jisung met chenle when he was in elementary school.
back when he had longer hair that draped over his shoulders. back when he was called by a different name. back when he didn’t have a name for whatever the lingering strange feeling he had was.
here’s the thing with that.
since jisung had an older brother, his mother, desperate for another girl in the household, was determined to give jisung the classic “little girl childhood;” the pink walls, pink bed sheets, toys targeted towards girls, etc. and because he was surrounded by that and only that, it was really all he knew.
but still, something just didn’t sit right.
instead of wearing the dresses his mother would always buy for him, he would sneak into his brother's closet and wear some of his old clothes. when questioned about this by his mother, he used the excuse that the dresses were always “too scratchy” or that they all “hurt to wear” when really, he felt more comfortable wearing hand me downs than anything else.
he still showed up on his first day of elementary school wearing one of the dresses. because that’s what made his mother happy.
“you’ll make a good first impression,” she said. “everyone’ll think you’re pretty,” she said.
“you are pretty,” she said.
jisung didn’t want to be pretty.
and even though he never liked wearing the dresses, he didn’t want to make her upset. so he wore it. and he hated it.
the morning of the first school day started off like it usually would. picking seats. introductions. roll call. getting called the name that never sat right with him.
the door creaked open soon after roll call. another adult, presumably the school’s principal, started talking with the teacher about something that was too quiet for jisung to hear, since he sat in the back of the classroom. next to him was a kid, gripping his backpack straps and gazing around the room.
“children,” the adult’s voice boomed in the quiet classroom, “this is chenle. he’s a new student and will be joining your class starting today. please give him a warm welcome.”
thus, class continued normally. the new kid- chenle, picked a seat in front of jisung and didn’t say a word. the lesson started, and the day continued from there.
when it was over and the day had concluded, the boy turned to face him, which caused jisung to jump in his seat.
“why are you wearing that? you look like you’re going to a party or something.”
weird introduction from a literal five year old, but ok. the sentence itself took jisung by surprise, since this was actually the first time someone said anything about the dress. deep down, he was grateful that it didn’t cause that much attention.
“my mom wanted me to wear it. i dunno why.”
“do you not like it?” chenle questioned.
“no. i hate it.” jisung grumbled, getting up to go get his backpack. of course, the shorter boy followed behind.
“really? i thought all girls liked dresses and all that stuff. well, that’s what my brother says.”
jisung huffed, clearly getting annoyed. “being a girl is stupid. i hate it. i hate this dress. i hate my hair. i hate my voice. i hate my name. i hate everything.”
“you hate your name?”
he sighed, “yeah. it’s dumb. and it makes me feel bad.”
the other boy smiled back at him. “well, guess we’ll have to find you a new one!”
“a new name! no one should hate their name, or else they’ll feel bad about being called by it forever!”
“you…huh?” jisung was dumbfounded. a new name? people can do that? just change their name, simple as that?
he was so dumbfounded in fact that he didn’t notice chenle moving to get his own bag and walking towards the door. “i gotta go, but i’ll make a list of cool names i find, and i’ll give it to you. seeya, no name!”
and just like that, he was gone, leaving jisung in the almost-empty classroom, mind still buffering with the new information he was given.
true to his word, chenle showed up the next day with two sheets of printer paper, both with handwriting so illegible that it looked like chicken scratch along with each of those same words written next to them, but in cleaner and much more readable letters. he wondered if one of his parents helped out with the list.
“what about this one?”
“ehh… it doesn’t sound right.”
chenle stared at him, trying to study his face. “you dont look like this one or this one,” he said, scribbling out two of the names from the list.
jisung took one of the sheets of paper and went down the list himself, looking through all the names and seeing if any of them fit. he came across one that caught his eye.
“hey, what about this one?” he said and he pointed at it so the other boy could see.
“ji...sung. jisung. yeah, you look like a jisung! my mom says that name means you’re smart. i forgot the real word because it’s a big word, but it’s a smart name!”
“jisung…” he said, testing the way it rolled off his tongue. “...yeah. i like it.”
chenle beamed. “cool! i just renamed someone! wait , that means i gotta meet you all over again! hold on,” he turned back around to face the front of the classroom, only to turn back around again. “hi! my name’s zhong chenle, and i’m from china! what’s your name.”
“...park jisung.” he said, a smile growing on his face.
and that’s how jisung found his name.
jisung doesn’t tell his mother about the new name. or his teacher. or the other kids at school. not even to his brother.
his name was just something he and chenle both only knew, like a well kept secret.
unfortunately, jisung was never good at keeping secrets.
there were many instances where he would write down “jisung” on his papers instead of that name (scribbling it out soon after,) he would forget to respond to the teacher whenever she called on him, and even when he was being called down for dinner he would show up late, forgetting that he still had to go by that name.
and while his mother was kind of skeptical at first, she never really worried about it too much. and taeyong was still rather young, so it never really concerned him.
and there were a lot of times where jisung wanted to say “hey, my name is jisung now! please call me jisung!” but he never did. and he never really knew why.
what would happen if he did? would his mom treat him any differently? would she be upset?
he was afraid to know.
jisung cuts his own hair with fisher price scissors at age eight.
it was seven in the morning, early on a saturday, and he couldn’t fall back asleep. the sun had barely risen, only shedding a little bit of light in his room. his hair, now long enough to reach the middle of his back, was getting in his eyes again. he hated when it did that. he sat up to move his bangs when he saw the small, bright blue scissors laying across his deck, which he used last night to cut up construction paper for an art project.
he didn’t give it a second thought. he got up, grabbed them, and tiptoed his way to the bathroom, careful not to wake up anyone else in the house.
a groggy taeyong walked in soon after to find him staring down at his younger brother, who just cut out a long chunk of his hair.
“mom’s gonna kill you, you know that, right?”
jisung looked at him, looked at the scissors, looked at the chopped off hair still in his hand, and started to cry.
taeyong’s eyes widened as he walked into the bathroom, leaning down to comfort him. “hey, hey, hey, it’s ok. it’s hair, it grows back.”
“but i don’t want it back.”
and recalling the even now, jisung thinks that’s when taeyong first got his suspicions. the stolen clothes, not responding to his name, and now the need for shorter hair. his brother may have been still a young teen, but he wasn’t stupid.
“ok, well…” he said, as he got up, wiping away some of the tears that slipped out of jisung’s eyes, “how short do you want it?”
jisung sniffed, “huh?”
“i’m not trusting an eight year old to try and cut their own hair, now how short do you want it?”
jisung stayed quiet for a minute, trying to figure out why exactly taeyong was helping him. he thought he would get mad at him, like his mom most certainly would.
“i want hair like yours.”
and that’s what he got.
granted, taeyong also wasn’t the best with hair (“i once cut my friend dongyoung’s hair and it didn’t turn out too bad” being his only experience with hair) but jisung didn’t question it.
the end result was… a little rough. choppy in some places, a place in his bangs that accidentally got cut too short; it was a look that professional hairdressers would laugh at. but jisung thought it was the coolest thing ever.
his mother, however, didn’t think that way.
she was quite upset, in fact.
“what happened to your beautiful hair?”
“it’s hair, mom,” taeyong explain to try and calm her down, “it grows back.”
“she looks like a boy! everyone’s going to mistake her for a boy!”
to jisung, that didn’t seem as bad as his mom thought it was.
jisung walked into class the next day.
unlike the dress on the first day, everyone noticed.
“what happened to your hair?” “girls can’t have hair like that!” “what are you, a boy now?”
he was afraid he was gonna get comments like those from the other kids. it wasn’t because he was called a boy; he actually didn’t feel bad about that comment at all. it’s because he actually loved his new hair, and having those tear him down for something as simple as hair really hurt.
he made his way to his seat, on the brink of tears.
he didn’t notice the boy next to him, staring at his head in bewilderment.
jisung sniffed. “whaddya want, chenle?”
the boy didn’t say a word. he just stared at his hair in awe.
“if you’re gonna say mean things about my hair, then-“
“that’s so cool!”
jisung quickly fell silent. “what?”
“your hair! it’s so cool!” he exclaimed, sitting down in his seat. “your parents let you do that?”
“my brother cut it. mom…she doesn’t really like it.”
the smile fell off the other boy’s face as he rose from his seat and leaned on jisung’s deck. “why not?? you look better with this hair then the long hair, anyway!”
“really?” jisung’s eyes widened, only for them to fall to his desk again, looking at his hands. “my mom says that i now look like a boy. but she said it like it was bad. is that bad?”
“is what bad?” chenle asked, curiosity in his tone of voice.
“you know… to want to be a boy.” he barely let out, scared to admit it to other people, to himself .
chenle let his eyes wander around the classroom, lost in thought as he hummed to himself, making it clear that he was thinking. “no, it’s not bad. i mean, i’m a boy! being a boy isn’t so bad. i don’t see why your mom doesn’t think so.”
jisung smiled at his friend, already in a better mood.
his mom never let him cut his hair again after that.
over the passing years, his hair grew longer and longer, and he hated it. it somehow always found its way into his eyes like it used to, it was hard to manage, the tangles were too painful to get out, and more than anything it, like a lot of things, just didn’t feel right.
‘you’ll thank me later on in life,’ she would tell him. ‘long hair makes you a beautiful and confident woman. the men love it.’
jisung always got that weird knot in his stomach whenever his mother called him a girl or a woman. he always felt sick, even if he was in actuality perfectly healthy. and of course, he expressed his views on how much he hated his hair and how much he didn’t like the clothing she bought him, but she always brushed it off, telling him that he’ll ‘grow out of it .’
and not to mention the talk of ‘you’re 13 years old, why have you never brought home any friends? ’ to which he’d reply that yes, he has brought home friends, she scoffs and replies ‘i’m not talking about that chenle boy, i’m talking about other girls. you need to make friends with the girls in your class .’
that’s just the thing: jisung couldn’t talk to girls.
it’s not that he didn’t like them, he was just always too nervous to strike up any sort of conversation with them. he couldn’t tell his mom that of course, she would tell him to suck it up and go talk to them anyway.
“no offense, jisung, but your mom sucks.”
jisung sighed as he and chenle laid in the grass in his backyard. he did always prefer chenle’s place to his own; his family was nice and they had a bigger backyard, so he tries to go there as much as he can. “i know. but she’s still my mom, dude, and i love her and all, but yeah. nothing i can do to change that.”
“we’ve been friends for, what? forever? and she still looks at me weirdly whenever i come over? and she still doesn’t let you cut your hair? like, what’s the deal with that?”
“i could say the same for your mom. she’s nice and all, but i wish she’d stop calling me your girlfriend.”
chenle groaned, his arm moving to cover his eyes. “yeah, it makes things so awkward. and i don’t even like girls! i told her and she said that i’ll just grow out of it! i don’t wanna get married and all that boring stuff.”
“that’s what my mom says too!” jisung exclaimed, knowing his friend’s pain, “she’s always like ‘you’ll grow out of it, Name-I-Hate, now go get dressed in the shirt i bought you and go to school.’ i hate being a girl. why can’t she just see that i’m-” he stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes blown wide as he quickly sat up in the grass.
chenle looked up at him with a questionable look. “what?”
he was quiet as his mind ran at multiple miles per hour, the realization hitting him with full force. i mean, he always sort of knew but-
“jisung? you ok?” at this point, chenle was getting concerned.
jisung turned to him, looking as if he just found out an earth-shattering truth about the universe and cosmos all in that moment.
“i’m not a girl.”
“no… no i’m not.” he said, his voice shaking, tears threatening to spill out. “i’m… i wanna be a boy.”
chenle sat up so that he was sitting right in front of him, using the jacket he took off to wipe the few tears that ran down his face. “it was kind of obvious, you know.”
jisung let out a breathy laugh, “yeah, i guess it was.”
“so you’re a boy?”
he stayed quiet for a moment before answering. “...yeah. i am.”
jisung learns the actual term for what he was when he was fourteen.
it was his first week of high school and he already had a group of friends, surprisingly. chenle met a few upperclassmen during the summer break and decided to introduce them to him one day during lunch. since jisung never really had any other friends besides chenle (especially friends who were a grade or two above him,) the very idea of meeting new people was terrifying.
good thing all of them adopted him right away.
the oldest of them, mark, would help him with his homework and give him some of his food. donghyuck and renjun (or in chenle’s own words, the group menaces,) while they would jokingly and lovingly tease him, they would also say encouragements to him before his classes. the group couple, jeno and jaemin, treated him as the little brother they both never had.
it was a bit overwhelming and hard to get used to at first, but it was nice.
the group was eating lunch when jaemin walked in out of breath and in one of jeno’s baggy and oversized hoodies.
“that stupid fucking coach teaching p.e is gonna be the death of me,” he huffed as he sat down at the table, “i asked him about me using the boy’s locker room for the millionth time and he still refuses to let me change in there.”
“take his ass to court!” donghyuck slammed his fist on the table, making everything on its surface shake, “that asshole’s been telling you that ever since you got here, he needs to get fired already.”
“if you won’t curvestop his ass next time he speaks, i will,” renjun added, his tone calm yet threatening.
“you know i hate confrontation,” jaemin retorted, “i’m a boy, like the rest of the boys in the class. i guarantee you, none of them would care about my binder and that the coach is just overreacting.”
“binder?” jisung questioned, clearly confused. “is that a back thing? you did mention that you had back problems, i think.”
“wait…a chest binder?” jaemin also asked, just as confused as the younger. “well, i’m trans, so it keeps my chest flat and helps my dysphoria, i guess.”
seeing that jisung was still confused, jaemin looked to the others in the group to see them with perplexed expressions as well. jeno gave him a look as to say ‘are you comfortable explaining?’
“well…” he turned back to the younger to explain, “i wasn’t really born as a boy. and it took me a while to realize it myself, but i am a boy. i’m sorry if you’re still confused, i haven’t tried explaining it ever since i came out to my parents.”
“wait,” jisung’s eyes suddenly widened, “there’s a word for that?”
“you didn’t know?”
“i’m also a boy! but i wasn’t born a boy! and no one sees me as a boy! there’s actually a word for that??”
the entire table looked at him like he had just revealed some huge secret.
“you seriously didn’t know?” renjun was shocked, “chenle told us to use he/him for you, so we all just assumed you knew!”
to be fair, when jisung found out his identity, he didn’t immediately look it up right away or check to see if there were others like him, which he probably should’ve done. he just went back to doing normal kid stuff like schoolwork and playing games.
“well,” jisung replied, “is there anything else i need to know?”
jaemin grabbed him by the shoulders, holding him with a deathgrip.
“oh my sweet, sweet child, you have so much to learn.”
needless to say, jisung’s knowlege about his identity expands by, in jaemin’s words, A Fuckton.
the group tells him about the basics of transitioning and proper terms to use and to avoid, how not all transmasc people don’t use he/him pronouns, and how binding and hormones aren’t required to be trans, whether for personal or medical reasons.
“at the end of the day, it’s all about what you want and what you think will be best for you,” jaemin states, getting up to throw his trash away before heading to class. “don’t let anyone tell you what you should do or how you should look like just because of your identity.
and by the end of the week, jisung has made up his mind.
“you wanna transition?”
jisung hummed, nodding at chenle through the phone screen. “it might take a while though, because i’d have to get my mom’s permission. but i already came out to taeyong, and he’s really supportive of me.”
“if you wanna get on hormones though, wouldn’t you need insurance? would he wanna cover that for you so that no matter how your mom feels, you’d still get it?”
“honestly?” jisung questioned, “i don’t know how my mom would feel about me transitioning. like, i love her, and i know she loves me back, but… does she love me?”
chenle nodded through the phone screen.
“if i come out to her, will she still love me the same? like, remember when i cut my hair all those years ago?” chenle nodded again, still listening, “she was so upset. not even about my hair being gone, she didn’t want me to look like a boy. how’s she going to react to me actually being a boy?”
“jisung…” chenle started, “if your mom doesn’t support you, she’s the stupidest person on the planet. coming out is scary. when i told my mom that i liked boys, she ended up accepting me but… you know, it took a while. it took a while for her to come to terms with it, but i’m glad that she didn’t treat it as some tragedy. it was just a new part of me that she just now found out about.
“and now, she asks about boys at school and even though it’s still really embarrassing, i’m still happy that she’s so supportive.” chenle gave him a gentle smile. “i want that for you. i want you to be safe and supported by everyone you know. you deserve it.”
something blooms in jisung’s chest, something akin to an eruption; a rush starting from the heart flowing throughout his veins, making it leap and spin and hurt . he smiled back, trying to ignore whatever it was.
the first few weeks of school came and went in a flash, assignments and projects all half-assed and done with, and the bond with him and his friends growing closer and closer.
jisung’s of course very happy that he and chenle have more friends because, for a long time, they’ve only really had each other.
and recently, chenle’s presence has made jisung feel… different.
he wasn’t sure what was different, and at this point he was too afraid to ask.
and before anyone of them knew it, it was already winter break. everyone in the friend group (or the dreamies, as their groupchat’s called) was spending it with their families and each doing their own thing. for the most part, everything was going well.
well, until jisung found himself in the car with his brother, looking for a specific contact in his phone. with trembling hands and tears streaming down his face, he presses the one he was looking for and waited for the other person to pick up.
he didn’t have to hear it ring for long, the other line picking up almost immedately.
“jisung? you never call first, what happened?”
“chenle,” he whimpered out, his voice quiet and shaking. “she knows.”
to put it simply, jisung didn’t really come out to his mother. she found out on her own.
it all happened so fast. jisung found out that she had overheard one of his facetime calls with chenle. she didn’t understand why her daughter was going by a different name. she didn’t pay much mind, until things started clicking; the hand-me-downs, the haircut, the name being the same name that would be scribbled out on the homework brought home. and to confirm her suspicions, she…
“you read my journal?” jisung’s voice raised in disbelief.
“i can’t believe you right now. how long have you kept this a secret from me. months? years?” she asked, avoiding the question. “it’s like i don’t even know you. i specifically remember raising a daughter. a girl. where is she? why don’t you tell me that?”
he couldn’t speak. every thought he had was overshadowed by other thoughts, each of them seeming like they were all shouting over each other, the noise resembling white noise. any sound he tried to make wouldn’t come out. he sat back down, curling in on himself as he started to shake.
“whatever… this is? this isn’t you. you’re still a child, you don’t know what you want. you were born a girl, you are always going to be a girl, and you are going to stop believing this nonsense.”
“mom, stop,” taeyong stepped in, trying to defuse the situation, “stop yelling at him. just please calm down and you two can-“
“him? even you knew?” his mother shot at the older boy, “this is just your sister going through a phase. and she’ll realize it’s a phase when she stops constantly hanging around the ones influencing her-”
jisung stood up instantly, body still shaking. “don’t you dare bring my friends into it when they’ve had absolutely nothing to do with it!”
this is where the argument turned into an actual verbal fight, the gist of it being that everything jisung was going through was all in his head, that he wasn’t a boy, and that he will never be a boy. jisung has never yelled at anyone like this or has expressed this much anger towards one person, especially his own mother.
“maybe if it weren’t for that boy that’s always hanging around you, you wouldn’t be like this-“
“i’ve felt like this before i even met chenle, or any of my friends, and before i even started school in the first place, so don’t fucking bring them into this. the dresses i never liked? the clothes i would wear instead? all the times i wanted to say “never call me by that name ever again?” those were all me! all chenle and my friends have done was inform me and help me and support me, something i don’t remember you every doing!” jisung could feel his throat burn from yelling so much and the hot tears streaming down his face, “you wanted a girl so badly that you ended up knowing nothing about the actual child you ended up getting.”
silence filled the room, his mother staring at him with shock. jisung wiped the tears from his eyes and walked toward the front door. as he made his way there, he felt his mother’s hand wrap around his wrist. she called him by that name and he ripped his hand away as if it was burned. “don’t fucking touch me,” he spat as he turned to look at her.
jisung no longer saw the fiery anger in his mother’s eyes. instead, he saw hurt.
his own bit of anger was then replaced with fear, the same feeling he had when she had first confronted him. he bolted out the front door into the freezing weather, his brother close behind him, which jisung didn’t realize until he heard taeyong’s car unlock.
“i figure you’d want to get out of here. do you have any friends that would let you stay over?”
and that’s how jisung found himself in the front seat of his brother’s car, still in tears, calling his best friend to explain to him that he needed a place to stay for a while.
“i’ll tell y-you everything when i get there, i swear,” he promised, “i just need to be anywhere from here for a bit.”
“jisung, of course. you’ve always been welcome here and you always will be.”
jisung then put his phone on speaker so chenle could tell taeyong his address. in the time they took to get there, the dark clouds in the sky rumbled and started to storm.
when they arrived to the house, chenle was already on his front porch, phone in one hand and umbrella in the other. when he saw the car pull up, he rushed toward the vehicle ready to get his friend out of the rain.
jisung turned to thank his brother, but didn’t get a reply. instead, the older held his arms out, expecting a hug. jisung wasn’t a touchy person, especially with family, but he accepted it anyway, grateful for the comfort one member of his family was willing to give him.
when he pulled away, taeyong patted him on the shoulder. “i’m gonna talk to mom, if that’s ok with you. i don’t think she’s mad at you, just… confused. but it’s not an excuse for what she said. i’ll explain everything to her, only if you want me to.”
jisung nodded, agreeing with him. “that’s fine. just… tell her i won’t be back home for a while. i need a break before i’m ready to talk to her myself.”
taeyong hummed in agreement before unlocking the passenger door. “call me when you’re ready to come home and i’ll pick you up.” jisung nodded as he opened the door. he got out and was immediately met with an umbrella, a friend, and a hand in his.
jisung woke up the next morning on an inflatable mattress, in the clothes he wore the day before, and with 8 missed calls from his mother. he turned off his phone as he turned to the actual bed next to him, met with an already awake chenle scrolling through his phone. when the other boy noticed him, he immediately set his phone down.
“morning. are you doing alright?” jisung nodded, not having the energy to speak with his throat killing him.
when jisung got there the night before, he explained everything that had happened to both chenle and his mother, to explain to her why he was staying over for a while. instead of being yelled at once again like he expected, she instead welcomed him with open arms. “you’re always welcome here. you’ve been like another son to me for years, so you can stay here for as long as you like,” she told him, making him cry for the nth time that night.
for the remainder of the night, the two just set up jisung’s mattress, talked about video games to distract him from the events that just happened, and fell asleep. it was just like any other sleepover they’ve had before, besides the context on why jisung was there.
and for the remainder of the day, they moved to the living room to watch cartoons and keep talking about the things they liked out of distraction, and jisung felt safe.
around noon that day, he got a call from taeyong. he excused himself and got up to take the call in the bedroom, answering it as soon as he shut the door behind him.
“so, i talked to mom this morning.”
“and? what’d you tell her?”
“basically what you told me when you told me. how long you’ve felt like this, when exactly it hit you, your research on it, and how exactly you wanted to transition.”
jisung inhaled before replying. “and how did she take it?”
“it took a while to explain to her what exactly you wanted. she told me a lot about how she felt which… i don’t think was bad, per say? i don’t know whether you want to hear it from herself when you get back but she’s been thinking a lot about what happened last night, ” taeyong paused for a bit. “ she’s not angry anymore, jisung. she wants you to come home. and she wants you to hear her side of things.”
“i don’t think i have to hear her make a speech just explaining that she’s transphobic and how she doesn’t want me anymore.” jisung replied flatly, his voice getting shaky.
“she regrets everything she said last night, ” taeyong explained, “ it’s not my place to explain for her, but she doesn’t hate you. just know that she knows what she did was fucked up and that she wants to apologize to you and explain things to you personally.”
god, jisung told himself not to cry again. he tried to ignore the stinging in his eyes as he listened. “is that it?”
“i think i tried explaining what you were going on to her, but i think she still wants to hear about it from you. about being trans and all.”
jisung sighed and wiped his eyes before any tears could slip out. “look, i’m relieved that she wants to get educated, but i’m her child, not an internet browser. i don’t exist just to inform her what’s going on with me. if she wants to be informed on things because of her trans son, i want her to do the research herself. my experience isn’t the only one, and she needs to know from others and not just me. she has to learn not just to respect me, but to respect others like me. i’m not an encyclopedia, i’m not an exception, and being trans is not all of who i am. i’m her son.
i’m her son who’s still only fifteen and just so happens to not be cis. and i understand that being cis is the norm for her and that she just doesn’t understand, but she needs to know that that isn’t an excuse. and yes, what she did was, for lack of better words, fucked up. i’m angry and i’m upset and i don’t think it’s something to forgive right away just because she ‘didn’t understand.’ she has to realize that it’s going to take a while for me to trust her. i know it’s a lot but this is all stuff she has to know.”
there was a pause before taeyong replied with “ ok, i’ll tell her all that. ”
“a-are you sure? i rambled about a lot of different things all at once, i’d understand if you didn’t get all of it.”
“no worries. i know you ramble a lot, so i have this entire thing recorded. you’ve always been better at explaining things anyway.”
jisung felt a surprised breathy laugh leave him, “have i ever told you that you’re the best?”
“it’s been a couple of years, but i still appreciate it nonetheless. and one more thing,” taeyong mentioned. “mom also wants to know when you’re coming home.”
he stopped to think before replying “can you give me a week?”
“of course. i gotta go, so i’ll talk to you later?”
“yeah, yeah. later.”
“later, loser,” he shot back as he ended the call and exited the room. he entered the living room where chenle was still fixated on the tv and flopped down on the couch.
“how’d it go?” he heard chenle ask him.
“better than i thought, but i’m just… tired.” he replied as he threw a pillow in chenle’s direction. “besides, you gotta deal with me for another week.”
“oh, what a tragedy. what ever will i do with your dumb ass here?” chenle sarcastically said back as he threw another pillow in his direction.
jisung felt the slight smile on his face grow bigger and brighter, “dunno. probably annoy you or something.”
chenle chucked another pillow at him. “it’s not like you do that every other day or something.”
“hush it, zhong, you love me,” jisung joked, sticking his tongue out.
“in your dreams, park,” chenle retorted as more pillows were thrown. the two just playfully bickered and tossed pillows at each other until the episode of whatever it was that they were watching was coming to an end. it ended with them toppling over in laughter, that mysterious feeling jisung always had around chenle growing stronger and refusing to leave.
still laughing, he looked up at the tv screen to see two of the tv characters also laughing before looking at each other and blushing profusely, but not before looking away from each other bashfully.
huh, jisung thought, still hearing chenle’s giggles next to him. those two characters kinda remind me of-
he stopped dead in his tracks.
he looked at the screen, looked back at the screen, and looked back at the screen, to the two characters holding hands.
in all honesty, he really should’ve seen this coming.
the blood rushing? his face getting hot and his palms getting sweaty for no reason whenever they were close? his heart doing cartwheels in his chest whenever chenle smiled?
he internally hit himself for how dumb and oblivious he had been for this long.
park jisung, you fool. you absolute buffoon.
you like him.
in terms of the two’s dynamic, it didn’t really change all that much. the only thing that really changed was that, since jisung absolutely sucks at keeping secrets, he just got a little bit more nervous all the time.
and by all the time, he meant ‘the time between the realization and the other realization’
the other realization occured in the middle of the night that night, when chenle was passed out and jisung was staring up at the ceiling rethinking their entire relationship.
thoughts such as how ‘how long have i been like this around him,’ ‘will this make our friendship weird, ’ and ‘chenle and i tell each other everything, will he get mad if i ever tell him,’ plagued his mind, refusing to leave him alone. it was 1 am at this point, he was supposed to be sleeping, damnit.
and soon enough, the realization came.
chenle likes boys.
he likes actual boys.
he wouldn’t like you.
he tried pushing the thought out of his head as soon as it arrived, thinking to himself that he was a boy, he still is a boy, and that he has always been a boy. but it just kept getting louder.
he will never like you like that because you aren’t a real boy.
he only likes real boys.
you aren’t a real boys.
even if you transition. even if you end up chopping off all of your hair, binding your chest, growing facial hair- even if you literally do anything to change your appearance, you still aren’t and will never be a real boy.
you will never be a real boy.
you will never be a real boy.
you will never be a real boy.
all of this left jisung crying into his pillow, holding it closely to him as he tried to sob as quietly as he could, not wanting to wake chenle up.
it didn’t work.
soon after, he felt a tap on his shoulder. face still wet and still sniffling, jisung turned over to see chenle getting into the sheets next to him, outstretching his arms in a silent offer.
he accepted, moving into his friend’s embrace and holding him as tightly as he could, crying into his shoulder as chenle stroked his hair to try and comfort him.
they both ended up falling asleep in each other’s arms, either of them not waking up until the early afternoon.
the passing days went as normal. jisung never brought up that night, so neither did chenle. it hurt, keeping something this big from his best friend, but it was for the best. he didn’t want to ruin what they’ve had for so long.
the days came and went until it was the day before jisung said he would return home. the two were in the living room playing mario kart and kicking each other’s asses while simultaneously both being horrible at it. jisung was just about to blueshell chenle from 9th place when they both heard a knock at the door.
“who’s that? the mail person or something?” jisung asked as the game was paused.
chenle looked confused until he shot up, shouting and “oh shit,” before rushing to the front door and answering with a “whats up, man?” in chinese.
“chenle, i told you to not swear in the-“ his mother started before she saw who was at the door. “oh, kun’s home!”
oh, kun. jisung had only seen chenle’s older brother a handful of times, but enough times for kun to know about him and to be aware that he was trans. he was always rather nice and made awesome food whenever jisung came over. overall, kun got an a+ in his book.
“oh hey, jisung!” kun greeted him when he saw him. “you’ve definitely gotten taller since i went off to college.” jisung was about to respond when he noticed the other person next to him, who looked the same age as him while also being slightly shorter than not only kun, but jisung himself. granted, jisung grew up growing taller than most (and even more so nowadays) but he digresses.
“oh, is this...?” chenle asked his brother, motioning towards the new person in question.
“yeah! everyone, this is ten, my p- roommate. who shares the dorm room with me. yeah.” he stammered, remembering that their mom was in the room (and unlike chenle, she doesn’t know about kun’s sexuality just yet.) everyone got introduced to ten before their mom had to step out for a moment to get groceries, which left the two kids and the two college students alone.
“ok, you can reintroduce them now,” chenle said to break the awkward silence.
kun breathed out a laugh. “ok, this is my partner. i’ll tell mom that we’re dating when she gets back and we have dinner and i’ll also explain that ten’s my partner.”
“baby, it’s fine,” ten said with a smile. “hopefully she’ll be open to neopronouns?”
“oh, she knows about them!” chenle interjected, “i explained them to her when i told her about one of my friends, felix, who uses fae/faer pronouns. she’ll be understanding!” at hearing that, ten let out a sigh of relief that was, while genuine, still pretty dramatic.
“wait,” jisung started, “ten, what do you go by?”
“oh, ze/hir!” ze said with a smile. “you?”
jisung felt his heart rush but for a different reason entirely. “he/him!” he said with a smile, the serotonin practically flowing through his veins.
as the two kept talking about themselves, the not-cis bond already established, chenle glared at kun’s head, noticing something different. “did you change your hair?”
“yeah, actually,” kun replied. “i decided to move the hair out of my eyes for once. ten looked at him before ruffling his hair. “my work really does wonders, huh? it’s good to not have hair constantly covering your eyebrows.”
“you do hair?” jisung asked hir.
“i’m not a professional, but i do a few touch ups for my friends here and there.” ze said with a hint of pride. “why?”
jisung’s eyes went wide, suddenly struck with an idea.
twisting his hair between his fingers, he asked “do you mind doing me a huge favor?”
the next morning, when taeyong came to pick him up to take him back home, he was met with his little brother with now bleached, short hair.
“nice hair, jisung,” he said with a smile. “it suits you.”
he had never seen jisung smile so wide. “i think so too.”
his pride quickly turned to nervousness as taeyong pulled into their driveway.
he started to shake again and hear the white noise again.
“hey,” he heard, quickly turning to face his brother. “i don’t think it’s going to be bad. but if it does, i’ll stay in the car in case we need to leave again.” jisung smiled and thanked him before exiting the car and making his way to the front door.
with sweaty hands, he turned the knob and opened the door.
he saw his mother rush out of the kitchen and to the living room as he closed the door behind him.
“hey,-“ she stopped abruptly before thinking. he assumed that she was about to say his deadname before she stopped herself. “why don’t you sit down and i’ll make tea?”
sooner than jisung has hoped, the tea was made, his mother sat down in the chair next to the couch he was on, and the living room was engulfed in an uncomfortable silence.
“i think…” his mother started “i think we’ve been meaning to have this conversation for a long time.”
even more silence.
“listen, about what i said to you last week. those all came from a place of ignorance and lack of understanding. there’s not anyone else in my family who was...well, transgender, and i grew up around people who weren’t to open to that sort of thing. so when i found out… i didn’t want to believe it. i may have been ignorant, but i’m not stupid. i know what happens to them and the hardships they faced. and i didn’t want to accept it because the last thing i want is for you to get hurt.
“and taeyong played your message for me. i don’t want to rely on you for my information on it. in fact, i did research for myself, like you asked. but not just because you asked. like you said, i don’t have a daughter anymore. i guess i never did. if i want to get to know my child properly, i need to know about what you and the others go through. dysphoria, different pronouns, you know… all of that.” she let out a breathy, bittersweet laugh.
“and i know this isn’t an excuse, and neither was explaining my family’s views, but growing up with only brothers, i wanted to give you, who i thought was a girl, the childhood i never got. i now know that that was unfair to you. when giving you the childhood i never got to have, i gave you the childhood you never wanted. i ignored your feelings to feed into my own selfish desires and expectations for you. for that, i’m so incredibly sorry.
“i’m sorry for what i said to you that night. I’m sorry for calling your gender identity a phase. i’m sorry for invading your privacy and reading your diary. i’m sorry for never letting you cut your hair for so many years. i’m sorry for what i said when you did cut your hair nearly eight years ago. i’m sorry for making you wear what you never wanted to wear in the first place.”
she looked at him for the first time since she began talking, and she broke down at the sight of him. there were tears pouring from his eyes, just like that night. he furiously wiped his eyes and lowered his face into his hands, sobbing harder. this caused the tears to finally break out of his mother.
“and…” she sniffed, “and i don’t expect you to forgive me anytime soon. you don’t need to accept my apology. what i’ve done to you for so long was unforgivable and cruel, and i’m so sorry that i was clueless for so long. i’m so sorry that i didn’t know sooner. even if you never forgive me, i want to be the mother you always needed and the mother you deserve.
“i still have a lot of learning to do, but i’m getting there. i want to be the mother who will love her children unconditionally. no matter what your gender is, what your sexuality is, or what religion you do or don’t practice, i want to support you. as long as it’s not illegal. please don’t do anything illegal.” she smiled as she heard a little bit of a laugh from jisung in the midst of his sobbing.
“just… please know i’m so sorry for everything i’ve done. i want to be a better mother, if you’ll let me. i want to be able to earn back your trust, but if i don’t, i completely understand. if i never earn it back, i understand that as well. but please know that as my child, i have always loved you so, so much. and i still love you, and nothing will ever stop me from loving you.”
jisung didn’t reply to her. his face was still buried in his hands as he sobbed harder. eyes full of tears herself, his mother moved to the couch her son was on and asked him if she could hug him. when he nodded, she wrapped her arms around him.
for the first time since that night, jisung was able to let out exactly what he was feeling in front of his mother, hugging her tightly and sobbing into her shoulder.
and they stayed like that for a long long while. until they both stopped crying, until all the sniffles and chokes were gone. jisung was the first one to pull away, wiping his face dry and sitting upwards on the couch with his mother now beside him.
“so…” his mother broke the silence, “jisung, right?” he nodded.
“i should’ve asked you about that name as soon as i saw it scribbled out on your papers. it means intelligent, you know.” she grabbed a tissue from the coffee table and wiped her eyes, also getting an extra one for jisung. “it really does suit you so well. you were always a smart kid.”
“i wouldn’t say that,” jisung replied as he blew his nose. “i knew for so long that i wanted to be a boy yet i didn’t become aware of the term ‘trans’ until high school started. i really should’ve done research on my own as soon as i found out.”
“i could say the same for myself,” his mother said.
they stayed quiet for a minute, jisung leaning over to throw away the tissue he used.
“i think…” he started, “yeah, it gonna take me a while to fully trust you again.” he saw his mother nod in agreement, as she was expecting this. “and i’m happy that you’re doing your own research and it’s not just for my sake. and i want this whole thing to be over and done with and we don’t have to fight… but it’s also gonna take me a while to fully forgive you. i still love you, and i want to forgive you, but i don’t think i can just yet.”
“sweetie. of course that’s ok. take all the time you need. and if you never do, i’m ok with that.” she said as she hugged him again. jisung hugged him back and they stayed like that.
“i was also wrong about what i said about your short hair back then,” she pulled away to ruffle his short, blonde hair. “short hair really does suit you better.” and that caused jisung to laugh and let out an “i know.”
“one last thing- jisung. i’m sorry, i’ll get used to using that name for you. but… the legal name change. the hormones, the surgery. do you want all of that?”
jisung smiled sadly. “yeah, i really do. more than anything. i want to have a body and voice i’ll see and hear and not hate. i don’t deserve to feel this way about myself. not to mention that when i see myself in the distant future, it’s with a deeper voice and a flat chest. i just see myself as a boy.”
“you deserve to see yourself as a boy now, because that’s what you are. i’m sorry for not seeing it sooner. or, i’m sorry for everything i did that made you scared to tell me.”
jisung laughed to himself and brushed the hair from his face. “you can make reparations by buying me a chest binder.”
“done!” she said as she stood up from the couch, “which website do i go to? amazon?”
“mom, i was joking-“
“no, i’ve made you hide your true self for too long. you’re my son now. you always were. the absolute least i can do is help you start to love yourself and see yourself how you’ve always wanted to see yourself.”
god damnit, jisung doesn’t want to cry again. he wipes his stinging eyes as he chokes out an “okay.”
“good.” she stated as she got her laptop. “now which website do i go to?”
in the following year that passes, jisung gets a binder via amazon and his mother, more masculine clothes, and a therapist.
when jisung is sixteen, edging on seventeen, he goes on t.
chenle waited with him in the doctor’s office to get them prescribed and held his hand the entire time.
the waiting room was completely empty, which is why jisung wasn’t afraid to hold chenle’s hand in public. it’s not like he ever was, anyway, but still.
well, but considering that his feelings for the boy haven’t changed at all, anyone with eyes could see how bad he was still freaking out over hand holding , something they’ve been doing for years.
eventually, his name was called (deadname, unfortunately) and he was called in. and since he was still a minor, they had to call his mom into the office as well.
an hour later, prescription in hand as well as written instructions about proper testosterone injection, they go to the pharmacy to pick up the vials and syringes.
and since jisung fucking hates needles, he was terrified to give the shot to himself.
“i can do it for you,” chenle said when they got back to jisung’s house. “i promise to follow the instructions to a t. heh, get it? t?”
“you’re a menace, zhong chenle, and i hate you,” jisung replied with a smile. “but i don’t want you to give me the shot either.”
“why?” chenle dramatically whined. “i’m your best friend, should i be a better fit than anyone to inject a syringe of oils and chemicals in your leg?”
“please never say that ever again,” jisung said almost immediately. “but no, that’s not it. i need something to calm me down when the needle’s in my leg, so… uh… you gotta… uhhh….” his mind went blank as he felt his face get hot.
fortunately, chenle’s able to understand jisung without him saying anything. he slips his hand into his and he gives him a bright, loving smile.
and he doesn’t let go. even when his mom gives him the shot. even afterwards when chenle tackles him into a bearhug as soon as the band-aid’s on. even when they’re watching tv an hour later and cuddling on the couch.
“i’m proud of you, sungie,” chenle says in the middle of their show. “i love you.”
jisung knows he doesn’t mean it in that way. and it hurts. but the words still makes his heart soar.
“i love you too, dummy.”
of course, the dreamies freak out about him transitioning. the school day after the first shot, jaemin was literally in tears blubbering out “ my son’s growing up so fast ” along with donghyuck crying just as hard and refusing to let jisung go, even though they both had to get to class.
and of course, the school year was passing by quicky. and so were college exams.
when jisung was 17, after the college entry exams had been taken, and after the entire friend group had already been accepted into snu (except mark, who had graduated the year before and was already attending it,) he applied for the university, as well as a shit ton of other good universities, hoping and pleading that he got in.
especially that chenle got in, jisung wanted to get into snu more than anything. he couldn’t bear being away from chenle for so long.
the entire group waited and waited for the letter to arrive. after a while jisung had started to feel as nervous as he had been before coming out to his family. he would shake frequently, he would break down in more situations that caused him stress, and the white noise continued.
and yet chenle was always there to help him out of it. to hold his hand, to give him comforting words, and to just be there for him in general.
and then the day came.
jisung was home alone the day the letter from snu came in. as soon as he saw it in the mailbox, he immediately called chenle, who drove as fast as he could to jisung’s house to watch him open it.
“chenle, what if i didn’t get in? what then?” his voice cracked as he picked at the envelope in his hands.
“you know i hate to admit it, but you’re actually pretty fucking smart-” chenle laughed as jisung playfully punched him in the arm. “no seriously, you’re incredibly smart. it’s your name for a reason. i have no doubt that you got in. trust me, your best friend, zhong chenle, who’s never wrong ever.”
jisung gulped as he carefully opened the envelope and unfolded the letter. he took a deep breath as he read it.
he immediately felt his heart drop and his eyes sting.
“jisung? are you-”
the kitchen was dead silent.
“you got in?”
jisung’s face contorted into a bright and blinding smile as he shoved the letter into chenle’s hands “read it, read it! i got in, i fucking got in! and they used my fucking name!”
and sure enough, there it was. in big, bold letters;
“Dear Park Jisung, we’re excited to let you know that you have been accepted into the Seoul National University Fall 2020 semester!”
he’s never seen chenle smile so big. the both laughed as they collided into each other’s arms, jisung actually gaining the strength to pick up chenle and spin him around for a few seconds. he eventually set him down, the both of them still in a fit of giggles as they stood in the kitchen, out of breath and still in each other’s arms.
and as jisung opens his eyes to the sight of chenle still as happy as could be, he thinks to himself that he’s never seen a sight so beautiful.
I could literally just lean down right now and kiss him.
and without a second’s hesitation, he did just that.
granted that he’s never kissed anyone before, he didn’t know what he was doing. he just smashed his lips to chenle’s and didn’t think to hard about it.
until he pulled away after a single second to see chenle’s eyes blown wide and cheeks flushed red.
only then did it fully dawn on him what exactly he just did.
“oh… god, oh my god, chenle, i am so so sorry , that was your first kiss and i just took it and i didn’t even ask you and you don’t even like me like that i’m so fucking-“
“do that again.”
did he hear him right?
“you… you want me to kiss you? again?”
“jisung, i would literally want nothing more than for you to do just that.”
“...are you sure? like, i’m not hearing things, right?”
“oh my god,” chenle sighed as he got up on his toes and kissed the boy himself.
and for the first time in a long while, jisung’s white noise in his head dies down. the tenseness leaves his body as he wraps his arms around chenle’s waist and feels sheer joy and love.
and they stay like that, kissing softly in jisung’s kitchen, letter long forgotten about and on the floor.
like with everything, jisung’s the first to pull away. “we should probably talk about this.”
“...yeah you’re right.” chenle agrees as they pick up the letter and make their way to the couch in the living room.
“so…” jisung starts. “that was something that happened?”
“yeah, we just did that,” chenle replies. “you don’t want to forget about it, do you?”
“god , no, are you nuts?” jisung exclaims. “i’ve been waiting years to do that and you have the audacity to think i would wanna forget about it?”
“wait, backtrack for a second,” chenle says as he holds up his hands to say hold up now, “years?”
“well…” jisung can practically feel his face heat up. “remember when i stayed over at your place for a week?” chenle nodded. “it was then that i actually realized my feelings. the second day i was there, actually. i think i’ve been feeling this way for a long, long while before then. and i was too scared to tell you.”
chenle stayed quiet in disbelief. he then proceeded to slowly bury his face into his hands and scream.
“chenle?? are you-“
in contrast to his previous actions, chenle shot up from his position to face jisung. “you. do you remember during that same week when you were crying and i got into the mattress with you?” he retorted. jisung nodded, knowing exactly what he was talking about. “that was when i realized i liked you. all i wanted to do was hold you and kiss you and i thought that and i went oh fuck.”
jisung felt his head spin. “chenle. chenle, are you telling me that we both realized our feelings for each other on the same day and we both had no idea until just now, almost 2 whole years later?? ”
chenle wailed out in embarrassment as jisung tossed a pillow at him. “chenle, shut the fuck up this is the worst news i’ve ever heard. i hate this. we could’ve avoided all of the unnecessary pining so much earlier. but no. we’re both so incredibly dumb.”
“hey, speaking of,” chenle said, his tone suddenly serious. “you never told me why you were crying that night. is it ok if i ask about that?”
“ohhh…” to be honest, jisung still had thoughts like that. they come up every once in a while during three am pining hours and at other random parts of his day. they were thoughts that jisung had sworn to himself that he would never tell chenle, but now that… that had happened, he thinks that chenle deserves to know.
“well… it was the day i realized my feelings for you. i had, well i still kind of have them, but i had these thoughts of… well, you like boys. and you wouldn’t have wanted to date me because… you know… Yeah.”
jisung looked up to see chenle looking at him like he just spouted out some absolute bullshit.
“jisung, that is absolute bullshit.”
“i know, i know, but-”
at this point, chenle had moved from his spot on the couch to tackling jisung in a hug and with a huge motive to not let him go.
“jisung, you are a boy. the most handsome boy. the prettiest of all boys who have ever existed. you are the smartest, kindest, sweetest boy who is one hundred percent a boy. i’m gay, which means i like boys and boys exclusively. you are a boy. i also like you and you exclusively. more than anyone. i want to hold and kiss you all the time. i want to be in a romantic relationship with you. and it’s going to be gay as fuck, because both of us are boys who have feelings for each other.” chenle moved to squish jisung’s cheeks and look at him. “you are a boy. and i love you. please don’t ever doubt that.”
chenle let go of jisung’s cheeks and was met with sparkling eyes in awe. “does that mean we’re boyfriends now?”
“i would love to be your boyfriend, jisung.” chenle replied with his lovely smile. “now can we just cuddle and kiss for the rest of the day and fall asleep on the couch watching bad anime?” he asked, laying back as he opened his arms in a silent invitation.
and who was jisung to refuse?
jisung was about to turn 19 when he asked chenle a question.
the boy, who was also his boyfriend (and college roommate,) had just come back from his two to three pm class to see jisung putting on make-up.
“oooh, where’d you get all that?” he asked, setting his backpack next to his bed and walking over to jisung’s desk.
“mom bought it for me as an early birthday present. i told her about my bad breakouts and brought up concealer and stuff and she was like “boys can wear make-up too, you know.” which i mean, yeah she’s right.”
“are you gonna wear make-up for the surgery next month? if you’re going into operation, you might as well look presentable.”
that made jisung laugh. “nah, probably not. oh my god, my surgery,” jisung suddenly turned around to face him, eyes blown wide. “my top surgery’s in a month. that’s so weird to think about.”
“yeah, baby, you’re finally getting it.” chenle said as he walked over to him. “and i am so,” he placed a peck to his forehead, “so,” another peck, “so,” another, “proud of you. i love you.”
jisung let the smile bloom on his face as he hummed. “love you, too.”
jisung turned back around to dab on more foundation as chenle rested his chin on his head. ever since jisung can now tower over him, the only way for chenle to rest his head on him now is either when jisung’s sitting down or he’d accept defeat and rest on his shoulder.
they found themselves in a comfortable silence before jisung asked “how would you feel about me growing out my hair?”
“really?” chenle said in disbelief. “you always hated having long hair, what made you change your mind?”
“well, not like, long-long hair, like shoulder length hair. but maybe something like, not quite a mullet but getting there? where it’s kinda shaggy but still considered pretty short?”
“like anime hair?”
“exactly like anime hair.”
“i can’t believe i’m dating an anime boy. next thing, you’ll tell me that you’re gonna dress like a kingdom heart’s character.”
“ jisung.” chenle exhasperated as jisung cackled.
“no, but seriously,” jisung started to explain, “when we first met, i hated having long hair. and when i realized that i was a boy, i thought that i had to have long hair and masculine clothes to be considered a boy. i know i’m a boy- hell. i’m a trans man! and yet i’m still wearing make-up, what’s considered more feminine clothes, and wanting to have my hair grow a little bit longer. i don’t have to be super masculine or worrying about passing to know who i am. i’m a man, i know i’m a man, and i’m a pretty man, and that’s all that matters. and besides, if i end up not liking my shaggy anime hair, i can always to back to ten and ze can give me the blonde at-home haircut again.”
chenle smiled, pretty much seeping in love and adoration for his boyfriend. “i love you so much, you know that?”
jisung pouted, turning around to face him again. “if you love me so much, then kiss me.”
“baby, your still need to apply foundation on the right side of your face.”
“that can wait. kiss me, fool.”
“dork,” chenle laughed as he leaned down to meet jisung in a sweet kiss.
yeah, jisung thought to himself. i’m safe here. this is home.