“See you on Monday!” That was Youngjo, calling from his front desk. Geonhak waved back at him.
Geonhak was just about to clock off work. It took him about an hour to commute home from the office and he had a date at six, so he planned to just bus straight to the restaurant and hope there won’t be much time left to kill when he got there. At least, that was his plan until he received the Signal.
There was a time when the Signal could mean anything. Supervillains. Armed robbery. Missing persons. Tax fraud. It was at the center of all of Geonhak’s vigilante work, but as the years went by, the crime rate in the city dropped tenfold. Now, the Signal only meant one thing-- Squirrelman. The nimble mischief. The only villain left who could challenge Geonhak’s indisputable reign over the city.
So Geonhak, who was just about to leave the place, suddenly ran to the bathroom, high-fiving a confused Hwanwoong and stuttering out a rushed greeting to Harin on the way there. In the bathroom, he made sure that the coast was clear before dramatically tearing off his business casual shirt to reveal a fancy spandex supersuit.
He donned his mask. Then, he flew out through the window.
“It’s a bird!” Cried a person on the street.
“How is that a bird? Honey, I think we need to get you new glasses.”
Geonhak, with his super-enhanced vision, spotted Squirrelman standing on top of one of the city’s tallest buildings. (Contrary to his name, Squirrelman didn’t actually wear a squirrel costume, unfortunately. His supersuit consisted of a mask, a simple band hoodie, and a pair of sweatpants. People called him Squirrelman because he moved very fast and threw acorns.) He appeared to have an elaborate machine set up next to him-- by the looks of it, a glitter-bombing machine. Squirrelman was planning to cover the entire city in glitter. The sheer villainy.
“Hey, squirrel-brain!” Geonhak called out. Squirrelman turned around immediately. I guess we now know who the squirrel-brain is.
“Oh no! The forces of good have come to oppose me! Whatever shall I do!” Squirrelman said dramatically, swooning a bit. “Please make this quick. I have a date at six.”
Geonhak blinked. “No way, dude. Same here.” He flew around the machine, looking for the most effective way to dismantle or destroy it. “Say hi to the lucky girl for me!”
“It’s a dude, actually.” Squirrelman quickly typed out a code. The machine began to rev up.
“That’s what’s up! Love who you love!” Geonhak landed on the rooftop, then used a mini sonic boom to blow Squirrelman back, causing him to land on his ass.
Squirrelman groaned, shook his head, and stood up with a bit of effort.
“Thanks. You have fun on your date, too!”
He tossed an acorn-shaped projectile at Geonhak’s face, which Geonhak very narrowly dodged. More followed, and soon enough, one hit him in the shoulder, causing him to reel back into the air.
“Not cool, man. Not cool.”
Squirrelman just cackled, and that got on Geonhak’s nerves, so Geonhak picked him up by the waist and took him on a ride. As they left the rooftop behind and took to the sky, Squirrelman fought, struggled, and kicked to no avail. But when he bit Geonhak’s arm, Geonhak dropped him with a scream. Squirrelman cast a net beneath him to break his fall, then flitted away into the alleyways, still cackling. Within a few seconds, the villain was out of sight.
Geonhak sighed. At least he got a hold of the glitter machine. He swore on his life that that weapon would never be put to use. It was much too dangerous.
The time was 5:58.
The time was 6:05.
“Sorry I’m late,” Geonhak gasped as he draped his jacket over his chair. “Boss wanted me to check something over.”
Seoho smiled serenely. “It’s all good. I was worried I would be late, too.”
They’ve been here several times before. It was a fairly upscale Italian place, nothing too over-the-top, though it served some killer carbonara. Seoho has expressed that he was fine with going anywhere as long as there was food to be eaten, but Geonhak regularly insisted on treating him to something nice, so he usually took him here because there was good food without being too overwhelmingly fancy.
“What are you getting? Geonhak asked him.
Seoho bit his lip as he looked over the menu. (A gesture that made Geonhak’s heart skip a beat. Absolutely adorable. Precious. He would die for him.)
“I think I’m gonna get the linguine with shrimp.” Geonhak wrinkled his nose at that.
“Shrimp? God. I could never.”
Seoho laughed. “So picky.”
Geonhak ordered the cream carbonara. It was, after all, indisputably the best dish on this menu.
The food came quickly. As they ate, Geonhak talked about his day at work, about how Hwanwoong accidentally printed five pages of his procrastinatory Farmville game and how Yonghoon from I.T couldn’t stop laughing after seeing the state of his pumpkin crops. Seoho laughed along, and his laughter was music to Geonhak’s ears.
Meanwhile, Seoho bemoaned his workload in grad school and complained about the sheer volume of projects and papers being thrown his way.
“It’s like they expect us to have superpowers or something,” Seoho whined. “They seriously give us like, what? Ten readings a night?”
Geonhak cringed. “Man, school sucks. How do you even do it?”
“Honestly, I don’t know! I’m this close to turning to crime.” Seoho held up his fingers. There was no distance between his pointer finger and his thumb. In fact, he had squeezed them together.
When they finished eating, Geonhak insisted on having dessert. He ordered a strawberry ice cream. Seoho had a cheesecake. Later, they went back to Geonhak’s place and spent the night marathoning Marvel films on Geonhak’s couch, with Seoho curled up to Geonhak’s side and hogging all the blanket. Geonhak occasionally ran his hands through Seoho’s curly blond hair.
“You know,” Seoho mumbled sleepily. “I feel like I spend more time here than at my own place.”
“I like having you around,” Geonhak ruffled Seoho’s hair.
“Mm. I like being around you.”
There was a short pause. Geonhak leaned away from Seoho for a moment to grab a wad of popcorn, to which Seoho keened a bit in protest.
“Tell me if this is a bit fast,” Geonhak began, a bit hesitantly. “But how would you feel about moving in sometime?”
Seoho blinked slowly.
“I’d like that.”
They had celebrated their first anniversary a month ago-- and boy, was it an event. Seoho had Geonhak blindfolded and rowed him out to the lake. By the time he was allowed to remove it, no shoreline could be seen in any direction. They’d kissed just as the sun began to sink from the sky, just as the clouds became stained with the reds and oranges of dusk.
“Seoho, who do you think is gonna beat Thanos?” Geonhak asked, lacing their fingers together.
But Seoho was already fast asleep, snoring gently, head on Geonhak’s shoulders. Geonhak let out a long-suffering sigh, held back a smile, and carried him over to the bedroom.
When Geonhak woke up the next morning, Seoho was still sleeping like a log, arms wrapped around his shoulders and face snuggled close into his back.
Geonha turned around and pressed a quick kiss to Seoho's forehead before getting out of bed, though he had to fight his way out of Seoho's grip. Seoho made a small noise of disgruntlement, fidgeted a bit, but his eyes remained closed.
With nothing better to do, Geonhak brushed his teeth and went down to the kitchen to make some breakfast.
While the egg rolls were in the pan, Geonhak felt arms wrap around his waist. He looked back to see Seoho's ruffled hair and sleepy face, and smiled.
"Good morning, sunshine,"
The egg rolls sizzled. Seoho blinked drearily, refusing to move even as Geonhak struggled to transfer the rolls onto a plate.
Seoho suddenly frowned. He ran a finger along a scratch on Geonhak's arm. It was healing, but still visible, still fresh. Geonhak swore internally. He had forgotten to check himself over after he fought Squirrelman.
"What happened here?"
"Accident. I tripped over and fell on--" Geonhak paused. "A cactus. Youngjo's cactus. It fell off his desk and then I fell on it. I'm okay."
Seoho huffed. "Take better care of yourself, babe."
After finishing breakfast, Seoho suddenly jolted in his seat and put on a coat, mumbling about how he had some important business to attend to that he’d totally forgotten about the previous day. Geonhak, who was about to go to the grocery store anyway, walked him over to the station and kissed him goodbye.
But, while Geonhak was busy trying to pick a watermelon at the store, he received the Signal again.
And so, Geonhak left the watermelon behind (which was a shame, to say the least-- that was literally the perfect melon) and hurried over to the back of the grocery store, haphazardly changing into his super suit next to a dumpster filled with rotting produce.
Geonhak took flight. He met Squirrelman on top of a building that looked over main street. What’s with Squirrelman and rooftops, anyway? One would think he’d learn to execute his plans in places less out in the open, but alas. All villains enjoyed a good spectacle.
“Hiiii!” Squirrelman singsonged, waving at Geonhak with his free hand. He was busy writing ‘SQUIRREL WUZ HERE’ in big red letters on the main plaza using his laser death ray. “How’d your date go?”
Geonhak landed a good distance away.
“It went well. We had a fun time.”
Of course, there was no escaping the range of laser death rays, but he took care to position himself in front of no buildings. If he knew anything about Squirrelman, it was that he would never actively harm a civilian and that he’s never harmed a civilian before, but he also knew that he was very impulsive and not very careful. Anything could happen.
“Squirrelman, please put down the laser death ray. You’re causing serious property damage.”
“Never!” Squirrelman looked back at him, eyes flashing. Ironically, now that Squirrelman was getting ready to fight, this made him turn off the laser death ray to focus on Geonhak.
Geonhak tried to grab the death ray, but Squirrelman caught him just in time and wrestled him away.
But Geonhak didn’t falter. He summoned a sonic boom to knock Squirrelman away, but it wasn’t quite enough to separate him from the weapon. Squirrelman jumped over to the next building, and Geonhak took flight and followed.
“Laser death rays are highly illegal. You really shouldn’t be using it in public.”
Squirrelman pouted. “That takes all the fun out of it! Why else would you need a laser death ray if not to engrave a bunch of cool and inspiring messages all over the city?”
Geonhak raised a brow. “I think the more pressing question is why you have a laser death ray in the first place.”
“I built it!” Squirrelman said proudly, holding it up. This gave Geonhak the perfect opportunity to aim another blow at it. This time, the weapon flew out of Seoho’s hand and onto the edge of the rooftop.
“Impressive,” Geonhak nodded at the death ray. “Still illegal, though.”
“So is vigilantism!” Protested Squirrelman. To this, Geonhak found that he had no good response.
Geonhak made a beeline for the weapon, but Squirrelman grabbed him by the waist and wrestled him down. They tussled for a while, with Geonhak trying his best to crawl over to the edge of the rooftop and Squirrelman doing everything he can to keep him away.
“If you take that, I can legally charge you for theft!” Squirrelman screamed.
Geonhak kicked him off. “Well, I can charge you for the unlicensed and unauthorized creation and possession of a highly illegal plasma weapon and for thousands of dollars worth of damage to the main plaza! So really, who’s winning?”
Squirrelman got a hold of Geonhak’s shoulders. With a smirk, he pinned him to the chimney. Geonhak let out a grunt of pain.
“Doesn’t matter. Can’t press charges if you don’t know my identity.” Then, Squirrelman dropped him and flitted away, laser death ray in hand.
Shortly after Squirrelman was gone, Geonhak coughed and got up from his knees, staggering a bit. It was over.
That was Squirrelman’s win.
So, Geonhak, too weak and tired to fly, hobbled back over to his flat. Bystanders shot concerned looks at him. It wasn’t every day that you saw a superhero walk down the street as if they were hiking up Mount Everest with an elephant on their back. Still, every time anyone offered him help, he politely declined.
Geonhak kicked the door open with a gasp, slammed it behind him. Just as he collapsed onto the couch, his phone buzzed. It was Seoho. He wanted to know if he could come over.
Babe, you don’t even need to ask, Geonhak texted back. He desperately hoped that his superhuman healing would kick in before Seoho got here.
It didn’t. At the door, Seoho looked him up and down. “Are you okay?”
(It was dumb to hope for it, anyway. Geonhak’s super-healing usually took about a day to heal him completely.)
Geonhak grinned. “Never been better. Where’ve you been?”
“Where have you been?” Seoho cried, gesturing to a bruise on Geonhak’s shoulder. “You look like you just had a picnic in the middle of a wildebeest stampede!”
“Tripped over the stairs while running through a skatepark. And I don’t look that bad,” Geonhak protested, a bit offended.
Seoho rolled his eyes. He stormed into the room, taking Geonhak by the hand and basically manhandling him over to the couch.
“That’s not what I meant , you actual buffoon. You’re the handsomest buffoon I’ve ever met.”
Geonhak put a hand over his chest. “You called me handsome!”
“Because you are.” Seoho got up to make Geonhak a cup of tea, and Geonhak found that he had no words.
“If I don’t inform you of your handsomeness at least four times a day, I’m pretty sure that’d make me a bad boyfriend. Like, seriously, look at yourself.”
Seoho tried to convince Geonhak to call off work tomorrow. Geonhak disagreed, again citing how his injuries weren’t that bad and that his boss probably wouldn’t be too happy, but Seoho reminded him that his boss was, quoth Geonhak himself, ‘the nicest and most understanding dude in the world for whom he would die for,’ so that argument fell apart really quickly. There was a bit more arguing, but Geonhak finally ceded when Seoho invoked the Concerned Boyfriend Privileges.
For the next day, Seoho took care of him. After twenty-four hours of soup, movies, and cuddles, Geonhak had to ask himself why he had opposed this in the first place.
“We’re so married,” Geonhak mumbled while Seoho gave him a massage.
Seoho pushed down especially hard on a tendon, and Geonhak flinched a bit.
“That’s a scary thought,” Seoho observed.
Geonhak thought to himself for a moment. He’d be lying if he said he didn’t like the thought of it. Even the thought of Seoho moving in, the idea that every single day could be like this-- it made him euphoric. But then there was the whole superhero thing.
Oh boy. He’d have to tell him some time.
After Geonhak’s superhuman healing finally kicked in, his body quickly regained its strength. By Tuesday morning, he was easily healthy enough for Seoho to (begrudgingly) let him go to work, though he wasn’t really happy about no longer having Geonhak in his arms.
“Hey,” Geonhak said, poking his cheeks as he lay in bed. “Don’t you have school today?”
Seoho reached for the nearest pillow and buried his head in it. “Don’t remind me.”
Geonhak convinced him to get out of bed eventually. Eventually. After eating breakfast and kissing Seoho goodbye, he left for the office.
“Hey, Youngjo!” Geonhak put his stuff down in his cubicle. “Sorry I took yesterday off. Something came up.”
Youngjo glanced up at him, a knowing look in his eyes. “It’s all good. Hope you’re feeling better now.”
Here’s a secret: Youngjo was the only one who knew that Geonhak was, in fact, Leedo. Once, he had walked into the washroom just before Geonhak flew out the window. They had both agreed to keep hush on the topic, although they weren’t above making inside jokes about it at times. As well, Youngjo might have been giving Geonhak a bit more leeway for sudden disappearances from the office since.
And speaking of sudden disappearances from the office; as soon as lunch break rolled around, Geonhak received The Signal again. He groaned to himself, calculating the likelihood of getting the thing sorted before lunch break was over. One thing was for certain, however; Geonhak was going to miss lunch. That damn Squirrelman.
So Geonhak went through his usual ritual of running to the bathroom and flying out through the window, praying for something minor, but unfortunately for him, It turns out that this was Squirrelman’s most despicable and elaborate scheme yet.
“Using this machine, I shall cover the entire city in vaseline!” Squirrelman cackled. “Every door handle! Every handrail! Every stairway! Every set of monkey bars! Nobody will be free from the substance!”
“You monster,” Geonhak seethed.
The machine began to whirr, projecting a bright white beam into the sky.
“You can’t stop me, Leedo!” Squirrelman pushed a few more buttons. The beam’s light intensified. “You can try, but you’ll just fail again!”
Geonhak took a nosedive at Squirrelman and interrupted his supervillain monologue. He aimed for the waist, trying to take him on another flight, but he dodged nimbly, causing Geonhak to almost crash headfirst into a law building.
When he stopped himself, his face was a mere inch from the building’s wall. He let out a breath of relief. Seoho would never have forgiven him for that.
Squirrelman laughed. “What’s wrong? Are we in a slippery situation ?”
Geonhak grimaced. “I’m sorry, but that’s a reach.”
Presumably offended, Squirrelman tossed a barrage of acorns at Geonhak’s face, though these acorns were covered with vaseline. Geonhak dodged this fate by doing a barrel roll, then charged straight at him again.
This time, Squirrelman failed to jump out of the way in time. Geonhak managed to grab him and take to the skies, making sure to hold him as tightly as he could.
“Not escaping this time, squirrel-brain,” he growled, although his voice was lost to the rush of air around them.
Squirrelman frowned. “Did you say something?”
Geonhak brought them to an alleyway. After hovering over it for a moment, he landed next to a dumpster filled with rotting produce, then pinned Squirrelman to the ground.
“You know that thing you said about identities last time?” Geonhak lifted Squirrelman’s hoodie, then grabbed the end of his mask. “Once I get a name and a face, I’ll be able to put you away for a long time.”
Squirrelman sneered. “You wouldn’t.”
Geonhak opened his mouth to disagree, then stopped. Finally, he sighed.
“Yeah. You’re right.”
Squirrelman blinked. “Wait, why?”
Geonhak got off of him, then paced along the alleyway. There was a can lying halfway from the dumpster to the other wall. He kicked it into the street.
“You’re one of two things that make my life interesting.”
There was a long stretch of silence between them. Something crawled out of the dumpster. It was probably a rat.
“You know,” Squirrelman spoke up quietly, cautiously, climbing to his feet. “You remind me a lot of someone I know.”
Geonhak turned around. “Weird. I was about to say the same to you.”
“We seem to lead very similar lives,” Squirrelman said. “Remember the time we had a date at the same time? Oh man.”
There was another stretch of silence. Finally, the two of them burst into laughter so loud that the rat in the alleyway climbed right back into its dumpster.
“Thirteen months,” Geonhak wheezed, “thirteen months, and I never recognized your voice!”
“We’re soulmates,” Seoho declared, taking off his mask and throwing it on the ground. “We’re just as dumb as each other.”
Geonhak took off his mask as well.
“We belong together,” he agreed, wiping a tear from the edge of his eye. “God, I still can’t believe this.”
“See, this is why I was afraid to move in with you. I’d have to move all my supervillain stuff some where. I thought about renting a studio, or leasing office space, but damn, I’m still a poor grad student--”
Geonhak cut Seoho off by grabbing his face and kissing him. And everything became unmistakable. Seoho tasted like how he always did, his lips felt as soft as they always were. And they kissed like they always did. Geonhak felt Seoho giggle into the kiss, felt himself melt against him.
“It’s alright,” Geonhak breathed when they pulled apart. “It’s fine. Just move it all to my place.”
Seoho blinked. “You’re fine with me being…?”
Geonhak scoffed. “No offense, babe, but you really aren’t much of a villain.”
“It’s not like you ever do anything truly malicious. You’re not evil. You either simply don’t try to or are just very bad at taking over the world. You--”
They kissed again, presumably because Seoho desperately wanted him to shut up about his failures as a supervillain. This time, Geonhak smiled mischievously into the kiss.
“Shit,” Geonhak exclaimed, suddenly shoving Seoho away from him. Seoho stumbled back with a scandalized gasp, then shoved him right back.
“Shit, I’m going to be late,” Geonhak lifted himself from the ground, hovered over the alleyway for a moment. “I’ll text you later! And please, no more city-wide vaseline plots until I get off work.”
Then, he took off.
“This isn’t over!” Seoho yelled out to him, but Geonhak was already so high up in the sky that he could hardly hear his voice.
There was a laser death ray sitting on Geonhak’s coffee table.
(Seoho has already begun to move his entire secret lab over to Geonhak’s apartment. Geonhak finds it fascinating, how Seoho could prioritize all this over his bare essentials. Hell, he had to basically beg Seoho to leave enough room in the first few boxes for things like clothes.)
Geonhak couldn’t say he wasn’t nervous about that. Hell, they were technically in possession of a dangerous, illegal, futuristic weapon, a weapon that could literally cut holes into steel-- but with Seoho snuggled up next to him and smiling against his skin, he could hardly feel anything but relaxed, and giddily in love.
They were marathoning the last of the Marvel movies. Seoho showed no signs of paying attention to the films, instead spending most of the time prattling on to Geonhak about each and every one of his supervillain ‘toys’, about how exactly the glitter bombing machine worked, about the painstaking process of creating the laser death ray. Admittedly, Geonhak didn’t understand much of it at all, but he did love listening to Seoho’s voice.
Suddenly, Seoho paused and looked at Geonhak.
Geonhak ruffled his hair. “What’s up, babe? Forgot how you made it work?”
“A-are you sure you’re alright with me being a villain?”.
Geonhak blinked. Then, he laced their fingers together.
“Babe, the crime rate’s almost zero. Your shenanigans are basically the only things keeping me going.”
Seoho raised an eyebrow. “So you’re still going to fight me? Me, the love of your life?”
“Well, of course.”
Seoho began to pummel Geonhak with a pillow, which eventually led to Geonhak falling off the couch, driving him to grab a pillow of his own to fight back.
After declaring himself the victor of the pillow fight, which was invalid because Geonhak was trying to get him to agree to an armistice and that should not be considered surrendering, Seoho very quickly fell asleep on the couch. He was snoring gently, head on Geonhak’s shoulders. Geonhak let out a long-suffering sigh, held back a smile, and carried him over to the bedroom.
A few months later, Geonhak received the Signal in the middle of a workday. This annoyed him, as he could recall pretty explicitly telling Seoho not to do any crazy villain stuff while he was at work. He also recalled that Seoho should technically be in school right now and that it was very close to finals season, and that annoyed him even more.
Seoho (or in this case, Squirrelman) had set up the glitter bomb machine again on a rooftop. This annoyed Geonhak, because he really hated it when Seoho did the same thing twice because the stakes just never feel as real the second time.
And what annoyed Geonhak the most was how Squirrelman succeeded. When he flew up to the site of the machine, Squirrelman had simply smirked at him and pushed a button. Then, glitter flew out of the funnel at the top of the machine, raining down on every corner of the city, spreading out for miles and miles in every direction. Geonhak groaned internally. Dealing with all the glitter was going to be so annoying.
Seoho found him after work. Before Geonhak could yell at him for how annoying he was, he had grabbed Geonhak by the hand and lead him to a huge pile of glitter on main street.
And when Geonhak found the ring buried within the pile of glitter, he became. Less annoyed.