He asks him about it and Seungri gives him a glare and doesn't want to understand. Seunghyun suddenly recognizes Seungri's bubble too, and he has to laugh a little and pat him on the shoulder. “Maybe ignorance really is bliss,” he ponders, earning another glare.

What Seungri obviously doesn't see in himself, he seems to have noticed in Seunghyun. "You can't keep on being like this," he states, standing at the door of the apartment Seunghyun is sharing with their manager, his Japanese textbooks in hand. Honest as always, the younger boy finds himself missing his namesakes talkative and smirking at home-personality. Seunghyun sighs but decides to acknowledge the long-term benefits of the suggestion and lets him in. In a way, he admits to himself, he is a little flattered that Seungri goes out of his way to help him. Especially considering it really is his own fault for not practising enough back home, back when he had never before experienced having the words avoiding him this brutally.

After a while it starts to pay off. With their heads close together over the books and under the silent watch of their slightly surprised manager, he makes small but significant improvements. His words doesn't flow but are slowly starting to come out from their hiding places. During the days, he feels the world around him grow, bit by bit. Sounds becoming sentences, containing words that hold meaning. Now it's Seungri who pats him on the shoulder and fires off that toothy, irritating grin of his. Seunghyun doesn't glare back, instead he smiles and slings an arm over his shoulder and thanks him. He finds himself being genuinely grateful to the younger one for bringing him the map to the words. Seungri seems taken aback by his sincerity. "It is fun helping you, hyung," the boy says, sounding a little surprised. He looks at Seunghyun from under his eyelashes and blushes around his smile. Seunghyun wants to pinch his cheeks and hug him tighter. Instead, he lets go of his shoulders, a little startled by his own thoughts.

As his confidence is starting to get back on track he notices changes in Seungris too. It doesn't seem to go the same way. Despite the boys own progress from their late night sessions Seunghyun witnesses his voice becoming lower, his silences growing in length. He observes and realizes that the boy seems somehow more aware of himself. Flickering eyes and forced smiles. A few times Seunghyun even recognizes the giraffe in him when practising for a performance, which is a rare sight.

Seunghyun asks Seungri if he lost his bubble and gets a questioning gaze. "It's alright, you'll get it back when we go home," he assures. He himself knows for sure he is going to claim his own. The boy looks even more confused. Then, as if he maybe remembers Seunghyuns question several weeks ago, he looks him straight in the eyes and smiles, his embarrassment so obvious it's contagious. "Hyung, you popped it."

Seunghyun suddenly understands. Once again the words evade him.

"We can always share," Seungri suggests after a while and Seunghyun has to laugh at the vagueness of it all.

Back in Korea, with their personalities supposedly back in place, they lie curled together on the bed in the darkness of Seunghyuns room. With hesitant kisses and fluttering eyelashes, none of them can any longer deny the awkwardness that is very much present. Somehow it is as Seunghyun suspected. If this is what he gets, being awkward can easily be ignored and pushed out of their joint little bubble.