August 14th, 2012

And Counting

i got sick, so i didn't really edit and revise. regardless, i hope you all still enjoy this chapter.

 

August 14th, 2012

 

Roughly around one or two weeks before the first semester of high school commenced, Mingyu’s family set off for a trip outside of the city. Mingyu’s mother requested time off work to spend a few days with her two sons, and Mingyu was more than excited to finally have an actual family outing that wasn’t at the supermarket. Seungcheol was the one who booked their hotel, though, and used up much of his own money on a rental car that could handle a six-hour drive. He sulked over it the whole week prior to the trip.

 

“This is so exciting,” Mingyu said euphorically, bouncing at the tips of his toes.

 

Wonwoo grabbed Mingyu’s shoulders and held him down to restrain him from moving so much. “You’ve been saying that for the past week. Take a chill pill and just relax.”

 

“I can’t relax!”

 

Snickering, Wonwoo shook his head and rolled his eyes. “You’re a literal five year old.”

 

Mingyu’s bouncing paused as a look of disgust took over. “And you’re still a total buzz kill,” he snapped, “so we’re not all perfect here.”

 

Wonwoo kicked Mingyu’s ankle.

 

A minivan with tinted windows and a body of red wine rolled up the driveway, and stopped when it reached only a couple inches away from the garage door. The window slid down then revealed Seungcheol in a pair of Raybans knockoffs and a muscle tee that showed off his eye-soring tan lines. He was grinning at Wonwoo and Mingyu, classical music turned up to its maximum from inside.

 

“Are you ready for the best trip ever, little bro?” he shouted over the mix of bass drums and screeching violas.

 

Mingyu’s face twisted. “Since when did you listen to Beethoven?”

 

“Correction” – His brother held up a finger – “it’s Tchaikovsky.”

 

“Wow,” Mingyu said ironically, his eyes widening with obvious ridicule, “Tchaikovsky.

 

“More like Tchaikvo,” Wonwoo murmured to Mingyu. Mingyu snorted in a failed attempt to hold in his laugh, and he shoved the other for pulling the joke.

 

Seungcheol removed his sunglasses and said, “Look, we’re going on a four day trip with mom, and I don’t want her to know that I listen to rap music.”

 

“She already knows that you listen to Drake,” Wonwoo pointed out.

 

Mingyu nodded and said, “Yeah, you kind of make it obvious when people could hear it from a freaking three mile radius, hyung.”

 

Opening the car door, Seungcheol stepped out and pulled up his pants the moment he was on his feet. Just from one overall look, Wonwoo could tell Seungcheol was trying to go for a bad boy image, but was failing because of the uneven skin tones and tattered Jordans that were most likely from Craigslist. There was also something different about his hair that couldn’t be pointed out right off the bat, yet it was still noticeable to the eye. Wonwoo guessed that he was using hair gel for once, or maybe hairspray if not that.

 

Who’s he trying to impress, Wonwoo thought.

 

Seungcheol passed the two minors to enter the house, ignoring what either of them said. They watched as he walked in, greeting his and Mingyu’s mother with too much kindness compared to how he usually talked.

 

“How much do you want to bet that he messed up again?” Mingyu sighed.

 

“A tub of vanilla bean ice cream and a pack of Oreos,” Wonwoo challenged.

 

Mingyu held out his hand and said, “Deal.”

 

The latter gave the hand a light slap and a fist bump to declare their innocent gamble. Once it was official, they raced to the door and peeked their heads between the door and doorframe to spy on Seungcheol. Mingyu rested his chin on top of Wonwoo’s head as they listened carefully. They saw Seungcheol flashing a gummy smile at his mom, who was looking back at him with an odd gaze. He attempted to take the plastic bag of Mingyu’s favorite snacks away from their mother’s possession, but she slapped his hand away and tugged it back.

 

“You’re being too nice,” she snarled, looking like an angered Rottweiler. “What do you want? Money? A new radio? What is it?”

 

Seungcheol moved his hands away, and his confidence shrunk by a ton. “I-I, uh” – He hesitated then sighed in defeat – “I need to borrow some money for my… album.”

 

Mingyu and Wonwoo snorted at an instant, cackling on the floor at the mention of Seungcheol producing his own album. Seungcheol spotted the two, and his eyes burned with fire as he glared at them. His mom, however, ignored the boys.

 

“Album?” she pressed on.

 

Seungcheol murmured, “Well, mixtape.” Just when Mingyu and Wonwoo thought they couldn’t laugh any harder, they did, and the youngest began to develop cramps from it. “Shut up!”

 

“Are mixtapes even a thing anymore, Seungcheol-hyung?” Mingyu wheezed.

 

“They are; lots of people make them!” defended Seungcheol.

 

Their mom patted Seungcheol’s bicep, her lips tightened and eyebrows furrowed. “Seungcheol, I know you’ve always had this thing about being cool, but now you’re just being lame.”

 

“Mom!”

 

The younger two laughed again; Wonwoo curled into a ball with his forearms guarding his stomach, and Mingyu leaned against the doorframe, a hand continuously slapping it as his laughs became silent and unbearable.

 

“I’ll give you the money,” Mingyu and Seungcheol’s mom sighed, “but I still need you to focus on school, okay? School first; music second.”

 

Seungcheol, with his threatening look transitioned to something rapturous, gasped and held in his breath as he danced in place to express his joy. In the span of just a few seconds, the eighteen year-old managed to circle around his mother twice, shake her hands with excessive force, and jump over Wonwoo as he skipped out the front door. The adult in that situation merely laughed and shook her head, while the youngest ones watched Seungcheol prance to the car.

 

“Mixtapes,” Mingyu’s mom scoffed, turning around, “who’d ever guess?”

 

Mingyu and Wonwoo raised their hands slightly, lazy grins on their faces. “We’d guess,” they said simultaneously.

 

Everything else happened quickly after that. Mingyu’s family was settled for their trip, everything on his mom’s list crossed off after triple checking their belongings. Seungcheol, unafraid to express his passion for Drake, turned up a remix of both his favorite rapper and Tchaikovsky. Mingyu looked away from the vehicle in embarrassment.

 

“Oh my, God,” Mingyu murmured to Wonwoo over the sound of Seungcheol shamelessly shouting the lyrics to HYFR, “Wonwoo, help me; this is crossing the boundaries of embarrassment.”

 

Wonwoo laughed. “What, you don’t like Drake and Tchaikovsky?”

 

“Drake is the ,” Mingyu tried to explain, “but Seungcheol-plus-Drake featuring dead Tchaikovsky is not the .”

 

Two honks interrupted their conversation, and they winced as they directed their attention to the minivan. “Mingyu-ah!” Seungcheol called out, one arm sticking out the window and his other hand on the steering wheel. “Let’s go, little bro!”

 

Mingyu huffed, and then turned to look at Wonwoo. “Okay, I guess I’m leaving now.”

 

“Have fun, and don’t forget to get me something,” Wonwoo reminded.

 

While walking to the minivan, Mingyu said, “I’ll find something – promise!”

 

“And don’t forget to text me while you’re there” – Wonwoo pointed a finger at his best friend, and his eyes glared at the other with fake seriousness – “or else I’ll tell Jihye you still like her.”

 

Entering the car, Mingyu’s final response was a middle finger pointed straight up at the sky and facing Wonwoo. The latter laughed and waved farewell to the vehicle, acknowledging that it wouldn’t return for another few days. Slowly, the beat of HYFR faded away from Wonwoo’s ears, along with Seungcheol’s boisterous voice. Once the car was out of sight, Wonwoo sighed.

 

“So,” he murmured to himself, “what now?”

 

·̇·̣̇̇·̣̣̇·̣̇̇·̇ ••୨୧┈┈┈୨୧•• ·̇·̣̇̇·̣̣̇·̣̇̇·̇ ••୨୧┈┈┈୨୧•• ·̇·̣̇̇·̣̣̇·̣̇̇·̇

 

Three hours after Mingyu’s departure, Wonwoo received only a few texts that were left unanswered due to the lack of cellular service his best friend had on the highway. Wonwoo found himself occasionally going back to their short conversation to check for any messages, but he was always left with nothing.

 

To: Wonwoo

From: Mingyu

I kinda wish u were here… EVERYTHING ON THE ROAD REMINDS ME OF U ;o; !!!!

 

To: Mingyu

From: Wonwoo

you’re on the highway… how can /anything/ remind you of me

 

To: Wonwoo

From: Mingyu

IDK EVERYTHING JUST DOES. ITS WEIRD.

 

To: Mingyu

From: Wonwoo

wow you can’t even spend a day w/o me. how will you survive 4 days?

 

To: Wonwoo

From: Mingyu

That’s the thing! I CANT!!

 

To: Mingyu

From: Wonwoo

where are you now?

 

Seen at 1:08 PM

 

Groaning, Wonwoo flipped over from his stomach and laid his back against the couch. He stared at the ceiling blankly with his phone placed atop his chest, a hand still gripped to the device. The couch was uncomfortable, considering the position he was in, but he decided that he was officially and forever glued to the piece of furniture. He came up with the conclusion that he was going to become a couch potato, for he was an actual potato with limbs, attached to a couch (Wonwoo wasn’t really a potato, obviously, but he definitely felt like one).

 

“Hyung,” Chan said from the other side of the armrest that Wonwoo’s heels were pressed against, “why do you look so–”

 

“Potato-ish?”

 

Chan looked at his cousin oddly. “Uh, no? I was going to say bored, but I guess potato works, too.”

 

“I’m a human potato, Dino,” Wonwoo mumbled.

 

“Go hang with your friends if you’re being such a potato.”

 

Wonwoo scrunched his nose in disgust. “All of my other friends just share jokes and make fun of my inability to shoot someone in GTA,” he said, “so I’d rather not.”

 

“Jun-hyung makes jokes?” Chan asked, cocking his head to the side. “And you can’t shoot anyone in GTA?”

 

“Oh, yeah,” Wonwoo scoffed, “the amount of jokes he makes is… appalling. Also, I do not believe that potatoes should kill other potatoes.”

 

“Then go to the mall for bubble tea or something.”

 

Wonwoo’s ears perked at the mention of bubble tea, and he raised his head up a little to meet with Chan’s dark brown eyes. “Bubble tea?”

 

Chan nodded. “Yeah, bubble tea.”

 

“Come with me!”

 

“But” – Wonwoo groaned at that word. “But” meant “You’re less important than the other plans I have” – “I’ll be at an art exhibit all day today, so I won’t be able to get bubble tea.”

 

“Wha– An art exhibit over bubble tea?!” the eldest exclaimed, cutting himself off at the beginning.

 

Chan shrugged. “Sorry, hyung.”

 

So, after Chan left for the art exhibit and another useless glance at his phone, Wonwoo left the house with no one else to accompany him. He took the bus, internally calling dibs on the window seat (it became a habit since he and Mingyu would always paper, rock, scissors for a spot closest to the window). A third of the way to the mall, an elder who smelled like a mix of wet sock and musky cologne took a seat by Wonwoo. He flashed his aged teeth at Wonwoo, while Wonwoo tried smiling as he held his breath to avoid smelling the scent of old man.

 

Once the bus stopped at the shopping district, Wonwoo was forced to wait an agonizingly long time for the elder to walk off the bus. After what felt like more than just a couple hours, Wonwoo took a deep breath of fresh air, his expression souring when he caught some of the old man’s scent lingering beneath his nostrils. Shaking his head, Wonwoo puffed his cheeks and headed to the bubble tea shop.

 

Wonwoo read over the menu as he took place at the very end of the short line. He often got a hokkaido milk tea, but he wanted to try something different that day. He couldn’t decide between a taro slush and mango slush.

 

“Oh, Jeon Wonwoo!”

 

It was Wonwoo’s turn in line, and the sound of someone saying his name immediately caught his attention. The voice came from behind the counter, and when he looked over, it was none other than Seokmin, a student from his rival class. Unable to come up with a way to react, he simply blinked.

 

“Uh–”

 

“Is Mingyu not here?” Seokmin smiled widely. “You guys are usually together.”

 

Wonwoo replied, “He’s on vacation this week. He just left today.”

 

“Ah, what a shame,” the bubble tea worker said, his smile faded. “Anyway, what can I get you?”

 

“Should I get a taro or mango slush?”

 

Seokmin shook his head and said, “Neither. Hokkaido is a lot better than those two, or honeydew.”

 

“Mingyu usually gets honeydew,” Wonwoo mumbled to no one in particular.

 

Leaning over a little, his ear closer to Wonwoo, Seokmin asked, “What was that?”

 

“Nothing!” Wonwoo said abruptly, snapping back to reality. He cleared his throat. “Nothing.”

 

“So…” Seokmin looked at Wonwoo oddly as his hand hovered over the register. “You want honeydew, right?”

 

Without thinking, the latter answered, “Yes.”

 

So that’s how Wonwoo ended up sitting on a chair outside of the bubble tea shop, with a large cup of honeydew slush and boba sunk to the bottom, alone and bored out of his mind. He watched as people strolled by. Mothers were shoving strollers of either infants or small dogs, loyal boyfriends were carrying the shopping bags of their girlfriends, and children were walking in hand with their parents as their eyes dazed at the brand signs and displays.

Wonwoo was still checking for any text messages from Mingyu. He was so used to Mingyu replying so quickly that it felt foreign for him to not reply back for more than five minutes. Wonwoo thought of sending a random picture of a hamster that he found off of Google images, but it seemed unnecessary. If it were sent, it would’ve been the fifth picture of a household pet he messaged to Mingyu in a week.

 

“Wonwoo” – Seokmin’s voice came from behind Wonwoo, and he turned around – “you’re still here?”

 

Wonwoo looked at him, confused. “Of course I am…”

 

“Oh,” Seokmin took a step closer to his table, and he noticed that he had changed out of his uniform, “I’m just a bit surprised. It’s been over an hour since you bought your boba, so I thought you’d be gone by now.”

 

Wonwoo’s eyes glanced down at his phone for a moment then widened in shock at the realization that it was already fifteen minutes till three. Suddenly, his mind neglected Seokmin’s presence as he started to sip vigorous amounts of boba through his black straw. Although the slush was already melted, the coolness of it gave him a brain freeze.

 

“Whoa, there; calm down for a sec, Wonwoo,” said Seokmin, over Wonwoo’s inhumane sounds of brain aching suffer, as he snatched away the latter’s cup of melted honeydew slush. “I didn’t say you had to leave.”

 

“You should’ve told me that first,” Wonwoo grunted, massaging his temples to ease the tension in his head.

 

The other laughed lightly. “Yeah, but I didn’t expect you to think you had to leave.” He stood there for a while, a hand in the left pocket of his jeans. With the cup of melted honeydew slush, Seokmin gestured to the empty chair across from Wonwoo. “Is it okay if I sit here?”

 

“Uh, sure,” Wonwoo nodded, finally recovered from the brain freeze.

 

Seokmin sat down, a small smile on his face. He handed back the cup and rested his elbows on the table. They had never really spoken before, with the exception of the time their classes went against each other in a game of lacrosse. The scores were tied, and much of the students had different and biased opinions on who should’ve won.

 

‘Your team should’ve won,’ Mingyu said on the bus back home, ‘because you did really good as defense.’

 

Wonwoo rolled his eyes and said, ‘Just because I did well, it doesn’t mean my team did well as whole.’

 

‘Pessimistic as always,’ Mingyu murmured as he looked away from Wonwoo, smiling.

 

“We don’t really talk,” Wonwoo said.

 

Seokmin nodded. “Yeah, we don’t. I mean, we could; I don’t see what’s so wrong with it.”

 

“Well, our classes practically hate each other, so that’s one thing.”

 

Laughing, Seokmin said, “It’d be like Romeo and Juliet: destined to be, but forbidden by society.”

 

“Minus the romance,” chuckled Wonwoo, taking another sip of his boba.

 

“Of course. Oh, also, my friend Jisoo is going to show up later. Do you want to hang out with us? We’re going to the mall’s bowling alley then picking up some burgers.”

 

Wonwoo could never say no to burgers; burgers were his love, his one and only, his life. Nonchalantly, he gave the answer, “Sure, why not? I don’t have anything else to do.”

 

They had a long conversation that lasted until Jisoo showed up, and when he did Wonwoo recognized him as old-guy-Jisoo-junior from the store he visited with Mingyu for paint. The moment their eyes met, they pointed fingers at each other and exclaimed, “You!” Seokmin sat there, dumbfounded, as Wonwoo and Jisoo high fived each other as if they’d been friends forever. Really, they’d only met once.

 

Wonwoo, Jisoo and Seokmin shared a talk, and by the time it was thirty minutes past four or so, they left for bowling. Seokmin lost by ten points in the first round, but caught up in the second round thanks to the bumpers he added. Jisoo won the first round, Wonwoo the second. It was overall a good time, with Seokmin’s immaturity of holding up two eight-pound bowling balls and calling himself Nicki Minaj. Jisoo surely caught the eyes of many girls at the bowling alley, but he seemed completely oblivious. Wonwoo tried to be funny, but he failed. As always.

 

Dinner came faster than they expected. While Wonwoo and Seokmin ordered burgers, Jisoo ordered a lot of french fries, to which he kindly shared with his friends (but had to hold his breath to hold back from biting their hands away from his precious food). They talked more after their meal, and Wonwoo swore he’d puke if he laughed any more than he already had.

 

Jisoo left earlier than Seokmin and Wonwoo to help his grandfather close up his shop. Since Wonwoo took the bus, Seokmin offered to give him a ride home. “Are you sure?” Wonwoo asked, his breath releasing a faint smell of caramelized onions and chipotle sauce. “No one in your family really knows me.”

 

“Oh, I have a car,” Seokmin said, acting as if owning a car at sixteen meant nothing, “so I don’t mind.”

 

Wonwoo almost turned down the offer, but that was before he remembered the old man that sat beside him on the bus. He shivered as he remembered the scent that seemed to poison his sense of smell. Never again. “Alright,” he answered, “let’s go then.”

 

Once he gave Seokmin his address and they were already on the road, Wonwoo learned that Seokmin had the voice of a damn God. He sang along to the radio, and unlike Seungcheol’s shouting, Seokmin’s voice constantly sent Wonwoo chills. Wonwoo thought his ears were being blessed.

 

“You sing?” Wonwoo asked, his hands rubbing over the goosebumps Seokmin caused.

 

Chuckling in embarrassment, Seokmin said, “Uh, yeah. Sometimes.”

 

“You should sing all the time,” Wonwoo said, “because you sound really good. Like, celebrity-worthy good.”

 

“You’re exaggerating.”

 

“Not at all.”

 

Seokmin's lips tightened. Bitterly, he said, “You should tell that to the entertainment company I auditioned for.”

 

Wonwoo’s expressing slowly faltered. “You auditioned?”

 

“I did” – Seokmin nodded, his eyes never straying the road – “and they didn’t call me back. People said it was because my voice was too loud.”

 

“Those people are just s.”

 

“Maybe the truth is an .”

 

“And now you’re being an to yourself.” Wonwoo looked at Seokmin seriously, like he was about ready to nail numerous compliments to the driver’s head. “I honestly think you could get anyone to like you if you sang to them – literally anyone.”

 

It was silent after that, and Seokmin stopped singing. Wonwoo thought he might’ve gone too far with the conversation, because they’d just became friends after all, but he didn’t regret any of his words. Everything he said, he meant.

 

When Wonwoo was dropped off and inside the house, there was a text.

 

To: Wonwoo

From: Seokmin

Thanks.

 

To: Seokmin

From: Wonwoo

i demand for a michael buble vs. seokmin voice battle

 

To: Wonwoo

From: Seokmin

OK youre being ridiculous

 

To: Seokmin

From: Wonwoo

lol no i’m not

 

By the time he was already prepared to rest after a long day, there was a ding. He expected it to be from Seokmin, but–

 

To: Wonwoo

From: Mingyu

OKAY SO I WAS AT A RESTAURANT AND I SAW THIS WEIRD FRUIT AND IT REMINDED ME OF YOU BCUZ IT WAS WEIRD AND YOU ARE TOO HAHAHAHAHA I miss you :(((((

 

His heart, it felt as if it was suddenly demanding him to feel things right in his chest – feelings he didn’t experience very often – and he skimmed over the text until he could finally come up with an answer.

 

To: Mingyu

From: Wonwoo

i’m not that weird e.e . how was your trip?

 

His night ended with text messages sent from miles away, about how Mingyu expressed his love for Star Trek to someone dressed as Darth Vader, and how Wonwoo made new friends named Jisoo and Seokmin.

 

 


 

Author’s note: at lunch, i sit near this group of people who literally record their own songs and blast trap music through their bluetooth bose speakers while they eat LOL. it reminded me of hip hop unit so i was like i must write this.

 

and also, seventeen looked rlly good at MAMA and performance team SLAYED the stage (minghao’s flip tho) ;o;

 

song rec: SEVENTEEN - Q&A ft. Ailee

 

twitter: @ohheykorra || tumblr: heyywonwoo.tumblr.com || ask.fm: ask.fm/heywonwoo


 

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Comments (1049)

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Serenitious #1
I don't usuaaly cry when reading fics but this made sob so bad. I love the slow progression of it all and it broke my heart when you ended it that way. Beautiful, bittersweet story. Definitely something I'll enjoy reading over and over again.
thanhfnhaan #2
Chapter 22: What the fck i just realised :((( is it meanie fic? Fml
Lifeisworthit #3
Chapter 32: And Counting is probably one of the best angst fics I've ever read honestly. I think you should know that I've cried more times than I can count on both my hands and I'm literally just an emotional mess rn, so thanks for that. I've also spent like a full 2 weeks reading this and to finally have finished it also makes me lowkey emotional but it's fine. But in all seriousness, thank you so much for writing this beautiful, incredibly well written, fic!!!
Romanbookdragon #4
Chapter 30: I HATE YOU
maanmarieg #5
Chapter 34: I love this ((and you))
maanmarieg #6
Chapter 23: FRICK THAT LAST LINE JUST BROUGHT AN ONSLAUGHT OF TEARS IM SOBBING
serenidad
#7
good job!!
PrettyPleaseMomo
#8
Chapter 31: Oh god i cried a river such an emotional roller coaster thank you authornim