The first time Changbin fell in love, it was fast and unexpected. He was fresh out of a life changing summer, just before his junior year of high school, and completely unprepared for what the year had in store for him. Changbin had been practically invisible during the first ten years of school, and in a way, he enjoyed that. However, after sophomore year, he decided he wanted to get his shit together for him : not for his mom, not for his love life, not for his image, just for him . He began to work out, the gym becoming his second home, and worked on music endlessly while learning English at the same time. He had a schedule that ran smoothly, a new exterior that had gathered a lot of attention from his peers. Especially the school’s golden boy, Hwang Hyunjin.
Loud chatter and slams of lockers echoed off of the walls, Changbin smirking to himself when he locked eyes with the girls he used to admire and his old friends who dropped him for their own personal status’. It was entirely satisfying to see how gobsmacked and borderline guilty they were after seeing him nearly at his best. And as cruel as it was, Changbin thrived off of it. How could he not? He had been ignored for most of his life, and now that he was getting nothing but stares and whispers, and the good kind as well. He couldn’t help but bask in it.
Somewhere along the wall of lockers and students, Changbin locked eyes with a pair of playful dark ones, a mole resting underneath the left. A perfect smile that Changbin had witnessed one too many times in the past grew over the person’s plump pink lips, and Changbin could have swore when they twitched up, his heart twitched up and out of his throat as well. It was always rather intriguing to see what kind of affect Hwang Hyunjin had on people, but Changbin liked to watch from the sidelines, not actually be the one playing.
“Hyung!” Changbin’s eyes snapped away from the younger’s, catching sight of a boy with messy hair an inch taller than him barreling towards Changbin full speed. He didn’t even have time to squeak out a “Jisung!” before he stumbled backwards with a shriek, Jisung wrapped around him like he was some sort of monkey. “I missed you,” the younger singsonged, nuzzling his face into Changbin’s cheek mockingly. Changbin grunted and patted Jisung’s back before shoving him off. “Alright, Mr. Muscle Man, don’t fucking kill me please –”
A sudden screech of a teacher telling Jisung to watch his language from behind him startled both high schoolers, smiling to each other sheepishly as Jisung apologized and watched the teacher storm off. When the teacher seemed to be nowhere in sight, Changbin snickered and clapped his hands lightly before shoving Jisung into a nearby locker. “I’m not Mr. Muscle man, disrespectful punk.” A mischievous smile grew on the younger’s lips after the use of ‘punk’, raising his hand to pinch lightly at the industrial bar in Changbin’s ear and tug at the freshly dyed black hair.
“Punk? Do you really have any room to call me such a thing when you look like you just walked out of the teen section of Hot Topic?” Changbin held up his left hand, glancing towards Jisung as he counted down in his head, each finger going down with every second. It took two seconds for Jisung to realize what was happening and three seconds for his body to be half way down the hall before Changbin was chasing after him, the two completely ignoring the calls of teachers scolding them for running, the image of Hwang Hyunjin long forgotten.
It didn’t take long for Changbin to catch up with the younger, tackling him to the ground and pinning him on the floor with his knee pressed against Jisung’s stomach. “Too slow, punk ,” Changbin snickered before getting off of his childhood best friend and offering him a hand to lift him up. Jisung took it without question. “So, what’s the verdict this year, squirrel? Who's going to date and who’s going to die this year?” Jisung’s already wide eyes somehow widened more at the question, a devilish smile appearing on his lips.
Han Jisung was a rather peculiar character. He seemed to know anything and everything about their school, some of it before it even happened. The high school they attended was pretty straight forward and predictable, but Changbin always liked to listen to his friend’s theories. “Apparently, Jisoo and Kai broke up and he’s dating her friend now. But I heard from Jenny that that they’re already pretty rocky so we’ll see how long that lasts. There’s a new freshman this year that’s like… pretty fucking cute and I’ve heard nothing but swooning from some of the sophomore girls. I’m already over it.” Changbin quirked an eyebrow at this, knowing that once Jisung caught eye of this new freshman, he was going to fall.
“Yeah? What if you turn into one of those sophomore girls?” Jisung crinked his nose up at the question.
“Hyung, I may be a sophomore, but I can confirm that I am in fact not a girl. And besides, Park Seonghwa is the most –,”
Changbin stroked at his temples in exhaustion. “– The most amazing singer to ever exist, has a jawline of the gods, and owns your heart. Yes, yes I know.” Jisung crossed his arms over his chest and smiled proudly, but it didn’t last long with Changbin’s next few words. “And I know you’re not a girl, your mom texted me your baby pictures the other day –” Jisung’s face turned beet red and the chase had been flipped around, Changbin now in front running like his life depended on it.
“What- Seo Changbin! Why are you and my mom texting each other?” The amount of ‘your mom’ jokes the two heard during the next two minutes was unhealthy, but at one particular joke, Jisung snorted and completely lost it. Changbin stopped in his tracks when he heard Jisung’s loud laughter from behind him, turning to see Jisung hunched over, hands on his knees with a doll faced, fox eyed freshman standing next to him, giggling quietly. It was a complete contrast to the obnoxious, ear piercing laughter of none other than Han Jisung himself.
“I’m sorry about him,” Changbin apologized once he was in ear shot, shooting the freshman Changbin’s version of a smile, which was more of a grimace than anything. But if the fox eyed boy seemed bothered by it, he didn’t express it in anyway. “Jisung you idiot, stop laughing. This is worse than that time at the beach,” Changbin huffed, gripping Jisung’s shoulders and straightening him up so he could pull himself together. Jisung’s laughter subsided to high pitched wheezes as he took a deep breath in and wiped away the tears dripping from his eyes. “Jesus, kid,” Changbin grumbled once Jisung got himself together.
The sophomore turned towards the doll faced boy, stopping in his tracks at the sight of his fair skin, fox eyes, and braces covered teeth. He was adorable . Jisung snapped out of it when he saw the fair skin tint with a crimson blush, and knew that he was caught staring. “You’re my new best friend, freshie. That was the funniest shit I’ve heard in a long time,” Jisung claimed, wrapping an arm around his shoulder and cradling the freshman's head close to his chest jokingly. “What’s your first block? I’ll take you. You didn’t get Mr. Park for english did you? He’s the worst of the worst.” Jisung fired questions left and right while Changbin merely rolled his eyes and gently peeled the freshman’s schedule from his hands.
“Yang Jeongin? He has biology first block, that’s next to your anatomy class, Jisung.” Changbin folded the schedule and tossed it into Jisung’s awaiting hands. Jeongin nodded towards the elder with an appreciative smile but didn’t make any sort of movement to get out of Jisung’s death grip. Changbin smirked at that. “Listen, I have to get going –,” Changbin was about to dismiss himself from the two, straightening his backpack on his shoulder before he was cut off by a familiar voice.
“Jisung, why are you touching my cousin?” Changbin tensed, not even daring to look over his shoulder at the new figure behind him. Soon, Hwang Hyunjin was stood next to him, Kim Seungmin surprisingly nowhere to be seen. Jisung didn’t flinch away from Jeongin, but he loosened his grip enough to where if Jeongin wanted to leave he could, but Jeongin didn’t do any such thing. “I don’t need you turning him into a troublemaker on his first day of school. He’s already a brat,” Hyunjin huffed, arms crossed over his chest and tapping his foot.
Jeongin offered a sound of disapproval and Changbin couldn’t help but snicker to himself in disbelief of the situation he’s found himself stuck in. “Changbin Hyung, it’s nice to see you again,” Hyunjin chimed suddenly, catching the elder off guard completely, his whole body freezing up when Hyunjin stroked his pointer finger along the shell of his ear until he reached the industrial piercing. “I like the new piercing. Suits you very well.” Changbin felt like he was going to choke on his own heart from the boy’s compliment, shrugging him off with a slight snarl.
“Hands to yourself, Hwang,” he grunted, stepping away slightly. Hyunjin just offered him a small chuckle that made Changbin’s head spin. “Like I was saying –” Changbin emphasized this with a growl, shooting Hyunjin a dirty look, “– I need to go. I’m expecting a very warm welcome from Mr. Kim this morning when I arrive to Physics.” Changbin saluted Jisung and Jeongin, watching his friend’s eyes go wide at the thought of Changbin leaving him with the fox eyed freshman and his cousin. “See ya at lunch.” And with that, Changbin swiveled on his feet, walking away.
“Wait you have physics first block?” Changbin stopped, silently praying to himself over and over again for the gods not to do this to him. He may have forgotten to workout for a week but did he really deserve this? Changbin nodded his head. “Oh hey, me too. Let’s walk together.” Fuck. However, Changbin couldn’t bring himself to be rude. Not when Hyunjin is looking at him with his eyes folded into crescents and a wide smile taking over his lips. Why couldn’t he do it? “Can I see your schedule?” Changbin dug out his schedule from his pocket hesitantly, handing the crumbled piece of paper to the younger. “Oh look! We have AP Language and Gym together too.”
Changbin wished the ground would come up around him and swallow him whole. He didn’t want this. He didn’t want to be stuck with Hwang Hyunjin and his dumb smile and crescent eyes. Changbin wasn’t sure he’d pass his classes if Hyunjin was there to be as distracting as he was already. Luckily, when he reached his first block and saw his one of his favorite teachers sitting at his desk, his nerves subsided for the time being, “Mr. Kim! DId you miss me?” It was entirely playful, just as the groan the dimpled man let out afterwards at the sight of his old chemistry student.
“Changbin, didn’t I tell you to sign up for Biology 2 so you could bother Mr. Min?” his teacher sighed, a mischievous smile growing on his lips when he caught sight of the tall boy behind Changbin. “What’s this? Changbin making new friends?” Changbin didn’t see the downcasted look in Hyunjin’s eyes or the two second frown he offered afterwards when Changbin merely muttered a ‘nah’ as a response. Mr. Kim had seen, of course, but didn’t say anything and made a mental note of it. “Well. I’m Mr. Kim. You’re going to hate me for the first half of the semester and love me for the next half.” Changbin nodded his head sagely in agreement, making Hyunjin chuckle.
Changbin glanced around the room until he caught sight of none other than Lee Minho sitting in his old seat, right next to Changbin’s old seat as well. “Chemistry buddy!” Changbin threw his hands up in the air dramatically while Minho just snarled his nose up at the younger, but much like Mr. Kim’s, there was nothing but a childish playfulness behind it. Changbin didn’t make a fool of himself any longer after that, sitting down in his seat at one of the front tables and watching Hyunjin move to the back corner table all the way across the room out of the corner of his eye. It made Changbin chuckle at the irony, as that was where him and Minho used to sit before Mr. Kim moved them to the front because they talked all the time.
Changbin managed to make it to lunch without having a heart attack, Hyunjin and him walking to class but separating when they got there. The two had talked briefly before Junior year, and Changbin knew Hyunjin was funny and really did have a good heart, but Changbin had to watch himself around the younger and his heart fluttering smiles. Hyunjin was straight, and with Changbin being open about his sexuality, it was rather amazing that Hyunjin was even hanging around him in the first place. But it wouldn’t be long until they forgot about one another.
“Seonghwa might have some competition,” was the first thing Changbin heard the minute he sat his backpack down at one of the outside tables during lunch, Jisung staring at his food with wide eyes. Changbin just rolled his own and grabbed the younger’s chopsticks, digging into the boy's ramen without permission and bending one leg up so his foot was on the bench. JIsung didn’t really mind, though; they had been splitting a lunch since they were little. “He’s so cute, Hyung,” Jisung whined, letting his head fall to the table with a loud thump.
“Who’s cute? And hyung why is your head on the table?” Jisung snapped his head up at the sound of Jeongin’s voice, watching him set his own tray of food down next to Jisung, and Changbin raised his eyebrows at his idiotic best friend. Changbin snorted when Jisung began to stutter out Park Seonghwa’s name and Jeongin’s face lit up. “I love him! Ah, shit. I forgot to pick up napkins. I’ll be back.” Changbin ignored the sharp intake of breath Jisung took and swiveled around to follow Jeongin’s retreating body with his eyes and arm in the air dramatically.
“Language, kid!” Jeongin just stuck his tongue out. Changbin snorted and turned back towards his friend, seeing him following Jeongin’s figure with puppy eyes and drool falling from the corner of his lips. “Oh no.” Changbin sighed and grabbed a napkin to swipe away the drool, snapping his friend out of the weird daze he was in. “Come on, Sungie. Keep it together ,” Changbin sighed in English. Jisung stared at him in bewilderment, firing question after question as to why the fuck Changbin suddenly knew nearly perfect English. “I learned over the summer, you dumb fuck, I told you that. Now stop spitting your food everywhere.”
Soon, Jeongin had come back, and Minho joined the three, making a perfect number of four, and Changbin was content. They had all fallen into playful conversation until Minho spoke up and asked the question that had been resting in the back of all their heads. “So, Jeonginnie –” Jeongin hummed in acknowledgement, “– why aren’t you sitting with your cousin and his friends?” Jeongin hadn’t been necessarily caught off guard by the question, but he rather surprised they bothered to ask.
“Don’t like his friends. The only friend that I tolerate of Hyunjin is Seungmin, and he touches me a lot,” Jeongin shrugged casually, Changbin catching Jisung’s eyes and shooting him a threatening look when Jisung looked ready to get up and storm into the lunch room and punch Seungmin into the next life. The younger deflated, but the fire in his eyes didn’t disappear, and Changbin was going to have to talk some sense into him later when he got the chance. Minho, however, didn’t seem to catch the memo and began to pry the younger for answers.
“Wait, wait, wait. Do we need to take care of him for you? We can get him to fuck off. Especially Changbin –,” Jeongin was quick to cut off his hyungs.
“Don’t worry about it, Hyungs. It’s nice to know you care, though.” It was sad to see how surprised Jeongin was to know someone cared outside of his cousin, and it nearly broke Changbin’s heart because he understood that completely. He knew what it was like to feel alone and thinking no one cared, and it was obvious Jisung saw this too. The elder threw an arm around Jeongin’s shoulder boldly and dragged him into his chest, rubbing up and down his biceps and even running his fingers through his hair, much like he had done with Changbin on occasion.
“We’re best friends now, freshie. Of course we care.” His words were playful but there was a sentimental value behind Jisung’s words that made Changbin feel proud. Jisung had matured a bit over the years, even if he was still a loud, annoying kid at times, and Changbin felt like a proud older brother. However, lunch was going to end soon, and Changbin had to mentally prepare himself for the rest of Ceramics and Gym with Hyunjin. Just the thought of the locker rooms was enough to make Changbin shiver in fear. He wasn’t ready to see this man potentially shirtless. He wasn’t sure he could handle it.
“Hyung, what’s your next class?”
“Gym.” Jisung snarled his nose up at the answer, offering his friend a look of pity. Of course, Changbin didn’t mind the gym, but Gym at school was so much worse for him. He didn’t like being judged, and considering his past experiences, he was no doubt going to get picked on. But hopefully… he could prove himself and teach the little fuckers that he wasn’t someone that they could just pick on anymore. “It’s okay. I’m strong now. I’ll fuck all of them up.” Changbin shrugged and Jisung snorted but didn’t disagree. He had gotten a small taste of what Changbin’s physical ability was like, and he had no doubt that Changbin was one of the top students now. “Alright. I’m gone fuckers.”
Changbin decided that he hated Mr. Kim with a fiery passion for doing this to him only a week into school. “Hyunjin and Changbin.” Changbin felt like his head was spinning when Minho shot him a look of pity before the raven haired boy grumbled to himself quietly. He got up and out of his seat and Hyunjin soon replaced him. Minho had only moved to the empty table behind them, but Changbin already felt abandoned by his only friend in the class. However, his heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest by how fast it was pumping at the mere smell of Hyunjin.
Mr. Kim explained the project thoroughly, but Changbin didn’t listen. He was too taken back by the hand tapping the pencil over and over again, the soft pants of breath right next to his ear, and the smell of fading expensive cologne that was completely taking over his senses. Changbin didn’t realize he had the skin of his bottom lip between his teeth until the it broke and blood landed on his finger. A sigh escaped and Changbin got up quietly, everyone from his old chemistry class ignoring his sudden jolt of movement while Hyunjin followed his every move.
Changbin held a tissue to his lip as he began to listen to his teacher who paid him no mind, locking eyes with Hyunjin accidentally and watching the younger’s eyebrows knit together in worry as he tapped against his lips. ‘You okay?’ he mouthed towards Changbin, the elder removing the tissue for a moment to show his throbbing, busted lip. Hyunjin’s lips pouted as he looked ready to throw a fit, but Changbin ignored him for the time being to glance towards a smirking Minho and send him a glare. However, Minho’s smirk was replaced by a polite smile when Hyunjin turned back towards him. “Boys! Is something wrong?”
Changbin snapped his head towards his teacher with a sheepish smile, revealing his bleeding lip. “Again? Take the hall pass,” Mr. Kim sighed out in exasperation, Changbin snatching the hall pass along with his things without another word and rushing down to the nurse’s office while texting Jisung.
BinnieBinnie : Fuck Hwang Hyunjin.
SungieSungie : Literally or…?
BinnieBinnie: No you dumb fuck
SungieSungie: Well i didn’t know. You’re the one who always looks at him like he’s made of the fucking stars
SungieSungie: But what did he do this time?
BinnieBinnie : We’ve been paired up for a project. I have to go to his house. Please kill me. I’ll pay you 2,000 won.
SungieSungie : As tempting as that sounds…
SungieSungie: You suffering sounds more tempting
With a huff, Changbin slipped his phone back into his pocket and asked the nurse for an ice pack. He didn’t go back to class after that, though. He mindlessly wandered the school campus while dodging his teachers and principals at the same time. Eventually, he was sitting in the corner of the bathroom with Jisung and Jeongin in front of him, playing games on their phones. “So… why are we in here again?” Jeongin asked after a while, sounding too confused for his own good. Changbin hid his face shyly in the ice pack to calm his heated cheeks.
“Changbin Hyung is avoiding your cousin,” Jisung said so casually that Jeongin had to do a double take and process what he had said.
However, when Jeongin seemed to register it, he was both a mix of excitement and worry. “Hyung… you like Hyunjin hyung?” Changbin grunted and buried himself further into the ice pack while muttering out ‘no’s and very poor excuses as to why he definitely didn’t like Hyunjin . “Listen… just… be careful okay? He’s a good person, he really is… he’s just an idiot sometimes.” Changbin wished he had taken that warning to heart. He wished he had listened to Jeongin that day and watched himself around Hyunjin. Changbin would do anything to go back and force himself to stop liking Hyunjin, to never look at him again and move on.
But the damage had already been done when Changbin left the bathroom with only one person on his mind: Hwang Hyunjin.
Everyone in his gym class stood side by side in a straight line, facing their teacher respectfully and waiting for further instructions. Changbin was dressed in black basketball shorts and a red muscle tank top, showing off his swollen biceps. Changbin smirked to himself when he saw some of the girls sneaking glances at him and giggling to themselves quietly. It only seemed to widen when he caught Hyunjin staring at his well built form. When Hyunjin found out he had been caught a few moments later, a crimson coated his cheeks and he dodged eye contact with Changbin for a good half of the class.
They ended up jogging for thirty minutes, but his teacher pulled him aside half way in, speaking to Changbin in hushed voices. “So I hear you’re good at Krav Maga?” Changbin nodded his head as a yes. “I want to teach some basic moves, but I don’t want to do it with a student who isn’t experienced. Would you be comfortable with being a guinea pig?” Changbin didn’t see why not. He enjoyed Krav Maga, and his trainer would give him brownie points for teaching others about it as well. So he nodded his head and followed his teacher to the back hallway of the gym as his teacher put on protective gear.
Soon, running was over and a protective mat had been placed in the middle of the gym. Changbin stood in the middle next to his teacher with his arms folded behind his back. The elder caught Hyunjin’s eyes from the back, but quickly looked away when Hyunjin shot him a wink. “Today, I will be teaching you three Krav Maga moves that could potentially save your life,” his teacher announced, the two getting into position. Changbin moved with ease and precision, completely unaware of the eyes watching him intently as the sweat on his brow moved down his temple. “This is what you do when an attacker presses a knife to your throat from behind.”
Changbin protenteded to fully comply with his ‘attacker’s’ demands when a fake knife was pressed against his neck. In a swift motion, Changbin placed both hands on the wrist holding the weapon and pulled down the arm, keeping it tight to his chest. He dropped his entire weight down, tucking his chin in, and looking towards the blade. “This motion transitions the threat from your throat to your face, which is significantly less deadly,” Changbin grunts out.
Changbin uses the hand that’s closest to the attacker to strike his groin, and then quickly returns to restraining his wrist. The teacher’s arm was still wrapped around his neck with their arm pressed tightly against Changbin’s chest, just as it was supposed to be. He tucked his head under his right armpit, keeping his chin down and the wrist that held the weapon secured. Changbin moved so he was to the side of his attacker and no longer in front, and stepped firmly on his teacher’s foot so he let go and shoving him to the ground with a puff of breath.
Students around him clapped for the performance, Changbin feeling the rush of adrenaline fade out and be replaced with fear. At first, he wanted to show what he could do; he wanted to show that he wasn’t some sort of wimpy kid anymore. But there were rumors he had been avoiding since he was twelve, and he was feeding into them by showing that Seo Changbin could, in fact, kill a man if he wanted to.
Gym passed by in a daze after that, Changbin slowly waking from it when he reached the locker rooms. He escaped back into the original corner he had taken over since he got here, digging out his clothes from earlier from his backpack. Changbin had successfully changed out of his gym clothes and into his jeans, t-shirt, and black lace up boots before a familiar boy approached him in nothing but a pair of jeans and towel around his neck. “Changbin,” Hyunjin called out, loud enough to gather Changbin’s attention and Changbin’s alone. “I need your number for the project.”
He said it too casually for Changbin’s liking, but he didn’t hesitate to slip his phone into Hyunjin’s hand when the other offered him his own, the difference far too significant. Changbin had a shitty Android phone that made his pictures come out in two pixels and run slower than Christmas when you’re five, while Hyunjin had a brand new, shiny iPhone X. Changbin shrinked back in on himself when Hyunjin stared at it for a moment but didn’t tease him for having a dinosaur artifact for a phone. “When do you want to meet up? I’m chill for today if you want to come over.”
“Great. Wait for me outside.”
Changbin rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet as he waited for Hyunjin to get out of the showers for the fifth time that week, becoming more and more impatient as time passed. Hyunjin was taking way too much time for someone who said they would take only a five minute shower and be right out. But it’s been twenty minutes since Hyunjin told him to wait outside, and Changbin was over it. So with a huff, he stomped his feet, rushed back into the school building, and didn’t stop until he shoved open the locker room door roughly. “Hwang, it’s been twenty minutes,” was the first thing out of his mouth, and Hyunjin’s laugh followed suit.
The younger revealed himself from behind a wall of lockers, drying his hair with a white towel, nothing on except for a pair of track pants. “Sorry, Hyung. Got held up in the shower.” Changbin snarled his nose up and scoffed in disgust at the meaning behind it, shaking his head and suddenly glad he didn’t storm in here ten minutes earlier. “I’ll be quick. Promise.” Hyunjin held out his pinky, Changbin rolling his eyes at the childish action and not moving from his position against the wall.
Changbin trained his eyes on the brick wall in front of him, lost in thought and oblivious to Hyunjin standing off to the side, ready to go and bag slung over his shoulder. Hyunjin stood there in his own little world, admiring Changbin like a well crafted painting in a museum. Changbin was too caught up in his thoughts surrounding the other off to the side. They had become close over the last few days, two peas in a pod, but a silent agreement between them that their interactions were not to be seen by others. To their peers, they were nothing more than lab partners, but to them… it was something so much more.
They were in two separate worlds until they were suddenly in one, Hyunjin dropping his bag and cornering a dazed Changbin up against the wall. Their faces hovered over each other’s as puffs of breaths mingled and drifted off together as one. “Just do it already, idiot,” Changbin hushed, tired of waiting any longer for what he had yearned for for far too long. Hyunjin didn’t hesitate after that, fingers knocking into the snap back on Changbin’s head as their lips molded together. It was fast and sloppy, a physical representation of the speed their relationship was going. They were nothing but acquaintances two weeks ago, but here they were, hidden in a stuffy locker room with their lips attached like their lives depended on it.
Perhaps that was the turning point of it all. That the kiss is what truly set everything in motion and made it unbelievably painful, but later, Changbin would realize that it was the first look they shared on the first day of junior year that really, truly fucked him over.
Changbin didn’t realize he was in love with Hyunjin until a few months later. It was a Saturday morning, no later than six, when Changbin’s phone went off and he was awoken from his much needed slumber. A dull groan escaped his lips as he felt around his nightstand until his fingers felt the vibrating device, answering it with a huff and a very rough, “What do you want?”
“Good morning to you too, Handsome.”
“It’s six in the morning.”
Changbin’s heart fluttered when he heard Hyunjin laugh quietly through the phone.
“I was wondering if you wanted to hangout today.”
Changbin couldn’t give this boy an answer, not this early in the morning when he was so comfortable underneath his blankets.
“My window is open.”
Changbin wasn’t sure how much time passed before a figure opened his window and snuck through the opening. He wasn’t sure how many times his heart fluttered when Hyunjin buried himself between the wall and Changbin and he wrapped the smaller’s sleepy body up into his arms. He wasn’t sure how many kisses were pressed against his face, neck, and shoulders, but he knew he appreciated every single one of them, even if he had fallen asleep a few moments after Hyunjin got in bed with him.
Soft knocks came at Changbin’s door before his mother peered her head inside, not surprised to see Hyunjin in bed with Changbin, wide awake. They waved at each other quietly before she spoke in a weak whisper, “Do you two want some breakfast? I don’t mind making some.” Hyunjin’s eyes seemed to widen in concern, shaking his head in a somewhat frantic manner that wouldn’t wake Changbin. “Are you sure? I really don’t mind.”
“Ms. Seo, you’re sick. I’ll make breakfast,” Hyunjin offered, peeling Changbin off of him successfully, and climbing out of bed to follow Changbin’s mother to the kitchen. Changbin’s house was small, so it was only on the other side of his room, and Hyunjin hated it. He had grown up in a rich family and big home, receiving anything and everything he wanted. He didn’t like that Changbin’s family struggled to even get food on their plates, even if Changbin refused to admit it to himself. It was why him and Jisung had been splitting lunches for so long, and he wouldn’t even admit it to Jisung. Changbin was ashamed that he had to work his ass off to provide because his father walked out on him and his mother was too sick to work.
Hyunjin wanted to do something for Changbin, but it wouldn’t be what he wanted it to be.
Changbin awoke from his slumber on his own terms this time, stretching his arms out, and for once, not hitting Hyunjin in the face because he wasn’t there. Changbin’s eyes snapped open, jolting up and looking around his small room. His window was still open and Hyunjin’s shoes were on the floor, providing him reassurance that Hyunjin was still here, but just not in his room. Changbin hummed in contentment when the scent of eggs frying hit his nose, and stumbled out of his bedroom to see Hyunjin hovering over the stove and his mother sitting at the table with a cup of tea. Changbin smiled softly at the woman. “Morning, momma,” he said, pressing a gentle kiss to her hairline.
“Where’s my good morning kiss?” Hyunjin snickered from his place by the stove. Changbin’s eyes rolled so far into the back of his head that he was scared they’d get stuck for a moment. However, he stepped up onto his tiptoes and placed only a gentle kiss on Hyunjin’s cheek out of respect for his mother. Of course, his mother was extremely supportive of the two, but Changbin didn’t like to show that side of him too often around her. She was dying, and she was always his top priority when around. “Grab the camera. I want to take a picture.” Hyunjin nudged Changbin back towards the bedroom, the elder’s eyes lighting up.
Changbin would use up most of his film that day, and he would find that he wouldn’t buy anymore for a few more years. He took pictures left and right, capturing the last few wholesome moments before everything went to shit. His mother smiled and laughed as they danced around, listening to the Beatles record that blasted through the house as Hyunjin made breakfast, sneaking a photo or two of them in between. It was a fun morning.
“You never answered my question, Hyung,” Hyunjin spoke up when Changbin’s mother had gone to lie down a few hours later and they were snuggled up on the couch watching a movie. Changbin didn’t uncurl himself from Hyunjin but hummed in question to signal he was listening. “Do you want to hang out today?” This seemed to fully gather Changbin’s attention, the younger pulling himself away from Hyunjin’s side and looking at the younger in confusion. Were they not hanging out now?
Changbin and Hyunjin didn’t go anywhere besides the other’s houses when they were together. They had to keep their relationship hidden for the sake of their reputations and Hyunjin’s family. “Like actually leave the house, Hyung.” Hyunjin confirmed his boyfriend’s silent question and something rumbled in Changbin that he didn’t like. Something was telling him not to go, that it was an incredibly bad idea, but he heard there was a carnival in town, and he just couldn’t resist. “The carnival’s in town right? Let’s go.” Changbin sucked in a breath before nodding his head, rushing to his bedroom to get ready.
Changbin wanted to call Jisung and ask him what he should wear, but Hyunjin was literally in the other room and his best friend had no idea that the two were even friends, much less together. So Changbin figured it out by himself and pulled on a white sweatshirt, black jeans, and normal high rise converse, his regular snapback resting on his head. Hyunjin had walked in just as Changbin was fixing his hair, admiring him from the doorway, “Ready to go, handsome?” Changbin blushed at the usual pet name and let Hyunjin cup his cheeks and press a gentle kiss to his nose before Changbin could tell his mother goodbye.
“Momma? Hyunjin and I are going to the carnival. Call me if you need me, okay?” His mother hummed out a noise of acknowledgement, Changbin pressing a gentle kiss to her hairline just as he always did before muttering out a quiet, “I love you,” and her muttering one back. Something uneasy stirred in Changbin’s stomach when he clicked the door shut, but he ignored it. He wanted to have a good night out with Hyunjin; he just wanted to be a normal teenager for once in his life.
The fair was bustling with people, and Changbin could see Hyunjin spark up with anxiety. Before they could get any further past the ticket booth, Changbin tugged them both aside by the bathrooms. “It’s okay. If anyone asks, we’ll say we saw each other and were alone, so we decided to pair up for the night. No one’s going to suspect anything.” Hyunjin looked panicked as Changbin spoke, stroking at the piercing in the elder’s ear to calm himself down. “It’s okay.”
The two decided to get on with it, heading towards the carnival games first. “Bet you can’t win me a plushie,” Hyunjin challenged, arms crossed over his chest mockingly. Changbin snorted and shook his head, leaving Hyunjin behind to approach one of the less rigged games of the bunch. “What- No! Babe! They’re rigged,” Hyunjin tried to convince, rushing after him when he saw Changbin digging through his pocket for some cash. Changbin handed the money off, ready to impress the taller hovering behind him with a scowl.
SUrprisingly, it only took him three tries to knock down all the pins, which Changbin was incredibly lucky for considering Hyunjin was going to cut him off after four tries. “Your highness.” Changbin bowed, offering the octopus plushie towards the younger dramatically, and Hyunjin giggled at his boyfriend before taking the plushie out of his arms and placing it underneath his own. Hyunjin rewarded him with a kiss on the cheek, completely forgetting that they were indeed in a public environment. “Where to next?”
A cheeky smile grew on Hyunjin’s lips, and next thing Changbin knew, he was being strapped to one of the rise and drop rides with Hyunjin beaming like a giddy child beside him. “This was a mistake,” Changbin muttered for the third time in the last minute, and Hyunjin couldn’t stop laughing hysterically at the sight of his boyfriend, commenting that at least they didn’t eat before hand. The look Changbin gave him afterwards was borderline murderous. “Alright you fucking satan child –,” Changbin couldn’t continue because they began to go up. “– I hate you.”
“You love me, Hyung.”
If someone were to ask Changbin if he screamed during the ride, he couldn’t give you an answer because he was too caught up in his own thoughts. He did love Hyunjin. Hyunjin made him feel like his heart was going to jump out of his chest and that his ears were going to burn off with every touch. It felt like his head was spinning every time they kissed, and all Changbin wanted was to be closer and closer and closer to the younger.
When they were together, Changbin thought about him. When they were talking on the phone, Changbin thought about him. When they were off doing their own thing separately, Changbin thought about him. When they were asleep, Changbin thought about him. Of every minute of every day, Changbin lived and breathed Hwang Hyunjin, and that was the scariest thing in the world to him. Because Changbin wasn’t supposed to fall in love. But here he was. Completely head over heels for him, and it was going to take a lot for him to fall back out of it.
The minute they were off, Hyunjin grabbed his hand and began to run towards the ferris wheel with a giddy smile and laugh, Changbin trying his best to keep up. They reached the large circle as the sun began to set, climbing into the cart once they got the cue to enter. Hyunjin kept bouncing his knee nervously the whole way up, gripping Changbin’s thigh gently and curling his long fingers around the muscle. “I got you something,” Changbin hushed, digging through his pocket shyly and pulling out a simple silver ring.
It wasn’t worth much, but it was the thought that count. The way Hyunjin’s eyes lit up and he stared at the ring with interest definitely made up for the stress and anxiety Changbin had been feeling since he decided to get Hyunjin something. “Happy anniversary,” Changbin hushed when the younger slipped it on his pointer finger. Hyunjin pressed their lips together needily before they reached the top, not separating until they were half way down to the bottom, completely and utterly oblivious to the flashing of a camera.
Changbin’s head spun and it felt like he was on cloud nine when Hyunjin slipped his tongue inside his mouth, tracing his ring adorned pointer finger along the elder’s ear and gripping gently. They pulled away, lips swollen and cheeks flushed with their foreheads pressed together, hands not leaving the other’s face. Changbin saw a boy who was so much more than his golden exterior. He saw a boy with a good sense of humor, a caring personality, and a brain that worked in ways Changbin couldn’t even fathom.
Yeah. Changbin was in love.
The sun had fallen and the moon was high in the sky as the couple walked along the forest’s edge, the octopus plushie tucked firmly underneath Hyunjin’s arm. Their fingers were intertwined and Changbin would occasionally bring the younger’s fingers up to his lips to press gentle, wet kisses against them and everytime, a blush would rise on Hyunjin’s cheeks and Changbin would end up pressing a kiss to his lips instead because he was completely addicted to the warmth of them. They reached the very end of the forest, coming up on a cliff side that exposed the vast city before them. The same city they lived in, but weren’t themselves in.
“Hey, Hyung?” Changbin hummed in acknowledgement, taking note of the way Hyunjin’s heart was practically beating against his back. “I think…” Hyunjin paused, choking on his words as if he was scared of making any sort of sound. As if he was scared that if he were to say the next few words, everything would come crashing down around them. Changbin coaxed him by nuzzling his nose into the younger’s bicep. “I think I’m in love with you.” The words were out in the open now, escaping like a butterfly from its suffocating cocoon, and now it could thrive.
Changbin couldn’t contain his happiness, swiveling around in Hyunjin’s lap and surging forward to pin the younger down on the ground. Hyunjin let out a noise of shock but began to laugh when Changbin molded their lips together sloppily. But the laughs died out just as the ringing in their ears began to increase, Changbin’s hands thumbing at the bare skin of Hyunjin’s hip bones under his shirt gently. Hyunjin’s skin tingled at the feeling, groaning into Changbin’s mouth when Changbin swiped his tongue along his lower lip.
It was sloppy and way too heated for a good kiss, but at the time, it didn’t really matter to them. They had no idea that it would end up being their last heated kiss, but they acted as if it had been, and that was probably the saddest part of it all. “I’m in love with you too. So, in love.” Hyunjin pulled Changbin down into his chest, the two lying there trying to catch their breaths and enjoying the other’s company. Changbin had no idea of the heavy feeling in Hyunjin’s chest, nor the tears in his eyes when he looked up at the sky.
“Do you sometimes wish you could be up in the sky with the stars instead of down here on Earth?” The question itself was innocent, nothing more than a simple yes or no question. But the meaning behind it was far from innocent, and deep down Changbin knew this. He also knew he couldn’t lie and say no.
“Yeah. I do.” No other words were exchanged after that, because the two fell asleep in the other’s arms and didn’t wake back up until Changbin’s phone began to ring loudly and obnoxiously. They scrambled up from their sleep, searching each other until they found the vibrating Android and it was loosely gripped in Changbin’s palm. “Hello?” His voice was groggy with sleep, unclear and barely understandable, but the voice on the other end… the voice on the other end was loud and clear.
“Seo Changbin, yes?”
“Yeah, this is him.”
“Your mother is in the hospital in critical condition. We need you down here as soon as possible.”
When you lose something, it never tends to be a singular loss. One loss leads to another, sometimes it’s within the hour or a few weeks afterwards. Changbin had learned and experienced it before; he just hadn’t expected Hyunjin to be the second thing he lost. If someone were to ask him how he felt that night or if he remembered anything, he wouldn’t give them a clear answer. It was imprinted in his head, every single moment of it, but he could never explain in detail what that night held in store for him, because it was as if it never really happened once the words were spoken. It didn’t feel real, but it was as if he was hyper aware of everything anyway.
The two went to the hospital. Hyunjin took him as soon as Changbin told him to, asking questions but never getting a straight answer. Changbin didn’t know what to say, he didn’t know what to feel, he didn’t even know how to process everything. How was he supposed to form an answer when his tongue felt dry and his head was spinning? Changbin had presumed he had given a clear name when he made it to the receptionist desk, but Hyunjin had to repeat after him once he realized what was going on. Changbin had become detached so quickly that Hyunjin didn’t know what to do. He sat by himself, alone in the corner with his gears turning and demons whispering in his ears, and all Hyunjin could do was stare.
“Binnie…” Hyunjin trailed off after a while, moving over to the chair next to Changbin when he saw that the elder’s eyes were becoming glossy with tears. Changbin didn’t say anything. “What can I do, baby?” Hyunjin murmured, trying to get Changbin to look at him, but the elder stared at the wall to his left, taking Hyunjin’s hand without a word and playing with the ring on his finger. Hyunjin just let his hand rest in Changbin’s lap, hoping the twirling of the metal ring was comforting him in some way. At the time, Changbin didn’t need words. He needed physical touch, even if his mind and body was rejecting it. His heart and his brain had never been on the same level.
“Seo Misun?” Changbin dropped Hyunjin’s hand and stumbled up and out of his chair, approaching the doctor with a dazed look in his eyes. When the doctor glanced down at Changbin, he didn’t see the piercings or the dyed hair or peek of tattoos, but the small boy who was about to receive the news that his mother was dead; the doctor heaved a heavy sigh. “I am sorry to tell you that your mother passed away during her transportation to the hospital…” Changbin didn’t hear the logistics of it; his ears were ringing and nothing was making sense. He knew this day would come. He just hadn’t expected it to be so soon. Changbin couldn’t believe it. “Is there someone you can call?” The doctor placed his hands on the boy’s shoulders, dragging him out of his daze for a moment.
“Y-Yeah.” The doctor smiled solemnly at the boy, turning away after offering him his condolences. Changbin was left there, standing in front of the blue doors that lead deeper into the hospital, unmoving. It was as if everything stopped working and his body was rejecting the idea of having to function like a normal human. Changbin let his eyes wander, seeing Hyunjin standing up in front of his chair, staring at Changbin with worry. Changbin didn’t have to say anything for Hyunjin to know what happened. The younger surged forward, clasping Changbin in his arms and burying the smaller’s head into his chest, holding him close and not letting him go.
Changbin clutched at his collar, trembling but not letting any tears slip. It was as if he had gone into shock. “Do you want to go outside? We can go outside.” Hyunjin inquired quietly, sounding as if he were talking to a small, crying child. Changbin just nodded his head and let Hyunjin guide him outside into the streets, and it was as if as soon as the cool, night air hit Changbin’s face, the sense got knocked into him as well. He had expected himself to get upset first, to let the tears fall and allow himself to sob into the next life. But instead, the anger of it all hit him.
She left him. She left him when he was still growing. She would never get to see him get married, she would never get to see his graduation, she would never get to meet her grandkids. Changbin didn’t realize until blood splattered on his face that he was punching the hospital exterior over and over until he felt like his hand was going to break. Hyunjin pulled him away from it, murmuring “Sh, sh…” in an attempt to calm him down. Changbin melted into the younger’s chest, the two falling to their knees as Changbin let the tears fall and seep into the ground below. “I love you. I love you so much and I’m going to be here for you no matter what.”
Changbin wished it hadn’t been a lie.
Because here he was, a few days later, stumbling into his house intoxicated, boxes messily packed around him and phone barren of any sign of his boyfriend. It was as if as soon as Hyunjin was gone the morning after Changbin’s mother’s death, he disappeared into thin air. He wasn’t answering Changbin’s calls or texts, and Changbin gave up after the second day. Changbin didn’t know if this was Hyunjin telling him to piss off or if something had happened. But either way, Changbin knew he had a bottle of alcohol in his hand as he stared at all the polaroids in front of him.
If he had been angry, Changbin probably would have poured the alcohol on top of them and let them set a flame with a match. But Changbin was merely upset and envious of that time. He wanted to go back and feel Hyunjin’s arms wrapped around his waist and the lips pressed to the back of his neck as they watched a tv show. To go back and dance with his mother as Hyunjin cooked over the stove. To go back to that night on the cliff and tell Hyunjin he loved him all over again. But here he was, bottle of alcohol in hand and his heart shattering in his chest.
The familiar scent of the alcohol brought tears to his eyes, remembering the time that his father had left them and his mother drowned herself with any sort of alcohol she could get her hands on. This was the reason she was dying. This was the reason she couldn’t leave the house anymore. This was the reason she was gone. The reason his father was gone. The reason his sister was gone. Changbin didn’t want to end up like them. So maybe.
And only maybe.
That’s why he put the bottle down and called Hyunjin one more time.
“Hey baby… I miss you. What am I doing? You haven’t answered the other thirty times I’ve called… I’m not entirely sure what to expect from you anymore. Did I do something? DId something happen? Is that why you’re not answering my calls? Please Hyunjin… I need you. I need you so bad. DOn’t do this to me. Please call me. I love you.”
He wished he didn’t.
The day had come all too soon, and now Changbin felt empty. He had cried his tears for the last few days, and frankly, he didn’t even want to be there at the time. He didn’t want to be standing out in the chilly wind while people gathered around the place his mother was getting buried. He didn’t belong there. He didn’t want to believe that it was true. He wasn’t sure if he could really handle it, and he sure as hell didn’t want to see the people that supposedly cared about his mother when they hadn’t spoke to her since she became sick. They didn’t deserve to be here.
Changbin stood by her coffin, shaking hands and bearing one sided hugs from people offering him their condolences. He was fine up to that point, Jisung and Jeongin standing beside him and comforting him when they could see that he was getting a bit too overwhelmed. However, nothing could stop the panic in his heart when he saw the familiar eyes of Hwang Hyunjin in the back of the crowd. Changbin ignored him, but he felt like his heart was going to leap out of his throat. “He’s here,” Changbin hushed towards Jisung, eyes wide. Jisung immediately started to look around, eyes locking on the suited boy in the back and a fire starting in his eyes. Changbin didn’t even have the chance to tell him not to before Jisung stormed off towards him.
“You have a whole lot of fucking nerve, Hwang,” Jisung spat, acting as if he were going to grab Hyunjin by his collar and throw him to the ground, but he didn’t out of respect of the environment they were in. They both knew they were getting strange looks, so he toned it down to a certain degree. “You think you can just show up here after not being there for Changbin?” Hyunjin’s eyes downcasted to the ground, a look of pure and utter guilt in his eyes.
“I need to talk to him.”
Jisung scoffed, “And break his heart even more? I don’t think so.”
Hyunjin glanced up at Jisung, desperation clear in his eyes. “Please let me talk to him. He deserves an explanation!” Hyunjin begged desperately, Jisung glancing back at Changbin in question. The boy sighed before rubbing his eyes and walking over, looking far too exhausted. Once Changbin was there, he motioned for Jisung to give them some space and with a bit of a push, Jisung was back over with Jeongin, the two whispering to each other quietly. Changbin’s lip was latched between his teeth when he turned back to Hyunjin, nearly bitten raw, and Hyunjin sighed before running his thumb over the skin to coax the lip out. “Baby…”
Changbin didn’t let him say anything, only twining his arms around Hyunjin’s neck and burying his nose in the elder’s shoulder. Changbin trembled, much like he did the night at the hospital, and he clutched Hyunjin desperately. He didn’t care that his heart was slowly breaking and his mother was getting buried behind him. He didn’t care that he had been left in the dark for the last week. He didn’t care about any of it. He just needed Hyunjin, because he was so unbearably in love with him Changbin was afraid that he’d break. “Baby… I need to explain myself. I have to talk to you.”
Changbin didn’t want to hear it. He knew what would come out of it. It was then that Changbin realized that Hyunjin was the second loss to his first one, and he hadn’t even gotten the confirmation yet. “My parents… they found out. They have pictures of us kissing on the ferris wheel…” Changbin could hear the defeat in Hyunjin’s voice, the younger sounding entirely vulnerable. While Hyunjin was too scared to come out, he was confident in himself. He took care of Changbin, yet here was the elder holding the trembling boy in hand and finally noticing the bruises he was covered in. “They got so angry, Changbin. I didn’t think I was going to be alive by the time they were done with me…” Changbin shuddered at the thought.
“It’s okay, handsome. It’s okay,” Changbin hushed, running his fingers through the younger’s hair gently. However, Hyunjin pulled away, staring Changbin in the eyes, and Changbin realized just how much of a coward Hyunjin was.
“It’s not. It’s really not. I can’t do this anymore, Changbin.” Changbin had been expecting the words, god, he knew what was coming, but he felt like his whole world was coming down around him. “I can’t risk being disowned. They’ve already set me up with a girl and I can’t get out of it. I’m sorry, Changbin.” Anger flared in Changbin’s heart at that, shoving Hyunjin roughly.
“You’re such a fucking dick, Hyunjin!” Changbin screeched, words flying out of his mouth before he could even think about what he was saying, “I needed you! I needed you with me so I didn’t lose my head! But you left me! And now you show up to my mother’s funeral to break up with me? You’re a coward Hwang Hyunjin, but I love you and I wish I didn’t!” Changbin’s voice echoed off into the distance, vision blurry from the tears he thought he didn’t have anymore of. “I love you…” Changbin trailed off, voice cracking and nearly falling to his knees if it weren’t for the arms hooking underneath him.
“I love you too, so much.” Hyunjin hushed, holding him tightly and pressing small kisses to the elder’s hair. Changbin parted for a moment, staring into Hyunjin’s eyes and in one last futile attempt to get Hyunjin to stay, he kissed him. They moved desperately, an essence to this kiss that wasn’t in all the rest. They kissed because they knew this would be their last. They kissed because they loved each other. They kissed because they would never stop loving each other. So, when Hyunjin pulled away and stepped back, Changbin felt numb.
“Goodbye, Changbin.” And as Hyunjin walked away, Changbin wanted to call out to him. To tell him to stop and that he loved him. ‘I love you, you silly man.’ but he couldn’t do it. He watched Hyunjin walk away, the hair on the back of his head bouncing as Changbin’s heart broke and he walked out of his life. Forever.
Two days later, Changbin disappeared, leaving everything behind except for a duffle bag full of clothes and polaroid photos. No one knew where he went, not even Jisung. There were rumors that Changbin jumped off of the nearest bridge and took his life, ending the Seo family line once and for all. Others believed he ran off and got involved with a local gang, killing people without another thought. Changbin wasn’t doing any of those things, but it’s not as if it mattered at the end of the day.
The first time Changbin fell in love, he fell in love with a coward. He fell in love with a man who was too scared to show the world who he truly was, and that fell back on both of them. It was quick and unforgiving, completely out of spite that turned into love. Now, Hyunjin was captured in nothing but a polaroid, fading into the white sheet without a second to spare.
The second time Changbin fell in love, it didn’t quite feel real. Maybe, to a certain extent, that’s why Changbin was numb to the events that took place. At the time, Changbin was 21 and living out of his van. He was traveling the world, seeing new things and getting a new tattoo with every country he was in. Changbin was living off of the money he had saved up when he was a teenager, the money his mother left behind, and the money he made off of odd jobs he did here and there. Changbin was comfortable, occasionally getting a motel if he didn’t feel like crashing in his van for the night.
He had been alone since he left his hometown, only contacting Jisung three times to let him know he was still alive. He had gotten over the death of his mother and the love he had for Hyunjin a while ago after seeing that the boy had been engaged to a pretty female that it seemed as if he genuinely loved; Changbin felt as though he didn’t have the right to be angry over what happened anymore and moved on with his life. He hadn’t spoken to Hyunjin since the funeral, and Changbin, as forgiving as he had been, wanted it to stay that way. He wasn’t sure if he could handle again the uneven hammer of his heart Hyunjin created.
His mother had been a different story. While he wasn’t upset over her death, nor angry for that matter, his heart still ached at the idea of her not really being there, and Changbin almost felt… numb. Changbin had presumed that he had seen the last of his emotions for a good while when he stood on top of a mountain top, looking out over the world, and felt nothing. It was quiet, his breath coming out in cold puffs as he sat on the cliff, his legs hanging off of the edge. Changbin had never even heard of the trail he hiked on last night before yesterday, but he was glad he did. Because that morning, as the sun peeked over the horizon, Changbin met a bright eyed, blonde haired boy who was going to steal his heart for the second time over.
Unfortunately enough, Changbin had been stuffing his face with food when a figure approached him from behind and sat down next to him, one leg propped up with the other dangling off the cliff. Changbin had ignored him for the most part, too exhausted to make conversation; all until the other spoke anyway. “It’s gorgeous.” Changbin felt as though he had been in a daze when he heard the deep, accented voice of the other boy and nearly dropped his carton of mini tomatoes down the cliff side. The blonde boy laughed lightly at the stumble, arm outstretched as an instinct to catch the carton if it actually went flying.
“Yeah,” Changbin breathed, stuffing another tomato in his mouth. A silence fell over them and Changbin listened to the soft hums the other had been letting out with something flickering in his chest. “Have you been up here before?” Changbin asked carefully, putting thought into his question as the boy glanced at him for a moment, the two stopping for a moment. Changbin felt like he was floating when he looked at this boy. He wasn’t even entirely sure if he was real. He seemed like some sort of angel, especially when he chuckled.
“Yeah… a few times.” He murmured, stroking his fingers along his exposed knee before breathing softly into his bandana around his neck to preserve some heat on his face. “I’m Felix.” Ah. So, he was foreign. Changbin stared at him for a moment, a bit taken by his smile, but something about it reminded him of Hyunjin and Changbin froze. “And you are?” If Felix noticed the sudden change in Changbin’s attitude, he didn’t say anything, and deep down, Changbin was unbelievably happy about that even if he didn’t know it or voice it.
“Changbin.” And that had been the end of the conversation. Changbin was too afraid to speak to this new person, as he hadn’t had a proper conversation since January with Jisung, and even that… that had been a little overwhelming. The truth of it all was that Changbin was still hurting from Hyunjin and didn’t trust himself or others around him. He knew that he shouldn’t be holding that against everyone when it was high school, but that was a traumatic time for him. Period. Changbin had been so caught up in his fears that he didn’t even notice that Felix had gotten up and walked away, three tomatoes missing from Changbin’s carton.
The raven haired boy huffed to himself in amusement, staring down at the flower covering his right hand and stroking his pointer finger along it. He couldn’t let Hyunjin consume his life, but here he was, not chasing after the blonde haired boy walking down the mountain. “Hey, wait!” Changbin called out suddenly, scrambling up to rush towards the boy who had escaped past the trees. Felix stopped abruptly, glancing at Changbin with confusion on his face. “I uh… I was wondering if you wanted to go out for breakfast…” Changbin murmured shyly, teeth clasped between his lips as Felix stared at the pink skin for a moment.
“As long as you’re paying.” Changbin just laughed.
The two made their way down the mountain, talking quietly and occasionally stopping to take pictures with the polaroid camera Changbin still kept after all these years. However, when Felix found out he had one, he ran back up the mountain to take a picture of the view from the peak while Changbin stayed in his spot, not wanting to climb up that god forsaken hill again. It hadn’t been long until Felix came running back down with a blissful smile, ten minutes max, and Changbin felt himself being swayed by the dream-like haze Felix seemed to cast over him. “Got it,” Felix smirked mischievously, waving the white paper in the air.
“I sure as hell hope so. I waited ten minutes for you and I’m buying you breakfast,” Changbin snarled lightly, no sort of poison to his tone. Felix just snickered and began to walk back down the trail, Changbin not far behind him. They ended up side by side, a fair distance between them and talking in hushed whispers. They prefered to stay quiet to listen to the sway of trees and the morning birds awaking before most humans. It was peaceful, dreamy even. “So… I can tell you’re not from here. Where are you from?” Changbin murmured after awhile.
He took note of the way Felix tensed up and pulled his long sleeves further down his arms, as if they were some sort of instinct. Felix stared at him for a moment, lips pursed and focus locking on the movement of water in the creek next to them. “Australia.” Changbin hummed in interest. “I’ve been traveling for about a year though… And as you can tell, my Korean isn’t very good.” Felix hushed, eyes downcasted to the ground, and Changbin decided he never wanted to see that look ever again.
Changbin bumped their shoulders, a small, half playful smile on his lips, “Still better than my English,” Changbin slurred out, winking at Felix who gaped at him in surprise and began to chase him down the hill. Changbin laughed all the way down, nearly stumbling face first into the grass when he came across a family of five hiking up the mountain, sparing the two harsh glares as they tried their best to apologize and keep their laughs inside until they were gone. “Never again,” Changbin choked out, feeling Felix lean on him for support. “Get off, kid.” Changbin shoved him off while Felix just pouted cutely.
Eventually, they made it to Changbin’s van and Changbin looked around as Felix just gaped at it for a moment. “Where’s your car?” Changbin inquired as he began to dig his keys out of his hiking bag, opening up the upper door to his Volkswagon van and throwing the bag onto the mattress in the back. However, when he turned back to face Felix, all he saw was a look of guilt and awe. “You don’t have one do you…” Changbin trailed off, arms falling limp to his sides. Felix only nodded his head in confirmation. “Well, that’s not a problem. I have a passenger seat for a reason.” Changbin offered Felix a toothy grin and opened the door like a gentlemen would.
It took a bit of coaxing, but Felix finally got in the car and Changbin shut the door behind him, running over to his side and starting the car once the two were buckled up. “This is Val,” Changbin introduced, patting the dash gently before pulling out of the parking lot, and heading down the rest of the mountain before they made it to town. The sun had been high in the sky at this point, no later than nine but no earlier than seven, and Changbin’s stomach began to grumble as music played from the speakers. Felix was humming along softly.
It was a rather blissful experience, having someone in the car with you whilr driving down the mountain side, the windows rolled down and music playing. It seemed like it was straight out of a tumblr post, and Changbin felt like he was in some sort of dream. “Wait… so where are we going?” Felix asked after a while, one foot propped up against the dashboard, his shoes covered in dirt. Changbin almost swerved when he batted his legs away with a snarl, Felix clapping his hands like a seal.
“Ya! Get your nasty ass feet off my dashboard,” Changbin grumbled, watching Felix take off his shoes and rest them back up against it. Changbin realized he wasn’t going to win that argument, so stopped trying after the fourth hit to the younger’s leg. “We’re going to one of those American breakfast diners ever small town has for some unknown reason.” Felix looked at Changbin as if he were the dumbest person alive.
“Yeah, it’s for tourists…” Felix trailed off and Changbin stared at the steering wheel with wide, blown eyes that made Felix snicker. “Why do you look like you’ve just discovered the secrets to the universe or some shit?” Changbin began to smack his palms against his steering wheel with a whine and Felix couldn’t contain his laughter anymore. Realistically, it hadn’t been that funny, and it was too early to have that much energy, but Changbin didn’t dwell on the specifics. Not when Felix looked mesmerizing laughing like that. “Changbin hyung, you idiot.”
“You don’t get any breakfast this morning,” Changbin snapped before pulling into the parking lot. It seemed as though Felix hadn’t even heard him because he jumped straight out of the car without so much as looking at Changbin. However, when Changbin rounded the corner and saw Felix pouting at his hiking boots, exhaustion clear in his eyes, he rolled his eyes and opened the back of his Van, climbing in to go through his duffle and throw a pair of athletes sandles his way. “Wear these, you child.” Felix giggled mischievously and slipped them on his feet, the two trailing inside without another word.
“So… care to tell me why it looks like you’re living out of Val?” Felix asked as he stuffed his face with a piece of a pancake while Changbin ate with more reserve. He froze for a moment, staring at the flower on his hand and running his fingers along the industrial bar in his ear, much like Hyunjin used to do. “It’s okay if you’re not comfortable telling me…” Both of them knew there was a second part to that sentence; it wasn’t clearly stated, but it was obvious Felix wasn’t comfortable with his past either, and Changbin knew there had been an understanding there.
“Maybe another time…” It was the first time either one of them had implied meeting up again, and their hearts fluttered at the thought. An awkward silence fell over them and Changbin wanted to keep talking. He hadn’t clicked with someone like this in so long, and he didn’t want to let that go so quickly, “Wait… so since you don’t have a car, you’re staying somewhere right?” Changbin trailed off, eyes narrowed at the blonde who nodded his head casually.
“Yeah. I’m staying at the motel at the edge of town.” Felix informed, “If you don’t mind… I could really do with a ride.” Changbin smirked at the sheepish smile on Felix’s face and took another bite of his pancake without sparing him a word. Felix squirmed in his seat at the silence, tapping his fingers anxiously against the table. The tapping halted suddenly, a pale, larger hand on top of another, and Felix’s heart slowed. Changbin never glanced up from his plate of food, nor did he remove his hand from on top of the younger’s.
“I’ll drive you back, but,” Felix groaned, leaning back in his chair and slipping his hand back until it was only the tips of their fingers touching, “only if you agree to meet up tomorrow.” Changbin didn’t tell him that he was leaving the day after, but he presumed it really hadn’t been that important. He could always push his leave date back if it was called for. Felix cocked his head to the side for a moment, seemingly confused by the man’s wish to keep talking to him. “But if you don’t want to, I can still drive you back…” Changbin trailed off after a while, deflating from the lack of response and pulling his hand away.
However, Felix was quick to catch it back, and Changbin felt his breath escape his lungs when the younger leaned over the table and reached his fingers up to ghost across his lips. “Don’t get all shy on me now, Hyung. Of course, I’ll come with you.” Felix beamed, brushing away a crumble of food from the elder’s lips and leaning back with a smirk. Changbin released a puff of breath, an unsure feeling spiking in his chest. The cautiousness and paranoia from before began to creep up once more. Changbin felt like bolting at that moment when he recognized the flutter in his chest and a flash of a black haired boy appeared in his head.
“Let’s get going,” Changbin hushed afterwards, shoulders tense and lips pursed. Felix’s face dropped only for a moment at the sight of the now cold exterior of the elder, but followed him out anyway, keeping his hands stuffed in his pockets from the moment Changbin paid at the front counter to when they were finally in the car. They sat in a silence for a moment, Changbin eyeing the tapping of fingers against Felix’s thighs but resisting the urge to reach over and intertwined them. Instead, he started the car and began to follow Felix’s vocal directions towards the motel with a heavy feeling in his chest.
Changbin pulled up to the parking lot, watching Felix unbuckle himself and go to leave the car, sliders on the ground and hiking boots in hand. Changbin wasn’t sure where the sudden adrenaline rush came from but he grabbed Felix’s wrist to stop him from leaving and tugged him over the console separating them. Changbin’s lips came in contact with the skin of Felix’s cheek, just barely above a light ghosting, but Felix’s head was spinning from even the slightest contact of his pillowy lips. “Can I get your number? So we can schedule a time?” Felix’s eyes flickered down to the swipe of a tongue across Changbin’s lips and a smirk appeared on his own, leaning a bit closer so their noses bumped.
“Just pick me up at 10:30, hyung.”
Changbin left the parking lot with a giddy feeling in his heart and his mind screaming at him for getting involved with someone else. He was still exhausted from Hyunjin, but here he was, his heart beating out of his chest and mind filled with the idea of the angel boy he had met on top of the mountain, looking out over the world, who had stolen every unoccupied spot in his mind. Changbin was scared. So, scared he was going to get hurt, and Changbin wished he listened to his intuition when it screamed at him not to show up at the motel the morning after. He wished he hadn’t chased after Felix on the mountain, he wished he had kept to himself that day. But Changbin was a sucker for love, even if he had been hurt before.
“ Hello? ”
“ Holy shit. I didn’t expect to hear from you so soon… ”
“Yeah. I miss you.”
“ I miss you too, hyung .”
A silence fell over them, tons of words resting on the tip of Changbin’s tongue but never coming out. Changbin wanted to apologize to Jisung. He wanted to make sure the younger knew that Changbin still loved him and that despite his disappearance, Jisung was still his best friend. Just as they promised when they were babies. Forever and always.
“ Hyung… FOrever and always, right? ”
“Yeah… Sungie. Forever and always.”
Firm knocks came at the door of Felix’s motel room at 10:37, and the door swung open a few minutes later, Felix standing in the doorway with a playful scowl and his arms crossed over his chest. “You’re late,” the younger grunted, but as Changbin looked him up and down, black and maroon sweater with black jeans and a lack of shoes, Changbin snorted and shook his head at the sight. Felix wasn’t even done getting ready yet. “Come in, Hyung,” Felix coaxed, stepping aside to give Changbin enough room to squeeze in through the doorway.
The motel room was pristine, looking untouched except for the duffle bag in the corner with shoes beside and clothes falling out of it. “DId you even stay in here? It looks like it hadn’t been used.” Changbin pointed out, earning a chuckle from the younger who was brushing his teeth in the bathroom and a muffled explanation that Changbin couldn’t understand. Changbin peeped into the bathroom, a smirk on his lips. “Was that even Korean?” Changbin snickered, earning a light shove in the chest from Felix as retaliation while he spit out his toothpaste.
Everything happened so quickly. There was a sudden spark of boldness in Changbin’s nerves, and next thing the two knew, Felix was on the sink counter after being hoisted up there and Changbin was between his legs, breath mingling and foreheads threatening to rest together. Changbin had his warm palms pressed to Felix’s thighs and Felix’s hands gripped Changbin’s biceps, squeezing lightly, “Ah. I didn’t know you worked out,” Felix purred, nuzzling his nose into the elder’s cheek, causing a shiver to rush down Changbin’s spine. The elder slipped his hands up so they were resting on Felix’s hips, pulling him to the edge of the counter, resulting in the younger’s legs twined around his waist.
Felix’s breath hitched in his throat at the close proximity, slipping his hands up around Changbin’s neck and letting his fingers curl around the strands lightly. At the time, neither one of them knew what to say. They had no idea how to approach this situation and ignore the want to kiss each other until their lips were bruised. But they were both too hesitant to take the first step, and Changbin was beating himself over it. He had the chance to get over Hyunjin once and for all, but here he was, being a coward and not making the first move.
There seemed to have been a silent agreement of caution between them. Felix buried his face into Changbin’s shoulder and Changbin held him more closely and securely. “I didn’t notice you had freckles until a few moments ago,” Changbin hushed after a while, running his palms along Felix’s spine and shifting away slightly when Felix moved to face him. “They’re very pretty,” Changbin complimented, reaching down to place gentle, warm kisses to both of Felix’s cheekbones before moving away completely when there was a harsh knock to Felix’s motel room. Felix froze for a moment, muttering curses under his breath.
“Fuck. Get in the shower,” Felix ordered under his breath, shoving Changbin towards the white tub behind them. Changbin tried to level his breathing so he could listen to what was happening outside of the bathroom, but he couldn’t hear anything due to the slightly thicker walls. The only thing he could make out was Felix pleading for a bit more time and something about money, and Changbin’s heart dropped. Soon, the door shut and the bathroom door opened. “Changbin?” The curtain was peeled back and something along the lines of anger sparked in Changbin’s chest when he saw a hand print on Felix’s cheek.
Changbin climbed out of the tub, gently cupping Felix’s chin and pivoting his head so he had a better look at the red cheek, running his fingers along the injured skin gently. “What the fuck, Lix?” Changbin sighed out quietly, voice barely above a whisper and Felix broke away from the elder, shaking his head and trailing back into the bedroom. He began to pack his things roughly, pacing back and forth as Changbin watched from the doorway. “What are you doing?” Changbin huffed, rubbing at his face in borderline exhaustion. Felix never turned back to look at him.
“What does it look like?” He snapped, zipping up his duffle roughly and throwing it down onto the ground before grabbing for his boots. Changbin watched him until Felix was ready, stood up and duffle bag slung over his shoulder. “I’m leaving. I’m sorry you had to witness that, and that we couldn’t hang out today,” Felix apologized sounding sincere. Changbin merely cocked his head to the side in confusion and a slight smirk resting on the pink of his lips.
“Where are you going?”
“How are you going to get there?”
Felix whirled around too quickly, storming up to Changbin and cornering him up against the wall. “I’ll figure it out okay? Stop acting like you care. You just met me,” Felix spat, going to move away, but Changbin’s reflexes were too quick for him. For the second time within the hour, the two found themselves pressed chest to chest. They shared a look, silent words being exchanged, and Felix breathed an exhausted sigh. “No, hyung. I don’t want you getting involved. You have no idea what this is, and what damage could be done.”
Changbin didn’t care though. Not with Felix. But god… he really wished he did. He wished he had let Felix go and not fallen for the angel boy with a past, present, and future as dark as his. “We’re going. Together. Whether you like it or not.” Changbin finalized, gripping the duffle bag on Felix’s shoulder and pulling it away from him so he could leave the motel room and place it in the back of the car. It was too late to turn back now. Felix had already walked out of the motel and went down towards the lobby to drop off his key, looking unbearably paranoid the whole time. “Come on,” Changbin coaxed, opening the passenger door much like he had yesterday morning and Felix climbed in, bottom lip between his teeth.
If you were to tell Changbin a few days before that he was going to be on the run for the next nine months of his life with an angel boy who made his head spin, he probably would have laughed in your face and told you that you were delusional. However, here he was, thirty miles away from the last town and the moon high in the sky. “Should we keep driving or pull over for the night?” Changbin murmured when he saw how sleepy Felix was getting in his chair.
“We need gas. There’s a town not too far from here. Half an hour or so.” Felix mumbled, his head rolling against the car seat to face Changbin. The elder nodded and sighed, turning up the music a bit to hopefully coax Felix to sleep, which worked successfully and gave Changbin time to think on his way there. The adrenaline high he was on faded a few hours ago and he hadn’t had the time to successfully release any pent up emotions. Changbin gripped the steering wheel so tightly he was sure he was going to rip it off everytime he had to turn the wheel, but his body softened when Felix shifted in his seat with a whimper.
A soft hand waved at the air in Changbin’s direction and Changbin let a chuckle escape his lips when Felix twined himself around Changbin’s bicep and began to talk in his sleep. No one needed to know about the fond look Changbin spared, nor did they need to know about the small kiss he placed to Felix’s hair. It was Changbin’s moment and Changbin’s moment alone. “I met you two days ago and I hate what you do to me,” Changbin hushed into the silence of the car, thinking it only reached his ears and his ears alone, but somehow it made its way into Felix’s dream and truly set the next 9 months in stone.
Eventually, they managed to reach the gas station, Changbin crawling out of the car and stretching his legs. He walked around to the other side, reaching through the window to shake Felix awake. “Hey, wake up. Go get us some food,” Changbin hushed, shoving some money into Felix’s palm once he woke up a bit. Felix nodded and stumbled out of the car, resting his head against Changbin’s shoulder for a moment. “I’m sorry but we need food,” Changbin apologized with a snort, patting Felix’s head lightly. Felix just grumbled to himself and paced inside, Changbin watching to make sure he didn’t fall.
Changbin laughed a bit and stood by the gas pump, rubbing the sleep away from his eyes. It was currently 1 in the morning, and Changbin felt like he was going to pass out at any moment, but he kept himself awake. The cool night air helped a lot in that regard, but Changbin could really do with a coffee, and it seemed as though Felix had been on the exact same level as he came out with a bag of food and two steaming cups of coffee. “I don’t know how you like it so I just made it how I do mine…” Felix trailed off, sheepishly handing the elder one of the cups. When Changbin took a sip of it, he grunted.
“Black coffee? Do you not put anything in it?”
“No! Then it’s too sweet.” Felix argued and Changbin scoffed and shook his head, paying for the gas and climbing into the car. “Are we already in town?” Felix wondered, buckling himself up and looking around in confusion. The place around the gas station was seemingly barren. Changbin explained that they were just outside town and would be in a hotel twenty minutes tops. Felix relaxed at this and sighed in content. “Thank you. For doing this for me. I really appreciate it,” Felix hushed, playing with the threads at the bottom of his shirt.
“It’s not a problem. Really. You’re nice to be around.” It seemed as if Felix wanted to argue with that statement, wanted to say more than just a thank you and move on. Because Changbin didn’t understand this situation. Yes, he could have had a pretty good idea, but he didn’t know everything, nor was he supposed to, and that day, Felix began to plan his leave. He just hadn’t expected it to not go through. “I can practically hear the overworking of your brain right now. Calm down. It’ll be okay.” Changbin’s hand found Felix’s knee, patting it for a moment, but then removing it to keep to himself and be respectful towards the younger.
“Alright. Go get a room while I grab our things,” Changbin ordered, giving Felix a wad of money, but he pushed it away, pulling out some of his own and getting out of the van before Changbin could argue further. The elder paused, watching Felix head into the lobby with his lips quirking up into what was presumably a smile. He sighed and shook his head of the thoughts swarming his head, digging two bags out of the back and shutting the door. Changbin waited patiently, nibbling on his lower lip as Felix spoke with the droopy eyed receptionist. “DId you get one?”
Felix dangled the keys in front of Changbin’s face with a grin.
The room was small but managed to fit two small beds inside, Felix flopping down on the nearest one, face up. “Hey, at least change, dipshit,” Changbin laughed from his own bed, pulling out some much comfier clothes as Felix mumbled out some sort of response Changbin couldn’t understand. Changbin managed to slip Felix’s shoes and coat off and get him underneath the covers within five minutes, the younger acting like some sort of rag doll the whole time. “You’re a mess, Lee Felix.”
“You love me anyway, Seo Changbin.”
Changbin didn’t realize it at the time, but Felix was special. The boy would play a significant role in his life, and maybe Changbin had acknowledged that in the back of his head, but not enough for it to fully click. Felix was important, but Felix was also destructive. This bright haired boy would bring more pain then healing, and Changbin wished he had had time to prepare himself for what was to come.
The next few mornings, Changbin didn’t wake up with an empty feeling in his chest. Instead, he woke up with someone actually on his chest, as Felix had to wake him up on more than one occasion, and a lot of the time, that called for Felix straddling him and forcing him awake with some sort of act of affection. It was as if Changbin was deprived of not only sleep but also basic human affection, so his body really only functioned properly or succumbed to another without those said acts. Felix didn’t seem to mind though. “Binnie, get up,” Felix croaked in Changbin’s ear, hovering over him from the side of the bed.
Changbin grumbled lowly in his sleep, muttering something about a ‘disrespectful kid’ and ‘hyung,’ and Felix couldn’t help but laugh lowly. Changbin had been lying on his stomach, back exposed and bare, so Felix ran his hands along the skin that stretched over the lean muscle, occasionally applying a bit more pressure. “Fuck off, Lix,” Changbin grumbled when Felix kept trying to coax him out of bed, but Felix didn’t take it to heart. Changbin had said worse before. So he took it as a good sign and climbed onto his back, straddling his lower half and pulling the blankets down a bit to run his fingers down his spine.
“Come on, hyung. I need to get a few things today,” Felix hushed, voice low and gravelly, just as he had intended. Chills ran down to the base of Changbin’s spine and his skin was layered with goosebumps at the sound of his voice right by his ear, holding himself back from flipping them over. It was then that it finally clicked in Felix’s head that Changbin was enjoying this and that that had been the only reason Changbin wasn’t out of bed yet. “You sly fucker,” Felix snarled playfully, climbing off of him and smacking at his back along the way. Changbin let out a breath at the loss of contact but got up anyway, seeing Felix brushing his hair in the bathroom.
“I think I’m going to go get a tattoo today,” Changbin gruffed, rubbing at his sleep swollen cheeks and hoping to wake himself up a bit. Felix hummed from the bathroom, asking what Changbin was thinking of getting. “It’s a surprise.” A groan was heard at Changbin’s lack of information, and Felix appeared in the doorway with a pout. “Don’t look at me like that. You’ll see in a few days. It’ll take at least two sessions.” An aura of frustration appeared around Changbin when he was digging through his duffle and couldn’t find his jacket he had been wearing since high school. “Felix, have you seen -”
He stopped. Felix had finally come out of the bathroom, straightening Changbin’s jacket on his shoulders and acting as if he wasn’t wearing one of the most important items Changbin has ever owned. Changbin gulped, because something within him stirred in unsettlement, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell Felix off for wearing it. “I hope you don’t mind, Hyung. It smells like you…” Changbin gulped and shook his head with a tight smile, stuffing his hands into his pockets, muscles tensing. “I’m hungry, hyung. Hurry up!” Felix called out as he left the motel room, shutting the door behind him. Why was Changbin so unsettled by him wearing the jacket?
Changbin left it alone for the time being, finishing getting ready and heading outside, making sure he had everything he needed. He dropped Felix off at the store by the tattoo parlor with some of their shared money and a kiss to the cheek. “Be safe,” Changbin hushed against the skin of Felix’s cheek, and Felix nodded with a gentle smile. This had become a recurring exchange since they left the last town, Changbin paranoid of another man showing up and getting a bit rough with the younger. “Hey man!” The bell to the parlor chimed when Changbin walked into the parlor, grinning at the familiar man in the corner.
Mark looked up from the book on the front desk, eyes lighting up when he saw the younger. “Shit, Bin. It’s been a long ass time.” Changbin laughed lightly when Mark wrapped him up in a firm hug, patting his back. Mark had known Changbin for years, becoming Changbin’s best source of income with Changbin selling him his designs for good money. “You ready to get started?” Mark grinned, guiding them towards one of the back rooms when Changbin nodded his head in confirmation. “Angel wings, yes?” Mark asked as he tugged out his folder with the drawn sketches Changbin had emailed him a few days ago.
Changbin peeled off his shirt, exposing his torso and back muscles. Mark smacked at Changbin’s abs with a whistle, earning a grunt and a curse as a response. “Fuck you, Hyung,” Changbin spat, lying down on the black chair and giving the elder a perfect view of his back. Mark merely wiggled his eyebrows, and Changbin felt like burying his fingers into the elder’s eyes if he was perfectly honest with himself. “Let’s just get started, jesus.” And they did. Due to Changbin’s high pain tolerance, this really hadn’t been that bad, all until the needle reached his shoulder bones. “Fuck!”
A laugh was heard from the doorway, Changbin and Mark looking up to see Felix with one hand stuck in Changbin’s jacket pocket and the other holding a few bags of items, a sucker between his lips. “Thought you had a high pain tolerance, Hyung?” Felix teased, never stepping forward and keeping his distance. Changbin rolled his eyes at the younger and shifted his arm out from underneath him when Mark pulled away briefly. Felix paced over, taking the hand Changbin was offering him and letting the elder run his thumb across his knuckles.
“I do. Maybe you should get one too, and see how it feels,” Changbin teased, cheek squished against the black cushion and creating a rather amusing sight for Felix. “This is Mark. We’re old friends. Mark, this is Felix.” Mark waved casually at the younger, shooting him a charming smile that Changbin had unfortunatly caught. “No,” Changbin snapped, a growl mixed within his voice. Felix looked between the two in confusion. “He flirts with everything that walks. I just wish he’d ask out that uni kid and get over himself.” Changbin rolled his eyes and buried his head into the cushion.
Mark made a noise of disagreement. “I don’t even like Yugyeom like that! He’s young.” Mark pouted, sounding a bit deflated. Changbin just hummed in disbelief, but ended the conversation there. Soon, the wings were done and Changbin sat up in the seat once the inked skin had been wrapped. “I won’t bother telling you how to treat it, because I know it’s like second nature now.” Changbin just winked. “Is there anything else you need?” Mark asked and Changbin flickered his eyes over to Felix who had been eyeing his forearm for a while.
“Do you uh… cover up scars?”
Felix did in fact get a tattoo that day, and Changbin held his hand the entire time. Mark had happily given Felix his first ink, and the two decided on a Volkswagen van on his upper arm surrounded by flowers. Changbin nibbled on his lower lip when he realized it looked exactly like Val but kept his concerns to himself. Felix handled it pretty well for a first timer, and Changbin was proud of him. “Head on out to the car, I’ll pay,” Changbin coaxed Felix out the door, turning back to Mark while tugging out the notebook. “You got money?”
“Jesus, Changbin. I’m waiting for you to decide to settle down and be my business partner.”
“You know I can’t do that, Hyung.”
The fact of the matter had been that Changbin and Mark were a lot closer than friends would be considered a few years ago. There was a time that Mark knew everything about Changbin and Changbin knew everything about Mark. They were infatuated with each other, but Changbin hadn’t been in love. Mark wanted to settle down, have a family and kids, and Changbin… Changbin was still 19 and heartbroken over his first love. For him, and most likely for Mark as well, he saw it best that they parted ways and moved on with their lives.
Now, they were still close, but not as they had been before, and Changbin almost missed it. “He’s pretty. You together?” Mark inquired, gathering money for the younger. Changbin shook his head. “Really? That’s a bit of a shame. You look at each other like you’ve hung the stars in the sky.” And perhaps, Felix had. Changbin felt like he was in a dream-like haze when he was with Felix. It didn’t seem real, as if they were making their own fate instead of walking in the one that was cut out for them. “Take care, Changbin. I’ll see you soon,” Mark farewelled, showing Changbin out.
When Changbin stepped out of the safety of the tattoo shop, all hell seemed to break loose. A scream was heard, Changbin snapping his head to the source and seeing Felix pinned up against the wall by a man talking in thick, Australian English. Changbin’s feet moved before he could think, rushing over to the duo and grabbing the man by the back of the collar and pressing him up against the wall beside Felix, his face pressed against the brick. “Who the fuck are you?” Changbin hissed in English, pressing his face harder into the brick when he didn’t receive an answer.
“Why do you care?”
“Because you have the nerve to walk into this town and cause trouble. Now, get the fuck out of here before I shove my fist so far down your throat it reaches your stomach,” Changbin snarled, bashing the man’s face into the wall twice for good measure, no doubt breaking his nose. The man grunted, staring at Felix with daggers coming out of his eyes, but was shoved along by Changbin. “Get in the car,” Changbin ordered the younger standing behind him, Felix not hesitating to climb into the passenger seat and stay there as Changbin dialed down his anger and made sure the man was far, far away.
Eventually, Changbin climbed into the car, starting it up without saying a word to the younger. They arrived back to the motel not too long after, Changbin leaving the car. “Stay here. Lock yourself in.” Changbin closed the car door before Felix could even register what he had said, relief flooding in his chest when he heard the car click and stormed into the motel room. He stuffed everything randomly into the two duffle bags with urgency, making sure nothing was left behind before dropping off his key in the lobby. Changbin practically slung the bags into the back of the van in not only frustration but paranoia before climbing back into the car.
“Calling so soon?”
“Hey, uh, I’m going to have to cancel our appointment. Something came up and I had to ditch town for a bit. Sorry man.”
“Nah, you’re good. Be careful, okay? I wish you luck.”
“Thank you, Mark.”
Changbin unhooked the gas pump from the car with a huff, paying for the gas before running inside to grab some snacks. Most of it had been candy considering that’s pretty much all Felix ate and it was relatively cheap. “I got your favorite,” Changbin murmured, sliding the bag towards Felix when he got in the car. Felix hushed out a weak thank you as Changbin just sat there, staring at the steering wheel. “Felix. I need to know. What the fuck is going on and why are there people after you? No more bullshit.” Felix’s eyes squeezed shut, taking in a sharp breath. He knew this was coming.
Felix clutched the bag tightly in his fists, knuckles turning white. “I feel as though you should understand I didn’t have a relationship with my family. My parents didn’t get along and I didn’t want anything to do with that. The only person I had mild respect for had been my brother, and he asked me to dog sit for him regularly. One day when I was 16, he told me he wasn’t coming home that night but that he’d be back in the morning, so I didn’t worry about it too much. Except he never came home and I was left with everything he had gotten into.” His words came out in slow, deep drawls, Changbin listening to every single bit of it.
“He owed some guys some money, and I wasn’t that surprised. I paid off the money he owed but that didn’t seem to be enough. They wanted to me to join their little organization and fill in the spot that had been left. I was forced into it, I didn’t want it, and when I tried to get out of it…” Felix stopped, running his finger tips over the new tattoo that covered one of the many jagged scars along his arms. “The point being, I owe people a lot of money and I can’t give it back. And if I can’t give it back, they’ll kill me, one way or another.”
At the time, Changbin wished he had taken that last part seriously. He wished he didn’t just push it to the back of his head and let it resurface when it was too late. “I understand if you don’t want to be with me anymore. I don’t want you to get dragged into this -,” Changbin reached for Felix’s hand, intertwining their fingers. The two shared a look, and perhaps that is when Changbin fell in love. Changbin fell in love with the angel boy with a demonic past, and it was going to destroy him one day.
“Don’t worry, Lix. I’ve got you.”
The van door opened, Changbin crawling out of the back with Felix getting ready behind him, both bleary eyed and beyond exhausted. “Binnie hyung, I need coffee,” Felix whined as he stumbled out, leaning against the van to keep himself from falling over. Changbin coughed and nodded, climbing into the driver’s side and sitting there for a moment. Eventually, Felix closed the van door and slid in beside Changbin, leaning his head against his shoulder, the two sharing a yawn.
It had been a month and a half since everything went down and Changbin found out what Felix had been involved in. For the most part, it’d been rather quiet with the occasional sketchy looking guy and ditching town a few minutes later, but that had been expected. Now, they were almost to Europe, and Felix was becoming anxious. “What did I tell you? Once we get to Europe, it’ll get easier,” Changbin hushed more times than once, and Felix had to keep running that in his head when his paranoia was getting the better of him.
The two pulled up to a restaurant on the outside of some town in Russia, asking for a table and ordering their food. Changbin and Felix were finally waking up with the food in their systems. Felix was still eating when Changbin pulled out his laptop and journal, explaining to the younger their next plan. “We should be in Belarus by night fall. From there, we’ll try to get through in a few days and reach Poland. I’m not sure when we’ll be in Germany, but it might be another week.” Changbin explained, Felix staring at the map in half interest. “What are you looking at?”
“You.” Changbin just rolled his eyes.
The two obviously had something, but they hadn’t discussed what was actually there, nor had they kissed at even once. They shared a bed, hugged, cuddled, exchanged forehead and cheek kisses on regular occasions, but they still hadn’t completely crossed that line, and Changbin was finding it harder and harder to resist. There had almost been a silent agreement between the two that what they had needed to stay that way. If something were to happen and Changbin got involved permanently, it would cause a lot of issues.
But much like Felix said in the car when they got back inside, stomachs full and happy, fuck it. Changbin hadn’t even had the chance to start the car before Felix uttered those god forsaken words that was going to change the whole entire course of their plan., “Oh fuck it!” And suddenly, Felix was leaning over the console and their lips were clasped together. Neither one of them were too sure how Felix actually managed to climb over the console and place himself in Changbin’s lap, but both had far more important things to worry about.
Their lips moved in a heat, fast but sensual as Felix’s tongue swiped across the elder’s bottom lip. Soon, they were breathing the same breaths, and Changbin couldn’t stop touching the skin of Felix’s back. This had been so long coming, the moment that they should have had back at the hotel when Changbin had Felix pinned to the sink. The day in the car when Felix confessed his life story to Changbin. This had been a milestone for them, something neither one would forget for the rest of their pitiful lives.
They pulled away, Changbin stroking his thumbs along the dimples in Felix’s back and Felix resting his flat palms at the base of the elder’s neck. “I was tired of waiting for you,” Felix breathed out in laughter, relaxing against the elder and letting his head fall to his shoulder. Changbin made a noise of irritation, smacking at the middle of Felix’s back before forcing him back into his seat. “You’re a good kisser, Hyung,” Felix purred, pressing a kiss underneath Changbin’s ear teasingly.
“Get the fuck out of here, kid.” Changbin shoved his face away but placed his hand on his knee. “Where do you want to go, Felix. Don’t think about everything that’s going on. Where do you want to go?” It was an open question, but Changbin didn’t realize what he had permanently set in stone when he asked that question. Without skipping a beat, Felix answered.
“Where in Italy?”
“Down south somewhere. I want to be by the beach, with you. ”
Changbin put the car in gear, pulling out of the parking lot with a grin. “Then to Italy we go, baby.” They wished it wasn’t a lie .
If there was one thing Changbin would live for, it was seeing the morning sunrises. He found them euphoric in a way, and sometimes, he wished Felix would watch them with him more than once a month. Changbin sat up in the bed in the van, keeping one hand in Felix’s hair, who slept beside him peacefully. Everything felt a bit unreal in that situation, Changbin still too caught up in his own thoughts to notice that everything was breaking around him. Felix and him were in their own little bubble, oblivious to the idea of what could happen in a few short months. They were in their own dream.
Surprisingly, the sun was just beginning to rise when Felix stirred, his eyes opening and catching the view of Changbin looking out onto the sunrise longingly. Felix felt like his heart was going to beat out of his chest at the sight, not wanting that look to ever go away. However, when Changbin glanced down at Felix to admire him, Felix’s heart lurched. Because not only did Changbin shoot him a tiny smile, the look in his eyes got softer, and Felix felt unworthy of the affection in Changbin’s heart. “Good morning, love,” Changbin hushed, reaching down to place a tiny kiss to his nose.
“It’s too early, hyung,” Felix croaked, shifting his head to the sunset and feeling his breath leave his throat. “Get the camera,” Felix urged quietly, never moving his head to face Changbin. Changbin moved from underneath him a bit, reaching for the polaroid camera and handing it to him. Felix didn’t hesitate to snap a picture of the pink, purple, and orange sky, waving the picture in the air to bring color to it. Changbin felt something bubble in his chest, bending down to place an open mouthed kiss to the other’s lips, and Felix clasped his head in his hands.
They parted with grins, Felix sitting up to get out of bed and grab his bag out from the passenger seat. “I got you something…” Felix trailed off shyly as he dug through the contents in the bag until he found what he was looking for and hid it between his palms. Changbin cocked his head to the side in interest, watching the younger pad back over and lower himself into Changbin’s lap, sitting between his thighs and wrapping his own legs around the elder’s waist. “Hands out, eyes closed,” Felix ordered, squinting his eyes when he caught Changbin peeking. “Hyung! No peeking!” Changbin just laughed and closed his eyes, lips quirked up.
Changbin felt something heavy fall into his palm, a chain attached. “Ok. Open your eyes.” There, in the middle of his palm was a gold necklace with a circle attached. In the middle, ‘live by the sun, love by the moon’ was engraved with a sun at the top and a moon at the bottom. “I know it’s not much, but I try to live by this. I want you to live your life, Changbin. You’re so important to me and I want you to be happy,” Felix hushed, almost as if he knew something Changbin didn’t. Their lips locked, and Changbin couldn’t help but let a few tears slip.
“God. I’m so in love with you, Lee Felix. You don’t even understand,” Changbin whimpered, holding Felix as if his life depended on it. Felix clutched him even tighter, sobbing into his shoulder as he repeated the same words over and over again. They were in love, and they really, really shouldn’t have been.
Felix owned every inch of Changbin’s heart, Hwang Hyunjin not forgotten, but faded into the past with the polaroids. Hyunjin was his first love, and Changbin would always feel something for him, but Felix was a dream, someone he couldn’t let go. If Felix was going to leave Changbin, he was going to have to be forced out of his grip, but he had no idea just how swift and easy it would be for Felix to no longer be in his arms. He had no idea just how much pain he would feel in two and a half months, and he was fucked.
So completely and utterly fucked.
The moon was high in the sky, shining through the window and illuminating the side of their faces. They were stuck inside the motel room, the rain pouring down in thick waves as Felix rested against Changbin’s side. Changbin was too invested in his book to notice how paranoid Felix had suddenly become, or the one too many looks the younger was sparing the window. He merely stroked his hand along his side and tried to coax him into a state of sleep. “I need a shower,” Changbin groaned suddenly, shutting his book. Changbin had been feeling rather icky all day, but felt too tired to actually take a bath, so he had simply climbed in bed.
“Then go take a shower, dumb dumb,” Felix snorted, yelping slightly when Changbin hoisted himself on top of Felix and pinned him to the bed. “Hyung!” Changbin began to pepper kisses up and down Felix’s neck and collarbones, earning a whine from the younger and the quickest shove to the floor in existence. “I don’t want your stinky kisses!” Felix pouted like a child, burying himself under the covers.
“Wow okay. I was going to ask you to join me, but I guess not.” Changbin tilted his head up with a huff, darting into the bathroom to turn on the water of the shower. He heard a muffled “I love you,” from the younger and reciprocated it, stripping himself of his clothes and hopping in. Changbin sighed from underneath the warm water, massaging the soap into his skin and shampoo into his hair. Changbin rid himself of all the dirt and sweat coating his skin from earlier in the day. However, once he turned the water off and realized he forgot to grab a towel, he groaned. “Hey, Lix?”
“Can you bring me a towel?”
Changbin heard an exasperated sigh and the mattress shift before Felix came in with a towel in hand. “So needy,” Felix snickered, not giving Changbin his towel until he got his kiss. Changbin merely placed a peck to his lips, but Felix made a noise of disapproval. “A real kiss.” Changbin groaned from behind the curtain, using the hand that wasn’t holding the only thing keeping his body shielded from the younger’s eyes to pull him closer. Their lips locked, a lingering peck that moved a little slow. “Thank you.” Felix grinned cheekily and passed the towel to the elder. “Love you,” Felix singsonged.
“I love you too, brat.”
Changbin wished he had been quicker getting ready. He wished he had gone out into the bedroom a few minutes earlier. Maybe he could have prevented everything from happening. Maybe he could have seen who started all of this. But instead, Changbin walked into the bathroom with dry hair and was met with an empty bed and an open door, thunder rocking the room around them and Felix nowhere in sight.
Much like the night his mother died, if you were to ask him what had happened, he couldn’t give you a clear answer, except this time, even he didn’t know what happened. One minute they were kissing and the next Changbin was running in the rain with tears gushing down his face and heart pumping in his ears. He looked everywhere for the angel boy, but nothing was there. It was as if he were some sort of apparition Changbin had made up. He had reported it to the police, explaining the situation the best he could, but Changbin ended up in the police station with a blanket wrapped around him and an empty heart.
Lee Felix never came back that night. He disappeared within the rain, and Changbin couldn’t say he was all that surprised.
“Two weeks ago, a 20-year-old young man by the name of Lee Felix disappeared without a trace. His travel partner at the time said that they were heading to Italy when suddenly the boy disappeared from their hotel room. The public had been looking everywhere for Lee since his disappearance, but were met with grave news.
“Yesterday afternoon, Lee’s body was found washed up on shore of the nearby river, his body practically unrecognizable. Police believe that the poor boy was captured, tortured, raped and then killed before being thrown into the river. We are sending his friends and family all the support we can in this dark time.”
The air was cold and the mountain top was quiet, the sun peeking over the horizon and Changbin’s legs hanging over the cliff side. His heart felt heavy and the necklace in his hands felt even heavier. The trees around him swayed, a full carton of tomatoes resting on the stone by his thigh, untouched. His bag held the camera he brought everywhere with him, untouched during the whole nine miles up the mountain. Changbin felt at peace here… at least more at peace then he would anywhere else.
Felix’s funeral was being held that morning, Changbin not having the heart to attend. He wasn’t sure he could do that to himself. He didn’t want to accept the fact that he was gone. That Felix, the second man Changbin had ever loved, was gone. Footsteps were heard from behind Changbin and a tear slipped when his heart lit up at the recognition and then deflated, because there was no way it could be Felix. “I thought I would find you up here.” Jisung .
Jisung sat down beside Changbin where Felix once sat and Changbin didn’t know how to deal with it. He let out a choked sob, Jisung immediately wrapping his arms around the elder and holding him close. Changbin clutched the collar of Jisung’s shirt like his life depended on it, and Jisung just held him like a supportive friend would. “I loved him, Sungie!” Changbin wailed, sniffling and letting out an ugly, throaty sob. “I thought he was going to be the one.” Jisung felt his heart shatter at the desperation and vulnerability to Changbin’s tone.
Seo Changbin, by any degree, was not a weak person. He was weak for certain foods, interest, or people, and Felix was Changbin’s ultimate weakness; Jisung didn’t have to see them interact to know that. Changbin had called Jisung two days after Felix disappeared in a drunken panic, not expecting him to answer, much less care. But Jisung answered and he flew out to be with Changbin today. “Hyung, I know it hurts, but it’s going to be okay. He would want you to be strong.” Changbin sniffled when Jisung tapped the necklace in the middle of Changbin’s palm.
Live by the sun, love by the moon . Changbin let out a weak chuckle.
The second time Seo Changbin fell in love, it had been with a dream. A hazy, blissful dream that gave him the road and everything on that road, which just so happened to be Lee Felix. And as a dream would be, it must end, and Changbin was thrown back into the reality of the world. The dream was nice, but short lived, and Changbin’s heart yearned for the touch of the angel he had fallen in love with. But much like Hwang Hyunjin, Lee Felix faded into the white backdrop of the polaroids with a hazy glint over the top of it.
The third time Changbin fell in love, it wasn’t all that surprising; he just wish it didn’t happen. It was nearly 3 and a half years since Lee Felix’s death, and Changbin was exhausted. He had spent a good two years looking for the people who killed Felix, but gave up when nothing popped up; it was as if they had disappeared just as Felix had that night. But the dream-like bubble that Changbin found himself in hadn’t shown up at all since his death, and Changbin stopped traveling a few months after. He didn’t necessarily settle down anywhere, but he moved where Jisung moved, and that just so happened to be Seoul at the moment.
Over the years, Changbin had become apathetic due to the absolute heartbreak he encountered, and he was starting to believe that he was not cut out for love and what it brought with it. But of course, Changbin’s suffering seemed to be never-ending, and his world had been flipped upside down once more just when he was starting to pick up the rubble from the last time. He just couldn’t catch a break.
Changbin sat up in the white sheet covered bed and searched for his pants and boxers on the floor, finding them within just a few moments and slipping them up his legs before he got up on his feet. He patted down his sweaty hair and tried to tame it to the best of his ability in the mirror above the dresser in front of him. “Not staying?” a voice piped up from the bed, Changbin glancing to the dirty blonde man through the mirror as he straightened out his shirt.
“Not tonight, hyung.” Seonghwa hummed in acknowledgement, looking for his clothes as well but only slipping on a pair of black sweats instead. Changbin slipped on the shirt as Seonghwa snuck up behind him, slithering his arms around his waist and peppering kisses along the back of his neck. Changbin acted as if he wasn’t even there. “Make yourself useful and help me find my jacket,” Changbin grunted playfully, shoving Seonghwa away and escaping the bedroom. Seonghwa just chuckled lowly from behind him and helped Changbin search for both his shoes and jacket.
“Here,” Seonghwa called out softly, handing off the boots and jacket to the younger who took them gratefully. Once Changbin had finished getting dressed, he approached the elder, who was leaning against a kitchen counter, a mug of steaming hot tea in hand. Seonghwa set the cup down in preparation and took the younger into his torso, wrapping his arms around his upper back. “I’m leaving for tour tomorrow,” Seonghwa whispered weakly, a tense silence falling over them as Changbin moved away, nodding his head with a gulp. It was okay.
“Ok… How long are you going to be gone?” Changbin asked, genuinely a bit intrigued. Seonghwa’s career always intrigued Changbin. Seonghwa glanced at Changbin oddly, as if he had been expecting Changbin to be angry at the short notice. “You thought I was going to be angry didn’t you?” Changbin snorted, Seonghwa nodding his head in confirmation. “Your career always comes before me, Seonghwa Hyung.” A silence fell over them, Seonghwa peppering kisses along the side of Changbin’s face adoringly. Changbin merely hummed in content.
“How on Earth did I manage to get you of all people?”
“I believe you asked me where I got my tattoos done and then proceeded to bullshit me to get my number.” Changbin winked before detaching himself and with another breath, he was gone and down the hallway, standing patiently outside the elevator. It hadn’t taken him long to reach the streets after pacing through the pristine, fancy apartment complex that was probably worth more than Changbin could even dream of having, and tug out his box of cigarettes. It took a few tries to light it, but eventually, it was lit, and Changbin felt more at ease.
He hadn’t taken up this strange habit until a year or so after Felix’s death, except Changbin had a good sense of control where he didn’t smoke more than two a day at the most. JIsung and Jeongin hated it with every fiber of their being, so he kept his cigarettes hidden away and only smoked outside. Changbin may have been extremely bitter, but he still had some sort of respect because he didn’t like it either. But this seemed to be the only way Changbin could destress without the use of alcohol, drugs, or sex, so had to make due.
The moon was beginning to descend in the sky as Changbin watched, the boy chuckling to himself bitterly and taking a long drag. Changbin doesn’t remember the last time he actually went outside for the day and came home and slept when the moon was up. The man had practically become nocturnal and another person’s 4am was now his theoretical 4pm. Was it healthy? Probably not. But as said before, Changbin made due. It’s not as if he could really care at the time anyway, Changbin was numb, and as long as he was breathing, Seo Changbin didn’t give two fucks about anything or anybody. All except, Felix, Jisung, and Jeongin.
It was just the way he worked.
It had rained earlier that day - Changbin remembers hearing it when he woke up briefly for a few moments - and now the ground was soaked, not having the chance to dry completely. Changbin’s heart lurched at the sight of the puddles, multiple images of Hyunjin splashing in them like some sort of child flashing in his head, and Changbin took a desperate drag of the cigarette between his fingers. No tears fell, his body didn’t tremble, and his breathing wasn’t labored; Changbin was just Changbin with a slightly heavier feeling in his chest. He was still cold eyed and blank faced as he walked underneath the street lights and dodged the drunken men whistling at him outside the club. “Aw, come here, dollface,” one of them whistled and Changbin rolled his eyes.
However, Changbin presumed he could have a little fun. “Yes?” he uttered when he swiveled on his feet, staring at the three men with false intriguement. They obviously hadn’t been expecting Changbin to respond to them as they all shared mild looks of shock and temptation. The raven haired man stayed in place until he was directed to come closer, stepping right in front of the man in the middle and sharing the same breath. “You wanted me? So what did you want?” Changbin huffed when he seemed rather speechless. He was becoming more and more impatient, breathing out a cloud of thick smoke into his face before shifting away with a huff.
However, hands trapped his wrists and Changbin’s body acted before his mind. His hands came around to the elder’s man head, turning it with so much force that he sent the elder’s face into the wall and let him drop to the floor. He laid on the ground, clutching his face and trembling with Changbin hovering over him with a blank stare. “Don’t cat call, fuckers. It doesn’t feel nice.” Changbin sent one swift kick to the man’s balls and left the other two alone, who just stood there and watched the whole time, too drunk to process what had happened.
A few years ago, Changbin probably would have been proud of himself, a feeling of accomplishment in his chest as Hyunjin gave him a kiss on the cheek as a reward or a hand squeeze from Felix in appreciation. But now, as he walked home to his one room apartment in the middle of the night, he was empty. He didn’t remember much afterward, just finally reaching his apartment and slotting his key in before unlocking the door with a click. Changbin let out a groan when he saw that his lights were on and there was a sleep ridden figure sat on his couch. “Hello person who doesn’t live here,” Changbin snapped, setting his keys and wallet in a small box by the door with a scowl. Jisung just laughed.
“Hello, hyung. There’s tea in the kitchen for you.” Jisung didn’t look up from his laptop, oblivious to the man behind him, hovering over his shoulder. Changbin stripped himself of his jacket as he squinted his eyes, trying to read what was on the screen. “Hyung! No peeking!” Changbin tensed, Felix’s voice ringing in his head and his hands flying to his necklace. “It’s not done yet. I already told you you couldn’t read it until it was finished!” Jisung was an author, a good one at that, and was writing the third book to his trilogy Changbin had read 4 times over.
Changbin just laughed and nodded, ruffling the younger’s hair and heading into the kitchen, seeing the pot of water still steaming on the stove and feeling content. Leave it to Jisung to always take care of him. He poured the water into a mug with the tea bag and headed back over to the couch, sitting down a foot and a half away from Jisung and leaning back into the cushion. The elder rested his damp, black boots on the coffee table and ran his hands over his face, his eyes sour. “Shouldn’t you be at home... you know… with your boyfriend… Yang Jeongin.” Jisung snorted, shaking his head at the elder.
“Kicked me out for the night.”
“Nah. Said I was too loud and told me to go hang out at your apartment for the night.” Changbin laughed and tugged out his phone, ready to text the younger. “Yah! Why are you texting him?” Jisung whined, trying to snatch the phone out of Changbin’s hand, but one look from the elder had him backing down.
Bitter Hyung: I really appreciate you sending your loud boyfriend over to my apartment. Really what I needed tonight :)
Disrespective Kid: Kiss my ass, Hyung. I’ve had a headache all week and I don’t need him screaming.
Bitter Hyung: What are you going to do if you two ever get married?
Disrespective: Probably the same thing. Goodnight hyung :)
Changbin rolled his eyes and slung his phone on the coffee table. “Were you with that guy you refuse to tell me nothing about, again?” Jisung asked, an edge to his tone that Changbin didn’t like. Changbin merely answered truthfully, popping his ‘p’ at the end and shining Jisung an over dramatic smile. “I just don’t understand why you won’t tell me anything about him. I just want to know who my best friend is seeing!” Jisung pouted, shutting his laptop and scooting closer to the elder. Changbin sighed, and reached his hand up to flick Jisung in the nose, who didn’t even flinch.
“It’s not anything serious. And I know how you are, Sungie. You’ll go around and search for anything about him and then scare him off.” While this hadn’t been the main reasoning, it was still pretty accurate. If Jisung were to find out Changbin was sleeping with the Park Seonghwa , the same Park Seonghwa the younger had been obsessed with since high school, Jisung would flip his shit. “Just leave it alone, Sungie. I promise to tell you if it gets serious. Right now, it’s just casual,” Changbin hushed, earning a defeated sigh from the younger.
“Just take your shoes off and lie the fuck down,” Jisung grumbled, waiting for Changbin to settle before lowering himself down on top of him and placing his head on the elder’s chest. Their legs intertwined and Jisung tugged the blanket on the back of the couch down, the two working to spread it across them, successfully cocooning themselves together. “Forever and always, right, hyung?” Jisung inquired after a few moments of silence, Changbin kissing the hair he could reach before nodding his head.
“Forever and always.”
Changbin had been half asleep for a good ten minutes, Jisung dragging him away from his slumber when he shifted and got up off of him, wiping away the drool that trailed down his chin in the middle of the night. Changbin wasn’t sure exactly how, but he seemed to be hyper aware of everything around him. Despite being half asleep, he knew exactly where Jisung was at all times, especially when the younger was hovering over him and had placed a hand to his shoulder to shake him a bit. “I’m going, hyung. I’ve got work,” Jisung whispered and Changbin made a noise of acknowledgement. Warm, slightly chapped lips made contact with Changbin’s cheek, and his heart hammered in his chest.
Before Jisung could retreat, Changbin gripped the back of his shirt to pull him back, Jisung hovering over him once more in confusion and a pout on his lips. “Come here,” Changbin croaked, never opening his eyes. Jisung leaned a bit closer. “Closer,” Changbin hushed, Jisung still not close enough. “Closer, Sungie.” And soon, JIsung’s face was right in front of Changbin’s. Suddenly, hot air was blown into Jisung’s face and the younger retreated with a gag, Changbin cackling from the couch.
“God, hyung. Brush your fucking teeth.” Changbin just snickered. “Remember to get up before six o'clock!” Jisung shouted out, the door opening and shutting, and then it was quiet. Changbin probably would have enjoyed the quiet if he wasn’t so cold and alone. His hands slipped up his chest and touched the necklace around his neck, Changbin gripping it tightly before he fell back into a world of slumber, not expecting to wake up anytime soon.
And almost as if on cue, his phone began ringing around 5:45, and Changbin was ready to commit murder. He let it ring once, hoping that whoever was on the other end of the line would fuck off, but it just kept going, and going, and going , and Changbin was about to throw it at the wall. However, instead, he snapped his body up and grabbed it roughly, answering it with a rough, “What?” The person on the other end just laughed deeply and Changbin relaxed when he realized it was just Seonghwa . “Hyung, shouldn’t you be on a plane right now or something?” Changbin ruffled his sleep ridden hair. Seonghwa just hummed.
“My flight’s in two hours, so hurry up and open the door.” Changbin’s eyes widened, rushing over to the door, phone still pressed to his ear, and unlocking the three different locks before tugging it open, a covered Seonghwa stood in front of him, no doubt smiling underneath his mask. “I wanted to see you before I left. I wasn’t sure when I would get to see you again.” Changbin peeped his head out into the hallway for a moment, looking around for any sort of human life before tugging Seonghwa in by the collar and shutting the door behind him.
Next thing either one of them knew, they were kissing, and Seonghwa’s warm hands were massaging into his stomach underneath his shirt. Changbin groaned into the kiss, letting his fingers slip behind the hood on top of Seonghwa’s head and play with the soft hairs on the back of his neck. By the time they parted, Changbin’s lips were kiss swollen and bruised, the feeling coming as some sort of drug to him. Their foreheads rested together, bodies pressed together completely as Changbin let his lips ghost across Seonghwa’s as they tried to catch their breath. “You need to brush your teeth,” Seonghwa snickered, breaking the silence and Changbin smacked against his chest.
Changbin had escaped into the bathroom to brush his teeth as Seonghwa stared at the apartment around him. He had been there a few times, but his penthouse was better for them in regards of privacy. The younger came back out, toothbrush working roughly against his teeth and locking eyes with the elder who waved a yellow envelope in his hands. “I have something for you.” Changbin stopped brushing his teeth for a moment, brush hanging out of his mouth as he tore open the envelope to see the contents inside. In his hands were two tickets to Seonghwa’s concert in Japan in a month and a half, along with plane tickets and hotel room receipts.
Changbin took the toothbrush out of his mouth in shock, spitting out the paste into the kitchen sink before speaking, “Hyung… this is too much.” Changbin didn’t say what he wanted to say. He wanted to tell Seonghwa that this wasn’t what their relationship was. They weren’t a couple, they were just Seonghwa and Changbin. Nothing more, nothing less. But when he saw how nervous Seonghwa seemed to be, he didn’t have the heart to say no. “Thank you, hyung. But why two?”
“I want to meet Jisung.” Changbin’s breath felt like it had been knocked out of his lungs. That was an unbearably bad idea, but Seonghwa had been asking to meet Jisung for almost two months, and Changbin had a feeling that Seonghwa wasn’t going to let Changbin off easy this time due to the measures he took. “I know this is pretty casual -,” You don’t even know , “- But you mentioned before that he was a fan, and I always want to meet fans. He doesn’t have to meet me as Changbin’s Seonghwa, but as Park Seonghwa if that makes you feel any better.” Leave it to Seonghwa to always be too considerate for his own good.
“Thank you, Hyung,” Changbin hushed, clutching the envelope tightly in his hands. Seonghwa nodded with a smile, pressing a tiny kiss to Changbin’s hairline. “You should get going, you have a flight.” Seonghwa nodded at Changbin’s urging, stepping away from the hands that briefly rested on his hips and walking out the door. “See you,” Changbin called out before the door could shut. Seonghwa looked back at him for a moment, face mask back up and sunglasses on.
“See you, Bin.”
Changbin would never realize this, but Seonghwa wasn’t doing this to meet his fan. Seonghwa was doing this because he knew how Changbin really felt. When Changbin spoke of Jisung, he spoke as if Jisung hung the stars in the sky, and Seonghwa wanted to meet the man who owned the heart of Changbin, who had successfully stolen Seonghwa’s own. It was bitter, and maybe even a bit self destructive, but Seonghwa wanted Changbin to be happy, and he had to make sure Jisung was going to make him happy.
“Do you want to go out for a few drinks tonight?”
“Jisung’s not coming?”
“He said he had a meeting with his editor tonight. Besides, I haven’t seen you in a while.”
“Sounds great, hyung. I’ll meet you at the usual place.”
Changbin was sitting in the back corner of the local bar, sipping on his beer as he tried to resist the urge to play on his phone. Soon, Jeongin came waltzing in with a loose tie, untucked button up, and tugged on hair, and Changbin couldn’t help snickering at the younger. “You look stressed.” It was the first insult of the night and it had been his greeting of all things. Jeongin didn’t seem all that surprised. “Sit down, I’ll order you a drink.” Changbin patted him on the shoulder and headed back up to the bar, waiting there for a moment. Changbin ended up getting it for free from the pretty bartender when he sent her a wink and smirked to himself when he walked back over to the booth, sliding the drink over to the over stressed, fox eyed man.
Jeongin nearly downed it in one go. “If I get one more fucking complaint from my boss about the dumbest shit in the world, I’m going to shove my desktop so far up his ass, it comes out through his head,” Jeongin spat as soon as the glass hit the table, staring at the back of someone’s chair like it murdered his whole family. Jeongin worked at this god awful company as a CEO’s assistant, and while it paid well, it stressed the younger out beyond belief and Changbin felt bad. Jeongin never voiced an urgency to quit; he merely complained about the boss rather than the job.
“Why do you even still work there, Innie? He’s been treating you like shit for years,” Changbin inquired, taking a sip from his glass and watching Jeongin’s stressed face fall. Suddenly, it was tense, Changbin realizing there was something far more complicated to this than what meets the eye. “Jeongin…” Changbin trailed off cautiously, prying him for answers, and tensing back up when Jeongin let out a bitter laugh, much like the one Changbin let out on occasion.
“He’s got some shit over my head. Don’t worry about it,” Jeongin huffed, and Changbin stared at him. He knew that Changbin should be worrying about it, but this was Yang Jeongin, the strong man who kept everything to himself as to not feel like he was burdening people with his problems. Before Jeongin could even register what was going on, Changbin picked up his jacket and dragged Jeongin outside. The younger whined about his beer. but Changbin didn’t care. He was going to get this answer out of the younger one way or another.
Then they were outside, the air cold and the moon casting down on them. “Talk, Innie,” Changbin growled, cornering Jeongin near the wall. For the first time in a very long time, tears began to well up in the younger’s eyes, and Changbin’s heart dropped. This may have been the boyfriend of the man he had been pining after for almost a year and half, but this was still Jeongin, Changbin’s best friend. So he wrapped the younger up into his arms and held him close, not letting go until Jeongin stopped trembling on the street corner.
Perhaps Changbin cared more than he let on. Perhaps there was more to his tough exterior and empty interior. Perhaps Jeongin saw this and took comfort with Changbin, and Changbin felt honored. “It’s okay, Innie. Whatever it is, we’ll figure it out. I promise.” His voice was a lot softer than it had been originally, rubbing his palms into Jeongin’s back as to further coax the younger into giving him the answers he wanted. Jeongin took a deep breath, pulling away and playing with the promise ring on his ring finger, and Changbin’s heart plummeted into his feet. This had something to do with Jisung, but what had it been? “Innie, please.”
“He threatened to hurt Jisung,” Jeongin uttered out, taking a deep breath. “I tried to quit once before and he told me that If I left, he’d kill Jisung and make sure I was miserable for the rest of my life. I thought it was an empty threat at first… but do you remember that night Jisung got jumped?” Too well . Changbin was the one who found him and took him to the hospital. “That was him. That was his men. That’s why I haven’t quit. I’m scared for him, Changbin! I want out but I can’t risk him being hurt and -” Changbin pulled him into another hug, anger simmering in his chest. It was as if something in him had snapped.
“I’m going to take care of it,” Changbin said in deathly calm tone as he separated himself, slipping on his jacket and storming off in the direction of Jeongin’s workplace. He wasn’t doing this for him or Jisung; he was doing this for Jeongin, and knowing that this cruel man was threatening a life to keep another made his blood boil . Jeongin should never, ever feel trapped, and Changbin was not going to let some low life make him feel that way.
Changbin kept ignoring Jeongin’s pleas for him to not get involved, ripping himself away from the younger’s grip every now and then when he tried to stop him physically. Changbin didn’t take his anger out on Jeongin, but he sure as hell wasn’t giving him attention either. Changbin was a machine, a bloodthirsty one at that, and Jeongin realized that rather quickly when they finally reached the company building and were forced to wait outside. His nerves were running high watching his Hyung storm into the building, waiting for Changbin to get thrown out or the cops to show up in the middle of the night to arrest him. Either way, Jeongin was going to be there to make sure Changbin got home.
The security officers looked rather caught off guard by the intimidating but unfortunately ethereal man that just stormed into their building, unsure of how to approach the situation. “Sir? What’s your business here?” The elder of the two asked, eyeing the tattoos peeking out of his sleeves and spreading over his hands. Changbin managed to get rid of the snarl on his face, offering them both borderline seductive smiles. This obviously seemed to fluster them a bit.
“Just here to drop off a present for the CEO. But I don’t know where his office is. Would you two mind helping me?” Changbin wondered, feigning innocence and watching the two share a look. The guards nodded and showed him to the elevator, Changbin sandwiched between them in the small room. Changbin tried his best to ignore the wandering hands of both of them, tensing up as he glared deeply into the metal doors in front of him. Eventually, they opened and Changbin strutted out of the lift with a smirk. “Come on, boys. I don’t have all night.” His voice came out as a purr, the security guards showing him to a room at the end of the hallway.
“Sir? There’s someone here for you.”
“Send them in.”
Changbin winked at the two, running his hands down their biceps and paced inside the office that was bigger than his apartment. At the desk in the middle of the room was a man typing on his computer, stopping at the sight of Changbin. “Well aren’t you a pretty thing… I don’t remember asking for anyone tonight,” the man purred and Changbin’s stomach churned in discomfort. However, this gave him a rather good opening to get close to him and strike. Changbin smirked and stepped forward, the man swiveling in his chair to face the raven haired man and allowing him to lower himself in his lap.
“A gift from a friend. They said you seemed a bit… stressed,” Changbin whispered, grazing his lips along the man’s jawline. The man hummed in content, wrapping his arms around Changbin’s waist too tightly and tugging him further into his body. Changbin felt like gagging when their lips pressed together, not hesitating to stroke his thumbs along the man’s wind pipes. Changbin didn’t strike just yet, but he snarled his nose up when the CEO’s lips trailed down to his neck and began to place wet and disgusting kisses to the skin there.
But as quickly as he began, he stopped, his breath cut off by the harsh thumbs pressing into his wind pipes and his head being dragged back by Changbin. Changbin’s falsely lust ridden face contorted into that of an eerily calm one, staring at the man’s purple tinted face with a chuckle. “Now that I have your attention…” Changbin trailed off with an angry huff, letting off of his wind pipes a tiny bit. “You’ve been a cruel, cruel man for far too long, Mr. Park. Do you do it for fun? Or are you so alone you have to take it out on others?” Changbin hissed, not getting answer. He hadn’t exactly expect one anyway.
“Listen up, dick face,” Changbin snapped, “You are going to leave Yang Jeongin and Han Jisung the fuck alone. You are going to let Jeongin turn in his two week notice without coming after him or Jisung. You are going to give the workers you mistreat a raise, and you are going to stop being an abusive fuck. I won’t hesitate to show your wife all the records of the men and women you’ve slept with in the last month.” Changbin smiled cynically. “Do you understand?” The ceo nodded his head frantically and Changbin huffed in amusement. “So, so sad.”
The man was let go roughly, taking in a deep gasp of breath as Changbin got up from his lap, grabbing a few suckers from the crystal jar on the desk on his way out. “Good riddance, Mr. Park,” Changbin winked, slamming the door behind him and making his way to the lift. On his way down, he pulled out his pack of cigarettes and lighter, lighting one as he walked by the security officers. “Thanks, boys.” Changbin waved sarcastically, strutting out of the building with the cigarette between his lips, Jeongin still waiting out front with his bottom lip between his teeth.
“Your two week notice has successfully been turned in, Mr. Yang.” Changbin bowed, blowing out a puff of grey smoke into the air. Jeongin stared at Changbin for a moment, waiting for him to jump up and start running because he was just kidding and that the cops were on their way, but Changbin did no such thing. The younger started laughing in disbelief, twining his arms around the elder’s neck and rocking them from side to side.
“Thank you so much, Hyung!”
“It’s not a problem, Innie.”
The familiar knocking pattern of Han Jisung echoed through Changbin’s apartment. “God damnit, Jisung! I’m in the shower! Just pick the fucking lock!” Changbin screamed from the bathroom in the corner, making sure Jisung heard it from his position outside the front door. Soon, he heard the muffled sound of the front door swinging open and footsteps padding over to the bathroom. Jisung was no doubt stood in the doorway with a teasing grin.
“Seo Changbin? Taking a shower before midnight? Who are you and what have you done with my least favorite, hyung?” Jisung snickered, hoisting himself up on the counter and drawing shapes on the fogged up mirror. Suddenly, warm water splashed on Jisung from behind the curtain, Changbin’s dripping face peeking out with a smirk. “Hyung!” Jisung wiped away the water with a weak pout, voice a lot softer than he had intended it to be. The water stopped after that, Changbin’s hand peeking out behind the curtain and grabbing the dry, waiting towel there.
Jisung jumped when the curtain opened sharply, a shirtless Changbin behind it, exposing the many, many tattoos he owned all over his torso, back and arms. Changbin took note of the way Jisung’s cheek went a bit pink at the sight of him but didn’t dwell on it. Changbin was attractive, period . Jisung followed him into the main room, not expecting for the elder to just drop his towel without a warning, “Damnit, hyung!” Jisung screeched, covering his eyes and turning his eyes away. “Warn a man before you expose yourself,” he scolded, hearing Changbin snicker to himself lightly. Once Changbin had some pants on, Jisung glanced, he approached, and then he touched.
Changbin froze at the feeling of nimble fingers tracing his back.
“I didn’t know you got your wings filled in.”
“I got it done a few weeks ago…” A tense silence fell over them after Changbin trailed off weakly, clutching the pendent hanging around his neck tightly. Jisung’s arms slithered around his torso from behind and Changbin felt himself weaken. “I miss him, Sungie.” His voice cracked, and Jisung peppered comforting kisses along Changbin’s shoulder blades. The two fell to their knees, Jisung never separating himself from Changbin’s tattooed, damp back and Changbin clutching at his arms tightly, nearly clawing them to death at his flinches of movement. “Why did he have to leave? Why did he have to go get himself killed? I could have saved him that night, Jisung. But I was too late.”
None of it really made sense in the end, because Changbin was just a big, blubbering mess and it was a mix of both English and Korean. Overall, it was a big mess, but somehow, someway, Jisung understood most of it and immediately shifted them so Changbin was between his legs on the ground. “Seo Changbin, Felix's death was in no way your fault. He was murdered, Bin. By people who were cold and heartless. They did that. You didn’t. You protected him more times than once. Don’t forget about what you’ve done in the past,” Jisung reminded, cupping his jaw and looking him in the eyes.
“You’re a good person, Bin. I know you are. I knew that from the beginning, but I only got more respect for you after I heard about what you did for Jeongin.” They hadn’t really discussed the whole ordeal; Changbin didn’t even know Jisung knew about it. “You saved the love of my life, Binnie. I can’t thank you enough, and I know Felix couldn’t be prouder.” Perhaps that’s why Changbin did it. Maybe he did it to prove a point to himself that he wasn’t responsible for Felix’s murder. Yeah. That’s why he did it. He did it to prove a point. He did it for Felix.
But why did Changbin’s heart clench when Jisung called Jeongin the love of his life?
Because Changbin was in love. He was so deeply in love with Han Jisung, all he wanted was for Jisung to be happy. Sure, knowing Jisung’s heart was stolen by Jeongin hurt, but Jeongin was good for him. He made Jisung happy and Changbin couldn’t ask for anything more. Of course, Changbin wished he was the one who had Jisung curled around his finger. He wished he was able to kiss and hug the man freely in a way that wasn’t just platonic. But Changbin didn’t have that pleasure, he wasn’t deserving of it, and he had come to terms with it. This love, while seemingly more painful, truly hadn’t been, because he still had Jisung in his life.
But Changbin knew deep down, he couldn’t stick around anymore. It may not have hurt as much as the others had, it was still painful, and Changbin needed to snap out of this love stricken daze he found himself in. “You two are adorable. I would do anything to make sure you two are happy.” The words were thick in his throat but dry on his tongue when spoken, but it was what it was, and nothing could change that. “You’ve been love stricken for him since high school, and it hasn’t faltered for one moment, has it?”
“No. No, it hasn’t.”
The two found themselves back on the couch, an ice pack over Changbin’s eyes to keep the swelling down and Jisung’s head in his lap. “I want the same for you, hyung,” Jisung uttered out of the blue, Changbin sparing him a look of confusion. Jisung took in a deep breath, running his fingertips across Changbin’s knee. “I want you to be happy. I want you to live your life with the one you love. You’re suffering and I hate it,” Jisung whispered and Changbin laughed bitterly. “I want you to find your soulmate, just as I found mine.” The words were heavy, and Changbin felt like breaking down right then and there.
“Felix was my soulmate.”
“You always have more than one soulmate, Hyung. Because Hyunjin was your soulmate too.” And perhaps, it was true.
If there was one thing Changbin knew, it was that he couldn’t stay in Seoul. While the city was nice, and the people there were kinder than anyone he had ever met before, he couldn’t stay here. It was too painful. “You should go, Sungie. I’m sure Jeongin is waiting for you,” Changbin muttered and showed the elder to the door. Jisung didn’t leave right after though. No, he pressed a kiss to Changbin’s forehead, gave him a tight hug, and left Changbin standing there with his heart in his throat and claws in his palms. He couldn’t stay here.
How Changbin managed to run into Kim Seungmin of all people in the middle of a club was rather amusing. Seeing the best friend of Changbin’s best friend was rather bitter sweet, especially since Seungmin seemed to know about everything that happened between the two. “Changbin?” the familiar man muttered, “Jesus fuck man, it’s been a long time.” Seungmin owned a shit eating grin, a glass of dark alcohol in hand. Changbin tried his best not to be too awkward, but he hadn’t seen Seungmin since high school, and Changbin wasn’t too sure about what he knew. The last of what Changbin heard, Seungmin was a dick in high school, so he wondered how accurate that was now.
“Yeah. It’s been awhile. How have you been?”
“You don’t have to be so awkward around me, Seo. I know about what happened between you and Hyunjin, and I honest to god apologize on his part for that dumb fucking decision he made.” Seungmin shook his head, taking a gulp of his alcohol. “Let’s sit.” Seungmin motioned to a booth in the corner where the music wasn’t so loud and there wasn’t that many people. Changbin didn’t hesitate, finding the whole situation rather amusing. Maybe they’d end up hooking up after this, who the fuck knows.
They slid into the booth, Changbin ordering a glass of whiskey and letting the talking begin. “I’m not angry at him, you know?” Seungmin shot him a confused look. “Hyungjin. I’m not mad at him. He was a bit of a coward, but we were in high school.” Changbin shrugged casually, but shrunk back underneath Seungmin’s gaze. It was as if the man was tearing him apart piece by piece and deciphering every single one of them. “He was a good guy. I miss him,” Changbin smiled to himself softly.
“I’ll be sure to tell him that. I think he still beats himself up over it now.” Seungmin rolled his eyes. “I have to ask though… Did you love him?” Changbin nodded his head without skipping a beat. “That’s good… that’s really good. Because I know he was head over heels for you. He was just an idiot.” Changbin could agree with the last statement, but he wasn’t so sure about the one before it, and almost as if Seungmin sensed it, he kept talking. “Seriously, Seo. He did. He wouldn’t shut the fuck about you, but he didn’t tell me anything until after you left. And looking back on everything, I could see it. You two were cute.”
Changbin wanted to change the subject; he wanted to get to know Kim Seungmin and maybe even become friends. “Tell me about yourself. You were a dick in high school, so I really didn’t want to get to know you then.” Seungmin snorted with laughter at the claim, nodding his head and agreeing. “You’re not as bad now though.” Changbin winked and Seungmin snarled his nose up in mock disgust.
“Fuck off, Seo. It ain’t happening.” Seungmin flicked him in the nose and Changbin felt a lot more at ease. “Anyways, I’m fine. Still single though, but I’m working my way up in the world of law, so I don’t really have time to be dating.” Changbin hadn’t been necessarily surprised by that. From what he heard back in high school, Seungmin was a force to be reckoned with when it came down to arguments. They ended up talking for far longer than they had intended, and Changbin felt comfortable around Seungmin. He took the edge off for a while and that’s all that he really cared about. “So, what’s with you? You got a job? Boyfriend? Married? Kids?” It had been an innocent question; Changbin just wished he hadn’t asked it.
“Nah. I’m working as a moving tattoo artist. I’ve got my license, but I just end up selling designs rather than actually tattooing. I’ve got a friend a few towns over that’s trying to get me to become his business partner, but I’m not too sure If I’ll take him up on that offer.” Still, even years after, Mark was still trying to get Changbin to partner up with him, but Changbin was too scared. He didn’t want to go back to that town and be reminded of everything there. It was tempting yes - there wasn’t much for Changbin to lose anymore - but there was something here holding him back, and it was obvious Seungmin was perfectly aware of what it had been.
“Listen man, you have to take risks. The lawyer thing was an extreme last minute decision and it was the best decision I made in my life,” Seungmin started, “I don’t know what’s got you tied here, but something tells me it’s not good, and frankly, I would cut it off and get my ass moving. I also may not know about what’s happened since high school to now, but I can firmly tell you that you’re still here for a reason. So go find it.”
For the first time in a long time, Changbin listened to the advice given to him. He took the warnings into account and realized that this unrequited love was going to remain unrequited. That the wet streets that Changbin used to love walking on at three in the morning were becoming aggravating, and that the tiptoeing around to be with Seonghwa was tiring. Yes, Changbin healed here in Seoul, but he only has so much time here and the clock is running out. Whether he liked it or not.
“Sure thing, Seo.”
Changbin’s chest felt heavy as he looked around his slowly packing apartment. Changbin had taken Seungmin’s advice seriously, going home that night and calling Mark to tell him he was taking him up on his offer, and never in his life had he heard Mark so enthusiastic over something. It was rather heartwarming if the younger was honest. However, he hadn’t spoken to Jeongin or Jisung about him moving, and he wasn’t sure he could. He wasn’t sure they would understand his reasoning, and Changbin’s heart lurched when knocks came at his apartment door.
He approached the door with caution, cracking it open and coming face to face with none other than Yang Jeongin. “Oh, hey, Innie.” Changbin smiled, a nervous flicker of his eyes as he glanced back into his apartment. The younger looked serious, and Changbin began to panic when he realized that Jeongin was going to ask him to go inside to talk, and that is not what Changbin needed right now. “I feel like you want to talk, so how about we go somewhere else.” Changbin tried to derail Jeongin from his apartment, but it seemed as if Jeongin had other ideas.
“No, no, Hyung. I want to see your apartment,” Jeongin snapped, shoving Changbin inside and shutting the door behind him. Changbin squeezed his eyes shut, breathing labored as Jeongin looked around with a lost look. “This is why you’ve distanced yourself… You’re leaving, again.” Jeongin’s voice cracked and Changbin began to tremble in his shoes. It was out of fear if anything; he didn’t want Jeongin to run off and tell Jisung, because he knew the younger would try to convince him to stay, and Changbin would back out of the deal he made with Mark. “Why?”
Changbin’s tongue felt dry, no words slipping out of his mouth as his mouth opened and closed over and over again. Jeongin’s face softened considerably as he let his arms fall limply to his sides. “Is this about Jisung?” Changbin froze, not sure how much or what Jeongin knew. There’s no way he could have noticed… Changbin hid it well! “It is…” Jeongin sighed, rubbing his hands up and down his face. “I’m not mad, hyung. I’ve known for years. I think I’ve known for longer than you have,” Jeongin uttered, playing with his fingers. “You look at him like he’s the most important thing on earth. You look at him like how Hyunjin used to look at you.”
Changbin fell to his knees, sobbing hysterically and Jeongin was quick to wrap him up in his arms. “I’m so sorry, Innie. I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to fall in love with him and potentially ruin what you guys have. I didn’t want it.” Changbin trembled, Jeongin rocking them back and forth. “Why am I so fucked, Jeongin? One minute I’m empty inside and the next I’m sobbing on the floor of my apartment,” Changbin asked after a while, leaning into Jeongin’s chest. The younger thought for a long time, not speaking until he had a speech put together in his head.
“I think you’ve been so emotionally hurt, Changbin that you don’t know what’s good and what’s bad. I’m going to miss you so much and not having you around is going to be weird, but I think…” Jeongin paused for a moment. “The damp streets of Seoul are not for you. You need something warm, something light and breezy. You need to heal, and walking around aimlessly in the dark isn’t going to heal you.” Jeongin’s words were true, too true for Changbin’s liking, but he took them to heart, just as he had done with Seungmin’s.
“And as both your friend and Jisung’s boyfriend, I’m going to have to ask that you distance yourself from Jisung. Until you get over your feelings.” It was fair, and Changbin understood why Jeongin had said it. He appreciated that Jeongin was being so gentle and kind with him when Changbin was in love with his soulmate. “I promise not to tell him either, just as long as you make time and tell him yourself before you leave. That’s all I ask of you, Changbin. I want you to be happy.” Happiness seemed like nothing but a distant memory and bitterness grew in Changbin’s chest.
Changbin and Jeongin separated, Jeongin helping him pack the rest of his things until there was nothing left to pack. Tears began to well up in Jeongin’s eyes, and Changbin comforted him just as Jeongin had a few hours ago. “Thank you so much, Hyung. Thank you for being there for me when I needed you to be. I hope you live happy one day. I hope you find your soulmate and breathe again.” The words were so ungodly similar to what Jisung had told him once before and Changbin realized that they really were soulmates. There was no denying it, and surprisingly, Changbin’s chest felt a bit lighter.
“Just take care of him for me, Innie.”
“Of course, hyung.”
Changbin felt weird sitting on that hill watching the sunrise over the horizon, the city behind him. He felt weird because he remembered the last time he watched it with Jisung on the mountain side on the day of Felix’s funeral. But yet, here he was, basking in the sunlight around him and breathing in the cold air he hadn’t breathed in so, so long. He sat on top of that hill and let his heart ache without feeling guilty or shoving it down. Changbin let himself get everything out that he needed to get out on top of that hill as he tugged at the wet, dewy grass underneath him.
Changbin’s thoughts were jumbled but clear all the same. Despite him leaving tomorrow, Changbin still felt lost. But felt lost with a purpose in mind. Changbin was still mindlessly wandering, but he didn’t feel empty in his chest, and he didn’t feel as though he was running from something any longer. It was difficult to explain to someone who wasn’t feeling it. All Changbin knew was that he was one step closer to freedom, and away from the emotional burdens of Hyunjin, Felix, and Jisung. Changbin would get there, one step at a time.
“When will I learn to stop chasing after you?” Footsteps crept up on Changbin, a body sitting down next to him on his right. Changbin breathed a bit deeper in amusement, lips clasped shut but quirked up into the tiniest of smiles. Jisung kept his distance, a silence falling over them, and something told Changbin that this would be the last time the two would share a moment like this. “Always running, hyung… When will you stop?” It seemed as if it was supposed to be a teasing question, but instead, it was a genuine one that Jisung wanted an answer to.
“When I find my purpose.”
Changbin felt a hand grasp his and Changbin intertwined their fingers without skipping a beat. They sat there for a while, Changbin debating if he should tell Jisung that he was leaving. But he couldn’t ruin this moment, not when this would probably end up being their last. “I missed this,” Jisung whispered after a while, resting his head on Changbin’s shoulder and stroking his thumb along his knuckles. “I missed you .” Changbin gulped at that, glaring at the view in front of him.
Changbin hadn’t been himself for a very long time. Truthfully, Changbin hadn’t been Changbin since he got his heart broken by Hwang Hyunjin. Changbin hadn’t been Changbin since Felix was murdered. Changbin hadn’t been Changbin since he arrived in Seoul and realized he was in love with a man that would never love him back. Changbin wanted to be free, but he wasn’t free of his chains just yet. Not with Han Jisung sat next to him, using him as a cushion and making his heart beat wildly.
“There was a time I was in love with you, you know? I was so ungodly in love with you that it hurt. I wanted nothing more than to just kiss you until your lips were swollen and cuddle you to sleep every night. I wanted to touch you and make sure you felt loved,” Jisung confessed and Changbin’s heart felt like it was going to fall out of his throat. “I’m not sure why I told you that. It just felt like I needed to.” You told me because I needed to hear it, Changbin thought. “I’ve just made it weird now, I’m sorry –,” Jisung began to get up and leave, but Changbin grabbed his sleeve, tugging him back down.
“Sit down,” Changbin hushed, intertwining their fingers again, but Jisung kept his head off of his shoulder. Changbin needed to hear those words. He needed to hear that at one point, Jisung saw Changbin as Changbin saw Jisung now, and that made it a lot easier to bear. The ‘used to’ part hurt to hear, but Changbin wasn’t surprised. Jisung was in love with Jeongin, and Changbin would continue to tell himself that until he no longer felt for the smiley boy next to him.
“I bought a ring,” Jisung uttered out of the blue and Changbin felt his heart crack. “For Jeongin. It’s pretty nice, I think. I’m just not sure if I’ll ever actually propose.” Changbin looked at Jisung in pure confusion. That’s not what Changbin had been expecting from him by any means. For as long as Changbin could remember, Jisung had been dreaming of getting married, and that only seemed to intensify when he met Jeongin. So, why was he getting cold feet now?
“Because I still need to resolve some things… internally,” Jisung trailed off unsurely, a secretive tone as he glanced at Changbin’s face, eyes flickering down where they shouldn’t have been.
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
Jisung stayed quiet, having an internal battle within his head, and Changbin felt nervous when he scooted a bit closer. “Hyung… Do you promise that what happens on the hill, stays on the hill?” Changbin gulped, flickering his eyes down to Jisung’s lips when his face was centimeters away from his own. Changbin croaked out a noise close to a yes and Jisung nibbled on his lower lip. “Then yes… you can help me.” Then, Changbin’s head was spinning and his hands were trembling.
Jisung surged forward, clasping Changbin’s lips in his own for a few seconds, pulling away with his eyes blown wide. The two shared a look, not sure how to react until Changbin’s body reacted before his head could process anything, reaching his hands behind Jisung’s head and bringing him in for another kiss, this one a lot faster and a lot more heated. Jisung didn’t hesitate to climb into Changbin’s lap, knees on either side of Changbin’s hips and twining his arms around his neck. Changbin’s hands trailed and rubbed the skin of Jisung’s back underneath his black shirt and groaned into the kiss when Jisung’s tongue slipped inside his mouth.
They were stomach to chest, Jisung hovering over him as Jisung took complete control, moving on his own terms and Changbin following around like some sort of lost puppy, just like the other two . Changbin’s back hit the grass beneath him, Jisung trailing his hands down until his palms were underneath Changbin’s shirt and massaging the skin of his stomach. Their lips separated, Jisung’s trailing down his face until they reached the skin of Changbin’s neck and began to suck and nibble. “Fuck,” Changbin grunted, digging his nails into Jisung’s back.
They separated, staring at each other’s kiss swollen lips and flushed faces, giggling to themselves. “I was wondering how long it would take for this to happen,” Jisung snickered and the two climbed off of each other, sitting up on the hill as Jisung began to make fun of the forming marks all along Changbin’s neck. While yes, it was very heated for a kiss a pair of best friends just had, but it had been a long time coming. Instead of it being a kiss now, it was a kiss from the past. It was a kiss they should have had a very long time to get all of this over and done with, and Changbin felt more at ease.
“Did that help?” Changbin smirked. Jisung cracked him a grin and nodded his head, letting Changbin pat his thigh roughly a few times. “Good! Now, you have to propose.” Jisung rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Let me see the ring though,” Changbin urged, and Jisung dug through his pockets to find it and tugged it out, pulling open the box to reveal the ring. It was simple, something Changbin expected. It was a silver band with five diamonds implemented along the top, and Changbin had no doubt that Jeongin will love it. “You chose well. He’s going to lose his shit when he sees it.” Changbin pats the younger’s shoulder.
“We just made out on the hill not even two minutes ago and now we’re talking about me marrying Jeongin. What kind of turn,” Jisung cackled, and Changbin couldn’t help but laugh too. Of course, the elder was still hurt and deeply in love with Jisung, but he felt as though he had a chance to finally get over Jisung now that he knew what it was like to kiss his lips on top of a hill with the sun rising behind them.
“My best friend is growing up. I’m so proud.” Changbin grinned, pinching Jisung’s cheeks. Except, it took a turn they hadn’t been expecting and Changbin’s back hit the grass once more, Jisung on top of them laughing as they shared yet another kiss. What happened on the hill, stayed on the hill, and they would stick by that no matter what. Nothing changed when they left, but everything changed when they arrived back. That hill was a stepping stone for the both of them.
But Changbin’s heart still ached, because Jisung left before he did, going back to his soulmate and completely unaware of Changbin’s plans to leave. Perhaps, Jisung had suspected it. Maybe he knew deep down that Changbin was leaving again but chose to ignore it. Maybe he knew that if he were to speak up, Changbin wouldn’t go and find the thing he’s been trying to find since high school. They had grown up, maybe even out of each other, but well… forever and always, right?
Three days later, Jisung came home to a note taped to his door, Jeongin inside and oblivious to the whole affair. Jisung read over the words again, and again, and again, until they were tattooed into his tongue and his cheeks were coated with tears. He clutched the note tightly between his fingers, practically hyperventilating. This always happened. “Baby? What’s wrong? What’s in your hand?” Jeongin inquired worryingly, stepping out of his house and towards a shaking Jisung.
Jisung handed the note over without a word, letting Jeongin read over it, no sort of surprise evident on his face. “Are you going to chase after him?” Jeongin had been expecting a yes, because Jisung was one stubborn son of a bitch who cared about Changbin more than life itself. But instead Jisung shook his head and nibbled on his bottom lip. Jeongin quirked his head to the side on confusion. “And why not now?”
“Because Changbin isn’t lost anymore. He’ll find his way. He needs to do it on his own.”
“I met Jisung.”
“Yeah… He’s really sweet.”
“Why weren’t you there with him?”
“Something came up.”
“Did you confess to him?”
“Something like that.
“I think we should end this, hyung. I’m going away for a while.”
“I figured as much… be safe okay, Bin? Don’t be afraid to call me.”
I know this is… probably rather expected as I’ve done nothing but run since my mother’s death, and probably before that as well, but know that this… I am not running from another human. I am not running from a past love. I am not running from a pack of gangsters, and I am not running from my feelings. Instead, I am running for myself. There’s something out there for me to find and I must search for it. I have to find a purpose in life, and it’s not here.
This probably isn’t that much of a surprise either to be fair, but when you told me that you used to be in love with me on top of that hill, I felt bitter. Because now, as I’m writing this, I am completely and utterly in love with you and I’m obviously a few years late. I didn’t want to confess that day, and I don’t think I could have said it to your face, but know that I’m writing it here as not my final goodbye but as a pause. You don’t have to chase after me anymore, Sungie. I’ll find my way to you eventually.
P.S. Take these tickets and take Jeongin. I was going to go with you originally, but obviously I can’t go anymore. Go meet, Seonghwa , tell him your name is Han Jisung and that you know me. He’ll know who you are.
P.S.S Propose to Jeongin already, damn it. It’s been seven years.
P.S.S.S Forever and always
The third time Seo Changbin fell in love, it was unrequited. He fell in love with a man he had grown up with and who had chased him his entire life, unknowingly making Changbin attached to him in a way they were not supposed to be. Changbin fell in love with a man who loved someone while making another fall for him in the meantime. It was all bitter, but Changbin wanted to see Jisung again, if not in this life, than in the next. Because their love for one another, while maybe not romantic, was forever and always, and nothing would change that. However, as Hwang Hyunjin and Lee Felix had done, he too faded into the white background of a polaroid.
The fourth time Seo Changbin fell in love, it was the last time. He was 26, living in Sydney, Australia, and in a joint tattoo business partnership with Mark Tuan. It was rather peculiar as to how he ended up in Australia of all places, but he had spent his fair share of time dwelling on it and came to the conclusion that it was because of not only Lee Felix but Hwang Hyunjin and Han Jisung as well. While it may not have exactly been for them in particular, it was the only thing that made sense in Changbin’s head. He needed to find his self purpose first, and for the last ten years, he had been finding it in other people rather than himself. Changbin couldn’t do that anymore. It wasn’t fair to whoever he ended up with for the rest of his life or himself. But finding it was a lot harder than he truly knew.
Sure, he was doing what he loved. He was becoming well known, made good cash, and was actually making friends with the townsfolk. If Changbin really wanted to, he could probably stay here for the rest of his life, but he wasn’t sure if what he was looking for was here. For now, Changbin was fine. Changbin was content with what he had in Sydney, even if it was a bit unsettling at times to know that he still felt lost in his heart. Changbin felt as though he was failing at life, but perhaps that’s what lifted his spirits. Changbin finally felt again, and that was more than enough for him.
One thing hadn’t changed over the course of his life and that had been his love for sunrises; and Australia’s were absolutely breathtaking. Maybe that had been the thing keeping Changbin in Sydney, but something told him that it was far more complicated than just that. But as his toes dipped into the sand and his hands played with the stray pieces of grass poking out occasionally on the shore line, he didn’t think too much about it. Changbin had been over thinking things for far too long, and he had to break that habit before it tore him apart more than it already had. Don’t think, just do.
For once, when Changbin got there, someone else had already been on the beach, one leg propped up with their arm resting on his knee and the other spread out. It was a man with faded blonde hair that seemed to be another color at one point, and he had a few tattoos littered about. Changbin had to admit he was cute, but he came here for the sunrise and the sunrise alone. So he sat down, a good few yards away from the other and buried his chin between his knees, looking out into the glimmering water and wanting to just submerge himself completely underneath.
Changbin could feel a pair of eyes occasionally on him and knew that it had been the attractive man beside him. However, Changbin wasn’t brave enough to actually look over at him in fear of something he wasn’t quite too sure of. Falling in love? Maybe so. Changbin might have gotten over the last three loves, but he was exhausted. He couldn’t handle that love anymore. He couldn’t handle the pain. “I can hear you thinking from here.” A thick, Australian voice broke through Changbin’s thoughts and they faded and dispersed with the next wind current and splash of the waves in front of him.
Changbin flickered his eyes over to the other shyly, lips threatening to quirk up. “What’s on my mind then?” Neither one of them moved, the wind brushing it’s soft fingers across Changbin’s hairline and down to his cheek, stroking softly to comfort him. The other merely offered Changbin a small smile and Changbin admired his dimples, relaxing slightly at the sight of them. He didn’t know who this local was, what his name was, how old he was, or what he did for a living, but Changbin did know that this man made him feel relaxed, and that was hard to come by.
“I would hope it would be the sunset, but I could also think that maybe you’re dwelling on something you shouldn’t be.” Changbin didn’t answer. He just played with the grass to keep the sudden irritation in his heart at bay. Who was he to rip Changbin apart and be able to tell what he was thinking without even knowing who he was? “But maybe that’s just my sleep deprivation playing tricks on me,” the other butted in quietly, and Changbin’s lips quirked up more. He related to that statement more than the other probably realized.
“Maybe you should start sleeping more, than.” Hypocrite . Changbin doesn’t even remember the last time he had a good night’s sleep in the last year, and he was slowly starting to face the after affects of it all. He really needed to start sleeping more too.
The other merely laughed and shook his head. “I wished it were that easy.” They stopped talking after that, not even exchanging names, and Changbin couldn’t say he minded. Maybe he would never see this man again, maybe he would see him tomorrow, or in a few days. It didn’t matter to him; all he knew was that the conversation they had was nice but short lived. So when the sun rose over the horizon, Changbin had been the one to leave, and the other didn’t chase after him either. If they were meant to see each other again, they would. That’s just how fate worked.
Just as Changbin had presumed, it hadn’t been long until he ran into the local again. In fact, it had been at the same hour, at the same place, and in the same situation, just a day later. They talked a bit more that day, and a bit more the next, until they were on the brink of sharing their names but never quite getting there. Maybe that alone is what drew Changbin to him. He liked the easy going feeling the elder gave off, and they moved at their own pace, a pace a lot slower than Changbin was used to but thoroughly enjoyed. There was a certain thrill to it, not knowing when this would end and they would move on with their days, and it took a week for their morning meetings to come to a halt.
Changbin couldn’t say he was hurt when he walked to the beach that morning and didn’t see the man already there, because he wasn’t. Changbin was merely a bit disappointed in himself for feeling lonely on that coastline when he had put up with that same loneliness for almost as long as he could remember. Something in his toes ached, and it hadn’t been the burning hot sand of the late morning. The next two weeks, the man never showed up and Changbin was almost afraid that whoever it was had merely been a figure of his imagination. Someone his mind created so the mornings didn’t feel quite so lonely anymore.
Except that hadn’t been the case. The man was very much real and Changbin would learn that when he stopped in a diner on the way to the beach one morning, hearing about their well-brewed coffee and giving it a shot. It had been entirely spontaneous, but it was one of the best decisions Changbin ever made. The diner was small, a few people inside talking in hushed murmurs and not even sparing Changbin a glance when he walked inside. It looked like your classic American diner, much like the one him and Felix had gone to many years back and Changbin let a tiny smile crawl onto his lips at the memory of his messy face as he chowed down on a burger.
The slight strawberry blonde man that looked unbelievably familiar looked up when Changbin approached, the two stopping and staring at each other in shock. Lee Minho let out a laugh of disbelief. “Well I’ll be damned, Seo fucking Changbin.” Changbin let a laugh of his own echo out as Minho rounded the counter, taking Changbin into his arms and patting his back roughly. “I haven’t seen you since you left high school. I thought you were dead if I’m honest.” Minho held a shit eating grin that slowly faded to a pout when he saw the tattoo’s covering Changbin’s arms “You never did my first tattoo either, you little shit!” His cry gathered a few dirty looks, but neither one seemed to mind.
At least until a figure bursted through the door that lead to the kitchens, spatula in hand and taking the breath away from Changbin’s lungs. The newcomer was about to speak up, tell Minho off for screaming so early no doubt, but his eyes locked with Changbin’s and their tongues went dry. Minho flickered his eyes between the two in confusion, but a look of realization occupied his expression and a smirk took over. “Yes, Channie hyung?” Minho teased, playfulness dripping from his mouth and Chan’s eyes snapped to the younger with a glare but said nothing. “Do you want coffee, Changbin?” Changbin shrugged shyly, glancing down at his shoes. “Ok. Chan Hyung will you be a dear and make it? He drinks the same as you.”
Changbin snapped his head up at this. “Half and half, two creamers?” Changbin murmured, and Chan simply nodded his head with a tiny smile that made Changbin relax in his shoes. Even Felix didn’t like his coffee, and they were practically the same person. “The fact that you still remember my order after what? Ten years? Is slightly impressive,” Changbin complimented, but that didn’t seem to be enough for Minho as he made a noise of disbelief and began to hit Changbin upside the head.
“You little shit! I had to bring you coffee every morning along with your chemistry homework because you were too lazy to do it for a whole year! Like hell i don’t remember your order. I probably have it tattooed into my brain at this point.” Minho’s hands flew wildly in the air as he screeched and Changbin snickered lightly.
“Chemistry was hard man. I’m not sure what you want from me.” Changbin shrugged, earning a snort from the man still in the back and a light exclaim of agreement. “See! Not everyone was a chemistry genius like you, Hyung,” Changbin snickered and was shoved over to a booth in the back corner, away from the other older couples who were just trying to enjoy their food and newspaper that morning. The two sat down, making small conversation as Changbin waited for his coffee. “So, how the hell did you end up here?” Changbin inquired with a quirk of his eyebrow, Minho weighing the answer in his head for a moment as if he wasn’t sure what to say.
“I’m not too sure if I’m honest. I kind of just… came here on whim. At first, it was just a vacation, but I really liked it here, so I stayed,” Minho explained, adding a little shrug at the end and a small smile in Changbin’s direction. “I could ask you the same. You just kind of disappeared… you almost gave me a heart attack.” Changbin’s eyes trailed down to the table in guilt, watching Minho’s dainty fingers twirl around the red surface of the table. Despite what most thought, Changbin and Minho were incredibly close. Perhaps not as close as he was with Jisung, but Minho was an important person in his life.
“I know… I know. I already heard my fair share of shit from Jisung about it,” Changbin trailed off solemnly, a tense silence falling over them for a moment. “After my mom’s funeral… Nothing really made sense to me. So, I just kind of ran off. I didn’t stay anywhere for too long, I lived out of my van for almost three years.” Changbin chuckled breathlessly. “I went here and there. It was nice. I ended up staying in Seoul for a few years though, had a few flings. Nothing too serious though.” Changbin didn’t have the heart to bring up Hyunjin, Felix, or Jisung. He wasn’t sure he could handle giving that explanation right now. But if Changbin was going to tell someone about it, it would definitely be Minho.
Eventually, Chan came back out with his coffee and a plate of food, placing it in front of Changbin, and the raven haired man’s mouth nearly watered at the sight. “On the house.” Chan winked, placing his hand on Changbin’s upper back when he placed the stuff on the table and dragged it off of his shoulder when he walked away. Changbin stared back at him with his cheeks a faded crimson. Minho seemed to be a bit shell shocked by the gesture and snapped his eyes over to Changbin so quickly, Changbin flinched back.
“Chan doesn’t just do that. How do you know him?” Minho pried, taking Changbin’s fork and cutting a piece of pancake before stabbing it to shove it into his mouth. “Come on, Bin! I need answers,” Minho whined and Changbin just shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t have any answers for him; Changbin barely knew anything about this situation either. “Really? Nothing?” Minho pouted and Changbin snickered as he took his fork back and slid his plate out of the elder’s reach so he didn’t steal anymore food.
“I didn’t even know his name until today, hyung.”
And that had been the end of that conversation. Minho and Changbin talked for almost another half hour before the morning crowd finally hit and Minho really needed to get back to work. Changbin didn’t mind though; he needed to be getting to work anyway. “Stop by my shop, Hyung. We can get that tattoo going.” Changbin grinned, giving Minho a short hug before turning to exit. Except instead of him leaving the diner smoothly, he ran right into Chan who was stood behind him, steaming pot of coffee in hand that ended up all down Changbin’s torso. A cry ran out in the diner, everyone looking at the sight in horror as the two began to apologize profusely at the same time. “I’m so sorry, fuck.”
“Why are you sorry? I spilled coffee all over you!” Chan exclaimed at the same time as Changbin was apologizing, shoving them both into the back of the diner so Changbin could strip himself of the soaked, steaming hot shirt and get cold water on his skin. They could hear Minho cackling in the front, but Changbin was more concerned about actually taking care of himself to be embarrassed about everything that just happened. “Fuck, I’m so sorry,” Chan murmured in embarrassment, eyes down casted as Changbin held a bag of frozen burger patties to his toros, covering a good portion of it. “I think I might have a shirt you can borrow.” Chan dug through his backpack in the corner, pulling out a black tank top with a band logo on it Changbin knew all too well. “Here.”
Changbin took the t-shirt without much thought, slipping it over his head quickly to cover up his exposed chest. Changbin figured he deserved to at least be given a damn shirt considering the man just poured coffee all over him. “It’s alright… It’s alright. I’ve had a lot worse happen to me,” Changbin reassured shyly, realizing his muscles were on full display now along with his tattoos, and Changbin suddenly felt self conscious with the way Chan was looking at them. The elder must have sensed this because he snapped out of it and offered Changbin a tiny smile that made his heart relax.
“Surely, there’s something I can do to make it up to you.”
“No, no. It’s okay. Really.” Changbin kept reassuring, but Chan was persistent and just insisted that he make up for it somehow. “If it really means that much to you, here’s my number and we can schedule something. But I really need to be getting to work.” Changbin scribbled the numbers down sloppily on a crumbled receipt he took from Chan and handed it back to him. “See you soon?” Changbin murmured, hope in his eyes and Chan shot him a wide, dimpled smile.
Changbin didn’t sit around waiting for a call or a text. He went on with his day and didn’t dwell on it. Though he did find himself getting a bit disappointed when he had no unknown missed calls or texts on his phone when he checked it throughout the day occasionally. But no one needed to know that. If Mark knew he was pining after someone again, he’d tear Changbin apart and rebuild him again only to send him off towards the person with a kick and ‘to not come back until you’re married.’ It was all rather ridiculous really, but Changbin figured that if it got serious, Mark would be the first person he’d tell on his own.
The shop was quiet for the most part. Lunch had just started for most businesses, so the streets were rather jam packed, but no one really walked into his shop. There were a few people that stopped and lingered outside for a moment, but walked away with a shake of their head, and Changbin would just snort and continue to play with his thin, black labret piercing. “Yo, Yug just got off for lunch, can you hold the shop down?” Mark came out suddenly from the back, holding his jacket, wallet, and keys, Changbin flinching a bit from the sudden appearance.
“Sure man.” Changbin soluted him out the door and Mark disappeared with a grateful hum down the street. Changbin figured that now Mark was gone, he could finally play some music and let the dull ringing in his ears from the silence fade away. Soon, a song from CB97 was blaring in the shop and Changbin began bobbing his head along as he worked on one of his newer clients tattoo. It had been a sword of all things, but it had been made of shells and small, dainty fish and starfish. It was a rather neat idea; Changbin just wished he knew the meaning behind it. However, it wasn’t his place to pry, and he would let it go soon enough.
The door to the parlor opened, barely heard over the loud music, and Changbin went to go turn it down when he heard the bell. He was rather oblivious to the mixed look of both intriguement and amusement the two newcomers shared when they recognized the music, but let it drop once Changbin’s attention was on them. “Ah! Hyung. I was wondering when you would come visit me,” Changbin teased, pulling Minho in for a quick hug and letting his eyes wander over to the other, Chan staring back at him with a variation of an intense gaze. Changbin couldn’t bring himself to look away, but he couldn’t just stand there and stare either. “Well hi, you looking to get a tattoo as well?” Changbin cocked his head to the side, a blush residing on his cheeks when Chan swiped his tongue on his bottom lip.
“Not sure yet. He asked me to come for emotional support.” Chan rolled his eyes, and earning an arm slap from a pouting Minho. Chan slapped his arms away with a chuckle, allowing his attention to drift back over to Changbin with a tiny smirk. “But maybe if you’re good enough… I’ll consider getting one.” Changbin’s insides churned at the alluring tone, letting his eyes fall to his shoes to hide the crimson on his cheeks, and Chan let out a low giggle. “I need to add to my sleeve anyway. It’s been a while.” And then the alluring tone fell and so did the crimson on Changbin’s cheeks, a casual air falling over them once more and Changbin felt relieved.
“Ok. Well, Minho let’s discuss what you want.” Much like they had talked about in highschool, Minho ended up getting a band logo on his wrist and Changbin smiled to himself at the memories. Minho had been going through some rough shit during high school, and oddly enough, this band helped him get through a lot, and it was rather surprising that even after all these years, that was still a tattoo he wanted with every fiber of his being. “You’re done,” Changbin laughed as Minho relaxed into the chair when the needle lifted off of his skin, letting go of Chan’s nearly purple fingers roughly with a huff. Changbin snorted and shook his head, wrapping it up and making sure Minho knew how to take care of it. “So… Tattoo or no?” Changbin asked Chan, who stood by the doorway patiently.
Chan thought for a moment. “Not today… but maybe we can schedule an appointment?” Chan cocked his head to the side and Changbin nodded, throat suddenly swelling up and not allowing any words to pass. Minho insisted that he was going to go get food now and that he wasn’t going to wait on Chan, and so left with a wave and thank you to Changbin once he paid for his tattoo. The nerves that Changbin was already feeling from Chan being here suddenly intensified now that they were alone. “When’s a good day for you? And if you have an idea in mind, I need to know now so I can sketch.” Changbin began to type into the computer as he spoke, logging into the shop calendar so he could schedule an appointment.
“Hmm… How about Friday… before you get off? I’ll take you out afterwards and make up for that spilled coffee.” Changbin’s eyes began to stare intensely into the computer, ignoring the way Chan had his chin in his palm as he leaned over the counter, not even a foot away from Changbin’s face. “I’m not sure what I want. I’m willing to do a freehand.” That had been what made Changbin’s eyes snap towards Chan. The fucking freehand. People don't just do freehands. The only freehand Changbin has had done on him in his life was on his side, and he made sure Mark knew what the fuck he was doing.
“People don’t just do freehands, hyung. Are you insane? You barely know me!” Changbin threw his hands in the air wildly as Chan just looked at him on confusion, commenting that Changbin just completely ignored his implication of a date and freaked out over the freehand. “A-a date?” Changbin gulped, and Chan laughed lowly.
“If you want it to be.” Chan shrugged, but Changbin never really gave him an answer. He just looked away and gave Chan his appointment date and time. “Sounds good, Bin. See you soon,” Chan farewelled, just about to walk out the door before he stopped abruptly, swiveling on his heel and leaning against the door. “By the way, when I gave you that shirt, I expected to get it back, not for you to keep wearing it.” Chan snickered at the way Changbin’s ears turned red when he realized he was still wearing his tank top and began to frantically shoo the elder out of the shop.
Something about Chan was different. SOmething Changbin couldn’t necessarily identify now but would later. For now, he would let himself figure it out little by little. Even if he never figured it out, Changbin was okay with that. Because Chan was a man he’d like to have in his life, romantic or not, and maybe that’s what had been so different.
“Ah. Innie, how are you?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine. How are you?”
“I have a date after work today and I’m nervous.”
“A date? Really? Who's the lucky guy?”
“His name’s Chan. He’s older than me. You remember Lee Minho from high school right? He’s one of his friends.”
“Is that how you met?”
“Not exactly. That’s how we started to actually talk though.”
“Ah well, I wish you luck, Hyung. I can already tell you’re smitten- No! Don’t argue with me on it! You are! Anyways I have news for you. Jisung and I got approved. We’re getting a kid.”
“Really? Innie I’m so happy for you two! You’re gonna be great parents.”
“Thank you, hyung. I have to get going, but I want to hear about your date!”
The day seemed to drag on unbearably slow, and Changbin felt like tearing his hair out everytime he looked at the clock and realized only two minutes passed every time. Of course, the occasional client helped drastically as he couldn’t watch the time when he was tattooing somebody. It was just the breaks in between that made Changbin wish for the ground to swallow him up. It seemed as though the bell to signify that someone had entered at 6:45, five minutes before Chan’s appointment, was like music to his ears. “Thank god,” Changbin muttered under his breath, not thinking Chan had heard.
“Oh? You been waiting for me, Binnie?” Chan smirked and Changbin felt like bashing his head into the nearest wall. “It’s okay, I thought today was pretty slow as well.” His tone was a lot softer than the last sentence he spoke, sounding more comforting in a way, and it made Changbin’s heart relax. Chan always made him relax. Changbin blushed and nodded, surprised when Chan began to dig through his pockets and pulled out a white sheet of paper. “I know you were pretty freaked out by the freehand idea, so I went ahead and brought out one of the ideas that I’ve been wanting to do.” There were multiple rough sketches of a sun and moon being intertwined and Changbin’s heart sped up.
Live by the sun, love by the moon .
Changbin clutched his necklace as he sat back down in his chair at the counter, letting go briefly to grab a marker and sketch it down onto the once of the tracing papers. “Something like this?” Changbin held it up shyly, exposing the rather haunting but beautiful photo to the elder. It was the same sun and moon, but there had been a cloud separating them like the line of a fraction, a face in both the sun and the moon that looked near tears, and water was falling down from the moon. “I can make it a bit less upsetting if you want, it’s your tattoo –,”
“– I like it, Binnie.”
Changbin managed to keep himself together during the time that he was tattooing Chan’s bicep, and surprisingly, Chan didn’t have that good of a pain tolerance. “Fuck,” Chan grunted out for probably the third time in the last two minutes. He didn’t flinch away at any point, but Changbin kept his fingers curled around the limb just in case… yeah… that’s why. That’s totally why he was practically kneading Chan’s bicep with the tips of his fingers. 100%.
“It’s almost over, Hyung,” Changbin uttered, voice low and borderline gravely. It wasn’t a lie. Because fifteen minutes later, the tattoo was done, and Chan was trying to hold back his groans as Changbin began to grab for his cleaning supplies. “Just fucking groan already, Hyung. Jesus,” Changbin laughed, wiping some of the cleansing foam across the fresh ink and wrapping it in saran wrap when the foam was gone. Chan let out a half war cry and Changbin couldn’t contain his laughter.
“Fuck! Why the fuck did that hurt so much?” Chan spat and Changbin just shrugged.
“Not sure. You’ve got a fair share of muscle here, hyung.”
“You should know. You were practically groping me the whole time.” Changbin began to grumble under his breath, slapping himself internally for the next few words he was about to utter without a thought.
“You liked it, though.” A silence fell over them, Changbin never meeting Chan’s eyes, and Chan must have sensed the sudden embarrassment and so went for the playful route rather than the flirty one. Changbin seemed as if he hadn’t been expecting it entirely, so Chan tried his best to put Changbin at ease.
“Prove it.” Chan’s eyes glinted mischievously, and something flickered in Changbin’s eyes. The embarrassment the younger was feeling before faded away and for the first time in a very long time, Changbin felt comfortable in his own skin.
“That just proved it.”
“How?” Chan exclaimed in confusion.
“You were trying to get me to touch you again. Case closed.” Changbin rolled away from him in his chair as Chan laughed loudly. Changbin put his supplies away as Chan waited by the counter, watching him intently with his pointer finger pressed lightly between the crevices of his lips, which were quirked up into a tiny smile. When Changbin caught him, however, Chan didn’t seem to stop staring even for a second, even sparing the younger a wink when Changbin seemed a bit caught off guard. “Stop looking at me like that,” Changbin whined a bit, the tiniest of smiles adorning his lips.
“Why should I?” Chan called out daringly. Changbin appeared suddenly from the back room, papers in hand as he shyly set them down on the counter. The man didn’t reply, tongue suddenly dry.
“You hungry?” Chan murmured once everything had been paid for, trying not to stay in an awkward silence. Changbin nodded with a smile, eyes suddenly lighting up, and Chan snorted. “Oh. So when I ask you on a date, you don’t seem too bothered but when I offer you food, it’s suddenly the best day ever. It’s alright. I get it,” Chan dramatically cried, turning his chin up as Changbin snickered.
The younger rounded the corner, approaching Chan out of pure and utter boldness and slapped at his stomach. “Food is always more important, hyung. Remember that,” Changbin uttered, hands lingering for a moment too long and their eyes locked. Changbin managed to realize what was happening before it was too late, stopping his head from leaning any further and backing away with a cough. “I’m hungry. Let’s go,” Changbin whined as if nothing happened and went to go close up the shop, heart cracking a bit when he saw the slight disappointment on his hyung’s face.
Chan took him out to eat, they got to know each other, and embarrassingly enough, Changbin found out that he had been playing Chan’s music in his shop when Chan came in with Minho a few days ago. “Are you serious? I swear I do nothing but embarrass myself,” Changbin droned, hiding his face in his hands as Chan just snickered . “Stop laughing at me! How do you not think this is weird?” Changbin whined, throwing pieces of his straw wrapper at the elder. Chan shrugged and smiled at the younger fondly for a few moments.
“Because it’s you.” Changbin scowled at the cheesiness, shaking his head disapprovingly. “So, how’d you get here? To Australia I mean. You speak English very well, but it’s obvious you’re from somewhere in Korea,” Chan inquired in curiosity, taking a bite of his burger and getting grease everywhere around his mouth. Changbin was trying to play it off as him being too busy wiping Chan’s face with a napkin to answer, but realistically, he wasn’t too sure what to say. He wanted to tell Chan everything because that’s just what the elder did to him, but Changbin was still Changbin, and that meant that he was still hurting and he still had minor trust issues.
Maybe one day he would tell Chan, but it wouldn’t be today. “Well… I dropped out of highschool because of some shit that happened, traveled for a while, met Mark, decided I wanted to start doing business with him so I got my degree, my license, and now we’re here.” Changbin shrugged, tongue playing with the ring around his lip nervously. Deep down, Changbin had been scared that Chan would pry for answers, just as Felix and Jisung had. There was a time that Felix just wouldn’t let something go and kept asking, and asking, and asking, that Changbin blew up in his face. It hadn’t been a pretty sight, but they got over it eventually.
But Chan didn’t. He respected Changbin’s privacy, smiled brightly, and asked about something else. Changbin learned rather quickly that Chan was easy to talk to and didn’t dare to move any faster than Changbin was comfortable with. He knew this because when they were walking along the beach, Changbin’s fingers hooked into Chan’s belt loops and Chan tried to kiss him, Changbin was forward with him. “Listen, Hyung. It’s not that I don’t want to, because trust me, I do. But I’m scared. I’ve been fucked over in the past so many times that I’m scared to take this any further. But I want to because I like you. I just need you to be patient with me.” Changbin nibbled on his lower lip, hoping and praying that Chan would understand.
“That’s fine. Kisses on the first date are overrated anyway.” Chan flashed him a dazzling smile, and Changbin felt like he had just heard the words of god. It may have been insignificant to any other person, but to Changbin, they were everything. “Are cheek kisses allowed, though?” Changbin chuckled at the eyebrow wiggles Chan was doing and shoved him lightly.
“Walk me home and we’ll see.”
Everything seemed to be relatively smooth from there. The two had a few misunderstandings here and there, but that had been expected, and they got over them pretty quickly. Changbin still came in every morning to get a coffee, and on days Minho was working, stayed and talked for a bit, and Chan occasionally joined in as well.
“Morning,” Changbin grunted the moment he walked inside, looking rather sleep deprived if Minho and Chan were honest with themselves. In fact, Minho blatantly asked if he even slept the night before without giving him a proper greeting. “Started watching Shameless and… well… yeah.” Changbin shrugged shyly and Chan came out from the kitchens when a scowl, hands on his hips.
“You told me you were going to sleep when you got off the phone with me last night.” Chan crossed his arms over his chest while Changbin just smiled sheepishly and shrugged his shoulders. “You should have invited me over! We could have binged it together,” Chan whined suddenly and Changbin just began to snickered at the bewilderment on Minho’s face.
“Why are you condoning that?” Minho exclaimed, hands flying up in the air.
“He’s going to do it anyway,” Chan shrugged, inching towards Changbin and pressing a light kiss to his cheek after wrapping an arm around him. Minho’s eyes rolled so far into the back of his head he was sure they would get stuck. The man strutted off, muttering something along the lines of making Changbin a damn coffee, and the two just snickered in his direction. Chan’s eyes traveled back to Changbin and he rubbed his palm up and down the younger’s arm. “You should call off today. You look dead,” Chan snickered into Changbin’s slightly curly hair, earning a noise of shock and a slap to his stomach.
“I’ll be fine, hyung. My shift isn’t long today,” Changbin hushed, turning his body so his hand was resting on Chan’s chest and they were practically hugging. Chan hummed, looking as if he wanted to propose something but wasn’t sure if Changbin would like it or not. However, Changbin had a pretty good idea of what it had been. “You should come over. We can order take out and watch Shameless,” Changbin suggested, and Chan eyed him in slight bewilderment. “That’s what you wanted to ask right?” Chan laughed lowly and shook his head in disbelief, pressing a light kiss to Changbin’s forehead and detaching himself.
“See you then, Binnie.”
Unsurprisingly, Minho had wanted to speak to him before he left for work, insisting they find a booth as far away from the kitchens as humanly possible so Chan didn’t hear their conversation. “It seems like something is bothering you… what’s wrong?” Minho asked after a moment of silence, eyes trained on Changbin and slowly but surely tearing him apart piece by piece. Changbin sucked in a harsh breath, keeping his eyes trained on the table shyly. “Come on Bin… It’s just me,” Minho hushed, and Changbin let go of the sharp breath. There was no getting out of this one.
Minho relaxed into the back of his booth, eyes shining in amusement. “Of Chan?” Changbin just shrugged. Minho leaned forward, taking Changbin’s hands into his own and stroking them comfortingly with his thumb. “I don’t know if I ever told you this, or if he did, but we used to have a thing. We went on a few dates and we kissed once. But we realized that it just wasn’t for us. It didn’t feel right.” Changbin sucked his bottom lip between his teeth. Of course they had a thing. Minho was gorgeous and Changbin couldn’t blame Chan at all. “What I’m trying to say is that he’s a good guy. He may make one too many puns at the worst possible times a lot, but trust me when I say he’s smitten for you. I have never seen him like this, and after talking with a few of his childhood friends, neither have they. You’re special Changbin, and he knows that too.” Perhaps it hadn’t been Chan that coaxed Changbin into loving him, but Minho instead.
“Thank you, hyung. Who knew you were so good at relationships when you can barely keep one for more than a few weeks?” Changbin snorted and Minho began to hit him.
“Did you know Kim Seungmin was actually cute? And a lawyer? I ran into him the other day and I almost took him home.” Minho wiggled his eyebrows and Changbin felt his head hit the table. “What? He is! He’s cute and rich, Changbin! I can’t pass that up! He even asked for my number.” Minho smacked the table repetitively, and Changbin couldn’t stop laughing. Chan peeked his head out through the kitchen, a small smile on his lips but worry in his eyes.
“Are you good?” Chan laughed, placing his hand on the back of a laughing Changbin and shooting Minho a light scowl. Changbin shifted so his head was buried in Chan’s stomach and his hands clutched the ends of his shirt, still laughing. Changbin wasn’t too sure why he was laughing so much, but at the end of the day, he was happy. He was content with his life and he didn’t get to say that very often. But now he could, and that was the breath of fresh air he so desperately needed.
Changbin found his purpose. Changbin found his purpose and it was to be happy here, in this diner, with his friends and lover, while doing what he loved. His purpose was to be happy.
The day Changbin found his purpose was the day before Changbin finally let himself be with Chan. They went back to Changbin’s apartment that night with takeout in their hands and smiles on their faces. They cuddled on the couch when their food was done, Changbin’s head on Chan’s chest as he groaned about eating too much food and Chan trying to massage his stomach to help get rid of some of the discomfort. And as a thank you, Changbin rewarded him with a kiss, slow and tender, only lasting for a few seconds. They didn’t kiss again that night, but they felt like giddy teenagers when Chan left the house a few hours later.
Chan asked him out the next day and Changbin said yes.
Now, it was a year and a half later and they were still the same, slightly odd couple and two peas in a pod…. Just more touchy. The light shined through the window to Chan’s bedroom, revealing Changbin cuddling a pillow with his back turned towards Chan, who was lying on his back. Unfortunately for the elder, the younger was slowly coming back to his senses and shifted so he was facing Chan, eyes squinted open and body feeling like jelly. Chan looked too peaceful. So, with a slightly clumsy move, Changbin climbed on top of Chan’s torso and placed his head on his chest, cuddling him like some sort of koala. “If I wanted a blanket, I would have grabbed it from the floor,” Chan grumbled in his sleep, not moving a single muscle below his neck.
“No, you wouldn't have. You’re too lazy so you’d make me get it for you.” Changbin heard Chan curse.
“Fuck, you’re right.” Changbin let out a giggle and melted further into Chan’s chest when one of the elder’s arms slung onto his back sleepily, fingers loosely clutching the shirt on Changbin’s back, that he borrowed from Chan of course, to keep his arm there. Luckily, it hadn’t been too hot as the air from outside was blowing through and cooling them off, which just made them more and more comfortable with each other. Changbin doesn’t really remember how Chan actually managed to sit up and rest against the headboard with Changbin in his lap, but they got there eventually and Chan wouldn’t stop running his hand over one specific tattoo over his bicep. “Baby, what does this one mean?”
It had been a girl with a blindfold over her eyes and dragonfly wings shooting out behind her. It was a rather gorgeous tattoo, but it didn’t really match the rest of the ones he had. “I was blind to a lot of things when I was younger, especially towards things that involved my mother and sister. This is just a reminder for me to not be like that ever again,” Changbin hushed sleepily, pressing a gentle kiss to Chan’s collar bone reassuringly. Chan tended to be a bit sentimental and protective to certain subjects, and Changbin’s family was definitely one of those. Changbin had been right in saying that one day he would tell Chan everything, because he did on their one year anniversary. Changbin pulled out the polaroids and told him practically his whole life story, and their bond only seemed to grow after that.
Their lips connected, soft, tender, and sweet. Changbin’s hands rested on the back of Chan’s neck and Chan’s fingers played loosely with the back of Changbin’s boxer waistband. By the time they were done, their lips were as swollen as their sleep ridden faces, but neither one seemed to mind too much. “We need to brush our teeth.” Changbin’s nose scrunched up cutely and Chan couldn’t help but place a wet kiss to the bridge of the poor boy’s nose. Changbin climbed off of him with a laugh, padding out of the room and to the bathroom, not expecting Chan to follow.
Slowly but surely, Changbin had gotten ready, Chan finally climbing out of bed with a pout. “When will you get a day off so I can have you all to myself?” Chan whined, nuzzling his nose into Changbin’s shoulder from behind while Changbin straightened himself out in the mirror and made sure he looked presentable. Changbin laughed softly and turned around in Chan’s arms, keeping his own at his sides and pressing a light kiss to his cheek.
“Soon. I promise. I need to talk to you about that tonight anyway, so I’ll be back over here after work.” Changbin hasn’t seen his apartment in a few days if he were completely honest, and if it hadn’t been for his lease, Changbin and Chan would probably already be officially living together. “I’ve got to go. Don’t be late to work and make sure you relax. You were up a long time last night,” Changbin scolded and left the house, placing his jacket and bag in the back of the car and feeling around for his keys, realizing they weren’t with him.
As if on cue, he heard the familiar jingle of metal behind him and, Changbin saw Chan standing in the doorway, shirtless, toothbrush in his mouth and pajama shorts hanging loosely around his waist with keys in his hands. If you were to ask Changbin when he fell in love with Chan, he’d probably give you that exact moment, because him just standing there, a shit eating grin on his face, had Changbin melt inside his own skin. Changbin was in love with a man who didn’t make his heart flutter or skip a beat, but made him melt and relax into his own skin. And that’s exactly what Changbin needed.
When Changbin arrived back to Chan’s place after an incredibly long day at work, all he wanted to do was fall face first into the bed and sleep. But Chan wasn’t in the house, and Changbin wasn’t about to just ignore the fact that Chan’s car was there but the owner of it was nowhere to be found. Panic arose in his chest, looking around frantically while he tried not to think of the worst possible outcome. He looked everywhere, even calling out his name a few times, but there was no response. However, once he ran out the back door and was met with the sight of the boy sitting on the beach, looking out onto the ocean and turning his head to look around, Changbin’s heart felt at ease.
He took off his shoes before he walked off the porch steps and let his bare feet hit the cool sand, walking towards him and not letting Chan know of his presence. When he was within reach, Changbin slipped his arms around Chan’s shoulders, causing him to flinch when Changbin lowered himself onto the sand and wrapped his legs around his waist from behind. “Hey,” Changbin hushed, slightly muffled by the fabric of Chan’s shirt when he buried his face into his back.
“Hey, Binnie,” Chan murmured back fondly, placing his hands on Changbin’s calves and massaging his thumb into the skin. “How was work?” Changbin muttered out a ‘hectic’ and a silence fell over them, Changbin kissing along Chan’s neck, shoulders, arms, and head. Pretty much anywhere he could reach. “As much as I’m enjoying this, what’s up? You’re never this touchy unless something’s bothering you.” Sometimes, it scared Changbin just how well Chan knew him, knew his habits, but other times, it was a blessing. Changbin struggled to admit that there was something wrong a good portion of the time, so Chan usually had to coax it out of him.
“When… When I got here and didn’t see you anywhere but your car was here it –,” reminded me of the last three . Changbin didn’t have to finish his sentence; Chan already knew what he had been implying. They always left, but Chan swore he wouldn’t be one of them. Chan detached himself from Changbin, getting up onto his feet and offering the younger a hand. Changbin took it, attaching himself to Chan’s bicep as they walked along the shore, closer to the water and letting it soak their feet. It was quiet for a while, Chan trying to find a way to best word what he wanted to say, but he seemed to be struggling. “What are you thinking?” Changbin wondered, softly stroking his thumb across Chan’s elbow.
“I can’t even begin to tell or show you how much I love you,” Chan whispered, catching Changbin off guard. “I could try and put together a hundred page speech about how much I’m in love with you and that I’m glad to have you in my life, and it still wouldn’t be enough,” Chan boldly claimed and for a moment, and only for a moment, Changbin doubted it. He doubted that Chan loved him that much and that scared him. “Changbin, I’m convinced you’re my soulmate, and when I say I want to spend the rest of my life with you, I’m not joking.” Changbin could feel the tears begin to well up in his eyes, stopping abruptly and turning his face to the ocean to hide them.
He felt hands slap his butt lightly and arms twine themselves around Changbin’s shoulders, Chan’s voice whispering in his ear and asking why he was crying. “I’ve fallen in love 3 times, Chan. I’ve fallen and gotten my heart broken 3 times and when I met you, I was convinced I didn’t have a soulmate.” Changbin turned towards the elder, clutching the fabric around his chest tightly as he spoke. “Yet here you are,” he croaked, sniffling once and letting Chan wipe them away with a fond smile.
“Yet, here I am. And I’m not going anywhere.”
A few days later, they were in Changbin’s hometown. The night that they officially confessed their undying love for each other, Changbin told Chan that he had two plane tickets back to his hometown for his mother’s death anniversary, and that they would have the whole week to themselves. The reason as to why they were going was rather solemn, but they were happy that they were going to get to go away for a while, and that Changbin could finally show Chan where he came from. “You nervous?” Chan rubbed his palm up and down the younger’s thigh as Changbin drove, the hum of the rental car filling the silence between them.
The more Changbin drove, the more he recognized the town around him. Sure, a few things had changed, but at the end of the day, it was still the same. “I haven’t decided yet,” Changbin chuckled a bit, turning into the parking lot by the graveyard, a few cars parked around them. They sat there for a moment, Changbin gripping the steering wheel tightly and staring at the line of graves in front of him. Chan’s hand slipped on top of Changbin’s, coaxing the aching fingers away from the wheel with the tiniest of smiles. “I haven’t been here since I left,” Changbin whispered, clutching Chan’s fingers tightly.
Chan managed to coax Changbin out of the car, walking through the gate hand in hand and towards the grave. Except there was someone already there, tall, dark haired and unbearably familiar. “Holy shit,” Changbin whispered to himself, stopping and turning towards Chan. “Will you wait here for a second?” he pleaded and Chan nodded and smiled comfortingly. Their fingers separated and Chan stayed in his place as Changbin approached the figure. The familiar man was cleaning the grave, making sure the stone was pristine and the flowers at the foot of it were placed just right. “Hyunjin?”
The man whirled around, eyes wide, and Changbin locked gazes with none other than HWang Hyunjin. The younger was the first to flicker his eyes away nervously, twiddling his thumbs. “Hello, Changbin Hyung,” he greeted, voice as soft as Changbin could remember but a little bit deeper. Hyunjin looked good. He was taller, a bit more built, and still young in the face. “It’s been,” Hyunjin gulped thickly, “it’s been a long time.” Changbin nodded in agreement. “I hope you don’t mind me taking care of her grave! I know… I know we’re not on the best of terms, but she was still like a mother to me because s-she knew about me and didn’t judge me for it and –,” Hyunjin stopped his rambling abruptly, squeezing his eyes shut and taking in a shaky breath. “She gave me a home.”
Changbin couldn’t be mad at him; it wasn’t his place. Hyunjin had his reasons and he knew that. Changbin was just glad someone was here to take care of it when he couldn’t. They stared at each other for a moment and Changbin opened his arms a bit. “Come here, idiot.” Hyunjin surged forward, twining his taller body around Changbin and sobbing into his shoulder. Hyunjin apologized over and over again, saying how dumb he was when he did all of that to Changbin and that he didn’t deserve any of it. That Changbin shouldn’t have wasted his time on him and that had been when Changbin cut him off.
“My time with you was not a waste, Hyunjin. I loved you and I enjoyed my time with you. It just ended in a really fucked up way,” Changbin reassured, wiping away his tears with the pad of his thumb and Hyunjin nodded shakily, licking the salty tears away from his lips and just letting Changbin hold him. “I won’t ever forget, Hyunjin, but I want you to know that I forgive you. That was over ten years ago. It’d be dumb of me to still hold that grudge.”
The two separated, Hyunjin’s eyes drifting towards Chan, who was waiting patiently and looking at the two in an almost protective confusion. “Boyfriend?” Hyunjin tilted his head towards the eldest, and Changbin smiled fondly in Chan’s direction, making the elder soften just a bit.
“Something like that.” Soulmates .
“I found someone too… His names Jinyoung.” Changbin tilted his head in confusion.
“Weren’t you engaged to a pretty girl a few years back?”
“That was my parents. I backed out of the wedding and got exiled but…” Hyunjin’s eyes drifted off to the distance where a tall, black haired man leaned against the wall. He was attractive. “He’s worth it. We’re actually married. We’re thinking of adopting,” Hyunjin laughed as if he didn’t believe his own words. “Are you two married?” Changbin glanced back at Chan for a moment who was texting on his phone, bottom lip between his teeth.
“Nah. But between you and me, I think he’s proposing while we’re in town,” Changbin chuckled and shook his head a bit. Chan was such a sap. Chan actually ended up meeting Hyunjin and Changbin met Jinyoung, the couples parting with Changbin lingering at the stone for a while. “I miss you, mamma,” Changbin whispered suddenly, tracing his fingers along the top of the stone and squeezing his eyes shut. “I still have the polaroids, you know? Of your last day. You looked so happy, so… alive. Part of me thinks I shouldn’t have let you dance that day to save your energy… but seeing you like that made me realize that maybe it was worth it. I love you, mamma. I hope you love me too.” Changbin’s voice cracked at the end but he didn’t sob. He let a few tears slip and that had been the end of it.
Chan actually did end up proposing on their last day there, his speech heartwarming and tender enough to make Changbin cry like a little baby while hysterically mumbling “yes” over and over again. It was on top of one of the tallest buildings in town that overlooked a good portion of the city, and Changbin was pleasantly surprised. He had expected Chan to take him to an expensive restaurant and propose in front of the whole crowd there, but instead, they ate pizza, drank Coke, and laughed on top of the building.
Planning the wedding was a lot more stressful then either one of them were really prepared for, but when the day came, they were giddy. Before it even started, Changbin and Chan went around and spoke with the people there (at different times of course, they weren’t allowed to see each other until the ceremony) and Changbin felt like his heart was going to soar out of his chest at the sight of everyone important to him laughing and lingering about. “Hyung!” A familiar scream rung out through the courtyard and Changbin froze, turning towards a barreling Jisung and getting war flashbacks to the first day of junior year.
“Jisung! No!” Changbin screeched before Jisung jumped on him and wrapped his body around his smaller one, nuzzling his nose into his cheek. “God damnit,” Changbin grumbled, locking eyes with the amused ones of Jeongin and whining. “Get your husband off of me, please ,” Changbin pleaded, but Jeongin just shrugged and pointed to the two girls holding one arm and a little boy strapped to his back.
“I already have to take care of 3, you’ll live.” Changbin just scowled. “Besides, you’re getting married, and soon you’ll have little ones of your own running around, so might as well get some practice right?” Jeongin teased and Jisung began to whine like his three kids, much to their amusement.
“We’re not even sure if we’ll actually have kids. We won’t have them for at least another three years. We’re getting the house extension remember?” Changbin said, grabbing a glass of champagne from a passing server. Jeongin and Jisung shared a look of pure and utter amazement. “What…?” Changbin trailed off carefully, eyeing the two wearily.
“You mean to tell me…. That you and Chan were renovating a house during the same time you were planning a wedding?” Jeongin hissed, Changbin flinching a bit at the tone, “And you’re still having the wedding? DO you know how many times I almost called off ours when we were planning? Too many,” Jeongin growled and Jisung looked genuinely hurt by that, just not enough to say anything, “No offense, babe.” Jeongin smiled sweetly and Jisung began to grumble under his breath.
“What can I say? He’s patient with me. He’s creepily good at dealing with stress too.” Changbin stared at the alcohol in his glass like he just discovered the secrets to the universe. “Damn. I did good.” Changbin grinned when he realized that he was marrying that same man. Jisung began to laugh and dramatically swing his arms as if he were swinging a staff.
“And god said give the gays what they want,” Jisung boomed dramatically, and Jeongin tugged him away in embarrassment. “See you at the ceremony, Hyung!” Jisung waved and dashed after his husband, taking one of the little girls into his arms and throwing her up into the air with a squeal. Changbin eyed him fondly before turning towards Seungmin and Hyunjin. Changbin patted them both on the backs, the two shooting him kind smiles.
“Hey man. It’s been a while.” Changbin hugged Seungmin quickly, patting his shoulders. They talked briefly, but it was enjoyable. Seungmin and Hyunjin were nice to talk to and Jinyoung, while not saying much, was actually really funny, and Changbin, at some point or another, may have whispered into Hyunjin’s ear that he approved, earning a slap to the arm. “So, when are you and Minho going to get over your friends with benefits bullshit and start dating?” Changbin asked rather bluntly, and Seungmin just chuckled.
“Way ahead of you, Hyung. I asked him the other day. He’s my plus one, he’s just mingling.” And as if on cue, Minho broke through the crowd and joined them, placing a quick kiss to Seungmin’s lips and one to Changbin’s cheek. Changbin separated soon after that, everyone being told the ceremony was about to begin, and Changbin was dragged away from the crowd of people by none other then Park Seonghwa himself. Soon, the ceremony was moments away from starting, and Changbin was ready to walk past the gates and kiss Chan into the next life.
He felt Seonghwa looking at him from beside him, arms linked and ready to walk down the aisle, Seonghwa having the pleasure of handing Changbin off to Chan. “Nervous?” Changbin thought for a moment. He thought about all the times Chan took him out for dinner, the beach talks in the early morning, the deep explanations, the laughs, the kisses, the hugs, the fights, the misunderstandings, them .
“Nah.” Changbin shook his head with a tender smile. “We’re soulmates.”
I got called into work today, so I took the twins with me to let you sleep in a little. There’s french toast ready for you and coffee ready to be poured. Remember that you have an appointment with your doctor at 3 today, and Norah’s and Parker’s dance recital is at 6. I love you, take care of yourself, and don’t let anyone push you around today.
I love you,
The fourth time Seo Changbin fell in love, he fell in love with his soulmate. He fell in love with his other half after falling in love 3 separate times only to have his heart broken by each in the end. Chan was his everything, the man he married, the man he had kids with, the man he built a home with, and the man he’d grow old and die with one day. Chan was his soulmate and showed Changbin the way to his purpose in life. And just as Hwang Hyunjin, Lee Felix, and Han Jisung had, they faded into the white background of a polaroid picture together, but with a few seconds to spare .