Summary: Kyungsoo sees a handsome stranger on the train with silver and gold sequined stars on his shoes.
A/N: This is the first fic I ever wrote. 100% cringeworthy. Read at your own risk. Slice of life sequel here
Kyungsoo noticed the stranger leaning against the industrial off-white wall of the train, but he couldn't get a good look at his face. The young man's gaze was unwaveringly focused on the steel floor of the train, the white wires of his headphones hanging gracefully down from his ears. Frustrated that he couldn't see his face, Kyungsoo consoled himself with staring at the straight, inky black fringe that fell softly across his forehead and concealed his eyes from view.
The guy's skin was a warm shade of light mocha. Kyungsoo glanced disconsolately at his own tofu pale skin and sighed. Sometimes he felt almost transparent, he was so fair. His gaze returned to the tanned stranger. Even hunched over as he was, he looked tall. Maybe around six feet? Long, lean legs were clad in faded black jeans which had seen better days; and a nondescript grey tee and scuffed black leather jacket hung from a pair of nicely broad shoulders.
But it was his shoes that really caught Kyungsoo's attention. They were a really beat up pair of navy Converse All Stars - which was nothing unusual in itself since every third pair of shoes on the subway was a pair of Chucks. What made the guy's Chucks stand out from the rest were the silver and gold sequined stars that winked defiantly from the sober navy blue canvas.
In every other way, his well-worn outfit and his hunched posture, and even his straight, understated black hair were designed to blend into the crowd. So the sequins intrigued Kyungsoo because no matter how you looked at it, sequins just did not "blend". It was a puzzle and Kyungsoo had never been able to resist puzzles. He was curious. Very curious. He needed to know the story behind the stars and if he was really honest with himself, he wanted to see more of the guy's face than his jaw and nose.
Kyungsoo's breath hitched a little when they both got off at the same stop. His entire body was tense with anticipation because the stranger's face was about to be revealed. But as Kyungsoo was in mid-pivot, the crowd jostled him roughly along for a minute or two and by the time he was able to actually scour the surrounding area for Converse Guy, he was gone.
"... grab some galbi after the 6 o'clock lecture and - Kyungsoo! Were you even listening?" Baekhyun looked as exasperated as he sounded but Kyungsoo's thoughts were drowning too deeply in a midnight blue sea of gold and silver stars to give a damn, really.
Baekhyun had been Kyungsoo’s friend since high school and they were taking the same Electronic Engineering course at Hongik University. Anyone who had been in a longstanding friendship with Baekhyun immediately earned the dubious right of being bossed around by the dynamic but temperamental young man and Kyungsoo was no exception.
"You mentioned something about … galbi?" Kyungsoo asked cautiously. Baekhyun was volatile on any given day so it was never in one's interest to aggravate him – especially when he was already in a pissy mood.
"That's not all I said! I was talking for at least 3 whole minutes before I realized you weren't even on this planet. Why so spacey? You've been holding that piece of kimbap for 2 minutes now. The last time I checked, this was not normal behavior."
There was no way Kyungsoo was going to confess that his chopsticks had been suspended in mid-air for 2 whole minutes because he'd been daydreaming about a tall, dark and handsome stranger he'd seen on a train. Well, technically he hadn't actually seen Converse Guy's face yet but what bits he had seen had hinted at utter gorgeousness. He hastily stuffed the kimbap in his mouth and mumbled something asinine about solving an algorithm in his head.
Baekhyun looked sceptical but he dropped it because Kyungsoo didn't want to talk about it - and if Kyungsoo didn't want to talk about it, nothing short of sodium pentathol was going to make him cough up anything worthwhile.
"So what I was saying was we'll meet Sehun and Chanyeol at the usual place at 7 and ..."
Kyungsoo nodded but really, the only details filtering into his head concerned a beautiful light mocha jaw and silky black hair ... and stars. Pretty silver and gold sequined stars.
"YAH! DO KYUNGSOO!"
"Yes, yes, we'll meet Sehun and Chanyeol at ... um ..." Where was the rendezvous point again? Kyungsoo gave a drawn out sigh - he could tell it was going to be a long day, a VERY VERY LONG day.
Two days had passed but no matter how hard he looked, Kyungsoo hadn't seen Converse Guy on the train again. He scanned the train car a third and last time - no luck today, either. It was only half full so he could see very clearly that Converse Guy wasn't there. Disappointed, Kyungsoo flipped open The Life of Pi, and began reading distractedly. He vaguely registered that a guy had sat down beside him, and stretched out a pair of lanky legs with a kind of languid grace. Whoever it was had somewhat oversized feet encased in scuffed navy blue Chucks dotted with silver and gold stars. Silver and gold st- shit!
"It's you," he blurted out in surprise - finesse deserting him altogether. Not that he had ever had large reserves of it to begin with anyway.
"Sorry?" the young man's voice was deep and smoky ... and utterly confused. And it was at this point that Do Kyungsoo finally beheld the tall stranger’s face. He hated to admit it but he felt like he was living every romantic cliche ever written - the main protagonist of a cheesy romance who meets his lover-to-be for the first time and is struck dumb by his devastatingly handsome face. Because there was no question now that Converse Guy was extremely attractive. The only thing missing from the scene of their first encounter was actual lightning and the rumbling of distant thunder, oh, and strong winds whipping at their hair.
"Um, do I know you?" Converse Guy asked hesitantly. Kyungsoo desperately tried to compose a witty answer but he was too consumed with eyes the exact color of bitter chocolate and generous lips etched into a questioning half smile, to manage more than an embarrassingly pedestrian response.
"I'm so sorry! You looked like someone I knew, " Kyungsoo apologized. It was about as boring as you could get but at least Converse Guy wouldn't think he was some kind of stalker. Relief flooded Kyungsoo when his features eased into a warm molasses smile. Kyungsoo kept thinking molasses as he watched his eyes slowly crinkle and form the most endearing laugh lines. He had laugh lines and Kyungsoo liked that. So much.
"So ... who is he?"
"Who?" Now it was Kyungsoo's turn to sound dazed.
"The guy you mistook me for - what's his name? I'm Kim Jongin, by the way." Kyungsoo began nervously reciting the 11 times table in his head so he wouldn't spontaneously freak out. He couldn't believe Jongin had actually introduced himself instead of fleeing to a distant corner of the train. 11 times 8 is 88, 11 times 9 is 99 ...
"Um … I thought you were this guy I knew in high school," Kyungsoo tried to sound as calm as he could, only to notice Jongin looking at him expectantly. Realization slowly leaked into his consciousness. Oh shit, Converse Guy asked me what the other guy's name was. Get a grip, Do Kyungsoo. Get. A. Grip.
"Baekhyun, his name is Baekhyun." Kyungsoo added hastily. OH GREAT, KYUNGSOO, JUST GREAT. BAEKHYUN? THAT'S THE BEST YOU COULD COME UP WITH?! Not to mention Baekyun would probably break both his legs if he ever found out Kyungsoo had used his name to facilitate the telling of a lie, no matter how harmless.
"Ahhhh, Baekhyun ... I see. So, aren't you going to tell me your name? I've told you mine," Jongin pointed out reasonably. Kyungsoo wanted to kick himself for being caught unawares again. Dammit! He must think I’m a total social retard.
Jongin observed quietly as an entire range of emotions chased each other across Kyungsoo’s face – from frustration to embarrassment to wide-eyed disbelief. This was the first time he had ever set eyes on this doe-eyed guy and he found himself ... well, utterly fascinated to be honest. Perhaps it was because the other guy was so … transparent. He truly didn’t seem at all capable of masking his feelings - which was why Jongin suspected there was no high school buddy named Baekhyun, and even if there was, he probably didn’t resemble Kim Jongin much at all.
“Let’s try this again,” Jongin offered Kyungsoo his right hand, “My name is Kim Jongin and I’m happy to meet you. Your name is …?” Jongin’s face was perfectly serious but his words were warm and his eyes were filled with a kind of gentle amusement.
"Kyungsoo, my name is Kyungsoo!" he blurted it out so abruptly that Jongin laughed in surprise. His deep, throaty chuckle immediately triggered a whole plethora of unwelcome sensations in Kyungsoo. Much to his chagrin, his ankles and knees felt like they were going to dissolve right there on the train ...
"Nice to meet you Kyungsoo-sshi," Jongin shook Kyungsoo’s hand, and the latter discovered, to his pleasure, that Jongin had a firm grip like his own.
"Oh … you can just call me Kyungsoo."
"Are you older than me? I'll be 20 on January 14."
"I'll be 21 on January 12!" they looked at each other and laughed.
"I should call you hyung then," Jongin smiled.
“Ok, hyung is good.” Kyungsoo groaned inwardly at his complete lack of even the most mundane conversational skills.
“So do you take this train every Thursday?”
“Actually, I’m on it every day because I live in Hongdae. What about you?”
“I only take this train on Monday and Thursday afternoons. I ah … I live in Garusogil,” Jongin volunteered the unsolicited information casually.
“Are you at um …university?”
“Yeah, I’m majoring in Architecture – at Korea National. What about you, hyung?”
And before he even realized what was happening, Kyungsoo found himself telling Jongin that he was studying Engineering at Hongik University, that he lived on his own in a studio apartment in Hongdae, that he was an atrocious cook, and that he had two goldfish which he kept in a stereotypical glass bowl.
Kyungsoo was reticent by nature – usually content to let more commanding people like Baekhyun and Chanyeol dominate the conversation, and only offering responses when directly prompted. So he found his sudden and highly uncharacteristic over sharing frankly quite disconcerting.
Jongin did not seem to mind in the least though, eliciting yet more detail from Kyungsoo. What Engineering stream he was in ... Electronic ... where exactly in Hongdae did he live ... Cheondong Street ... what kind of goldfish did he own ... shubunkin ...
"What do you mean by atrocious cook? How bad can you be? Give me some examples?" Jongin's tone was a subtle mix of inquisitive, pleading and teasing.
Kyungsoo grinned and shook his head firmly, "No! No wayyy ... I'm not into public humiliation, thank you very much."
"This isn't public, it's just me! Come on, just ONE example. I really would like to know ... more about you," Jongin's tone had become just a shade serious as he said the last three words and Kyungsoo's eyes widened in barely concealed curiousity.
"You can trust me, ok? I swear I won't tell a soul! Promise." Jongin forced himself to sound more upbeat and fortunately Kyungsoo ceased staring at him in that penetrating way of his. He bit his lower lip, clearly contemplating whether to give Jongin the story he wanted.
Meanwhile, it was Jongin’s turn to mentally kick himself ... Who's the transparent one now, Jongin? Kyungsoo probably thinks you have a flaming crush on him. Really smooth, Jongin, really smooth.
"Okay, fine! There was this one time I was making kimchi stew and I kind of accidentally added sugar instead of salt. I swear I spent the worst 34 minutes of my life trying to finish it. No joke. I kept telling myself I couldn't afford to waste the meat and the kimchi, and the vegetables and the water and the gas. And ugh ... I'm not sure if I'll ever recover from the trauma of eating sweet kimchi jigae!" Kyungsoo's culinary misadventure wasn’t even that funny but they both looked at each other and laughed as if it was the funniest thing they'd ever heard.
The more Kyungsoo heard of Jongin's chocolatey voice, the more he realized his ankles and knees weren't the only parts of his body that felt like they were melting. And aside from Jongin's sexy voice, there was the whole matter of his arresting face - the subtly square jaw, the not-quite-perfect nose, the slightly sleepy bitter chocolate eyes, and his attractively full lips. Stop fucking staring, Kyungsoo, he reminded himself and tried to concentrate on Jongin’s account of the time he managed to burn rice, which naturally made him a far worse cook than Kyungsoo could ever be.
The train came to a halt.
"So this is my stop," Jongin turned to look at Kyungsoo … almost regretfully. They'd spent the last 15 minutes talking and laughing about nothing and everything. Corny as it sounded, Kyungsoo had just had the best 15 minutes of his life.
"Mine too." Kyungsoo smiled a little shyly and immediately regretted it. Try to be a little less obvious, for fuck’s sake.
"I'm glad," Jongin gave another one of his warm smiles that seemed to reach his eyes. They exited the train together - their backpacks slung over one shoulder, their arms almost touching as they strolled down the platform. They were chatting comfortably about The Life of Pi, which Kyungsoo had been rereading earlier. Jongin had hated the ending while Kyungsoo had loved it.
“Do you read sci-fi at all? One of my all-time favourite books is a sci-fi novel called Ender’s Game – have y-“ Before Jongin could finish, a panicky commuter abruptly crashed into Kyungsoo as he was blindly sprinting to the almost departing train. Kyungsoo toppled backwards thinking, shit, I'm going to get a concussion. Do I even have medical insurance?
He braced himself for impact with the hard station floor but instead, he felt strong arms grab him from behind and hold him tightly against a leanly muscled chest. Maybe it was wishful thinking on Kyungsoo's part but it seemed like Jongin didn't quite let go of him immediately. Kyungsoo could almost hear the strains of violin music at the cheesiness of it all - the world at large conspiring to make sure the main protagonist falls into would-be-lover's arms. Kyungsoo couldn't help but enjoy the sensation of being held in Jongin's embrace even if just for a brief moment.
"Thanks for being my airbag, heheh. Oh my God! Sorry, that was really lame." Kyungsoo apologized awkwardly; and as for Jongin? Jongin's cheeks looked suspiciously pink and his smile ... it reached his eyes like all his previous smiles had but this time he looked embarrassed - like he'd been caught doing something he shouldn't have.
The uneasy silence was interrupted by the sudden buzzing of Jongin's phone. He quickly retrieved it from his pocket and stared at the screen. He looked perplexed and then finally, his eyes crinkled at the corners. Good news, then.
"So, is there somewhere you have to be? Because if not, there's this vendor nearby that sells the best ddukbokki in Seoul," Jongin asked anxiously and hopefully. He sounded so unsure of himself and Kyungsoo found that deeply endearing..
"I love ddukbokki!" His pants were on fire, he was such a big liar. Of all the foods Kyungsoo hated the most, ddukbokki was right up there at the top of the list. The rubbery, slimy texture and general tastelessness ... Kyungsoo was starting to feel ill just thinking about the vile stuff. How in actual fuck was he going to eat it and look like he was loving it? So. fucking. dead.
Totally oblivious to his companion's mental and gastronomic turmoil, Jongin beamed and started telling Kyungsoo how he'd discovered the stall a few months ago and frequented it every time he was in the area. Meanwhile Kyungsoo's levels of dread continued to rise as his head started swimming with images of ddukboki.
He was so. fucking. dead.
The spring air was cool and crisp as they stepped out of Hongdae station. As always, young people made up the majority of the crowd as the Hongik University campus was mere minutes' walk away. Some strode rapidly and with purpose while others just strolled along - chatting with friends or just solitarily staring into space, wired to their earbuds.
Pale cherry blossoms whispered gently from trees along the sidewalk. Their watery pink petals carpeted the dappled ground, scenting the air with their faint perfume. Hongdae was breathtaking in the spring, but truth be told, Jongin was too focused on the slight young man beside him to pay much heed to the beauty surrounding them. Kyungsoo had been quite a relevation. At first glance, he'd seemed like a jittery, nerdy kind of guy but once you got him talking ... he kind of drew you in. But in a quiet way.
Jongin sensed that there was nothing noisy about Kyungsoo. Jongin himself was somewhere in between - definitely not noisy but at the same time not exactly quiet either. He was relaxed enough in social situations but he always avoided the spotlight - that wasn't who he was. Kyungsoo, he suspected, was the type who preferred to just observe and listen in a group situation. Jongin's family and friends were mostly extroverts so hanging out with Kyungsoo was a welcome break from all the manic energy and noise. It was calming. And nice. It was nice.
"So where do you live, hyung?"
"About ten minutes' walk from here - in that direction," he pointed vaguely to the left, "past the Hello Kitty Cafe. I've never been inside though!" Kyungsoo added hastily as Jongin raised a mischievous eyebrow.
"You know you should totally go inside and check it out, right? Take a walk on the wild, I mean pink side," Jongin chuckled self-consciously at his own lame joke.
"You did not just suggest that! The entire building is pink. The furniture? Pink. And I have no doubt the toilets are pink too."
"Yeah, the toilets are pink," Jongin grinned.
"How do you even know that?!" Kyungsoo laughed delightedly.
"Their latte is pretty good .. You erm get cocoa sprinkled on the foam in a Hello Kitty shape. I just try to ignore the fact that I'm sitting on a pink plush chair with a red bow on it, and enjoy the coffee. It's good coffee, you should try it one day," to Kyungsoo's great amusement, Jongin only looked mildly embarrassed as he said all this.
"But why would you even ...? Wait, are you a Hello Kitty fan?"
"Hell, no! Ga In loves Hello Kitty and she loves the waffles they serve at the Cafe so I take her there every couple of weeks or so,"
Ga In? Waffles? Who?
But before Kyungsoo had a chance to feel a twinge of envy or even ask Jongin who Ga In was, a booming voice bellowed from across the street, "Jongin-ah!"
Jongin laughed and waved at the street vendor. "Come on!" he grabbed Kyungsoo by the arm and propelled him to the other side of the road. It was all over very fast but it was more than time enough for Jongin to enjoy the way Kyungsoo's slim arm felt in his right hand. Meanwhile, Kyungsoo tried his best to ignore how hot Jongin's palm felt and how even this lightest of touches was making his arm feel all tingly.
The ddukbokki ahjussi - a hairy mammoth of a man with pale beefy arms, tiny eyes and a big mole on his right cheek - began chatting animatedly with Jongin. He was asking very volubly why he hadn't brought Ga In today, and how pretty Ga In was his favorite customer in all of Seoul and he'd saved the very best of the ddukbokki for her. Jongin smiled easily and said Ga In wouldn't be dropping by today, but he might bring some ddukbokki home for her later.
Bring ddukbokki HOME?
Between the constant mention of Ga In and the whiff of ddukbokki tickling his nostrils and the close proximity of those rubbery sticks, swimming in that viscous red gravy, Kyungsoo was beginning to think that anywhere but here would be a good place to be. He should have known there would be a Ga In. Or a Ha Eun. Or a Da Som. Such a charming, good looking guy couldn't possibly be unattached, right?
"Here you go, hyung." Jongin handed him a styrofoam container of ddukbokki and Kyungsoo paled visibly before noticing he wasn't carrying his own container of the vile stuff. They found a nearby bench and sat down.
"Aren't you having any? You have to help me finish mine, ok?"
"Oh, I'm all right, hyung - I had a lot of bibimbap before I boarded the train. I'll just get takeaway later because Ga In will want some too." Jongin sounded just a little too blithe, and avoided making eye contact with Kyungsoo all of a sudden.
Because he didn't want to be exposed as a big ass liar, Kyungsoo forced himself to chew and swallow the slithery ddukbokki while Jongin watched him expectantly.
"It's good, right? Ahjussi has the best ddukbokki in Seoul."
"It's ... great, yeah." Kyungsoo hoped he didn't sound and look as miserable as he felt. The taste and texture of ddukbokki hadn't improved since the last time he ate some ... about, it must have been five years back. It was still the grossest thing to eat ever. And then there was the whole issue of the mysterious Ga In. He was beginning to feel really sorry for himself. After the third piece of ddukbokki, he decided he was going to have to stop if he was going to retain his dignity and not puke in front of Jongin.
"Um, Jongin? I don't feel so good so I think I'm gonna head home," he was pretty sure he sounded as bad as he looked and felt. Jongin's features registered surprise, then concern and finally mulishness as he insisted on walking Kyungsoo home in spite of the latter’s protests.
"There's no need, really. I'm fine." Kyungsoo announced a little weakly and made a move to walk away, but Jongin completely ignored his silly little speech and draped his right arm lightly over Kyungsoo's narrow shoulders.
"Which way to your place?" Jongin’s voice was commanding and deep and Kyungsoo's feet started moving reluctantly. He may not have been feeling too good, but he could still appreciate Jongin's warmth in the chilly evening air ...
Kyungsoo's studio apartment was neat, no surprise there. Jongin's eyes made a cursory examination of his surroundings. The furnishings were quite spartan. A coffee table here, a goldfish bowl there, an armchair here, a simple navy blue couch there, a small dining table with two chairs. The pine flooring was clean and Jongin had helped himself to a pair of hunter green house slippers, leaving his Chucks neatly in the corner near the door - right next to Kyungsoo's own black Adidas leather sneakers. Their shoes were touching and Jongin liked the way they looked together.
The fresh air and the walk had made Kyungsoo feel much better and he'd asked Jongin to wait outside while he went to his room to wash his face (and brush the taste of ddukbokki out of his mouth but he didn't tell Jongin that). They'd spoken almost the whole way home, Jongin's arm comfortably slung over his shoulder the whole time - even when Kyungsoo had told him he felt perfectly fine. On the one hand, Kyungsoo had a sense that Jongin seemed to be interested in him but what about Ga In who seemed to share a home with him and whom he obviously spent a lot of time with. Kyungsoo shook his head in frustration and resumed brushing his teeth almost viciously. Never again would ddukbokki pass his lips - never ever. Ever.
Jongin was reading the spines of the books on Kyungsoo's shelf - he had sci fi as well as literary novels and the odd thriller. He couldn't help grinning when he saw one of his favorites: Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. As he was making his way through the second tier of the shelf, he heard a series of muffled beeps before the front door swung open with a whoosh.
"Kyungsoo-ah!" a wiry young man was leaning against the door jamb, stooped over as he removed his shoes. He was more than a little startled when he straightened up to see Jongin standing in front of the bookshelf.
"Who are you?!" he asked sharply, eyes narrowed and hostile.
"I'm Jongin. And you must be one of Kyungsoo's close friends since you know the passcode to his apartment?"
"I'm Baekhyun," the guy answered brusquely and then visibly relaxed when Kyungsoo came strolling out of his bedroom - clearly unharmed and all limbs intact. Kyungsoo was reading a text on his phone as he asked, "Do you want some coffee, Jongin? I only have instant though."
"I wouldn't mind some coffee." Baekhyun said sarcastically and Kyungsoo's head snapped up, his eyes wide and just a little hunted. "Can I have mine black? One sugar, please." Kyungsoo groaned inwardly as he realized with growing dread that Baekhyun was going to be difficult. And that he was totally going to embarrass him in front of Jongin. He also knew if he didn't give Baekhyun his cup of flat black, one sugar, he was never going to hear the end of it.
"I'll help you with the coffee, hyung." Jongin made a move to follow Kyungsoo into the kitchen, a thoughtful expression on his face.
"Hyung?" Baekhyun watched the two of them with growing interest. He cleared his throat and repeated his question, directing it loudly at his longtime friend, who was looking a little hot behind the ears, "Excuse me, but HYUNG?"
"Shut up, Baekhyun, he's a year younger than me."
"I'm a year older than you and you have never once called me 'hyung' ... ?" he let the words trail off, dripping with God only knows what form of innuendo, and Kyungsoo gave him the most powerful death glare he could muster. Blatant mischief was written all over Baekhyun's face as he asked Jongin how they knew each other.
"Don't you have to be somewhere? Why are you even here? You should go," Kyungsoo wasn't even trying to be diplomatic at this point. Naturally, Baekhyun ignored him completely.
Eight minutes later, Kyungsoo was pouring piping hot water into three plain white mugs from a racy little red kettle which brought a splash of color to the otherwise somber apartment. Apparently Kyungsoo had a thing for the color red - Jongin filed that away under the growing list of things he found fascinating about Do Kyungsoo.
As he helped Kyungsoo to stir sugar into the coffee, he leaned over the steaming cups so his mouth was right next to the shell of Kyungsoo's ear, and said rather huskily, "He doesn't look like me," Jongin's warm breath tickled his ear and he had to place his hand on the kitchen counter for support as pleasurable sensations coursed along his neck and ear and his groin grew taut. If Jongin was aware of his physical turmoil he didn't show it and Kyungsoo was grateful for his reticence.
"Are you guys making out or something? I'm right, aren't I? You're totally making out! I want that coffee while it's still hot, ok?!" Baekhyun bellowed from the other room, being his usual irascible self.
"Jongin, can you bring out the coffee? I need to um ..." Kyungsoo struggled for an explanation but Jongin just nodded and took the three cups out without waiting for one. Relieved, Kyungsoo willed his body to calm itself down ...
They were awkwardly sipping their individual cups of coffee as Baekhyun interrogated Jongin about his association with Kyungsoo. Where and how did they meet? Had they known each other long? He was in the midst of asking them, quite invasively Kyungsoo thought, whether they were doing anything for dinner when the theme from Pororo suddenly started playing. It was Jongin's phone, of course. His mouth turned up at the corners as he answered it and Kyungsoo clearly heard a small, feminine voice greeting excitedly, "OPPA!"
Kyungsoo sighed dejectedly as his stomach abruptly recalled it had been sick to its core just half an hour ago.
"Hi Ga In! How was dance class? ... No, I won't be able to get any Hello Kitty waffles today ... No, no ddukbokki either, sorryyyy ... I'm not sure what time I'll be home so don't wait up, ok? Yes, I'll be careful on the train ... I'll see you in the morning. Bye!"
"Girlfriend?" Thankfully, Baekhyun asked the question Kyungsoo hadn't the heart to ask.
Jongin's amused chuckle echoed loudly through the sparsely furnished apartment, "Ga In? My girlfriend? Nooooo, she's my dongsaeng! She's only 12." and then his expression grew grave as he added, "I don't have a girlfriend - never have had one, to be honest."
There was a brief, awkward silence as Kyungsoo's insides stopped their violent motion and started feeling funny in an altogether different way.
"Right, so I'm just going to borrow that Calculus textbook I needed, Kyungsoo, and I'll see you in Advanced Physics at 10am. Nice meeting you, Jongin," Baekhyun's voice rang with a kind of loud phony cheerfulness and he practically left a cloud of dust in his haste to exit the apartment. His retreat surprised Kyungsoo as Baekhyun usually had the temerity of a pit bull when he decided he was going to get to the bottom of things.
Jongin's gaze was intense as he said, "So why did you say you mistook me for Baekhyun? Apart from the obvious fact that he's three inches shorter than me, he doesn't look anything like me."
"I ... I didn't want you to know I remembered you from before. You know, in case you thought I was a creeper or something. I actually only saw you for the first time on Monday but ... I guess you made quite an impression because I can't seem to stop thinking about you."
"I never saw you before today," Jongin lifted his left hand slowly and let it rest on Kyungsoo's right cheek. His touch was so light it was like butterfly wings - like he was worried Kyungsoo would be spooked if he moved too suddenly, "I can't imagine how I didn't notice you before. And now that I've seen you, I can't imagine not seeing you again."
This time it was Kyungsoo who moved his right hand, and placed it over Jongin's - pressing it firmly into his cheek. Then with his other hand, he reached up and cupped the back of Jongin's neck. Kyungsoo had dated casually over the years so he knew a little of such things. Slowly, very slowly, Jongin bent his head down and met him halfway. The kiss they exchanged was tentative and sweet at first, but it soon deepened into a desperate meeting of tongues and breathy moans.
"I ... hyung, I," Jongin had pulled away from their kiss and panting slightly, he'd rested his forehead on Kyungsoo's. Their faces were so close together that their noses touched.
"Hyung, I have a confession. I hate ddukbokki. I mean I really really really hate ddukbokki. I never eat the stuff - it's my little sister who loves it. I only suggested it because I wanted to spend more time with you and it's the first thing I thought of. I was supposed to pick up Ga In from dance class - I do that twice a week. But my mom texted me to say she'd picked her up already. I planned to ask you to join the two of us after I got her from the studio. I didn't think you'd go for the Hello Kitty Cafe idea so I always planned to ask you to join us for ddukbokki. Anyway, you seemed to love it so ... yeah, I'm sorry I pretended I loved it."
Everything came out in a confusing, uneasy rush and Kyungsoo couldn't help but laugh at the irony, "Well, while we're confessing, I HATE ddukbokki too. I mean really hate it. I lied and said I love it because I wanted to spend more time with you too. I really wish you'd asked me for patbingsu instead! For future reference, I like the one at Caffe Bene best." Kyungsoo smiled widely and Jongin just loved the way his smile reached his eyes. It was sweet ... and sexy.
They embraced, laughing. "Caffe Bene patbingsu it is." Jongin said, before covering Kyungsoo's lips with his own ...
Later that night, they had some instant kimchi ramyun as neither felt like venturing out in search of food. Although both claimed to be the worst cooks ever, the ramyun wasn't burnt and they chatted about Ender's Game as they slurped down their noodles.
After dinner, Jongin had suggested enjoying the open air out on Kyungsoo's small balcony so they now sat on the floor, holding hands and huddling close together against the cold night air. Kyungsoo had dug out his tartan camping blanket earlier and it was now cosily wrapped around them as they gazed at the countless stars illuminating the midnight blue canvas stretched above them.
"Jongin, you know those stars on your shoes ... I've been wanting to know the story behind those stars since the first time I saw you on the train."
"The stars? But why?" Jongin sounded curious even though Kyungsoo had been the one to ask the question.
"That's what interested me most about you - when I didn't actually know you, I mean. Your clothes, your hair, everything about you was kind of ... you know, safe? Like you wanted to blend in and not stand out. But then there were these silver and gold stars on your shoes. It was so unexpected and it just bugged me for days. I kept looking for you on the train after that."
Jongin squeezed Kyungsoo's hand and leaned his head against his shoulder, "Ga In ... she's always loved stars, you know? But there was a time she couldn't dance for a long time. We made a pact when she first got hurt - every step she made towards dancing again, we would stick a star on my shoes, for hope. They were navy blue, you see, so they were the perfect night sky - that's what Ga In said. Well, she started dancing again a year ago so there haven't been any new stars since. And now she says I should stop wearing them cos don't I feel silly anyway, going around Seoul with stars on my shoes? I just ignore her though. She still complains every now and then that her oppa is silly but I think that deep down, those stars still give her strength - so I'll keep wearing them as long as I can."
"That's really ... sweet." Kyungsoo both felt and looked a little shaken.
"I don't know about sweet, but I'm definitely the type who sticks around. I guess you could say I'm the loyal sort." Jongin gazed up at the twinkling blanket of stars for a minute or two, and then he asked so quietly Kyungsoo almost missed it, "Is it ok with you if I stick around for a while, hyung?"
"Yes, it is. I ... I'm really glad you're here," Kyungsoo interlocked his fingers with Jongin's.
"I'm glad too, hyung," Jongin brought their linked hands to his mouth and placed his lips on the back of Kyungsoo's hand. Kyungsoo could feel the younger man smile and he snuggled closer to his warmth.
"So when are we going to Caffe Bene for some patbingsu?" Jongin grinned and Kyungsoo shook his head, chuckling in delight as he kissed the young man in front of him - the young man who was no longer the tall stranger on the train with the star-spangled Chucks ...