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October slowly creeps into my September heart

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Have you ever seen a nature documentary? Like, ones that take place on the African savanna?


Well, if you have, then you would know there is always a scene showcasing some top of the food chain predator chomping down on the neck of some horribly unlucky herbivore.


Sometimes a leopard, or a wild dog, or a lion sinking dagger canines into the coarse fur of an antelope or zebra or wildebeest. And that poor, unfortunate ungulate is always, always still alive while the creature who caught it takes their sweet time to end its misery. Just living its final moments under the points of fangs. 


That's how Chan feels to Felix.


Chan is like a hyena or a lion or a leopard. He's metaphorically chomping down on poor, unfortunate Felix’s neck, and will not let go. Sometimes, if Felix concentrates on the longing in his chest just right, he swears he can feel Chan’s teeth digging into his throat. 


Sometimes, rather than a four-pawed hunting machine, Chan feels more like a snake. Like a huge anaconda, wrapped from Felix’s head to toe and squeezing. And every time Felix sees Chan, whether in real life, or in a photo while scrolling through his phone, or in a dream, he can feel him coiling that much tighter around him, around his heart. 


But Chan himself is not like a hunter, oh no. Chan is everything tender and mild and lovely. He has the aura of a wolf but the personality of a lamb, a sunflower, a patch of clouds that look like a smiley face if you tilt your head just right. 


Felix's own internal love for him, though? That is what has grown claws and sunk sharpened tips into his heart. It was his own self doing, all along. Since the very first moment. 


Because, you see, Felix Lee is in love with Chan. Terribly so. Incredibly so. To the point where he nigh worships the ground the boy walks. To the point where it keeps him up at night, thinking about him and his dimples, about the galaxies in his eyes. About how desperately he wants to be with him. To the point where he might as well have pried the lion’s jaws open himself, and laid his head inside that jagged maw as if a pillow. 


He fell for his best friend, simple as that. He fell for the most important person in his life. 


And Chan? Well….he may be the sweetest, kindest person to ever walk the earth, but he also has a habit of calling Felix his little brother. All the fucking time. 


Basically every time he sees the younger Aussie.


Which, and Felix is no scientist here, isn't the nickname you would pick for the boy you are in love with. 


Felix was going to confess to Chan, actually, two and a half months ago. It was a week out from midterms, and Felix thought it would be a great and extremely cute idea to admit to his crush on Chan and ask him on a study date all at once. 


He even wrote out ‘I have a crush on you <3’ on a few sheets of neon green post-it notes, so he could paste them on the back of Chan’s favorite seat in the library and make it extra sappy, extra special. Felix made a point to seek Chan out right after his midday psychology lecture ended, to rip the goddamn bandage off already. 


Felix wants to do everything with Chan, every day. To go out to dinner with him, and bake with him, and visit that specialty store in Gangnam that carries all the best Australian snacks. 


He wants to kiss Chan, too. Very badly. But it's not like he can just ask his best friend, the boy who calls him his brother, if he wants to smooch a little. Well, he supposes he could. He's just terrified of what could happen if he did. 


And Felix found him easily enough that day, as the students were pouring from the lecture hall. Chan is pretty hard to miss, though. 


Or at least, he is to Felix. 


Chan caught sight of Felix headed his way, and his expression immediately cheered all the way up. He waved the boy over, pale hand like a white flag in the chaos of escaping students. 


“Hey, Channie hyung!” Felix had called, trying desperately to keep his palpable nerves to a minimum. 


Chan looked at him so fondly, with such an intensity of tenderness, it just about sent Felix crumbling to the floor. 


But, as soon as he skipped over to Chan, things went South. Fast. 


Chan looked so perfect in the hallway, with his dark curls springing up on the crown of his head and his silver piercings bending rings of light from the overhead fluorescents. And then, right as Felix was starting to gain the confidence to ask him out, the boy did it. He said it.


He gazed into Felix’s eyes, and hit him with a, “What's happening, lil’ bro? I missed you.” 


He sounded incredibly endeared, granted, almost loving , but the sweetness of his tone did little to melt the ice block Felix’s heart had frozen to.


Felix felt snowflakes crystallizing in his chest, successfully suffocating the burning fire to confess. It withered and died, just like the offer for a study date he was so very excited to pose.


Naturally. Chan only thought of Felix as his little bro. His best friend. His family. 


It was so cliche in that moment; how the light in Felix’s eyes dimmed, how the physicality of those post-it notes in his pocket dissolved into weightlessness. How his beaming smile faltered, fell, was forced back onto his lips so Chan wouldn't become privy to the ache in his heart. 


“I missed you too, hyung.” Felix had said, hardly audible under the noise and movement between classes, and, even though he meant it with every fiber of his being, it still hurt. Hurt like fangs plunged into his throat, bleeding him dry. Like lean muscle wringing him flat. 


Chan knew Felix likes boys, and was single. Felix knew Chan likes boys, and was single. But, clearly, Chan wasn't in love with him. And he has since accepted that, the sting of unrequited love. It doesn't make it throb any less, but Felix has learned to... live with it. To coexist with that profound one-sided love sitting heavily in his chest, and continue on. For his own sake, and for Chan’s. 


Felix never scrounged up the courage to even attempt to confess to Chan again. He kept those thoughts, all the lovely, pink-hued scenarios pertaining to how much he wants to kiss Chan and tell him just how much he loves him, in the safety of his head. For his eyes, his ears, his heart, and his alone. 


You might be wondering: how did Felix develop such a debilitating crush on his best friend? Who bro zones him every fucking day? 


It's not terribly strange to think of how, actually. Chan is...kinda just...the best. The best person, the best personality, the best at everything. 


Chan is captain of their university’s swim team, star batter on their baseball team, and president of the music production club. 


Felix isn't the captain of anything, isn’t the star of anything, isn't the president of anything.


He's simply...Felix Lee, Australian transfer student. A sophomore. Above average grades and a strong, tight-knit friend group. And he is in love with Chan. That's all he's got going for him. 


But that's not even it. Chan isn't just some charming jock with a shelf full of trophies (which he does have in his dorm, Felix has seen them many a time), he's also smart. Chan is interested in arts and music and the stars. God, he loves stars so much, it just about makes Felix go berserk. 


Chan knows how to hit a game winning home run, and he also knows every constellation in the night each season. 


Honestly, it's no real surprise Chan considers Felix his little brother, if he (begrudgingly) thinks about it. It was Chan who took extreme care of Felix, right after his transfer to school in Seoul. And in the same breath, it's no stretch of the imagination to wonder why Felix fell so hard, so fast, so deep for Chan.


It was Chan who was designated to welcome him, and show him around the grounds. Felix doesn't know why the university picked him (maybe because he's so involved in after school activities, maybe because he's also an Aussie transplant, maybe because he's just fucking Bang Chan, and everyone with a pulse loves him) but he will never forget the moment he stepped foot onto campus on the first day of freshman year, and Chan ran up to him with the most inviting smile Felix had ever seen. 


Felix remembers the first time he saw Chan so vividly, how his brown curls bounced as he jogged over to him. How his own heart pounded with a strange sort of power as he and Chan’s eyes met, and he felt electricity zap up and down his spine. 


“How you goin’?” Chan asked in that voice, that accent that sounded just like Felix’s neighbors and friends and family he missed so very much. It was in that second, as Chan beamed and shined like the sun, Felix realized it was only a matter of time. After their very first meeting he realized that Chan would become his life line, his protector, and, eventually, something much more than that. 


Felix was alone and terrified on the plane, alone and terrified at the airport, alone and terrified in the taxi ride over to school, but suddenly, once he met Chan, he had someone. All that fear and loneliness was immediately inverted, as soon as he found Chan at the campus gates. Smiling so beautifully, as if he'd known Felix his entire life. 


“Better now.” Felix responded truthfully, eyes wide and wet as he met the elder’s gaze. His accent sounded exactly like Chan’s, and that fact alone warmed his heart more than he could have imagined. “Thanks, mate.” 


He could play the waiting game, and pretend until it became too huge to deny, but Felix recognized right then and there that he was bound to fall in love with Chan. 


Felix thought it was like destiny, how Sydney so lovingly chewed them both up and somehow spit them out in the same university in Seoul. He thought it was like fate. 


From that day onward their lives became interwoven, like how ivy climbs through the grooves in a brick wall. 


It was Chan who helped Felix with his rusty Korean, who stayed up all night hand writing important vocabulary Felix would need to know for campus living. He wrote those lists of hangul on neon green post-its, and stuck them all around Felix’s dorm room. They're still there, some of them. Felix doesn't have the heart to take down the ones that haven't lost their stick, despite the incredible improvement in his fluency. 


It was Chan who texted Felix all day after he settled into his dorm, sending pictures from his last trip home to Sydney and writing exclusively in familiar, slanged English. It was Chan who joked with Felix about Maccas, about drop bears, about missing tim tam slams. It was Chan who brought that little piece of Sydney to Seoul, when Felix needed it the most. 


It always was Chan, and it will always be Chan. 


It was Chan who walked Felix to all of his classes for the first two weeks of the semester, in spite of Felix memorizing the schedule after day one. It was Chan who brought Felix lunch when he was too busy cramming to head to the dining hall. It was Chan who played round after round of uno with Felix, hours of it, when he undoubtedly had his own responsibilities to tend to. It was Chan who stayed up with Felix, hugging him tight and rubbing his back, when he broke down from homesickness.


“I miss Sydney,” Felix had sniffled into Chan's neck, tears dappling the faux-leather of his jacket. 


Chan wrapped his arms securely around Felix’s waist, and hugged him to his chest. Felix could feel Chan’s heart beating beneath his jacket and tee, slow and steady, like a hymn under his bones. He stroked comforting lines down Felix’s spine, and it helped ease the comparatively rapid pounding of his own heart. 


“I know. Sydney misses you, too.” Said Chan, whispering right into Felix’s ear. It was exactly what he needed to hear. Just an ‘ I know’. A 'you're allowed to feel like this, and it is understandable’. 


Felix sobbed harder at that, but something about his tears changed in that moment. Something about his desperate grip on Chan's pleather jacket shifted. Something untranslatable in the crook of his fingers.


The pain in his heart suddenly repositioned.


In that instance, as he cried in Chan's arms, he didn't miss Sydney any longer. 


He missed Chan. Even though they were snuggled chest to chest in Felix’s dorm room, even though Felix had his head stuffed in the crook of the boy’s neck, even though Chan had strong, muscular swimmer’s arms laced tight around him, Felix found himself missing him. Yearning for him in advance, for when they eventually part. 


Their faces were so close, and Felix had to physically bite down on his lip, tasting the salt that wetted his tongue, to keep himself from pecking Chan's mouth. 


Felix fell asleep in Chan's arms that night, tears dried on his cheeks and a smile on his face, small and soft but still there . It was thanks to Chan that he slept so soundly that night, all cuddled onto his broad chest. 


Chan didn't leave his side until early the next morning, when he carefully slid out from under Felix to head over to swim practice.


He left Felix a note on his bedside table. Written on a neon green post-it, it read:


‘Text me later if you need me? Have a great day, little bro!’ 


He drew a tiny, slightly misshapen Aussie flag beneath the message. Felix’s body warmed upon waking and finding the note, until it hit him. 


Little bro? Felix thought, as he cocked a brow at the little green sheet. Who cuddles someone while they sleep, holds them while they cry, then calls them their little bro? 


That was the first time he called Felix such a thing, and his heart stuttered as he read it. Felix thought nothing out of the ordinary, though. He thought it was just Chan being Chan.


But it continued. Thereon after, the little bro nickname stuck. Like glue. Like neon green post-it notes. 


Felix's love for Chan grew and grew, quickly morphing from platonic to very, very romantic, and Chan still called him his little bro at every fucking opportunity. Felix fell in love with Chan during freshman year, and now, in the middle of his sophomore year, Felix is just as smitten with him. If not more. 


And Chan is nothing if not persistent with the regularity of that godforsaken nickname. 


When Felix aced a particular grueling midterm? “Proud of you, little bro!” 


When their friend group goes bowling, and Felix is gunning for a spare after knocking nine pins? “You got this, little bro!” 


Felix tried to ignore it, ignore the connotations of the nickname, but such implications are hard to bury under the weight of your crush.


Chan doesn't think of Felix as someone he could date, and that is shoved right into his face every time he calls Felix his little bro, in that accented english which brings him across continents. 


So that's why Chan is like a lion to Felix. Like a wolf. Like something big and beautiful with equally large teeth sunk right into him.


Chan will not let Felix go. Felix will not let himself go. His love has sprouted paws and fangs and it drags him across the land, all in search of Chan reciprocating such feelings.


Felix scratched at his neck, absentmindedly.


He swore he felt teeth marks indented into the flesh. 


Jisung is everything Felix isn't.


He's loud. He's exuberant. He's outgoing. Oh, and he's bad at physics. At least Felix has him beat there.


And he and his roommate, Jisung, became inseparable best friends the moment Felix walked into their dorm with Chan. 


Damn. Chan was there for his and Jisung's first meeting, too. Why was Chan there for so many of Felix’s most important moments on campus? Or were those moments so special because he was there? Felix tries not to think about it too much, lest his heart spontaneously combust. 


Jisung stomped into their shared living room space, the Hello Kitty stickers on his combat boots cracked and faded from sun bleaching and rain. His amber-blonde hair is wonderfully fluffy and mussed over his forehead, shining with each angle of sunlight to hit the strands through the window. 


“Felix!” He screamed, for absolutely no reason. 


Felix, currently sitting cross legged on the sofa and scrolling aimlessly through his phone, merely grunted at Jisung’s theatrics.


His roommate flopped onto the couch next to Felix, eyes sparkly and strangely pleading. Felix is suddenly afraid.


“The spring dance is coming up.” Jisung declared, completely out of the blue. 


Felix nodded, “It is.” 


Jisung prodded Felix in the side, “Well…?”


Felix scrolled past another boring insta post from a boring semi-acquaintance he barely knew in high school. 


“Well what.” 


Jisung crept even closer to Felix, and warbled into his ear, “You know .”  


Felix jumped at Jisung's sudden proximity, scooting himself a few inches away. 


“I do not.” He droned, and focused back on instagram. He thumbed through his timeline, until he inadvertently zipped past a photo of their university's swim team. Felix's heart pounded, and he quickly scrolled back up and examined the photo. There. Middle of the left row. 




He's got his goggles pushed up his forehead, making his soggy curls stick up at odd, rounded angles. His orange swim cap is clutched in one hand, the other holding up a V sign as he hunches over to grin next to his teammates. He’s shirtless like everyone else, the high camera quality not hiding the diamond beads of pool water glistening on his pecs and abs. He's the only member with dimples, though. And curly hair. 


He's the only member of the swim team Felix is irrevocably in love with. 


Felix sighed, unconsciously, as he stared at Chan amongst the team members. 


Jisung needled him in the ribs with the point of his elbow, none too gently. Felix yowled, eyes going agape and temporarily forgetting that image of Chan on the screen. 


“H-hey!” Felix winced, rubbing at his side with a tiny little hand.


Jisung waggled his brows, not remorseful in the slightest.


“Are you gonna ask him?” 


Felix's blood ran cold, feeling as if a network of icicles laid end to end, tip to tip. Play dumb, he thought, frantically. Play dumb, play dumb.


Felix pursed his lips, purposefully made his eyes stoic and expression blank, and sent his attention back to his phone. He quickly double tapped the post, and scrolled past the swim team photo without a second glance.


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Jisung saw through him instantly, which did not surprise Felix whatsoever. He casually sat back, bending his lanky legs to prop the grimey, rough treds of his boots on the coffee table. Ugh. Something else Felix will have to clean later, while Jisung is in class.


He shot Felix an incriminating glare, furrowing his forehead. “Uh, Chan hyung? Duh.” 


Felix sighed, and finally clicked his phone off. He blinked and that photo of Chan, all perfect and smiling, flashed in the muddy darkness. 


He shook his head, “No, Jisung. I mean, I want to, but here's no point in asking. He thinks of me as his... brother.” He spit the last word out as if venom in his mouth.


Felix continued, gradually getting angrier and angrier. He threw up a pair of defeated hands, “Who wants to go to a dance with their brother? Nobody. Chan hyung would never say yes, if I asked.” 


“Plus,” Felix added, audibly dejected, “Chan hyung went with Sana noona to the winter dance so she wouldn't be alone. He's probably already going with someone who doesn't have a date, because he's that fucking nice.” 


Felix crossed his arms over his chest, sunk down against the sofa until his chin poked into his clavicles. He huffed, forcefully trying to stamp out his annoyance, but to no avail. Goddamnit. Why does Chan have to be so perfect? So beautiful? So sweet? 


Why does Felix have to love someone who will never see him the same way?


Jisung rolled his eyes, but it was not unkind. He sang, “I don't think so,” 


He slapped a hand on Felix’s shoulder, a gesture he can only assume was meant to be comforting. Jisung squeezed, catching some of the ceiling light on the old, chipping black polish on his nails. Chipping like the kawaii stickers plastered all over his boots.


“You should ask him! I'm sure he'd say yes. Me and Min hyung are going, so we could all hang out together!” 


Felix wasn't hearing it. He shook his head again, digging his chin deeper into his chest. “Hell no. I don't know what I would do if I actually heard Chan hyung reject me.” 


Jisung bounced in place, still inordinately excited for no good reason. His zest for life is starting to get on Felix’s nerves. “He wouldn't!” He exclaimed, slightly whining. Jisung moaned, as if personally exasperated with Felix. “You know he doesn't actually think you guys are related, right?”


Felix looked at Jisung from below his lashes. “Is that right?” He drawled, lids heavy. “And here I was, waiting until Monday to get the paternity test results.” 


Jisung giggled, before getting himself back on track. He removed his hand from Felix's shoulder, and instead rested his pudgy cheek against his cap sleeve. “Please, just ask him? For me?” He sounds incredibly serious, Felix noted.


Regardless, he still grumbled, “No.” 


Obviously Felix would love to go to the bi-annual dance with Chan, but is it worth the risk to ask? It would crush him completely, devastatingly if Chan had to explicitly say no to his proposal. It would crush his crush. Crush his heart. How on earth can it be worth it, Felix wonders. 


Jisung whined, “Pleeeease? You can ask him after swim practice!” 


Felix inhaled sharply, exhaled sharply. “I hate the smell of chlorine.” 


Jisung sent him a knowing, equally unimpressed look. “Lix, you literally go to all of Chan hyung’s swim meets, and cheer louder for him than anyone. Why is the chlorine an issue now?”


Damnit . Felix didn't think that excuse through enough. His facade is starting to crumble.


“I-I, uh,” Felix sputtered, at a loss for how to proceed. “I'm just saying–” 


“He likes you, you know.” 


Lightning. Felix felt lightning, heard the thunder as it striked the crown of his head. Electricity ran down his spinal column, before landing square in his core and making him jolt on the sofa. 


Felix repeated himself from before, but he meant it this time. “W-who?” 


His eyes are so wide, so glassy as he stares at Jisung. He has to crane his head down a little, so he can fully meet his roommate’s face as he props his cheek on Felix’s shoulder. 


Jisung looked up into his owl eyed stare, and something in his gaze gave Felix chills. 


He pointed a finger at Felix’s black phone screen. The light shined on the matte, uneven polish, and it kind of looked like a map on Jisung's nail. 


“Chan hyung.” 


Felix feels dazed. Chan...likes him? 


Well, yeah, he knew that. He totally knows Chan likes him. Chan wouldn't do half the shit he's done with Felix, for Felix, if he didn't at least like him.


He just...doesn't like him in that way. 




“Y-yeah,” Felix muttured, lips suddenly feeling numb. “I know he likes me. As a friend.” 


Felix added, after a heavy gulp, “Like a brother.” 


Jisung rolled his eyes again, a wider arc this time, so only the milky whites were visible. “Ugh,” He groaned, “You are so dense, Lix.” 


Felix almost hacked a lung out at that, eyes flying open. “Dense?!” He squawked, “Chan hyung calls me his brother, his little brother, every fucking time we talk! Every time we text! How is that someone who would want to date me?”  


They weren't talking about dating, not necessarily, but Felix is gradually losing control; of his emotions, his thoughts, of that wild, hungry beast that is his love for Chan.


Yes, they were simply discussing the upcoming dance, and how Jisung uncannily knows just how badly Felix does want to ask Chan, but now it has evolved. 


His love has grown poison barbs, a spiky tail, and it sank deeper into Felix’s heart, making it sting. Making it bleed.


His chest tightened. Felix blinked away unconscious tears. 


“How am I dense, Jisung?” Felix whispered. It was rhetorical. Felix sniffed, teary eyes finding his hands gripping at his thighs. It hurts. This love hurts. 


He sniffled, “Chan hyung doesn't like me in that way. If he did, he wouldn’t call me... that.” 


Jisung seemed appropriately stunned at Felix's abrupt tears, at the pain so tangible now in his reddened eyes. 


Until he grabbed his arm and massaged Felix’s bicep, silently. It was enough, Jisung's soothing fingers and his steady presence at Felix’s side. Until the pain, the love, the yearning all rushed Felix again, three waves knocking him down and filling up his lungs. 


Felix felt his tears shaking, as he sucked in wet breaths. He rubbed knuckles over his eyes, and they are tacked with diamond beads in the wake. 


“Felix…” Jisung whispered, as if it alone would somehow make everything better. He gripped his fingers on Felix's arm a bit tighter, a bit snugger. “You know how much you mean to him. You know that.”


He does know that. Such a thought rattled his heart around his chest. 


Felix gasped a sob, “I just want him to know how much I love him. A-and for him to love me back.” 


And then there was silence. The kind of pin-drop silence that makes even the softest of cries sound like thunder claps. The kind of silence that makes the thud of your heart sound earth-shattering.  


Felix wiped away his tears, only for more to fall after a rub of his palm. 


But Felix wasn't prepared for what Jisung is about to say, after a few more beats of whimpering quiet. 


He wasn't prepared at all.


“Wanna go to baseball team practice?” 


Felix's sniffling stilled, his body stiffened. 


He whimpered, voice too broken to rise above, “ team? Why?” 


The offer was so random, so out of the blue, Felix could hardly wrap his head around the abrupt suggestion. But, now that he thinks about it, the team is smack dab in the middle of their weekly practice right now, over in the field behind the gym building.


Jisung shrugged, idly tapping semi-polished fingers along Felix's arm. “I wanna visit Minho hyung.” 


Well, that checks out. Minho, Jisung's boyfriend, is also one of the top players on their uni’s baseball team. 


He wouldn't mind seeing Minho, actually. He's hilarious, and another member of Felix's friend group. He could use a Minho-laugh right now, for sure.


Felix sighed, “Alright. Fine.” 


He wasn’t thinking, not truly, not critically, when he acquiesced. 


Jisung beamed, happily puffing out his chest as if in triumph. He squeezed Felix’s arm tighter as he popped from the couch, soon dragging his buddy up and off with him. 


Felix wobbled a bit as he found his footing, and Jisung readily helped steady him. 


He began to tow Felix to the door, Hello Kitty combat boots deafening against the floorboards. Felix just let it all happen. 


But then it hit him like a brick–


“W-wait,” Felix squeaked, digging in his sneaker heels to halt Jisung. Felix’s skin paled considerably. 


“Chan hyung is on the baseball team too. Did you forget he's also on the team, Jisung?” 


He thought it would serve as reason enough to bail. 


Jisung had other ideas.


He pulled Felix towards the door, as he fumbled to turn the knob with one hand. Felix sputtered, as he tried and failed to fight against Jisung’s (somehow) superior strength. Has Minho been making him lift weights recently, or something?! 


Jisung shrugged again, knobby shoulders ghosting his pierced ears. He scratched at his temple with the hand not clasping Felix, a crooked grin showing off his teeth.


“Oh, yeah,” Jisung quipped, as he successfully yanked a wide-eyed Felix out of their dorm and into the hall. He locked the door with one hand, and Felix almost fainted under the pinch of his fingers. 


“I guess I forgot.”


“Jisung, why are we here?” 


“Why are any of us here, really?”


Felix clenched a fist with one hand, wiped the sweat off his brow with the other. “You know that's not what I meant.” 


Jisung’s wide, cartoony smile seemed to glow under the sunlight. “It's a nice day out. We should get some fresh air.” 


“That's not why we're here.” 


Jisung leaned back against the metal bleacher, resting his elbows on the corrugated silver. “Right, that's true. I did wanna see Minho hyung, more than anything.” 


Felix had to squeeze his fists to stop himself from tearing his hair out. 


Though he has to admit, it is a top-ten lovely day today. The sun is shining, there is enough puffy cloud cover to keep the heat at bay in between concentrated rays, and a distinctly spring breeze is snaking through the air. It is nice out here on the bleachers, Felix can’t deny it. It’s only the two of them as practice spectators, to boot. There’s something kinda fantastical about being so close to the action of the team, yet still separated from all the movement by the mile high chain fence surrounding the field. 


So close yet so far kinda bullshit. 


But is he happy about Jisung quite literally dragging him to the baseball diamond? Absolutely not. 


“It’s so hot,” Felix griped, fanning himself with a tiny hand after pulling at the neckline of his shirt. He peeled some sweaty, artificial blonde locks off his neck, then pinched his brows at Jisung’s thick-soled combat boots. “How are you wearing those, in weather like this?”


Jisung chuckled, wiggled his pigeon-toed feet so a pair of Hello Kitty stickers faceplant together. “I have a certain aesthetic to uphold.”


Fair enough, Felix thought. He turned his attention to the field itself. 


The team is nearing the end of practice. Felix knows, since he has, admittedly, been to his fair share of team practices to support Chan. But that was on his own volition! Which is how he likes it. 


Felix hunkered down on the bleacher next to Jisung, desperately trying to seek the shadow cast by the poles of the chain fence. If he angles himself just right, the point of the closest metal stake blots out the sunlight perfectly. 


Felix is also kinda, sorta trying to hide himself behind Jisung. Not totally, but just enough that Chan, should he look their way and see them, wouldn’t realize Felix just kinda, sorta had a breakdown (over him ). His nose is still red, his eyes are still wet and puffy, and being on the same field as Chan isn’t really helping his whole post-cry face situation. 


He can see Minho from where he's half-hiding behind Jisung, however. Number 25, standing ready and prepared on the pitching mound. 


And then Felix’s hot, humid breaths froze in his throat, because another player just came into view. 


Someone stepped up to the plate, tapped the nose of his bat twice into the dirt, kicked up a miniature dust storm as he got into his batting stance.


It’s number 3.


It’s Chan. 


Felix sighed, longingly, eyes going hazy and distant as he watched Chan from afar. He’s got a white university ball cap on today, keeping his curls out his eyes and casting inky shadow across his face. Felix almost started drooling, as Chan stretched out his hips before making a practice swing. His biceps flexed as he mock-swung, his blue and white pinstripe jersey dipping between his pecs. His tight, white uniform slacks hug his thighs perfectly, accentuating his mouthwatering muscles. Even the navy blue socks tucked into his pants are hot as fuck! It’s not fair! 


Listen. Felix doesn’t know the first thing about baseball, save for the fact that they hit the ball, run after the ball, and try to...catch the ball? There’s a lot of ball work, and that’s really, honestly, all Felix thinks he needs to know. 


That, and their uniforms are unfairly form fitting and unfairly hot. Like, Felix never thought he had a thing for men in sports uniforms, but one look at Chan in his number 3 get-up, and Felix quickly added a new thing to his thing list. 


Not like he would ever admit that to Chan, obviously. 


Minho stood ramrod at the mound, raised his leg all the way up, before rearing his arm back and letting the ball fly. 


Chan positioned his bat over his shoulder, and, like clockwork, Felix felt his cheeks blush all the way to his ears. Is it suddenly hotter outside? 


Chan swung his bat—




The ball soared, a white dot careening high above the diamond. Chan threw his bat to the dirt, and took off running. And, boy, can he run. 


Felix bit down on his lip as he watched the action, promptly and suspiciously engrossed. 


“I’ve got my eye on you, number 3.” Felix mused under his breath, finding himself smiling as he watched Chan round second base. 


Jisung sent his roommate a sly, knowing grin, but stayed uncharacteristicly silent. 


Practice continued for the next ten minutes, give or take. Chan ran his way back to home plate, slid across the base with flourish, and Felix has no idea what that means. You’d think Felix would have learned even a little of the game, after watching so many practice matches and real games alike to cheer on Chan, Not at all. Their coach seemed exceedingly happy, though, and Chan got a good few claps on the back from his teammates, so he assumes it must have been a good play. 


After a few minutes of pitching practices, the team members broke apart and began to pack up their stuff. Felix’s eyes were glued to Chan the entire time, as he shuffled over to a bench, zipped his bat into his duffle bag and slung it over his shoulders, tapped his toes to shake the dust from his cleats. 


Felix almost forgot the real reason Jisung forced him here, until—


“Minho hyung!” Jisung screamed, cupping a hand over his mouth, “Babe! Over here!”


Felix winced at the volume, pawing at his ears as Jisung wailed. 


Minho, who had just finished collecting the stray balls littering the field, startled at the sudden call of his name. His eyes darted about, until he eventually found Jisung and Felix alone on the bleachers. He waved his hand, still donning his thick catcher’s mitt, and trotted over after tossing the balls back in their crate. 


Fuck,” Jisung all but moaned, as Minho jogged to the fence, “That uniform does wonders for his thighs.” 


Such a comment from Jisung did not phase Felix in the slightest. 


Minho sidled up to the fence, and Jisung popped from the bleachers in turn. Jisung skipped to the wall of chain links, fingers curling between metal loops. He tip-toed up to kiss Minho through one of the holes in the fence. 


“Great job out there, hyungie.” Jisung cooed, and Felix could clearly see how Minho’s cheeks flushed, even under the blinding sunlight. Jisung’s boyfriend hummed and curled his own fingers through some of the holes, as if trying to rip the barrier between him and Jisung. 


Minho then found Felix, still sitting on the bleachers, and his expression softened. Minho's hair is dampened at the tips, clinging to his forehead from post-practice sweat. His brows quirked, as he grinned that cat-like smile of his. “Hey, Lix.”


Felix waved, “Sup, Minho hyung. Nice work today!”


“Thanks!” Replied Minho, making an awkward, misshapen thumbs-up through his catcher’s mitt. 


It is at this moment that Jisung, an impish sparkle in his eyes, whispered something to Minho through the chain fence. Minho listened intently, before nodding. 


Jisung’s boyfriend turned, facing the rest of his teammates still puttering about the field, and cupped his leather mitt over his lips. 


“Chan hyung!” Minho yelled, echoing through the baseball diamond, and Felix’s overheated blood all but froze. “Come over here!” 


Felix’s body stuttered, almost sending him tumbling backwards onto the next row of bleachers. Chan?! Come over here?! 


Goddamnit, Jisung!


“W-what? No, no, he doesn’t need to come over here!” Felix yelped, waving his hands as if to dispel Minho’s scream. Yes, Chan is Felix’s best friend who he would genuinely love to hang with now, as he always does, but...Chan can’t see him like this! Little does he know Felix was just crying about him, about how much he fucking loves him, and now Jisung wants to shove Felix right into Chan’s face?! 


But it is much too late.


Chan is coming over here. 


A pair of broad shoulders, the number 3 emblazoned over the pinstripe, jumped. Chan turned to follow the disturbance, and, of course, he immediately found Jisung, Minho, and Felix. 


His expression, which had previously been relatively serious while in the zone, blossomed. His eyes went all wide and sparkly, his lips formed the biggest, brightest smile the world has ever known. Even more luminous than the sun beating down on Felix and sweating bullets down his chest. 


Chan broke into a full on sprint, his bat bag knocking against his hip with each stride, and Felix began to panic.


“Fuck, he’s coming over here,” He whimpered, shrinking in on himself as if trying to find a place to hide in the open air bleachers. “Goddamn you, Jisung!”


His roommate simply sent Felix a peace sign and grin over a shoulder, before returning his attention to Minho behind the fence. He motioned for Minho to bend down, and Jisung happily smooched his cheek through a metal chain link. 


Chan skidded to a halt at said fence, cleats grinding up puffs of dried earth. He leaned an arm against the metal, making it bend under his weight. Felix can now see the patches of dirt caked onto his knees and thighs, rubbed deep into the pinstripe from sliding across home plate. Chan looked past Minho, past Jisung, and instantly locked onto Felix. 


He smiled like Felix is the only being on earth worth seeing, “Hey, Lix! I missed you, little bro. Thanks for coming to watch us!” 


Felix’s eyes fluttered. 


Of course he couldn’t go one fucking day, one fucking sentence without calling Felix that nickname. Felix’s heart turned to ice, then melted upon meeting Chan’s eyes and facing the stars within. Felix is so in love with him.


And Chan thinks Felix is his little fucking brother. 


“Hey, Channie hyung,” Felix said, intentionally steadying the waver in his voice. “I missed you too.” 


It’s the truth. It’s so true it hurts. 


Chan motioned Felix over, and he unconsciously stood from the bleachers without a second thought. Felix clambered over the ridged metal seats, and padded over to Chan. He hooked his own fingers through the fence, mimicking Jisung. Chan slid fingers of his own over Felix’s, stuffing the same metal gaps. 


Felix almost audibly whimpered at the feeling of Chan’s fingers caressing his, even through the constraints of the fence. 


He’s held Chan’s hand before, though. Just like how he’s cuddled with Chan before, too many times to even count. Which is totally what you would do with someone you consider your brother. 


Felix will never understand him.


And he’ll never understand Jisung either, because, right as Felix was getting the wonderful kind of lost in Chan’s eyes, his roommate piped up again. 


“Chan hyung,” He chirped, leaning a tiny hip against the fence. The metal clattered, like nails down the inside of Felix’s skull. “Felix has something to ask you.” 


Felix’s eyes shot open, wide. His heart fossilized and became stone. 


Chan’s smile grew, familiar dimples greeting Felix. “Oh? What’s up, Felix?”


Felix blinked rapidly, as his brain worked overtime to try and come up with an excuse. He should've known his roommate had something ridiculous brewing, when he asked him to come watch practice!


“I-I, um, don’t have anything to ask you, hyung.” Felix murmured, focusing on the earth below, how the grass beneath the bleachers shifts into fawn brown dirt right under the bottom chains of the fence. He can’t look at Chan. The stars in his eyes would only serve to make him that much more dizzy. 


Jisung smacked Felix on the shoulder, as if to remind him of something. “Don’t you, though?” He asked, pointedly. He bored into Felix, his smile tight and slightly menacing. 




Felix’s deadened gaze snapped up at Chan’s voice, and their eyes met once again. Chan’s irises are so bright, his pupils so starry. His smile is so perfect, so genuine. Felix felt himself falling, melting, disintegrating.


Felix swallowed thickly, and he could swear up and down that he felt pointed fangs closing in on his throat. Chan has him, just like always. He will not let him go. 


Not if Felix has anything to say about it. 


“You...played really well today, hyung.” Felix muttured, purging a loaded breath. 


Chan cocked his head. His smile shrunk, just a bit. “Thanks, Lix. But...that isn’t a question?”


Felix laughed nervously, prying his fingers from the fence, from under Chan’s, in order to snatch up two handfuls of Jisung. He forcefully pulled him away, purposefully ignoring his whines to stay with Minho. 


“That’s funny!” Felix said, through gritted teeth. “Really funny how stuff works out like that. Well, bye Chan hyung, bye Minho hyung! You guys did great—”


“Felix, wait!” 


Felix was about to make his way to the field exit, Jisung still writhing in his grasp and reaching grabby hands for Minho, when he stopped. His grip on Jisung’s shirt went slack. Felix’s arms fell limply to his sides, along with the air in his lungs. 


Felix gulped, and turned back around to face the fence. 


“Yeah, Chan hyung?”


Something in Chan’s eyes looks strange now. Something in them looks darker. Some of the stars seem to have died. 


His smile flattened completely, “Can we talk later?” 


If Chan saw how Felix’s bottom lip quivered, he didn’t call attention to it. He just kept looking at Felix, through the metal loops. Stared at him, unreadably. The thin guard fence separating them makes Chan feel miles away. Worlds away. Not only unreachable physically, but emotionally. 


He's never seen Chan look at him like that before. 


And Felix feels like dropping to his knees and crying. He feels numbed, as if his body had been stuck in permafrost for millions of years, and just thawed with Chan’s question. Jisung and Minho are still loitering around them, Minho behind the fence with Chan and Jisung outside the fence with Felix, but the couple, usually boisterous and teasing, went unusually silent and static. Felix found himself forgetting their prescence. 


“Talk…?” Felix repeated, unconsciously. 


Chan’s never asked him to talk before. 


Something about it makes Felix terrified. 


Chan nodded, knocking the brim of his cap into the chain fence. It clattered, noisily. “Yeah. Meet me by the fountain tonight after I’m done with classes?” 


Chan’s last class ends at 7:46 p.m.


Felix mumbled, “At 7:46?”


His heart feels constricted, knotted up. Felix is scared to talk to Chan. What if he’ll say he wants them to stop being best friends? What if Felix’s feelings, that he can’t even control, end the most important relationship he’s ever had in his life? 


Chan bobbed his head again. “Right. I’ll see you there?” 


Felix quickly blinked away his tears before Chan could see.


What if he ruined everything? Ruined them? 


Chan is a lion, a wolf, an anaconda, and, right in that very moment, Felix swore he’d finally succumbed. The teeth plunged in deeper. Drew streams of invisible blood from his heart, each beat thrumming Chan's name through his marrow. 


This love hurts. It stings. 


It bleeds. 


“Sure,” Felix whispered, unable to attempt a smile. The sunlight feels like it’s burning him. 


“I’ll see you there.”


Chan made it to the fountain first. 


It’s a large, somewhat gaudy installation, tiers of falling water serving as the centerpiece of the campus grounds. Chan’s frame is backlit by the floor-lights, casting his impressive proportions in inky shadow. 


His class must have gotten out early. Felix picked up his pace, soon breaking into a jog over to the water feature.


Chan perked up at the sight of Felix speed walking closer, but his small smile is severely offset by the sadness in his eyes. Why does Chan look so upset? Something in his expression is scaring Felix to his very core. 


“Oi, Lix!”


The pitch of Chan's accented english brought Felix only a minor amount of comfort. 


Chan waved Felix over, just like he did at the baseball field earlier. He’s long since changed out of his number 3 uniform, and is now wearing a simple black hoodie and ripped jeans. Chan’s given Felix some of his hoodies before. They’re warm and soft, and smell exactly like him. Felix always wears them to sleep when he misses Sydney. 


“Hey, hyung.” Felix can’t believe he managed to speak first, despite how tiny his voice may have been. He thought his dread at what’s to come would’ve rendered him speechless. He shuffled over to Chan, his sneakers as if lead weights laced to his feet. 


Chan is leaning up against the plaster base of the fountain, and Felix sidled up to him and matched his position. Chan is staring up at the sky now. Sunset is just upon them, the heavens somewhat blue, somewhat green, somewhat orange. The color combo is an eerie one, if not equally as ethereal. 


“Felix,” Chan said, simply. Getting right to the point, it seems. He sighed, as he tore his gaze away from the sunset and focused on the younger boy at his side. Felix unconsciously held his breath, and braced for impact.


I don't want to see you ever again.


I don’t want to hear from you ever again. 


We're not best friends anymore. 


I’ll never feel that way about you, so drop it.


“Are you mad at me?” 


Silence. Until Felix choked. 


“W-what?!” He all but shrieked, tripping over his own feet in his haste to face Chan head on. “What are you talking about?” 


Chan thinks...Felix is mad at him?! 


It’s not the other way around…?


Chan shrugged, suddenly looking nothing short of sheepish. His ears went red, appearing even more scarlet than usual in the growing evening. “I don’t know. You looked really uneasy at the field today, when we were talking. And then Jisung said you had to ask me something, and you said you didn’t so,”


Chan sucked in a sharp breath, “I got scared. That I did something...wrong. I never wanna hurt you, so please just tell me if—”


“Oh my god!” Felix bellowed, successfully making Chan jump in shock. His shoulders sagged as his tension released, his blonde head tipping back from the sheer degree of his relief. Felix saw the sunset upside down, orange to green to blue. It looks prettier the right side up. 


He quickly straightened himself, unable to stop the manic, wild grin stretching his lips. Felix almost started hopping in place, as he exclaimed, “Hyung, you absolute buffoon! I’m not mad at you one bit. Jisung just caught me off guard before, is all.” 


The roar of the fountain, the rush and gurgle of the water all faded to a dull murmur in Felix’s ears. The intensity of his happiness became blinders, ear muffs, blocking everything but Chan. 


Chan let loose a loaded sigh. He rubbed at the back of his reddened neck, “Oh, is that all? That’s good to hear. But...why did he even say you had something to ask me, though?” 


Felix chomped down on his bottom lip, as his brain is inundated with thoughts. Joyous thoughts, about how Chan cares about him so fucking much, about what they have . Nerve wracking thoughts, about how to properly answer. Should he come clean, and in turn ask Chan to the dance? No, no, he can’t. What if Chan rejects him, and all this elation is for naught? 


But...what if he says yes, and it’s all for something? 


Maybe it’s the relief like ice in his veins influencing his brain, maybe it’s the beautiful light of the sunset catching in Chan’s galaxy eyes, but Felix decided, consciously, to throw caution to the wind. 


“Actually,” Felix started, wringing his little hands together. “There is something I, maybe, wanted to ask you.” 


Chan hummed, and snatched up both of Felix’s twiddling hands. He held them steady, linking their opposing bodies under the rising moonlight. His palms are so soft and so warm. “Anything, Lix.”


Felix heaved a perperatory breath, calming the clip of his heart. It’s okay, no matter what happens. Because it was Chan, and it is Chan. Always. 


He looked into Chan’s eyes, saw how the stars have reawakened within, and squeezed his fingers. He’s so in love with him. And Felix’s love is not a ravenous beast any longer, it is not on the hunt to bite and tear. It is reinvented, not something with teeth and claws, not a predator, but something kind and fluffy and beautiful. Something with stars in its eyes. 


“Do you wanna go to the spring dance with me?”


Felix had no idea how Chan would react to the proposal. He had no guess. No estimation. 


But he never expected Chan to promptly gasp, making his eyes the size of dinner plates. Fresh starlight and the watery glow of the fountain reflect in his honey brown irses, their mirror finish putting the crystalline water to shame. His grip on Felix's hands went temporarily slack, along with his jaw. The sunset has mellowed considerably by now, and the moonlight curves around the hoops pierced in Chan’s lobes. 


Chan’s body is most certainly heavenly, from his curls to his shoes. 


And his visceral shock soon turned to a tangible type of glee, the kind that you can feel radiating off his dimpled grin and the constellations in his eyes. Felix doesn't understand, is still trying to catch up, but Chan's visible happiness acted as a hit of caffeine to his senses. Chan's joy grounded him back on earth, plucked the fluttering wings of relief that made him lightheaded. 


“It’s funny you say that,” Chan mused, letting go of Felix’s fingers and instead stuffing his hand in his hoodie’s kangaroo pocket. He fished around, before pulling out something….small? And...plastic wrapped? It’s purple and yellow, with blocky, cartoonish red writing on the packaging. 


Chan extended whatever that is to Felix. His smile has softened, becoming fond and appreciative. 


“I was about to ask you the same thing.” 


Felix’s eyes shot open, glass shattering between his ears. Dazed, in disbelief, Felix mindlessly took the offering from Chan’s hand. 


“A caramello koala?!” Felix exclaimed, the only fucking thing his brain could fully process right now. He stared at the candy, bug eyed, and he feels like crying again. Tears of joy, this time. Felix hasn’t seen one of these treats since he left Sydney, before his freshman year. “You know these are—”


Chan chuckled at Felix’s reaction. “Your favorite? Of course I know that, Lix.” 


“Why do you think I stopped at that specialty grocer in Gangnam to pick some up?” 


Felix still can’t comprehend what’s happening. He feels like he’s spinning, spiraling, glowing through the sky like a rocket. 


He held the candy to his chest, uncaring if the degree of his body heat causes it to melt. Felix closed his eyes, temporarily as he blinked, and he saw Sydney. He saw his old neighborhood. He saw Chan; which means he saw home. “B-but,” Felix murmured, focusing back on Chan. He sees home again, without having to shut his eyes. 


“What does this have to do with the dance?” 


Chan grinned, the moonlight pooling in his dimples. He raised his brows, “Check the back.” 


Felix scrunched his forehead, and flipped the wrapped chocolate around. There’s a slip of paper stuck to the back, all folded up neatly so it is not visible from the front.


It’s a neon green post-it note. 


“Open it.” Said Chan, nudging Felix in the side. 


And Felix did just that; he deftly unpeeled the sticky note from the plastic wrapper, and unwrinkled the sheet. 


‘Will you go to the dance with me, Lixie?’


It’s written all bold and angular, in Chan’s signature penmanship. There’s a tiny, exceedingly improved Australian flag drawn below, next to a heart. 


Felix’s breath is shaking, trembling as if there’s seismic shifting in his chest. He stared at that message, at Chan’s telltale handwriting, until his vision went blurry from a lack of blinks. 


He was about to scream his answer, until something huge popped into his head. 




Chan rolled his eyes, playfully. “Will you stop with the buts, already?”


Felix giggled, but his smile soon leveled. He’s scared again, but the message on that neon green post-it note comforts him beyond measure.


“Don’t you think of me as your...little brother?” 


Chan’s features pinched, “Huh?”  


Felix gulped, gesticulating wildly with his hands and sending the caramello koala zooming through the air. “W-well, you always call me your little bro, right? Like, all the time? You called me it today, hyung. I just wouldn’t wanna go to a dance with someone you thought of as your brother.” 


Chan blinked at Felix, eyes bright and glittery in the night, sparkling under the golden street lamps surrounding the fountain. Then, he gasped again. Felix startled. 




Chan quickly made his expression serious with intention. “I started calling you that when I first met you, because that’s what you were to me. But, even after our relationship grew, it just kind of stuck? And I kept with it because it...became my way of showing you how much I love you. It became a habit, you know? One I couldn't try to break.”


Chan’s eyes became a little glassy, “And I guess I never consciously realized what that nickname might have meant to you, Lix. I’m sorry.” 


Felix still doesn’t understand. 




Chan placed two large, lovely hands on Felix’s shoulders. He held him firm, as he looked deep into his eyes. He’s smiling again, heart shaped and gorgeous, and Felix feels dizzy. Good dizzy. Beautifully dizzy. 


“I like you, Felix. Like that. I don’t think of you as my little brother, okay?” 


Felix stared, “ me?” 


Chan nodded, massaged the junction between Felix’s shoulders and neck. He spoke, the familiar curves and bends of his Sydney accent like a hug around Felix's heart. “I have a crush on you. I have since I first met you. Now, are you going to give me an answer about the dance, or what?” 


Felix gulped again, eyes bigger than the waxing moon above their heads. “What?!” He repeated, louder and shriller this time. Until he jolted and quickly, frantically amended, 


“I-I mean yes! Yes, yes, yes.” 


Felix jumped in place, making Chan’s arms bounce with him. All this time Felix and Chan were like a pair of planets, orbiting each other. Caught in the other’s gravity, secretly. Circling and circling, revolving for all these semesters and months without the other realizing. Felix’s heart is pounding at the speed of light. Stars have birthed and died, but now, as the fuzzy light of the fountain illuminates them, they have finally collided. 


He has a feeling all the future baseball games and swim meets, with Felix cheering for Chan in the stands, will be a little different from now on. But decidedly different in a good way. Different in a beautiful way. 


Now Felix gets to kiss Chan after he scores the game winning home run, and wins their university another trophy at swim nationals. Now he doesn’t have to keep his love for Chan sequestered, merely electric currents trapped in his brain. 


And just like that, with this confession, Chan proverbially let go. Physically, though, he’s still clasping Felix’s shoulders, but internally? Felix felt the teeth marks in his neck fade. The coiled anaconda releasing its grip. The claws retracting. Chan was never a lion or wolf or hyena. 


He’s just Chan. He always has been. And Felix has a cosmic crush on him, a love so huge it can span the night sky, creating constellations between its points. 


They both have earth-sized crushes on each other. A mutual love so strong, it could create a vacuum and suck the heavens right up. Star fields swallowed down, planets nestling warm in their stomachs. They’ve loved each other this entire goddamn time. 


“I love you,” Felix muttured, breathlessly. He's been waiting so long, so horribly long to say that. That very sentiment, so simple in its delivery, which has been sitting nice and neat in his head, brewing, steeping, waiting so desperately to be set free. 


It sounds better out loud, he decided. Felix wasn’t shy in thinking about his adoration for Chan, that is no secret, but saying it to the boy himself is incomparable. 


Chan smiled, and pecked the tip of Felix’s nose. “I love you too, Lix.” 


It sounded so natural, as Chan said it back. 


Chan's never kissed him before, until that very moment. They've held hands, cuddled until it was impossible to determine whose body ended where, but the one thing Felix always dreamed of was Chan kissing him. And, yes, it was quick and chaste, but it was still a real, authentic Chan kiss. Not in the smoky confines of a dream, but in reality. That alone almost sent Felix’s perception skyward. 


Felix's breath is choppy, fanning some curls off Chan's forehead. His eyes are big and wet, mirroring Chan in his blown pupils. He whispered, “I'm enough?”


Felix isn't a star, isn't a captain, isn't a president. He's not the best at anything, save for being in love with Bang Chan.


He's just Felix Lee. 


And, to Chan, that's all he needs him to be. Little does Felix know, he already is the best.


He's the best thing in Chan’s life. 


Chan furrowed his brows, as if offended. As if Felix's question was inherently ridiculous. “You always have been.”


Oh, Felix thought, I always have been. 


Maybe Jisung was right.


Maybe he was a little dense. Maybe Felix was too focused on the lions and snakes prowling in his head to realize that what was always before him never had fangs, never had claws, never wanted to hunt. 


Their love never had spikes, never had barbs. It was always soft, always rounded. Always dimpled. 


Felix’s breathing steadied, and he finally believes him. He finally realizes it. His love has bore flowers and fruit and garlands of woven petals, laid around Felix’s neck where invisible teeth marks once were. 


“I have a crush on you too, hyung,” Felix slurred, unable to quell the sugar rush quality of his thoughts. “I always have, always. Since the moment I met you, I...I’ve loved you.” 


Chan's eyes look vaguely dewy, reflecting the rush of the fountain across his irises. “Really?” 


Felix can't believe it. He really had to ask? He never picked up on Felix's veritable swooning whenever he so much as looked at him? 


Maybe they were both on the better side of dense, on second thought. 


Felix nodded with confidence this time, “Yeah. Really really.” 


Chan laughed again, bubbly and melodic like the tunes he creates in music production club. “I guess we've been in love with each other this entire time, then.” 


Felix smiled up at Chan like he's the Milky Way inhabiting a human vessel. If Chan can see the dampness above his lashlines, he didn't elect to mention it. “I guess we have.” 


He sucked in a nice, refreshing breath, and Felix is hit with the aroma of roses and chlorine. His absolute favorite scent.  


Chan began to grin even wider, as if sensing Felix’s gradual ease. “I love you so much, Lix.”


“I love your humor, your personality, everything about you. I love your freckles, too,” Chan kissed one of his cheeks, right on a cluster of sunspots.


“They remind me of the stars.” 


Felix’s eyes shimmered under the moon’s glow. “You’re like the stars.” 


He didn’t even know what that meant, as he whispered it. But as Felix became entranced on the nebulas twinkling in Chan's eyes, and the moonlight highlighting his heart-shaped smile, it made a bit more sense. 


Chan simply chuckled, and smooched the corner of Felix’s mouth. His lips are smooth like satin, warm like a brimming mug of hot chocolate, sweet like confectioner’s sugar. His lips are Felix’s dreams come true. 


He must have said something right. 


Felix snapped the head off the caramello koala, and presented it to Chan. A long rope of ooey gooey caramel stretched with it, until that too is broken. 


Felix snuggled deeper against Chan, holding the candy above so they can watch gravity push the caramel inside its headless body. Something about the sight is slightly macabre. 


It got too cold by the fountain as the night progressed, so the pair unanimously decided to head back to Chan’s single dorm to get warm. And get warm they did. Felix and Chan immediately jumped into bed upon their arrival, with Felix nestling all snug on Chan’s chest, while the elder wrapped an arm around his waist. Chan has a large Australian flag hanging down from the wall by his desk, vibrant blue and red. Being in his room, in his arms, reminds Felix of the home he misses so dearly. 


“Damn,” Chan said with an appreciative whistle, delicately taking the offered candy half. “You just decapitated him? Brutal.” He chewed it, swallowed, hummed in contentment. Licked off the dollop of caramel at the edge of his plush bottom lip. Felix’s heart is melting like milk chocolate. Puddling up in his chest, leaking through the spaces in his ribs. 


“He had it comin’.” Felix cackled none too mischievously, and popped the remaining body of the candy koala in his mouth. Ah, that’s the stuff. Nothing can beat a good old caramello koala. The perfect sweetness, the creaminess of the chocolate, the burst of caramel as his teeth break the harder outer shell. 


But Felix can say with confidence that Chan's lips are much, much sweeter. It's really no competition.


Sorry, caramello koala. 


“You’re the best, hyung. Thanks for the candy.” Felix cooed, once he gulped down the sugary bite. He kissed Chan’s cheek, leaving a small splotch of chocolate on his pale skin. “I love you.” 


Felix can’t stop saying it, now that they're on the same page. It feels so much better, so much more right, now that Felix doesn’t need to keep his immense love for Chan internalized any longer. 


Chan’s dance proposal, that green sticky note, is now tacked onto Felix’s shirt. Stuck right above his heart, like a badge of honor. Something about it, about knowing it’s on him, makes Felix feel so fuzzy inside and out. 


“I love you too, Lixie.” Said Chan, without missing a beat. 


Chan's swim trophies are glittering on his wall shelf, golden statuettes keeping a stoic, eyeless watch on the pair cozy in bed.


Felix wiggled a bit in Chan's arms, relaxing on his chest. He finally asked, “ more little bro?” 


Chan barked a breathy laugh, and shook his head. His hair bounced under his dorm room ceiling lights. “Nope, no more little bro. Promise.” 


Felix almost cried from happiness. He does not foresee himself missing that nickname very much.


Chan tightened his grip on Felix’s midsection, laid their heads together so his curls brush into Felix’s dyed blonde locks. “I think ‘boyfriend’ would work better from now on. Whaddaya think?” 


Felix watched the downpour of comets in Chan’s eyes, and he is hypnotized by the intensity of his love. 


“Sure,” He nodded, nuzzling rhythmically against Chan’s forehead. Felix’s heart is soaring like a shooting star. He feels like his joy has balled up into a meteor, flying from his chest and into Chan’s, where their bodies meet. 


“I think that will work perfectly, Channie hyung.”