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For your smile, it’s worthwhile

Chapter Text

Roughly a year ago had Changbin moved to this city, partly thanks to his work and partly, because all his friends lived here. His apartment was small and cosy, nothing special except for the nice view over the bustling streets below.

His workplace was a medium long walk away, leading him through streets that were crowded day and night, no matter the season. Shops and cafes were plenty on these streets, though Changbin greatly preferred the few deserted alleys that were part of his nearly daily ventures.

One of these alleyways, was especially beautiful to walk through: It was always rather dark thanks to its old and narrow walls and the cobblestones lining the ground, were aged and uneven. In warm seasons, numerous plants were crawling up the chipped walls trying to reach the sun above, decorating the alley with their lush leaves and mousy petals and a distinct scent which was a mix of flowers and aged masonry.

When Changbin would enter this alleyway, he’d be able to look along its full length and see a light at the end of it; it always reminded him of a tunnel to heaven.

The view was not the only reason he liked this particular passage so much; hidden away from the bustling streets around, a café and a flower shop had situated themselves here.

The café had become the weekly meeting spot of his friends’ group. They all loved the odd charm of the, outwardly, unpopular place. Thanks to its secret location, it had a peculiar, cosy vibe that made relaxing after a long day of work (or classes) especially easy.

The flower shop at the end of the alley had been in the hands of the same family for generations, or so the old, forgetful owner told Changbin every single time she saw him. Hyunjin and Seungmin worked here part-time and Changbin still remembered how unreasonably pleased the old lady was when they had started working there. Insisting on “their handsome faces” to be good for business. Changbin doubted that, though he’d never say that to any of them.

Sometimes, on particularly slow days, Changbin would visit his two friends in the shop and pass the time together with them. More than once lately though, he’d found himself helping out too: Especially when exams were coming up, Hyunjin and Seungmin would ask him to work in their stead. It had become such a semi-frequent occurrence, that the regular customers had started to remember his name.

All in all, Changbin led a nice life, he was happy and even though he’d been living here for just a year, he knew the countless streets and alleys by heart. He had a knack for remembering useless things anyway; that’s how he unintentionally memorised the general crowd of people he’d meet in his daily ventures, finding comfort in their familiar presence.

 

And that, was exactly what led him to what had happened today:

It was Tuesday and the day had started as it would normally: Changbin had woken up a little bit too late, feeling too tired and had nearly fallen back asleep had it not been for Minho spamming him about whatever the hell his twisted mind had come up with again. He’d made himself breakfast, showered and started the journey to his workplace.

As he stepped outside, a biting, cold breeze made him regret his decision to not wear his scarf. It was late fall, very late fall in fact, or early winter, it didn’t really matter. The street in front of him was already bustling with people and their noisy chattering assaulted his ears instantly. Many had seated themselves in the cafes, some even outside of them with blankets placed over their legs. Changbin admired their strong will to do so in these temperatures or maybe they were just crazy, who knew.

As he trudged along said street. It narrowed down between two rivalling bakery’s and Changbin found himself being pushed around by people crowding around him, it was an everyday occurrence, really, and Changbin had simply started to fight his way through the crowd as he normally would do.

That’s when something had happened, or more specifically, when someone had caught his eye, someone who didn’t fit in with the regular folks around here. After a particularly violent push, Changbin had harshly bumped into a stranger’s shoulder who had been walking into the opposite direction of him. The guy hadn’t seemed to notice it, or him for that matter, but Changbin had nonetheless looked up at him in case he would expect an apology.

What his eyes had come upon though, he had not expected to see: Dark brown eyes, pasty skin that was accented by long tendrils of blonde hair falling onto his forehead and, if that hadn’t been breath-taking enough already, there were freckles, tons of freckles splattered over a face, that seemed to be carved out of soft lines, giving him a friendly and open expression.

Changbin’s attention wasn’t normally caught this intensely by a random stranger. The whole appearance of the blonde though, had made him have the uncommon wish to approach him and talk to him. For a moment, Changbin had been surprised to feel his steps falter as if he had honestly considered to do just that, but he had quickly reigned himself back in; even if he had tried to, the blonde would have long disappeared in the crowd anyway. He had, thus, just shaken his head in hopes of clearing his mind and continued his way.

Which brought him to where he was now: He’d worked dutifully until the end of this shift and was currently wrapping up so he could go back home. His mind though, had been remembering and thinking about the blonde all day long. Whenever he had tried focusing on something, his mind had just wandered off after a while; back to a blonde mop of hair and freckled cheeks. The stranger had been uncommonly handsome, beautiful even.

It had been terribly distracting and Changbin didn’t know why it happened all of a sudden; he had seen plenty of good-looking people before, men and women alike. Why was it, that this particular one just didn’t want to leave his mind when, before, no one ever had achieved to be stuck in his head like this?

He didn’t have much hopes of seeing the blonde again, if he was honest. It was highly unlikely in a big city like this to meet someone twice coincidentally. Especially, since Changbin had never seen him before. He might as well have been a tourist, a temporary visitor who had already disappeared, never to be seen again.

Changbin, albeit that, seemed to cling to small bit of hope, only to find himself feeling disappointed every time he arrived at work without catching sight of the blonde on his walk there. He chastised himself every day for his strange feelings, being confused by the odd obsession that had developed without him having any say in it. It was a waste of time longing to see the stranger again, he told himself, but his mind ignored him and did so anyway. Changbin, in response, buried himself in work and spend more time with his friends, but his feelings remained stubborn.

Chapter Text

 “As cold as winter did I feel,
Until I lay my eyes on you,
Doesn’t it seem unreal,
How easily you broke through?”


 

When Changbin had left his apartment building today, the sky had been grey and a freezing breeze had vehemently tried to rip his woollen hat off his head. Even though he had bundled himself in a thick coat and buried his face in his scarf like he was some kind of amateur robber, he had felt frozen to the bone in seconds.

On top of all of that, Changbin had felt the soft, yet cold touch of snowflakes on his face after he had walked for just a few minutes. The pure flakes had started skipping happily through the air accompanied by a strong wind that made them sail around in an unorderly fashion before they finally landed on the ground, where most of them disintegrated into nothing more than cold, plain water.

Deserved, Changbin decided.

He felt thoroughly frozen, but he guessed it was only fitting for today, since he would be shopping for Christmas presents. The route to the mall was rather long and brought him through different parts of the city, and over a handful of train tracks, before one of which he was currently waiting.

The gates had, as so often, closed right in front of his nose. For a moment, he had considered sprinting over the tracks when he had heard the alarm sound start to buzz through the air. The gate was faulty, though, and had once before nearly hit his head already. Thanks to that, he listened to the wise and patient Changbin inside of him and waited obediently in front of it.

The tracks were barely used, he knew, since there was only one train assigned to them. This specific train did not drive frequently, because it was used purely as a tourist attraction. The gates, therefore, seldomly closed.

Like, every time that Changbin came along.

As he waited for the train to pass, he played around with the muddy, brownish snow at his feet. Silently, it crunched under the pressure of his warm shoes. Next to him, feline paw prints, which were clearly visible in the barely disturbed snow, led straight over the tracks and lost themselves under the leafless bushes to the side.

A few birds were situated on the naked arms of the shrubbery, making the branches bend downward under their gentle weight. The twigs had been too thin for the snow to cling to, which made them stand out with their reddish colour in front of the mostly white surroundings.

There was indeed not much colour around him, Changbin realised, as his eyes roamed around; the streets, houses, roofs and all of the greenery had been completely painted white, as if someone had given paint to a baby and it had proceeded to sloppily smear it all over the place.

The snowflakes, in the meantime, continued to drift before his face unchangingly, though he lost his focus on them when he caught sudden movement out of the corner of his eye: A person came jogging out of a street entrance located on the other side of the gates, breaking the oddly tranquil moment. A blonde person at that; it took a moment for him to realise that it was the one lovely stranger that had plagued Changbin’s thoughts for far too long.

The blonde’s light hair was partly hidden underneath a bright hat, a fitting scarf wrapped around his neck and his blue coat was snuggly wrapped around him. His face was flushed with a softly tinted nose and red cheeks; he looked like he was in a rush and had been jogging for quite some time already. Additionally, his arms were filled with white plastic bags while in one gloved hand, he held a cup of, what Changbin guessed, was coffee. It was still hot, or at least warm, since it left a wobbly trail of smoke behind in the cold air.

At the sight of him, Changbin felt excitement spread through his body: A hardly visible smile touched his lips.

So, the days of chastising himself for hoping to see him again had finally been worth it.

His eyes followed the blonde, as he hurriedly made his way to the opposite side of the street. A street, that led slightly uphill and was, Changbin knew out of experience, often frozen and, consequently, exceptionally slippery in the cold months.

Before Changbin was able to comprehend what was happening, he found himself watching coffee fly through the air, various vegetables littering the grimy snow and a blonde head nearly implanting itself into the thinly blanketed, tarred ground.

When he overcame his shock, and saw that the blonde was, seemingly, unhurt, he saw that the hat had slid of the other’s head and revealed a tangled mess of pale tendrils to which a few silvery flakes stuck. A pout and furrowed eyebrows had morphed his face into a cute albeit pouty expression that stirred the need to console him in Changbin.

Good that the gate between them was an excuse for not following that weird urge.

All Changbin did, therefore, was watch as the blonde sat up onto his knees, pouting, and quickly stuffed his groceries back into their bags. It was a strangely adorable sight and even though Changbin felt bad for him, he couldn’t help but smile at how cute the other appeared and acted. It made the cold a lot more bearable and Changbin found himself magically feeling a lot warmer than before, his freezing limbs forgotten for the moment.

Just as the blonde took hold of the last of his items, the terribly loud sound of the train’s horns cut through the air, creating loud echoes in its wake and scaring Changbin nearly to death. The stranger’s head snapped into the direction of the sound, the box in his hand apparently forgotten. Changbin watched as his eyes fixed on the closed gates, roaming along the row of people that stood behind it and had obviously seen the blonde’s lecture in how-to-barely-escape-smashing-your-head.

Their eyes were, Changbin realised, meant to meet. The row of people ended with Changbin, or started with it, no matter: He felt his excitement double and anticipation build up in him. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise him as much as it did, that he really, really wanted their eyes to meet. He wanted that this handsome stranger knew he existed, wanted to see his expression when he first lay eyes upon him.

Maybe, Changbin vaguely formed a hope, the blonde would feel the same about him, having Changbin stuck in his head.

However, their eyes would never meet, because the train, only mere moments before the blonde was about to spot him, cut in between them.

When it was gone, it seemed to have taken the stranger with it.

Chapter Text

The warm and humid air of the flower shop was a nice change to the cold, freezing air outside. The last few days had brought mountains of snow, enough, that it reached up to Changbin’s ankles. Even the store’s windows were covered with patches of the sticky, frozen substance, the wind kindly having blown it there, creating a wavy pattern while at it.

The alley out front was still mostly untouched: Only a handful of footprints had been painted into the smooth snow cover. It was a nearly magical sight; ground completely covered in glittering white, the narrow pathway curving slightly in the distance, framed by the ancient walls in between whom it was squeezed of. A few lone flakes had found their way into the cracks of the chipped bricks, filling them as if they were putty.

A lowly build and subtly bend chimney blew white smoke into the air, uneven gusts disarranging it and making small trails of it float throughout the slim area. The old houses bore frosty flowers on their windows, the curtains behind them hiding away the insides from the world while most doors were decorated with Christmassy garlands and vivid light strings.

The distinct smell of burned wood and sugary pastries from the café ahead, combined themselves into an oddly nostalgic scent, that made Changbin yearn for the warmth of a burning oven after a long day out in the snow, like it had been years ago, when he had still been an innocent child.

Albeit the peculiar beauty of it, thanks to the deep snow and undisturbed area he been standing in, his shoes had been utterly drenched when he had entered the flower shop once he had had his fill admiring the scenery outside.

The business recently had been quite slow, if one could believe Hyunjin It wasn’t too surprising though, Changbin thought, the cold weather made most people want to stay in the cosy warmth of their homes, after all.

This situation was, actually, the reason why Changbin was here in the first place today. Seungmin had the whole week off and Hyunjin was left to work alone for the time being. It wasn’t that he couldn’t handle it, the problem was more that he simply didn’t want to.

Hyunjin had been complaining to Changbin about being bored relentlessly, until he had given in eventually, being too annoyed to deal with it anymore.

Now, he was sitting in the stuffy backroom, making a bouquet out of warmly coloured blossoms, whose names always escaped him. The whole thing probably looked atrocious, despite his best efforts. He had done a handful of bouquets on other days already, but he was still a bloody beginner when it came to them, sadly.

Hyunjin had insisted he’d do some no matter how much Changbin had tried to talk him out of it though, and when he had finished the first some time ago, Hyunjin had immediately brought it to the others for sale in the front, as if someone would honestly buy it.

Changbin had a slight suspicion that Hyunjin was just too lazy to do them himself, but he was wise enough not to say it.

While he was finishing the last touches on his second bouquet, he heard the door’s bell ring, and saw, out of the corner of his eye, that Hyunjin stood up and disappeared to the front, stopping in his nonsensical talk about whatever Changbin should have been listening to.

Moments later, his uncommonly happy sounding voice resounded through the shop, as he attended to whomever had entered.  Probably someone handsome then, Changbin mused, because Hyunjin hardly ever tried sounding attentive.

Scratch that, he never tried at all, Changbin corrected himself.

Curiosity piqued, because, by the sound of it, those must be some damn good looks, Changbin quickly, and clumsily, started tying a fitting string around the flower stems in his hand, so that he could get a look himself.

A surprisingly deep voice suddenly interrupted Hyunjin’s inane chatter, answering his questions in a slightly broken and heavily accented Korean, making Changbin freeze for a moment, because honestly, normally only old ladies were setting foot into this shop.

Hastily trying to finish his work on the string, Changbin got up and moved to the front just as he heard the shop’s door fall into its lock. He came to an abrupt halt next to Hyunjin, when he noticed someone with blonde hair, apparently the Hyunjin-approved customer, standing before the shop’s transparent glass door. His face was turned to the side and Changbin saw freckles on pale skin and a cute nose, which was slightly red, probably from the cold.

It was unexpected, of all the places he could have seen him again, to see him in this goddamn old-people flower shop. Maybe the suddenness of it all made Changbin feel happy and excited. He watched as the blonde checked his phone briefly and then disappeared to the side, completely obvious to Changbin’s staring.

After he was out of sight, Changbin realized that this undeniably cute and handsome face had a voice so deep, it was unlike anything he’d ever heard before. Not to mention the heavy accent, which sounded suspiciously like Chan’s, and the broken Korean. It made him appear strangely mysterious.

Changbin groaned internally. Why was everything about the blonde making him want to know him even more?

He was mesmerised, that after just seeing him three times, he felt drawn in, like a moth to a flame. It was crazy, he was crazy. They hadn’t even looked into each other’s eyes, hell, the blonde probably didn’t even know of his existence.

Honestly, Changbin should be worried, these were foolish feelings, yet, how could he be worried over a cute face like that?

A sudden, and unnecessarily harsh, clap on his back violently pulled him out of his musings. Hyunjin took the bouquet out of Changbin’s unresisting fingers and refilled an empty vase with it. Following Hyunjin’s movements and letting his gaze swipe over the vases and bouquets, he realized, that the blonde must have bought his other poor excuse of a bouquet, because it was missing from the display.

A smile he couldn’t suppress, sneaked onto Changbin’s face at the notion that the blonde had actually chosen his bouquet. Meanwhile, Hyunjin just eyed him curiously, probably thinking Changbin had finally gone mad.

Chapter Text

The many piles of snow outside started to turn into brown, muddy and partly molten heaps. It transformed the appearance of streets, sidewalks and houses into something uncomfortably dirty, that no one seemed to be able to clean up.

Frosty puddles dominated the pavements and, with them, countless of ripped leaves made an appearance again, the autumn having randomly placed them months before. Walkways became unfunny splash zones and roofs turned into semi-dangerous avalanche territory. More than once, had they bathed innocent and unassuming by passers in a cold, snowy shower.

On the positive side, the sky did seem to be a lot brighter these days, though it hadn’t become much warmer – most nights, the temperature still dipped into the chilly minus degrees, making Changbin wrap himself into multiple blankets. Only the snow appeared to have ceased falling recently.

Today, was Changbin’s day off and he’d been busy cleaning his apartment all morning. Chan and the others would be coming over in the evening and Changbin wasn’t sure why he was tidying everything up because, honestly, afterwards, when everyone would be gone, everything would be a huge mess again anyway.

Maybe he did it for the blackmail material it would provide.

Anyway, after he had finished cleaning, he went to the supermarket to stock up on sweets and other refreshments. His cart had been way too full, especially if he took into account that he would have to carry all of it home.

Not to mention paying for all of it.

At present, Changbin stood at the cash register, his groceries waiting to be scanned by the very unhurried and generally bored cashier. The dude was moving with the speed of a turtle, as if there weren’t, like, six other people in line behind him or something.

Tapping his foot to the beat of the music he was listening to through his headphones and rolling his eyes internally, he observed the people outside of the shop, that were crowding around the, to the parking lot adjoined, bus stop. The stop was completely overcrowded not unlike the bus they were waiting for would be, experience had thought him that.

Changbin had once driven with said bus, an incident he’d like to forget, and since that day, he had been walking whenever he could.

A quick look to the cashier confirmed that he was having trouble with an item and more than half of Changbin’s things were still left untouched. Changbin stuffed his hands into the warm pockets of his coat and turned his eyes back outside.

The inner-city bus just came to a stop in front of the mass of people, opening its doors to an apparently vicious mop that tried to fight its way inside. Many were pushed to the back of the crowd and Changbin realised, that among those, was a specific blonde he hadn’t seen in many weeks.

The blonde was wearing loose sportswear, clean, white shoes and a thin nondescript jacket; in short, he looked as if he was on his way to some kind sport activity, or had just come from there.

After watching for a moment, Changbin noticed, that he seemed to be desperately trying to squeeze himself through the wall of people in front of him, probably trying to reach the bus as well. The manner in which he tried to achieve this was rather adorable to watch. He was all soft gestures and respectful distance that made him seem very timid, shy even. It made Changbin remember his strong accent and broken speech, which may be a reason for this behaviour.

It made him feel a tiny bit bad for the other, but it was nonetheless cute and Changbin smiled at the sight.

With a heavy push, the blonde finally seemed to be able to squeeze his way through, but instead of going straight to the bus, as Changbin would have expected, he turned around, apologetic smile on his face, and started saying something to the girl that he had just pushed away.

Maybe he was apologising, Changbin mused and watched as he even bowed to her slightly.

Changbin’s eyebrows rose at that; the blonde was just too kind for this world, what the hell.

While he was bowing, he must have realised that he still hadn’t entered the bus and an amusedly startled expression washed over the soft lines of his face before he all but sprinted into it.

Changbin snickered inaudibly and kept his eyes on him until he disappeared behind the bus’s tinted windows. Even as the bus drove off, the smile on his face persisted and he felt as if his mood had just increased tenfold.

At this rate, he would be completely incapable of getting the blonde out of his head. No, Changbin decided, it was already too late. Four times. He had seen him only four times.

Changbin would not find himself being infatuated by someone he'd only seen four times.

That just wasn’t possible. Something like that couldn’t happen, it was completely unacceptable.

Completely taken by the debate in his head, Changbin didn’t even realise the cashier desperately trying to get his attention.

Chapter Text

Since a few days already, had it been steadily getting warmer. The sun became more visible and the days started to be bright and flooded with sunshine again. Streets, sidewalks and houses had been freed of the unsightly mush of grubby snow and everything became brilliantly colourful again.

Some nights still were cold, they became less with the passing of days though, and started to be consistently over zero degrees instead. As a consequence of this, the early spring flowers started poking their heads out of the earth. Snowdrops and crocuses alike, Changbin remembered their names, softening the general appearance of his surroundings with their mix of white and lilac.

Today, Jisung had insisted that the whole gang would meet up, for some kind of celebration, which exactly, Changbin had already forgotten. As he had been getting ready to go, they would be meeting at their usual place, the café, he’d been brave and decided to not wear his scarf and hat today – even though he was easily freezing. The only clothing, he couldn’t yet part from, was his thick and warm coat in which he had subsequently snuggled himself into before heading out.

When everyone had arrived, they had ordered hot drinks and tasty looking sandwiches. When their orders where ready, Jisung had insisted, to Jeongin’s horror, that they would be sitting outside.

It hadn’t been an especially bright idea, honestly, because the alley was small and the space in front of the café accordingly limited. Then again, Jisung wasn’t known for bright ideas and so they squeezed themselves into the available chairs and benches outside.

The small table in their midst barely offered enough space for their foods and beverages but Jisung seemed happy and that was enough excuse for all of them to suffer through this. When all was said and done, Changbin found himself squeezed tightly on a bench next to Minho, it could have been worth, he decided.

The temperature was bearable, still, Changbin made sure to keep his hands tightly folded around his, with hot chocolate filled, mug. The café provided their customers with blankets, if they choose to sit outside, and they had taken all of their blankets and wrapped Jeongin in them. It was a funny sight, him being all bundled up, unable to move properly. He was pouting and whining because he couldn’t reach his food nor his tea, but everyone was in a teasing mood and ignored him for the time being.

The conversation between them flowed as easily as it always did, still, after talking for a while, Changbin lost himself in his thoughts, only listening with half an ear while his eyes wandered towards the direction of the flower shop.

Someone had placed an odd, rusty tub outside of it, filled to the brim with neatly trimmed bushes. Crocuses in various colours were sprouting next to them, close to blooming by the looks of them. All-around said tub snowdrops were crawling out of the jagged gaps between the pavement’s stones, occasionally accompanied by lush, green blades of grass and other weeds.

Rather rudely, his observation was interrupted with a dark leathery boot entering his field of view, making him jump in his seat despite himself. It was about to smash the soft buds of the snowdrops under its weight, when, at the last moment, it evaded them by mere centimetres as if their owner realised what was about to happen.

Startled but nonetheless also relieved, Changbin ripped his gaze of off the offending shoe and moved it up to the person’s face; Only to make direct eye contact with the someone who had nested himself into his head.

Utterly caught by surprise, his eyes widened and his mouth fell open, nearly comically so. The blonde, opposing to him, had the nerve to smile at him, eyes softly crinkled and face looking adorably happy, if not also a tiny bit teasing, probably at the sight that Changbin made.

Comprehension didn’t come easily, thus, Changbin was left awkwardly staring at the blonde, trying to realise that, yes, his wish had come true, the blonde was actually looking at him.

Unimpressed, if not slightly uncomfortable, the blonde lifted his eyebrows in question, before moments later, letting out a snicker. The sound of it reached Changbin’s ears barely so: The constant noise of his friend’s chattering nearly drowning the deep sound out.

Still, he felt his heart stutter before its beats resumed with hastened pace.

Changbin felt his hand tighten in his lap, when he realised that he was staring, and a warm blush crawled onto his previously cold cheeks. He ripped his gaze away from the blonde’s and quickly let it roam over his whole form instead: Dark boots, bright jeans, a warm-looking coat, a scarf but no hat. His hair had grown out some, his fringe falling into his eyes.

In his hands, he held an entirely white bouquet, which eased Changbin’s mind and heart funnily enough and a breath he didn’t realise he had been holding escaped his lungs: The blonde had such a soft appearance, his behaviour spoke of genuine kindness (Changbin chose to ignore his teasing smile for now) and then, he carried a white bouquet around; there was not much more one could do to seem as innocent and pure hearted as he did.

Flicking his eyes back up, he met the blonde’s once again: The smile of the other had turned into something warm and soft, his friendly and inquisitive gaze capturing Changbin wholly for a brief moment. A rare, genuine smile broke free on Changbin’s lips on its own accord as a result and the blonde’s eyes just seemed to turn to balmy honey in response.

An elbow in his ribs broke the nearly tender moment between them, unkindly ripping Changbin out of his trance. Out of instinct, he turned his attention towards Minho, who was laughing next to him, pointing at Jisung.

Already suspecting something indescribable dumb, Changbin followed the shaking finger and came across Jisung who stuffed his mouth with too many cookies, tears in his eyes and mouth laughably wide open with crumps falling down onto his lap.

Any squirrel would have been proud at the nearly disgusting sight of his bulging cheeks, Changbin thought, as he studied the astonishing semblance Jisung had to them.

Around him, everyone was doubled over laughing and Changbin would have laughed too, if Jisung hadn’t chosen this moment as the right moment to choke and spit the many crumbs of half eaten cookies straight over the table and all over Changbin.

The laughter around him came to a sudden stop, as if everyone feared for his reaction. Then, after a likely unintentionally freed cackle next to him, Changbin turned his gaze onto Minho, which made latter break out into hysterical laughter, failing to keep it in any longer.

Just a moment later everyone else joined in once more, laughter doubling in volume.

Dusting the offending and partly wet crumps of off himself, he thought about all the bad choices he had made in his life, for example befriended idiots like these.

When he found himself halfway free of cookie leftovers, he gazed back towards the flower shop, but as expected, the blonde was nowhere to be found.

Still, he couldn’t bring himself to feel disappointed: Finally, Changbin had been able to be the receiver of the blonde’s attention and, thus, the strangely homey warmth his eyes emitted. At least that was what Changbin felt as they had looked at each other.

And wasn’t that just odd; just two seemingly boring, brown eyes. Yet, still, behind them was so much emotion, so much warmth, for just a stranger like him, that he couldn’t help himself but feel positively glowing. A silent smile played around his lips while he enjoyed the aftereffects of their meeting, he was excited but at the same time eerily calm and undeniably happy.

There was no turning back now, Changbin realised.

The rapidly expanding fondness he felt for the blonde was roughly pushing itself further into his heart, nearly having thrust him down the endless spiral of feelings that was only going one direction: deeper and deeper.

It was a wonderful sensation, yet, Changbin couldn’t help but feel scared at the same time. The pace in which it progressed was abnormally fast, recklessly so.

Despite that, and the fact that he could feel something scratchy underneath his clothing, cookie crumbs he suspected, he smiled along with his friends, already looking forward to the next time he’d be able to see the blonde.

 

Chapter Text

“It doesn’t matter where I go,
I yearn for our eyes to meet,
You set my smile aglow,
And then you’re gone and I’m incomplete.”


 

Slowly, nature came back to life as the weeks passed: The early blooming trees and bushes bore a few small leaves already and different flowers poked their heads out on the sides of the streets, bringing company to the plenty crocuses and snowdrops dotting the landscape.

The air lost its heaviness as the smoky scent of lighted fireplaces diminished and, instead, was replaced by the humid, yet fresh smell of rain and growing plants. The mornings started to be filled with chirping birds and early sunlight once more, seemingly ripping the city out of its winter induced lull.

Inspired by the shift of atmosphere, shops and cafes alike, brought out pots filled with different plants and flowers to decorate their exteriors. Dining areas of cafes and bakeries were magically filled again and the queues to buy even just a coffee heavily increased proportionally to the continuously earlier materializing sun.

Nonetheless, Changbin’s walk to work became a great deal more enjoyable. Colour was filling the streets yet again and he found himself naming the different flowers and plants he’d recognize on his walks. His knowledge of those were, regrettably, exceedingly limited, still it was a pleasing pastime.

Only the rain, which was a huge part of spring’s package, was something he did not appreciate nearly as much as everything else. It had been decidedly unrelenting as of late, and even though he carried an umbrella with him at all times, the verticality combined with the heavy winds rendered it, more often than not, completely useless.

As he looked back, Changbin decided, it should have been a good day. Today, that is.

The day before, he had gone to bed early, as early as he hadn’t found sleep in months. His goal had been to be energised and fit the next morning, today, because that’s normally what happens when one goes to bed timely.

Evidently, that was not the case, not for Changbin at least.

He had overslept, by two whole hours at that, because, obviously, going to bed early meant also waking up later. Everyone knew that and after he’d waken up positively confused from his nearly ten hours of slumber, he swore to himself to never go to bed in time again.

After that, while eating breakfast, he had noted that the bread he’d been shoving hastily into his mouth had some nice, colourful patches of blue and green on it. Despite the utter disgust he had felt the moment he realised that he had eaten rotten bread, he’d successfully managed to not throw up and decided to let his stomach decide if he really needed to, because fuck, he was really damn late.

Precisely two and half hours late, had he been, when he had rushed out of his front door, slamming it shut so powerfully in the process, for a second he had feared he’d unhinged it. And then, he’d been showered by very thick and cold rain. The accompanying, thoroughly chilling, breeze had acted as a cheap imitation of a malfunctioning hairdryer and froze him to the bones in mere seconds.

When he had arrived at work, he was entirely drenched, positively frozen and his stomach filled the silence with ominous grumbling. It must have been a pitiful sight because he hadn’t gotten an earful for being late, not even an accusing stare or anything the like. Thankful for everyone’s compassion, he had settled on staying late today and making up for the time he had missed in the morning, not that he had much of a choice anyway.

Which brought him to now: It was awfully late; the sun was sneakily starting to hide behind the rounded bulge that is earth and the lanterns outside were lit already. Dusk engulfed the city, the air had grown colder and felt oddly wet on his exposed skin.

Changbin had already travelled more than half of the distance home and after just a few corners more, he’d be able to see his apartment building. Tiredness tugged at every fibre of his being, spreading into his head and limbs alike. His mood was predictably bad and along with the unexplainable sluggishness he felt, his head throbbed painfully now and again.

He was most certainly going to be sick, thanks to this morning, Changbin knew.

Just as he turned around a corner and found himself on the busy shopping street that was adjoined to his apartment building, he caught hold of a pair of brown eyes as if they had been waiting for him, expecting him to be right here, in this very moment.

His lethargic brain took a whole moment of awkward blinking and a strange tinge of “I know this person, don’t I?”, before it suddenly clicked and he recognized the freckled occupier of his mind.

Whatever facial expression Changbin made out of surprise at that very moment, it made the blonde smile amused before it morphed into gentle laughter, that he tried to hide behind a small-looking hand.

Changbin found himself flushing and wishing that the blonde would never stop smiling like that: Free of worries and with a face that was positively glowing with laughter and happiness. With a face, that made Changbin’ breath stutter and his stomach flip and his worries disappear as if they had never existed to begin with.

The blonde was sitting at a café on the opposite side of the street, with a steaming cup in his hand, dyed and styled hair and laughing eyes that made the stress of today seem small and insignificant. In an instant, Changbin’s shoulders felt lighter and his head less painful. The corners of his mouth quirked up into a small, yet strained smile.

The blonde appeared to have this ability, to make him want to smile just like that, as if his day hadn’t been utter shit.

Despite Changbin’s best efforts at a smile, he saw how the blondes face morphed into a worried expression a second later, furrowed eyebrows and all, as he scanned Changbin’s face, probably having realised that he looked anything but alright.

The care and worry the blonde send his way with searching and questioning eyes, touched him deeply and he knew, he was already feeling tons better, just having been able to see the blonde like this.

Just seeing, that he cared even though they really didn’t know each other.

Changbin shook his head softly, still with a tiny smile present, and moved his mouth to form the words “thanks”, since they were too far apart to hear spoken words.

Thanks, for making me feel better, Changbin added in his head.

Before Changbin could see the reaction of the blonde, a sharp push on his shoulder jolted him out of their looked gazes and as he looked in front of himself, to establish who his vicious attacker was, he gulped audibly.

Before him, in all his angry glory, stood Hyunjin, piercing him with a deathly glare, binders and textbooks in hand.

Uh, oh. He may have promised to help him study this evening. May have.

Chapter Text

Changbin didn’t hate shopping. In fact, he counted it to one of his well-liked hobbies. Still, today, he could have imagined lots of other things he would have rather done than sitting in an old, dark and worn-down leather chair that was, on top of all, extremely uncomfortable for its expensive looks.

In front of him, was a changing room that was currently occupied by Chan. A very annoying and flat out hysterical Chan, he might add. Chan had insisted that he and Minho would help him buy clothes for a “special event”.

Changbin had nearly scoffed when he had heard that. Right, “special event”, more like, date with his crush of years.

He didn’t particularly mind helping Chan, if he was honest, it was just that Chan was so, so indecisive that it wasn’t even funny anymore. Changbin sighed, as he heard him complain to Minho, who stood in front of the changing room’s flowered curtain, hands full of rejected clothes, looking equally exhausted as Changbin did, but still trying his best to somehow be of help.

God bless his patience with Chan, if it had been Jisung instead of Chan, there would have been a murder already, he was sure.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Minho disappearing into the many rows of skinny jeans and colourful shirts to his left, which meant that Chan would need yet another selection of clothes to try on.

Changbin had thought, that after more than four hours of trying on different outfits, they would have run out of clothes to choose from. Especially so, since the store Chan had chosen, his favourite, was a rather small one. Alas, he seemed to be wrong, as he had been plenty of times before today, when, for example, he thought he’d found something that Chan might actually like, only to be rejected again and again.

While he waited for either of them to demand his attention, he passed the time looking past the changing room and out of the big blueish-framed window next to it. There were yellow flowers planted in front of it, daffodils, Changbin realises. Situated behind them, was a small, dark pathway made out of gravel followed by a lush, grassy slope leading down to the paved riverside.

The river itself shines in a dirty blue, only when the wind dares to sweep over it, forming rebellious waves in its wake, does the colour lighten to a seemingly friendly, inviting blue. The richly coloured petals of water lilies glimmer wetly in the sunlight and a few ducks float lazily next to them, enjoying the cloudless sky while sporadically disappearing into the dark depths of the water.

Today, the weather was bright and sunny with a wide, clear, blue sky. Quite different from the last, rainy days they had had. Because of the undisturbed sunshine that was currently bathing the earth beneath with its lukewarm rays, it had gotten pleasantly warm today. The yellow of the daffodils shone brightly under the warm care of the sun, making them look alive and strangely energising while the almost tender breeze that brushed over the grass’s tips, made them sway in a languidly fashion.

It was an oddly peaceful view, Changbin decided, while taking in the whole picture through the window as if it were a painting. He might have even felt at peace at that very moment, but the aggravatingly loud pop-music that seemed to play on repeat inside this damned shop and the warm, stuffy air that smelled of chemicals and cheap perfume hindered him from achieving the desired feeling.

At least the view kept him from being overly annoyed at Chan. For now.

Falling into a trance while watching people pass by through the dirty window, walking on the gravel path and disturbing the stones messy structure, he could nearly hear the crunch of their shoes pushing them deeper into the ground, closer to each other. His thoughts wandered, not unexpectantly, to the blonde haired, freckled stranger.

When two people came to stop in front of the window, Changbin didn’t take particular note of it at first, too deep had he vanished into the abyss of his mind already. A flash of bright, white light pulled him out of his senseless reveries though, and he realised that someone was taking photos of the river’s view, their back turned towards him.

The turned-on flash must have been a mistake, because the person was vehemently shaking their head a moment later and the flash didn’t appear again afterwards. Changbin watched on for a moment, then his eyes wandered to the person standing next to this seemingly amateur-photographer.

He was met with two brown orbs already watching, seemingly waiting, for him. His eyes widened immediately and he automatically straightened up from his previous slumped position, all boredom forgotten in a heartbeat.

Why was it, that he was always so utterly unprepared to see him?

He felt his heartbeat pick up slightly and unconsciously ran a hand through his hair, making it messier than it was before. The blonde watched on, small smile grazing his lips that dipped into a toothy, teasing grin when Changbin’s hair fell into a messy pile.

Changbin felt heat creep onto his cheeks but stubbornly kept himself from touching his hair again and making a probably even worse mess. In a moment of bravery, he stuck his tongue out at the freckled boy and watched as it resulted in him starting to laugh.

It was an incredibly pretty sight, his laugh, nose crunched softly and eyes turned to crescents. It was a short laugh, but the warmth and joy of it stuck to his feature even after it stopped. The blonde’s hair was tousled and a little wind-swept, the breeze outside, no doubt, being the culprit. It made the blonde’s face look more delicate than it already was and in combination with the pastel turtleneck he wore, his appearance was just endearing. The skinny jeans he wore were combined with wintery boots and together they highlighted his obviously well-trained legs, which Changbin decidedly ignored.

The person next to the blonde abruptly turned toward him and started saying something, stealing his attention away from Changbin. He observed their conversation, questions arising in his mind, but no, he thought, they did not look like a couple.

Realising that silly, yet not unfamiliar thought, he banished it immediately.

Suddenly, his view was blocked and his lap filled with the soft texture of different fabrics. Minho caught his gaze for a moment, indicating towards the changing room and then disappeared to talk to a woman who Changbin supposed, worked here.

Groaning internally, he stood up, trying to keep the various clothes from escaping his grasp. His mood soured when he looked outside and realised that the blonde and his companion had disappeared in the mere moment Minho had blocked his view from them.

Sighing, he dragged himself over to the cabins, not really paying attention as he opened the reddish curtain and dumbed the clothes inside before closing it again.

It was only a second later, that he heard an ear-piercing shriek, an awfully female one at that, from said cabin and all heads turned toward him.

Maybe, that hadn’t been Chan’s cabin. Maybe.

Chapter Text

Trains, Changbin thought, hated him. Even after carefully examining the schedule of these godforsaken things and planning his routes accordingly, the gates, of this one particular train, would always close in front of his nose. There weren’t many constants in his life, but the closing of this exact gate in front of him, that was a constant that never let him down, even if he wanted it to.

Nearly stoically, he looked ahead, trying not to let the irritation take a hold on him. For a moment, he kept it up, then he sighed, defeated, piercing the quiet around him. The bag on his shoulder slid off and landed with a quiet thud on the stony ground next to him. The blaring noise of the alarm stopped as the gates came to a rest in their supposed position and Changbin mentally prepared himself for an unnecessary long wait.

Taking in his surrounding, he noted that he was utterly alone, not even the wind dared to give him company. The daffodil’s pollen, mixed with various others, sailed through the stilled air before him unhurriedly and somewhere, far away, a poor, allergic soul sneezed.

Changbin followed its trail with his eyes until it landed next to him on the side of the street, in the long, unmown grass. Different kinds of weeds and wildflowers had made it their home and while it looked not taken care of, it had a certain charm of wild, unkempt nature that one not often found in the middle of a city.

The smell of these wildflowers soothed his emotions slightly and as he looked around further, he saw a couple of late-blooming cherry blossom trees adorning the train tracks on the opposite side. The trees stood out, with their colourful pinkness and he wondered how he hadn’t seen them before.

It was only ever when he stopped his constant movement, unwanted, that he was able to appreciate what was around him.

Maybe this crossing wasn’t so bad, he thought. After all, previously, he remembered, this had been the first place he had seen the blonde after thinking he’d never lay eyes on him again.

Back then, he’d spilled all his belongings on the ground, unknowing that Changbin had been there, watching him.

He smiled at that, the memory being one that frequented his mind often on dark days, lifting his mood unfailingly.

While he waited, he observed a few, lone, pink blossoms as they parted from their trees and started their short adventure towards the ground. Some sailing wobblily around like a feather would, while others plummeted to the earth as if made of stone.

The field they drifted onto; he could barely see. The grass and weeds being too long and, thus, effectively hiding it from his view. Changbin knew though, that it was dotted with pink petals that would shine until they could no more.

He loved it, the way these soft, rosy petals transformed the mousy, boring ground into their beautiful resting place.

Somewhere, distantly behind him, he heard the angry hum of a honking car. Straightening his gaze ahead, he saw a lone figure half-jog along the street and an intense sense of Deja-vu hit him: white, plastic bags filled to the brim, a cup of, what he supposed, was coffee, clutched into a small hand. Blonde hair, that looked longer than last time, was swept away from his forehead, which was pasty and pale in a stark contrast to his rosy cheeks.

He hadn’t expected to see him, but then again, he never expected to see him when he ended up crossing paths with him.

The repeated honking, which sounded increasingly aggressive, caught the attention of the stranger and his gaze flicked to Changbin for a moment, before it broke away again, seemingly not having recognized him.

Changbin was about to feel disappointed, when the other’s gaze snapped back onto him.

The blonde’s eyes widened, but a smile nonetheless stole itself onto the others slightly parted lips. Changbin responded in kind, though moments later, he watched as tragedy repeated itself: The plastic bags flew, comically high, through the air, spilling their innards all over the street. The coffee missed the blonde by a few centimetres, the black substance drenching the stones beside him instead.

The smile that had previously adorned the blonde’s face turned into a pout in record time and Changbin was tempted to say something, anything to lighten the blonde’s mood, but his mouth felt bound, as if he’d been hit by a silencing spell.

He considered, for a moment, to sneak over the tracks quickly, so he could be of help and be closer to the other, but he felt freezing nervousness trickle through him just at the thought of it.

He just didn’t have the guts to do it, even if, undoubtedly, he really wanted to be closer to the blonde.

Before he knew it, the belongings of the other were back where they belonged, having been adorably stuffed back into the bags. Changbin watched as the blonde stood up and sheepishly looked to him, reddened cheeks prominent, more so than before. He smiled back at him and at the cuteness of it all, but a pout was all he got in return.

Not wanting to part ways just yet, he tried to prolong the moment, just for a bit, and tapped his index finger to the side of his mouth, indicating for the blonde to smile again.

Changbin loved his smiles, if he wasn’t able to know when he’d see him again, he at least wanted to see his smile as a parting gift.

Silence reigned over them for many too-long seconds and Changbin could already feel his heartbeat crawling into his throat from the strange tension that was forming itself.

Then, the blonde smiled, giving in to Changbin’s quiet request, after mustering him intently. The familiar, gentle crinkle of his eyes soothing Changbin’s rapid thoughts, while his warm, brown eyes snuffed the increasing tension immediately, as if it had never been there.

He swore he felt his heart skip a beat and as if magically encouraged by the moment, Changbin opened his mouth to say something, to this beautiful person, who seemed to have completely captured his heart.

The blonde’s eyes widened, as he realised what was about to happen, but the moment would never find its place in the world: The train, unnoticed by both until this point, cut in between them, and as previously, when it was gone, the stranger was as well.

Chapter Text

Rich, blue skies, butterflies and warm, thin air made for a particularly fitting day to spend time outside; the daffodils had long since returned to the earth they’d been born from and, in their stead, all kinds of different flowers dotted the urban landscape, presenting their lovely blossoms to the world, the sun and the diligent bumblebees.

The streets were filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of people, dressed in light, nearly summerly, clothing. Ice-cream parlours were busy and filled to the brim; every last seat outside had been taken, tourists and locals being equally happy to enjoy the day outside, watching other’s go along in their daily life’s.

Even the snootiest of shops, had relented and given in to the trend of having a pot of flower’s in front of their shops: As if it had become some kind of challenge on who would have the fanciest. As a result, the sidewalks were filled with greenery and flowers, all imaginable shades of warm and cold hues assaulting the senses of whoever dared to pass them by.

The once stony and cold looking houses turned into something warmer, with the decoration in their fronts, and the city started to look completely different than it had just months prior.

One would think, with the exquisite weather and lovely scenery outside, Changbin would be outside as well.

But he was not.

In fact, he was in the giant and painfully overfilled shopping mall in the city’s centre. A seemingly popular spot to be in today, judging by the sheer amount of people Changbin had had to lay eyes upon today, while he was (unwillingly) accompanying his friends to buy a new TV.

Never had he imagined that it needed six people to buy a TV, but his friends seemed to think it was absolutely necessary. Honestly, Changbin had no idea why he was here; it was not as if he had any idea about what a good TV was made of. He did know, though, that he hated Seungmin with his silver-tongue a little more every day. Seungmin, unlike him, had been able to talk his way out of this, however he’d done that.

Although, Jeongin wasn’t much better. A cute flutter of his eyes here, a pout there and a plea for freedom so that he might learn for this very, very important “exam”, had been all, and just like that, Woojin had relented.

Bullshit, he thought, these two were devil’s in disguise and no one could convince him otherwise. They were probably spending the day together, relaxing somewhere by the riverside with an ice cream, he was certain of it.

In the end, he just tagged along, trudging behind his friends, occasionally throwing in an unhelpful opinion, which was all his knowledge amounted to, really. At one point, he’d tried to silently give them the slip, but, to his disappointment, Chan had noticed and started to walk behind him more often than not, indubitably watching him.

Currently, everyone was gathered around an oversized TV, clearly too big for Woojin’s apartment, not to mention the hideously high prize. Their conversation had long wandered from useful discussion to silly puns and Changbin groaned internally.

It dawned on him, that he’d be stuck here for a long, long time.

Not trying to hide his bored expression, he let his eyes wander through the shop: Rows and rows of TV’s met him, all playing some kind of random show, beyond them, rows of various other electronics met his eye. Nothing particularly interesting.

At least it wasn’t as crowded in here, as it was in the mall itself.

Besides him, the shops windowfront resided: Big, thick and frameless windows expanding over many meters and giving him a sight into the mall’s food court. He observed the different restaurants, not finding himself very hungry but instead increasingly bored and that was enough excuse for him to keep exploring, sometimes reading through the menus that weren’t too far away to decipher.

His eyes stopped at an unusual, yet very familiar, mop of blonde hair, that had been significantly shortened in length since the last time he’d seen it. Unconsciously, he straightened up and ran a hand through his hair; a nervous habit the stranger seemed to have ignited in him.

The blonde was sitting in a sushi restaurant, not having noticed Changbin yet. Even though, as Changbin realised, they were actually rather close to each other, were it not for the thick glass between them. He observed the blonde shoving a definitely too-big sushi roll into his mouth, struggling while doing so.

It looked quite funny and he grinned, his boredom immediately being pushed into the back of his mind. Effortlessly, just like that, he realised, his spirits had lifted and he felt quite content, happy even. He continued to watch the blonde, taking his time to really look at him and wondered what was so special about him, that he was able to turn his feelings and emotions upside down. It’s not as if the blonde even had to try; it happened automatically, just like that.

Hell, they hadn’t even spoken a word to each other, Changbin didn’t even know his name. And yet… He gulped with surprisingly unsurprising realisation, and yet he was crushing on him. Badly.

He could count on two hands how often he had seen him. This should not have happened.

And yet, it had.

Having secured the roll of sushi in his mouth, the blonde started munching happily on it, cheeks bulging as if he were some kind of squirrel. A much cuter squirrel than Jisung could ever be, he decided.

For a moment, he turned to check on his friends, though they were still discussing something, violently pressing buttons on a remote and not paying attention to him. He considered joining them and giving the blonde some privacy while he ate, he was not a stalker after all, even though he really wanted to look at him just a little longer.

Turning back, he found the blondes eyes on him. There was no recognition though and it reminded him of the last time this had happened. He was still eating his food, staring ahead, right through Changbin not blinking or doing anything else.

What a weirdo, honestly.

Changbin cooked his head slightly and waved his hand around. It didn’t immediately work and his eyebrows rose at how absentminded the other was. Daydreaming like that, forgetting to chew and staring off into the distance, really now.

It was cute anyway.

It took another second, and a more aggressive wave of Changbin, for the blonde’s eyes to finally blink and his pupils to focus on him. There was a moment of stillness filled with anticipation in which nothing happened and he feared the windows might even be tinted and he was, thus, invisible from the outside.

Then, the blonde seemed to finally come to life, his eyes widening, cheeks flushing crimson followed by him starting to choke on his food, badly.

His mouth fell open, quite involuntarily, at the amount of absurdity he had just witnessed. He rubbed a hand over his forehead, and shook his head slightly. Honestly, how could someone be so damnable adorable and weird at the same time?

It took a moment and many curious stares from other patrons for the blonde to calm down, an empty water glass now stood in front of him and a bashful, yet indignant look was directed at Changbin. He, in response, just lifted his arms and shrugged, indicating that he had no idea what the blonde’s problem was.

At that, the blonde poked his tongue at him to which he just laughed in return. Taking mercy on him nonetheless, He decided to be nice, smiling earnestly and tapping the corner of his mouth with his index finger, signalling him to smile.

He lived off of these smiles and he was in dire need of a recharge.

However, the blonde ignored him stubbornly and continued to eat his sushi with the small slips of dignity he had left.

So, it was time then, he thought, to pull out his mightiest weapon.

He waited until the blonde looked back at him, and then, started doing some of his, in his opinion, best aegyo.

When he finished, the blonde mustered him with an undefinable look. He then, in an attempt to mimic Changbin, brought up his hand, quite exasperatedly, to shield his eyes and shook his head slowly.

He upheld it for roughly three seconds before he burst out laughing though, earning the attention of everyone in vicinity yet again. Changbin just smiled at him happily, because honestly, he felt extremely accomplished and content to have made the other smile and laugh.

It was then, that, after he had calmed down, the blonde beckoned Changbin toward him. Clearly indicating for him to come over to him, like for real. He felt his heart flutter and, yes, he really wanted to do just that, his desire being big enough, that he blatantly ignored the rapidly increasing nervousness that coursed through his body.

Resolve established, he started to walk before it left him again, but a tug on his arm pulled him backwards before he was able to take a step. Chan nodded towards the rest of their TV-shopping group, who were on their way to the other side of the shop, where the cheaper models resided.

He had forgotten about them if he was honest, but now he realised, he couldn’t just leave. His friends would not accept some cheap explanation and he was, under no circumstances ready, to admit his way-too-deep feelings for a complete stranger.

Not to mention that they would abandon their hunt to spend money to, instead, observe him and the blonde.

Batting Chan’s hand away with a promise to follow, he caught the waiting brown gaze in his again. There was a clear question in those eyes and Changbin just shook his head and indicated towards his friends.

With a sad smile, he waved him goodbye, tapping the corner of his mouth again in parting when he saw the pout forming on the blondes equally sad face.

He turned around afterwards and walked towards his friends, trying hard not to look back.

Had he looked back though, he would have seen two brown orbs following his every move for as long as they could, with an equal amount of affection visible in them not unlike what he felt in his own heart.

 

Chapter Text

“Why is it,
That every time our eyes meet,
I seem to forget myself,
And my heart might skip a beat,
But farewell is all it ever means.”


 

Colourful blossoms and many, plentifully decorated bouquets filled the sweetly-smelling and lavishly filled flower shop in which Changbin found himself currently. Seungmin had begged and Hyunjin subtly threatened him to take over the shop for them today; they both had important arrangements to do, something concerning their future after university. Changbin wasn’t privy to the details, not that he had much interest in them anyway.

At present, he was by himself. The steadily heating air that drifted inside through the opened door was certainly part of the reason for it; Customers were a rarity today. Changbin suspected people would rather enjoy the beautifully arranged flower beds in the park, than the chopped off and dying blossoms that were caged in here.

Out of boredom, and the fact that there was simply nothing else to do, Changbin found himself toying around with the most unpopular flowers, trying to arrange them into an appealing bouquet. What he had made so far did actually not look bad at all and Changbin was pretty proud of his clearly improved flower arranging skills.

While pondering over a fitting greenery to enclose and finish the bouquet with, his gaze moved over the vases and then outside, through the window where a stray butterfly caught his eye. It must have flown here from the nearby park, which had become a true magnet for them. Changbin just hoped it would not fly inside; he had never been particularly good at catching them.

Maybe the flowers that bloomed from the plants that had climbed the walls of the alley, had lured it here, Changbin thought, they had a very strong yet still somehow mild scent after all.

The alley, in general, had become a sight to behold: Aside from the rich amount of climbing plants that flowered and bloomed nearly excessively, in spite of the small amount of direct sunshine they received, all kinds of weeds and wildflowers had creeped their way through gaps and chipped stones.

On the sides, where wall met path, long and intensely green weeds and grasses had ascended the walls, some with prickly thorns and some with soft tips of plush growth. A few wildflowers were sprinkled in between them and everywhere else, where human feet never touched the ground.

Bumblebees and various other insects seemed to have discovered the alleyway as a small paradise of sorts; their numbers increasing with every passing day as it seems. Just this morning, as Changbin had pushed aside the stray vines and branches of a shyly blooming shrub in order to pass it by, he’d walked face first into an intricately woven spider web.

He still hadn’t gotten rid of the uncomfortable feeling of the fine threads that had been all over his face or the crippling thought about the whereabouts of the ominously missing spider that might have found refuge on his body somewhere.

Regardless of this incident, the alley looked incredible at this time of the year with its cosy charm of wild, unruly nature combined with old masonry and the sloppily made pavement. It was an inviting view for some, while others would curse at the unkempt wilderness of it.

For Changbin, it was one of his favourite places to be.

Returning his attention towards the arrangement of flowers in his hands, he chose a few nondescript bundles of leaves and continued his work in silence. An occasional breeze ruffled flowers and leaves outside and inside the shop alike, as well as the unruly fringe of his own hair.

It was a tranquil and peaceful moment, that got interrupted by the sharp sound of clicking heels which invaded the shop and was accompanied by the overpowering smell of too-much perfume. With a greeting on his lips, Changbin looked up and immediately recognised who had come to a stop in front of the counter: It was a regular of the shop, an old lady that appeared to be incredibly lonely since she never stopped talking.

There was a time in which Changbin had felt bad for her, but it had quickly passed as soon as he had been at the receiving end of her undivided attention for three hours straight.

Therefore, Changbin knew that he was about to be stuck in a conversation with her for a long, long time.

 

Roughly one and a half hours later, various different flowers, a handful of bouquets and a few diverse pot plants littered the counter between them. The old lady had fallen into a monologue and Changbin just stared unseeingly over her shoulder and through the opened door, occasionally mumbling his affirmation at whatever concern plagued her mind.

The moment seemed to stretch into eternity, until he heard girlish laughter echo between the aged walls outside, mercifully pulling him out of it. Hardly a moment later, two girls came to a stop in front of the shop’s display, eyes raking over the plentiful diversity of decorations and flowers it presented. Behind them, a figure with a light blue shirt came to a halt, peering over their shoulder curiously.

And Changbin could try to deny it as much as he wanted to, but he felt his heart skip a beat and a breath excitedly escaped between his lips, as he realised that his (secret) personal sunshine had once again come to the flower shop.

His hair was styled to the side, revealing his forehead as it not often did. It had also grown out a lot again, it was a back and forth, Changbin thought, as if the blonde couldn’t decide if longer or slightly shorter was what he preferred.

Changbin found both styles incredibly handsome, not that it mattered.

Hoping that the blonde would notice him in time, Changbin waited with a slight yet probably way to eager smile on his lips as his eyes fixed on him. The girls, which still stood in front of him, were discussing something quite feverishly while the blonde just listened to them, eyes scanning the items closely before sweeping through the shop and landing on Changbin.

Changbin couldn’t help but smile genuinely at him, accompanied by a small, barely noticeable wave of his hand.

The blonde immediately caught on and with the same vigour that was edged onto Changbin’s face, waved back at him, smile plastered across his face.

Changbin barely noticed his hand as it combed through his own hair nervously, what he noted instead, was his heartbeat that apparently had taken on a much higher speed for no reason at all. He knew he wasn’t the best at initiating conversation, even nonverbal ones, since he did not normally find himself wanting to do so, and, thus, he felt awkward, as their eyes stayed focused on each other without something else happening.

As soon as he unterstood Changbin’s situation, the blonde took the initiative and pointed to the two giggling girls he was accompanying; he rolled his eyes at them, in a funny but not overly mean fashion and succeeded in coaxing a soft chuckle out of Changbin.

Returning the gesture in kind, Changbin nodded his head towards the old lady that had moved beside him mysteriously (Changbin hadn’t even noticed until now) and fake-yawned, hoping he would catch his meaning. The blonde grinned widely at him, crescent eyes humouring him.

While he did so, one of the girls in front of the blonde turned around, apparently asking him something. Impressively enough, the blondes face immediately voided itself of emotion before putting on a serious and interested expression. When she turned her head back, the blonde, in obvious relieve, let a hand swipe across his forehead and winked at Changbin.

He fucking winked. At him.

Changbin, having been in the process of snickering at the blonde’s behaviour, choked on his spit and broke out into violent coughing, unable to regain his composure.

The three woman all turned towards him at once, questioning looks on their faces. Changbin, cursing the blonde for being a such a damn tease, decided to retract everything he ever said about hm.

Pure? Innocent? He wished; the blonde was a fucking tease.

With embarrassed, red cheeks and a slightly sore throat, Changbin eyed the blonde outside warily, only to realise that he was positively shaking with mirthful, silent laughter.

As much as Changbin wanted to be at least a little mad, he couldn’t find it in him. Begrudgingly, he admitted to himself that even with a hilariously laughter contorted face, he looked cute and handsome and fuck, why did he have to have so many damn freckles.

Shortly after, which was way too soon in Changbin’s opinion, the two girls started to drag the blonde away and, in parting, the blonde tapped the corner of his lips with hopeful eyes, and Changbin found that he couldn’t help but simply do as the other wished.

And so, he smiled as they lost each other again and in Changbin’s stomach, different feelings swirled together: He felt happy and sad, excited and captivated; he was crushing badly and yet, the fondness he felt did not stop at that, it was growing like the most stubborn weed inside of him.

Exasperated, he bit his lip; he could no longer dance around this; he needed to finally talk to the blonde for real.

Chapter Text

The train station was nearly empty when Changbin stepped foot onto the platform. It was warm today; the sun was shining unrelentingly down upon the earth just as it had for the last days already. The air was, therefore, oddly hot for this time of the month, not to mention stuffy and thin from the dehydrated earth and warmed up streets. However, with each growing hour, it grew more humid outside and Changbin could, at this point, already smell the incoming thunderstorm.

It was good, Changbin knew, that there would be rain. The meadows were drying out; grass turning into a sickly yellow colour instead of shining in a vibrant green, as it usually would. Flowers and trees grew slower, leaving their young buds to wither away, in an effort to save themselves.

Sporadically placed pots of greenery decorated the platform he stood on, and even those, he realised, weren’t getting enough water. Blossoms had peeled off and leaves were hanging sadly; it was not the beautiful sight they were supposed to be.

Only the cicadas, that he heard in the distance, mixed with the soft murmur of hushed conversations and the buzz of cars were normal today; something unchanging that wasn’t withering away and Changbin clung to this slip of normalcy.

Because, today, today was not a good day, but, then again, neither had the last five been.

Going home to his family, it had always been something that was reassuring. It was a safe-haven, something constant and stable, like a rock in the ocean. No matter what was happening in his life, he could always find them there, unchangingly waiting for him and never failing to be happy to see him.

Not everything could always be a happy occasion though, reality had ruthlessly reminded him of that.

He stared down onto his hand, where his train ticket was firmly squeezed between his thumb and index finger; the chewed nails of whom stood out unsightly. His backpack felt heavy on his shoulders, as if filled with bricks, but he knew that in truth, it was barely filled at all.

The dark mop on his head was dishevelled, a few tendrils were dangling in front his eyes and a pair of glasses sat slightly crooked on his nose. Goosebumps trailed over his arms like waves and he felt cold, cold in the heat of the sun. Not even his favourite, all-black hoodie that clung to his thinned form was able to give him the comfort it normally brought upon him.

Changbin abandoned his listless staring at the ticket in his hand and, instead, mustered the withering wildflowers that had sprouted, against all odds, on the side of the tracks. The image of them, defeated and dying, just played into the whirlpool of emotions that were currently reigning in his heart and mind.

He was sad. Sad, drained and emotionally exhausted like he had never been before. For the first few days, the stinging sensation in his eyes and heart had never left him and while his friends had been nothing but supportive, it hadn’t helped him whatsoever. He knew, there was nothing but good intentions in their hearts, but Changbin couldn’t deal with their overbearing nature right now.

Well, he admitted to himself, there was nothing at all, that he could deal with these last days. All he had wanted to do was lay in his bed, curled up under the warm cover, cuddling Gyu and tuning out the real world as if didn’t exist, in hopes that he’d wake up and everything had just been a bad dream.

Those dark moments, they had happened, and while he had hidden away in the soft embrace of freshly washed linen, he had found himself, again and again, thinking about him. About blonde hair, about artistically scattered freckles, his soft smiles and warm eyes, the emotions that had played in their depths and about the painful want of just being able to see this sunshine. Drowning in the warmth of his gaze, cuddling himself into it and maybe, maybe, then he would have more easily believed that the good days would resume, that this was just an ugly crease in his timeline.

But it didn’t happen. The hurtful truth was, he hadn’t seen him more than a month now. And was that unusual? It was certainly not, Changbin knew, but never had he craved for him as much as he had these last days. Before, he knew and accepted, that their meetings were pure chance. That it could be a long time until they would see each other again and Changbin liked what they had and he hadn’t bothered all that much.

These last days though, he had realised that it did, in fact, bother him now. A lot.

Changbin sighed and his shoulders dropped. He was naïve, oh so naïve to crush on a stranger like he did. No, he may as well be completely honest with himself, he decided, his feelings went deeper than that. They did, but he would not name them as what they were, it would make it too real.

The blonde was a stranger, they never had, after all, directly spoken to each other. Changbin did not know his name and vice versa. Despite that, despite of what he tried to define in his head in order to chastise himself, the blonde just didn’t feel like a stranger anymore.

But, alas, they were no friends either. Nor lovers, nor anything at all. There was no definition that fit and it was maddening.

The blonde was someone, someone that he trusted to be there for him. Someone he knew would cheer him up, someone he knew would give him a hug as comfort if he just could. He knew, that those warm eyes would seek his out if they were able to and that his smile would turn soft and gentle for him or teasing, if he had the chance.

Looking at him, seeing him; it was as if Changbin was coming home. It felt safe, comforting, warm and it lifted his mood unfailingly.

The realisation, even if not completely unexpected, extracted another sigh out of Changbin.

He was stupid, Changbin chided himself, so stupid to having let his feelings roam so free, letting them become what they were.

Nonetheless, he knew that as well, it was hardly as if he could vanish them. He wanted to meet him and talk to him, for real. To get to know him and to see if what he felt was completely misplaced or not.

He longed for it, honestly, and he would do it, but not now. Not when he felt like hiding in his bed all day. First, he needed to heal.

And so, he stood on the platform, shifting his weight from foot to foot and playing with the straps of his backpack absentmindedly, while waiting for his train to arrive. Unseeingly, he stared at the ground underneath, thoughts filled with brown eyes, gentle smiles, flying coffee and an adorable pout.

Chapter Text

The late summer, while most often still too warm for Changbin’s taste, was still a nice and eventful time. With the passing days and the slowly decreasing heat, many events and festivals took place to savour the last bits of the sunny season.

Today, was an especially enjoyable event: The small river, that wound its way throughout the city, would be filled with a parade of boats and small ships. It was a sight to behold, because all of them would be lavishly decorated with lampions and colourful lights; sometimes ambiguous owners even formed figures and motifs out of glowing light strings.

It was a popular festival; something seemingly everyone living nearby was looking forward too. The river’s plenty shores were, therefore, always awfully crowded.

Changbin and his friends had, consequently, decided to find themselves a place at the narrowed down part of the river. It was a fraction in an older part of the city; the riverside a soft, green slope downhill with a shore that teemed with long grasses and other weeds. The water itself wasn’t far in its breadth, thus, not all boats could easily pass through; those who could though, filled the small expanse of clear water easily as if they were a bridge connecting both sides.

Currently, they were gathered in spot beneath a tree the shade of it providing them a not needed escape of the sun’s lukewarm rays. Their picnic blanket was too small for all them, especially with the food that was pilled in the middle of it. Chan and Woojin had clearly overdone it; yet the scale of various foods available made everyone’s moods decidedly better.

They had been here for more than an hour already; watching the participants float by and drinking in the beautiful sight of the lights brightening up the water and greenery alike. When they had arrived, there was a pleasant, warm summers breeze that moved the grasses blades languidly with its touch, though as the sun started its steady decent, the air lost its heated momentum. Instead, it grew humid and remarkably chilly, making Goosebumps arise.

The tips of green branches and mousy wildflowers grazed Changbin’s ankle periodically; he was sitting mostly in the grass after voluntarily sliding away from Minho, who had pulled Jisung onto his lap when he couldn’t bear his complaints about being cold any longer.

Changbin could understand those complaints all too well: His day had been awfully busy, there hadn’t been any time to go home and change his clothes, thus, he, too, was wearing just a flimsy t-shirt and he could feel the cooled down air creep over his skin. Especially near the river, Changbin should have known that, would the air be cooler than usual. But it was too late to regret his decisions now, he knew as much. They always stayed here for a long time, probably another few hours at most.

Contemplating his non-existent choices, he rubbed his hands over his arms and legs occasionally, in an attempt to warm the cold flesh. With the lull in conversation amidst them, silence embarked and he heard the gentle murmuring of hushed conversations. Around them, many others had found a place to rest, it wasn’t unlike the riverside opposite of them: Similarly crowded, picnic blankets dotting the meadow and expectant gazes focused on the happenings in between them.

Not for the first time today, Changbin noticed a few, small children run up and down the mellow slope, maybe playing tag, he mused. They chased themselves from up the pavement, all the way down to the shore where weeds were towering above them. Once in a while, a kind soul would help the children onto their vessel, letting them cross over to the other riverside, where they would continue their game of tag enthusiastically.

For some time, he watched the children race themselves, observing how a boy nearly fell into the water, had it not been for a kind looking, bearded, old man catching him in the last second.

Following the path they chose to trail along next, Changbin noticed a group of newcomers that had settled where previously only greenery and shrubbery had been. The blonde hair seized his attention immediately, eyes focusing on the messy mop and forgetting about the children in a heartbeat.

He realised that the blonde was already watching him, when he turned his gaze onto the soft lines of his face. The blonde smiled, eagerly and happily at him, crescent eyes more prominent than usual and freckles set alight by the bright, yellow lampions of a boat that passed in front of him.

Changbin did not need even a second to return his smile in full, relieve flooding him warmly. It had been longer than ever before, until he had last seen him. A persistent fear of never seeing him again, had steadily grown in him and the longing to set eyes on this cute face and warm eyes once more had been dreadfully powerful and desperate.

The blonde, Changbin observed, was sitting on blanket like his: Foods and drinks were placed upon it and surrounding it, were a group of people which were happily talking among themselves. The blonde was, to Changbin’s relief, wearing a comfy looking hoodie, paired with dark jeans and modern shoes; a casual look that fit him well.

Refocusing his attention on the blonde’s face, they exchanged a few funny faces and many gentle smiles; it wasn’t long before Changbin felt his face hurt with the amount of smiling he did. When a breeze brushed past them, Changbin felt himself shiver at the chill of it, while the blonde wrapped himself in a blanket, that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.

Changbin wished, as he absentmindedly rubbed his frozen arms, he could be there next to him and share the blanket with him; they could be close and touch and talk and it would surely be wonderful.

With that, Changbin remembered, that he had planned on talking to the blonde the next time he’d see him: Now, that the situation had arrived, he felt himself chickening out again, though. They, both, were surrounded by their friends and tons of other people; and as much as Changbin desired, no, longed, to be able to talk to him, to be close to him, he didn’t feel comfortable with the amount of attention it would gain.

One of the blonde’s friends caught his attention, saying something and making a pout appear on his plush lips. Changbin smiled at how adorable it was, feeling a tiny stab of jealously course through him. A moment later, someone poked his arm, he turned to look at Jeongin, who seemed to have been the culprit, wanting to know how late it was.

Changbin checked the time, it was late, though not late enough to leave yet, he conceded. Realising that he would probably spend another hour freezing outside, he cursed himself for not taking at least a hoodie with him in the morning. He rubbed his arms and legs roughly, making the skin warm with the friction of the movement. For a few fleeting moments, it felt warm, only to cool down and feel double as cold a second later.

Debating over how to explain the cold he would surely get to his manager, Changbin saw a pair of small, shoed feet come to a halt in front of him: The boy who’d nearly plummeted into the water earlier stood in front of him, apparently too shy to talk. In his hands, he held a dark hoodie which he immediately, as if burned, pressed into Changbin’s hands. The soft fabric felt warm in his hands, and at his questioning look, the boy just pointed vaguely towards the other riverside, before wordlessly running off again.

Having a hopeful suspicion of what had happened, Changbin turned his eyes onto the blonde again; he was already awaiting him with a cheeky grin and a thumbs up. Changbin felt his throat constrict strangely at the unexpected care the blonde showed; maybe not truly unexpected, the blonde appeared to be a caring person, still he hadn’t anticipated to be given a hoodie.

Swallowing down the odd feeling, he smiled back, forming a heart with his hands spontaneously which set his own cheeks aflame. Not wasting another moment, he dragged the already well-loved garment over his head and basked in the embrace of warmth it presented.

As he snuggled himself into it comfortably, the blonde’s gaze watched him, satisfied smile upon his lips. His cheeks were coloured in a soft hue of red, his fingers played with the hem of his own hoodie while he almost dreamily watched Changbin wearing his clothes, his hoodie.

Feeling warmer already, Changbin sat in the damp grass and savoured the gentle scent that started to envelop him in earnest. It was a man’s perfume, no doubt, still it had a warm, yet distinctly bitter and sweet note to it. It was a pleasant smell; it felt oddly familiar even though Changbin was positive he had never before smelled it anywhere. It filled his nostrils with every inhale and unbidden, he thought, it smelled like home.

His apartment did not smell anything like this, nor did his own perfume, still, his heart and mind alike, told him that this was how home smelled like, so Changbin did not try to argue with it.

Awaking form his thoughts, Changbin realised that the blonde had stood up and was waving at him; blanket, foods and his friends already gone. Changbin drew his eyebrows up, they had just arrived after all, but at his questioning look, the blonde just pouted and shook his head softly.

With a heartbreakingly sad smile, the blonde waved a last time, bidding him goodbye and waited until Changbin had returned the gesture before leaving to trail after his friends.

Shortly before he vanished out of sight, he turned around and their eyes met for a last time, then he vanished behind a pair of overgrown bushes. It had been just a moment, but the emotions and feelings that had quivered under the surface of those innocent, brown orbs was enough to make Changbin swallow harshly.

It was as if he looked into a mirror, and maybe it was be bizarre, that they felt the same, but maybe it was not. Maybe, all that Changbin wanted, was for them to feel the same and the possibility, that they did, made his heart speed up considerably.

The thought made Changbin cuddle himself into the hoodie further. A smile tugged on his lips, though inside, he felt oddly homesick. He’d never felt homesick before; it made sadness bubble in his stomach uncomfortably and the unknown that was before him, not knowing when they’d see each other again, enhanced the feeling further.

Silently, Changbin chastised himself for not being willing to talk to him today, even though he had told himself he would. It was too late now, though, there was nothing he could do but wait.

Before he could fall deeper into the whirlwind of emotions his heart conjured, a strong grip on his shoulder ripped him out of his mind and back into reality. His friends were already gathering their things and Jisung ungracefully shoved a bag of trash to dispose of into his hands.

Next time, Changbin thought determined, next time I’ll talk to him, no matter what.

Chapter Text

His name was Felix.

It had been scribbled in horrific handwriting onto the back of the label inside the hoodie. Changbin didn’t even really know how he had achieved to find it there, but when he had noticed it, he had stared at it for way too long, until he understood what he was seeing.

He had thought about the blonde for so long without knowing his name, it was odd to put them together.

The name was definitely not typical Korean and it pretty much confirmed what he had been thinking about the blonde, about Felix, Changbin corrected, all along: He was a foreigner. His heavy accent and broken speech, that he’d been able to hear once, basically had been proof enough, but Changbin hadn’t wanted to judge all that quickly back then.

Looking at it, Changbin had come to the conclusion that he was, very likely, Australian, like Chan was. Their accent was comparable, not that Changbin had heard much of the blonde’s accent, really, still, his gut feeling told him it was true and, not to mention, Felix seemed to be a fitting name for an Australian.

He had been a little surprised, that he was as unbothered by the probable truth as he was, but then again, having assumed it for as long as he had, it hadn’t really come as a surprise at all. Actually, and he was not all that happy about this fact, he felt himself grow infinitely more interested about Felix.

He also found himself undeniably more attracted to him, not that it wasn’t already way out of hand as it was.

The blondes name resonated in his mind frequently as the time since their last encounter grew steadily. Sadly, it didn’t work like a charm; the weeks passed by without the blonde showing up in his life. The flowers started to wither away, just like the pleasant smell the hoodie had harboured.

Ah yes, Felix’s hoodie, Changbin’s newly found, most-prized possession.

Next to the intoxicating smell, it was also incredibly soft and warm and definitely a little too big on him. He’d worn it so often until this point, it was hard to think about it actually not being part of his own wardrobe. Washing it, it had nearly broken his heart, but he was not utterly disgusting and pushed himself to do it, as if it were some kind of torture.

It was pathetic really, but he couldn’t help it.

The scent now, was long gone. The scribbled text-marker handwriting had stayed impressively stubbornly though, and he found some solace in that. Not that all of it mattered much, it was his go-to hoodie to relax after a long day anyway, more so, because it made him feel close to the blonde.

With the passing time and the hoodie warming his skin consistently throughout all of it, Changbin was filled to the brim with determination to finally, finally talk to Felix. It was long overdue and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to forgive himself if he would chicken out again.

Right now, though, there were different things he had to concentrate on: Today, they would meet at Seungmin’s place and have a long-planned movie night. Which movies they’d watch, he didn’t know yet, since Minho and Jisung were still passionately arguing about it. He had the slight suspicion it would end in a dirty rock-paper-scissors fight, as it usually did. Good thing that he didn’t much care for what they would watch anyway.

Currently, Changbin was strolling through the city centre, being on his way towards the train station; he’d use the train to go to a station close to Seungmin’s apartment. Admittedly, he could have walked, maybe, if he hadn’t slept until late into the afternoon. Until the train would depart, he still had plenty of time so he kept his pace slow, enjoying the refreshing air outside.

The summer was fading away and it was, basically, early fall already. The breeze still had a warm tinge to it, although the temperatures had significantly cooled down already. After the long and hot summer months, it was a welcome change, the air actually feeling vitalising instead of exhausting.

Changbin had put on some slightly warmer clothes, nothing too fancy, and as he trudged throughout the streets, he noticed the ambivalent feeling the weather pushed onto everyone: People, dressed as if it still were summerly hot outside, were milling with those, who believed it was already freezing.

Some trees had already started to shed their leaves, as if they were an unwanted burden, while the bright and colourful blossoms surrounding them slowly died away. In their stead, orange and yellow leaves decorated the flower beds, combined with plenty of late-blooming flowers, which sadly, often enough looked rather mousy.

Chestnuts, hazelnuts and other seeds of trees had started to fall down, paving some streets in their crunched and smashed appearance. More often than not, especially in the nearby park, children would run around collecting them, happily laughing while doing so. Changbin did remember it, those times when he had collected them as well and he would build small figures out of them, toothpicks being his only tool.

Lost in his thoughts, he arrived at the train station earlier than he had planned to. With a quick look, he checked if there were any announcements concerning his train and, to his horror, actually found one. It mentioned some kind of problem, not closer specified, and that the train would, thus, leave ten minutes earlier.

Fumbling his phone out of his pockets, he quickly checked the time, only to see that the train would leave right about now. With curse on his tongue, he jolted forward, running towards the designated platform, hoping that the train hadn’t left yet. As he rushed up the stairs, he heard similarly hurried footsteps behind him, probably someone else having been surprised.

When he escaped the tunnelled steps, he immediately spotted his train, its doors already closing. Behind him, he heard someone yelling and for a fleeting moment, he felt the warm touch of someone’s fingers on his own. Being in a crowd and most of all, in a rush, he pulled his hand away, thinking he had accidently invaded someone’s personal space.

At the last possible second, he squeezed himself through the door, which closed right after him. The train’s engine roared and Changbin sacked backwards against the door with relieve.

A soft knock from the door behind interrupted his relieved relaxation; he turned around and looked through the windowed doors and froze: Before him, with only those damned doors in between them, stood Felix. His hands were pressed flatly against the doors and his eyes searched Changbin’s almost pleadingly. His cheeks were reddened and he was breathing hard; clearly out of breath from having chased him up here, Changbin realised.

His first instinct was to press the button of the door, in order to open it; it did not budge even a centimetre though. Instead, he pressed his own hands against the cool glass, on the exact opposite side of Felix’s.

He looked sad, really sad in fact, and Changbin couldn’t help but feel guilty. They just stood there, for a few fleeting moments, watching each other nearly paralysed, until Changbin felt the train start to move. He watched Felix, who appeared to have gathered himself somewhat, a small, yet sad smile adorning his lips until he disappeared out of his view.

Changbin had tried to return his smile, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Guilt thrummed throug him, even though he knew this wasn’t really anyone’s fault. Thinking back, he realised, that he should have recognised his deep voice as he called for Changbin to wait. He hadn’t, though. How long had it been since he had last had the chance to hear it? Probably more than half a year.

The blonde had even touched his hand and Changbin had just shaken him off. He had been in a rush, slightly panicked and he really hadn’t expected Felix to take the initiative like he had, not to mention that he hadn’t expected him to be here at all.

He sighed, deeply, and let the guilt be replaced by regret of what could have been.

Another time, Changbin told himself, this is not the last time they’ll have the chance to meet.

Taking a seat nearby, he placed his elbow on the small window ledge, plopping his head onto his hand, while watching the city pass by in a blur.

Despite the situation, Changbin did feel a slight speck of happiness. Felix had tried to take the initiative, which meant he wanted to get to know Changbin. Maybe even as badly as Changbin wanted it to happen himself.

Looking down at his lap for a moment, he observed his hand, that Felix had touched, before he realised what exactly he was wearing: It was Felix’s hoodie. Changbin had put it on, because it was relaxing, comforting, soft and warm. Because all those things reminded him of Felix and with a movie night ahead, it had been the perfect choice of clothing.

He felt warmth creep into his face, realising that Felix had very likely noticed this as well, and silently, he kept watching the houses pass by, thinking about their encounter.

 

When he arrived at Seungmin’s place some time later, he was met with yelling and shouting and a very exhausted looking Chan. Jisung and Minho were still arguing while the rest had made themselves comfortable on the couch with popcorn, watching the spectacle.

Chapter Text

 “As the leaves fall,
Your smile is burned into my mind,
And even though my hopes grew small,
Our hearts aligned.”


If there was something that Changbin had always liked, it was fall.

The streets were still crowded, though not nearly as much as they were in the summer months. The heat had finally disappeared, leaving the air to be lukewarm and easily breathable. An occasional breeze rustled the dying leaves, ripping some down while doing so. More often than not, the sun hid behind a curtain of white plush, making the left-over flowers crave for its loving attention.

The autumn had just barely started; most leaves hadn’t yet turned into the various colours that Changbin adored so much. Truly, only the giant chestnut trees had started to shed their brownish clothing in earnest, along with a few others, most though, still wore their leaves in a brilliant green.

A big part in this must have had the persistent rain they had had lately, it had been feeding the trees with its nutritional downfall unfailingly. The earth had been severely dehydrated over the hot summer’s months, which had led to its incapability to swallow the masses of water all at once. The result had been minor flooding’s all throughout the city, none of which had interfered with his life luckily.

It did leave traces on the environment though: Just now, on his way to the supermarket, he had walked over mud-covered streets and sidewalks filled with dirty puddles. Ripped vegetation was dotting stones and tar and partly disintegrated leaves, mousy flowers and weeds grew out of the cracks in the sidewalk, all dirtied with earth and impure water.

The supermarket entrance represented the outside situation well: Its white tiles were covered in brown footprints and droplets of murky water while the once transparent windows were splattered with mud and other dirt. Only the shrubbery and trees of the parking lot seemed to flourish in these conditions.

Inside the shop, people were dressed in long dark coats, that were not unlike his own. High-tied shoes and umbrellas were a must as well, with the weather acting the way it did. If the bus just wouldn’t be as overfilled as it was, he cursed inwardly, he wouldn’t have to go outside in this unpredictable time of the year.

There was nothing he could do though, so he had come here by foot as he would usually. Luckily for him, there wasn’t much he had to buy. Just a few necessities and some sweets, for the next time his friends would barge into his apartment unannounced. Knowing this place by heart, he had collected what he needed in a few moments and currently stood at the cash register.

The cashier was scanning his items in his usual, slow and bored pace, so Changbin watched the raindrops slide down the store’s window while he waited. Beyond the watery blurriness, he saw the famous inner-city bus arrive at its station, looking as overfilled as ever. A flock of people immediately gathered at its now opened doors to squeeze themselves inside and escape the unrelenting downpour.

It remembered him of the time he had seen Felix here and he felt a smile tug at his lips, it had been quite cute. Changbin absentmindedly pushed his hand through his hair, feeling a slight wetness stick to his fingers. His eyes stuck to the bus’s door, while his mind took him back to the many times that he’d seen Felix.

When a blonde head passed through his thoughtful gaze, he was immediately ripped out of his happy thoughts. Realising that Felix was actually right here, right now, just like all those months ago. His eyes snapped to the cashier next to him, who was having trouble scanning a particular item. If Changbin would wait for him, he’d not make it in time.

Not wasting another second and cursing his obvious desperation, he darted away from the aisle, puzzling everyone in vicinity. He rushed out of the building, nearly slipping on the slimy ground outside, and sprinted towards the bus.

Felix had already entered it when he came close, in fact, the blonde had been one of the last to be let inside. Changbin hurried over the parking lot, escaping being run over only barely and came to a stop in front of the bus’s doors just as they closed themselves.

He called out to the bus driver inside twice and even knocked against the dirty glass of the door, but the driver was in a heated discussion with someone, loud voices seeping even through the closed doors.

Inside, Felix had moved to the front and tried to catch the attention of the bus driver as well, obviously having noticed Changbin. For a few moments, Changbin watched how the blonde softly gesticulated and waved to the man, It was all for naught though, because the bus slowly started to drive off while the driver kept arguing loudly, ignoring both Changbin and Felix.

Changbin’s eyes flicked to the blonde’s, who had pressed himself close to the window, waiting for Changbin to look at him, having realised they would be ignored no matter what. The sad smile on his lips reminded Changbin rather painfully of the last time they’d met and as much as Changbin had wanted to return his smile, he just couldn’t find it himself.

The bus drove off and they lost sight of each other once again, like they had in the train all those weeks ago. Disappointed, Changbin kicked away a stray rock, wondering what he could have done differently. With a heavy-hearted sigh, he swore himself to make it work next time.

Chapter Text

A flash of bright light blinds him for a split second where he stands in front of the window, watching the nearly empty streets below. Thunder rolls through the air moments later and he hears a pitiful squeak from somewhere behind.

He hears Chan speak comforting words to an upset Jisung, latter being abnormally scared of thunderstorms. He glances back and sees his two best friends standing with arms slung around each other. There’s a short scuffle before Jisung gives up and lets Chan pull him to the window.

Chan and him had come over to help Jisung unpack, as he had just moved into this apartment. It was a little bigger and decidedly more modern than his last one, maybe Jisung wouldn’t have to sleep at his friends houses anymore in winter, now that he had a working heater.

Aside from the necessities, the apartment wasn’t anything special. The nearly panoramic window in front of which they currently stood was probably its most superior trait. Through it, one could see the neatly paved sidewalks and roads below. Between those, the creek-like river languidly lapped over the stones it bathed and let the fallen leaves float on top of it, taking them on a bumpy journey. The opposite shore was nearly identical, both of them connected by an old wooden bridge arching above the water proudly.

Growing along the creek were trees and grasses; with common daisies dotting the shrubberies sporadically. Leaves in various autumn colours milled with them and danced in the steadily increasing breeze of the incoming thunderstorm. The tree’s branches arched obediently; the rushing air stripping off the last remnants of the summer’s greenery.

Changbin observes how Jisung carefully peaks outside, clutching Chan’s arm between his hands. The peaceful view was slowly morphing into something wilder and more unpredictable. It was not utterly strange; this time of the year brought strong thunderstorms with it and handed them out like grandmas would candy on Halloween.

There was silence between them as they listen to the stormy rustling of trees. Rain had started to fall ever-so softly, bringing dark clouds with it and making it look as if night was about to fall. Checking the time, Changbin realises that he’s late; there still were some things that he needed to take care off at home, thus, he searches the room for his carelessly discarded keys, finding them atop of the newly assembled sideboard.

He calculates his chances of getting home unharmed and dry – which were about zero. Still, he couldn’t just stay here, so he tries to take his keys and say goodbye, but the room lights up brightly and Jisung gasps loudly and fists a hand into Changbin’s hoodie harshly, making his escape impossible. The younger pulls him closer with wide, scared eyes.

Changbin takes pity on his friend and pets his shoulder warmly while trying to loosen the younger’s grip on him, so that he can leave. But before he is able to achieve anything, Jisung suddenly jerks him forwards, nearly making him lose his balance.

He sends a scolding glance towards the younger, but he isn’t even paying attention to Changbin. Contrary to it, Jisung just unintelligibly points outside, hitting the window with his index finger repeatedly. Changbin follows the direction and is immediately met with blonde hair on the opposite site of the creek.

The blonde walks on the darkening pavement, watching the grey clouds above warily, if his many glances towards the sky are any indication.

Changbin stiffens for a moment, before every particle in his body seems to go into overdrive: He bolts for the door, keys and everything else pushed to the back of his mind. He runs down the stairwell and slams the entrance door open.

The blonde has a big head start, but Changbin is determined and immediately falls into a quick jog. He feels the soft and nearly tender touch of the rain on his quickly flushing face. Thunder rolls through the air loudly  and the wind picks up, biting his face with a cold force that seems to resolutely try to push him back.

The wooden bridge is slippery under his feet, but he can’t bring himself to be cautious and just prays that he will not lose his footing as he speeds over it. Ahead of him, Felix disappears around a corner and Changbin wills himself to run faster, feeling an onslaught of panic at the thought of losing him out of his eyes.

He passes the crumbling corner of the house and nearly slips on the muddy, cracked stones beneath. He manages to catch himself somewhat, cursing when he feels the sting of scratched skin in his palm. Through the sputters of rain he sees the blonde head towards an opened door and Changbin can’t take it anymore and yells after him, putting every ounce of will into his words but they do not reach the blonde, the increasing storm around him just drowns his voice out, snuffing his hope like it was nothing worthy of acknowledgement.

He dashes forward, hand outstretched and manages to decrease the distance between them. He catches a piece of the blonde’s drenched coat between his fingers just as the blonde steps through door, but everything is wet and his hand slides off of the fabric no matter how much he doesn’t want it to. The thick metal door falls shut with a loud click and he barely manages to save his wrist from being caught between it. He reaches for the handle but realises that there is none; this door only opens from one side and it wasn’t Changbin’s.

He stares it, not believing his misfortune. This couldn’t really be happening, right? A damned one-way door? He lets his fist fall onto the cold metal, thinking about knocking but quickly realising that metal is just too thick, no one would hear him anyway.

He sighs, hand sliding down the wet material. The cold rain drops fall onto his face without pity and drench his clothes in a fitting end to this chase. Was the whole world against him? Why was it always ending like this, ending in disappointment? He just wanted to talk to him once. Once.

Feeling sad and dejected, he turns around to walk away, away from this damned door and the cold rain. He stuffs his hands into his coat, insides as wet as outsides. Ahead of him, he sees Chan and Jisung running towards him, wearing no jackets and looking as out of breath as he feels. Chan has a big, dark streak of grime running over the whole length of his left side; he must have slipped on the bridge. Jisung, on the other hand, just looks like a wet, scared rat. It’s pitiful and even if Changbin feels like crying and screaming and the unfairness of the situation, just seeing his two friends makes him feel a little better.

The two come to a stop before him, gasping for air. Their faces are cautiously hopeful, that quickly changes though, when Changbin simply shakes his head. Chan’s expression falls and the two sling their arms around his shoulder, trying to give him comfort. Though he suspects that Jisung mostly does it because he is scared as hell. Together, they go back in silence, letting the rain drench them in hopes that it might wash away their unhappy thoughts.

It's only when they arrive back at Jisung’s apartment, that they realise that none of them had thought about taking the key for it with them.

Chapter Text

One rainy and cold autumns eve, Changbin found himself in the flower shop together with Seungmin. Halloween was approaching quick. Thus, they prepared the shop for the holiday: They assembled bouquets decorated with woollen spiders, webs and bats. Orange and yellow flowers found their home next to meticulously carved pumpkins, which engulfed the dimly lit shop in a warm, orange light with the flickering candles that had been placed inside. It smelled like flames and pumpkins; mixed with the rainy taps coming from the roof, it immersed the shop in a soothingly homey atmosphere.

Changbin had made himself comfortable in the back room where he busied himself decorating a pot plant which bore soft, yellow petals while stealing sweets from the Hyunjin-assembled Halloween bowl. Just as he unpacked a random praline, he heard the gentle hum of the door’s bell resound through the shop, announcing that someone had just entered.

Paying it no mind, he listened to the sound of the rain, mixed with a hearty autumn’s breeze and Seungmin’s earnestly friendly voice, as he spoke to whomever had entered. Lost in his thoughts, he played around with a cutely woven bat in his hands, fastening it to the plant’s branches carefully.

A recurrent knocking on the divider lulled him out of his head, thinking that it was Seungmin needing something, Changbin got up and moved to the front, just as he heard the front door fall shut. Standing in the opened doorway, he saw a blonde mop disappearing under an umbrella in front of the shops window. Seungmin, not wasting a moment, unceremoniously shoved him towards the door demanding eyes fixing him; he didn’t need to be asked twice: Opening the door and exposing himself to the cold rain outside, he made to chase after Felix.

He realised quickly that Felix was accompanied by someone else, another guy as it seemed and that they had a big head start. They were sharing the limited space of the brightly coloured umbrella and walking in a fast, nearly rushed pace. Their coats were flapping in the rain and the seams of their jeans were drenched to be dark blue.

He really couldn’t care less if there was someone with Felix. Honestly, he was desperate to finally talk to him, desperate enough that, as of now, even all of his friends knew about Felix. It didn’t matter if there was someone with Felix now, what mattered was, that he reached Felix, that he hugged him and talked to him and finally got his number.

The green, stained apron around his body was loosening from the harsh movements of running and he, desperate and frantic, called Felix’s name as soon as he was in earshot.

The blonde’s head snapped around with a surprised expression, his steps faltered and Changbin, quickening his pace to a speed he wasn’t aware he was able to, reached out his hand towards him. For a second, it looked as if everything would work out. Felix slowed down, reached his hand out as well and the warm touch of their hands meeting thrummed through them. Reflexively, Changbin tried to close his fingers around the blonde’s small ones, but his hand was ripped away before he could do so.

The blonde’s friend, not having realised what was happening, jerked him forwards, nearly making him fall down onto the rain-covered streets. Felix caught himself in the last moment, but was pulled along over the street and just a moment later, the hum of cars accompanied the pattering sound of unrelenting rain, as the traffic light turned green for them once more.

Changbin stopped at the edge of the road, breathing rushed and rain cascading down his face, drenching his hair, apron and clothes. His outstretched hand fell back to his side lifelessly, as his eyes fixed on the blonde.

On the other side of the road, Felix had stopped and turned around, clutching the umbrella in his hands and leaving his friend to walk on in the cold rain alone. Felix looked at him, and Changbin saw an array of emotions pass over the blonde’s face rapidly, before they turned soft and Felix smiled at him, a small, almost invisible smile.

For a moment, he thought Felix might wait for the traffic light to turn green again, but the moment passed when his disgruntled looking companion returned and tugged him along, away from the intersection and away from Changbin.

Their eyes stayed on each other until they couldn’t see the other anymore. Changbin felt cheated, as if fate tried to keep them apart on purpose.

As he stood there, the feeling of a cold chill invaded his body overcame him. Maybe, he thought, maybe they just weren’t meant to be together. The thought alone felt like a knife being pushed into his gut, twisting itself painfully. Dark thoughts filling his mind and heart, he stood in the cold rain, letting it drench him thoroughly.

He barely noticed the soft tug on his arm a while later, nor Seungmin leading him back into the dry comfort of the flower shop, while rubbing his shoulder soothingly.

Chapter Text

Around this time of the year, the park was barely visited by anyone. A cold wind blew between the trees, making the naked branches shake ominously and ripping even the most stubborn leaves to the cold ground.

Last night it had frozen already and while Changbin strolled along the gravel pathway, he could see the soft, white hues of his breath as he exhaled. It was not late, yet the park grew darker steadily around him.

The detour through the park was something he liked taking during autumn days. It was relaxing after a long day of work to just let the wind rustle the leaves around him, let the cold air fill his lungs and his skin be warmed by the cosy fabric of his coat. The rare solitude of these walks helped him calm down and empty his mind of all worries.

As the evening and thus the air grew colder, he cuddled himself further into his thick, black coat and scarf. The grass blades moved softly in rhythm with the breeze and the only sound piercing the quiet was the crunching of his boots meeting the small pebbles underneath.

His mind wandered, as it so often did recently, and lost in his thoughts, he strolled ahead, subconsciously sticking to the pathway while his eyes were unseeingly boring holes into the ground.

It’s been forever since he’d last seen Felix. His feelings were all over the place, he longed to see him again, speak to him, touch him and hug him.

One of his newest, innermost fears was, that Felix would just disappear; that the last time they met, would truly be the last time. Never to be seen again and Changbin’s feelings never to be returned. It was possible, he knew, because they had no means to communicate: All of their meetings had been by chance, maybe even a twisted plan of fate.

Maybe, they were meant to lose each other, to just pine with no means of resolve. It was cruel just to think about it and he quickly banished the disturbing thought.

A pebble suddenly sprung forward, probably having been kicked by his boots. Momentarily being freed from his suffocating thoughts, he watched as it flew ahead, landing mere centimetres in front of him.

And someone else’s shoes.

Changbin stopped abruptly, barely managing to not walk into the person. He looked up, apology already on his tongue but the words never left his mouth: In front of him stood a Felix. A very smiley Felix at that, blonde hair mused and hands buried in his pockets as he watched recognition filter over Changbin’s face.

A moment of silence passed in which Changbin stared open-mouthed at the blonde, whose smile just seemed to grow wider.

“Hey Changbin,” his deep voice washed over him like a hot shower after a long, cold winter’s day.

“Felix?”

The other’s smile widened and he stepped closer, extracting a shaky breath from Changbin whose thoughts fled his head in an instant. The blonde’s eyes searched his face, but before Changbin could question it, he was enveloped in a warm, firm embrace. Two arms slung around his neck and bodies pressed closely to each other.

He hugged the blonde back, arms around his waist and hands resting on his back, pressing him close. It felt good, it felt right; as if they had done it a thousand times already.

Felix rested his head on Changbin’s shoulder with an audible sigh that seemed to express everything he was feeling as well. Gently, he rested his head against the blonde’s in return, breathing in his scent and feeling himself relax more and more with every inhale.

“This is real, right? I’m not dreaming, am I?” he breathed out softly, fearing his words would break the moment.

“It’s real, definitely real,” Felix said, but Changbin barely heard his words, the low whisper tuned in with the silence around them almost perfectly.

“Changbin?”

He hummed in response, but the blonde didn’t speak another word.

Instead, he felt hands slide onto his shoulders, pushing them apart a fraction. Their eyes met effortlessly, like two magnets being pulled to each other. The distance between them remained minimal and Changbin didn’t have it in him to loosen his hold on the other.

The blonde’s eyes shone with happy excitement, lips curled into a grin. It was a beautiful sight.

It looked as if Felix tried to say something, but no sound left his lips. Changbin waited, contending himself with scanning the other’s freckled cheeks and softly carved textures of his face up close.

“Is it naïve to fall in love with a stranger?” Felix asked in a shaky whisper after a felt eternity just as Changbin had reached out and caressed the blonde’s cheek tenderly without much thought.

“If it is, then I am very, very naïve.”

Felix chuckled softly in response, his eyes turning into halfmoons and Changbin’s smile brightened at the endearing sight. He felt a hand slide along his shoulders slowly and softy, as if they were scared but certain at the same time. A warm touch ghosted over his neck and then cheek, before the other’s fingers brushed a  few stray strands out of his eyes.

He felt his heart flop at the touch and slid his hand into the soft blonde hair in return. He leaned in slowly, wanting to kiss him so badly but at the same time not wanting to overdo it; though his worries were for naught when Felix caught one immediately and bridged the small gap between them, bringing their lips together in a chaste and tender kiss without any hesitation.

For a moment it felt as if time was frozen with anticipation; it dissipated when the blonde moved his lips against his, slow and languid movements without any hurry. They kissed, exchanging unspoken feelings and relishing in the closeness they had so long been denied.

It was like coming home; like coming home to a home he hadn’t known existed until this very moment.

As they parted, the blonde rested his forehead against Changbin’s, staying close and finding Changbin’s fingers to intertwine with his own.

“You’ll stay with me?”

“Nothing will keep me from you anymore.”