One look at the mahogany grandfather clock on the beige walls spanning the lecture theatre, and Jisung knows he needs to book it right now. Two more milliseconds, and the opportunity would slip right through the cracks of his fingers. He scrambles to snap the lid of his laptop down and shoves it deep into his backpack.
There's an old banana that he’s stashed in there - nature's favourite snack , as his mother had ingrained in his mind. He only remembers putting it in as part of his last resort stash of snacks if he gets lost somewhere and needs to survive solely off his backpack. He hears a squelch when the laptop hits the banana, and he grimaces.
That is a future Jisung problem .
He peeks at the front of the theatre at his professor who's been drawling on for almost two hours now, and takes note of when he turns around to fiddle with his computer. Jisung has never been happier that technologically troubled people exist. He glances to his right, where there are two people he'll have to manoeuvre around to get to the stairs leading up to the exit. They're yawning quietly, rubbing their eyes with closed fists.
The time is now .
He slides the makeshift table attached to the chair down and crouches as he wiggles his way through the narrow space between the chairs in front and the legs of the two people behind. He jogs up the few stairs leading to the exit, before pushing it open and lets a sigh of relief escape his lips.
He's still a five minute jog away from the vocal practice room he's booked weekly - two minutes if he sprints, but with the sun beating down on his back and his armpits crying out for some more deodorant, he trots down to the music building. Getting a booking is hard enough as is, let alone trying to fit it in with his classes. When he finally saw the 3PM to 5PM slot on Tuesdays open, he knew there was no time to waste and confirmed his booking without a second thought.
These two hours are oh-so-precious to Jisung - he needs them to brainstorm new ideas for lyrics and melodies, record acoustic covers of his favourite songs to share with his growing following on YouTube, and delve into making his own art. As a music major, more often than not, he finds himself too strung out from the weight of his assessments and maintaining his scholarship to even consider doing what he loves for himself and not for his grades. It's these two hours where Jisung sheds himself from the expectations of his parents, his teachers, his friends and even himself, and just lets himself breathe and spit all his thoughts and worries out onto a track.
This rings true, especially now that he’s been delegated one of the final performances for their university’s annual music showcase night, where potential employers and scouts are actively searching for new talents and recruits. If anything, he needs this night to go well and, quite frankly, Jisung doesn’t know where to begin. This boulder in the back of his mind weighs down any other priority and thought.
Grey sliding doors guard the corridor which runs down to the five vocal practice rooms on the left and three studios on the right. He enjoys the professional sound he gets when recording songs in the studio, but for his YouTube channel, he prefers the stripped down, unplugged feeling the practice rooms provide.
As he walks down the corridor, the rooms come into focus and Jisung reaches out to slide the door to Room 5, when he notices the shadow of a boy through the obscured glass.
He checks the time on his watch. 3:03PM.
Jisung has half a mind to bust open the door and berate him about being courteous to other people who have also booked the room but the boy starts to sing and Jisung swears he sees the heavens open up.
He recognises the melody as Congratulations by DAY6 - a song he's tossed up quite a bit whether to cover on his channel or not - and presses his back to the door, sliding down it as he drowns himself in the oceans of the boy's voice. It's rich yet light enough to float on, airy enough that he can feel the wind hitting his wings.
Jisung perches his hands on his knees, framing his face and closing his eyes as he basks in the performance of the boy. I feel like I should be paying money to listen to this. He finds himself whisked away on a journey, wistful as he fixates on each word that spills from the boy’s lips - he’s never felt this way before. The boy places certain emphasis on the smallest syllables, his tone nasal yet robust as he belts out his frustration towards the subject of the song.
Fiddling with the stray threads in the rips of his black jeans, Jisung decides to peek in once more to find out if he could identify who it is. He knows he needs this voice for either his showcase or his covers - best case scenario, he gets it for both - but he doesn’t want to come off as sounding like Ursula. The glass hides most of the boy’s face from the angle Jisung views him from so he changes tactics and lies flat down on his stomach, arching his back to crane his neck forward. That slight change in position foregoes the diagonal pane of glass responsible for the hazy silhouette and Jisung can finally trace the gentle slope of the boy's nose down to his plump lips. His eyes are closed, his burrows furrowed as he immerses himself into the song, and his cheekbones are high and raised, all fostering a pensive appearance.
It takes a moment for Jisung to identify why the boy looks so familiar - it’s Kim Seungmin, the student representative council’s president, his presence ubiquitous around the campus. Seungmin could say the word, and it would be done. Jisung thinks Seungmin is an awfully powerful person with an equally powerful voice - a voice that would suit the calmest moods and most fervent performances.
If Jisung is going to cover Congratulations on his channel now, he knows he won’t do it by himself anymore; he needs Seungmin’s soothing voice to complement his own higher tones. Speaking of soothing voices, Seungmin’s voice would be the perfect addition for the showcase performance! If only he could figure out what song to use and how to get Seungmin to join him somehow.
Jisung stands up abruptly, shifting his weight onto his heels, and rocks between his heels and toes, a lightbulb flickering on in his head. Felix, his roommate, had recently taken a liking to only play Feel Special by TWICE and thus, Jisung has no one to blame but Felix as he thinks Seungmin’s voice would suit an acoustic cover for the showcase performance. The more he thinks about it, the more he’s sold on it - he’s sure he’ll be able to prepare a suitable arrangement with his guitar, and he’s absolutely certain Seungmin would sound even more incredible with it to accompany him.
Since Seungmin’s currently doing the Lord’s work and blessing Jisung with his incredible brilliance, Jisung leaves him to it, slowly walking off in the direction of the dorms, and resigns himself to his fate of not being able to use the vocal rooms today but hey, at least he’s got his brainstorming and his ideas for the showcase performance settled.
He just needs Seungmin’s approval.
Ah, this sounds too sharp . Seungmin flicks his forearm with his wrist. What a silly mistake, he should be over this hurdle by now. He knows well and truly how the melody goes - he’s heard this on repeat since the day it was released - and he can usually sing it well when he’s not in these stupid rooms. Seungmin coughs, hoping to clear his mental fog and start afresh with practicing Congratulations . It was meant to be a cool-down of sorts, yet he’s already making the slightest mistakes with the key that he usually doesn’t make.
It’s not shaping up to be a great day. Seungmin starts again, the drums in the instrumental kicking him off into the first verse. He lets himself plunge into the lower registers and lets the music direct him. Out of the corner of his eyes, he peeks a distant shadow waiting outside the door. They must just be walking past. He regains his focus and leaves the wandering figure to think about after he’s finished.
Seungmin can’t help but fall deeper in love with this song the more he hears it and the more he sings along to it. The level of precision and control he needs to implement keeps him engrossed as he belts the chorus with controlled restraint. He feels free, relinquishing his tight hold on his concerns.
The song comes to an end before he realises, jolting him from his focus. Glancing at the clock, his eyes widen as he realises he’s late for his workshop. He pockets his phone and grabs his notebook, swinging his bag onto his back with the other hand. He turns off the lights in the room and leaves the door open for the next users. He hums to himself, deciding to come back tomorrow to work on his techniques further.
A black set of headphones adorn Jisung’s ears, the heavy bass pulsing through his eardrums, his head bobbing along in time. A stream of rhymes course through his mind faster than he can filter through, and he scrambles to jot them down in his grey notebook, the pages stained yellow from coffee spills and the cardboard cover releasing itself from the coil binding. The words overflow, spilling out of his mouth and through his nimble fingers onto the pages, filling them up with ease. Days like these are rare and come by like a soft wind, taking him by surprise at the calmness of his body. His fingers sprint as they endeavour to catch up to his racing brain.
Jisung knows well and truly that it's a more efficient process if he uses his laptop but the rawness of the paper scratching on the sides of his palm, the ink of the pen smudging his hand and sharp coldness of the metal coils chopping his warm hands feeds the fuel in his soul, pouring more oil over the top as the embers lick his entire being. He shoves all thoughts and distractions aside as he hones in on the beat. With each hi-hat trill, each hit of the snare, he fastens his pace, fixing his eyes on the end goal. This isn't something he's used to doing but he's determined to see this to the end; he needs to be able to run with whatever gets thrown at him if he wants to survive in this cut-throat environment, where a second's pause to catch his breath could mean he's back at the start line.
Two dainty hands rest on his shoulder. Jisung jerks, his eyes widening, his hands crossed in front of him and a sudden scream bursts through the air. He only realises later that he made the sound. He turns around to face the intruder, moving his headphones to snap around his neck, sighing in relief as it's only Felix with a warm grin on his face. Felix's freckles are pronounced under the cool light of Jisung's desk lamp and his eyes crinkle as he beams.
"You're not coming for dinner?" Felix rubs his thumb in smoothing circles on Jisung's upper back, placing firm pressure on the tight knots in his musculature. There’s a slight frown on his face from what Jisung can see. "Hannie, you need to eat something."
Jisung sighs as he lets himself relax, his arms hanging loose and his body slumping further into the seat as his neck arches back when Felix runs his thumbs through a particularly tender spot.
"I'll be right there," says Jisung, shooting a carefree wink in Felix's direction. "As soon as you let me go."
Felix takes this opportunity to release his grip on Jisung and folds his arms across his chest, the fond grin ever present on his face. Jisung grins back, hitting the pause button on his phone and sets his headphones down on his desk, the black colour contrasting with the white of his desk, before he joins Felix out to their living room.
Two large bowls of steaming soup, with an assortment of side dishes, are laid out carefully on their coffee table and Jisung can't help but swallow the sudden onslaught of saliva at the sight of such a dinner. They settle themselves into their favourite positions, seated in front of the couch with their backs resting it, cross-legged on the floor, as they absentmindedly watch the drama that plays at that particular time-slot. It had started off as a joke - Jisung and Felix had both been convinced they’d act better if they were to be in the drama - but now, they’reboth Jisung and Felix are too emotionally invested in the plot to stop.
"Pixie, this looks so good!" Jisung looks in awe at Felix, his fists curled into small balls and waving with excitement. "Come on, come on, sit down."
Jisung wraps his arm around Felix's own, using it as a lever of sorts to lower Felix down and grabs a pair of steel chopsticks after they're seated, ensuring to pass it along to the other. Jisung blows a kiss in gratitude and tucks into the meal after he sees Felix reach for some stir-fried leafy greens.
"It's so good," Jisung says, his mouth burning from the hot soup and the steel cutlery. It's a worthy struggle - the soup hits the right balance and tastes incredibly delicious. He relays this to Felix who laughs in response.
They spend a few moments enjoying their meal, immersed in the show that's playing on their monitor, with the occasional frustrated yells when the lead character goes against their choices. A scene where the love interest sings softly to the lead character on a starry night, sitting on a bench in the park, reminds Jisung of his mission and he figures Felix would be able to help him out in some way or another.
Before he's able to get his word out, Felix beats him to it. "How's your planning for the showcase going, Hannie?"
Great, Jisung doesn't have to do the hard job of trying to subtly ask about it. Felix would understand and help him out with this at the drop of a hat, anyways.
"Actually, you know what, it's going to be splendid!" He chews on the radish slices before he gulps. "I know what I'm going to do and I know you'll be proud of me, baby!" Jisung looks at Felix, cheeks puffed out from his wide smile, his heart-shaped lips showcasing his teeth as his eyes crinkle shut.
"You could breathe and I would be proud of you, Hannie,” Felix replies, “You need to be more specific," He reaches over to pat Jisung's hair and strokes his arm down to his shoulder, squeezing it briefly and resumes eating.
"What if I said the words, 'Feel Special' and 'acoustic cover' ?" Jisung raises his eyebrows and watches Felix in expectation.
He watches Felix gasp, his jaw widens but no sound comes out. He maintains eye contact with Jisung for what feels like hours but, in reality, is probably a few seconds. Felix immediately latches onto Jisung's shoulders, turns his body around to face him fully and shakes him gently. Jisung sees happiness, surprise and gratification flick through at a rapid pace in Felix's eyes. Jisung nods with a gentle grin, aware that Felix is extremely elated at the prospect.
“There’s only one problem, though,” Jisung trails off, his bottom lip caught between his teeth, nibbling on the drier parts of his lips. “I need Kim Seungmin for it.”
Felix pauses, his eyes questioning and his eyebrows furrowed, and tilts his head to the right. “Why,” he starts, eyes flitting between Jisung and the couch, “do you need Seungmin?” He places a tender hand on the nape of Jisung’s neck and strokes the skin with his thumb and index finger. “You sound amazing by yourself, Hannie. I’m sure you’re well aware of that.”
Felix has been one of Jisung’s strongest supports, as the boy would, without hesitation, attend all of Jisung’s performances, listen to his worries, comfort him and encourage him to step out and be comfortable in his own skin and his skills. Jisung can wholeheartedly say that he would not have had the confidence to do most, if not all, performances and activities without Felix’s unconditional support and encouragement.
“Have you heard him sing?” Jisung says, pausing after a slurp of a spoonful of the broth. “It’s so euphoric and regal, and he’s got a slight nasal twang that’s just the icing on the cake. I swear I had an out-of-body experience just listening to him sing.”
Felix looks at him blankly, and blinks. Once, twice, thrice. A mischievous glint possesses his eyes, replacing the tenderness found moments ago, as he brings a piece of chicken to his lips.
"Mate, I don't think this is just stopping at friendly and platonic admiration anymore."
Jisung inhales through pursed lips and cocks his head, glancing at Felix before continuing to eat. "All I need is his voice, not his hand in marriage, Lix." He entertains the thought and lets it mull in his head. "But I don't know how I can get him on board with this."
Humming softly in agreement, Felix ruffles his own fringe with a hand. "He's in Hyunjin's biology class and I'm sure Channie hyung is close with him too, so…"
He places his pair of chopsticks on the brown coffee table, sending a small smile Jisung’s way. He shuffles himself closer to Jisung and coils his arms around the other's waist, embracing him in a comfortable hug.
Felix continues, murmuring into his ear, "You know I'll do anything for you. I'll let you know if I think of anything, alright?"
Tightening his grip around the other's torso, Jisung hums gratefully. Felix has already given him an option to try. He’s been wanting to catch up with Chan and Changbin to get some feedback on his drafts for newer covers. Chan's also an active member of the student council - to be frank, though, Jisung doesn't know if there's anything Chan isn't involved in. He can just move it forward to tomorrow and kill two birds with one stone while he's at it.
Wednesdays are the best days, at least for this semester. He only has a one-hour lecture at noon, and it's recorded, meaning Jisung's practically free the entire day to work on whatever his heart desires. And so, he's glad Chan and Changbin have small pockets of time free and distributed evenly throughout the day, enabling them to work together. They haven't been able to convene together as much lately with Chan's responsibilities piling but they make do with the time they do have.
Thankfully, travel time isn't an issue since Chan lives near the coffee shop Jisung frequently visits and he makes sure to buy three drinks - one for each of their tastes - and some pastries. Chan, for some godforsaken reason, prefers not to drink coffee and on the rare occasion he craves some, he opts for a caramel macchiato. Changbin, on the other hand, prefers an iced americano. Depending on the day and the amount of things left to complete on his messily scrawled to-do list in his head, Jisung flicks between an iced americano or a Darjeeling milk tea. Jisung decides today's a milk tea kind of day.
He carries the three drinks, humming a light melody as he takes the lift and saunters down the hallway. Balancing the drinks and pastries in one hand, he opens the door and invites himself in.
"I brought some goods!" Jisung announces, his voice echoing through the hallway where he kicks off his shoes.
He's greeted by the sight of Chan and Changbin seated on the couch with a laptop and their typical set-up laid out in front of them on the coffee table with a MIDI keyboard, and a shit ton of cables that Jisung frequently finds himself tangled in when he tries to use Chan's laptop. He stills for a moment when he sees a third figure sitting on a beanbag, facing the two, and releases a sigh of relief when he notices Minho, twiddling with his finger nails.
"Oh, we were just about to call you! What's up?" Changbin leans back against the cushions of the low and brown two-seater sofa, his arms extending to rest on the top of the back frame. He pats against the armrest, and Jisung strolls over, placing the treats on the table. He acknowledges Minho by shooting a quick smile and wave in his direction, and weaves through the small space created between the settee and the coffee table to perch his bottom on the arm rest near Changbin.
“Thought I’d drop by to run some things by you, but what’s happening?” Jisung flicks his eyes between Chan and Minho. It’s not odd to see Minho dropping by, given his close nature with all three of them, but if the laptop’s out, there must be something going on. Jisung leans forward and tries to glance at the screen, where a previous project they were working on is pulled up.
Chan shoots a quick grin to Jisung, shifting the laptop closer to Jisung’s field of view. “Lino was after a backing track that he can use to choreograph for his finals.”
He presses play on the spacebar, and looks expectantly at Jisung. “Do you remember the track with the sax solo? He seems to like that so we’re just trying to fine tune it with him here.”
Minho nods and the corners of his lips quirk up into a small grin. “The saxophone spices it up but I think I can spice it up even more.” He playfully wiggles his eyebrows and smirks at Jisung.
Jisung winks back at Minho, revelling in Changbin’s reaction as he motions to throw up over the back of the sofa. “You’re the capsicum to everyone else’s carrot, hyung.”
Minho throws his head back and laughs, reaching over for a pastry when Changbin calms down, and places his hands over the shoulders of Jisung and Chan. “I like that one, Hannie. I’m going to use it on Hyunjin or Seungmin next time.”
Jisung gasps, pointing his finger at Minho in surprise. He turns himself so he faces the other three in the room, watching as they instinctively reach for the three drinks.
Minho sends a playful wink in Jisung’s direction, lifting his cup in the air, and says, “Thanks for the drink, Hannie. I’ll enjoy it well.”
“Okay, first of all, how dare you? I bought that for myself.”
The ever present smirk on Minho’s face doesn’t die down as he quips with, “We can share, my dear? Or are you ashamed of showing our love in front of others?”
Jisung lets out an exasperated sigh. “Fine, but you better leave me more than half of the tea. You know I pay a fortune to get these.” He continues when he sees Minho’s curt nod, smiling up at the other in appreciation.
“I came here to ask if any of you knew Kim Seungmin, but it seems like you’re close with him, Lino hyung?”
A loud retching sound fills the living room as Minho gags and pretends to vomit. He clicks his tongue, creating a tsk sound, and frowns deeply, his eyebrows furrowed and taut. Jisung's well acquainted with Minho's expressions to know that Minho is absolutely repulsed by the thought of being close to Seungmin.
It seems Chan and Changbin notice this as well, or they're familiar with how Seungmin and Minho interact. Changbin laughs and whines, making sure his voice is obnoxiously loud and pitched higher, "We can't live together!"
Chan follows suit, the infectious laughter easing its way into Jisung even though he's lost in the context. Minho's lips are straight and his eyes deadpan before he sends a pointed look at Chan and Changbin. They burst into a fit of laughter and an endless onslaught of ‘We can't live together’ in syncopation.
Jisung nods his head, tapping his fingers on the coffee table in an impromptu beat that matches the teasing chants. It works surprisingly well, but he doesn't know why he's startled it worked in the first place. He's Han Jisung - of course, it's going to be great. He's about to begin a quick round of beat boxing when he's interrupted by Minho flicking his wrist.
"Cut it out, it was just that one time. Why do you keep bringing it up?"
Chan's dimple carves itself a semi-permanent home on his cheek as he says, "You were just so annoyed by the thought, it was hilarious to watch."
"Yeah, I wanna see you try to live with Seungmin without going batshit crazy." Minho replies dryly, though his eyes flicker with mirth.
"Hyung, you lived with Seungmin?" Jisung pipes up, curious as to how this debacle came about in the first place. Minho's words paint a terrible impression but his actions appear to be somewhat fond of Seungmin. Years of dealing with Minho's contradicting actions and words has helped Jisung grow in the field of decoding Minho. And so, Jisung deems himself an expert in deciphering Minho's feelings about people and things, and he can safely say that there's an underlying affection for Seungmin.
Minho perks up and shudders his whole body, as if the thought alone is enough to disgust him to the next life. "No, we didn't live together. Thank goodness for that."
Jisung tilts his head in confusion and blinks. "Then why were Channie hyung and Changbinnie hyung teasing you about that just then?"
Changbin brings Jisung closer to his side, tightening his grip on the younger and ruffles his hair. "They're a sight to behold when they're together, a spectacle, if you will. We tried to get them to be a bit less tense by teasing them as if they were just kids in kindergarten who fancied each other."
"Minho's first response was so funny with how he delivered it. He immediately shook his head and went, 'Minho and Seungmin? Never going to happen. We can't live together!' He sounded so outraged by the prospect of being paired with Seungmin!" Chan adds, letting a content sigh escape his lips. "I think of that moment every time I see either of them."
Jisung watches as Minho huffs and bores his eyes into Chan and Changbin, his gaze almost drilling a hole into their heads, if it could.
"Well, seeing as hyung is super close with Seungmin, could you all do me a favour and help me out?" Jisung asks. He softens his eyes, just the way that he knows the older three won't be able to refuse, and purses his bottom lip slightly, puffing out his cheeks, ever so lightly.
"As long as you're not going to kidnap or murder anyone," tuts Chan, his eyes unable to conceal the tenderness swimming in them. Changbin nods from beside him in agreement while Minho only grins with a mischievous glint in his eyes.
“What did you take me for? Of course, I wouldn’t ask you to do that for me!” Jisung pauses for dramatic effect, adding, “Obviously, I’d ask Felix and Minho hyung instead.”
He waves his hand to gather their attention again. “In all seriousness, I need Seungmin’s voice for the showcase but I just don’t know how to approach him.” He says, glancing at each of them in succession, hoping to plead his case. “Do you think I can just go up to him and ask him to help me out?”
Changbin huffs, a gentle smile gracing his lips. “He might not be the most accommodating if you approach him like that but try to ease him into the idea.” He rubs the curve of Jisung’s shoulder tenderly, running his thumb softly over his clavicle. “But knowing him, he may not be averse to it if you’re gentle with him.”
From across the sofa, Chan nods in agreement. “If you want to tag along, there’s a student council meeting this evening. It shouldn’t take too long, if you’re worried about that, but he’s going to be there.” Chan brings a finger to scratch the back of his nape, “I can introduce the two of you there, if that’ll make him more receptive to your offer.”
Jisung stands up, running his hands down his skinny jeans, and shuffles across to settle himself in Chan’s lap by hooking his legs around Chan’s thigh. He burrows his head into Chan’s chest, circling his arms around the older’s waist. He peeks out from his hiding place in Chan’s chest briefly to leave a soft, barely-there peck of gratitude on his cheek, before he returns to nosing at Chan’s trunk. He mumbles a quick thanks, peppering soft kisses where he can reach without moving.
For now, he could afford to relax against Chan’s broad chest with the vibrations purring against his head as Chan makes soft conversation with the others in the room. He closes his eyes in content and succumbs to the comforting atmosphere. He can worry about getting Seungmin on his side later.
A soft nudge on his shoulder shakes Jisung from his quiet slumber. He blinks groggily, lifting his head to scan his surroundings, lying back down when he realises he’s still lying on Chan’s couch. Speaking of Chan, Jisung wonders where he is. He hastily sits up and stumbles into a tough wall. He’s sure that in the last few hours, Chan surely couldn’t have installed a new wall right in front of the couch, right?
Sure enough, he turns and lifts his head, wanting to see what obstructed him just then. He cranes his neck, only to see Chan standing in front of him, a warm smile adorning his face. It seems as though the wall he thought he’d collided with was indeed Chan’s stomach. He pats the area with a soothing hand and beams up at Chan. “What’s wrong, hyung?”
“Nothing much, Hannie. It’s about time to head off for the meeting.” Chan quirks an eyebrow, adding, “Still coming?”
Oh, that’s right, he’d said earlier that he would accompany Chan to the meeting. He wonders how long he was out for, given that he arrived at Chan’s dorm in the late morning and it’s almost evening. He decides he can ask Chan about that later since he seems to be prepared to leave. He’s dressed in a silky black button-up shirt tucked loosely into black slacks that are conformed to his legs, paired with dark boots. Jisung doesn’t want to hold Chan up any longer than he needs to, especially considering he has other things to do after this, and he’s already chosen to entertain Jisung’s request.
“Of course, hyung! Just give me a few to freshen up and I’ll be right with you.”
Jisung brings loose fists to rub the sleep out of his eyes, before he raises himself onto his feet, and sprints off into the direction of the bathroom. He falters in his steps at the end of the hallway where he takes a sharp right, his stumble only secondary to the yellow Kumamon socks he had put on in the morning. He catches himself, hands loosely placed on the wall for support, and continues into the bathroom, ensuring he rinses and freshens his face with Changbin’s ridiculously expensive but effective face wash. Running his fingers through his hair as a makeshift comb, he styles the floppy bangs roughly so that they don’t fall into his eyes.
Jisung frowns as he takes in his appearance again in the mirror; it’ll have to do for now, it’s not too shabby. He reaches for the deodorant resting on the countertop, quickly spraying himself with it, and borrows Chan’s beloved fragrance, spritzing some on his wrist, neck and nape. As he walks back to meet Chan, he rubs the perfume into his skin.
Jisung stops when he’s standing in front of Chan, a sheepish smile on his face when he notices the older sniffing him with suspicion. “Look, first impressions count and if Seungmin is anything like you said he is, I want to make sure I give myself every chance to get him on my side.”
Chan heaves a fond sigh, shaking his head while he follows Jisung, who sits on the floor with both knees bent, tying his shoelaces twice into a double knot. Call him superstitious, but he feels grounded anytime he ties the shoelaces twice with bunny ears - they’re cute, sue him. He straightens his posture as he stands up, and shoves his hands into the pockets of his jeans. Jisung looks up at Chan and nods. Chan follows suit, confirming he’s locked the front door before they head off on their way to the booked room on campus.
On their way, Jisung pauses Chan to make a brief pitstop at the vocal practice rooms to see if he can book a session for tomorrow, considering he relinquished his booking yesterday. Chan’s smile is laced with understanding as he walks behind Jisung, his arms crossed over his chest, and he rests against the wall in front of the practice room Jisung prefers.
Jisung peers into the glass again, the closed door not deterring him from entering as it did yesterday. He figures he needs to get in and sign his name, regardless of whoever’s present in the room. A lone figure flits around the room, packing his belongings into a bag in a scurry. Jisung feels somewhat relieved that they’re almost finished. He doesn’t want to disrupt them more than he needs to.
Wrapping his hand into fists, he raps his knuckles against the wooden borders of the door two times before he lets himself into the room. He blinks as he absorbs the presence of Seungmin frozen in the middle of the room, a notebook perched loosely between his fingers, and his body bent awkwardly as he appears to be rising up from crouching. His puppy-like eyes hone in on Jisung as he straightens himself before tilting his head, slightly bemused.
"Can I help you?"
“Uh…” Jisung begins, dazed by the nasal hints in Seungmin’s lower voice with raspier undertones. He’s reminded of the video Felix had eagerly shown him a few months before of a chocolate gorilla melting into a pot of warm milk. He is the gorilla, there’s no other explanation. He’s melting into Seungmin’s standard speaking voice let alone his tone while he sings.
“I wanted to book this room for tomorrow,” he says, mustering all the strength he has in his projection. “Is the sheet still there?”
Seungmin glances across to his right, gesturing to the clipboard with a sheet of paper and pen attached. “It’s right there. You’re free to do what you wish. I’ll be off.”
Slinging his backpack over his back and slipping his fingers through the straps, Seungmin nods curtly before he sets off, passing by Jisung in a quick succession of steps. Jisung reaches out his arm and opens his mouth to stop Seungmin before he exits the room, but Seungmin is too quick. His mouth gapes when he thinks about how quick it all unfolded, but he shakes his head. He won’t let this deter him. He’s got more tricks up his sleeve. He would get Seungmin to sing with him, if that’s the last thing he did.
Before he slumps out of the room, he swiftly scribbles down his details on the booking sheet, after he sees a cancellation. He can’t stop the smile that rises when he sees his session is just after Seungmin’s.
The meeting ends quicker than Jisung expects.
He’d anticipated waiting around for an hour, at least, outside the room. He doesn’t know exactly what they talk about in there but he’s seen Chan stumble into his dorm and lie down on the couch, murmuring, ‘Just give me ten minutes and I’ll be up,’ enough times for him to know that it’s tiresome, to say the least. Given that the student council assembles endless food trucks, day trips and other activities on a regular basis, he can guess how taxing it would be just being a part of the committee.
Predicting he would have to stay here for an hour at minimum, Jisung had made sure he’s as comfortable as he can on the wooden benches placed outside the room. He’s seated on one end, his legs resting on the length of the seat, facing the other end, while he fiddles with his phone. With his earphones in, listening to one of the rough drafts that himself, Chan and Changbin had produced, he brainstorms some interesting rhymes and word play that he hopes to incorporate. If it isn’t for his brain requiring energy to focus on the task at hand, he thinks he would have fallen asleep quite easily.
He also finds it oddly amusing how he’s able to sleep, quite literally, anywhere but his bed. It’s a talent, at this point.
Scuffling sneakers and a legion of feet flood Jisung’s view while he’s mumbling words that stick out to him. He pauses the track, disconnects his earphones and adjusts himself on the seat, swinging his knees over to plant his feet on the cemented floor. He perks up, wide eyes sweeping through the group of people for Chan, and upon finding him, he stands up and smiles heartily.
Chan doesn’t seem to notice Jisung as of yet, but he’s engaged with Seungmin, talking animatedly. Jisung takes this as an invitation to approach them, traipsing until he stops in front of them. He flicks his eyes between the two, smiling softly when Chan brings him closer to his side, wrapping an arm around Jisung’s shoulder. He places a cupped hand on the small of Jisung’s back, bumping him forward a tad, in line with Seungmin’s field of sight.
“Oh, Jisung! This is Seungmin,” says Chan, his dimple revealing itself on the expanse of his face. Facing Seungmin, he adds, “And this is Jisung, a bit of a menace when he’s close to you but he’s one of our aces, as I’m sure you’ve heard.”
Jisung smiles bashfully, a nervous laugh escaping his lips at Chan’s compliments. Even though he knows Chan views him as a bomb of untapped potential, Chan knows how harsh Jisung is on himself and conveys his appreciation through lighthearted jokes, which Jisung is forever grateful for. He finds the times in which Chan is outright with his praise quite emotional, only because he respects Chan so much.
Seungmin nods, letting a polite smile grace his face, and he offers a hand to Jisung. “Nice to finally put a name to the face, Jisung,” he says, as if repeating Jisung’s name would commit it to his memory. “I think I’ve seen you around the practice rooms a number of times before.”
“Likewise,” replies Jisung, gripping the offered hand tightly and shaking it. “Were you using Room 5 yesterday?”
Seungmin pauses, an understanding glint in his eyes, canting his head to the side. Jisung has to fight the urge to coo at how Seungmin resembles a puppy. “Yes,” he says, after a pause. “What makes you ask that?”
“I,” Jisung starts, pausing to rephrase his thoughts, not wishing to sound creepy. “I was actually booked for the time slot after you,” he smiles when he believes this is the best approach, “and you were singing when I was about to walk in so I didn’t want to disturb you.”
Humming, Seungmin nods. “You should have just walked in. I’m sorry I took up your booking but next time if that happens, just tell me.” Smiling cheekily, he adds, “Is that why you came in today as well?”
“Yeah,” Jisung runs his fingers through his dark locks. “While we’re on the topic, I’m sure you’re aware you sing incredibly well but I wanted to tell you I enjoyed listening to your voice yesterday.”
That seems to take Seungmin aback, and Jisung’s not sure if he came off sounding creepy. He hopes he didn’t but that’s up to Seungmin. He decides to risk it and continues, “I was stuck creatively and I actually felt pretty inspired when I heard your voice.”
“Oh,” Seungmin blinks before he breaks out into a wide grin, his eyes scrunching up into thin lines. “I’m... glad it helped you out?” He says, his pitch rising at the end, slightly conflicted.
He then inquires, “Do you produce with Chan hyung?”
Chan nods with a bright grin, his hands stroking Jisung’s shoulders. “I think it’s safer if you ask him what he doesn’t do.” Jisung has to look away from Chan’s eyes, the warm tenderness overflowing from his irises threaten Jisung’s ability to hold in his emotions. “Hannie here is a jack of all trades - rap, vocals, dance, playing instruments, producing - am I missing anything?”
Jisung stays quiet, a warm flush spreading over his ears, as he chuckles awkwardly. “Don’t listen to Chan, he’s only feeding you lies.”
“I’m sure you’re just underestimating yourself, Jisung. If you come to the practice rooms when I’m there, I’ll check whether Chan’s right.” Seungmin says with a mischievous smirk. “I might even pop by tomorrow.”
“Oh, you wanna place a bet?” Jisung offers, the corners of his lips quirking up playfully. He’s got Seungmin right where he wants him and fists pumps internally. No one runs away from a bet unless they’re cowards, in Jisung’s book, and nobody wants to be a coward. “If Chan’s right, how about you sing with me for the showcase? If he’s wrong, then I’ll give up my booked sessions in the room for you to use. How’s that sound?”
For what seems to drag on for hours, but, in actuality, lasts for hardly a minute, Seungmin visibly weighs up the proposed bet. Jisung fiddles with his fingernails, and rocks back and forth on his heels and toes as Seungmin stays silent. He heaves a sigh of relief when Seungmin opens his mouth.
“Deal. I’ll meet you in Room 5 at four on the dot.”
Jisung grins, his heart-shaped lips giving way to his bright teeth. He places a hand out in front, waiting for Seungmin to shake on it, laughing softly when the other grips just as tight, not wanting to back down.
“Be there or be square.”
Jisung stops abruptly in front of the brown door, braces his hands on his knees and catches his breath, running through the deep breathing technique Felix always prompts him to use when he’s stuck in a crowd. He slings his guitar over his back, not wanting the added weight to deter him. He’s not overly anxious at the moment - no, he’s just sprinted across the entirety of the campus to make it on time to the vocal practice rooms. His legs are burning to rest, his lungs are weeping for air, and he just wants to win the bet, hands down. Now, that’s not to say the prospect of singing in front of Seungmin doesn’t terrify him in the slightest because that would be false. Seungmin, possessing the most wonderful voice Jisung has heard, could easily just refuse Jisung and he wouldn’t be able to deny Seungmin that autonomy. He prays to every god he knows that Seungmin won’t do that, but will instead accompany him for the performance.
The lights in the room glow a faded beige onto the cemented floor outside, creating a spotlight that flashes onto Jisung’s shoes. He hopes that today won’t be a trainwreck and inhales deeply one more time, before he bites his lips and enters the room.
As promised, Seungmin is sitting straight on the chair near the piano, his knees touching each other and his hands resting on his knee cap as he runs through a set of vocal exercises with blinding precision and ease. Jisung finds it almost unfortunate to alert the other of his presence in the room, and he delays this as much as he could by holding his breath as his mind follows the same wave Seungmin’s voice creates.
He grabs the other’s attention through two soft knocks on the wall, smiling sheepishly. Seungmin pauses, darts his eyes to the clock hanging above them, and tuts at Jisung. “Two minutes past four. Not good enough, Jisung.”
Jisung sighs, adding a dramatic flair by bringing his hand to his forehead. “I Usain Bolt-ed across the whole campus, only to be told I’m not good enough?” He bites back a smile. “The disrespect in this house is unbelievable.”
Seungmin grins, a playful twinkle in his eyes. “What can I say? Time is money.”
“No wonder I’m always broke,” quips Jisung, which earns him a hearty laugh from Seungmin. Again, Jisung takes pride in the small victories, or as Chan likes to say, ‘It’s the small things that matter.’ Jisung has mentioned time and time again that this, most definitely, sounds like Chan is trying to compensate for something but he digresses.
“I think we had a bet to confirm?” Seungmin raises an eyebrow, throwing a pointed look. “The stage is yours.”
“Wow, okay, no pressure.” Jisung laughs, in an attempt to brush off his nervous energy. He closes his eyes, counts to four as he knocks the beat on his guitar to prime him. He strums the primary chords for a song he’d worked on himself, plucking the strings at the end of each phrase, before he centers himself and starts singing.
He’d called this ‘Another Day’ after the tedious and repetitive cycle every day holds in store for him. Letting his memories drift back to when he penned the lyrics, he feels like he’s ripping himself open for Seungmin to see - he’s naked, as raw as it gets - and he relives the days where the only thing he wished for was for it to end. He musters all his frustrations and exhaustion, seeping them into his melody. He doesn’t remember the last time he’s sung this in a long while but it feels cathartic to reminisce and reflect on his thoughts from then. Jisung finds himself strumming the last chord quicker than he expects.
He hesitantly peeks at Seungmin, who is wearing an impassive face.
Jisung berates himself - he knows he should have gone for an existing song, one that perhaps Seungmin is more familiar with. As he lets this thought simmer for a while, he watches Seungmin’s expressions morph into one of satisfaction and content.
“So,” Jisung starts, his fingers twiddling with the guitar pick, “what do you think?”
A pregnant pause chokes the room. With each passing second, Jisung feels as though someone has a strong hold on his neck, strangling him. He’s lightheaded, brain racing and fingers twitching.
Seungmin speaks up after a while in a hushed tone. “You know, I think Chan hyung was selling you short.” He shuffles his chair closer to Jisung, voice quiet to not disrupt the calm room. “If we’re going with technical details, he was wrong. I could feel the rush of weariness from the lyrics as you were singing but I’m refreshed afterwards. Does that make sense?”
Jisung only nods, incredulous about Seungmin’s sincerity.
Seungmin continues, “But I guess I’ll say that Chan’s right. With a voice like that, I wouldn’t want you to sacrifice your time here.”
His head is empty - absolutely devoid of anything and everything. He tries to shake it to see if there’s anything in there, but there’s no sound. Jisung does the only thing he’s able to perform at the moment - he blinks at Seungmin, his lashes fluttering at a rapid pace. He splutters momentarily, trying to catch his thoughts, and manoeuvres his arms to position them perpendicular to each other, and raises this signal to Seungmin, using a few seconds as time-out to reset his response. Seungmin chuckles softly as he observes him, bringing a hand to cover his mouth, the light melody singing in Jisung’s ears.
Jisung finally comes back to his senses and masks his surprise with an air of confidence. “So you're up to singing with me for the showcase, then?" He clarifies, not wanting to let this opportunity slip through his fingers. He throws a cheeky wink in and pairs it with an equally greasy grin he saves to lighten the mood. "You, me, my guitar and Feel Special… " He trails off, gazing up at the ceiling in a dramatic fashion. "Sounds like a match made in heaven, don't you think so?"
Seungmin huffs in a futile attempt to fight his amused laugh. "We're going with Feel Special? Sounds like you've put quite a lot of thought into this already."
"Hey, didn't I already tell you that your voice inspired me? I don't need this extra slander."
Biting back a smile, Seungmin replies, "Alright, alright. I'll follow my end of the deal. But I better get something in return after this."
Jisung coos, his voice teasing as he says, "I'll save only the best for my Seungminnie, isn't that right, Hannie?" He turns his head around to face the other way and replies to himself, "Why, of course! He deserves nothing but the best!"
Seungmin shoots a pointed look but shakes his head in defeat after he sees Jisung burst into a fit of laughter, his heart-shaped lips giving way to his gummy smile. Seungmin lets a pleasant grin rest on his lips. "What did I say before, Jisung? There's no time to waste, let's get right into it."
Jisung laughs harder at this, slapping his thighs. "Relax, I'm not going anywhere. You have me all to yourself," he says, adding a wink for extra measures. "Hit me with your best shot."
Somewhere along the line, the number of practice sessions fall into the dozens as they find themselves pockets of time across the week to meet and practice - whether it be in Room 5, Jisung’s dorm or even Seungmin’s dorm. Jisung can’t help but succumb to his thoughts after their time together. Before this, he didn’t think he’d be so enamoured with a voice, but if Jisung is to be honest with himself, he wishes it stopped at his voice. Instead, now that they’re frequently running into each other outside of their sessions, and all of their friends know each other, Jisung’s learnt more about Seungmin as a person that he just can’t help but feel strongly about him.
Felix teases him, saying he’s too oblivious to his own feelings but Jisung likes to think he’s well in-tune with himself. He’s perceptive, and he knows the first note hooked him but the rest of Seungmin’s person reeled him in. From the angled slope of his nose and his dedication to organise everything to the small favours he does, like buy him coffee on days where Jisung’s had classes back to back or the way he tidies Jisung’s room up while he naps - he doesn’t think he could get any more besotted with Seungmin, if he tried. It’s in the way Seungmin juts out his shoulder for Jisung to rest his head on when he’s tired.
It doesn’t help that Seungmin entertains him well. He rolls his eyes in fake exasperation anytime Jisung opens his mouth to say something, but offers a hand to hold in support anyways. He huffs a sigh of annoyance but indulges Jisung in his jokes.
Jisung doesn’t think he’s clicked faster with anyone apart from Seungmin and Felix. The banter flows easily between them, light jabs laced with fondness. Seungmin’s sharp in his bites but he soothes before it stings.
For Jisung, however, the point at which he knows there’s no turning back is when he strums his guitar, leading Seungmin into the verses, and Seungmin lets go. His gentle voice croons about a special someone showering him with love and praise, all the while sneaking glances at Jisung - he doesn’t wish to unpack what they mean, it’s a dangerous game - and smiling at him. It flusters Jisung to no end, a simple smile and soft eyes enough to reduce him to a bumbling mess, often playing the wrong chord as a result. Seungmin, the sly fucker, would act as if he didn't just make Jisung's heart falter, his knees buckle and his breaths rapid.
And somewhere along the way, he can’t help but slip and fall into adoring Seungmin
“Jisung,” says Seungmin, his eyes crinkling into thin crescents. “Look, look.” His eyes glisten under the luminescent street, tiny specks of white reflected in his eyes. Seungmin tilts his head back and closes his eyes for a short moment before he turns to face Jisung. The arms of his oversized hoodie spill over his arms, and he flaps the hands together, and says, “Staaa.”
Jisung has grown familiar with Seungmin’s soft sounds, elicited particularly when he’s feeling in a great mood, and he’s grown to love them. He lets an adoring smile rest on his face as he pats Seungmin’s hair. “Good job, Seungminnie.”
Seeing as Seungmin’s feeling fantastic, Jisung tests his luck, scratching at the underside of Seungmin’s chin. “Daengdaeng-ah, bark.”
Seungmin throws a pointed look at Jisung but lets out a quiet woof , regardless.
“Who’s a good boy? Who’s the bestest boy?” Jisung coos, ruffling Seungmin’s hair affectionately and bringing him closer to his side. “That’s right, it’s Seungminnie!”
Jisung bursts into a fit of laughter as he watches Seungmin’s patience running thin, a frown curving itself into his lips before he lets the corners of his mouth perk up, amused by Jisung’s happiness with the slightest of actions.
He hopes Seungmin continues to indulge him, even after the performance.
“You’re all set to go, aren’t you?” Felix asks.
Jisung peeks at the clock. There’s around half an hour left before the showcase officially begins and as one of the acts, Jisung was meant to report at the hall at least forty minutes ago. He still hasn’t gotten dressed yet, hasn’t packed his guitar or checked in on Seungmin yet. Now, he’s aware that he should have prepared all of this before it became this close, cutting it way too close for his comfort but sometimes, emotions and anxiety just gets the best of him, and he needs to have some time for himself.
“Not yet,” he replies, scrambling to fit his guitar into its cloth case, as well as his trusty tuner he saves for performances.
Great, that’s one thing done.
Jisung fumbles with the guitar case, trying to close the zip, and throws it onto the couch once it’s done. He paces to his room, where Felix is standing, holding a mustard yellow hoodie with a leather jacket layered on top with his treasured leather pants. Felix hands over the clothes hanger without words, and moves to his accessories drawer. He retrieves a pair of silver cross earrings and another pair of dangling earrings. He adorns them on Jisung’s ear, while the other struggles to slide the pants on.
With Felix’s help, Jisung finishes getting ready in record time, with a few seconds to spare on fixing his hair, smearing some light pink lip gloss and lining the corners of his eyes lightly. He grabs the set of keys, his phone and his wallet, resting on the top of the chest of drawers, and he swings his guitar over his shoulder. His fingers tremble as he waits for Felix to follow him suit, and they set on their way, after locking their door.
Jisung’s grateful for Felix, who, without saying a word, slides his fingers into Jisung’s own cold hands, and intertwines their fingers together, swinging their linked hands gently in the cool breeze. Felix knows him like the back of his hand, and rubs smooth circles in an attempt to calm him, as routine. Jisung feels it bubbling up, rising up his body, threatening to choke him. It consumes his being, the butterflies in his stomach intimidating him more than it should. He feels Felix tracing a pattern on his hand, as they continue walking, intentionally exaggerating his breathing pattern.
Jisung doesn’t know what he would do without Felix by his side.
The walk to the grand hall flies by quickly, as Jisung’s mind races with thoughts - he’s oh-so-afraid that it will all fall into shambles tonight. He knows, he knows that he’s not doing this alone this time.
This is the opportunity he’d been waiting for, and it’s now here.
He finally gets to showcase Seungmin. He finally gets to share what he’s fallen in love with.
Felix accompanies Jisung to the back of the stage, like he always does, and frames Jisung’s face with his hands, running his thumb over Jisung’s cheekbones. “You’ve got this, alright, Hannie? You always do.”
Jisung nods, wanting to speak but his throat constricts the more he tries. He rests his forehead against Felix’s, giving up.
“You’ve got Seungmin, too, yeah?” Felix murmurs. “He’s coming now, I’m going to go steal the front seat to watch you. I’ll be right there, and focus on me.”
Felix relaxes his hold on Jisung gradually, taking each moment to pause and breathe. He waves Seungmin over, who raises a curious eyebrow as he takes in Jisung’s shivering frame.
“I’ll leave you two to get ready,” says Felix with a warm and gentle smile.
Seungmin takes a moment to look at Jisung before he slips an arm around Jisung, wrapping him closer to Seungmin’s chest. He hears, rather feels, Jisung taking shallow and rapid breaths. He tightens his hold on Jisung, hoping to anchor him back with the added pressure, and whispers into his ear, “Jisung, it’s me, Seungmin. Are you with me?”
Jisung hums quietly and nods against Seungmin’s chest. He surfaces his head and smiles tentatively.
Seungmin’s eyes soften as they take in Jisung’s anxious expression. He knows it must be incredibly taxing on the other, and he feels helpless. “Can I do something, Jisung?”
Jisung levels out his breathing slowly before he tilts his head in confusion. He opens his mouth and wills himself to push through, squeaking, “What do you mean?”
The only thing he registers is a barely-there pressure on his right cheek and a tuft of blonde hair in his eyes, and it’s gone before he even realises. Seungmin pulls away, a small blush dusting his cheek, and his eyes darting between Jisung’s eyes and his lips. Jisung knows he has to seize the opportunity while it’s dangling in front of his eyes.
He steps forward, tilts his head slightly and inches his face closer, closing his eyes when he places his lips gently on Seungmin’s. He sighs into his lips, and finds himself surfacing from the oceans he was drowning in. Seungmin pulls away and entwines his fingers with Jisung’s, squeezing softly, and grins.
“Hey there.” Seungmin says, his eyes twinkling with endearment.
Jisung feels a warmth build in his cheeks and his ears, and tries to regulate his breathing. He brings his free hand to cover his mouth and giggles softly. “Hey.”
“What happened there?” Seungmin’s gaze is trained on Jisung, and he feels shy and vulnerable. He wants to hide away from the strength of his focus.
Jisung hums, his eyes tracing the slope of Seungmin’s nose, his philtrum, following down his cupid’s bow and his soft, plush lips. “I just don’t,” he starts, squeezing Seungmin’s hand rhythmically, “deal well with crowds. Or performances.”
Seungmin holds Jisung’s free hand and smooths his thumb over the back of his hand. “How about you focus on me the entire time? Not that it'll be too hard considering that’s the only thing you did when we were practicing,” Seungmin teases him, his eyes swimming with mirth. “But keep your eyes on me, we’ll get through this together.”
Jisung nods, his face flushing as he computes the fact that Seungmin had noticed his staring - but it’s not like he could help it, especially when there’s a cute boy in front of him, practically serenading him. “You know I won’t be able to play then, right?”
“Yeah, that’s alright,” Seungmin says, “You can still look at me whenever you want.”
Jisung unhooks his fingers from Seungmin’s hand to lightly hit Seungmin’s chest with an enclosed fist. “How long are we talking?”
“However long you want to look at me for.” Seungmin smiles softly, bringing a hand to fix Jisung’s front bangs. “Whether that be today, tomorrow, the next few days or the rest of our lives. It’s up to you.”
Jisung gasps lightly, his brain trying to catch up on the implications. He flicks through all the possible connotations Seungmin could have meant and flushes further, feeling the warmth spread into his neck.
He feels more relaxed now, although, he’s sure that holding Seungmin’s hand is contributing majorly to this but he thinks he’ll leave these thoughts to later, when he’s lying in bed with Felix’s hands resting on his waist, his chest pressed against Jisung’s back.
“I’d like that to be for as long as you’ll have me.” Jisung says, unravelling his fingers from Seungmin’s hand, before he rests his head against his chest, soft and content sighs escaping his lips.
Seungmin wraps him closer, and leaves a light kiss on the crown of Jisung’s head. “Then it won’t end anytime soon, I can assure you that.”
Jisung takes a moment to breathe in Seungmin’s comforting scent - sandalwood with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. A feeling of tranquility rushes through him and he sinks further into Seungmin.
A voice booms through the back stage, “Han Jisung and Kim Seungmin, up next.”
“You ready, Han-ah?” Seungmin asks, his hands letting go of Jisung briefly to stroke his shoulder in small, calm brushes.
Jisung takes a deep breath in, puffs out his cheeks, and slings his guitar to be in front of him, unzipping the case with practiced ease and nifty fingers. He raps his knuckles twice on the guitar, “With you by my side? Ready as I’ll ever be.”
He reaches forward, and Seungmin meets him halfway, with the promise of a melody they’ll create together.