Utensils clink against porcelain plates as Kun swirls more creamy pasta onto his fork. The restaurant is far more elegant than previous date nights, and, from the looks of it, much more expensive. It's gorgeous, with balcony seating that looks over a waterfall. The floor is a pristine mirror, through which Kun can see elegant shapes and colors. The glasses are delicately set up on the table, two each person, one for a glass of water, and one for wine. Kun picks up his wine glass, and watches the drink drain. Sicheng seems tired; he hasn’t said much. And just as well, Kun isn’t feeling his best either.
He twists the glass in circles, gazing amusedly at the shapes it makes on the surface. Through the glass Sicheng is painted a rose color. Kun would love to take a picture of Sicheng like this, all blushy from the alcohol, encapsulated by a red setting to match.
“Why don’t we forget about dessert? Pay the check, and then we can go home and watch something on Netflix,” suggests Kun.
Sicheng interjects. “The dessert is supposedly to die for. Please, can’t we stay?”
Kun sees no reason to stay, but then again, he sees no good reason to leave. He settles back into his seat, and waits, tapping his fingers impatiently on the table, watching the just as elegant clock on the side tick on and on.
Ten minutes later, a half sphere is placed in front of them, cake with an oozing chocolate center and some edible floral decorations. But something is off. Sicheng takes out his phone, and gently stands it on the napkin dispenser on the side, back camera facing Kun.
“If this is a prank, I swear to god….” He warns the other, who just smiles bashfully, continuing to eye the dessert.
Kun grabs his fork, and he takes a bite, waiting for the cake to blow up in his face.
Nothing. It’s creamy on his tongue, and there's this extra fine layer of sea salt caramel that rests on his tongue just right. He takes one bite after another.
“God, this is so good Sicheng! Don’t you want a-” He stops halfway through the sentence. There’s something shining in the dessert, and it hits the hushed lighting at just the right angle that Kun can tell that it isn't edible gold. He gasps.
“Is that…?” Kun trails off, not wanting to be wrong, yet not wanting to be right either. The diamond in the dessert shines, creating rainbow shapes across the glass floor as Sicheng takes it out of the cream. He wipes it on a napkin gently, gets up and kneels next to Kun’s chair. Kun stands. He can already hear those four words rolling of Sicheng’s tongue,
“Will you marry me?” Sicheng asks, a grin on his face like he already knows what Kun’ll say.
He’s right, as always. Kun says yes; he stands and says yes as if it's the only answer in the world, because he knows the other would break Sicheng’s heart.
The birds are already chirping when Kun walks onto his balcony. He loves to watch the world wake up. The sun will rise soon, but for now, Kun takes out a book to read. He looks towards the rising sun, the spread of colors stretching their fingers across the sky, hoping that he can take his mind off of marriage.
Spoiler alert: it doesn't work.
It's exasperating, how unsure he feels. He always thought he would love the idea of marriage. As a kid, he planned out little weddings between his stuffed animals. The very thought of getting married has always made him want to scream with delight, but there's nothing in Kun's mind to shout to the skies.
Kun doesn't know what to make of it. He’s marrying Sicheng, someone who has been like a controlled variable in the giant experiment of Kun’s life for the past five years. But something's swirling ungratefully in his stomach.
Maybe he just needs some time to get used to the ring and the idea of marriage. The alternative is far too scary to think about.
Before Kun knows it, the sun’s risen to a mid-way point, and Kun needs to leave for work. He considers taking the ring off. But that wouldn't do, considering how quickly word can get around the office. If Sicheng had told Yukhei beforehand, well, everyone would know by now.
He braves the walk, feeling as if all eyes are drawn to the disco ball on his finger. Barely through the doorway of his office, a voice shouts out, “Show us the ring, Kun!”
He suppresses the urge to scamper away. Yuqi and Yukhei stand there, arms crossed, sleeves rolled up, as if this is an interrogation.
“What ring?” He calls out, watching their eyes turn from boastful to disbelief to finally settle on panic. Before they can start rambling excuses, he laughs and holds out his hand, not a single word needed.
As if on cue, other workers burst into their shared break space. Everyone wants to see the ring and hear about the wedding. Kun cannot leave the sprawling masses until he finds an excuse in the pile of work sitting at his desk. Once he gets settled there, he doesn't stop working for four hours, knowing the moment he stands up, he’ll be bombarded with more questions.
Kun sneaks out at lunch time. The barista gives him his coffee and his sandwich without much conversation, and he takes the food to a window side table. There, between bites, he watches the world go on, as if Kun’s life hadn't been completely tipped on its axis.
It’s silly to think that life wouldn't go on after the revelation, but Kun wishes something would give pause so he could think. Because the further he ponders, the more his churning stomach answers all the questions he has.
The wedding plans continue. Between looking at white and blue flowers in fancy catalogues, finding a nice font for cards, and hiring a photographer—there’s no way he’s going to work for his own wedding—Kun has barely enough time to sit down.
He’s pretending to work but actually looking through venues (do they need a water fountain that cascades into a moat-like figure around them?) when a hand slams down on the table. Kun tries, with zero success, to click away from the website.
He looks up expecting a frightening boss looming over his shoulder, ready to fire him because in all honesty, he’s been doing absolutely nothing these past few days.
Instead, he finds Hendrey, who frowns at the sight of Kun. He tries to smooth down his hair so it doesn't look like he hasn't slept for two days. It’s no use. Hendrey knows him too well. Before Kun can even say a word, Hendrey’s shoving a cup of coffee into his hands, and taking his mouse and turning the computer off.
“I’ve arranged it with your boss—you’re taking a break.” Hendrey flips Kun's calendar to August, and circles their wedding date with a smiley face. Kun suppresses the urge to rip the calendar off the wall.
Kun shakes his head. "I can't do that, I've gotta finish up for these clients. We can get milkshakes from that place you love later...I'll treat you?" Kun offers
Hendrey perks up, but then sighs, and lowers his voice. “Don't try to change the subject. You're coming with me and that's final.”
“Fine.” Kun grumbles. He stomps over to his shelves in his cubicle and gets out a few folders to bring home to work on.
Hendrey shakes his head, bemused by Kun’s dramatic nature. “How about a ‘Thanks Hendrey! You’re so great, and I’m going to make you my man of honor at my super awesome wedding, instead of my jerk brother. I love you much more than I’ll ever love him, even if he is my brother’?”
At the sight of Kun’s growing upset expression, Hendrey quickly shakes his head. “I was just kidding. I’m just happy to be at your wedding. I don't mean to make you even more stres-”
“-that’s not what this is about. I’d let you be my man of honor without a doubt,” Kun interrupts, zipping up his jacket.
Hendrey lets out a squeal at this, but quickly sobers up. “Then what’s the problem? Your brother isn’t actually a jerk.” He animatedly paces the small cubicle, tapping a finger to his chin. Kun can see a magnifying glass and a vignette forming the scene.
“And it’s not like you completely hate the thought of getting married…” Hendrey trails at the expression on Kun’s face.
“Let’s talk at your house.” Kun says hurriedly stuffing more papers into his backpack, and finally, hanging his camera around his neck.
At Hendrey’s house, Kun grabs two glasses from the farthest cabinet on the left. He pours sparkling juice into them from the fridge, and grabs a bowl to pour some kettle popcorn as they settle into a romantic comedy.
“No day drinking?” teases Hendrey, pouting. Kun laughs. After a few minutes of watching the incessant flirting between the main character and her love interest—although said main character won't realize until the last thirty minutes of the movie—Kun drops the bomb.
“There's a weird feeling I get every time I think about the wedding.” He says, fast and shaky, staring at the rugged carpet awkwardly. Luckily, after being friends for ten years, Hendrey knows what he just said.
Kun tries to describe it, but the words aren't coming out right; instead, he pulls out a picture from the right pocket of his backpack. “Like this.” He says. It’s a photo Kun took a few weeks ago on a film camera for a client, that accidentally spent too much time being exposed. It’s dark, and blurry but powerful in how well the shadows overwhelm the piece.
Hendrey frowns. “Call off the wedding, then. Sicheng will understand. He loves you.” He says it so naturally, that Kun believes him for a second.
Kun shakes his head. “I should go through with it. I mean, in the end-” His voice gets caught on that word, “-I’ll be marrying Sicheng.”
“Why can't you wait then? What's the rush?” Hendrey taps his fingers against the bowl, trying to make sense of Kun’s words.
“I’m tired of seeing my friends grow up and get married without me. I’m tired of my parents and relatives constantly asking me when it’ll be. And I don't know Hendrey, we're in this weird patch that I want to get out of.” Kun stares straight at the TV and its bright colors, avoiding Hendrey's painful gaze.
“And you think marrying him will solve that?” Hendrey shakes his head. “To me it sounds like things will get worse. You're frightened every time I even mention the mere idea of marriage.” He pats Kun’s hand, and they continue to watch the movie, as if this mind revealing admission had not just been blurted out.
Kun’s forgotten all about it by the end of all three movies. It’s midnight, and Hendrey proposes Kun stay with Hendrey, just like they did in college, so Kun wouldn't get caught sneaking back in his dorm; Hendrey's dorm being far more lenient than his own.
Kun's about to fall asleep when Hendrey speaks up. He drowsily says, “Just please, try not to end up hurting anyone in this process, 'specially you. I hope you know what you're doing.”
"I do." Kun quickly says. His brain says otherwise.
He gets up the next morning, and immediately starts the coffee machine to make himself a cup. He doesn’t want to think about the secrets that are now buried with the house.
Hendrey walks downstairs, eyes half open and yawning every second. He rubs his eyes, nearly stumbles into a column right next to the kitchen door, and sits down at his breakfast counter. Kun turns on the coffee machine and waits to hear the sound of the cup filling before turning back to Hendrey. He slides the now full coffee mug to Hendrey, as well as a slice of toast, and a jar of jam.
The walk to the office is brief. Hendrey gives him a small smile and a hug, with a promise to meet up next week at Kun’s house and something about renting movies from Redbox as if they're still in the early 2000s.
Sicheng is at his desk, feet up on the table. Kun swats them goodnaturedly. “How's my fiancé?” He asks, standing up to pull Kun into a kiss. A kiss that, unfortunately, is captured by several colleagues by the shuttering. Kun looks around, unable to spot a single perpetrator.
Sicheng laughs. “Whoever captured that, send it to me! I’ll put it on our wedding cards and give you credit! Free promo, nice right?” A murmur of agreement fills the room.
“Anyways, I just came to deliver this," Sicheng says after a momentary pause with a blanket from the last time he slept over. He kisses Kun on the cheek again, and leaves the office.
Kun drops to the welcoming chair, and wraps that blanket around his shoulder. Then, he pads over to the coffee stand, where Yuqi is punching the coffee machine into submission.
"Whoa whoa whoa!" Kun says, dropping to his knees to closely check the battered machine. "You don't need to do that. It just wasn't on."
Yuqi looks away, embarrassed as she tries to change the subject, which unfortunately for Kun, is about the wedding. She wants to know about the venue, the decorations, and the food. But, Kun has no idea what to say. Instead, he steers the conversation towards steady waters. "I've been looking for a photographer for the wedding." He hears himself saying. "Would you be up for the position?"
Yuqi grins. "I thought you'd never ask. Oh, and I don't need any sort of payment, you've done so much for me."
Kun tries to refuse, but Yuqi puts her hand up. "I insist. You got me this job, Kun. I want to pay you back."
Instead of trying to force payment again, the cathedral on the corner rings, and Kun realizes he's late to his 10 o'clock appointment. He sprints down three blocks, tripping over loose sidewalk pieces and strollers, tired by the time he gets to the shooting site.
There's a man who's just leaving as Kun enters, and when he sees no one inside, he runs back outside and finds the man, thankfully, standing on the corner, waiting for the light to turn green.
"Hi?" The man says, removing his earbuds.
"I'm...the...photographer?" Kun pants. He tries to regain some composure, clearing his throat. “You must be Ten right?”
Ten’s face lights up, and in a whirlwind, he welcomes Kun back into his studio.
Once they get to the set, Ten goes straight into his vision, no niceties needed other than a slight introduction. He instructs Kun with places to stand and angles to work at, and he doesn't know what to make of it. This is, by far, the least stressful appointment he's had.
Ten even offers him coffee, for dealing with what Ten calls, "his extreme need for everything to go exactly his way".
By the time they finish up, it's about eight at night, and Ten profusely apologizes for keeping him for so long. Kun just laughs it off. He loves seeing such enthusiastic and passionate people at work. It's the very first reason he fell in love with his boyfriend.
This, he mentions to Ten, who quirks an eyebrow. "Boyfriend? Did you buy yourself that ring I've been eyeing this whole time?"
"Oh." Kun says dumbly, and then retracts his statement. "I meant, fiance, I guess, it's all kind of new for me."
Ten nods sympathetically. "It's cute! Just a little…" He trails off.
"A little what?"
"A little...basic?" Kun shrugs. He thinks it's cute. Ten makes a slight noise, and Kun looks over. He's staring at his phone that's lighting up with text messages.
"Is everything alright?" Kun decides to ask.
"Yeah, yeah, I'll see you later." Ten distractedly says, and Kun decides it isn't the right time to mention he 1) doesn't have another appointment with Kun, and 2) therefore, likely won't see him again.
The pictures are breathtaking. There's genuine beauty in all the pictures, and Kun can't wait to tell Ten what he sees. He pulls out his phone, sends a quick text message, does the few touch ups needed, and pulls out an older set of photos from a shoot about a week ago, working on getting it ready for the client he’ll have to see later today. Yukhei calls him to get lunch with him, and Kun leaves.
Ten is at his desk when Kun walks back in after lunch with Yukhei, and he shoves (rather nicely) a warm cup from the nice coffee store downstairs.
“I just...really wanted to see the pictures.” Ten admits and Kun smiles, logging on to his computer and pulling up the folder.
Yukhei, having gotten distracted outside by a cute puppy, finally shows up, and passes by Kun's desk with candy from who knows where. Kun introduces the two.
Yukhei's in the middle of talking about his past weekend downtown checking out a play with Yangyang, when Ten mentions that he has three tickets to a concert downtown, the type of concert that has Kun gaping by only mention of name.
"I'm coming, it's decided!" Yukhei boldly declares.
Kun pushes Yukhei to the side. "I apologize for his bluntness," He shoots a look at Yukhei, who automatically throws his hands up and mutters about how he never wins.
Then, Kun gives a sheepish smile. "But, I guess, if you want us to come with you…that would be pretty cool." Ten laughs at that. After distributing date and time, with Yukhei offering up his place as a meeting spot, Ten goes on his way, and Kun takes a second look at Ten’s pictures.
It’s not just the angle that makes Ten look beautiful; it’s Ten himself, in his element. The brightness of his expression comes off in the pictures as something pure and authentic. Ten knows exactly what he’s doing; he’s paired colors with textures and elegant figures.
He mentions it to Ten in passing as they hand their tickets in to booth at the front later that week. Ten laughs, and shrugs it off as it off as if it’s nothing. A lift of the mouth that disappears far too fast. He’s dragging Kun through the halls before Kun can remark; once they’re inside, Kun barely has the breathe to say a single word.
Gold shimmers in the light, and Kun can’t help but gape at the sight around him. Ten has gotten them spectacular seats. Kun can almost reach the stage with his pinky finger. He takes his seat, Ten in the middle and Yukhei to the side.
The music is too much. Kun's overwhelmed by the soft and loud, by the strings and woodwinds, and the rush of music. He doesn't need lyrics; Kun knows exactly what the musicians on stages are saying. The music is like a little bird about to take flight, frightened and worried. Before he knows it, teardrops splatter down onto his lap. He pretend-yawns to wipe his eyes subtly, but Ten seems to catch on. He brings Kun's hand into his hand, gently squeezing it. The orchestra finishes loudly, slowly growing in speed and sound, and Kun’s on his feet before he even realizes it, applauding.
They part ways after, with a group chat set up and Instagrams exchanged. Kun walks down his street, feeling the warmth from Ten’s hand still surrounding his.
Once he gets to his doorstep, he brings his key up to the door, and finds it already unlocked. Slowly, he cautiously opens the door, waiting for the inevitable to jump out. The lights are on, but nothing seems to be moving, and Kun loosens his grip on his bag slowly. He probably just forgot to lock the door in all his excitement.
Passing the living room, he swears he sees a figure in his red armchair, and is two steps up the stairs before he turns around and peaks again. Sicheng’s there, his arms crossed, dozed off. Kun giggles. He looks so small, legs crossed and scrunched up. Kun brings a blanket up to his chin. He doesn’t want to wake him up.
While leaving the room, Kun manages to trip over the bookshelf in the corner. “Shoot,” he mutters under his breath. Sicheng wakes up, and stretches with a yawn.
“Kun?” He’s bleary-eyed, but his eyebrows are furrowed, and it offsets Kun for a moment.
“I was waiting for you. Made you dinner and stuff.” He yawns again, and Kun looks towards the kitchen, seeing a pan in the sink. Kun makes his way towards the kitchen, and Sicheng pulls himself out of the chair, shaking off his sleepiness.
He plunks into a chair, and Kun warms up two plates. Sicheng gets out the utensils, and Kun finds himself relaxed. He’s been with Sicheng for four years now, and things easily fall into place, day in, and day out.
As they eat, Sicheng asks about his day, and Kun replies with a smile, glad to be talking for once and not in uneasy silence. He talks about going to see the show with Yukhei and Ten, and before he knows it, Sicheng’s cheeks are burning bright red. He mumbles something under his breath, and from across the table, Kun can’t hear him.
“What?” He gently asks, and Sicheng looks up at Kun, straight in the eye.
“I said,” Sicheng’s teeth are gritted. “I’m glad you had fun while I was waiting, watching the food get cold, at home.”
Kun’s mouth falls open at the angry response. He sputters out a response, but nothing truly comes out. He tries to calm his rising feelings down. It’s obvious that Sicheng is upset over something else, because he’s never reacted this strongly before. And this, he tries to say softly to Sicheng, who just sighs and rubs his forehead.
“You’re right, I guess,” Kun can tell from his tone that he’s still annoyed.
“Look,” Kun is so tired, too tired to care about what he’s saying. “I don’t think you should be here tonight. We can’t go to bed like this. Why don’t you go home; I’ll call you an Uber?”
Sicheng seems to catch himself after that. He nods solemnly, and Kun takes that as a sign to call the Uber. He lets Sicheng go out alone, and instead busies himself by washing grapes, ignoring the sadness threatening to spill into the open.
The next week, he received a letter in the mail from Ten, an invitation to the opening on his fashion line.
As he sits right in front of the runway, he wonders if this is the life he would’ve had, traveling around the world, keeping up with the latest. He wonders if he would have made it this far if he left everything else behind.
Ten’s designs are a flurry of colors prancing around. It’s unmistakably Ten’s, and the colors spell out another element: hard work.
Kun can almost imagine Ten scrambling backstage, still making the slightest of adjustments, pairing jewelry with shoes and then taking them out. He sees a darkened figure behind the curtain, peering out into the audience, and Kun will bet hundreds of dollars that it’s Ten.
The lights come up once the show’s over, and Kun meets up with Yukhei. Outside, they wait to congratulate Ten. By the time Ten gets to them, it’s deserted. They invite him out to celebrate, and instead of declining like Kun assumes he would, Ten shrugs, smiles, and says, “Why not?”
Outside, Kun spins out on abandoned streets, hearing yelps of joy behind him as Ten and Yukhei try to catch up. There’s a nearby cafe open, twenty-four hours, and Kun runs across the street, not even watching for cars. He feels like he’s floating. Yukhei and Ten make it after him, and a small bell dings as they enter. There’s no one else inside, and Yukhei makes a run for the bathroom as Ten and Kun settle down in chairs towards the window. The cafe is dusty and small, and the lights barely shine enough to see in front of Kun.
And it's seeing Ten in this dusty yellow light that makes his realize that his heart is beating fast even after they stopped running thirty minutes ago and how his stomach is sprouting butterflies not because of some strange reason, but something he's known deep in his heart this whole time. His gaze drops to the ground, and he can't look at Ten, afraid he's giving everything away. Yukhei comes back from the bathroom, and Ten mutters something about an early morning appointment, stumbles over his feet leaving, and promptly hails a taxi to Hendrey's house.
Hendrey looks like he wants to smack Kun at first glance for showing up so abruptly into the night. But he takes one look at his face, and sighs, inviting him in.
Kun flops onto his couch, eyes glazed over and staring up at the ceiling. Hendrey doesn’t say anything. He sits and waits.
“I found someone.” Kun whispers into the dead silence, watching the words float and disappear into Hendrey’s heart and brain. “I found someone that I’ve known barely a fiftieth of the time I’ve known Sicheng and already he’s deep in my heart. I don’t know who he wants but all I know is that being with him is like driving in the middle of the road late at night, watching bright car lights shine and fade, the swing of wind that gets going and the music on an endless cycle. I don’t know what it’s about, but there’s something alluring, fuzzy around my brain. I want to spend my time with him. I don’t understand now why I could have ever thought Sicheng was the one for me.”
Hendrey cocks an eyebrow. But he still doesn’t say anything. And Kun wants him to say something, anything to make himself feel better. He can’t stand the radical silence between them.
Hendrey stretches, and gets off the sofa. “So, when are you going to tell Sicheng?” The shock across Kun’s face is obvious enough that Hendrey knows exactly what Kun will say next.
“You don’t know what to do, do you?” Kun shakes his head. He doesn’t, and now that he’s here, with Hendrey, he doesn’t know if he really should do anything about it. What if this is just a little thought, fading away as quick as the daily sunset?
Hendrey sighs. “Kun, why did you come over?” And it takes everything for Kun not to begin bawling.
“I don’t know.” Kun manages to spit out. He avoids looking at Hendrey now. There’s something odd on his face that Kun can’t recognize. Furthermore, there’s something more odd in the way the lights are left on in the bedroom, and way plates are dumped in the sink without much care.
“Shit,” Kun breathes in, breathes out, and wonders when he became such a bad best friend. “You have someone over, don't you?” Hendrey merely shrugs. But Kun's reeling now. His cheeks are spotted red; how the hell did he ever thinking barging in constantly was a good idea? He tries to think back, back to their last movie night together, to the lunch before it. Kun tries to think about a time in the past few weeks that Hendrey had talked about what he was doing, who he was meeting up with.
Nothing. And the shame in that very thought, brings Kun to a standing position. Taking steps back, he stammers, “I think I’m going to leave now.”
Hendrey does nothing to stop him. Watching him leave.
Kun doesn’t know what else to do, so he goes home. He takes his bag, runs home hanging his head. Alone, in the dark hallway, Kun finally lets his exhausted tears lay down. The doorbell rings, and Kun pries the door open, knowing that whatever may lay beyond that door will never cause as much pain as he's feeling right now.
It's Yuqi, holding an entire cake. She slowly drops it to the kitchen counter before hesitantly patting Kun's shoulder.
“You know that you're hosting the office dinner tonight...right?” The look on Kun's face shows that he has absolutely no idea what she means. She sighs, mutters a “must I do everything?”, and types frantically on her phone.
“Don't worry, I called everyone off with some excuse about you and Sicheng being on a date and not even at home.”
Even the sound of Sicheng's name gets him worked up.
He finds himself gripping the kitchen counter. Closer and closer to the edge of falling apart, legs trembling. It shouldn’t hurt this much , he tries to tell himself, if you don’t actually like Sicheng . But either he pulls seems to create an avalanche.
He tells her the whole story, front to back, each word carefully announciated between sniffles.
Yuqi shakes her head at his last word, and pulls out her camera. Before she shows Kun her viewfinder, she mentions, “I definitely think that there's something different about you two.”
She shows him the the pictures. And at first, Kun can’t see a difference. All he can see is Ten and Sicheng, both respectfully in their own photos, staring at Kun. He warms at the sight of Sicheng, his hand around Kun’s smiling, laughing, talking, trying to get a smile from Kun. He melts at the sight of Ten looking at Kun walking towards him that huge smile on his face, like he’s ready to pull Kun towards one of his silly ideas.
“I think,” She says slowly, “there's a difference in the way Ten looks at you.”
Kun tries to look at the pictures again. He pretends as if he isn't in the picture, as if his emotions are wholeheartedly involved. He looks like he would as a photographer.
And perhaps, there is something special.
Kun knows he has things to do. Last night, after Yuqi had left, he sat down and wrote a to-do list. However, that does not mean he needs to be automatically making progress of them right now. At least, that's what he tells himself. He makes the choice instead, to have fun, watching the last few days of autumn fade away.
Another week passes. And Kun's tearing his hair over what to do now because god damn it, the wedding's only a month away and he still has no idea what to do with everything. The checklist that Kun made a few weeks ago is still left unchecked, wrinkling at the bottom of his bag. For the time being, he tries to breathe. He focuses on the good things in life.
The carnival’s in town, and he watches Ten (with shockingly good aim) pitch balls at milk bottles, knocking them down first try. Ten wins a stuffed bear, and proceeds to bring it with him on all the rides. Watching Ten gives him happiness. His face lights up at the sight of the amusement around him.
And the sunset that ends the day is glorious. Strings of purples and pinks spread across the carnival. Kun is insistent on being cliche and ends up dragging Ten onto the Ferris Wheel. He’s taking pictures of the sky, when, from out of nowhere, a hand lifts the camera off of his neck.
“Let me take a few pictures!” Ten says, gesturing to Kun to sit on the other bench. The camera feels so vulnerable, aimed straight at Kun. He looks straight at it, before somehow getting flustered, and looking around, instead of directly at it.
Instead of showing Kun the pictures, Ten looks at them himself, with a blush on his cheeks and a smile on his face. Kun thinks he knows what Ten's thinking. He prays it’s what he thinks.
He’s mid-coffee break with Sicheng. Their order rings and Kun stands up to get the tray of pastries and drinks. They had just looked at wedding venues for the fourth time, and Kun’s ready to just agree with whatever Sicheng says.
When he gets back, Sicheng's holding something in his left hand, and Kun tries to set down the tray as quietly as possible, ignoring his shaking hands. He hopes it isn't what he thinks it is.
“Break up with Sicheng.” He sneers, dropping the paper to the ground. “Is that all I am to you? A bullet point on a check-list crumpled up?”
He can’t find the words to say anything. They’re all stuck in his throat, like tea leaves in the drain. It’s dumb, strikingly so, that Kun has been preparing a speech for this moment, and yet, he can’t say anything. He just watches Sicheng rip his backpack from the couch and take long strides towards the door. By the time Kun has opened his mouth, there’s nothing left before him but two cups on a tray, one on it’s side and the other close to falling off.
Sicheng’s gone, and Kun doesn’t know how to get himself back on track. He’s dropping down into an abyss. Sometimes he wonders if all he does is ruin the people around him. And for a while, it truly does seem that way. No one reaches out.
Kun can just see the work growing on his desk at work. He can see the questioning looks that Yukhei and Yuqi have, or perhaps, if Sicheng’s told them anything, the quiet simmering confusion.
Kun’s on his fifth “sick” day when he hears a knock on the door.
When he opens it, Ten’s standing there. Ten brushes past Kun, as if he owns the apartment.
“What are you doing here?” Kun asks, his voice scratchy and wrong.
Ten smiles and acts like nothing’s wrong. “I heard you were sick! I came to give you my company.”
All of sudden, Kun’s very aware of how dirty his apartment. The dishes in his old sink are stacked high and there’s random papers and things of all sorts flung everywhere.
Nevertheless, Ten travels like a whirlwind, and he's inside and making himself at home before Kun can even make an excuse.
He puts on a movie, and Kun reluctantly sits close by. It’s the one Kun watched beforehand with Hendrey. Everything is different this time. Kun’s far more sensitive to subtle way the main character looks at the love interest, like there's nothing else to see.
Half way through the movie, Kun turns to take a teeny tiny look at Ten. And Ten?
He's right there, staring right back with eyes that flame with desire.
Kun presses a kiss to Ten's lips. And it's awkward, sure, because Ten seemed to be mid-talking. But, there's something crisp and soft in there too. It feels right, like Kun’s cuddled up in a sweater and blanket sitting next to a fire during the blistering cold winter.
Ten pulls them apart to take a fresh breath of air, and Kun sits there, unable to process what he’s just done. How will this affect him? His breathing feels shallow now, and he feels almost disgusted with himself. Ten’s looking at him with something distinct in his eyes, and Kun diverts his eyes towards the side, where the television is blaring a happy ever after ending.
Ten still hasn’t said anything after five, ten minutes, and Kun holding himself back, a blank face against the white wall. Twenty minutes pass by, and now Kun’s wondering how much longer the air will be filled with something far too awkward. He shifts uncomfortably.
Kun’s still close enough that he can hear when Ten gulps. He opens his mouth, and Kun turns to look at him. There’s still an indistinguishable look on his face.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but you have a fiance, right?”
“Had a fiance.” Kun corrects him, his mind still blank.
Ten nods slowly, and says, “So you won’t mind if I kiss you again?” Kun’s eyes bulge out. He stutters out a “Yeah,” and watches as take two happens.
And perhaps he still has loads of problems to fix with the people dearest to him. Perhaps he needs to work on his communication skills. But, for right now, Kun takes his sweet time with Ten, making the best of it all.
Somehow, he knows, before all four years of dating, before engagement and marriage and children, that this is where he's meant to be.