Summary: Junmyeon gets stood up by best friends Jongin and Kyungsoo and their next-door neighbor Chanyeol comes to his rescue.
Warnings: references to Running Man, dirty laundry and devious best friends
Cottony puffs of breath-mist drifted into the darkness as Junmyeon blew on his hands and jogged in a spot. His phone weather app had just cheerfully informed him that it was -3 degrees Celsius and his hands and feet pretty much confirmed the subzero temperature since they certainly felt like they'd turned to ice almost all the way through despite thick woollen gloves and socks. It was 7.40 pm and 15 minutes past the time Jongin and Kyungsoo had told him to come over. But here he was freezing his ass off out in the cold when his friends were usually as punctual as the Tokyo Metro system. He was going to kill those idiots so bad. He jumped in one spot, blew on his hands and started yelling the lyrics of Teen Top's Baby You to distract himself from the cold. He even managed to not go off key ... too badly.
"You like Teen Top?"
Junmyeon froze as he heard a rich, deep voice that made him think of Turkish coffee. He looked up to see an extremely tall young man standing in front of him, copper red curls tumbling untidily across his forehead and lips etched in a questioning smile. He was good looking in an energetic and vibrant kind of way and his left cheek was creased in a very attractive dimple. Junmyeon had to tell himself to stop staring.
"I um ... like some of their songs I guess? Ok on a list of most embarrassing moments, that would probably rank all the way up there in the top 3. Oh my God." Junmyeon said sheepishly.
"Are you waiting for someone? Because it's kinda cold to be out in the open singing Teen Top." the other man asked - his voice laced with amusement.
"Well, my friends Kyungsoo and Jongin asked me to come and pick them up for dinner but there's no sign of them and they're both not answering their calls or messages and I'm cold and hungry and I'm so gonna kick their asses when they eventually show up. Ugh." Junmyeon grumbled - apparently having forgotten that he was speaking to a complete stranger.
"Maybe their phones ran out of battery? It happens."
"Both of them? At the same time?! Highly doubtful. They probably forgot all about dinner. I'm so going to kill them." Junmyeon made a sound of disgust and kicked an imaginary pebble.
"It's really cold though. Do you want to come in and have a cup of hot coffee while you wait?"
"Um ... I don't exactly know you?" Junmyeon said hesitantly.
"Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Chanyeol, and I live next door to Jongin and Kyungsoo." He proffered his hand in a friendly manner. Junmyeon stared at his hand, not making a move to take it and Chanyeol chuckled. "I promise I'm not going to poison or kidnap you. You don't have to come inside if you're nervous. But I will let you into the building so you don't have to wait out in the cold. Does that work for you?"
Junmyeon blew out some mist, shivered and said, "What the hell, I guess I should come inside then because my nuts are in real danger of falling off." And there it was again, that throaty unrestrained laughter. Junmyeon couldn't help smiling a little - the other man's laugh was just that infectious.
"Sorry, my place is a little untidy." Chanyeol apologized as he led Junmyeon in, pointing at some house slippers he could use. Junmyeon slid his feet into the navy blue slippers and followed Chanyeol's tall lanky figure into the sitting room. Junmyeon felt mortified to the core when he took in Chanyeol's definition of "a little untidy". His apartment was only really bordering on slightly messy. It was nowhere near the levels of messiness Junmyeon could achieve and often did achieve - especially when work got a little crazy. He kept his tiny apartment clean but he had very cavalier attitude towards dumping laundry all over the place. It drove Kyungsoo mad when they dropped by and he had to toe piles of laundry out of his way, while Jongin did a bad job of trying not to snicker at Kyungsoo's outrage.
"I should report you to Health Services! Has that even been washed in two months?" Kyungsoo scolded as he walked past a chair with a pin striped work shirt draped almost artistically over it.
"Of course it has! I do my laundry every week. The clothes draped on furniture are all clean and the ones on the floor need washing. It's not that complicated, Soo." Junmyeon would explain patiently.
"Is that supposed to make sense?!"
"Soo, let's just go sit down first and wait for Jun to get ready." Tall, tanned and laid back Jongin took his visibly traumatized boyfriend by the arm and guided him to the sofa. "Jun, I'm going to make some tea for the two of us, ok?"
Some variation of that scene was re-enacted every time his friends showed up at his apartment. Jongin seemed accepting but you'd think Kyungsoo would've reconciled himself to the lack of order by now.
"Don't apologize. Your place is really neat compared to mine." Junmyeon said honestly.
"Wow, ok." Chanyeol nodded a little warily. "So, do you want coffee or tea? Or maybe beer? I've got Millers."
"Ooh, fancy American beer. I don't think I've tried it. But I'll have coffee because I need to thaw out." Junmyeon said as he warmed his hands in front of the space heater Chanyeol had switched on before entering the kitchen. Suddenly remembering why he was even here in the first place, Junmyeon tried calling Jongin's cellphone and to his surprise, the call connected. He'd gotten nothing but voice mail for 20 minutes previously.
"Where are you, you asswipes? And why weren't you answering your phones?!" Junmyeon tried to make himself sound really annoyed.
"We're still stranded in the city. And we were stuck in an elevator for half an hour. No signal." Jongin said apologetically.
"Alone? I hope there wasn't any CCTV in the elevator." Junmyeon snorted.
"Hey! Soo and I have been together for years - why would we steam up an elevator? We're not horny teenagers. Anymore anyway." Junmyeon could hear the laughter in Jongin's voice and didn't believe him for a second.
"When were you planning to tell me you guys were gonna be late? I've been freezing my ass off here for half an hour!"
"Just about to call you, I swear. But we're still stuck in midtown and Soo was about to get gastric so I'm bringing him to have some samgaetang and is it okay if we make dinner another night?"
"The hell, Jongin!"
"You know what Soo's gastric is like. I couldn't let it get bad - he would've been up all night with the pain. I think it was the stress of being stuck in the lift." Jongin pleaded and Junmyeon sighed because Kyungsoo's gastric problem was a genuine one and he knew Jongin couldn't bear seeing Kyungsoo suffer and for all his easygoing ways, Jongin doted on Kyungsoo. It was simply disgusting to be honest.
"Fine, I'll grab something to eat on the way home. I'm still not convinced you guys aren't horny teenagers but just take care of him. I'll see you guys later."
"Thanks, Jun! I'll cook gamjatang next weekend and you can come over for dinner. Promise." He could hear the sincere relief in Jongin's voice and Junmyeon sighed again.
"Consider yourself forgiven. Bye Jonginnie. Tell Soo I said take care."
"Dinner didn't work out?" Chanyeol placed a cup of coffee on the table. Delicate wisps of steam wafted up temptingly from the black depths and Junmyeon reached for it thankfully.
"Thanks, Chanyeol. Yeah that was Jongin. Apparently they got trapped in an elevator and they just got out so they'll just eat in the city after all."
"Ahhh, Kyungsoo's gastric must be acting up. And Kim Jongin is a marshmallow when it comes to his boyfriend. Although it seems to go both ways from what can I see ... Um sorry, I didn't mean to think aloud. But you probably knew all that anyway since you're friends."
"Yes I did know that," Junmyeon chuckled.
"I've got some omurice I bought on my way home and a pantry full of instant ramen. Why don't you just eat here?" Chanyeol suggested casually. He'd heard Kyungsoo mention his high school buddy Junmyeon often in the past 9 months they'd been neighbors but he'd never actually seen the guy till now. He was good looking in a quiet, refined kind of way and he was of average height, a little on the thin side. But where his physical appearance was quite subdued, Junmyeon's personality seemed to crackle as witty and sarcastic remarks fell off his tongue every now and then. He wasn't exactly noisy but he definitely wasn't quiet and seemed to exude an easy self-confidence. Chanyeol had always liked paradoxes - always liked when things weren't what they seemed and Junmyeon seemed to fit in that category.
"Oh, that's ok! I can pick up some bibimbap on the way home. It's not a problem." Junmyeon said but you could just pick out the indecision in his voice.
"Please, stay. I've got plenty of food and I wouldn't mind some conversation."
"Isn't your girlfriend or ... boyfriend? Coming home soon? Or parents maybe? Because aside from the already awkward fact we're strangers, people coming home would add a whole other level of awkward." Junmyeon asked as he cringed at how completely unsubtle his question had been.
"Never had a girlfriend and I haven't had a boyfriend in more than a year. My parents don't live in Seoul so I'm on my own here." Chanyeol answered matter-of-factly, "It's no fun eating alone so how about it? You can text Jongin to tell him you're at my place if you're worried I'm an axe murderer." Mischief twinkled in his eyes and his dimple appeared and Junmyeon told himself he had no feelings about either at all.
"I don't think you're an axe murderer!" Junmyeon spluttered a little indignantly, "And just to prove it I'll share your damn omurice!"
"Ok good." Chanyeol looked amused but tried his best to hide it.
They'd made short work of the takeaway omurice and additional packets of instant jjambong ramyun Chanyeol had cooked up. They were now relaxing in the sitting room, both drinking from chilled bottles of Millers. Condensed water droplets rolled down the walls of glass as the two men chatted and joked about baseball and manhwa and the latest episode of 'Running Man'. Chanyeol's favorite was Kwangsoo because he was a big dork like him and did some of the most unexpected things - sometimes to sabotage his own teammates, dear God. Junmyeon declared that his favorite was Jaesuk because he was wily and funny. And both men agreed that while Jongkook was the most terrifyingly ruthless asshole ever, they had to admire his win-at-all-costs approach just a little bit. Their easy conversation had been full of laughter and witty observations and Junmyeon had to admit he hadn't had this much fun getting to know anyone in the longest time. But it was a week night and he had to be up at seven in the morning and it was already half past ten. Three hours had dissolved effortlessly without either of them realizing it.
"I should make a move, Chanyeol. Work day tomorrow and it's pretty late now."
"Sure, of course." They both stood up abruptly and moved towards the door. As Junmyeon stuck his right arm into his right jacket sleeve, Chanyeol cleared his throat.
"It was nice meeting you, Junmyeon. I ... ah had fun. We should do this again." Chanyeol finally said, a little self-consciously. It was the most cliched of cliched things to say but Junmyeon didn't really care if it was cliched as long as Chanyeol meant it.
"I'd like that, Chanyeol. I enjoyed myself too. I guess this is the part where we exchange phone numbers." Junmyeon suggested, his laughter lines showing. And they did just that and it didn’t even feel a little bit awkward.
"I'll be in touch." Chanyeol said as he leaned against his doorway and watched Junmyeon walk towards the elevator.
Junmyeon had a stupid smile on his face all 25 storeys down. And it was only as he was walking through the elevator doors on the ground floor that it hit him - Jongin had never actually denied making the most of being stuck in the elevator for thirty minutes with Kyungsoo. You could get a lot done in thirty minutes when you were Do Kyungsoo and Kim Jongin. After a moment's hesitation, he whipped out his phone and typed out a text:
JM: Don't lie to me. You were totally horny teenagers in that lift weren't you?!
JI: We were perfect monks - what are you saying? And why was your car still outside our block when Soo and I got home?
JM: I met Chanyeol tonight. He let me in when your evil asses left me out in the freezing cold.
JI: Soo was about to get gastric! Don't be unreasonable OMG. So did you have fun? He's a nice dude. Perfect neighbor really.
JM: Yeah, I had fun. He's easy to talk to.
JI: Good sense of humor.
JI: Good looking.
JM: That was underhanded.
JI: But revealing! Do you want me to put in a good word for you? Do a bit of a marketing pitch?
JM: NO! HELL NO! Anyway, we exchanged phone numbers.
JI: Smooth. I'm proud of you, Jun.
JM: You're not my mom, Jonginnie!
JI: I'll ask him over for dinner on Saturday.
JM: No! Obvious much?
JI: I'm never obvious.
JI: Just leave it to me.
JM: Good. Night.
As Junmyeon strode through the automatic sliding doors and into the biting cold, he smiled at the prospect of seeing Chanyeol again.
"So I met your friend Junmyeon last night," Chanyeol remarked nonchalantly as he walked beside Kyungsoo and Jongin on the way to the bus-stop.
"Oh yeah, sorry you had to babysit him for us. I could feel the gastric coming on and Jongin insisted I eat straight away because he didn't want his sleep to be constantly interrupted by my howls of pain."
"As if you would've enjoyed the pain." Jongin snorted defiantly.
"It wasn't babysitting!" Chanyeol looked mortified, "He was going to pick up some food on the way home but I asked him to just stay for a simple dinner. He's ... good company."
"Good looking too," Jongin made the booby trap of a throwaway remark.
"Yes, he is good looking. I mean ... Wait, what just happened? That was underhanded, Jongin." Chanyeol glared belatedly at Jongin.
"Huh. That's exactly what Junmyeon said after he admitted you were good looking." Jongin grinned smugly.
"That's entrapment, Jongin. Geez." Kyungsoo tried not to laugh - the fair skin of his cheeks turning pink as the stiff morning breeze nipped at their faces. Jongin ignored his gibe and slung his arm over Kyungsoo's companionably. In the meantime, Chanyeol's cheeks had turned completely red and Kyungsoo suspected it had nothing to do with the wintry chill.
"So come over for dinner on Saturday night. Jongin's cooking gamjatang and I'll grill some galbi. It'll be fun. And you can bring some beer or soju."
"You know I never say no to homecooked food."
"Great! We'll see you then. Oh, here's our bus," Kyungsoo grabbed Jongin by the elbow. Then, as his neighbors were walking up the steps, Jongin turned and threw over his shoulder, "Junmyeon's coming for dinner too. Byeeee!"
Chanyeol shook his head in disbelief at his neighbors' anything but discreet matchmaking efforts, but as he watched their bus move further away from him, he felt the corners of his lips lift into a pleased smile that deepened the dimple in his cheek.
Junmyeon had thought about texting Chanyeol many times in the two days since he'd last seen him but no, he told himself to keep his cool and wait for the other man to contact him first. He set the steaming mug of cocoa on the coffee table and made himself comfortable on his recliner as the latest episode of Running Man began. Ten minutes into the episode, Jongkook was terrorizing Kwangsoo and he was dying to complain about how merciless The Commander was being. He struggled with his ego for ten seconds, wrestled it to the ground and took out his phone. He was scrolling through 'Park' when his screen lit up and the phone vibrated and chirped in his hand: Call. Park Chanyeol.
"Are you watching?" Chanyeol's voice was brimming over with barely contained excitement.
"Of course I am," Junmyeon chuckled, leaning back happily against the leather back of his recliner.
"Jongkook is the worst!"
"I know right? That bit where he ..."
"Oh shit! They've got Jihyo surrounded. Noooo!"
And so it went till the end of the episode. Before they said goodnight, Chanyeol asked if Junmyeon was free the following night because if he was, would he like to meet at a restaurant in Samcheongdong for dinner. It was the halfway point between the areas where they worked and Junmyeon agreed with what he hoped was not unseemly haste.
The sundubu jjigae and bulgogi were delicious and conversation was free flowing and entertaining. At the end of the meal, which Chanyeol paid for because he grabbed the cheque first, Junmyeon insisted on giving him a lift home and the other man made no attempt to refuse. Inside the car they chatted at times and sat in comfortable silence at others in easy bonhomie. Then three traffic light stops before they reached Chanyeol's apartment building, he turned to look at Junmyeon, his expression earnest and more than a little nervous.
"Yeah?" Junmyeon took his eyes off the road for a second to make brief eye contact with the man beside him.
"Are you seeing anyone?"
"Not for a year now."
"Was it a girl? A guy? Sorry this is so awkward." Chanyeol covered his eyes and gave an embarrassed, dimpled smile.
"I've never actually kissed a girl. Never wanted to. What about you?"
"I kissed a few in my early teens. But then my classmate Jisung kissed me when we were sixteen and I finally figured out that I wasn't really into girls."
"Well that's a relief. So why do you want to know if I'm seeing anyone?"
"I thought ... maybe we could ... have dinner again?" Chanyeol asked eventually after what looked like some form of inner struggle.
"Oh. Funny, I thought for a moment there you were going to ask me if I wanted to date you ..." Junmyeon let his words trail off meaningfully.
"I was! But it's such a weird thing to ask someone you've only met twice!" Disorientated by his words, Chanyeol yelled in a panic.
"Well, ok then. Yes."
"What?" The tall man looked dazed almost.
"I said yes, let's date." Junmyeon smiled at him and Chanyeol smiled in return. Then Junmyeon returned his attention to the traffic as if they'd just spoken about something as inconsequential as the weather.
When they reached the apartment building, Chanyeol invited Junmyeon to come upstairs for coffee but Junmyeon decided to say no for reasons he himself couldn't fathom. Perhaps he didn't trust himself to be confined in an apartment alone with him? Chanyeol looked a little disappointed but he accepted Junmyeon's refusal and reached for the door handle.
"Wait." Junmyeon said, touching Chanyeol's elbow tentatively and the other man turned to look at him expectantly, "Good night, Chanyeol." Junmyeon said just before he closed his eyes and kissed Chanyeol tenderly on the lips. It was a brief exploratory, hello kiss but for hours after, Junmyeon's mind was filled with the look of surprise in Chanyeol's eyes, followed by what looked like joy when he realized Junmyeon was about to kiss him.
"Good night, Junmyeon." Chanyeol said quietly as they drew apart.
"I guess I'll see you on Saturday night at Kyungsoo and Jongin's?" Junmyeon smiled.
"Unless ... ?" Chanyeol grinned - a twinkle of mischief in his eyes.
"Unless sounds good." Junmyeon chuckled and as Chanyeol was climbing out of the passenger seat, he suddenly turned around and slid his lips over Junmyeon's in a sweet, stolen kiss.
"Unless it is!" And Chanyeol's baritone laugh echoed in Junmyeon's heart long after the car door had shut and long after he'd driven away from Chanyeol's apartment car park. He wasn't completely sure what he felt for Chanyeol yet, but the feelings made him feel warm and curious to know more about him and what moved him, and they just made Junmyeon feel good. Really really good. And the kisses were nice too. Who was he kidding? They were more than nice, Junmyeon sighed, as his car cruised through the white-lit streets of Seoul.
By the time Chanyeol and Junmyeon arrived at Jongin and Kyungsoo's for dinner on Saturday, they'd gone on three "dates", including an outing to the cinema to watch 'Red 2' which they both found hilarious. Each date had ended with more 'hello' kisses which left both men wanting more but the unspoken decision to not rush things seemed to heighten the anticipation and gave them more space to get to know each other better.
"Jun, can you get some glasses from the cabinet and pour out the soju? Thanks. Yeol, can you dish out some rice? Jongin will take the gamjatang out soon. I just have to finish grilling a few more ribs and we're ready to eat."
Junmyeon hadn't told his two friends yet that he and Chanyeol had kind of fallen into dating each other a few days back. He kept forgetting to tell them when he was in touch with them - only thinking of telling them when he was in the midst of non-conducive situations like while he was showering or driving on the freeway or trying not to fall asleep during a work meeting. And so it came to be that his friends were still blissfully unaware that their clumsy matchmaking services were no longer required.
"Jun and Yeol, you guys sit next to each other because these are our preferred seats." Kyungsoo said casually while Junmyeon and Chanyeol tried not to roll their eyes at how obvious he was being.
"Yeol, did you know that Junmyeon is a big fan of 'Running Man' as well? And you both like baseball too?" Jongin said ten minutes after they all sat down to eat.
"Yeah, yeah we found that out the first time we met." Chanyeol nodded enthusiastically while Junmyeon tried very hard not to choke at Jongin's transparent attempt to establish that they had common interests, ergo, they were perfect for each other. He couldn't hold back a cough of disbelief at how obvious Jongin was being, but stilled when he felt Chanyeol's hand on his thigh. His large palm spanned Junmyeon's narrow thigh easily, and it felt right and secure to have the weight of it there. Junmyeon's hand fit comfortably over Chanyeol's and they exchanged a secret smile as Jongin went on and on about how the two of them both liked 'Running Man' so much.
After another three inelegant matchmaking attempts, Junmyeon had had enough, "Dudes, you can stop now."
"Stop what?" Jongin protested innocently.
"You can stop trying to throw us at each other now." Chanyeol's chocolatey laugh made Junmyeon's senses tingle.
"What are you accusing us of? WE WOULD NEVER!" Kyungsoo spluttered unconvincingly.
"Please. You guys were so pathetically obvious I felt embarrassed on your behalf."
"But you find each other attractive, you like a lot of the same things - you should be together. Just saying." Jongin stated matter-of-factly.
"Remind me never to trust you with any secrets, Kim Jongin, because you're hopeless at keeping them!" Junmyeon glared at his friend.
"But you like each other!"
"Yes, yes we do. And thanks for trying to get us together but ... we kind of already are. Together, I mean." Chanyeol explained.
"Excuse me?" Kyungsoo said in a mixture of curiosity and indignation at being left out of the loop.
"We're dating." Junmyeon announced without any fanfare.
"Pffttt. And you said we sucked at matchmaking." Jongin rolled his eyes.
"What matchmaking? We did everything ourselves, guys." Chanyeol shook his head in amusement.
"You mean you seriously believed that we got trapped in an elevator for 40 minutes?" Kyungsoo shook his head, giving them a pitying look.
"What the fuck?! You assholes! You left me shivering in the cold for twenty minutes for a prank?"
"It wasn't a prank. It was matchmaking at its finest! If Yeol hadn't found you himself first, I would have texted him to let you in and have you wait at his place. But you guys so helpfully took things out of our hands."
"But how did you even know Chanyeol let me in? I didn't tell you till after."
"Um, we were watching you from the convenience store across the road." Kyungsoo admitted sheepishly.
"I AM SO GOING TO KILL YOU GUYS IF IT'S THE LAST THING I DO!" Junmyeon yelled across the table.
"It worked. You're together. EVERYONE IS HAPPY. Drink your soju." Kyungsoo said calmly while Junmyeon shouted at him and Jongin. Loudly. And repeatedly.
"Congrats on ... ya know, dating each other. We're happy to have been of service." Jongin grinned at them from the doorway as he watched Chanyeol and Junmyeon put on their shoes. Kyungsoo appeared beside him, wrapping an arm around his waist affectionately.
"How do you put up with him?!" Junmyeon complained noisily to Kyungsoo.
"With great patience and temperance." Kyungsoo answered sagely and Jongin poked him in the waist in annoyance.
"Don't be a prick, Soo!"
"It's just as well you have so much patience and temperance," Chanyeol laughed as they moved off and the door closed behind them
"Well, I guess this is you." Junmyeon announced to no one in particular as they reached Chanyeol's door.
"Junmyeon, will you come in for coffee?" Chanyeol asked as he keyed in his passcode, his voice laced with hope.
"I ..." Junmyeon hesitated for just three seconds before nodding and Chanyeol took him by the hand and pulled him into his apartment. Once the door clicked shut, Chanyeol's arms slid around Junmyeon's shoulders and pulled him in close. Then his lips covered his and Junmyeon's senses were overwhelmed by the almost taste of soju and Chanyeol and life.
"Hi," Chanyeol smiled lazily and Junmyeon couldn't help but smile back - just before Chanyeol kissed him again. And as the taller man's tongue explored the warm depths his mouth, Junmyeon's right hand cupped his nape and pulled him nearer still.
"Hi," Junmyeon said.
As Chanyeol led him further into the apartment, Junmyeon thought he still wasn't completely sure what it was he felt for Chanyeol. But what he did know was that he needed him in his life. And for now, that was enough ...
A/N: Written almost entirely on buses and trains in Tokyo and Osaka circa December 2013 otl. For Daniel, RIP