“You want me to what?!” Jaewon yelps, staring at Nari.
“You heard me,” Minyoung crosses her arms to glare at Daehyun. “Dress up as me for a day.”
“No buts! You owe me a favor,” Nari presses. Jaewon frowns.
“Then I’m going to need to fill you in! There’s only one thing that matters!” Minyoung beams.
“The whore with blonde hair is called Nari-“
“The slut with dyed brown hair and a nose job is Minyoung-“
“-and she is a complete fucking bitch.”
Jaewon fiddles with the brown wig, and feels the makeup applied by his best female friend. He can not believe he’s sneaking into an all girls school to take an advanced biology test for Nari, but here he is.
He can’t wait to get out of here.
“Nari!” A pretty girl with pink hair clips runs up to her. It’s Rose!
She grabs Jaewon by the arm and pulls him through the halls.
“N-noona-“ Jaewon hisses in her ear. Rose shakes her head.
“Don’t worry, I know. Here’s the deal, stick with me all day, got it? The test is third.”
“Nari is so lucky I like her,” Jaewon grumbles. Rose fixes him with a look.
“You’d do this for a complete stranger.”
Daehyun hates everything. Yoomi and Koko are hanging off his arms, helping keep the act up. Yoomi scoffs, hair swinging with the way she shakes her head.
“Ugh, look at Nari and Rose. The bitches. Minnie told you about them, right?”
Nari is really pretty.
Being pansexual is suffering because fuck-
He’s supposed to fake hate a hot girl? He’s a normal, hormonal, teenage mess!
“Not going after Minnie, today? What? Slept for a grade and too tired?” Koko coos. Daehyun fights a choke. Girls can be... really mean. There’s some talking between
“Answer her!” Yoomi demands. There’s a gathering crowd and Nari rolls her eyes.
“I have a test to pass and unlike your bitchy best friend, I have shit to do if I want to pass my classes fairly. Fuck off.”
And with a swing of her hair, she turns to leave. Rose saying something really excitedly and Nari looking uncomfortable. But she actually turned that on Minyoung?
What a bitch.
A girl, pale but not quite as pale as Minyoung herself, with long blonde hair and a pretty but forgettable face jumped up to yell at them.
He took a deep breath.
He could hear his mother, now. ‘ Be bold, Jae-yah, because timidity gets you nowhere.’
He smiles and delivers the most Jun-like retort he can. Turns the tables, leaves a dropped jaw or two. And leaves.
Bold, confident, lips pulled in a smirk, like the nameless girl’s insult was adorable.
And oh, oh if that can’t be hot as hell.
His mother always said that confidence was attractive.
And, given the way Minyoung’s jaw drops for the smallest of seconds? Jaewon knows that she’s damn right.
Daehyun sits through the test. Minyoung always feels uncomfortable in biology, says it makes her nauseous. He, however, likes biology a lot. And he finishes the test quickly. Out of the corner of his eye, he spies Nari.
Serene, hair a curtain to her delicate facial structure, a sweatshirt hiding what he can see is a smooth neck.
She’s probably the most attractive woman Daehyun has ever seen in real life, combined with a personality that he found really, really intriguing. The way she snapped back with a cold and confident demeanor? The way nothing phased her?
So of course he’d end up with his first legitimate crush since middle school. (Which was Minyoung, and they don’t talk about that. Gross!)
Small problem. This Nari chick? A total bitch.
She’s hot as fuck-
Someone please kill him.
Kill him now.
Maybe there was a pettiness, in having been so off the radar that he’d firmly decided to plant Nari on it.
What, Minyoung-ssi could dish it but couldn’t take it? It was adorable, and in the charged moment, egged on by their respective best friends, he’d gone a bit farther than he had expected herself to. Which was a mistake.
Rose had texted Nari by the time they make it through their second class of the day. Nari said to ignore her, and take the test.
Jun, who goes to his school, would pretend to be Na-gil and take him out with a note.
Nari’s classes are his main concern. And then? He can take that test for her. And he does. He moves through the theory problems with ease, and takes little time with the mathematical ones. He does plan to be a biologist, after all.
And he will!
If he can get a scholarship. Money troubles always have been... prominent in Jaewon’s two person household. He bites his lip, tasting the cherry chapstick that Nari has coated his mouth with. It tastes bad.
“How was it?” Jun asks, in the guise of Nari’s older brother, Na-Gil. Jaewon stares forward, eyes dead. Teenagers are mean, mean people. He knows that well.
“Physically? I’m here. But mentally? I’m floating facedown in a river,” he says.
“Yikes,” Jun hisses. “All okay?”
“Well enough. I do have a favor to ask, though,” Jaewon turns to face him.
“Give me a name, I’ll get you a corpse in three to five business days,” Jun nods. Jaewon stops short.
“Jun! We’ve talked about this!”
“So what’s up?”
Jaewon isn’t quite sure how to broach the topic.
“I may have caused that Minyoung girl to uh... jaw drop? You know the one?”
“You might have accidentally caused her to get a crush on you?” Jun stares at him. “That’s so fucking funny!” Jaewon flushes, feeling the itch of Nari’s foundation.
“It’s not funny, Jun!”
“You’re gonna buy my silence in food, and then I’m talking you through this.”
“I just... they’re gonna say it’s Nari’s fault, and I did it. What do I do?!” Jaewon groans.
Nari is gone by the time it’s lunch. Daehyun bites the bullet and approaches the pretty girl who she’d been with.
“I just wanted to know how your friend Nari is doing?”
Rose stares at him for a solid minute.
“What’s it to you? Whore.”
“I deadass asked you one thing. I did not come here to get insulted,” Daehyun rolls his eyes. He’s still Minyoung today, but damn it, he’s accepting none of it. Nari’s friends are... kinda mean too. Are all girls this mean?
Then again, considering the rumors of that gay boy at his own school and the way they treat him? Boys are pretty damn mean too.
Fuck being a teenager.
“I just mean... she left early?”
“Are you implying something?” Rose’s voice drops to a dangerous low. “Listen, I don’t know what fucking problem your friends have with us, but take your dance team plastic ass away from my friend.”
And Rose turns and slams her locker behind her. Daehyun almost feels ice on her skin.
Rose? Maybe if it’s one made out of solid nitrogen.
“You dissed them! Oh Wonnie, baby! I’m so proud!” Nari laughs as she wipes the makeup off of his face. Jun groans.
“If you’re clearly so capable of this, why won’t you be mean to the kids at school?”
“I’d rather be the victim on record than right back, those kids have money-“
The truth is? Jaewon gets bullied a lot. For a pretty face. For being gay. For being the scholarship student. Nobody cares that he’s earned his desk more than those kids. Nobody’s cares that he’s actually bi, never came out, and even if he was gay he has a full right to exist.
So, it's for the best if he throws his heart into a pit, and buries the little pieces. So it’s for the best if he worried about the money and studying and keeping up with the rigors of his schoolwork and scores for a university scholarship.
But there are people who stubbornly refuse to give up on him, smash through all of Jaewon’s walls, and make it their mission to care for him. And somewhere down the line, he became their friend.
“I’m literally a Kang. Black sheep or not, I could easily pay for your college expense and tell my parents I bought a watch. You don’t need to suffer this bullshit,” Jun groans.
“I can’t do that to you!” Jaewon sputters, shaking his head.
Jun rolls his eyes. Jaewon smiles. Because he knows they care.
Daehyun hangs around Minyoung’s school gate to pick her up, hoping to get a peek at Nari again.
Daehyun is fully aware that it’s slightly like fraternizing with the enemy but-
More so than that rage, that serene smile is stuck in his mind. So peaceful and pretty that it made him lie awake at night and he almost walked into Youngjoon-ssi on his way to class today.
He spies her leaving, a broader smile on her face and a spring in her step. But she looks... different. In fact, the guy next to her looks more like the Nari of yesterday. The same slim and dainty features, the serene gaze-
Nari had swapped out with a guy. And he’d done what Daehyun had. He frowns, what did Nari tell him about Minyoung then? For him to seem so upset?
“Jaewon!” Nari clutches at the guy’s arm. “How was school?”
Daehyun notices, finally, that they have the same school uniform. He also notices the bruise on his wrist. And the keychain hanging from his backpack.
A little black shark.
Daehyun knows who this kid is.
Ahn Jaewon. The gay scholarship student that gets targeted by bullies. And he has a smile that made Daehyun’s heart flutter and his stomach twist in circles.
He is so screwed.
Jaewon looks across the classroom.
He knows who is standing there. Tall, thin, and really unfairly cute. Kim Daehyun.
And his opinion of said Kim Daehyun... is uh... very high? He may or may not have a massive crush on him.
They don’t... really talk. He can’t claim to know him. What he can claim to know is that he’s kind to everyone. That he helps the other kids and wipes the tears of strangers.
He knows what he’s seen.
Kim Daehyun is a kind person. Kind and pretty people make for one thing. But Kim Daehyun is also so unattainable to someone like Ahn Jaewon. So it makes plenty of sense for Jaewon’s heart to flutter when he sees him.
Just because it makes sense doesn’t mean he doesn’t know there will never be an outcome to it. He isn’t on Daehyun’s radar. And he has no fake identities to hide behind and put himself on it.
He smiles at Jaewon.
And Jaewon blinks and almost falls off his chair in surprise.
It’s actually... kinda cute.
He watches, peeking up to do it, Jaewon as he does his work. The way he puts on glasses to read. The way his mouth moves into pouts and smiles. And Daehyun sits there, admiring the little things about the way Jaewon moves while he’s focused on something else.
He turns to Youngjoon-ssi, his seatmate.
“Are you looking at Ahn?”
“Maybe? Do you know him?”
“I know of him, seriously Dae! Pay more attention to school-wide news!” Daehyun blinks.
“Gay, scholarship, everyone knows that,” Youngjoon waves a hand. “What you clearly don’t know? There’s a rumor that in his first year, he came on to a senior student! Minseok swears up and down that he saw it!”
“Ooh! Are you guys talking about Jaewon!” Hyunjin turns to join their conversation. “I heard he pretends to be a girl online for sleazy pics! And that he wears a skirt to get... y’know... taken by perverts on trains.”
Jaewon sighs. Here goes the gossip mill. Daehyun is such a nice guy- he really doesn’t want him to see him that way-
He frowns at his work. What can he do? Jun is not in this class but even if he was? Jaewon would never let him get himself into a mess like this one.
“How would you know? I asked if you knew him. Not if you had rumors about him,” Daehyun frowns.
And then Kim Daehyun goes back to work like he hasn’t knocked the air out of Jaewon’s lungs and the jaws off the boys in their class.
Something warms in Jaewon’s chest and he feels like a stupid high school boy for the moment it’s allowed to last.
He is so soft and calm. Like a water spring in a hidden forest. Like a faerie, a rippling pond between two worlds.
Daehyun thinks it’s not fair for someone to be that pretty. But it’s not like he has a say.
“Bisexual doesn’t mean I’ll go for anything! Fuck,” Nari rants to Jaewon from where he can see them leaving campus. “Like... what a bitch? It’s not like nobody knows how obvious her crush on her little backup dancers is. She doesn’t need to come for me about being out just because she’s stuck in the closet with a stick up her ass!”
Minyoung had told Daehyun that in confidence! That was a secret!
How did Nari even know that?!
Well, at least she didn’t know more than him. Like the identity of her third crush? That girl in her class that’s...
Out of the closet...
She said the wrong thing to and pissed off...
Why is his best friend an actual disaster?
Jaewon stares at Nari.
“I’m sorry, the reason you hate her is because she came after you for being out?!”
“Yes?! She was all... ‘I heard that bisexuals sleep with anyone. Makes sense that you have such good grades.’ Like, what the fuck?!”
“What?!” Jaewon gapes. “What an awful person!”
“And she’s hot too. If she wasn’t such a bitch, maybe-“ Nari sighs. “Like. She’s hot. But her little club of plastic hypocrites? Not so much. Like, I’ve seen Mina and Dani making out in the girls bathrooms!”
“That’s... really awful, actually. I can’t believe her,” Jaewon mumbles. “What if she apologized?”
“She has a lot of shit to apologize for, then,” Nari tosses a lock of hair over her shoulder. “Like being so fucking desperate for approval that she’d say shit like that.”
“D-Daehyun-ssi? You can just uh... call me Jaewon?” Jaewon smiles at him. Daehyun grins sheepishly.
“I might need your help?”
“My best friend is uh... a disaster gay. And she may or may not have um... pissed off her crush and started a feud with her?” Daehyun bites his lip.
“Oh- oh no,” Jaewon gasps. “How can I help?”
Ah. He is kind too. Help him. Daehyun is a simp and he can’t get up-
“Her name is Minyoung. And she has a crush on Nari,” he drops the bomb. Something that was open in Jaewon’s face closes at the name.
“She really hurt her, you know,” Jaewon says quietly.
“I want to force her to apologize. But I might have to take a leaf out of television’s book here?”
“What? Lock them in a closet?” Jaewon blinks. Daehyun laughs.
He shares a mischievous grin with Daehyun.
These two are going to be really cute together.
They didn’t sound cute right now, cursing at them and banging on the locked closet door.
“We left water and flashlights and bandaids... they should be fine?” Jaewon turns to Daehyun. He shrugs.
“I hope so?”
They’re next to each other. Talking to each other. How did things turn out this way?
“Should we... um... leave them?”
He’s kinda happy that they did.
“Let’s go out?”
“Like... for a drink? I know a boba place!”
“It’s a date,” Daehyun winks and takes his hand. “Bubble Temple or Boba Days?”
“Boba Days!” Jaewon laughs, following him. Daehyun is really friendly!
It’s not helping the crush, to be honest.
They’re laughing and talking when suddenly Jaewon chokes.
“This is a date?” He’s staring at Daehyun. And Daehyun feels a flash of panic. Is he going to out him? Is Jaewon not actually into guys? He fights it down under a mask of polite confusion.
Jaewon’s eyes widen further. He looks like a deer caught in headlights. Innocent, something other than human, and strangely beautiful in its shock.
“You, Kim Daehyun, asked me on a date?”
Jaewon turns cherry red. Flush painting his cheeks all the way to curl around the edges of his ears.
“Hi! I’m... uh... oblivious. But I’m glad this is a date,” Jaewon manages. “I’ve kinda... liked you for a... while now?”
It appears that it’s Daehyun’s turn to turn comically red.
“Y-you have?” Daehyun blinks.
“Yeah,” Jaewon admits. He knows it might be weird but- Daehyun just turns a darker pink.
“It’s not been as long for me, um sorry.”
Why is he such a disaster?
“D-don’t worry! You don’t need to apologize!”
“Um... I’ve liked you since that day at Joowon High?” Daehyun says carefully. Jaewon stares at him. Joowon?
“Joowon High is a girls school,” Jaewon points out. Daehyun looks him in the eye, which is... um... an experience.
“You covered for Nari the day of that biology test, didn’t you?”
He chokes on a bubble.
“How did you-“
“I was covering for Minyoung!” Daehyun admits, hands in the air. “We were there the same day!”
Oh. Oh no-
“I called you and your friend awful names,” he feels like just flopping over and dying right here. Daehyun shakes his head with a laugh.
“You were just impersonating Nari,” he soothes.
“That doesn’t actually make it okay,” Jaewon insists. “I really am sorry.”
“It’s really okay!” Daehyun laughs, taking Jaewon’s hands. And they fit together.
Jaewon is really happy.
They’re in the park when Jaewon suddenly jumps up again.
“Minyoung and Nari!”
Daehyun can feel the blood drain from his face.
“Let’s go!” Daehyun grabs Jaewon’s hand and runs towards the building. “They’re gonna kill us!”
Jaewon trails after him, laughter disappearing into the air as they run.
“They really are!”
Daehyun feels himself get giddy and breathless with laughter.
“Um... knock knock?” Jaewon tries saying next to the door, still locked. When there’s no sound, Daehyun unlocks the door.
There, lying on the floor, Minyoung is napping with her head on Nari’s chest. They look at each other.
“I think our work here is done?” Jaewon offers. Daehyun nods.
“I think so.”
“What are your plans for when you graduate?” Daehyun asks him on a chilly morning. December is coming in. And so is the CSAT. Jaewon looks up at the sky. Has it really been three months?
“I want to go to a school in Seoul,” Jaewon bites his lip. “SNU has a program and there’s a good chance of me getting a scholarship. I’ve applied to several.”
“Whoa,” Daehyun stares at him. “You’re... really admirable, Jaewon.”
“If I score well enough on my tests I will be,” Jaewon laughs. “What about you?”
“I want to get an musical education degree and teach music to kids!” Daehyun grins. “My mom has been talking me up to my ears about college.”
Jaewon smiles. Daehyun is so cute, and carefree.
He takes Daehyun by the hand.
“Yeah, moms can be like that.”
“Have you heard from Nari and Minyoung?” Daehyun sighs. “Their three months anniversary is coming up!”
“They’re so cute,” Jaewon flops over. “Why are they so cute!”
Daehyun pokes Jaewon’s nose.
“I ask myself that every time I see you.”
“Ah! Dae,” Jaewon whines.
Daehyun giggles and Jaewon smiles at him. They’re such a mess.
He doesn’t plan on changing that.