Same space.

Art-to-Heart

‘’Here we go again‘’ Jonghyun sighed as they made their way towards the school’s entrance.

‘’Um… weren’t you the one who couldn’t wait to leave your mom’s house cause you were tired of seeing her and her new boyfriend making out all the time?‘’

The reminder had the shorter man snorting before he quickly flicked his head sideways to get his blonde bangs out of his eyes.

‘’You don’t have to take everything I say so seriously‘’ Jonghyun indicated.

‘’You’re right‘’ Minho fervently agreed. ‘’By now, I should know how much of a drama queen you are.‘’

The blonde glared at his friend, their steps falling out of sync for a second.

‘’You’re in the drama program, not me.‘’ he reminded with a sharpness that didn’t fail to reveal how on edge he actually was.

Echoing the other’s previous snort, he said, ‘’Well I certainly think you could steal our shine with all the emotions you got bottled up in that small body of yours.‘’

“I’m not small, I’m average!‘’ Jonghyun all but growled, as he tried to pierce a hole in the side of his friend’s face with his gaze alone.

A second of silence left place for the sound of his friend’s irritating chuckle, but instead of letting it rile him up even more, he realized it would be best to direct the attention elsewhere.

More specifically, on someone else.

‘’ Also, ‘’ the blonde started, his voice soft and controlled. ‘’ You know very well there can only be one star in the drama program and that’s the one and only Kim Kibum. ‘’

His words rang in the heavy silence that immediately followed them, the empty echo contrasting with the growing sound of the other students walking around them.  Jonghyun couldn’t help but grin as he noticed the clench in his friend’s jaw, the pursing of his lips and the electricity that seemed to be piercing out of his eyes.

Being called short was a great blow to Kim Jonghyun’s pride, but he knew how to counterattack with his own massive weapons of destruction, and his friend’s arch nemesis and somewhat friend was the biggest one of them.

‘’ That snobby er better have worked on himself during the break, cause I’m not sure I’ll be able to suffer him like I used to, ‘’ Minho snarled as his fingers curled into fists.

Jonghyun’s amusement bloomed into a roaring laughter that had his shoulders shaking and his eyes closing.

‘’ I’m sure he’s having similar thoughts right about now, ‘’ the blonde pointed out teasingly. He knew better than to add that they clearly couldn’t be without each other, but the thought was none the less at the forefront of his mind.

An angry sigh slipped from his best friend. ‘’ I don’t want to start the first few minutes of my school year thinking about him. Let’s focus on something else. Please. ‘’

Jonghyun laughed some more before looking straight ahead as they reached the foot of the steps leading to the place where they would be conducting their daily lives for the next few months.

That place was called the Yeonghon Arts School in the countryside of Yangnan. It was the second most reputable art school in the whole country, right after the Yeoljeong Arts School that was in the capital. If a student had had the chance to attend both schools, they would’ve seen for themselves that the caliber of education in both were on par with each other. But rankings were an important thing and the latter school had a few more successful alumni in their midst.

Jonghyun, for one, wasn’t one to care about the school’s positioning in the chart. All he cared about was that he was actually attending an arts school to begin with. A few years back, he had had to fight with his mother to get her on board with his dreams. It had been a long series of arguing and fighting that had eventually brought him to the point of threatening to drop out of school altogether and sing in the streets if he wasn’t going to have his way.

Sometimes, when Jonghyun looked back on that time of his life, he found himself surprised that he had been so sure and determined at such a young age. He felt lucky to have a passion that ran so hot through his veins, but that didn’t mean that he never felt scared of what would become of him after graduation.

This year was his last and that meant part of his future was going to be decided very soon. He was going to have to work hard to pass the college entrance exam and then figure out which university he wanted or could go to. Of course, he wanted to go to a music-focused university if he was to pursue his studies.

And the if was still a big question mark in his mind. Jonghyun had never been really good at school and everything that wasn’t music or writing didn’t really interest him that much. He had almost failed his math and sciences classes last year, but his had been saved by a beautiful dancer he had gotten acquainted with in the middle of the year.

One thing Jonghyun had going on for him in school though, was his charm. When he had started his first year, he had been pretty shy and intimidated by the other students’ assertiveness and impressive talents. It had taken him several months for his own talent to really shine and from then on, he hadn’t had much to do. Praise after praise after praise, either from teachers or other students, on his singing voice, his way with words and his first attempts at composition with his acoustic guitar had granted him a spot at the top of the boarding school’s social ladder.

By the end of that first year, he had made several friends, one of which had rapidly become his best of friends. That friend was the one currently walking besides him through the hallway leading to the reception area they had specially set up for the first day.

Many students greeted the duo excitedly, some girls even blushing and giggling as both men returned their greetings. It was something they had gotten used to over the years, even more so after they’d gotten through the worst of their puberty.

Jonghyun was feeling like his best self, physically and creatively, and having others seeing him through the same lens sure did wonders to boost that ego of his even more. He wasn’t obnoxiously confident, but he relished in his appeal and the power that resided in it.

‘’ Hyung!!! ‘’

The scream that startled the blonde was soon followed by a touch on his shoulder. Both his and Minho’s eyes settled on the bright expression of the younger man that had just joined them.

‘’ I tried to catch up with you earlier, but there were so many students. I almost had to fly over them, ‘’ the latter chortled.

‘’ Knowing you, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear you suddenly learned how to fly, ‘’ Jonghyun bantered before he ruffled the dark shock of fluffy hair the younger man was presenting him with.

That earned him another breathy laugh. ‘’ I missed you, hyung. ‘’

‘’ I missed you too, my sweet Taeminnie, ‘’ the blonde cooed as his lips stretched into a soft, loving smile.

The two of them were too busy getting caught up with their reunion that they didn’t catch the taller one rolling his eyes at the sight. Minho couldn’t say he was an expert in flirting, but he knew when his best friend was in full charming mode. What he hadn’t been prepared for was to see that switch get flicked on around another guy. From what he knew, Jonghyun had always just flirted with girls, but ever since he had met that Taemin, an exception to the unspoken rule seemed to have been made.

Minho didn’t care if his friend actually swung both ways, but what did bother him was feeling like a complete ghost whenever the younger one came around. For that reason alone, he couldn’t say he liked Taemin. On the contrary, thoughts of not having him around at all had surfaced more times than he could count.

‘’ We’re kinda just standing in the way for no ing reason, guys, ‘’ he pointed out as his eyes zeroed in on the sly smile that danced on the brunette’s lips. He hadn’t heard what had been just said, but he knew it was for the best.

‘’ Someone’s grumpy, ‘’ Jonghyun teased as he finally tore his gaze away from the gorgeous-looking brunette and locked eyes with the serious ones of his best friend.

‘’ Someone is just trying to get through this first day and for that we need our entrance kit, ‘’ Minho conveniently reminded before striding off to reach their initial destination.

Jonghyun just followed him for a bit with a confused gaze before he looked back at the previous object of his attention.

‘’ Minho doesn’t really like me, does he? ‘’ Taemin inquired as his own gaze flicked downwards towards the empty space between them.

‘’ Yah! ‘’ Jonghyun exclaimed to bring the other’s attention back to him. When the younger one looked up, he went on. ‘’ Who wouldn’t like you, huh? ‘’

Taemin couldn’t help the smile that itched at the corner of his full lips. ‘’ You’re being silly, hyung, ‘’ he playfully countered. ‘’ But as you long as you like me, it’s all good. ‘’

Jonghyun grinned as his chest swelled with pride. He knew he definitely had to keep this kid around. ‘’ I should go see grumpy old man before he finds a cane to hit people with. ‘’

His joke was answered with yet another airy laugh that made his stomach flip.

‘’ Yeah and I should go to my own wing now. Jongin’s probably looking for me, ‘’ Taemin indicated, not without a hint of disappointment in his voice.

‘’ Go on. We’ll talk later, ‘’ Jonghyun reassured before giving him his brightest smile.

The younger one soon was on his way, leaving Jonghyun to resume his previous excursion on his own. It wasn’t too long before he found Minho again. The latter was now waiting in line with most students of their year to get their essentials – the school’s rulebook and information guide, the sheet with their assigned roommate, the keys to their room and their yearly agenda.

Jonghyun had no problem skipping ahead the several students that were separating him from his best friend. They all just made way for him.

‘’ Why do you hate Taemin? ‘’ Jonghyun immediately addressed as he stopped beside his best friend.

‘’ I don’t hate the guy, ‘’ Minho answered on the spot, still looking ahead.

‘’ Every time he is around, you either don’t really talk to him or you just leave. You don’t even act like that with Kibum, so you must really hate the guy, ‘’ the elder emphasized.

‘’ Look, ‘’ Minho sharply started. ‘’ I don’t have to be friends with everyone you like. ‘’

‘’ No, you don’t, ‘’ Jonghyun acknowledged. ‘’ But you don’t have to look like you want to murder them either. ‘’

The line moved a bit, bringing their conversation to a brief halt so they could follow its movement.

‘’ Why are you pushing so hard for me to like him? ‘’ Minho observed as he finally stole a glance his friend’s way. ‘’ Is he your boyfriend or something? ‘’

Jonghyun’s surprise left him silent for a few seconds. And then all that left his mouth was a quiet oh.

Minho cocked an eyebrow, annoyed. ‘’ What? ‘’

The blonde looked straight into his friend’s eyes. ‘’ Are you scared he is going to steal your spot as the most important man in my life? ‘’

The question had accents of provocation, bait that was instantly caught by the 6-foot-tall fish.

‘’ I am not scared of anything. We’ve been best friends since our first year here and he’s just… ‘’

‘’ He’s just? ‘’ Jonghyun pressed when the other didn’t finish his sentence.

‘’ He’s just a fling. ‘’

Jonghyun was a little caught off guard by the assumption that had just been made, but he shrugged it off quickly.

‘’ You’re right. You’re still my main man, ‘’ he teased with a lopsided smile.

Minho shook his head at the other’s obvious diversion before bringing his focus to their surroundings.

‘’ Is it me or are there even more students than before? ‘’

‘’ No, I just think you haven’t eaten enough this morning, so you’re extra grumpy. ‘’

Minho glared at him as he struggled to keep his laughter in. ‘’ Maybe eating a blonde dwarf would help lighten my mood. ‘’

Jonghyun’s laughter immediately died. ‘’ I hope you end up sharing a room with Kibum. ‘’

‘’ Take that back, ‘’ Minho almost growled.

‘’ Nope. ‘’

Their eyes met, both their gazes filled with a desire to burn down the other. Instead, they ignored each other for the remainder of their time in the waiting line. It was only when they had everything they needed in their hands and their eyes fell on the room information sheet that conversation returned between them.

‘’ You ing cursed me! ‘’ Minho all but shrieked as he stared at the name that was on his sheet.

‘’ What? ‘’ Jonghyun let out, confused.

‘’ I’m sharing a ing room with ing Kim Kibum! ‘’

The blonde’s eyes doubled in size. ‘’ Oh … ‘’

‘’ Yeah, oh ! ‘’ Minho crumpled the paper with one hand. ‘’ I can’t. I’ll ask for a roommate swap, I don’t care. ‘’

‘’ You know they won’t allow that, ‘’ Jonghyun reminded, not without feeling sympathy for his friend. Even though he knew they didn’t really hate each other, having the same living space for a whole school year was a whole different ball game.

A whimper left his friend as he seemed to deflate like an air balloon. Jonghyun patted him gently on the back as he took a look at his own sheet.

‘’ Eh? ‘’ He let out as he saw his own roommate’s name.

‘’ What? ‘’

‘’ Do you know a Lee Jinki? ‘’ Jonghyun asked as he stared more intently at the same two words.

‘’ Not at all. ‘’

Looking up at his friend who looked as confused as he was, he voiced what was both on their minds.

‘’ Who the is Lee Jinki? ‘’

***

Lee Jinki knew very well whose name was on his sheet. He had spent the last 20 minutes freaking out because of it and debating if he should head to their room or not. He had finally opted for the first option since being surrounded by a horde of students was even worse for him. He had always appreciated the tranquility of his room and had always had the chance to have a roommate that was pretty low-profile like him.

He couldn’t deny that sharing a room with the one and only Kim Jonghyun was an honor, but it was also the most terrifying thing ever. He was, like every other student in the school, in awe of the young man and his talents. Ever since he had heard him sing during their first year, he had been profoundly touched and knew he would never hear anything more beautiful in his life again.

They had never actually talked despite being in the same year, but Jinki had been in a few of his classes over the years. Whether it was during one of these periods, in the hallways or during special events at school, he had had multiple chances to be a secret witness to the earthly miracle that was the blonde’s voice. That instrument paired with the guitar he liked to carry around was simply a blessing like no other.

He had always been happy to be a silent admirer because he and Jonghyun weren’t part of the same worlds. He was the guy that never really talked to anyone and spent most of his free time in his room to write or have some downtime. Jonghyun was the guy that everyone knew and everyone wanted to be friends with. He was the life of the school alongside his closest friends whilst he was just a shadow that appeared on the walls.

Most of the time, he was comfortable with that because he knew there needed to be an order in the social ladder. Some worlds couldn’t meet and it was for the better. Now that they would be sharing a room…

Jonghyun would actually be seeing him. For a few moments during the day, they would share the same space and Jinki was definitely not comfortable with that. He liked how things were right now. It worked for him. He could just go about his routine without anyone bothering him or making him feel a certain type of way. 

The apprehension he felt accompanied him as he finally entered their room and closed the door behind him. He stilled before walking in any further, keeping an ear open for any sound that would indicate the other was already here. When he was answered with silence, he started moving again until he found the luggage that had been brought up upon their arrival.

Making sure his own seemed intact, he then walked into the hallway and glimpsed into each room he crossed, which were the two bedrooms, the bathroom and the laundry room. Soon after, he made his way back with his luggage in hand, which consisted of a small suitcase and a backpack, before entering the second bedroom that was on his path.

He didn’t worry too much of not waiting for the other to choose their rooms since they were identical. It was better if he just got on with settling comfortably in his living space so that later on, he could get back to the book that had captured all of his attention for the past few days.

As he started going through the contents of his backpack, he pulled out the said book and looked at it with a smile. Before he could be even more tempted to open it and get lost in the story again, he threw it on his bed and went on with his task.

It was a few minutes before he heard the front door opening and closing, making him still immediately in his movements. Footsteps followed and Jinki’s heart started thrumming inside his chest, not at all ready for the encounter that was about to happen. He suddenly wanted to disappear, but before he could figure out a way to do that, a knock was heard on his door.

‘’ Lee Jinki? ‘’ the voice called from outside his door, familiar but unsure.

The one in question swallowed hard against a now dry throat. On one hand, he wanted to get acquainted with him, but on the other, he just wanted to be ignored so he wouldn’t have to make a fool of himself.

Another knock made him jump slightly, pulling him out of his internal debate. Without letting himself think, he grabbed the knob, twisted and pulled the door open.

His heart flipped inside its cage as he looked into expressive hazel eyes.

‘’ Y-yes? ‘’ he managed to say despite the havoc the proximity between them was causing inside him.

‘’ So you’re the mysterious Lee Jinki, ‘’ Jonghyun considered as his eyes examined the evidence presented before him.

Jinki felt his face get hot from being scrutinized like that. ‘’ My-mysterious? ‘’ he echoed nonetheless, unaware of what the other meant.

An amused smile cracked the other’s lips as his eyes reached his again. ‘’ I would have to say so, yes, ‘’ he started before crossing his arms over his chest. ‘’ How come I’ve never heard of you or seen you before? ‘’

‘’ You’re not new, right? ‘’ the blonde quickly added as a frown creased his brow.

Jinki shook his head. ‘’ No, I’ve been here since the first year. ‘’

Surprised beyond words, Jonghyun’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open slightly. ‘’ You have some mad ninja skills then, ‘’ he then noted as his mind kept trying to find another instance where he might’ve seen the other.

Jinki wanted to laugh at the other’s reaction, but his still high levels of anxiety prevented him from relaxing enough to do so. ‘’ I just don’t attract a lot of attention to myself, that’s all. ‘’

Jonghyun stared at him some more, still confused and intrigued, before he snapped himself out of it.

‘’ Well nice to meet you, Lee Jinki. I’m Kim Jonghyun, ‘’ he said before bowing with his head.

Jinki instantly reciprocated the gesture. ‘’ I know who you are, ‘’ he then informed. ‘’ Everyone does. ‘’

That lightened the blonde’s face with a bright smile. ‘’ Ah, yeah… I guess so… ‘’

‘’ So what major are you in? ‘’ the latter asked as he watched the brunette make his way back to his stuff.

‘’ Literature, ‘’ Jinki answered as he opened a drawer and stuffed some folded shirts inside.

‘’ Oh, so you’re a writer, huh? ‘’

The brunette faced the blonde again, unsettled by his casual tone. ‘’ I’m sorry, but shouldn’t you start unpacking your things too? We have to be in the auditorium in an hour for the headmaster’s speech. ‘’  

Jonghyun snorted. ‘’ Who ing cares? It’s always the same damn speech. ‘’

Jinki stared at him, a little alarmed. ‘’ You’re not going? ‘’

The blonde rolled his eyes, already annoyed by the all the school’s formalities. ‘’ Yeah, yeah. I’ll be there, but will I listen? No. ‘’

That was enough to relax the taller one’s shoulders. ‘’ Better get moving then. ‘’

‘’ Jeez, there really is no rush, ‘’ Jonghyun pointed out, a little taken aback by the other’s pushy behaviour.

Watching the other go on with his sorting out as if he had already left, he cleared his throat.

‘’ Why don’t you help me with my luggage? ‘’ he proposed when the other finally looked at him again.

‘’ I brought hella stuff so they’re pretty heavy, ‘’ he continued as to plead his case.

‘’ I’m sure you’re stronger than me. ‘’

‘’ Probably… ‘’ Jonghyun acknowledged, still trying to figure out how to navigate the conversation.

‘’ But it’d go faster this way and I’d be sure to have done most of it before that so important speech. ‘’

That stopped Jinki once more. ‘’ Okay, fine, ‘’ he accepted as their eyes met yet again.

Jonghyun finally moved away from the doorframe and lead the way back to the living room where all of his luggage still remained. A sigh left his lips as he suddenly realized he had probably overdone it. He always seemed to forget that most of their days were spent in uniforms, except for special days like today where they were allowed to arrive in their personal attire.

Without a word, the taller one grabbed one of the suitcases and made his way into the hallway, bringing Jonghyun to follow with another a few seconds later. It took them another trip to have everything in the first room the brunette had left for him.

‘’ Thank you, ‘’ Jonghyun said after dropping on his bed and looking up to the one standing a few inches away.

‘’ No problem, ‘’ Jinki simply answered before immediately turning on his heel.

But before he could leave the room, the other’s voice reached him again, making him freeze in his spot.

‘’ I hope we can get along, ‘’ the blonde said, smiling even though the gesture couldn’t be seen.

Jinki could still hear it in his tone though and the warmth it created in his body only made him beyond uncomfortable.

‘’ Don’t worry. I won’t get in your way, ‘’ he said before finally making his way out, unknowingly leaving a puzzled Jonghyun behind.

 

***

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