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I'll get back to you on that

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Dongmin almost didn't care when he put his textbooks onto the table a little too loudly, the noise making the previously oblivious girl in the seat next to him jump. He muttered an apology to her before sorting through his rather messy stack of textbooks. He had had to rush to his biology class placed oh so conveniently on the opposite side of the campus from his previous one.

He barely listened to the teacher, just picking up keywords to gather the gist of her introduction as he tapped a random tune out on the desk with his fingers. At the news of a group project, he listened more intently, despite the fact that he wasn't even mildly interested in it.

"Your next assessment will be a group project on a genetic disease or disorder of you and your partner’s choice," She leant down on the pale wood of the desk and glanced at the students, most of which were making eye contact with their friends.

"However, your partners have already been chosen," A glint in her eye told Dongmin that she gained amusement from the disappointment of the students, "and these cannot be changed unless you or your partner will be absent for multiple lessons in the next two weeks. Please wait in your seats while I read the partners out,"

Dongmin folded his hands on the table top and waited for his name to be read and prayed that he would receive a decent partner, perhaps someone would work well or was even just creative enough to make a visually appealing presentation.

"Lee Dongmin and Moon Bin,"

Perhaps he should start making offerings or something, as praying really wasn't working out of late.

Dongmin looked at the teacher to discern if she was actually serious that he would have to be working with Bin. There was no playfulness or amusement on her face now, just boredom as she continued reading the pairs out. He looked towards Bin, who was seated across the room. Their gazes met for a half second, Bin’s seeming to challenge him before the other looked out the window beside him.

The next two weeks were looking bleak, he thought as the teacher passed around a sheet with a summary of the project and a rubric to each student. Despite somehow managing to have never worked with Bin before, Dongmin know that he may as well be doing the project alone.

He was the kid who was given a wide berth in the hallways and this distance increased the younger the approached student was. It would have been funny if you also weren't slightly scared in his presence. He radiated some sort of anger or hate, at what no one knew but they weren’t willing to find out. He was known for not trying at all in class but Dongmin knew he attended most days and by some sort of magic passed his classes despite lack of involvement.

He was broken out of his thoughts by students making their way around the classroom to sit with their partners and he gathered his things to move next to Bin. Once he sat down, Dongmin flipped the sheet over to find a short list of suggested topics for the pairs to study. He wasn't particularly fussed by which one to pick and he hadn't heard of some of them either.

"So, uh, Bin," He began "do you have a particular one you want to study? I don't really mind to be honest,"

Being closer up Dongmin could see Bins features a little better. As Bin wasn't really involved in school activities like Dongmin was, he'd never had much of a reason to talk to him. He actually looked a lot younger up close, with his careless middle part and soft curve of his cheeks. However his thick brows and dark eyes made him look older and angrier. As Dongmin looked he realised that it wasn't thick lashes that made his eyes darker, but eyeliner. Not that Dongmin had anything against boys wearing makeup -as he was frequently guilty of doing so himself - but the thought of Bin standing in front of a mirror, rimming his eyes with a deep brown (black, even?) pencil made Dongmin suppress a smirk.

Just as he was thinking this, Bin shifted his eyes to the sheet Dongmin was holding.

"I don't care, you can do whichever you want,"

Dongmin mulled this over for a moment, thinking of how he should guide the conversation so that he could possibly get Bin to do something.

"Ah, okay. I'll just pick one I guess then," Bin's only response was him picking at the worn material of his black jeans.

Dongmin was a little lost, not wanting to choose a topic that many people would do, but not wanting to choose one with no information. He had to consider what Bin would think and he had little knowledge of the limits of what Bin would do. He flipped through his biology textbook, which to his surprise gave a little information on some of the diseases listed. Eventually, he chose one, mostly because it sounded a lot nicer than some of the others on the list. He suggested it to Bin.

Bin just hummed. "As I said, I don't care what you do,"

Dongmin sighed.

Through the rest of the lesson Dongmin worked alone, occasionally asking Bin for his opinion, only to be met with a glance or Bin not even acknowledging him. He came close to asking Bin to do more multiple times but each time he stopped himself for fear of pissing Bin off and having even less cooperation than now. He was so wrapped up in this frustrating cycle that he hadn't noticed class had ended until Bin stood up but was no less thankful. He piled his books up and zipped his pens into his pencil case, the resistance of the zip reminding him to buy a new one.

By now, there were only a scant few student in the room and the teacher packing her whiteboard markers away. She gestured for Dongmin to approach her and as he did so she rounded the corner of the desk she had previously been standing behind and leant her weight on a hand she placed there.

"Dongmin, I understand that you may not be pleased with being paired with Bin," Dongmin would have rolled his eyes had he not been in front of his teacher. "And I know that he's a rather... difficult person to work with. However, I think that you are the best person for him to work with,"

She paused before continuing in the same soft voice. "I mean, you're the president of the student body, managing people is what you do. I know you do so many club things as well, you must meet so many different people,"

He supposed that this was true and he understood why she'd paired him with Bin. But that wasn't going to make anything easier for him.

He said that he understood and with a thank you left the classroom.

 

 

Biology was the class Dongmin had after lunch the next day and he was watching Bin from across the cafeteria. Bin wasn't paying attention to his tray of food, which was fair enough, Dongmin thought. There was only so well you could mass-cook cheap potato bake and sausages. Instead, Bin's attention was on a girl next to him whose makeup and clothing gave off a vibe not dissimilar to Bin’s. Bin seemed pretty interested in her, he noticed, but that may have been because of how intrusive her body language was, as if she was trying to gather more of his attention than he was willing to give her8.

"Dongmin,"

He turned his head to see Minhyuk, one of the boys in his homeroom.

"You alright there?" He asked, lifting a brow.

"...yeah," Dongmin replied as he felt his cheeks flush. Minhyuk sat down beside him and glanced towards where Bin was sitting before returning to Dongmin.

Don't be mistaken, Minhyuk was a great person and Dongmin could make a list of the things he admired in him. However, he was one of those people that once they thought a person had a different sexuality or liked a certain person, they wouldn't be told otherwise. And they would remind that person that they were regularly. It became all that more annoying when that person wasn’t interested in the other or, even worse, when they weren’t even their accused sexuality.

"I'm partners with Bin for a bio project and was just thinking about it, is all," Dongmin replied to Minhyuk's wordless query.

"Mhm,"

Dongmin narrowed his eyes at Minhyuk but smiled after to soften the expression.

Lunch continued much like normal, with more people joining him and Minhyuk and more talking (and banter) between them all. Whenever Dongmin's thoughts strayed towards the project, and ultimately towards Bin, he felt a sense that somehow he shouldn't be. And perhaps so, but Dongmin tended to put too much thought into school and left that train of thought alone once he had blamed it on that.

 

 

Within half an hour Dongmin was felt done with the project. There was no way they were going to finish without Dongmin doing the entire project himself. Bin was just sitting there, scribbling lazily in the margin of his exercise book with a borrowed pen. In front of that was a still closed book from the trolley of mostly relevant books that had been brought down from the school library.

Dongmin's set up was much the same except he had around three-quarters of a page filled with blue dot points, an open book in front and he owned a pencil case (which still needed replacing).

He'd even given Bin the easier parts to research, like the symptoms, where all he had to do was copy down what he found in the books and not think too much to understand it.

Dongmin didn't want to push it too much, to accidentally make Bin angry. At least for the moment he would get responses from Bin that weren't insulting or confrontational. That was a plus, he supposed.

"You haven't written anything in awhile,"

"Huh?"

"You. You haven't written anything down in your book for a few minutes," Bin explained, now facing Dongmin, who thought it was a little hypocritical of him to say that. Dongmin's expression must have given this away because Bin sighed.

"Look, Dongmin, I'm not here to pass this class or do anything about this project. You might have figured that out by now," He paused for second. "And you should have figured out that you can't do much about it,"

Dongmin didn't really have a response to that, so he just nodded and turned his attention back to his books while Bin continued to kill time.

He looked up at the clock and saw there were only ten minutes of class left. He took a breath.

"I get that you don't care about this at all but you know I do. Could we work on this outside of school? We can use my mums laptop,"

Bin looked, for a split second, as if this was a foreign concept and Dongmin could have laughed.

"I dunno about you but tomorrow afternoons the best time for me," Bin shrugged in response. It was the only day that Dongmin had no club activities and could go straight home.

"Whatever," Bin said as he put his book on top of Dongmin's and slid his rather empty exercise book into his backpack. As he stood up the shrill bell rang and the other students started packing their things.

That night, after telling his parents that he might be bringing Bin home to work on the project, Dongmin was still trying to figure Bin out. The younger had made out that he really didn't give a toss about his studies. But still, Bin attended school most days and, as far as Dongmin knew, most classes as well. Bin wasn't popular either, not in the way other people were. Everyone knew who he was and respected him to a degree (though it's difficult not to respect a guy who's glaring at you with the intensity Bin does) but he didn't know of many people who genuinely liked him. There were a few people he sat with at lunch and Dongmin had seen them outside a handful of times, but Bin seemed less interested in them than they were. Thus, Bin wasn't coming to school to bask in the adoration of his fellow students. Bin seemed to prefer it that way and Dongmin had found that he didn't try to make people like him. Dongmin supposed it was like playing hard to get but applied to every social relationship possible.

Though he pondered on this for a while, Dongmin couldn't think about how he should make Bin work with him and he was left to fall asleep slightly frustrated.

 

 

There was maybe three minutes until the bell rung to signal the end of the school day and Dongmin was scribbling down the homework he had been assigned that day in his diary, his bag leaning on his calf beside him on the floor. He was trying to ignore the other students in his homeroom but this proved impossible when a hand was slapped onto his shoulder and a person's weight pushed him sideways.

“Hello, Minhyuk,” Dongmin said, not needing to look at his face to know it was him. In his peripheral vision he saw the boy pout at his condescending tone.

“Hey, Dongmin,” He said sweetly. Dongmin remembered the date for his English homework and wrote that in before closing the book. He talked as he zipped the diary into his bag.

“You want something, don't you?”

“....no, I was just curious as to whether or not your mum was picking you up today,”

“Of course you were,”

“And to see if you wanted my company on the ride home, perhaps even taking a detour by my house on the way,” Minhyuk said, moving a piece of his hair from his eyes.

“You know, Minhyuk, you could always just ask me if you could have a ride home,” Dongmin said as the bell rung. He and Minhyuk shouldered their bags and started leaving the room.

“But it's so much better this way,”

“Uh-huh,”

They stepped out onto the concrete and both of them squinted from the glare radiating from the pale surface.

“But is she?” Minhyuk questioned.

“No, today's her day off so I’ve gotta walk home,”

Dongmin looked up to see Bin trying to pass a group of girls on the footpath, not really wanting to step around the parked car and onto the busy road to avoid them. He made eye contact with Bin and smiled. The other appeared caught.

“Oh, I see,” Minhyuk said.

“Aah, no. Remember that bio project I mentioned yesterday?” Minhyuk thought for a second and nodded. “I've invited him to work on it with me at home,”

“Dongmin that's...really not something people do two days into a project, especially when not friends. And inviting Bin to work at your place is even less common,”

“Oh...anyway, hey Bin,” Dongmin said, dismissing Minhyuk's reasoning. Two days into a project was early, he would admit, but this was his only free afternoon until the weekend and Dongmin didn't want to wait four days until then.

“Hi,” Bin said reluctantly, leaving the girls to walk ahead now that he was talking to the others.

“Are you all good to come to my place now?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Bin replied.

“Oh, do you have something you need to do?” Dongmin said, hearing the reluctance in the other’s voice. Bin replied, saying he never had anything after school.

“Well, alright. My house isn't far from here, about fifteen minutes,”

“So we're walking?” Bin asked.

“Yeah, sorry about that,”

Bin shrugged.

Minhyuk split off from the pair after not long, probably to use the alleyway through a couple of streets to get home. It crossed Dongmin's that he may have done so to leave the heavy air that the lack of conversation from Bin had caused. He couldn't blame the boy seeing as it was rather awkward at the time and Dongmin himself would rather be alone as well.

Luckily the walk was short and Dongmin opened the unlocked front door with a greeting to announce himself.

“Ah, Dongmin,” He heard his mother from within the house, possibly the kitchen or her desk in the living area. “Have you finally brought someone home for us to meet?”

He heard his brother laughing from the same direction his mother's voice came from.

“Mum!” He drew out the vowel. “You know that's not what I meant when I said I'd bring someone over!”

His mother simply chuckled and he took off his shoes to leave at the front door. He walked into the kitchen-dining and saw he was correct in assuming the places that his brother and mother were. Bin’s slow footsteps followed him. He saw an open Facebook tab on the laptop in front of his mother, likely filled with pictures of their family and her friends. His brother hadn’t changed from the clothes he had worn to school, the bright blue shirt a stark contrast to the duller tones of the room. It was then he saw the tray of biscuits, each indented with the four prongs of a fork. His mother must have noticed his attention being drawn to them.

“Go ahead, Donghwi and I made them. They should still be warm,” Both boys did. “Oh, Dongmin! You should have introduced your friend,”

In the corner of his eye Dongmin saw Bin's face tense slightly. “Uhm, yeah. This is Bin,”

“Well, nice to meet you, Bin,” She smiled and the soft skin around her eyes folded in a way that made her cheeks look rounder.

“Thanks,” Bin said, making Dongmin realise that these were the first words he had said since entering the house. The conversation lulled after this with the only noises heard inside the house being the soft chewing from his sister and the hum of a car outside.

“Could we use yours or Dad's laptop?” Dongmin asked.

“Oh, of course. Your father’s is in our room, on the dresser I think,”

Dongmin left to get the laptop and returned with it held under his arm. He hadn't thought that Bin may feel uncomfortable being left with his family, but if he was, he was doing well at hiding it. Bin was just observing the room, hands in his trouser pockets and leaning against the dining table. He was looking at the gifted vases on the disused mantle piece and the framed photos. It was Dongmin's turn to feel uncomfortable when he realised there were some school photos from elementary and middle school among family photos.

“Why don't we work in the living room, hey Bin?” His slightly rushed tone may have been what made his brother turn his head towards him. He lead Bin through to the living room and sank into the couch and placed the laptop on the coffee table that he then dragged closer. Bin sat on the other end of the couch.

There was a pause, one that needed filling with conversation or movement but both boys stayed silent and relatively unmoving. Dongmin looked to Bin, only to see the other's eyes already on him.

“Uh…,” He mumbled. “Ah! We need our books,”

Bin nodded as Dongmin left the room. Dongmin had borrowed a few books from the library that day and carried those in with his exercise book. He noticed that Bin was still wearing his jacket when he entered the living room again, so he offered that he take it off.

“Mmh, I'll pass,” He replied.

The room was rather warm with the afternoon sun streaming onto one of the walls. Bin must have caught onto Dongmin's thoughts to ask him again about the jacket.

“In case you didn't realise, that was a no,” He said, obviously unafraid of seeming rude. Dongmin closed his mouth, feeling a little stupid. He sat down on the couch, moving a sandy coloured cushion out from behind himself. He hummed.

“So. I was thinking that maybe a poster would be a good choice, it's easy to present and stuff. What do you think?”

Bin shrugged. Poster it was then.

“Well, are you cool to write down notes if I read them to you from the laptop?” Dongmin thought, although slower, this way he might get Bin to do some work with him. That wasn't to say that Dongmin didn't think that the work of the project was going to be shared equally. He knew he would be doing a majority of the work but he was going to try to make Bin do some, partially for the boys own grade and partially because Dongmin would feel ripped off and entirely responsible for the project.

He passed Bin a pen that he had seen next to the regular coffee table books. As he turned the laptop on and began looking for decent sites to use, he heard Bin opening and flicking through the thin pages of his exercise book to find where he was up to.

The sliding door behind him opened, the noise unpleasant and reminding Dongmin of how rarely they were used. The doors usually remained open to connect the three rooms.

His mother's socked feet rounded the edge of the couch, a plate of the biscuits in her hands and a glass of water each balanced atop it.

“I thought the temptation of food may have been a little too much, so you can both sate yourselves without going too far from your work now,” She said as she placed the food down and left. Bin nodded in acknowledgement and Dongmin thanked her.

The two sank into a surprisingly easy, if boring, routine of Dongmin telling Bin what to write and Bin writing it down. Dongmin kept an eye on what he wrote, not entirely trusting Bin to write legibly or at all properly. He couldn’t help noticing the way he occasionally paused to move his hair back to stop it from blocking his vision too much and the way it fell back over his eyes within several minutes. He tended to bite or lick at his lips, desperate for a swipe of lip balm that Dongmin was too shy to offer. Despite paraphrasing badly (Dongmin suspecting that this may not have been an accident) and regularly writing a little too messily, Bin wrote down what Dongmin said. He felt a sense of fulfilment or accomplishment welling up in himself at this.

Despite Dongmin's scrutinous gaze, he failed to notice how Bin's fingers faltered over the biscuits. He didn't see the gentleness with which he handled the glass. And he definitely didn't see the smile that ghosted over Bin's lips after his last biscuit.

 

 

 

 

Bin left after around an hour and a half of work. Dongmin and his mother led him to the door, leaving him with a promise to see him at school the next day and invites to dinner sometime. They walked into the kitchen with a conversation brewing between them.

“Bin's a funny guy, don't you think?” His mother queried.

“I suppose you could say that,”

“I didn't get the impression you liked him that much,” She stated. Dongmin matched her knowing smile.
His mother was a psychologist and tended to accidentally read into people too much, though her judgements rather accurate. Dongmin knew this would make people uncomfortable and anxious if they knew of this but he had long since gotten used to it.

“Well, he doesn't make himself easy to like,” He said, leaning against the kitchen bench as his mother added celery into the simmering pot on the stove. “I'm surprised he did stuff this afternoon. He hadn't done anything at school,”

“Oh, I see,”

Dongmin hummed. “I thought bringing him home would make him realise that I'm not a pushover who’ll do all the work,” He paused before adding; “Though I know that I'll do the majority anyway. It kind of just makes me feel better,”

He watched his mother measure cups of rice from the large bag into the rice cooker and the sound of the small grains hitting each other filled the kitchen.

“I thought he was just uncomfortable at first. But don't think so now. He seems..” she placed her hands on the bench, searching for the right words. “Troubled, perhaps. I think there's a reason he's uncooperative, and it’s not just dislike for you or school,”

She returned to filling the rice cooker and Dongmin thought about her words but found himself unable to figure out much more about Bin without having to pry into his personal life. He hadn’t thought past it than just him having an abnormal dislike for people or being angry for no particular reason. But he thought that, of course, no one feels any emotion for no reason, so there was something behind Bin’s brash front. However, he didn't feel like thinking too hard about the issue just yet.

Bin left Dongmin's thoughts for the next day and a half, until their last biology lesson of the week which was a period before school finished. Yesterday's after school activities had left him tired, the badminton training having seemed longer and more draining than usual. His piano lesson hadn't gone well either and he had been frustrated and disappointed in himself. Perhaps it was yesterday's leftover emotions and the end-of-week sleep deprivation that had made today all the more tiring.

So when Dongmin entered the biology classroom and sat down next to the place Bin would soon occupy, he was tired as all hell. He opened his exercise book, the one Bin had written in the other day. The notes were alright and there were a list of the websites and the titles of the pages that Dongmin had made to properly reference later. The bell rung and Bin entered the room a few seconds before its end, smirking at the teacher because she couldn't mark him as late. He sat next to Dongmin while the teacher began marking the attendance and running through the lesson, now resigned to the fact that she wouldn’t be chastising anyone.

Dongmin collected a couple of books from the trolley, which had made it's return since last lesson. He passed one to Bin and kept the other to use himself.

He set himself up; a pen in hand, an exercise book in front of him and the library book leaning on the small stack of other school books. Dongmin started writing, trying not to re-write information that they had found in the other books and online. He didn't’ know what Bin was doing and he found he didn't care either. His attention and alertness were waning, which wasn’t surprising really.

He was looking out the window, trying to use the brightness from the sun to stun his eyes into waking him up. It was actually a lovely day, in Dongmin's opinion. On the second floor only the tops of the branches on the tree outside were visible and they swayed gently, moving the dappled shadow cast into the room from side to side. He could hear the smooth sound of Bin's dull pencil on the paper nearby but he was unable to determine if he was doodling or writing.

Blinking himself out of his reverie and leaning his head in his hand, Dongmin returned to his paper and found his place in the book. He wrote more notes, unintentionally just copying down relevant sentences rather than paraphrasing and using shorthand as usual. There was a little too much thought process involved in doing that.

He thought that he might have looked silly then, but he was too past it to care much anymore. His slowly blinking eyes were opened to slits with a slack mouth. He could feel himself drifting off and lifted his head each time before almost falling asleep again. He supposed it might have resembled those birds that do that strange mating dance, the one where they bob their heads at each other an squawk. He smiled absently at this.

Dongmin wasn’t expecting himself to be pushed sideways and nearly lose balance from the force. He grabbing a table leg and his weight caused it to push against the table sideways an inch or two. He turned his head to the left to see Bin repositioning himself and picking up his pen.

“You were starting to sway about everywhere,” He explained blankly without sparing a glance at Dongmin, who ruffled his hair slightly before smoothing it back into place and blinking to clear his head of sleep. A look to the clock above the door told him that he hadn’t been asleep for long at all really, not that Dongmin was entirely sure that he had fallen asleep anyway. Either way, this was pretty new for Dongmin because he had never drifted off in class before and though he knew he probably hadn’t, there was this feeling that he might have missed something that the teacher said while he was asleep.

“Thank you,” He said softly. Dongmin hoped no one had seen him. It wouldn’t look good for him and wouldn’t set a good example if he, the student president, had been sleeping in class. He was glad Bin had woken him but the boy didn’t accept his thanks and Dongmin wasn’t game to try again.

Though he was more alert than before, Dongmin didn’t trust himself not to fall asleep again. He resumed writing and hoped that this would be the last day he would have to research and that they could finally put the presentation together. Dongmin kept both hands on the desk and close enough that each time he felt himself drifting off he could pinch the flesh between his thumb and forefinger. He knew this wasn’t the best way to stay awake but in his slightly muddled state it was the best he could think of.

Class ended and Dongmin left school quickly, as though he would be able to get home sooner if he arrived at the drama group early. As he walked he moved his thumb to stretch and fold the marked skin. The little crescents wouldn’t last and would probably fade within ten minutes, but the varying colours and shades were interesting. The harder and more recent pinches left more purplish marks, while the lighter and older were only red.

Dongmin was preoccupied enough not to hear the shouting coming from around the corner and it was only when he saw the two people arguing did he realise they were there. The one facing him was a girl with dark hair that had been tucked behind her ears at one point but many hairs had slipped free. Her eyes were framed with thick lashes and they sparkled with water.

The other was a boy with brown hair but he couldn’t make out much else about him despite his slim yet muscular physique. It was only when he recognised the girl as the one cuddling up against Bin in the cafeteria that day did he realise that Bin was the boy.

Dongmin felt as if he were eavesdropping, viewing something that was private and not for him to see. He couldn’t quite pull himself away, perhaps because he knew Bin a little. He wasn’t really listening to what either of them were saying and it was difficult to hear Bin’s too calm voice over the girls hysterical one. That also made her words difficult to listen to and all he could tell was that she was unhappy with their relationship and that she thought it ridiculous that Bin not care about that.

He finally walked away, re-adjusting his bag as he walked past the building’s side on the concrete outdoors. The shouting had quietened suddenly and he glanced into the corridor through the wide window. The girl had her hand on Bin’s lower arm and must have been saying something before Bin pulled his own arm from his pocket and shook her off. She lifted her head and stepped backwards as Bin put his hand back into his pocket.

Bin started yelling and it surprised both the girl and Dongmin. He stopped. Through the window he saw her jump but Bin didn’t slow.

“-ing stupid that you actually thought I cared about you. It was laughable, seeing how much shit I could get away with while you thought I loved you. I thought you could’ve figured that out-”

Dongmin decided to leave properly but had to continue walking along the window that looked into the corridor he had been in. He found it disconcerting how well-formed Bin’s words were despite the situation and he knew this would only cause the girl to become more upset. His yelling stopped abruptly, making Dongmin turn to look through the wide windows.

Bin was looking at him and for a long moment their eyes met and Dongmin felt trapped. He came to a slow halt and kept his eyes locked on Bin’s and turned his head to remain so. He saw the girl walking quickly out of the building, book bag hitting her thigh and a hand over her mouth. The pang in his chest told him to go comfort her but he ignored it.

Finally, Dongmin backed down from the challenge in Bin’s eyes and continued walking along the building. Though he had left the area, his mind was still stuck on the event during the drama group and his mother asked why he was so quiet when she was driving him home.

It irked him for some reason that Dongmin couldn’t think of. Yet when he was laying on his bed after dinner (face down, he will admit) he could still see Bin’s intense gaze. It was as if he had been daring him to approach himself or the girl, for Dongmin to become involved and it was now tattooed on the inside of his eyelids.

He pulled himself off the bed and into the bathroom to brush his teeth. He studied his reflection in the mirror after washing his face. The bags under his eyes were pronounced in size and a little dark. Thinking about a joke he had read somewhere, he left the bathroom muttering about Prada.

He was then he concluded that he was Too Tired to deal with anything and that that was why Bin was occupying his thoughts so much.

 

 

Come Monday, Dongmin hadn’t given much more thought to the whole Bin thing on Friday. He’d found some pictures they might want to use for the project but left it all at that to ensure his mind stayed quiet. When he saw the girl in one of his classes that morning it all rushed back to him, but without the urgency and intensity of before. Like a weak headache; enough to feel it almost constantly, but not strong enough to pay that much attention to it.

“You know, I saw Bin break up with his girlfriend the other day,” He said, not even looking at Minhyuk or the still-packaged biscuit he was fiddling with. The plastic crackled enough to be just heard over the noise in the room. “Though I don’t think he really saw it as that much of a relationship,”

“Huh. Bin never struck me as one to really let his feelings get him involved with others,” The younger replied. Dongmin agreed. “It doesn’t really surprise me to be honest,”

“She seemed really broken up about it though. She thought it was a real thing,” He said before taking a bite of the biscuit and rolling the wrapper around in his free hand.

“Yeah, but she should have seen it coming. Maybe he’s just a good actor, able to make his flings and, ah, toys feel like sticking around,” Minhyuk said. “It’s a win-win for both really, ‘til he decides it’s over,”

“God, you’re a bit blunt sometimes, Hyuk,” The other smiled. “I didn’t really want to admit that he was using people,”

Dongmin finished his biscuit as Minhyuk drank from his water bottle, a lack of conversation topics creating silence between them.

“You seem pretty interested,” Minhyuk took another sip and glanced at Dongmin, who rolled his eyes.

“It’s just something funny that happened last week,”

“Yeah. Alright,” He replied.

“Yeah,” Dongmin said, nodding fervently to convince Minhyuk. He just smirked. “I’m serious, Bin’s actually an ass and he does basically nothing in class, it’s annoying,”

“Sure?”

“Um, yeah,” Dongmin was cornered and was being interrogated which made him hate the way his cheeks became hot. He pulled his sleeves up to his elbows to release a little of that heat. “Besides, I don’t even find him physically attractive at all,”

“Oh, of course,”

“Yes,”

Class was nothing new. Unlike last week though, Dongmin wasn’t late to class and Bin sat down next to him, on time as well. They didn’t acknowledge each other besides Dongmin turning to look at Bin, his ever present blank scowl painted onto his features but not focused on Dongmin. He was still a little iffy about what Minhyuk had said at recess. As much of a good friend he was and although he knew it was just playful teasing, it was annoying to have assumptions made about you and expressed to you by the assumption-maker. He turned this over in his head while the teacher talked and he was aware of Bin resting his chin in his hand, sometimes tapping his fingers against his cheek.

The teacher had brought in some coloured papers for the students that wanted to use them for posters and Dongmin asked Bin which colour he would like, not expecting an answer.

“Not pink or yellow,” He stated simply.

Granted, this wasn’t a full answer but it was more input to decision making than he had seen Bin give to the entire project. His lips parted slightly and he only remembered to go collect the paper when Bin looked up from his phone under the desk to raise an eyebrow.

He decided dark blue would be good enough and placed it on top of his books when he returned to his desk.

“So I was thinking that we could each write a few paragraphs and then I could type and print them at home and bring them in,” Dongmin said. “Or it could be easier to meet up at mine or yours and do it then,”

“Whichever is quickest. You know I don’t care,” Bin replied.

“Probably the latter. I’ll ask tonight,” This received a glare from Bin and Dongmin was at a loss as to why Bin would be so annoyed at this. He brushed it off and wrote references for the books they had used most of the lesson.

It occurred to him that they spent most lessons like this, in relative silence, only talking briefly with Dongmin doing a majority of the work while Bin did only a little. He couldn’t find it in himself to care all that much about the actual project either. However, he didn’t dread the class so much as he thought he would, though he knew that each one would be filled with work. It just wasn’t… unpleasant. A tad boring of course but not bad. He couldn’t really figure out why though.

Dongmin's mother agreed to have Bin stay for another afternoon when he asked that night. He was surprised at the lack of questions, only asking when he would be coming over. He logged onto the laptop and made a document and put it in a folder with some of the images he had found for the day after.

 

Dongmin had been hoping to find Bin all day to tell him that he could visit that evening. They didn't have biology that day and the two of them didn't share any other classes. It was the last two periods of the day and Dongmin was becoming a little agitated at this.

He left the classroom to go to the toilet and to leave the pool of anxious thoughts he had been marinating in. He didn't particularly like these toilets but they were much closer than the other set, up a couple more flights of stairs than Dongming was willing to climb. These ones were always cold and if it had been raining that day the air felt damp. There were no classrooms down here either as this was basically a basement and only had a small portion of the hallway above ground level, where thick glass windows were sat to allow light in.

Dongmin passed the storerooms, unconsciously making his footsteps quieter to match the almost silence in the corridor and the dull footsteps of people in the room above. He rounded the corner to, to his surprise, see Bin with his foot resting on the useless-looking ledge along the wall. He'd been present in class so much that it took him a second to remember that, yeah, this kid wasn't like Dongmin who showed up to every class and stayed at school afterwards to attend and run club activities.

At the presence of another body Bin looked up from his phone, but seeing that it was only Dongmin he turned his attention back to the device.

“Hey, Bin,” Dongmin smiled.

Bin's tone was far less enthusiastic as Dongmin’s. “Hi,”

“So you know how yesterday I mentioned you coming round tonight or tomorrow so we could basically finish the project?” Bin nodded in response and sighed in agitation. “It's cool with me,”

“Okay,”

“I just have debating this afternoon so just come later than last time, like an hour or so,”

Bin turned back to his phone and Dongmin took this, along with his especially dismissive aura today, as his cue to leave. He heard the sound of fabric moving against fabric as Bin moved behind him. He had only made a couple of steps before Bin’s hand grabbed his wrist and Dongmin inhaled sharply and was pulled to face Bin who drew his hand closer. From here he could see the smudges in his eyeliner and the lashes that surrounded his currently angry eyes. Dongmin was also aware of the small difference in their height and despite Bin being the shorter, Dongmin was the one who felt tiny.

“What’s with you?” Bin glared. “Can you not catch a hint?”

“What do you mean? I-”

“You’re so fucking thick, oh my God. Do you not understand that I don’t want to be so involved in this? I don’t wanna work on the project with you, let alone anyone else,”

He paused but Dongmin didn’t say anything. Instead he was preoccupied with the tightness with which Bin held his wrist, the barely present burn of his skin being twisted with the angle of Bin’s wrist to his and that his shallow breaths were slowly increasing his level of light-headedness.

“I don’t know if you’re genuinely interested in the project this much, or if this is a ‘me’ thing? Do you want to befriend me like everyone else at this fucking school?”

Dongmin started wriggling his wrist to loosen Bin’s grasp. Eventually his grip relaxed considerably and was able to pull himself free. He held his wrist with his other hand despite not being hurt.

“It’d be a whole lot easier if you didn’t try to get me to care about it too,” Bin said, his hand still not having returned to his pocket, just resting against his thigh.

“Bin. Uh, I need to go to the toilet,” At this point, Dongmin just wanted to get out of the situation and back to the class. Bin exhaled sharplynand Dongmin hurried to the the toilet but paused before entering. His hand rested on the front of the door lightly.

“Will you still work on the project though? At school or not?” He asked.

Bin just shrugged and didn’t make eye contact. “You need to finish it, don’t you?”

When Dongmin left the the toilets he couldn’t see Bin and was glad about it, as he honestly didn't want to for a little bit. He tried to ignore the way his wrist felt, the way it tingled as if the pressure of Bin’s hand was still on it. There was no mark but he felt that there should have been, if it was this distracting to him.

 

Since then, Dongmin had been wondering about how he should tell his parents that Bin probably wouldn’t be visiting at all. The uncertainty would be strange to them because his parents weren’t used to Dongmin being unsure or unknowing. He just wanted to avoid any questions about how sudden it was or why Bin couldn’t make it at all. Thankfully, they didn’t pry too much after Dongmin just told them he was busy for the next few days.

He had brought the poster paper home despite kind of knowing that he wouldn’t work on it that night. Dongmin sat it on his desk and looked at the rolls of blue paper from his bed. Was he too forceful in making Bin work on the poster with him? Did he make him uncomfortable or something, was that why he was always so reluctant and quiet? He hadn’t noticed this in anyone else before and he started thinking that that was only because Bin was more honest. Other people who he worked on projects and assignments probably felt the same way but hid it better, making excuses so they don’t have to work on it at anyones house.

Dongmin also wondered why Bin’s hold had affected him so much. It was tight and uncomfortable when he moved his wrist. But by now, surely, he wouldn’t feel anything? And Dongmin wasn’t entirely sure if the feeling on his wrist was physical or if his mind was playing tricks. He didn’t know which one he preferred.

Just for this night, he decided, he would leave the poster alone entirely. He could probably forget about school entirely for the next couple of hours, devoting himself to social media maybe. He needed to get things off his mind anyway.

 

Bin wasn’t at school on Thursday. Of course, he could be skipping school for sake of it, have pulled a sicky or even been legitimately ill. It was most likely the former but Dongmin couldn’t help listening to the voice that told him that he had annoyed Bin so much that he had stayed home to avoid dealing with Dongmin in class that day. He tried reasoning with it by saying that the boy didn’t even want to be at school in the first place and probably only attended so he could graduate this year. Besides, Bin probably took at least a day off every fortnight or something and Dongmin had never noticed. He settled for thinking that pissing him off yesterday probably just pushed him over the line.

He didn’t really think of it much, besides being innocently reminded by Minhyuk at recess and seeing his usual place at lunch empty. It made him feel mixed emotions he supposed. He was angry at himself for being so oblivious to Bin’s agitation (he had deemed it to be his constant state of annoyance) and presumably that of others he worked with. He was also glad that he wasn’t at school as it gave him another day to avoid being the victim of what would probably be an especially venomous glare and if he was really lucky, some choice words if he happened to talk to Bin.

He went home with the intention of writing all the paragraphs and notes they would need to present on Monday and he was gonna bet that Bin wouldn’t do much during their lesson tomorrow. And then Dongmin wouldn’t want to do the project at all on Friday or the weekend, so this was probably best, even if it meant him doing pretty much all the work.

Thus, after his piano lesson, he took his father’s laptop to his room and, with the door open, mind you, started working on the assignment. It was pretty easy, he thought, as he was only paraphrasing and making full yet brief paragraphs from the notes.

Distantly he heard a knock which was probably dinner being made or Soomin messing around downstairs. He heard two sets of feet ascend the stairs and looked up to his door, which was currently pulled to. One pair was obviously his mother's - nearly as light as his sisters but far more relaxed- but the other were heavier but wouldn’t be his father’s as there was still at least an hour before he returned from work.

“Hey Dongmin,” She said, giving him a second before pushing the door open to reveal herself and...Bin. Dongmin stood up without reply and looked at him before looking at his mother again.

“Hi,” He said to both of them. His foot inched towards the pajamas from the night before at the end of his bed. He stepped closer to the bed so it didn’t look so awkward as he shoved them under the wooden frame. “I’m glad you came over, I was working on the assignment already,”

“Oh, well that works out quite well,” His mother said, tilting her head up at Bin who glanced at her in return.

“Yeah I guess so,” He said. His mother chose this point to leave, saying bye and telling them to work well.

Dongmin had pushed most visible clothing from his floor to under the bed by now but flushed when he saw Bin was looking around the rest of the room. It wasn’t anything to really look at, just a single bed with other bedroom-type of furniture placed against the walls. Most surfaces had things piled on top of them, mostly books and school things. It wasn’t even that big and the ceiling sloped on one side where the roof was outside.
Despite his modest bedroom, Dongmin felt as if it were him under Bin’s gaze, as if it were him being scrutinised (and, honestly, this probably wasn’t a misplaced feeling as a person’sbedroom is basically a reflection of the them, he supposed).

“Do you want to work here or downstairs?” He asked. Bin nodded, not really answering the question. Dongmin gestured for him to leave in front of him after he had picked up the laptop, exercise book and poster paper.

Obviously, Bin had learnt enough from his now two visits that he knew where the living room was and sat down expectantly on the couch. He noticed that Bin didn’t have a bag with him and doubted that he would have one in the entryway, given the lumps in his jacket pockets and knowledge that he knew he wouldn’t be carrying a book.

Dongmin placed the items on the coffee table and reopened the laptop to the document he had been working on.

“I was going to write out the paragraphs that we need and, depending on how much ink we have left in the printer cartridges, print or write them so we can stick them to the poster tomorrow. Or today I guess,” He said to Bin.

“What would you like me to do, then?” The question made Dongmin stop because he hadn’t thought about that, let alone considered that Bin would turn up at his house to work on the project.

“I guess...I guess we can just write them together then?” He said. Bin picked up the exercise book, indicating that he wanted Dongmin to type (he was relieved with this as Bin’s handwriting made it difficult and slow to read at times). “I’ve got a symptoms paragraph, but that’s really just dot points and about half of a cause one,”

Bin leant over to look at where Dongmin had written up to. “It can also be caused by environmental factors, influence is probably a good word,”

For the next forty minutes or so, Dongmin was in a type of daze as Bin miraculously did an almost equal share of the work. After they finished the paragraphs they wrote their own notes to use in the presentation in class. Dongmin did notice that his were about double the size of Bins and he couldn’t tell if it was because of the lack of abbreviations in his (alternatively, the assumable overuse of them in Bin’s) or if he legitimately wrote more.

His mother walked into the living room and leant her arms on the back of the couch between the two of them and asked Bin if he would like to stay for dinner. He refused but she insisted he do so.

“I can’t be home late,” Bin persisted. Dongmin had his assumptions that Bin could probably stay out much later but knew it was pushing their luck to have him stay for dinner when he probably didn’t want to be there all that much.

“Well, I’m just waiting on the vegetables really, so the rest is ready. How about a bowl of that?”

“Yeah, okay,” He gave in to her and she left again to get Bin a serve.

There was a little silence between them, reluctant to begin working again as they both knew that there was little point but neither of them could offer to do anything else but wait.

“I think tomorrow, if I just bring this all to school, we could finish it then and just leave it over the weekend,” Dongmin said. He fully understood that this was obvious but the silence needed filling before it became crushing. Bin looked at him and stood up, walking around the couch to the dining table. Blessed with good timing, his mother was walking towards the table with the meal in her hands, holding it tentatively yet securely so her hands didn’t get too hot.

She placed it after sliding a table mat in front of a seat from the small pile on the table runner and Bin sat down when she moved away. He murmured something that Dongmin hoped was a thanks, or at least a positive comment on the meal. Bin stirred the deep orangey stew with his chopsticks, pulling a piece of chicken from the liquid.

His mother returned to the kitchen to stir the vegetables that weren’t in the jjigae and he followed her to get himself and Bin a drink.

“Would you like anything to drink?” Bin looked over to where Dongmin stood with the fridge door open. “We’ve got orange juice, milk, lemonade, I think, tea, green tea, water, of course. Uh, probably cordial too,”

“I don’t mind,” Bin said, taking a mouthful of food.

“Okay, I’m having cordial,” He decided once he saw the lemon cordial in the door of the fridge and grabbed two glasses from the overhead cupboard. He poured a little of the syrupy liquid into the glasses and filled the rest with water. With a glass in one hand and the bottle in the other (in case it was too weak), he walked out and placed the former in front of Bin before returning with his own glass to sit adjacent. They sat in relative silence and Dongmin observed the room, despite having spent hours there before. Bin seemed to enjoy the food and ate quietly and quickly.

Bin drew Dongmin’s attention far more than anything else in the room. The way Bin sometimes closed his eyes when taking a bite and how the curve in his top lip would even out into a smoother line when he opened his mouth was more interesting.

Bin must have seen Dongmin watching him eat because he looked up, causing Dongmin to look away. He took another sip of lemon cordial and was aware of how the cold glass contrasted with the warmth of his cheeks.

Bin finished quickly and Dongmin rinsed his plate and put it next to the sink to be washed later. Bin shrugged on the jacket from earlier, which he had taken off at one point while they were working and left over the arm of the couch. His mother reappeared to see Bin off and he left much the same as he had arrived. Only this time, he had a full stomach and, oblivious to Dongmin, a softer heart.

Dongmin packed up the papers from earlier and his mother looked at him, happy for Dongmin as he hadn’t had to do all the work. He returned her smile and left the assignment on his desk before eating dinner himself.

 

 

Perhaps Dongmin hadn’t realised that he had been stressed before but Friday felt much easier in comparison to the rest of the two weeks. He knew it was because of the assignment, which was basically finished and the little cloud of stress that had been looming over him had dissipated. Even though he was eager for the weekend he felt relaxed about his classes today.

With a clearer mind he was able to think about things more during the lesson. Such as which colour pen would best compliment the dark blue of the poster paper or how he and Bin never seemed to talk during class or when they were at Dongmin’s. He thought a brown would have been nice but settled for a pale blue marker borrowed from another student to underline titles and do dot points.

However the latter wasn’t such an easily found answer. Of course, they hadn’t talked before and didn’t seem to have any common interests but even people as different as them could hold a short conversation. There was also the differences in personality to add in, but still. What about the weather, or about the pasta at lunch or the boy whose voice cracked spectacularly when speaking at the last assembly. It was as if each time they met it had become a secret agreement not to talk aside from the essentials.

Dongmin kept writing blocks of text for the poster (he had printed one page after Bin had gone home to find it grey-ish and lined with those strange patterns formed from a printer low on ink. He had taken photos of the laptop screen to write out while at school with plain paper from the library. This part of an assignment like this was one of Dongmin’s favourite things about it, how to match the colours and arrange the information.

Apparently it wasn’t Bin’s though. He watched Dongmin work and he became conscious of his movements, as if his hands being tracked. Neither of them said anything.

“You know, I think this is done,” He remarked, smoothing down a couple of corners that hadn’t gotten enough glue on them. He grabbed the scissors and cut a smaller section along the edge of the paper to even the distribution of the text.

“Cool,” Bin said.

Bin hadn’t changed much since last night in his attitude towards Dongmin. It was as if he just wanted it all done as quickly as possible with as little effort as possible. At least Dongmin tried to make to project presentable. Looking back, one of the hardest things about it was how Dongmin kept asking for Bin’s opinion only to be ignored or given an inconclusive answer. He simply hadn’t wanted to make a wrong move or incorrect assumption as he’d thought the boy to be unnecessarily violent.

It occurred to him that this could be why he and Bin where so uncommunicative. They were too cautious around each other, about what to talk about or which topics to discuss. At least, Dongmin was. He wasn’t sure about Bin though.

He loosely rolled the poster up in his hand, tight enough not to take up too much room but loose enough not to buckle the paper that had been just glued on. He had no rubber band or hair tie (he didn't carry either around) to hold it in place sohe just kept ahold of it to place inside of his locker.

“I'll see you on Monday, I guess,” He said. Bin looked round and nodded. The bell dismissed them from class and students poured into the classrooms, the call of a couple of days rest enough to energise them into walking quicker. The poster only became mildly injured as Dongmin was so careful to avoid other people and other obstacles.

Finally, he reached his locker, within his homeroom. He had often been thankful that it wasn’t in the hallway at times like these, when The Rush was all that more intense.

“Hello, Dongmin,” Minhyuk had walked over from across the room, his own bag hanging from one shoulder.

“Hey Minhyuk,”

“How’s that bio thing going?” He asked, asking to the assignment.

“Really good, actually,” He began. “Bin came round last night, don’t really know why, but we’ve basically finished it all,”

“Wow, he, uh, he wanted to get it done, I guess,” Minhyuk said, to which Dongmin nodded. As he returned to packing his bag for the weekend Minhyuk turned all this over in his head. Of course, he hadn’t been there so he didn’t know the full story but he knew that occasionally only part is needed to make good judgement.

He sat on one of the tables, which for some reason didn't have a chair stacked on top or placed under it like the others. But this was rather convenient for him to swing his legs back and forth gently like a child, as he was too tall to do so in the ordinary chairs.

“So, like, it wasn't so bad then? Bin wasn't so bad?” He asked.

“I guess not, it was almost pleasant,”

“Huh. So it seems Bin changed a fair bit,” Minhyuk said, leading Dongmin into the conversation. The elder agreed to this. “I wonder why,”

“Yeah, me too. I think that he just wanted the assignment to be finished, really,” He thought about what Bin had said a few days ago. “You know, he actually said it was pretty annoying that I was so involved in it and kept trying to get him to make decisions and stuff,”

“But he still came round last night? Huh. I mean… you can’t have been that irritating else he wouldn’t have finished it with you,”

“What do you mean? He literally said he didn’t want to work with me and I guess finishing it all in a night was quicker,” Minhyuk’s eyebrows rose in the very slightest so that Dongmin barely caught the change in expression. The bell rung distantly and students started shuffling out the door, into the corridor and out of the school. The pair followed them at a slower pace and eventually would lose them.

“I just thought… he seemed as if he were putting up with you more than he would someone else, I dunno,” Minhyuk stated.

Dongmin halted, opened his mouth as if he were about to speak before closing it again. “What’re you..What are you getting at?”

“Like..he dumped that girl - you couldn’t really call them a couple as such but he cut it off with her anyway- but he wouldn’t have done that unless something came up, right? Either she would have done something or there was something more interesting to him than she was,” Dongmin crossed his arms after figuring out where this conversation was headed. Minhyuk realised this and was trying to save himself before Dongmin shut him down. “And you’ve got to admit, you’ve been thinking about him more than you would any other partner,”

“Well, yes, but that’s only because I’ve needed to figure out how I was going to work with him properly and all that,” Dongmin said. “Besides, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t swing that way,”

Minhyuk made a soft ‘ooh’ sound and looked at Dongmin. “So-”

“No, no, that wasn’t indicating that I do, just that he doesn’t,”

“But he’s never said he doesn’t,” Minhyuk explained.

“Even so, it’s not often that someone comes out to more than just their friends when they’re our age and, frankly, Bin doesn’t have many friends here and I’m not one of them,” Minhyuk supposed this was true.

“But really? You seem so uptight about it Dongmin, are you sure?” He asked. “Are you sure there’s nothing you want to tell me?”

“Nope,”

There was a set of footsteps from behind Dongmin, presumably around the corner, which was followed by a sigh until Bin came into view and leant against the wall, hands in pockets. Dongmin felt his face slacken and heard Minhyuk exhale tensely from behind him. They looked at each other in disbelief and horror that they had been caught talking about Bin.

“So, what was it you guys were talking about?” He said with a smirk, a slither of knowledge embedded in his words. Dongmin could see Minhyuk worrying the fabric of his sleeves.

“We were just discussing this one time that..,” Dongmin trailed off after having been shot down by Bin’s sudden stare and pressed his lips together. Dongmin knew that Bin knew what their conversation topic had been, so it had been useless to try anyway. The silence stretched between the three of them and the tension rose. Bin looked to Minhyuk and he hoped he wouldn’t crack.

‘Well, I thought that youhadathingforDongminandviceversa, buut, uh… I guess he didn’t wanttoadmittoit,” Minhyuk blurted out, talking quickly. “I’ll go now,”

“No, no, no, no, you dragged me into this shit, Hyuk,” Dongmin said, grabbing his shirt and pulling him back.

“I don’t know about Dongmin here, but you seem to be a pretty good judge of character,” Bin said plainly. The other two boys took an extra few seconds to process this before Minhyuk let out a quiet squeal and leant his back against the wall.

“I knew it, oh my God, oh my God,” He said, not looking at either of them but the intersection between the wall and the ceiling opposite him.

“...you’re kidding, right?” Dongmin asked over the noise Minhyuk was making. He was met with a shake of Bin’s head. “Oh,”

“Yeah,”

Dongmin’s brain was a mess. He’d been trying to deal with Minhyuk being annoying while sorting through his own thoughts that had been brought forward from the conversation. He had just squashed all of his extra thoughts about Bin as soon as they arose so that they couldn’t take seed in his mind and grow. Minhyuk had managed to sow all of those seeds at once and fertilise them each time Dongmin tried to rip their growing roots out. He knew he had thought about Bin a little more than he would have anyone else in his situation and had just dismissed it as his tendency to worry and his level of tiredness.

Then there was the whole problem of Bin not being unattractive. At all, actually. Dongmin hadn’t failed to notice his pretty face or soft hair or enticing eyes. He had told himself that it was admiration rather than attraction. He had told himself that anyone would admire Bin’s well proportioned body and soft skin, a small number of pimple scars littering his jaw and chin. Even those were nice, somehow.

Minhyuk was smiling at the two of them in satisfaction, proud that he had been right about them both. Dongmin didn’t want him to be feeling that, his reasoning being that Minhyuk had been far too irritating to deserve it. He was chattering to Bin animatedly, to which the other boy gave blank replies to, but Dongmin didn’t pay much attention as he was still submerged in his thoughts.

Beside these suppressed feelings was also the fact that Dongmin had to come to terms with being Not Straight. Maybe it was the same situation, that he had ignored it just to make things easier, so that he didn’t have to sort so deeply through himself. He wasn’t afraid of it, he knew that his immediate family wouldn’t take it too badly and that everyone else in his life probably didn’t need to know and if they did, couldn’t do much about him either. He just didn’t want to accept it. It was far easier just to stick a ‘heterosexual’ label on himself and leave it at that.

Maybe he just didn’t want to think about any of this, to devote too much time to himself. But even so, he had known, but not admitted to himself, that he may like Bin.

Minhyuk was engaging Bin too much for either of them to have noticed Dongmin’s short trip into his mind.

“Were you going to tell him?” Minhyuk asked. Dongmin noticed that he wasn’t really sure what he was doing with his hands. They kept moving from his bag straps to the bottom of his shirt to the sleeves and he would occasionally push one through his hair. Bin was trying to leave the conversation and had Minhyuk been less excited he would have been silenced by Bin’s cold words and closed stance. Seeing now that Dongmin was paying more attention to them, Bin looked at him directly, rather than the glances he had been taking earlier.

Minhyuk looked over at Dongmin too and opened his mouth in an enthusiastic smile and looked pointedly at Bin and back to Dongmin. Bin looked unsure, an emotion that Dongmin didn’t think he had ever seen on his face. It was such a contradiction to the confidence he usually emanated that it made Dongmin himself feel uncertain.

“Okay,” He began, having paused to find more words. “I’m… not sure about myself right now,”

He looked to Bin, who nodded slightly. He saw Minhyuk soften up as he realised this was more of a serious conversation that he had predicted.

“Fair enough,” Bin looked pretty much anywhere that wasn’t Dongmin. “I, uh- at least we know where we both stand now,”

“But that’s not to say I’m completely against anything,” A smile tugged at the corners of Bin’s lips. “This is just pretty sudden,”

“Yeah. I wasn’t planning on any of this, you know. You guys were just talking and I just went for it,”

Minhyuk was adjacent to them and was shifting on his feet, looking back and forth between them. He occasionally glanced down the corridor and Dongmin couldn’t blame him for wanting to leave. This wasn’t his business really and he had just embarrassed himself in front of Bin, when before he probably hadn’t considered exchanging more than a few sentences with him. Dongmin supposed that he was too interested in it to leave. After all, getting Dongmin a date had sort of been his baby for the past year or so.

Bin continued. “So, what’s your view on...this?”

“I dunno if I’m ready for it or whatever. I hadn’t even considered… before this,” Dongmin wasn’t sure what he had wanted to say and hoped that Bin could fill in the blank with something along the lines of ‘going out with guys’ or ‘being bi or pan or something’.

“This isn’t a no?”

“Nope,” Dongmin replied, shaking his head. “It’s a...it’s a maybe. It’s an ‘I’ll get back to you on that’,”

“Alright,” Bin replied.

The next thing that happened was something Dongmin had never seen Bin do and doubted he did often nowadays. His cheeks swelled and Dongmin could see his lips stretching over glossy, post-braces teeth. His eyes dissolved into crescents and Dongmin could feel a smaller replica of Bin’s expression reflected on his own face. The smile that blossomed on Bin’s face made him all that more beautiful.

“Alright,” He repeated.