They had all agreed to meet at the baggage drop off for their flight two hours before their flight (which is at nine in the morning) is scheduled in case they have any issues. So naturally, Hyukjae (and along with him Yesung) is twenty minutes early.
“We’ve already planned two hours in advance, Hyukjae,” Yesung moans as they make their way across the many different baggage drop-offs for different flights to get to theirs. “Why the hell are we even earlier?”
“Because I don’t want anything to go wrong,” Hyukjae says. He knows wanting everything to go perfect, having such high expectations is the recipe to be disappointed, but he can’t help it. He stops at the Japan Airlines baggage drop off section and they settle in a corner, out of the way of bustling travellers to wait for their friends.
“Hyukjae! Yesung!” comes a voice from the crowd and Hyukjae looks up, catching sight of Donghae heading over. His brain immediately lingers on the fact that Donghae is wearing glasses. They’re black and oversized, and he looks ridiculously adorable.
Just when Hyukjae thought Donghae couldn’t get any cuter.
“Nice glasses,” Hyukjae says mildly, not at all reflective of his inner turmoil at this new development. Donghae pushes them up his nose and grins.
“Thanks. I normally wear contacts, but I didn’t feel like having to do that,” he says. Then his flicker up to Hyukjae's forehead and he reaches out, touching Hyukjae’s bandana.
“This is cute,” he says, pulling back. “I like it. Can I try it on?”
“Uh, yeah, sure,” Hyukjae says, a little flustered. Behind him, he can hear Yesung snort and he ignores it. He unties it and hands it over to Donghae. Their fingers brush and Donghae’s touch lingers for a second before he accepts the bandana and ties it on his own head.
“Does it look good?”
“Yeah,” Hyukjae says, watching as Donghae shakes his hair loose so it falls over the navy blue paisley patterned cloth.
“Okay,” Yesung says loudly, putting himself in between them. “Ryeowook and Siwon are here.”
Hyukjae looks past Donghae and finds Ryeowook weaving through the crowd, with Siwon not far behind him. Then, a couple of seconds later, Kyuhyun appears next to Yesung.
Hyukjae checks his watch.
They’re all early.
It seems Hyukjae has amassed a group of control freaks.
Ryeowook still looks a little groggy and Kyuhyun looks as if a storm cloud is lingering over his head. Hyukjae had never seen people look this unhappy to be going on vacation.
With everyone accounted for, they head to drop off their luggage and head through to security checks and a little over an hour and a half later, they’re all sitting at the terminal for their flight. With that extra time, they disperse through the little shops to buy snacks and other useless trinkets.
Hyukjae, who is a chronic shopper and has no self-control, simply trails behind his friends and studiously ignores everything around him. He dutifully checks his phone to make sure they’re not going to miss the flight. When it’s five minutes to boarding, he warns everyone and then herds them to their terminal.
As they wait in line, Hyukjae watches as Donghae digs into his backpack and pulls out a familiar-looking black oversized sweater. Hyukjae frowns as Donghae puts the sweater on.
“Is that… mine?” Hyukjae asks. Donghae bites his lip and looks away.
“Maybe,” he says. A grin spreads across Hyukjae’s face before he can stop it and he’s unreasonably flattered about having his sweater stolen.
“For all these months?”
“You didn’t notice?” Donghae says, his smile less embarrassed and more cheeky. Hyukjae tries not to smile, tries to look serious, but he’s clearly failing, based on how Donghae is smiling back at him.
“You look good in it,” Hyukjae says. “Better than I do.”
Donghae punches him in the chest, and Hyukjae winces because it was much harder than was warranted. “Liar.”
“I’m not lying,” Hyukjae protests. “You look good in everything.”
“You do too!” Donghae protests, punching him in the arm again. Hyukjae rubs at it but refrains from commenting. Donghae fiddles with the sleeves of the hoodie and pulls the hood over his head, peering at him from under the brim.
"You don't want it back?" he asks.
Hyukjae throws his arm over Donghae’s shoulder.
“What’s yours is mine,” he says. He turns to see Yesung looking at them with a pained expression. Hyukjae returns with one that says ‘what about it.’
“Hey Siwon,” Yesung says. “You’re sitting with Donghae, right?”
“Yeah,” Siwon says. Yesung nods, satisfied.
“Okay, thank you.”
“What do you mean, thank you,” Hyukjae says, affronted.
“If you think I’m going to sit next to you two for over an hour,” Yesung says. “You’re sorely mistaken. Thank you for your sacrifice, Siwon.”
Siwon to his credit seems to be taking everything in stride, nodding solemnly at Yesung. "Pray for me."
"You're all the worst," Hyukjae groans, slouching so his weight is resting on Donghae. Donghae turns, blinking at him.
"What?" he asks. Hyukjae tightens his grip on Donghae's shoulder.
"It's nothing," he says. "Are you okay with being in the middle seat?"
Donghae nods. "I don't really care either way," he says.
Hyukjae glances over Donghae's shoulder just in time to see Siwon roll his eyes. But he's still smiling as he reaches out and ruffles his hair. Donghae ducks away, pushing his face into Hyukjae's shoulder in an attempt to escape the touch.
Hyukjae smiles, moving his head so he's not in danger of being headbutted, reaching up to ruffle Donghae's hair himself. Donghae squawks, twisting under Hyukjae's arm before grabbing Hyukjae's wrist and escaping Hyukjae's hold. He watches with a small smile as Donghae skips forward in line, latching onto Kyuhyun up ahead instead.
Kyuhyun's long-suffering expression only manages to last for several seconds before the facade melts into an indulgent and attentive one as he listens to whatever Donghae is saying.
"Did you think, in a million years, that anyone could put that particular expression on Kyuhyun’s face?” Yesung says. “It takes a special brand.”
“A special brand indeed,” Hyukjae says. As the line begins to move and people begin to board, Hyukjae is hit by a sudden wave of nostalgia. “When was the last time we went to Tokyo together?”
“High school graduation?” he says. Hyukjae nods, thinking back to their first trip together, just the two of them. They were eighteen and they thought they were ready to take on the world.
The thought makes him melancholic, but the feeling disappears as soon as Donghae can practically throw himself into Hyukjae’s lap to get a view out of the window. Hyukjae should have known this would happen, but he doesn’t have too many complaints. He savours the look of wonder on Donghae’s face as they take off.
“You’ve never seen a plane take off before?” Hyukjae asks. Donghae glances up at him.
“I’ve been on a plane before,” he says. “I just never really got to appreciate the view.”
“Look at how small everything is,” Donghae says. “How insignificant we seem in the face of this.”
“Only if you think that way,” Hyukjae says, his hand coming to a rest on the back of Donghae’s neck. “Our goals don’t have to be to change the world, right? What’s wrong with having an impact on the small group of people in your life?”
“That’s true,” he says. “But I don’t know if I would be happy with that.”
“Oh?” Hyukjae says. “Is that why you’re taking civil law?”
They’re up in the clouds now and there’s nothing left to see anymore, so Donghae pulls himself upright again.
"We still can't legally get married, you know," Donghae says. Hyukjae's brain stutters to a halt at the statement and it takes him a second to realize that the 'we' in the sentence meant 'people who like other people of the same gender' and not 'we' as in him and Donghae. Not that Hyukjae would complain at all about the latter interpretation.
And then he quickly backpedals because marriage is a dangerous train of thought to be following.
"Yeah," Hyukjae says and Donghae shakes his head.
"I want to change that," he says. Hyukjae nods. It's an ambitious goal and a very optimistic one.
"I'm sure you will," he says and Donghae’s eyes crinkle, looking pleased by his statement.
The conversation putters off as they settle in for their two and half hour flight. Hyukjae plugs in his earbuds and starts listening to the new Weeknd album that had come out a few days ago.
With no wifi, Hyukjae passes the time playing Stardew Valley, which he had downloaded specifically to entertain himself. A long while later, Hyukjae emerges from the hole of organizing his farm. He had two chickens now, one of which he had named "Hae" because that's just too precious to pass up.
He closes the app, forcing himself to take a break. He rolls his head in a few circles, wincing at the cracking as he does so. With his attention off his phone, he glances over to his right to check on his friends.
Both Siwon and Donghae are asleep. Donghae's head is resting on Siwon's shoulder and Siwon's head has ended up on top of Donghae's.
It's absolutely precious.
Hyukjae quickly opens his camera app and snaps a picture before he turns in his seat to check on Kyuhyun, Yesung, and Ryeowook behind him. The three of them are sharing one of the small packages of snacks that the flight attendants pass out during the flight. They look quite comical, with three grown men all trying to get as much of the contents of the small package as possible.
All three of them blink up at him in unison and Hyukjae feels as though he’s being examined under a microscope.
“Can we help you?” Kyuhyun says. Hyukjae rolls his eyes.
“What are you guys doing?”
“We’re watching a movie,” Ryeowook says. Hyukjae scans them with narrowed eyes: not one of them is wearing any headphones.
“It’s a silent movie,” Kyuhyun says without a hint of irony in his tone. Hyukjae scoffs.
" off, it is not," he says. "Do you know how much longer until we land?"
"About thirty minutes," Ryeowook answers but he's already turned his attention back to the movie.
"Don't you have two other people beside you you could bother?"
"They're both asleep," Hyukjae says. "And I'm not evil like you three to wake them for something trivial."
"Bull, you wouldn't hesitate to wake any of us," Yesung says. Hyukjae tilts his head, considering.
"True," he says. "I would wake you guys. Because you would do the same to me. No way Siwon or Donghae has that level of petty in them to do that."
"That's a lie, they would both do it but pretend they didn't," Kyuhyun says, taking a sip of his water and looking very prim as he does so. Hyukjae considers and shoots a glance at the two beside him.
Donghae definitely has mischief in his blood that shows up when you least expect it. So Kyuhyun is probably right.
"Touché," he says and turns back to sit down, tuning back into Stardew to continue making his farm.
It’s not time to check into their hotel yet, so they drop their luggage off in storage and grab a fast lunch at a Yoshinoya for rice bowls before heading off into the city to see the sights. They start with the Ginza area of Tokyo, where Hyukjae had noted down a few shopping areas, architectural sights, and to finish it off, an art gallery focusing on graphic design.
They start at the Nakagin Capsule Tower (where Donghae spent a full half an hour trying to get the perfect picture), stop at the Sony Park, and then head to Ginza Place. The shopping center is large and luxurious and while none of them can afford to buy anything (except Siwon), it’s fun to gape at some of the price tags and laugh at the tackiness of some of the pieces.
They’re lingering outside the shopping center now, waiting for Donghae to finish going to the bathroom before they head over to the graphic gallery, their last stop of the day. Hyukjae is leaning against the building and searching up the directions of the gallery, texting them to Yesung and Kyuhyun to lead the way when Donghae comes back.
Hyukjae looks up, about to ask if his friends had gotten the text when he sees Kyuhyun looking up at something behind them, eyes wide and mouth open in awe. He frowns, following his friend's line of sight and feels his own jaw drop a little in shock as well.
"Is that..." Ryeowook says.
"Yeah," Hyukjae says. On one of the giant billboards above them is a colourful, flower-filled advertisement for Gucci. That in itself isn't that strange, but what is, is seeing the model posed in the photo.
It's unmistakably Donghae.
Hyukjae doesn't think he can peel his eyes away if he tries, enraptured by Donghae's beautiful face in lights. The photoshoot has him with medium-length hair, longer than Hyukjae has ever seen it, wearing a white Gucci print t-shirt and a green army jacket with a flower print that would look gaudy on anyone else. Donghae looks angelic, sitting in a field of flowers, his eyes closed and his head tilted back and at an angle, in a way that shows off a jawline so sharp, it could cut glass.
Really, Hyukjae has no idea why he’s so shocked to see this—Donghae has mentioned multiple times that he had been a model and earned quite a bit of money from it. But it's never quite registered that Donghae had been a legitimate model for luxury brands like Gucci.
Perhaps it's the offhanded way Donghae had spoken about it like it's no big deal, so Hyukjae's mind had automatically thought it was just a few small gigs.
Clearly, he was mistaken.
"Hey guys, I'm back, what—" Donghae says and then cuts himself off. "Oh."
It takes a herculean effort to actually look away from the billboard, blinking away the dark spots left behind from the bright lights. Donghae is standing in front of him, frowning at the advertisement and Hyukjae automatically steps forward, smoothing the little wrinkle between the man’s brows with the pad of his thumb. Donghae looks back at him, taking Hyukjae’s breath away.