"Gameday!" cries Yeonjun for about the seventh time. It’s getting annoying so Soobin just sighs and rolls his eyes. “I’ve been waiting for weeks, finally!”
Soobin shakes his head. He's known plenty of sports nuts in his life – hell, he's related to a couple of them – but his roommate can be somewhat of a...fanatic. To the point that he's currently got war paint striping across both sides of his face. And luck would have it that he'd end up rooming with Soobin, who hated baseball – or any sports unless it’s breathing – with all his might. It’s been years and he still can't quite muster up the energy to be more than vaguely interested.
Then again, with what Soobin has seen so far at Yonsei, Yeonjun seems maybe closer to the norm than he is.
They mill into the stadium with a couple of their other friends, Taehyun and Beomgyu and maybe one or two of Yeonjun’s friends, Soobin can't keep track in the thick press of blue and maize that's crowding around them. Someone steps on Soobin's foot – these are new boots, thank you very much! – and he wonders how he let Yeonjun talk him into all of this, anyway. Well, no, that's a lie. Once they're in the stadium, he really doesn't mind. Soobin may not come for the baseball, but he comes for the socializing for sure. Soobin loves his new college friends, and he loves spending time with them almost as much as he loves hours of Skype with his brother Seokjin, or his twice-monthly lunch dates with his big sister. And he loves Yonsei too, the bright sprawling campus is close enough (but not too close) to home and his family, and he loves, as far as he's experienced, the musical theater department. With the possible exception of a little more money or a less baseball-crazed roommate, Soobin has pretty much everything he could ask for.
Well. Except. Maybe.
As they all file into a row they've finally found enough seats in, Soobin looks kind of sidelong at Beomgyu and Taehyun, maneuvering through it all hand-in-hand, and okay, maybe he's a little jealous. Soobin hasn't dated since high school, not with any seriousness anyway. Knee-deep in the musical theater crowd there have definitely been a couple of guys who've been interested, but there's this spark, this deep-rooted something that Soobin knows any boyfriend of his has got to have, and no matter where he looks he has yet to find it. He knows what it looks like, he's seen it once before – well.
But that was high school.
"Damn," says Yeonjun, "I should've gotten some snacks before we sat all the way down."
"Don't eat now," Taehyun snaps bitingly, "You'll just shit yourself from excitement."
"Anyway," Beomgyu tries to rail down the convertation, "We're going to trounce these fuckers pretty pathetically hard, so even if you do have to get up later you probably won't miss much."
"Or I'll go, later," he says, shrugging. "No great loss for me." As long as no one steps on my boots again, he adds silently.
"Good lookin' out, Choi," says Yeonjun. He slings an exuberant arm around Soobin's shoulders, setting askew his already fashionably-askew royal blue knitted scarf, and just as he's about to open his mouth to scold his boisterous roommate, the stadium loudspeakers pierce the air with an earsplitting whine of microphone feedback.
"Ladies and gentlemen," begins the smooth commentator voice, and that's when they get a little confused, because the field is still empty.
"Wait, where's the band?" says Yeonjun.
"Don't they have a competition, or something?" says Beomgyu. "I thought—"
But Soobin isn't listening. He can't hear them, because the field is not empty, the field in fact contains one very specific person. Soobin hears "Kyung Hee University sophomore and choral department student executive member Huening Kai," and all other sound drops out of his ears entirely.
He's standing in the middle of the stadium and from his seat at this height he looks so small, so far away, that Soobin can barely see him. Dark fluffy hair. Pale skin. Colorful jacket. Just him. There is something unmistakable about the way he moves, though, as he bobs and shuffles with the microphone, and once he opens his mouth to sing there is, of course, no doubt. Soobin's pretty sure the national anthem is one of the most boring songs that can possibly be sung, but carried on Kai's thick, crystal-clear voice – somehow even more sharply refined, shockingly pure, than the last time Soobin heard it, which shouldn't be possible – Soobin thinks he could listen to it for years.
You could have listened to it for years, a cruel voice in the back of his head says, as he stands enraptured even after all his friends have sat back down, through the flyover and everything. It could have been yours.
It could have. He could have.
But he wasn't.
"If we've thought about this. If we're sure we want this, and it's not just that we want something—"
"—and if we're not just two lonely queers in highschool grasping at the one and only good thing we've kind of got—"
"—and look, Kai, if we just keep doing what we're doing, no matter how good it feels like it is, we'll never know, you know?"
"Is this—are you…. breaking up with me?"
"No I’m— "
"You’re breaking up with me, aren’t you?"
"I'm not breaking up. I'm just...”
Someone touches his arm and Soobin kind of snaps out of it. He realizes that at some point he must have sat down, and that he's missed the kickoff, and has no idea what's really going on anymore, except that he's been staring at the one little spot where Kai had stood, and that he very suddenly needs way more air than his crowded row is offering up to him.
"You guys want those snacks?" he manages, and when Taehyun and Yeonjun cheer him with a resounding hell yeah Soobin gets up and picks his way through the rest of the row to an exit as quickly as possible.
The line at the concession stand is heinously long, but Soobin files in and waits, wasting his time by trying to come up with what exactly it is that everyone's going to want – fully-loaded hot dogs for Yeonjun and Taehyun, definitely, and as stupid as it is to give Yeonjun any more caffeine he'll probably want a Cherry Coke too. Beomgyu likes popcorn, and Soobin bets he'll share with Taehyun too because that's just the kind of annoying-cute couple they are, and now Soobin is thinking about couples again, and now Soobin feels like shit, and now he must be hallucinating because he's pretty sure the person four places ahead of him in line just called his name in a terrifyingly familiar voice and no. No.
"Choi Soobin?" the voice repeats, and Soobin cranes his head slowly around the people standing between them to look, and there he is, still those couple centimeters shorter than Soobin, and still with an absolute killer smile. His hair's a little longer than he wore it in high school, all fluffy and soft his bangs fall around his eyes. Kai looks... pretty. So fucking pretty. And just like that, Soobin is a puddle on the floor.
(Thankfully not in a literal sense.)
"Kai," he says, with some weird tone in his voice that he's definitely not doing on purpose. "Wow. Hey."
"You're like, legit the last person I ever thought I'd see here," says Kai, and his speech is just affected enough that Soobin can't tell if he's joking or not. "What are you doing here?"
Soobin tugs at his scarf. "I'm a loyal fan, of course," he says, gaining a little bit more control back over himself as he does so, and letting his eyes scan across Kai's cheeks where someone (with very nice craftsmanship too) has makeup'd the scrawling scarlet letters KYUNGHEE on both sides. Even with the facepaint Soobin can still see a bright, natural rosy flush underneath.
Kai laughs and makes a hissing-at-the-villain sort of noise. "We’re rivals then!"
“Nice to meet you too, dear rival.” He tries to joke, but he doesn’t know if it’s enough to mask his nervousness off.
“Wow,” Kai laughs, and dammit even his laugh sounds fucking pretty. “I still can’t believe you go to watch a baseball game willingly.”
"I love my friends and they love baseball, so I compromise. Besides it’s not as boring as I thought it was," he says, honestly.
"I'm glad," says Kai. They fall into a strained, awkward silence, like they're a couple of freaking teenagers (well, Soobin's still twenty, Kai's probably still eighteen, so technically they are, he figures, but still), and during the lull Kai shuffles back to Soobin through the line and lets the people between them cut ahead. They are suddenly very, very close, and those little bits of control Soobin's managed to regain in the past thirty seconds threaten to fly away again.
They speak at the same time before pausing at the same time too. And cue the total silence. Soobin wants to dig a hole and bury himself alive.
"So, what are you doing here?" Soobin finally manages to say without chocking. "How'd you get a gig this crazy, singing like that?"
Kai's face lights up like it always does when he's excited to talk about something. Soobin wonders what it means that he still knows and recognizes that about him.
"It was really lucky of me, actually, I can't believe it worked out as well as it did.” He smiles widely. And fuck he still has that gummy smile he loved – loves – so much. “Both schools knew about the band thing, and they were looking for someone to do it, and so Yunho just kind of told the coach about me and I guess the coach told some of the higher-up people because next thing I knew I was standing there for an audition, and I got it in like two seconds, which is insane."
It is pretty insane, but Soobin's stuck on one word of the story, a few clauses back. "Yunho?"
"Oh. Yeah. He's on the team," Kai explains, explaining basically nothing because Soobin got that, thanks. "And I guess it kind of pays to have dated someone on the team."
"Oh," says Soobin.
"That was before he made the team though," says Kai with a small laugh. "We're just, we're still friends, and stuff."
"Right." he manages to bite out and it's suddenly really awkward. Why is it awkward? It's been two years, so what if he has a boyfriend? It’s not like Kai isn’t allowed to date other people just because Soobin hasn't—
Maybe that's it.
Because see, Soobin gets a good look into Kai's pretty eyes right then, and he gets kind of... lost in them. And that's definitely awkward, more than the high-schooler stilted silence, more than the concept of Kai having dated in college, because what happens then is that Soobin kind of realizes that he's still in love with him. That maybe he was always in love with him. That breaking up and letting go back at highschool was maybe the stupidest thing he ever did, and that coming to this baseball game even though he doesn't really like baseball and going to get concessions even though he doesn't really like waiting in line has been, well, pretty damn smart.
"Right," he says again, as if that's going to fix things, as if it's going to hide the giant grin that's doing its best to creep across his face at the mere concept of Kai standing right next to him, looking amazing, smelling amazing, oh fuck he’s so damn whipped.
"Hey, look, we're next," says Kai, as they hit the front of the line, "What are you getting?"
"I am getting," Soobin pauses, and for a split of second he thinks about what he’s about to do before he decides that he doesn’t want to think at all. "—the fuck out of here."
Soobin digs his fingers into the wool of Kai's coat around his bicep, thrilling a little at the contact, and drags him away from the line, out through the catacombs of the stadium, straight to the outside. Kai trails after him, confused, but doesn't for even a moment seem to resist, and as Soobin notices that the thrill inside him swells a little, and thrums a little harder, along with his thudding feet, and his pounding heart. There are crowds everywhere that he has to press through but Soobin doesn't even care about his boots anymore because as soon as they've gotten to a place that he finally deems acceptable in some weird subconscious part of his head, Soobin swivels Kai around and just kisses him hard on the mouth.
Their lips slot together like Kai's a piece of himself that Soobin never knew he was missing, and Kai mewls into their kiss, his already rosy cheeks turning into a shade of beetroot. That only fuels his desire and Soobin doesn’t wait to invade his mouth, getting his toungue inside, deepening the kiss and pressing their body closer. It’s endearing how Kai huffs his shoulders up in shock and tries to figure out where to put his hands, before settling for curving them around the sides of Soobin's face, freezing cold, a sharp beautiful sensation that just fits somehow. The kiss goes deeper and deeper and they cling tighter and tighter and just when Soobin thinks that he might do something really embarrassing like starting to cry, Kai pulls off his mouth and just leans their foreheads hard together, his puffs of breath swirling with Soobin's as they breathe each other's air.
"Soobin-hyung," Kai whispers between bated breath, his hands have fallen from his face to grip at his shirt. "W-What was—what was that for?"
“I’m just, I’m—” he rakes a hand through his hair, “Fuck, I’m sorry. I didn’t know what came over me. I shouldn’t – I shouldn’t have done that.”
Kai lets go of his shirt, his lips quivering. “….what’s that supposed to mean?”
Fuck, is he going to cry? he thinks. Choi Soobin you fucking Idiot.
“No, fuck,” He pulls the boy into a tight hug. “Please don’t cry. I’m sorry, Ning. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“Then why? Why would you kiss me if you’re going to—”
“I can’t help it!”
“I can’t help it, okay?" Soobin whispers, and there's a hot trickle slipping between his cheek and Kai's hand, and oh what fresh hell he is he one crying instead. "I – I missed this. I miss you."
"Me too," Kai assures him, wiping his tears away with a sweet, soothing thumb, and even this is something Soobin remembers about them. It's so easy to forget that Kai has seen him like this before – that Kai has seen him in pretty much every possible emotional state before, and has never once judged, or flinched away. Has actually more frequently gone over the top in the other direction, which sometimes got pretty annoying and coddling but is right now exactly perfect.
Because Kai isn't perfect. But he's probably perfect for Soobin.
They kiss again, softer, slower, half as long, and then pull away entirely, though they stay close, shuffling against each other on the sidewalk. "We're missing the game," Kai says weakly.
"The game can go to hell, I don’t want to let you go yet." Soobin says, and then slips his hand into his waist and starts pulling him along. "Come on, I've got a better idea."
His better idea is his car in the parking lot, with the back hatch dropped down so they can lay side-by-side and stare up at the sky, swirling clouds fading into streaking colors and then twinkling stars as the sun sets on frosty sky. Sometimes they talk, trying to catch up on the years they so stupidly threw away. (Kai's a music major with a minor in business, and his sister recently had a job; Soobin is in senior year, juggling both music theater and drama. He recently adopted a stray dog and named him Sean.) Sometimes they kiss, and touch, snuggled into one another, trying to keep warm. Sometimes they just lie there content in each other's presence, and Soobin thinks that's probably the most awesome part about it, that they can even do that even after what happened. Soobin guesses it’s because they're older and smarter and so much more calm about it, but amazingly, brilliantly, no less in love, and that is kind of perfect.
(He gets a couple of angry texts from Beomgyu about the absence of their snacks and totally ignores them. They can get food when the game's over. This can't wait.)
“Hyung?” Kai mumbles into Soobin's neck after a time, ruffling the fringe on his scarf with his hot breath.
"I have a confession to make,"
"And what is that, exactly?"
"I may have... totally known you were coming today."
"I may have stalked you through your brother's Facebook," he continues, smushing his face deeper into his scarf to hide his red face and fuck he’s so cute. "A-And I may have kind of pulled a ridiculous number of strings to make sure I was singing at this game today, because I didn't know how else to get your attention, after all this time. Because I may, kind of, still in love with you."
It actually takes him a moment to say something. To be honest Soobin can't imagine what kind of craziness that must have taken, and is kind of mindbogglingly impressed and flattered and touched at the knowledge that Kai would go through all of that, just for him. He grins, but only because he knows Kai can't see it, and twines his fingers into the boy’s soft hair.
“Why would you go that far? I hurt you, Ningning.” Soobin whispers as he runs his fingers through Kai’s soft hair in a soothing motion. “I broke your heart.”
Kai pauses for a second before he says quietly. “You did. But see? You fix it once again. And I trust you to not break it this time.”
"You know that I wouldn’t," he says fondly, "I would rather die than hurt you again, trust me."
There's an almost palpable change in the air around them when the game lets out. The exuberant screaming gets louder now that it's not quite so far away, and everything around them seems a little bit more alive as people start milling out to their cars, abuzz with victory or agitated with defeat.
"You should...probably go find your friends," says Kai, reluctant, as he disentangles himself from the warmth of Soobin's body and sits up to stretch out. “The match is already done.”
"I'll walk you back first," says Soobin, rising with him.
Kai pulls a face and pouts. "Hey, I didn't think I still looked like the new lost lamb like I was back in high school—"
"Shut up," Soobin laughs. "After two years of being a bonehead in the bad way, at least let me have one moment of being a bonehead in the good way."
"Fine. But we’re going to hold hands and that’s final."
And it's okay, thinks Soobin, because he isn't quite sure the younger boy could have exactly found his way back from way his car is parked, considering how little attention they are paying on the way there. It somehow seems to take less time on the return path, probably because Soobin isn't so eager for the destination. In yet another freakishly lucky turn of events, they've barely been standing by the exit (trying awkwardly to make themselves say the goodbyes they don't really want to say) for about twenty seconds before Yeonjun, Beomgyu and Taehyun come thundering out of it.
They don't look happy.
"Help me," Soobin hisses to Kai, trying to stay inconspicuous.
"You’re on your own, hyung." he says with a teasing smile and fuck that smile is the prettiest smile he’s ever seen how could he get mad when he’s faced with that smile?
"Choi Soobin!" shouts Beomgyu, noticing him first. "Where the fuck were you?"
Soobin bites his lip and feels his face flush a little. "C-Catching up. With an old friend."
"Your cheeks are red," he says with a frown.
He scowls at them. "Oh, shut up. You and Taehyun have been disgustingly couply all day, give me a moment."
"No," says Beomgyu, "Your cheeks are like, actually red." He glances from Soobin to Kai and Soobin sees a little wash of realization splash over his face. "Are you...?"
The realization hits Soobin too, and he turns slowly to look back at Kai, who, sure enough, has only smears of scarlet where the crisp detailed writing on his face used to be. Belatedly it occurs to Soobin that making out with him all afternoon has probably transferred some of the facepaint over onto his own face, and that he has now been branded with Kyunghee’s color, which is practically a fate punishable by death. Frantic, he reaches up to wipe it off before—
Before Yeonjun and Taehyun show up.
"Unacceptable!" Taehyun shouts in outrage. There’s small little puff of air coming out from his nose and all.
"What?" Yeonjun demands. "Did you find Soobin?"
"Yeah, plus his Kyunghee boyfriend!" says Beomgyu.
"KYUNGHEE?!" screams Yeonjun, stumbling into the group of them. "What is this bullshit I'm hearing, Choi Soobin?"
"Look at him!" Beomgyu says, pointing. "This traitor got red all over his face!"
"Guys, for fucks sake, chill." Soobin says, making an apologetic face at Kai, but Kai's just laughing right on with them.
Yeonjun folds his hands in front of his chest arrogantly. “How dare you to tell us to chill, Mr. traitor.”
"Oh, whatever," he shouts back in mock annoyance. "What's the score here?" He takes out his phone and scrolls through an app or two before landing on something. "Seventeen to twenty-five? And you're trying to talk?"
"Fuck Kyunghee!" Beomgyu screams into the night, and the others rally around him. Soobin buries his head and noses into the line of Kai's jaw, exhausted, and also smearing the red across their faces even more.
"And these are the people I choose to call my friends," he murmurs into Kai's ears. “I’m sorry on the behalf of these idiots.”
"They look great," Kai says with a small giggle. "You look great. Are you gonna call me, or what?"
"Don’t worry, I will probably text you nonstop, like six times a day for five weeks," says Soobin, "—before awkwardly asking you out via song in the middle of a crowded hallway, I guess."
That steals another giggle from him. "You still remember that? I knew that one would come back to bite me in the ass."
Soobin kisses him, soft and thick and pretty wonderful, all things considered, the warmth from Kai curling all through him and down to his toes in the chilly evening air.
"Traitor!" says Yeonjun.
"Shame on you!" says Taehyun.
As they slowly break apart, Soobin lets his hands stray, and then quick as lightning reaches up, whips off his royal blue scarf and flips it around Kai's neck instead of his own. Before he can protest, Soobin's running off away from him, back into the thick of his friends, who are all suddenly laughing and clapping him on the back for sticking the Kyunghee’s student with their own color.
"Don't get cocky!" hollers Yeonjun.
Beomgyu adds; "We'll get you next time! That’s a promise!"
Next time, Soobin mouths to Kai, with a wink and a sidelong grin. Kai ties the scarf tighter and heads back to his place, and Soobin's friends spirit him away back to campus. They'll go out and party and drink and lament their defeat, but Soobin will curl up in his own bed, with a book and a smile, trying to figure out how long he can go without washing the red facepaint off his face.