tangled words (lotusk) wrote,
tangled words
lotusk

188 Paper Stars

Title: 188 Paper Stars
Rating: PG13
Pairing: girl!Kyungsoo / Jongin (het!Kaisoo)
Genre: romance, het, bff!Kaisoo
Word count: 6.2 k
Summary: High school!au where Jongin is maybe-somewhat-slightly more than a little in love with his best friend Kyungsoo and every hope of keeping this a secret from her vanishes when he catches sight of Kyungsoo's moles.
Author's Note: This fic was written for jojibear as part of the girlexochange



pinch, turn, pinch, turn.

The shimmering pale paper is unyielding beneath Jongin's aching fingertips and he kicks himself for being so weak. He could be shooting hoops in his driveway instead of being cooped up in a bedroom with multi colored strips of paper and a glass jar.

"Just ..." Kyungsoo lifts the jar up with both hands, and pale sunlight bounces off the glass prettily. "Just 35 more and we'll have enough," she announces confidently and Jongin groans, forehead hitting the cherry wood desk with a dramatic thud.

"My fingertips are in trauma, Soo, can we make it 15 more and call it quits?"

"But we need 88 stars, Jongin. Sehun is turning 12 on August 8th so 88 is the perfect number, do you see?" Kyungsoo never has to plead. All she has to do is wrinkle her usually smooth, alabaster forehead, and lay things out quietly and calmly, and Jongin almost always caves. It's been like this since they first met in the 4th grade and she'd effortlessly talked him out of all the cream cheese frosting on his cupcakes and half a carton of OJ.

On the rare occasion that Jongin thinks Kyungsoo's request for help is a bad one, he'll put his foot down and say no, I can't help you this time. When that kind of situation arises, Kyungsoo will either listen to his point of view and potentially modify hers, or she'll lose her temper and show her ferocious side. When there's anger flashing in her eyes and flushing her cheeks, Kyungsoo is magnificent and Jongin is powerless to resist her and just does whatever she wants. It's always been this way.

So Jongin usually tries not to let things get to that stage because then the yearning escalates. And that's something he tries his utmost to avoid. He could never let Kyungsoo know how things are for him, simply because they're not the way things are for her.

"I don't see. But fine, if it must be 88 stars then so be it. You owe me at least a movie and popcorn for this though."

"Wow, Kim Jongin! Where's the friendship? Where's the love?" Kyungsoo complains and a tiny dagger twists in Jongin's heart - if you only knew.

Five minutes and nine stars later (six of them Kyungsoo's because Jongin's long-fingered hands are more adept at manipulating a basketball than at folding paper stars), Jongin's phone lights up and vibrates on the cherry wood, and it's loud. He picks up the phone and shakes his head when he sees the notification. It's a message and a photo of a pretty girl with deep dimples and a sweet smile. He gets one of these every few days and he doesn't quite know what to do with them, and sometimes he just ... doesn't reply.

Hi Jongin, hope you're having a nice day!

"You're staring at that screen so intensely, Jongin. It's like someone sent you a nude selfie or something," Kyungsoo says contemplatively from where she's sitting on her bed, meticulously transforming strips of shiny paper into puffy little stars.

"Well, it's a selfie but it's not nude." Jongin forces himself to say the words matter-of-factly.

"Who is sending you selfies?" There's curiosity and a touch of ... something else in her husky voice. Kyungsoo's voice is often a source of pain for Jongin. The low, velvet quality of it provokes too many complicated feelings in him.

"Zhang Yixing. She's in the girls' soccer t-"

"I know who Zhang Yixing is," Kyungsoo cuts him off abruptly, "but why is she sending you selfies?"

"How would I know?" Jongin sighs and refuses to say anything more about the matter. They're often silent when they do things together - sometimes they talk and sometimes they don't and it's perfectly okay. But today, they don't talk. And it's not perfectly okay.

When there are 88 stars in the tear shaped glass jar, Jongin pushes the large cork into place with the butt of his palm and Kyungsoo ties a gauzy chartreuse ribbon around the neck.

"Thanks for helping, Jongin," Kyungsoo says quietly and it's not like her. She usually gives him crap - see? It wasn't that bad. You didn't die and she might have given him a casual (and extremely platonic) hug. But things have become strangely awkward between them after the conversation about Yixing - and they're never awkward. Jokey or angry with each other, yes, but there's never any strangeness between them.

Jongin knows he should just ask her why she's upset and clear the air. But he just doesn't feel up to it today so he mumbles something about having to get home and he makes a quick escape.

All the way home, Jongin sees Kyungsoo's troubled face in his mind, her eyes unsettled and her lips set in a firm line, and all he wants to do is go back there and tell her the truth. But it would change everything and he doesn't feel like today is a good day for such a risk.


•••-----•••


Impatiently, Kyungsoo peels strands of sweat-drenched hair off her neck. The heat is almost tangible as it clings heavily to her flushed skin. Summer is her favorite season and she usually loves the gentle press of sunlight on her bare shoulders and the rub of fabric against her exposed thighs as she walks along the streets. But today the heat is just annoying and she wants, irrationally, to cancel summer.

Like it's done countless times in the past 18 hours, her mind wanders to the conversation she'd had with her best friend. How long had Zhang Yixing been sending selfies to Jongin? Why was she doing it? And why was he being so vague and secretive about everything? Was there something going on between them? Were they dating? And if they were, why hadn't Jongin mentioned it?

But Jongin doesn't date. Or at least he's never dated to her knowledge. Maybe he's not interested in dating girls? But then she remembers the actress he likes, Moon Geun Young, and she thinks it can't be true that Jongin doesn't like girls. Why can't she remember him telling her about having a crush on anyone? She'd told him when she'd had crushes on boys - Byun Baekhyun in junior high and Park Chanyeol early last year. Why can't she remember Jongin having crushes on anyone? They tell each other everything. She needs to ask him about this ... but maybe in a couple of days because things have been a little weird between them after the whole Yixing thing.

"Ugh." Kyungsoo sighs in frustration as her hand slides beneath the oppressive weight of her long, black hair and lifts it away from her sweat-slick nape. Her hair normally cascades down her back in a soft curtain but today it's matted and damp and she just wants nothing to do with it. There's a hair salon across the road, with a two foot tall stylized image of scissors emblazoned across its frosted glass shopfront. It looks so inviting. And it'll be air conditioned inside and Kyungsoo's feet are itching to cross the road. But she's always had long hair and it's a big step and she ends up digging inside her backpack for a scrunchie instead. She can only find a rubber band though, and she gathers her hair expertly and wraps the rubber band around her hair like she's done a thousand times before.

The rubber band snaps.

And perhaps, perhaps something inside Kyungsoo snaps as well. She turns and stares at the decal of the scissors, checks for traffic, and places her right foot on the road. The heat is coming off the surface in waves as she plants her left foot down and it's a matter of nine seconds before she's pushing open a glass door and stepping into blessedly cool air.


•••-----•••


It's been three days since he's seen Kyungsoo and that hardly ever happens. They've been best friends for eight years, and Jongin lives three houses away and they see each other almost everyday.

But he's made himself stay away and he hasn't texted her since the day they'd folded Sehun's 88 paper stars. It isn't on purpose. He just hasn't known what to say - still doesn't, much to his frustration. So his heart had unclenched a little when his phone rang half an hour ago, screen flashing with the image of a heart shaped face and beautiful long, black hair. It had been such a balm to his deprived senses to hear her velvety voice telling him that she needed a ride to town and could he take her.

And that's how he finds himself on the familiar trek to Kyungsoo's front door. His knuckles are about to rap on the white door when it swings open. It's a hellishly hot day so he's surprised to see her dressed in white denim shorts and a red hoodie. What's even more unusual is the fact that the hood is pulled all the way over her head so he can only see her face. Kyungsoo looks almost ... sheepish and a maybe a little defensive. He's never seen her look this way and it confuses him.

"Soo? You ready to go? It's hella hot out here though. Are you sure you don't want to go without the hoodie? I mean heatstroke is a distinct possibility."

"I can't."

"Can't? What do you mean you can't? Can't take off the jacket? Why not?" Jongin's brain must be missing something but he just can't figure out what.

"Can you come inside for a while? I don't want anyone to see."

"You're scaring me, Soo, wh-" Jongin begins to say but then Kyungsoo flips down the hood and the words slip away and dissolve as he stands there, speechless with wonder.

"You hate it, don't you?" She looks upset and worried as her fingers fidget nervously with the zipper tab of her jacket.

"I don't! It's just a shock. I need a minute to get used to it is all." Jongin says in a valiant attempt to convince himself that he is not going to actually die.

Kyungsoo's always been beautiful to him but this chin length bob makes her features even more arresting, even more dramatic. And there's the creamy expanse of neck that's so bare and exposed and Jongin's cheeks are infused with too much warmth all of a sudden.

"You hate it," she says miserably.

"I do not! I'm just ... I wasn't ready. You look beautiful, Soo."

"You're just saying that to make me feel better."

"When do I ever lie to you?!"

"Well there was the time you ate half of my cheeseburger when I was in the toilet and insisted you didn't."

"Soo, we were ten years old, come onnnnn!"

"And then there was the time you finished my Oreo milkshake and said you didn't."

"We were 12! Okay, so I have issues with lying about stealing your food but I don't lie about the important things and you look great with this hair. I swear!"

"I was really pissed off, Jongin! Oreo milkshake is my favorite, you asshole!" She glares at him ferociously before asking quietly, "You're sure you're not just saying I look okay with the short hair to make me feel better?"

"I promise," Jongin sighs and draws her into a hug. She's so small and fragile in his arms and he's not used to Kyungsoo being fragile because she's always seemed much stronger than him. She's only let him see her vulnerable side a few times in the past eight years and today seems to be one of those days.

Instinctively, he strokes her hair and it's like jet silk under his palm and fingertips; but when his palm slides over the smooth skin of her nape, he withdraws it quickly. Jongin knows that it he keeps it there any longer, he may just lose all grip on his self control and just kiss her. And that can only lead to a bad end so he lets his arms drop, and steps back.

"Do you believe me now?"

"Maybe," Kyungsoo says but she doesn't look like she believes him at all.

"Let's go, Soo. And please take off your hoodie. It's insanely hot today. I don't want to bring you to the ER for heat exhaustion or whatever people get when they walk into this kind of heat dressed in hoodies."

"Fine," she grumbles unhappily but unzips the jacket anyway, folding it neatly and leaving it on the coffee table. Jongin opens the door for her and waits as she walks past in a plain black baby tee. And that's when he sees them - four moles scattered across the left side of her neck.

He'd never noticed them before because Kyungsoo's hair had been so long before and when it'd been tied up ... well, Jongin generally tries not to stare at her neck when it was exposed. It's too difficult for him. But with her hair as short as it is now, there's just no way to avoid looking at her pale, slender neck and the delectable moles adorning it.

Kyungsoo is Jongin's best friend but right now, all he wants to do is grab her and tell her that being her best friend is just not enough for him anymore.

"Jongin? Aren't you going to close the door?"

"Yeah." He pulls the door shut behind him and wishes it were just as easy to shut the door on his inconvenient feelings.



•••-----•••



"Has Zhang Yixing sent you any more selfies?" Kyungsoo tries to sound casual as Jongin and her stand side by side in the music store. She's trying to find a special anniversary edition of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Sound of Music and Jongin is helping.

"Hmmm?" He sounds utterly distracted and this is highly unusual because Jongin is normally only that spaced out when he watches soccer. Kyungsoo had long ago given up trying to hold conversations with him during soccer matches.

"Zhang Yixing. Has she sent you any more selfies?" Inside her head, Kyungsoo is totally gritting her teeth, but on the outside she tries to project a veneer of serenity.

"Maybe. I can't quite recall."

"What do you mean you can't recall?! If a guy sent me selfies, I sure as hell would remember?"

"It's nothing special." He shrugs again and this makes Kyungsoo so mad she has this sudden urge to take aim and hurl the Sunset Boulevard CD in her hand at her best friend.

Jongin is never indifferent with her - angry and happy, resigned and disapproving yes, but indifferent? Never. And no matter how hard she works to find out more about the kind of relationship that exists between Yixing and him, she can't get anything from him. Jongin is an insurmountable wall she can’t seem to get past.

He would normally just have answered her questions because they don't keep secrets from each other - at least they didn't use to. So his current reticence about Yixing just upsets her more than she can express.

It's not just upsetting she realizes after a while. It's hurtful. She knows she can't say the same of herself, but Jongin has honestly never hurt her. Not until now.



That night, Kyungsoo's eyes settle restlessly on the lonely, platinum hued moon. There's no breeze and the curtains hang down heavily, still and lifeless. The hot air is almost suffocating and Kyungsoo can't wait for the heat wave to pass because she is so done with summer. She's wearing nothing but a light cotton nightie because it's too damn hot for anything else and the bedsheets feel unbearably scratchy beneath her skin.

As it's done for most of the day, her mind drifts back to Jongin and the weight and pressure of his arms around her as he'd hugged her that afternoon. They've always hugged each other - it's what best friends do, isn't it? So why had she wanted more from Jongin this time?

When his hand had traveled gently over her head, she'd wanted him to pull her in closer. When his hand had caressed her neck briefly, warm sensations had trickled down her skin and she'd wanted nothing more than to reach up and kiss him.

Kiss Jongin.

She'd felt ... almost bereft when he'd stepped away from her. And then he'd been so distant for the rest of the afternoon. He must really hate her hair (and he must really be in love with Zhang Yixing). A hot tear escapes down her cheek and she wipes it away angrily.

Damn you, Kim Jongin.




•••-----•••



"Jonginnie, where did I leave my glasses?"

"They're ..." Jongin looks around then shakes his head in amusement when he sees the glasses perched on the top of his grandfather's head, "right here." He carefully manoeuvres them off the old man's ears and carefully balances them on his nose for him, and tucks stray wisps of snowy white hair behind his age freckled ear.

"Ah, I can see better now, Jonginnie!" Grandpa announces, his eyelids crinkling sunnily. And Jongin just nods indulgently because this happens a few times a week, and Grandpa's been a little bit senile for seven years now. Jongin can barely even remember a time when he hasn't been looking for things for Grandpa because he's lived with them for half of Jongin's life.

He'd first moved in with them when Grandma passed away, and he'd still been himself then. When he'd first arrived, Grandpa had been mostly melancholic because Grandma and him had finished each other's sentences, and had colored each other's lives with companionable laughter and bickering for the past five decades.

It was a huge void to fill but Grandpa had leavened the blue moods with occasional outbursts of humor; he couldn't resist telling risqué jokes that had Jongin's mom scolding him for corrupting her innocent son.

And then there were the drawings. Jongin had loved spending time with the old man who could create such clever caricatures - of everything from famous people to relatives to animals to objects. He would show Jongin a few incipient lines and ask him to guess what he was drawing. And then he'd draw a few more and ask him to guess again and so it went.

Jongin almost always got it wrong but he had such fun trying to predict what the final product would be. He cherished the time he spent with the old man. Being an only child, Grandpa (and Kyungsoo) had been a major feature in the landscape of his childhood. Grandpa can still draw but he doesn't make it into a game like he used to but that's okay because Jongin still likes the pictures anyway.

When he turned 13, he was entrusted with taking Grandpa on walks because the spry, energetic old man couldn't stand being cooped up all day. But with his mild Alzheimer's, Grandpa couldn't be allowed out on his own - not when there was even the slightest chance he might wander off and get lost. It had became Jongin's job by default because there were no other siblings to shove the task to. And aside from the occasional bout of adolescent sullenness, Jongin had dutifully taken Grandpa on his daily wanderings since.

Grandpa struggles every day to get simple, routine things done like remembering where he left his glasses or what people's names are or whether he's had his Donepezil. But some days he gets flashes of startling lucidity where he can be more perceptive than Jongin likes. Today seems to be a day for difficult conversation.

"Where's your pretty girlfriend, Jonginnie?"

"She's not my girlfriend, Grandpa. She's my best friend."

"But you want her to be your girlfriend, I can tell."

"I ... don't know what I want."

"What's her name again? I feel like I should know."

"You see her pretty often, Grandpa, so you should know."

"I can't remember," the old man frowns unhappily.

"It's Kyungsoo."

"That's right! Her name is Kyungsoo. You want Kyungsoo to be your girlfriend! Kyung ... soo." Grandpa enunciates the syllables slowly like he's trying to commit them to memory.

"It doesn't matter what I want, Grandpa. When she sees me, all she sees is someone who's been her best friend for eight years. Friendzoned."

"Jonginnie must tell her the truth. I told my Liyin I loved her when we were in high school and I never regretted it because she loved me too. We were so happy together. Kim Jongdae and Zhang Liyin together. If you find a girl that makes your heart hurt, you must tell her what's in your heart. Tell your Kyungsoo, Jonginnie. So you can be happy like me and my Liyin." Sometimes Grandpa manages to lock on to certain memories and that's when his eyes glow with nostalgic alertness - just like they're doing now.

"But Grandpa, I can't."

"What is friendzoned?"

"That's like when someone decides they only want you as a friend, not a boyfriend or a girlfriend."

"Everyone would want you as a boyfriend." Grandpa's snort is loud and judgemental.

"Not Kyungsoo. We've been friends too long I think. She'll never see me as anything more."

"My Liyin and I became best friends when we were in kindergarten. Did you know?"

"No!"

"I always loved her, you know? And from the time I was 14, I loved her differently. It took her longer to love me differently. I was ... friendzoned?"

"I never knew that, Grandpa."

"She made me wait two weeks while she ... sorted out her heart - that's how she described it. And she found out that she didn't want Kim Jongdae to be just a friend after all. So you tell your Kyungsoo you love her and that you don't want to be friendzoned anymore."

"I can't do that! Things might get awkward."

"They'll only get awkward if you let them, Jonginnie."

"But what if it's too weird for her that her best friend is in love with her and she decides she doesn't want to be friends anymore? I don't want to lose her as a friend, Grandpa. She's been my friend for so long I don't know if I can handle not having her around. It's too risky. I just can't."

"Sometimes people need to go away for a while before they realize they can't go on without you." And Grandpa's rheumy eyes are suddenly filled with overwhelming sadness. "I don't like going on without my Liyin."

"Oh, Grandpa." Jongin never quite knows what to say when Grandpa starts to miss Grandma, and he hates himself for not being able to find the right words.

"I want to go for my walk now," he says firmly as he pulls his glasses off with shaky hands and rubs his eyes with the backs of his wrinkly hands.

"All right, Grandpa. Let's go." Jongin takes his arm and leads him to the door.



•••-----•••



Jongin is paying for the popcorn when Kyungsoo materializes beside him, fresh from her trip to the ladies. Lustrous, inky hair swings in a vaguely hypnotic way and Jongin can't keep his eyes off it - nor can he stop himself from zooming in on the moles on her pale, slender neck. Her nape is devastating enough but those moles ... are going to finish him off one way or the other.

"Jongin!" Kyungsoo's pulling impatiently on his arm.

"Yeah?" It's like he's shaking tendrils of haze off his mind.

"I asked you why you didn't get any Hot Cheetos. Why are you so distracted lately? Is there something you're not telling me?" Kyungsoo doesn't look peeved exactly, but she's clearly unhappy about being kept out of the loop.

"They're out of Hot Cheetos."

"But why are you always zoning out lately? I feel like you're keeping things from me, Jongin."

"I don't have to tell you everything," he sighs.

Jongin would normally have just given in and told her the truth or just deflected her with some half truth, but for some reason he can't bring himself to do either today.

"What the hell, Jongin?" She glares at him and he looks away determinedly.

"Let's go," he says firmly and for once he doesn't link arms with her. He just walks stoically towards the cinema hall doors while she moves quietly alongside him. Kyungsoo doesn't have to say anything for Jongin to pick up on the pinpricks of irritation dancing off her skin.

All he has to do is give her something, anything ... a nugget to appease her because brooding Kyungsoo is not something he enjoys dealing with. But he won't; because maybe Grandpa is right. Maybe people need to go away for a while so they can see what's right before their eyes.

They don't speak at all for the duration of the movie, Kyungsoo stewing silently beside him. Jongin pretends he doesn't notice the way Kyungsoo's hair sashays seductively every time her head moves, and that he isn't aware of the precious configuration of moles on her neck.

Other than the occasional flashes of sick gray light from the screen, it's midnight dark in the cinema hall. Jongin can't see Kyungsoo's moles but he knows they're there. He knows they're there so much that it makes his heart hurt. But even more painful is the knowledge that Kyungsoo's right there beside him and angry with him.

Jongin ignores the annoying ache beneath his ribs and forces himself to pay attention to the sleek cars hurtling across the freeway, careening into other cars like they're bowling pins. Jongin sighs. Why does it feel like his heart is one of those cars free falling off the flyover?



•••-----•••



They're trapped in the foyer, surrounded by people they know from school, and Kyungsoo already feels like she needs to get out of there. The tall, gangly boy from her Junior Year History class, Park Chanyeol is trying to hit on her but his voice is so loud it's like a drill to her head. He's telling her about this ramen shop across town that serves the best miso ramen and gyoza and how he'd like to take her there, and is she free this Friday bla bla bla.

Everything's just a fog of incoherent noise as soon as she appears in her peripheral vision. Zhang Yixing.

When Kyungsoo had gotten waylaid by Chanyeol, Jongin's shoulders had tensed and then he'd moved further ahead without saying a word. Now, he and Yixing are standing six feet away and Jongin has his hands in his pockets as he listens to her. The Chinese girl is willowy with waist-length jet black hair - as tall as Kyungsoo is petite.

With her delicate features and dimpled smile, Yixing looks like the epitome of demure perfection beside Jongin. They look ... like they belong together. And Kyungsoo suddenly feels very insecure about her short hair and the fact that she doesn't have legs that go on for miles, and the fact that her eyes are too big and her lips, too pouty.
"... and we could go catch a movie ..." Chanyeol's voice slips in and out of Kyungsoo's consciousness because practically all of her attention is centered on her best friend and Yixing - Yixing who's chatting animatedly, her tiny hands flying up to her mouth every now and then when she gives a feminine laugh. And Jongin ... he looks amused and slightly awkward - like he's self conscious. He's never behaved like this when he's with her and with a pang, Kyungsoo realizes that Jongin must really like this girl. Zhang Yixing isn't just a friend to Jongin and that's why he's not behaving like his usual laid back self.

"So what do you say?" Chanyeol's all eager smiles and easy confidence and Kyungsoo has no patience for that kind of positivity right now.

"What?" Kyungsoo's answer is brusque but she can't bring herself to care right now about good manners even though she's usually a stickler about such things.

Nobody really notices when some freshmen start jostling beside them - someone's chatting up someone else's girlfriend and things get a little out of control. Unexpectedly, one of them snatches a blue raspberry ICEE from a stunned bystander and hurls the slushy contents at the other guy. Except the other guy sidesteps just in time and the liquid sails through the air in a splashy arc which ends up splattering the front of Kyungsoo's white tee with cyan blue stains.

There are gasps of horror all around and the idiot who's responsible mumbles a sheepish apology and runs off while Jongin, who has somehow found his way to her, is asking if she's okay while he digs through her backpack for tissues. Chanyeol is trying to say something but Kyungsoo can't register the words, neither does she actually want to. So she just mutters "I'm sorry but I can't talk now." She just can't deal with near strangers right now when her shirt is drenched in icy cold blue liquid and groups of people are gawking. Finally, Jongin finds what he's looking for and hands her tissues. But Kyungsoo doesn't take them.

"Let's just get out of here," she says bitterly as she pulls Jongin by the hand and they head for the main exit.



•••-----•••



They're finally in the safe cocoon of Jongin's car and he unbuttons his blue chambray button down. He's wearing a light gray v-necked cotton tee and his face is serious and tinged with concern as he hands her the shirt.

"Soo, wear this." He's about to turn his back so she can have some privacy but she's so distraught she inmediately strips off her stained tee, before he even has a chance to look away. Shocked, he tries to cover her up with his shirt but it's too late. He's seen the mole below her collarbone and he'll never be able to unsee it. Ever.

"Jongin?" Kyungsoo asks as she sits there, sticking her arms into the sleeves one by one. She's drowning in the shirt which is far too big for her tiny frame. The shirt front is gaping and Kyungsoo's camisole top and the beautiful mole above her neckline are clearly visible. He's never seen it before because Kyungsoo always wears high-necked tops and dresses; even her one-piece swimsuit has a halter neck which doesn't expose her collarbones. He'd always thought it was because she had conservative taste in clothes but now Jongin wonders if perhaps she's self conscious of the mole. But it's so beautiful.

"Why do you look so upset? I'm the one who had an ICEE thrown on her in front of a whole bunch of strangers and schoolmates." Kyungsoo gives him a funny look.

"Your, the ... never mind," he says abruptly and his shaky fingers start doing up the shirt buttons since Kyungsoo doesn't seem to be in any kind of hurry to cover herself up. She looks so small and vulnerable in his too-large shirt and something catches in Jongin's chest to see her dressed in something that's his. He's securing the final button close to the hem when Kyungsoo covers his hands with hers.

"Jongin, are you and Yixing seeing each other?"

"Why would you think that?"

"She sends you selfies. And I saw the two of you talking just now and she's definitely doing the flirting thing with you and you don't seem to mind." She's somber as she holds on to Jongin's hands. It's so quiet in the car and Jongin doesn't want to break the spell, so instead of speaking, he shifts his hands slightly so that they're cradling hers now.

"Jongin, please tell me."

"There's something I've been wanting to tell you for a long time but I'm not sure it's what you want to hear."

"What is it? Is it that you like Yixing? That you want to date her and you want my approval? You don't need my approval. I mean it's not even important what I think anyway. If you like her, you like her. I won't stand in your way." She lifts her chin as she says this and this is the strong, proud and beautiful Kyungsoo that Jongin's always loved.

"But what if I want you to stand in my way?"

"That doesn't make sense?"

"What if I say I like someone but that person isn't Yixing?"

"Do I even know her? Will I hate her? Not that it even matters because the important thing here is whether you like her."

"So you wouldn't be upset if I dated someone?"

"Of course not!" Kyungsoo protests hotly.

"That's not true."

"Of course it is. Why would I care if you dated someone?"

"You know when you lie, you always rub your right thumb between your left thumb and index. You've done it for years."

"I do not!" She denies just before Jongin indicates her fingers and they're executing that very tell. Guiltily, she stops rubbing her fingers.

"So would you be upset if I dated someone?" He asks again.

"I'm not sure ... Okay, maybe."

"Tell me why?"

"I can't."

"Try," Jongin squeezes her hands and looks right into her eyes.

"I'd be upset if you dated someone because I might lose my best friend."

"That's all? That's the only reason you'd be upset?" And Jongin decides to dive off the edge like one of the cars in that movie they'd just watched as he leans in and inhales the dizzying scent of her hair and leaves the ghost of a kiss on her cheek. He doesn't want to spook her but Grandpa is right, he has to tell her he loves her and then the rest is up to her. If she's like Grandma and needs two weeks to "sort out her heart", then he'll wait until she's ready. If she doesn't want him, he'll deal with that too. But he's missed his best friend and he doesn't want to avoid her anymore like he's been doing all week. It's hurt him and he suspects it's hurt her too.

"No, it's not." And Kyungsoo's arms reach around his back, hugging him, "I'd be upset because I want you for myself," she whispers brokenly, like she's expecting rejection.

"That's good, Soo, because the only someone I love and the only someone I want to date ... is you." Jongin's hands cup her jaw and slowly, tenderly, he kisses her. His lips move tentatively over hers until finally, her lips part with a breathy sound and he deepens the kiss, and he can't help thinking that kissing your best friend is the sweetest thing.

"Yixing isn't allowed to send you selfies anymore," Kyungsoo says firmly, after they exchange a final kiss. It's getting late and they need to head for home.

"Yeah, I figured you might say that since you've been going on about those damned selfies all week."

"That's not funny," Kyungsoo gives him a withering look and he just smiles and gathers her in his arms, and they just sit there in each other's arms for a while.

"No more selfies, I promise."



epilogue



"What's the big emergency?" Jongin asks as Kyungsoo opens the door and pulls him into her bedroom. The door has barely closed before Jongin and Kyungsoo are sharing an impatient, heated kiss. "This is the big emergency? You needed a kiss?" Jongin teases her later and she sticks her tongue out at him.

"Its much worse. Remember when we folded 88 stars for Sehun a few weeks ago? I told you we needed 88 stars because her birthday is on August the 8th, right? Well, the bad news is that I somehow got her birthday mixed up with my mom's. Sehun's birthday is actually on August the 18th. So we actually n-"

"188 fricking stars?! Do Kyungsoo, are you serious?"

"We just need 100 more stars."

"I can count!"

"You'll help me fold them right? If I have to do all 100 stars on my own, it'll take me two years."

"But I could be out shooting hoops and playing soccer," he groans, sinking listlessly onto her study chair.

"I know this isn't as much fun." Kyungsoo says disappointedly (because Kyungsoo doesn't whine or plead) and Jongin sighs loudly and exaggeratedly.

"Just give me some paper so I can start folding the stars."

"Thank you!" She says excitedly and impulsively sits on his lap, while his arm fits snugly around her waist.

"Don't get too excited, I haven't named my price yet."

"Price? You're going to charge me? What happened to true love? Friendship? I cannot believe you, Kim Jongin." She gives him a very disapproving look.

"Ten stars in exchange for one kiss. We've got to make an extra 100 paper stars, so ... you'll owe me ten kisses by the time we're done."

"You should be doing this as a boyfriend, no payment required," she grumbles.

"But ... Ten kisses? It's a win-win situation."

"Okay, fine. You can claim your first kiss now." She says it grudgingly but there's no hesitation in the soft lips that slide over Jongin's, and the tongue that slips into his mouth, and the arms that encircle his waist ...

No hesitation at all.

Tags: bff kaisoo, fic: het, genre: fluff, genre: romance, girl: kyungsoo, girl: yixing, member: kai, member: kyungsoo, pairing: kai/kyungsoo
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