"If we bump into Changmin again at the bakery, you're paying for my bread." Younghoon elbows Chanhee in the ribs playfully.
The two of them are on their way to the bakery that's tucked at the end of the row of shops opposite their school campus. They're on their lunch break, and since both Chanhee and Younghoon aren't that hungry to have a full meal, they've decided on getting a few buns from the bakery.
"Deal. If we don't, you pay for mine." Chanhee replies, sipping on his bubble tea that he bought just a few minutes earlier.
Bumping into Changmin at the bakery was a regular occurrence. Chanhee hasn't always been the biggest fan of bread, but ever since that one day when he tagged along with Younghoon and met Changmin there, he would go to the bakery as often as possible just to see him.
It's quite silly to Younghoon, but to Chanhee, seeing Changmin at the bakery gives him a little burst of joy. Whenever they meet coincidentally, Chanhee feels sparks fly.
"Pssh, don't walk into the door, idiot. Oh, I see Changmin."
Chanhee narrowly avoids walking right into the door and gasps when he spots Changmin.
Tray and tongs in hand, Chanhee walks over to the row of bread where Changmin is, looking carefully at each kind. "Hi!" he says, eyes focused on grabbing the bread.
Changmin looks up, eyes widening in surprise. The corners of his mouth curl up, making him grin in the softest way possible. "Hey, it's you again."
Chanhee knows Changmin says that in a good way. Sometimes, when he bumps into Changmin, he thinks he mirrors the way Chanhee smiles at him. It is quite evident to the both of them that they like meeting each other.
It's always a surprise to learn that Chanhee and Changmin aren't exactly friends yet. Especially if you know one of them. Changmin joins student council meetings, half the time without an invite since he isn't a member of the council. Chanhee is the student council president, and all of the other members know Changmin anyway, so it isn't much of a problem. Plus, Changmin contributes to their discussions here and there.
Changmin is a dance major, just like Juyeon. He's Chanhee's close friend, ever since Juyeon was caught dancing in the middle of the atrium, and he laughed so hard that Juyeon had to poke him to stop. Chanhee often helps Juyeon out with giving feedback when he's creating a new choreography, or when he's practising for his assessment. It's really no surprise to see Changmin most of the time since Juyeon and Changmin usually do their assignments together when they require pair work.
They see each other on their own too. Despite being different majors, either one of them sees the other at the vending machine frequently. Vending machines aren't a common sight on the campus since they're located quite inconveniently.
Well, it's not like Chanhee would complain. Why would he comment on it if that would mean that he and Changmin would see each other less often?
He's got it memorised— on Tuesdays, five minutes after his class ends, he would make a quick run to the vending machine to see Changmin grab a drink after his lesson. On Fridays, they'll go to the vending machine before each of their classes starts.
"I'm going back to campus. See you around? Oh, and you too!" Changmin says, gesturing to Younghoon.
"Yeah, I'll see you around!" Chanhee waves at him with a big smile.
When Changmin leaves, Chanhee immediately spins around to face Younghoon, laughing when he sees him. "Younghoon! Why are you standing so far away?" Chanhee has one hand covering his mouth, a little habit of his. Younghoon is all the way at the end of the row, face emotionless.
He makes his way over to where Chanhee is. He stops and stares at him before bursting into a fit of laughter. "Whipped," Younghoon chuckles and goes to the counter.
Chanhee rolls his eyes.
"What are you waiting for? Come and pay for my bread; you lost the bet."
The sound of bells dancing against each other fills Chanhee and Younghoon's ears. It's a late Friday morning, and they're at Starbucks. Chanhee didn't get enough sleep last night, so he's here for a caffeine run before classes start in the afternoon. Younghoon's professor cancelled class last minute as he had a family emergency, so he decided to study here.
"Get my order for me? I'll find us seats." Younghoon says, already half on his way.
Nodding, Chanhee walks over to near the counter. He observes the menu, despite already having decided on his order. He's a fan of Starbucks, and it's always at the top of his list to find out if there are any new drinks on the menu. He can't help but still be curious though, to see if there's anything that'll catch his eye.
At the corner of his eye, a staff walks out from the back of the store, tying his apron. Chanhee unknowingly keeps his eyes on him, and his eyes widen in surprise when he recognises him.
Chanhee smiles and walks over to place his order. "Hi, I'd like to get an Iced Americano and a Java Chip Frappuccino please."
"Sure, that would be twelve ninety. How would you like to pay— Chanhee?" Changmin's lips form an "O" as he comes to a realisation.
"Hey, fancy seeing you here. I'd like to pay with my card, by the way."
"Oh? I didn't expect to see you here at all. Not that it's a bad thing! It's just a little embarrassing for you to see me here in my work uniform." Changmin says as he taps his screen to prepare for Chanhee's payment.
Chanhee taps his card on the machine and giggles. "Nah, you look good in your uniform!"
Chanhee misses the way Changmin's cheeks flush pink.
"I'll get your drinks ready. I'll write your name on the cups?"
"Yeah, that would be great. Thanks!" Chanhee beams the same way Changmin does at him, and he leaves to wait for his order at the back.
When Changmin calls for him, Chanhee grabs the drinks, and he blushes when he sees a neatly drawn heart beside his name on the cup.
Chanhee nearly drops the drinks on the table from the way his hands feel so jittery. "Woah there, calm down." Younghoon doesn't leave his gaze on his laptop screen as he takes a few sips from his drink.
"Younghoon, I think I'm going crazy." Chanhee smacks his cheeks with his palms in an attempt to make them cool down. He is fully aware his sense of logic is a little different.
"Calm down, it's just Changmin."
"How can I when it's Changmin that we're talking about?" The younger frowns.
Younghoon snickers at him. "He's looking over at us. Don't turn around— Chanhee you absolute idiot."
Chanhee spins around the moment he hears Changmin's name. Oh, the silly little things you do when you have a crush. He spots Changmin looking right into his eyes from several metres away, hands moving to wave at him. Blood rushes to his cheeks, making Chanhee look like a baby peach. "Why am I like this?" Chanhee wonders out loud as he turns back to face Younghoon, who's laughing at him.
"Well, maybe, surprise, you have a crush on him. Woooo." He says it with no enthusiasm in his voice.
Sighing, Chanhee buries his head in his arms and whines for a while. Younghoon pays no attention to him and resumes typing on his laptop.
The wind blows the trees and bushes around, making them appear as if they are dancing together. Sun shining beautifully, rays brightening the environment. A tiny human cuts through the wind as he makes his way to class. Chanhee is wearing a big smile on his face, Changmin taking full credit for this. He's evidently in a good mood today; the coffee definitely gave him the energy boost he needed, he has his new pair of converses on (he saved up for that), and most importantly, he saw Changmin somewhere else from where Chanhee usually bumps into him. Obviously, Chanhee thought the sight of Changmin working in his uniform was incredibly adorable.
As if on cue, Chanhee hears footsteps getting louder. He feels a tap on his shoulder and looks up. "Hey! On your way to class?" Changmin asks. He isn't wearing his uniform anymore. Instead, he has a patterned cardigan over a black shirt, together with blue denim jeans. Changmin's wearing a long necklace too, a golden moon charm dangling at the bottom.
"Yeah, you?" Chanhee answers, his fingers fiddling with one another out of nervousness.
Changmin nods, smiling softly at him.
"Are you coming along to the student council meeting later?" Chanhee asks lightheartedly.
Changmin pauses to think for a while. "Mm, I don't have anything on after my lessons… If you don't mind, can I join?"
"Sure, we're going to discuss about an upcoming donation drive. Nothing private, so you're more than welcome to come."
"Got it! Meet me outside my classroom later?"
Changmin beams. "Of course." He was already planning on coming over with Kevin anyway. Not that he doesn't feel guilty — he does here and there — but Changmin makes decisions without much thought sometimes.
"That's all for today. Thanks for listening." The professor walks out, and Chanhee feels his nerves go all crazy. He pokes his head around, smiling when he sees Changmin outside. He packs his lesson materials quickly and heads out.
"Let's go?" Chanhee gestures towards the staircase. Changmin nods, and they make their way to the meeting room together.
Chanhee opens the door, and in less than five seconds, Kevin is yelling, "Oh, look who is here with Mister Chanhee, our president?"
Kevin Moon, Chanhee's right hand in the council, and Changmin's best friend. Kevin is unarguably one of the aces in the school. He's excellent, no, incredible at art, always being the one designing brochures or badges for various school events, including important ones. In addition, he has good grades and a wonderful personality.
Anyway, Changmin is smacking Kevin and shoving him, stopping when he makes eye contact with Chanhee. Chanhee smiles, fondly, but Changmin is too flustered to notice that, so he quickly sits down in a spare chair.
The discussion goes smoothly as always. Ideas pitched in, plans being made. By the time Chanhee calls it a day, it's six in the evening, and his stomach is rumbling. Not loud enough for anyone to hear, thankfully.
Chanhee is aggressively stuffing his laptop into his bag when he sees somebody standing near him. He looks up a little to quickly to startle poor Changmin, who is pretty close to him. "Um," he coughs, "Would you like to have dinner with me? Everyone here seems to have their dinner plans." Changmin asks shyly.
"Oh, sure!" Chanhee smiles. "I'm actually starving right now. Let's go! Any preferences?" Changmin shakes his head in response. Anything to eat is fine, really. As long as he's with Changmin, everything's alright. Changmin jogs over to grab his bag before leaving with Chanhee, wearing a shy grin on his face.
They walk around aimlessly along the streets, enjoying being in each other's presence. It's peaceful and comforting, as if they are two childhood best friends walking together after meeting up in the tenth year of their friendship.
A conversation flows smoothly between the both of them. They're currently talking about how therapeutic watching cat videos are when their burgers arrive at their table.
Changmin is snapping some pictures (for his Instagram, he says), and Chanhee takes this opportunity to shoot Younghoon a couple of texts. Okay, maybe not a couple, because later on, Younghoon yells at him for the fifty messages, thinking Chanhee got himself into deep trouble.
To say that Chanhee was panicking was an understatement. His heart was accelerating faster than the speed Younghoon rides his motorbike at, and boy, Younghoon rides his bike insanely fast. He was pretty sure Changmin could hear how loud his heartbeats were, threatening to explode out of his ribcage. Chanhee feels his fingers go numb, with no amount of stretching helping.
"Let's dig in?" Chanhee snaps out of it and nods. They finish their meal as if they are in a hurry. Chanhee doesn't want this moment to end, but he couldn't help but eat quickly to satisfy his hunger. There wasn't any awkwardness in the air, mutual understanding that they're both hungry and tired from the day.
"Thank you for having dinner with me!" Changmin smiles so beautifully. "Let's have a meal together again, maybe?" He asks, hopefully.
"I'd be delighted to," Chanhee replies, enjoying how it's just him and Changmin in the middle of the street, none of their friends around, where nobody could judge them, leaving them in their own, little world. "Today marks the day we become friends, by the way."
Changmin pretends to be hurt. "I thought we were besties!" Chanhee giggles, a hand covering his mouth. "Kidding, yeah, today marks the day our friendship starts."
They stand there for a while more, smiling at each other. Wind blowing their hair, dry leaves dancing on the ground.
Nobody there to tease them or make funny remarks, nobody there to giggle at them, nobody there to ask them to get a room. Just a peaceful moment together.
The day starts off terribly for Chanhee. Everything was going wrong, and he was definitely more than annoyed.
First, he slept through his alarm and woke up twenty minutes late, and Chanhee had no choice but to skip his shower. He went straight to the bathroom to wash his face quickly but soon regretted not boiling the water first. Now, he had to wait around for the water to be boiled before he could drink his morning coffee.
Next, while pouring the water from the kettle, his elbow slipped off the counter, causing hot water to pour on his foot instead. He thanked himself for having quick reflexes; his hand moved away not more than a second later.
After ten minutes, with an ice pack on his foot and his cup of hot coffee on the table, Chanhee thinks he can finally calm down a little.
That was just one of the few good events of the day, he thinks. Chanhee then forgets he had left the bread in the toaster, and by the time he had tried to rescue them, the slices were already burnt. There, another five minutes wasted on toasting another few slices of bread.
Unsurprisingly, Chanhee misses the bus. Despite his efforts, they were all in vain. Chanhee left the house fifteen minutes later than whenever he usually does, and he was obviously going to miss his usual bus. He wasn't aware of the timings for the other buses, so he walked to the bus stop. Poor decision, plainly. He starts running as fast as he can when he sees the bus, but the driver must have been looking somewhere else, as by the time he reached the stop, the bus started leaving. Chanhee grumbles, accepting the fact that he was indeed late for class.
When he arrives at school, Chanhee tries to get to the lecture theatre as unsuspiciously as possible. Not that he wanted to avoid getting caught by a professor for being late, because honestly, none of them really care if students are late. It was more of Chanhee wanting to avoid conversations with anyone to prevent him from getting to class as early as possible.
Peeking through the blinds, Chanhee winces when he sees his regular seat taken. He mutters under his breath, rolling his eyes. A spot at the back of the room is unoccupied, and after noticing that it was just two seats away from Hyunjun, a friendly acquaintance of his, Chanhee heaves a sigh of relief and quickly jogs over.
"You late?" Hyunjun slides to his side and whispers to Chanhee. Obvious answer to the question, but still a pretty decent conversation starter.
"Yeah," Chanhee dabs the tiny droplets of sweat off his forehead with his sleeve. "I overslept today. Bad luck."
Hyunjun pats Chanhee's shoulders and nods, showing that he relates to him. "You haven't missed much, thankfully. Prof was reviewing last week's content, and it dragged a bit because some loser was trying to convince the class… something about lace." Chanhee raises his eyebrow. Lace is one of his favourite materials to work with, and he would have been interested in listening to the debate, even if it was dumb. "I dunno, I forgot. I wasn't really listening. But yeah, he's going through new content now." Hyunjun slides back to his seat after beaming at Chanhee, satisfied with the information he had given him. Chanhee nods and thanks Hyunjun, and starts getting his writing materials out for the lesson.
The class goes by quickly. Most likely because the usual hour and a half lecture becomes an hour, since Chanhee arrived late. He's in the midst of packing his notebook— more like stuffing it in his tote bag. Something was stuck, and his notebook couldn't fit in. He jumps when he realises he's supposed to "meet" Changmin at the vending machine, and he throws everything in his bag before running out.
Nothing matters more than seeing Changmin there. It's dumb, Chanhee knows, but it's these little things that make him happy. Chanhee would never ever let anything prevent him from seeing Changmin, even if it was just him getting a can drink.
All his worries faded away when he saw a familiar red-haired boy facing the vending machine.
He inserts some coins in the machine and collects his iced coffee. When Chanhee stands up, he's met with Changmin doing the same.
"Hey," Chanhee says. He squirms internally at the tone of his voice. It comes out a little too desperate, too obvious that he had been looking forward to seeing the younger.
The blonde notices that Changmin is wearing an adorable pair of glasses. It has thick black frames, which makes Changmin appear like a first-year student. So cute, he thinks.
Changmin bursts into laughter, making Chanhee flush red when he realises that he had said that out loud. "I'll see you later, student rep!"
It's a nickname Changmin likes to use to call Chanhee. It would usually annoy the older, but nearly nothing Changmin says could ever annoy him.
Chanhee is just about to turn around to leave when Changmin stops and looks back at him. He points finger guns at him and winks, right leg raised. It's only a matter of seconds before Changmin disappears down the hallway when he hears Chanhee burst into a fit of laughter.
What a big mood booster.
Class goes faster than Chanhee realises. It's been a long day, and Chanhee wants nothing other than to get home and wrap himself with his bedsheets and take a nap.
Maybe not just that. He's leaving the lecture theatre, hand combing through the threads of his hair when he sees Changmin leaning on the wall, occupying himself with his phone.
The sight of Changmin looking like a typical college boyfriend is something Chanhee wants to keep in his mind forever. Hair slightly overgrown, covering his eyebrows, shoelaces on his converses more grey than white. Yet, Changmin looks ever so perfect.
It's as if time has stopped for both of them. Chanhee is frozen on his spot, while Changmin doesn't seem to have noticed him.
Chanhee enjoys the joy he's getting. Just a little, but enough to make the corner of his mouth curl up in a smile.
"Hey," Changmin tucks his phone in his pocket when he finally notices the other. He's wearing a shy grin, which Chanhee interprets as a smile that shows that Changmin's not sure if he's overstepping any lines or boundaries by waiting for him after class.
"Hey, Min," Chanhee tries a new nickname for him. He catches the colour dusting Changmin's cheeks, feeling his heart go in circles.
They're walking side by side out of the building, a comfortable silence settling between them. Neither of them feels the need to get rid of it; they're satisfied being in each other's presence.
Changmin's the one that eventually breaks the silence. "How's your boyfriend doing?" His eyes are focused on the road, lip in between his teeth as he bites on them.
Chanhee nearly stops walking. Boyfriend? Since when did he have one? He has a boyfriend without his own knowledge?
"I have a boyfriend?" He asks, eyes darting around as he racks brain to think of who Changmin is talking about.
"Yeah," Changmin steals a quick glance at Chanhee. "That tall, black-haired dude with an undercut." Chanhee freezes, debating whether to giggle or not.
"Oh my god, Min, are you talking about Younghoon?"
"Yeah, I think?"
Chanhee does giggle in the end. "Min, he's just my best friend! He's straight." Changmin nods slowly, realising he's got things wrong. "I'm not interested in him at all," Chanhee adds. I'm interested in you, Changmin.
That night, when Changmin arrives back at his dorm, he yells quite loudly at Kevin for not informing him that Younghoon is just a friend and nothing more to Chanhee. Kevin frowns and yells back at him, telling him that everyone but him knows that.
Chanhee is at work on a Saturday morning. Well, not exactly at work, since he's simply helping his mother out at the florist. His mother owns the store, a beautiful place, really. One of the regular workers isn't able to come to work at last minute's notice, hence Chanhee being here to replace her for the day.
He's keeping a few bouquets—prepared for collection, some plain roses, some mixtures when he hears one of the workers walking over with a rather familiar voice in his direction. Chanhee quickly gets up to move out of the way, slightly struggling with the box of bouquets. He looks up and is met face to face with, of all people, Changmin.
First, he met Changmin at his workplace, and now Changmin met him at his own workplace. Okay, not really, but that doesn't matter.
The older is suddenly conscious of his appearance, and he feels so small in front of Changmin. He's wearing a flower clip—something all employees of the shop wear to signify that they're a staff, and God, he feels so shy about it. A very oversized brown florist apron wraps his body, allowing Chanhee to appear even smaller than how he usually looks.
Changmin's eyes are widened when Chanhee looks at him, his mouth forming an "O". He looks like a hamster frozen in its spot being caught for stealing food. Why does he always look so adorable?
"Chanhee, can you help him out with his collection?" The staff smiles as thanks and leaves for the counter in a hurry to serve the new customers.
"Hey," Changmin coughs, "I'm here to, uh, collect a bouquet." Chanhee winces. They've never really been awkward when they're together these days, but for some reason, he feels so incredibly awkward right now. Ah, This is what Changmin must have been feeling when he bumped into him the other day.
"Alright, under your name?"
"Yeah," Changmin says.
Chanhee hurriedly grabs the clipboard he left on a nearby table and searches for the shelf number for Changmin's bouquet.
It's a bouquet of pretty, dried flowers. His favourite, in fact. Chanhee feels a pang of jealousy for whoever the lucky receiver of the bouquet is. He wishes it was him instead, but oh well.
"Here it is. Thank you for visiting Flower Heaven, Min!" Chanhee waves to Changmin as he exits the store, and when he waves back and leaves, Chanhee thinks he can breathe again.
Valentine's Day is just around the corner. The student council has been busy with planning the events, including Chanhee.
Changmin does pop in to help out here and there, but it's become less frequent. His usual three visits a week has been reduced to once every one or two weeks.
Today is no exception. Chanhee looks around the room for him every now and then, and Kevin must have noticed because he drags the leader over to the corner and tells him that Changmin has been busy with a project of his, thus being unable to come as often these days. Chanhee visibly relaxes, shoulders dropping down in relief. He's just busy; he shouldn't come when he is, he thinks.
Valentine's Day goes by quickly. So far, while running his errands, Chanhee hasn't bumped into Changmin a single time. He's been around the campus delivering gifts as part of their anonymous gift delivery service, but yet no Changmin in sight. Was Changmin purposely ignoring him? No, that's just a far fetched conclusion. Maybe, he was just busy with his own personal matters. Chanhee can't help but wonder.
After nearly four hours later, Chanhee is done giving out all of the gifts in the lockers. He doesn't have any plans for the rest of his day besides wanting to take a long nap wrapped in his blanket on his bed, so he hurries and packs his belongings before congratulating the rest of the student council members for their hard work and leaves.
Chanhee is about to leave the school gates when he remembers that he was supposed to bring one of his textbooks home, and he walks back quickly.
Opening his locker, he's met with a big bouquet of flowers. Hm? He wasn't expecting any, to be honest. Sure, he may be the president of the student council, but he wasn't extremely popular to the point where he would have a secret admirer.
From further inspection, the bouquet is rather familiar. The flowers are dried ones instead of fresh. Bouquets of dried flowers aren't a usual gift to people. It doesn't have a tag with the name of its origin on it. Instead, a plain piece of paper is tied to it with a simple string. It reads,
Dried flowers last longer than fresh ones. This is an exchange for befriending me. Thank you.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Only one person would send this to him.
Chanhee runs back to the student council room and grabs one of the leftover roses he left, and writes a quick note to Changmin.
Time is running out, and Changmin could have left the campus already, so Chanhee runs to his lockers with all the remaining energy he has left.
Chanhee is on the bus on the way home, and he can finally inhale everything.
A bouquet from Changmin? He smells the flowers, smiling from ear to ear. He's always loved dried flowers, too, for the same reason. They last longer than fresh ones, meaning you don't feel the guilt when you need to throw them out in a week. Why did Changmin send these to him, though? Not that he doesn't want them, Chanhee thinks he isn't that significant in Changmin's life for him to send him flowers on Valentine's Day. Maybe Changmin wanted to comfort him for spending the day alone without a partner.
Mind hazy, Chanhee feels weird knowing that Changmin sent flowers to someone else other than him. He frowns, staring out of the window.
Ten minutes later, it dawns on him. He stares at the flowers and the wrapping, and he suddenly realises that this is the same bouquet Changmin ordered at his mother's florist shop. The flowers are the same as what he remembers, and the colour of the paper is the same. Same shade of beige.
Oh, he gave flowers to Changmin that was meant for him. He chuckles and wonders if Changmin thought that his surprise for him had been ruined.
It's a very busy day for Chanhee. His guest is about to arrive in half an hour, and he's only started getting ready. Well, he underestimated the amount of time he would need to prepare.
A few days ago, Chanhee asked to hang out with Changmin since they had just finished their exams. They decided on having a movie night at Chanhee's apartment, with takeout for dinner.
He's running from room to room to make sure everything is in order. He's got sushi for takeout, kept in the refrigerator to stay cool. Snacks are all tidied up on the side table, with various drinks stocked in the refrigerator. He didn't know what Changmin would like, so he, well, bought five different ones.
Blankets are freshly washed and folded in his cabinet, just in case they get cold. He told Changmin to come dressed comfortably, preferably in an oversized hoodie, because they're comfortable and they keep you warm, but he still prepared the blankets just in case.
Chanhee gives the floor one more quick mop, and by the time he's done, his doorbell rings. He stuffs it in a corner before combing his hair and dabbing his sweat.
The door opens, and Changmin is waving with a big grin on his face. "Hi, Hee!" Hee? That's a new nickname Changmin is using. Chanhee hopes his blush isn't that noticeable because he definitely feels it. "Hey, Minnie. Come in!" He stands to the side, and Changmin gets in. Changmin is in a big black hoodie, pairing it with grey sweatpants. Chanhee spots his adorable Mickey Mouse socks, and he has to bite his tongue to stop himself from cooing.
"I got us some steamed buns. They're from my favourite store!" Changmin beams, opening the box to show them to a smiling Chanhee. "I think you'll like them." Something in the way Changmin phrased his words made Chanhee's heart soar. The fact that Changmin took into consideration what Chanhee would like to eat made his heart burst into joy. They've only had meals together twice, so it's hard to tell.
"That sounds lovely! Smells good, too." Chanhee looks up to look at Changmin, and when he sees him already looking at him, he feels himself shrink. "I got us sushi. I hope that's alright with you?" Changmin squeals softly, hands clasped together. "I love sushi. Dinner sounds great!"
Chanhee gets the plates and cutlery out while Changmin is choosing drinks for them as instructed.
"Honey green tea? That's one of my favourite drinks," Chanhee looks over and says. It is one of his favourites, kind of like his comfort drink. "Really? That's one of my favourites too!" Changmin exclaims, surprise written all over his face.
"Woah, we have more similarities than I thought!" Chanhee says.
"Yeah, that's so cool."
Dinner lasts longer than what Chanhee had expected. They've been talking about anything under the sun for the past hour, from Changmin's new pet, to how there was a huge debate in Chanhee's class, to how Chanhee's mother mistook him for a celebrity when he first dyed his hair pink. (It was rather funny, and Chanhee had to take a whole minute to say a sentence because he couldn't stop laughing.)
Eventually, Chanhee cleans the table while Changmin walks around, exploring his apartment. He gets shy from the compliments Changmin gives from the apartment, especially for the interior design.
What Chanhee doesn't know is that Changmin sees Chanhee's flowers kept neatly in a vase. Pity, Chanhee doesn't see the smile on Changmin's face.
Changmin walks back out to the living room, and him having guest privilege, he picks Inside Out. Chanhee feels shocked for the tenth time of the day; He absolutely loves watching Inside Out. Changmin must be his soulmate, seeing how they have so many similarities.
The curtains are drawn to minimise the amount of light entering the room. They're currently about an hour into the movie, and they've consumed two packets of potato chips, now empty, wrapper sitting on the table. Chanhee looks down to the younger beside him, who's currently resting on his chest, body under the blanket, eyes trained on the movie playing on the screen. Chanhee's hand combs through Changmin's soft locks, which he had already commented earlier that his hair was oddly soft considering how often Changmin dyes his hair. He jokingly offered to share his hair treatment tips, to which Chanhee had declined lightly.
His gaze shifts to Changmin's eyelashes. He's so close to him, such that Chanhee is able to count the number of eyelashes he has. They're so long and pretty, he deduces.
Eyes fall to his lips. Changmin is pouting at the movie, making him look like a baby duck. They're pretty and pink, looking ever so soft, and Chanhee wonders how it would be like to feel them—
"Hm?" Changmin looks up at Chanhee. Ah, he's been caught staring. What Changmin said wasn't really a question, though. More like Changmin being amused that he's being awed at.
Pink dusts his cheeks, Chanhee blushes. He watches as Changmin sits up and readjusts his blanket, such that it's only covering his lap. He holds eye contact with Changmin throughout, and all of a sudden, Chanhee sees a glint in his eye. It looks as if they're staring at each other when they're actually looking into each other's eyes. Like one digging for treasure buried somewhere in the middle of the desert. Chanhee tries to look for any sign of answer in Changmin's eyes but to no avail.
Changmin breaks the eye contact as his gaze flutters down to Chanhee's lips and up. What he says next makes Chanhee freeze.
"Can I kiss you?"
Those four words come out so softly and delicately, like a puppy pawing at its owner for food.
Chanhee blinks a couple of times before he internalises what he had heard. Changmin wants to kiss him? Chanhee gasps. His crush is asking for permission to kiss him.
He realises he's taking a little too long to answer, so he nods abruptly at Changmin.
Changmin pulls the cloth at Chanhee's collar towards him and slots his lips in between his own lips. Chanhee feels sparks fly; fireworks exploding in the night sky, bottles of champagne popping open. The moment feels so pure, so much more than Chanhee would like, but its gentleness and tenderness make his heart dance. It's not too much; Changmin kisses him once and lets his gaze fall on the television screen. Chanhee once again freezes, staring at Changmin in shock. What just happened? He had always wondered how it would be like kissing Changmin, but he's never ventured into wondering how it would be like being the one kissing him. He didn't think it would ever happen so soon. Not that he didn't want to, he didn't think it would be possible to. Now that it's happened, Chanhee wants to kiss Changmin again and again.
Chanhee draws his eyes back to the screen, but not before catching Changmin's small smirk, and he feels heat rising to his cheeks again.
They don't speak of it properly when the movie ends. Changmin stretches and accidentally smashes his hand into Chanhee's ribs just as he was yawning, and they end up laughing for a good ten minutes.
They decide it's late, and they're both too comfortable, and so Changmin sleeps over at Chanhee's for the night.
Changmin and Chanhee had been going back and forth between choosing who sleeps where, Chanhee insisting he takes the couch while Changmin takes his bed, Changmin declining that he take the couch instead. With almost no energy left in them, tired of going here and there, both of them finally agree on sharing Chanhee's bed.
If he were fully awake, Chanhee would have been panicking over the fact that he would be in close proximity with Changmin. He hadn't exactly been expecting a sleepover, but he also didn't think it wouldn't happen. Tired and in a daze, Chanhee wraps his arms around Changmin's tiny waist and tucks his head under Changmin's, and lets sleep wash over him. He would simply deal with the consequences tomorrow when he wakes up.
"Jeez, Chanhee," Younghoon opens the door hurriedly to stop the aggressive knocks. "It's nine in the morning, you ass." Chanhee lets himself in, kicking his shoes off as he ignores his friend and runs right into Younghoon's couch, screaming into a pillow.
Their friendship level is way past the need for formalities. They've been there for one another when one of them was ill, drunk, Chanhee's head trapped in the window, Younghoon's finger caught in the door— Anyways, it wouldn't be rude when Chanhee didn't say a hello or greet the older.
"Why are you here, by the way?" Younghoon goes to the kitchen to make Chanhee and himself a warm cup of green tea. A good cup of green tea always puts them in a better mood (Chanhee told Younghoon that once, and ever since, they would make some when they're in a bad mood or just something to accompany them when they're having a talk together.)
Chanhee momentarily stops yelling and looks at Younghoon blankly, eyes devoid of emotion.
"Changmin," He pauses.
"What?" Younghoon asks, eyebrow raised as he sits himself beside Chanhee.
"He kissed me."
"Okay?" Younghoon sips on his green tea. He suddenly freezes, setting his cup down. "Wait, what?"
Chanhee buries his face in the pillows again. "Hoon, I am so, so confused."
Confusion isn't an unfamiliar emotion to Chanhee. He's felt it so often. One of his biggest memories was when one of his 'enemies' from preschool had offered him a sandwich during break time, when Chanhee was sitting all alone at the side of the field since he had forgotten to bring his lunchbox that day. Four years old him went home and told his mother about it, and that was when he had learnt the feeling.
Another memory was when in middle school, one day, all of a sudden, he felt something strange in him when he was looking at his then-best friend, instead of his usual friendly banter, he wanted to hug him and do more affectionate actions with him. The poor boy was so confused since he grew up thinking only "boys and boys can be friends, no more than that". He eventually discovered new things about himself, things becoming clearer.
Chanhee would usually eventually be able to draw conclusions and get answers to his own questions. But yet, so far, he isn't able to understand why Changmin had kissed him.
"Did he pity me? Did I look like I was upset over something? Did I look dumb—"
"Chanhee, breathe. Drink some tea." Chanhee follows as instructed, taking a deep breath after drinking a couple of sips.
The cup nearly drops from Chanhee's shock, forgetting the tea was hot.
"Hoon, does Changmin even like boys or something?" Chanhee feels horrified. "Oh, what if he's straight? Hoon, what if—"
Younghoon takes the cup away from Chanhee's hands and sets it down on the table. He takes Chanhee's hands tenderly and intertwines them, smiling sweetly at him. "Chanhee, listen to me. You're overthinking this." Chanhee looks up and stares into the void, gears moving in his head as he listens and thinks. "I'm straight. Would I kiss you while we're watching a movie together?"
"No, that's, ew, Younghoon no."
Younghoon stops him with his palm in front of Chanhee's face. "No, Chanhee, don't visualise that, oh my god. Anyway, Changmin did that, right? If he's straight, would he kiss you?"
"No buts. Well, I think he likes you."
Chanhee sits up and frowns. "Hoon, how did you even come to that conclusion?" He straightens his back. "That doesn't make any sense."
"It literally doesn't."
Younghoon sighs. "Okay, whatever, but still, I'm pretty sure Changmin likes you. You probably haven't seen the way he looks at you, idiot."
"Hm," Chanhee hums. "What do you mean?"
Younghoon smiles. "I've seen him look at you many times, and damn, Chanhee, he looks at you like you're his whole world."
Chanhee scoffs. "Nah, don't lie to me."
"I'm not, asshole." Younghoon rolls his eyes, throwing a cushion at Chanhee.
"Pfft." Chanhee taps his finger on the side of his cup. "Why would Changmin like me? He's a hot, cool dancer, and I'm just a fashion student. And the student council pressie. But that's nothing cool."
"I dunno, I guess he sees something in you."
Chanhee slaps his shoulder.
"Wow, Younghoon, thank you soooo much for helping!"
Younghoon plays with Chanhee's hair in an attempt to make the younger feel more comfortable. "Try not to think about this too much, yeah?" Chanhee sighs, melting into Younghoon's embrace.
They change the topic to cats, and well, they watch cat videos for two hours that day.
Chanhee slips out of his shoes and walks barefooted on the sand. He buries his toes in them as he stands, watching the waves crash in the distance. The beach was an hour and a half bus ride away from his apartment, but the travelling was surely worth it. The comfort you get from listening to the water splashing and feeling the dry sand in your hands? Nothing could ever compare to the relief Chanhee gets from this.
He's come here alone, a bag carrying some essentials to accompany him.
The tall trees swaying at the side, blue ocean and the beige disappear from his vision as a boy comes in.
Changmin, Changmin, Changmin.
It's been a while since Chanhee had developed feelings for him.
At first, he'd listen in to stories told by Juyeon, Kevin and sometimes Haknyeon, some funny, some strange. He'd get intrigued, always somehow wondering how he looked like. Chanhee didn't know then; It was quite some time ago.
Chanhee would never be able to forget the first time he met Changmin. He was about to start his presentation during a student council meeting, when a loud voice burst through the air, door opening. All heads turned to the voice, and there Changmin was. Apparently, Changmin mixed up the timing, and he came to walk home with Kevin, thinking the meeting had ended. Chanhee chuckles at the memory. He remembers lecturing himself lightheartedly for blushing in front of everyone. How embarrassing. Chanhee then (he still is.) was so starstruck by Changmin's smile, that he went out of his way after classes that day to tell Changmin that it was alright for him if he were to ever want to join future student council meetings unless they were important. (He'd give a heads up to Changmin.) That day, Juyeon lectured him for inviting Changmin without any discussions with the members, to which Chanhee apologised and excused himself with a lame, "I mean, everyone here is friends with Changmin, so there shouldn't be a huge problem.."
When Changmin dyed his hair a bright orange from brown, that night, Chanhee screamed while he was on the phone with Younghoon. The older got pissed and blocked him for the night, but that didn't stop Chanhee from screaming. Until his neighbour checked on him the next morning, asking if everything was alright, to which a sheepish Chanhee apologised for causing worry.
It was so cute, though, Chanhee recalls. While walking down the hallways, a fluffy orange-haired boy would peek through the crowds.
Chanhee sits closer to the shore, waves pouring over his feet gently.
One of his favourite memories of Changmin was when he saved his life.
He was leaving the school campus, ready to go home, when he realised the sun was hidden by the clouds, rain pouring hard on the ground. He fumbles in his bag for his umbrella, sighing in annoyance when he remembers he had forgotten to bring it that day. Lo and behold, Changmin appeared as if he was an angel, lifting the umbrella over his head. "Hey, we could share?" Chanhee smiles, thanking him till Changmin had to say that he'd leave if he wouldn't stop, threat empty. The bus stop was quite a walk away, and the sky was roaring, thunder booming into their ears, so they huddled close to each other, bumping into the other occasionally. Chanhee recalls being so incredibly nervous. They've never really been in the same place together, usually with a friend or two. Chanhee's heart races, holding his breath until they separated at the bus stop. This was the start of flowers blooming in Chanhee's heart. Cliche, Chanhee knows, but he felt so thankful that day he wanted to do anything possible to repay Changmin's kindness. Things started from there, with Chanhee paying more attention to the boy. Yet, Chanhee felt that Changmin was too kind, too good for him, he decided that he'd simply admire the younger from afar.
Chanhee rests his body on the sand, staring at the clouds in the sky. He raises his arm, reaching out to the clouds. Too far, Chanhee's hand closes slowly.
He wonders if he'd ever deserve to have such an angel in his life. Changmin, usually too silly for his own good, who also wears his heart on his sleeve. Changmin, who takes care of stray cats even when his arms are full. Changmin, who loves helping others without expecting anything much in return. Changmin, who smiles all the time despite when things are hard. Changmin, who deserves only the good things in this world. Chanhee wonders if he could give that to Changmin.
The sky darkens, sun setting under the ocean. Chanhee stays to watch just a little longer, enjoying the peace and warmth he can get.
Chanhee nearly slips as he stuffs his leg into his sweatpants, one hand putting on a watch on his wrist. He grabs his phone and his bag before running out of the house.
In all honesty, there isn't a need to be in such a hurry. Changmin isn't even there yet; He'll probably need another half an hour or so. Still, Chanhee doesn't want to make Changmin wait, and so he makes his way as fast as possible.
Changmin had called him earlier, telling him that somehow, Kevin being Kevin, had forgotten he had a date with Jacob, and he had to ditch Changmin ahead of the hangout. Chanhee was the first person he had thought of, hence the invite.
As soon as Chanhee gets off the bus, he tries to walk as calmly and as cooly as he can while heading over to where Changmin had told him to come. He's holding a bag of freshly made ham sandwiches and red velvet cupcakes, both from one of his favourite cafes. Expensive, but definitely worth it. He knows Changmin loves them (He overheard a conversation between Kevin and Sangyeon once about how Changmin smiled so wide when his friends surprised him with them, and Chanhee guessed that ham sandwiches and red velvet cupcakes are some of his favourite foods.)
A red and white checkered cloth is laid on the ground, Changmin sitting comfortably. He's taking out some boxes from his rattan basket, music playing from a radio in the background. Chanhee giggles at the sight of Changmin moving to the song as he smiles, looking like a happy child having fun at the playground.
"Hey, Min," Chanhee says while smiling at the other. Changmin looks up and beams. "Hee! You're here earlier than I had expected." Changmin offers Chanhee a pink heart-shaped cushion, to which he accepts thankfully. "I'm so sorry for calling you over so suddenly. I hope you weren't busy!" Changmin frowns at him. Chanhee was actually in the middle of writing a research paper, but it wasn't due till two weeks later, so it wasn't a problem when he decided to join Changmin on his picnic. Not going to lie, Chanhee would have stopped whatever he was doing anytime to hang out with Changmin.
"Mmm," Chanhee shakes his head, "It's fine."
Changmin squeals when he sees the food Chanhee had brought. "Oh my God! Chanhee! You brought ham sandwiches and cupcakes?" Chanhee looks at him and smiles. He thinks he sees hearts forming in Changmin's eyes. "Mhm, I hope you'll like them."
"I do! I was actually kinda upset because I didn't think I'd get to eat them," Changmin says. "Kebbie was supposed to bring them."
Changmin smiles so wide, eyes crinkling into little crescent moons. Chanhee thinks he's got a smile as beautiful as a rainbow. The joy it gives you, one that makes your heart go all warm and fuzzy. He's down bad, Chanhee thinks.
He bites into the sandwich and nibbles on them. "Mmmh," cheeks full, Changmin says, "Yuuum, where did you get this from?"
"I like you." Chanhee blurts out.
God, how unromantic could this get? This is so unlike of Chanhee, too. But could you blame him, really, when Changmin's face is glowing under the sun, two or three oddly familiar flowers dangling out of his shirt pocket?
"You, what," Changmin stops eating and stares at Chanhee.
"I, uh, like you, in a not so friend way?" Chanhee tilts his head and tries. "Do you like me back, or something," he says weakly.
This is it, Chanhee thinks. He's ruined their friendship with just three words. This was going to be the last time Chanhee would be hanging out with Changmin, just the two of them by themselves—
"Hee, were you always this dumb," Changmin shoves Chanhee with his fist.
"What," Chanhee says, staring.
"I literally kissed you," Changmin says, jabbing repeatedly at Chanhee's thigh. "Was it not obvious enough that I like you?"
"You're an idiot. You know what, I don't like you anymore, you're an idiot, Chanhee—"
Changmin shuts up when Chanhee kisses him.
It feels different. Most likely because they know it's romantically and not platonically, or whatever Chanhee thinks— Anyway, they don't make out, both not the type to show affection publicly.
This doesn't mean they don't sneak a few kisses here and there, though. In between bites, Changmin will peck Chanhee on the lips, earning a few soft whines from him.
Chanhee feels dizzy, intoxicated, knowing that this could be considered as their first date.
"Oh, are we boyfriends now?" Changmin peeks up from where he's lying, drawing what seems to be a portrait of Chanhee.
"Hm," Chanhee pretends to think. "I don't see any flowers or balloons around, no ring either," Chanhee giggles as he jokingly says, Changmin laughing hard at him.
"There's literally a dog pooping just somewhere behind you—"
"God, shut up!" Changmin guffaws, snuggling his head in Chanhee's lap as he looks at him with all the stars in the sky glittering in his eyes.
The next day, when Chanhee and Changmin walk into the meeting room hand in hand, Kevin yells loudly. "Pay up, losers!"
"Huh," Changmin looks around in confusion.
Juyeon slams his head in the wall, Haknyeon making all sorts of noises, arms punching the air. Jacob shouts, "What!" to which Chanhee yells back, "Jacob! I never expected this from you!"
It's chaos, they're making quite a lot of noise, but Chanhee didn't mind, consequences at the back of his mind. As long as he's got Changmin by his side, everything was alright.
Chanhee looks down and sees Changmin unconsciously drawing circles with his thumb over Chanhee's palm comfortingly, feeling his heart bloom a garden full of flowers.
Yeah, everything's okay.