This is exactly why Jihoon always makes sure to plan everything to the smallest of details.
What was he thinking ?
Well, he wasn’t, not exactly.
He only wanted to get away from Jaeseop and their breakup.
Now he’s here, in Shenzhen, and he’s never regretted anything more in his life more.
He tried everything. Reading, watching movies, singing and dancing, drinking. But he’s so ing tired and still so ing lonely. The only thing to do now is go home. He can’t spend another thirteen days like this.
As he lies on the squeaky bed Jihoon can’t help but be sad that things didn’t work out. It will be awful, having to go back to Seoul and tell Junhui that he’s changed his mind about the house exchange. But it is what it is.
He tries to comfort himself with the thought that tomorrow he’ll be home.
Knocking startles him out of his fragile sleep. Jihoon sits up, hand over his chest, trying to calm his racing heart. He gets out of bed on shaky legs, tiptoes out of the room as the knocking persists. He inches towards the front door, clears his throat and calls out in Mandarin,
“Who is it?”
“It’s me! Hurry up!” A voice responds.
“Wh--But who are you?” Jihoon questions, grabbing his hoodie and putting it on.
“Junhui open the door or I swear I’ll piss in the hallway!”
Hearing this, Jihoon darts towards the door and opens it hastily.
There, a stranger with black hair turns to face him. His bangs fall into his eyes with slightly dilated pupils, staring at him in the semi darkness. He’s shivering in his coat and he’s… stunning.
“Oh,” the stranger utters. “You’re not Junhui.” He shakes his head, steadying himself with a hand on the doorframe. “Or if you are, I’m much drunker than I realized. It’s happened a few times before, I’ve missed the door…”
“No, this is the door,” Jihoon stutters.
The stranger pulls his coat tighter around himself. “Ah… Forgive my language, it’s just that, I wasn’t expecting you.”
Jihoon blinks, staring at him. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. My Mandarin is very limited. I came here from Korea.”
The stranger simply nods and swiftly switches to Jihoon’s own mother tongue. “I only said that I wasn’t expecting you.”
Jihoon sighs with relief at not having to speak any more Mandarin. “Well, uh, I wasn’t expecting you either.”
They stand there, looking at each other for a prolonged moment of agony.
“Nevertheless, can I…?”
“Oh!” Jihoon moves out of the way. “Of course, sorry. You had to—”
As he walks in, the stranger turns to Jihoon and bows hastily. “I’m Minghao, Junhui’s brother.”
Jihoon bows back, slightly bewildered. “Brother..?” He mumbles, then adds, louder, “I’m Lee Jihoon. I’m staying here,” he blurts out.
Minghao turns on his way to the bathroom, hand on the doorknob already. “Leejihoon? Is that all one word?”
Jihoon stares, then shakes his head. “No. No it’s not.”
Minghao flashes him a smile before disappearing into the bathroom.
As soon as he’s gone, a panicked little squeal-like noise escapes Jihoon. “Brother? Oh my god....” He whispers to himself, rushing to the mirror in the hallway.
He s his hoodie, straightens out his shirt and attempts to fix his bedhead.
“So um, Junhui, he…” Minghao calls from behind the closed door. “Where is he?”
“He didn’t tell you?” Jihoon calls, hastily tying the strings of his pyjama pants. He straightens his shirt out once more before Minghao is out.
“He could have, but—” He pauses as he loses balance and stumbles into a bookshelf, taking a second to recompose himself. “But as I said, I’m… I’ve been…”
Jihoon nods understandingly. “He’s in Seoul.”
Minghao raises his eyebrows, beginning to untie his scarf. “That’s not possible. Junhui never goes anywhere.”
Jihoon shrugs. “Well, we have that in common.” His gaze falls onto what Minghao is wearing underneath. A seethrout, netty, tight , long sleeved shirt and a crop top over it. No wonder he was shivering, even with the coat. Jihoon clears his throat. “He listed this apartment on a home exchange website and I found it. We switched homes for two weeks, for the holiday. He’s in Seoul at my house and I’m—here.”
Minghao nods along, then tilts his head, crossing his arms. “People actually do that?”
Jihoon rubs the back of his neck, shrugging. “Apparently, yeah.” He looks down at himself. “I mean, here I am, in my pyjamas,” he mumbles.
Minghao nods then lightly smacks his forehead. “He did call me last night, I didn’t get a chance to get back to him. Ah… I feel awful now.” He sways a little, finally losing balance once more and unintentionally stepping towards Jihoon.
He startles, steps back.
“Do you mind if I sat down?” Minghao asks. “I feel like I might bump into you.”
Jihoon nods, watching him stumble towards the couch. “Sure…”
Minghao groans a little when he sits, fanning his face with his hand.
“You okay?” Jihoon asks, keeping a bit of a distance.
But Minghao looks up and gives a dazzling smile, eyes turning into crescents behind his bangs. “Mm, I’m fine. See,” he runs his hand through his hair. “I’m Junhui’s… semi-respectable little brother. And on the rare occasion, or recently not so rare, that I’m in the nearby bar and I get… inappropriately drunk, my big bro lets me sleep over, so I don’t get behind the wheel.”
Jihoon hums, nods, all the while fidgeting with the zipper of his hoodie.
“Pathetic explanation,” Minghao continues, “But unfortunately it’s become a bit of a routine.” He sighs heavily, and looks back up at Jihoon apologetically.
“It’s fine, it happens,” he stutters, not knowing what else to say. “Your, uh. Your Korean is great.” It’s cute, really. He speaks with a bit of an accent, but quite fluently.
“I spent some years going to school there, Junhui did too,” Minghao explains.
“Ah… He did mention something like that when we talked.”
Minghao nods a few times, a little distant. Then his gaze clears again. “So how’s it going so far? I mean, up until I showed up and ruined your night.”
Jihoon presses his lips together. There’s a force inside him that he can’t fight, something that makes him want to overshare to this stranger. Sure Jihoon is usually a private and reserved person, but does it even matter right now? Minghao is the brother of a dude whose apartment he’s staying at, someone he’ll never see again after tonight. It doesn’t matter.
“Well,” Jihoon starts, “It’s not going so great. I’m actually—I’m leaving tomorrow on a noon plane.”
“Oh… When exactly did you get here?”
Jihoon pretends to look at a watch that he isn’t wearing. “Um… About six hours ago.”
Minghao huffs out a laugh. “We haven’t made a great impression on you, have we?”
They both laugh, but Jihoon shakes his head simultaneously. “No, no, it’s not that, I just… I’m not quite… myself right now. I came here on a stupid whim. Honestly, I never thought about anything less, it’s very unlike me.” He pauses, a little uncomfortable with his own oversharing that he’s subjected them both to. “Would you like something to drink? Glass of water? Tea? Wine, maybe?”
Minghao leans onto the armrest, pointing to the cabinet on the opposite wall. “I think there’s a bottle of Yamazaki. Want a glass?”
Jihoon thinks about it only for a second. “Sure,” he says at last.
Minghao nods as Jihoon goes to find the bottle and the glasses. “Good.”
“So,” he speaks again. “I’m sorry that I totally blanked and forgot your name.”
Jihoon stops what he’s doing and faces Minghao. “Jihoon.” he says with the tiniest smile on his lips.
“So, Jihoon. You’re not in a relationship, are you?”
Jihoon grabs the bottle and once again faces his guest-but-not-really. “Why? Do I look single?”
“No! It was just a backwards way of asking if you were in a relationship,” Minghao admits.
Jihoon chuckles. “Nope… Single as a pringle,” he says, pouring them both drinks.
Minghao giggles. “Me neither.”
Jihoon hands him the glass and leaves the bottle.
“Cheers,” Minghao says in Japanese and Jihoon repeats the word he’s only heard a few times.
Clinking their glasses together, the two don’t take their eyes off of each other as they take that first sip.
Jihoon’s ears are starting to grow hot and he’s truly hoping they aren’t red.
“Would it be too horrible if I stayed?” Minghao asks, snapping Jihoon out of his thoughts. “I promise I’ll be gone before you even wake up, I promise you won’t lay eyes on me again.”
“Oh—” Jihoon mutters because in all honesty, he wouldn’t mind laying eyes on Minghao again. “No, no, it’s fine. You’re welcome to stay.”
Minghao bows his head. “Thank you.”
“Let me just… get you a blanket,” Jihoon says, leaving his still quite full glass.
“Want me to get it?” Minghao asks. “It’s in the closet, on the… top.”
Jihoon’s cheeks burn, but to avoid climbing any chairs he agrees. As he waits, he downs his glass.
Returning to the living room with sleeping supplies like a blanket, some sheets and a pillow, Minghao immediately speaks again, “So why is it that you aren’t yourself right now?”
“Well, I…” He watches as Minghao takes off his coat and hangs it onto the hook by the door. “I just broke up with someone… Yesterday.”
Minghao gives a big nod of compassion. “Ah.”
Just to keep himself busy, Jihoon approaches to help him make the couch into Minghao’s bed for the night.
“And I guess what I was feeling was that I didn’t wanna be alone over the holidays and I thought that if I was somewhere else I wouldn’t realize I was alone, but then I got here and I’ve never felt more alone in my life.” He takes a deep breath. It was surprisingly easy to say all this. Probably because of the whole he’ll never see Minghao and he’s a stranger thing.
He presses his lips together in a bitter smile. “I bet you’re glad you knocked on this door.”
Minghao nods. “I am, actually.”
A silence falls over them and Jihoon stares up at Minghao, attempting to read his expression. He is unsuccessful since Minghao has that usual, glazed over look in his eyes, typical for intoxicated people.
“Yeah, well…” Jihoon breaks the silence. “I’m sorry and good night.”
“Sweet dreams,” Minghao says and before Jihoon knows what’s happening, Minghao is leaning in and kissing him.
Jihoon stares. Minghao doesn’t seem to realize what he’s done even as he pulls away. They take a shocked little breath at the same time, eyes wide.
“Um…” Minghao shuffles in his spot.
Jihoon rubs the back of his neck. “Do you think you could, um,” he shrugs one shoulder, “Would you mind,” he finally looks up at Minghao, this time unable to look away, “trying that again?”
Minghao raises his eyebrows at first, but then he complies, leans back in and presses his lips to Jihoon’s. This time he lets his eyes slide shut, but the kiss is way too brief. Soon he is opening his eyes again, feeling dizzy. He sits down on the couch, hand over his chest.
“You okay?” Minghao asks, half concerned half amused, and sits down next to Jihoon.
“Yeah, yeah, just… I’ve never kissed a total stranger before.”
“Really? I do it all the time,” Minghao says with a mischievous little smile.
Jihoon shuffles so that he’s facing Minghao. “Okay, let me try this.” This time Minghao stays still, letting Jihoon be the one to close the gap. Letting Jihoon gently take Minghao’s bottom lip between his own, letting him slide his tongue into Minghao’s mouth. Jihoon pulls away, hands trembling and heart racing.
“Maybe—Maybe if I closed my eyes.” And so he does.
Minghao is right there, cupping his cheeks and pressing feathery kisses right underneath his eyes. Jihoon lets out a strange, soft noise he’s never heard from himself before.
Even as they pull away, Jihoon keeps his eyes closed for a second. When he opens them, he speaks,
“You know, given the circumstances and considering you showed up out of nowhere with, in hindsight, perfect timing and you’re… really ing gorgeous and… really drunk and probably won’t remember me anyway,” Minghao has been nodding along but this is where he frowns a little, although still nods, “I’m thinking…. we should have .”
Minghao raises his eyebrows.
“If you want!” Jihoon adds hastily.
Minghao smiles, narrowing his eyes at Jihoon. “Is that a trick question?”
“I’m actually serious.” He swallows. “I was just thinking—I should live for once, right? I’ve never done anything impulsive in my life and you’re just—so pretty and funny too and—”
“You’re quite the talker,” Minghao says, already leaning back in.
“It’s the whiskey,” Jihoon assures and they lock lips again.
It’s ridiculous how easy it is for Minghao to pick up Jihoon. He’s a little sad to be leaving the bottle and the glasses, but he quite likes having his legs around Minghao’s waist, so he doesn’t complain.
For a drunk person Jihoon has to admit Minghao’s ability to put him gently onto the bed is quite fascinating. He wastes no time kissing Jihoon’s neck, but this is where he needs to stop Minghao.
Minghao stops, blinking down at Jihoon.
“I should give you a headsup… I’m not very good at this.”
“,” Jihoon mumbles.
Minghao shakes his head. “Now, that can’t be true.”
“Nevertheless, the guy I was with mentioned it once or twice and I—just couldn’t forget it.”
Minghao Jihoon’s cheek. “I think he was being full of . Don’t worry about me, I’m sure I’ll love it.”
Jihoon’s face burns. He suspects that blush is what makes Minghao laugh and prompts him to kiss Jihoon’s both cheeks.
“He said I was stiff,” Jihoon mutters. “And not in a good way.”
Minghao chuckles. “Maybe he just didn’t know how to make you relax.”
Minghao proceeds to press kisses down Jihoon’s neck, then his chest, then further down his stomach. Melting, Jihoon begins to think that perhaps Minghao was correct. Maybe it just takes someone who knows how to make you relax.