minseok, kyungsoo (+ side character)
requested by lessStress on AO3: XiuSoo.
Minseok leaned forward in his seat and propped his chin on the palm of his hand, his other arm loosely placed for his chest and he just observed. He readjusted the mask over his nose again and brushed a stray strand of hair out of his eyes. Working in a very small supermarket had its perks and downsides. There wasn’t a lot of traffic and there wasn’t a lot of traffic. He knew the faces despite the masks covering half their faces. And he didn’t know that pair of round wide eyes behind the glasses. The guy pushed his glasses up his nose using the knuckled of his index finger but pulled it down again once it started to fog up again.
Minseok looked away to the elderly woman that loaded her groceries onto his line. He smiled with his eyes at her, greeting her softly. She chatted away with him, but his eyes every once in a while flitted back to the man that didn’t move away from the display he was standing at. He rang the woman up and bid her goodbye before he looked at the man again.
His cap was mainly covering the rest of his face with the mask pulled right under his eyes and he grabbed for another bouquet of flowers and placed them away again. There were already plants in his shopping cart as well as some groceries. He inspected each bouquet, carefully pulling them from their bucket before placing them back, pushing them around and rearranging them.
Minseok wasn’t sure what he should think about this whole charade and he just observed a bit more. He would start to close up in around twenty minutes and the man was there for at least ten by now. Was this a setup for being robbed? His manager was in the storage and would hear him if he should shout for him. He just went for it and called him. The man at the flower display jolted and looked around, staring wide-eyed at Minseok before realising he was being watched and turned around abruptly again. He seemed to shiver or at least shaking when he reached for the flowers again, one hand over his chest.
“Minseok, you called?” His manager rounded the corner and appeared at his register. Minseok waved him closer, and the manager put his head behind the perspex that shielded Minseok from customers.
“I just wanted to make sure, the customer is acting a bit weird and stands there for over ten minutes now,” Minseok whispered. He felt a bit weird about it, but there had been quite a few robberies in this neighbourhood the last couple of weeks, more than usual.
His manager’s eyes went wide, and he nodded, “Good call, I stay close by, okay? Wanted to check everything anyway before you close up.” With a little wave, he left again.
Minseok readjusted his mask again. “I personally like the bouquet with the baby’s breath as an addition better compared to the others.”
The man jolted again and turned around again, the grip on the carnations’ bouquet almost loosening. He pointed at himself and pushed his cap up, revealing his face more now. He pointed towards himself, “Do you speak to me?”
His voice was deeper than Minseok anticipated when the man looked quite small, the same height as Minseok maybe. But people also got his age wrong all the time.
“Yes, yes,” Minseok pronounced his words more clearly behind his mask.
The stranger looked confused at the bouquet that also included the baby’ breath, taking it into his hands and turning towards Minseok, “This one? But I don’t like lilies.” He looked like he might pout behind his mask, Minseok assumed.
“Then what about the one on the other side?” Minseok pointed there from his register.
The customer walked around and came back a couple of seconds later, two bouquets in his arm. His eyes were small crescents and the whole mask bunch around his face, and he happily skipped to the register before abruptly turning around and scurrying back to fetch his shopping cart. “Hello. I’m sorry, must’ve been weird that I was standing there so long,” he adjusted his mask, using his fingertips underneath his chin to pull it further over his chin again and used his knuckled again to adjust his glasses. He didn’t look Minseok in the eye. He hastily moved the items in his cart to the register, keeping the flowers at the end of the belt conveyor.
“Hello as well. Yeah, to be honest, it was weird,” he replied while scanning the items and slowing down when the man couldn’t pack his cart again fast enough. The man thanked him with a dip of his head and an eye smile, muttering thanks behind the mask.
“Wait, do I know you?” The customer suddenly asked, and he tilted his head to the side, staring with scrunched thick brows at Minseok.
Minseok stared back, “I don’t know. Do you?” His hand hovered over the first bouquet, waiting for the man to finish packing his cart and backpack at the same time.
“I hope I don’t overstep some boundaries or am completely mistaken, but are you a TA for Dr Smith? History of Colonialism?” The customer lifted his card to signal Minseok he wanted to pay with his debit card when Minseok forgot to tell him the price after he rang him up.
Minseok nodded and let him pay with his card. “Ah, yeah. I am. Wait, are you in my tutorial? Fridays, 8 to 10?”
The customer nodded widely, seemingly smiling behind his back when Minseok had to judge by the way his eyes scrunched up again. “I am.”
Minseok’s eyes got smaller while he tried to remember the name, “Doh? Doh Kyungsoo, by any chance? I mean, I have only two tutorials and only one has an Asian student in it.”
“Yes, that’s true. I really like your style of teaching, but this is now awkward…” His voice and expression fell. He stared at the baby’s breath bouquet he had still in his hand. He lifted it to his nose as if to smell it but then remembered that he wore a mask.
Minseok let out an unintelligent huh when the bouquet was suddenly closer to his face.
“It’s for you, for helping me decide on which flowers I want for myself and for working as an essential worker? Just a small thanks? I mean, I never would do something like that, but now that I even know that you teach me, I feel really weird about this…” He started rambling, just in class when he was nervous and unsure about an answer. Next, he would apologise for it.
“I’m, I’m sorry, I’m rambling, I don’t even know if it makes sense, what I’m saying I mean.”
And Minseok would answer as always, “Thanks and it makes sense, Kyungsoo.” Usually, he would smile at him through the camera, but this was real life, and he had a damn mask on. “I’d still take it if you still want to give it to me. Or you hold onto it for me and wait outside? We’re about to close anyway and I could be out in 15 minutes?”
Kyungsoo stilled for a second, before slowly nodding, “Yes, I— yes.”
He nodded at Minseok’s manager who appeared again before muttering a see you in fifteen before he left the store.
“So, you knew him?” His manager asked when he and Minseok left the store.
“Turns out he’s a student in my tutorial and I think he’s also in one of the lectures I’m in.” Didn’t expect him to see him here. Well, what a statement, I don’t even know where he lives.”
“Do you think he might be a stalker?”
Minseok’s eyes went comically wide at that statement, “Where do you get the idea from? And there’s no personal information or address from me anywhere on the web.”
“I just—” his manager shook his head before rolling his eyes. “Sorry, it’s just a bit weird these days with all those robberies. I’m just on the edge, that’s all.”
“No. I get it,” Minseok was only half-listening to him when he looked for Kyungsoo, but the lot was vacant. “Weird, is he gone?”
“Ain’t that the flowers he bought?” Minseok whipped his head around, almost fearing the worst. But next to the entrance lay a bouquet of said soft pink bouquet together with the bottle of water Kyungsoo had bought, lying on the stem to keep the flowers from rolling away. Minseok squatted down and picked both things up. They didn’t look like they had been thrown there but rather carefully placed there. A slip of paper fell out and Minseok reached for it.
I’m sorry for leaving like that, Minseok. But I consider myself a rather shy person and was rather taken aback that you asked me to wait for you. I’m sorry for chickening out, but this threw me in a loop. Maybe we can keep possible communication digitally first before I feel okay with maybe, possibly meeting in person someday? I’m sorry for just talking to you like that, I don’t know what came over me to just ask you if we know each other.
“Cute,” Minseok mumbled before he turned the paper around and found Kyungsoo’s phone number scribbled on it.