Chapter 1Shallow Hearts for Shallow Minds
Two weekends ago, something incredibly monumental happened. Monumental for Wooyoung’s small group of friends, at least. Monumental for the scattered losers of the world; the only ones out there who would care about the activity in the first place.
A video was posted online of a boy. With another boy. With their mouths on each other. One could only assume certain traits about the parties in the video.
To say it was the talk of the school wouldn’t necessarily be a lie. Everyone around Wooyoung wasn’t able to keep the two names out of their mouths. But, truthfully, the number of people he actively talked to wasn’t an impressive amount.
One of his acquaintances was the original poster of the video. Of course, the original poster, the one who discovered the so-called secret in the first place, thought it was just the biggest deal in the world. He was the one that found the secret out, of course, he would be beyond proud of it.
Choi San and Jung Yunho were homoual.
Though the two men that were exposed hadn’t exactly been present at school. Hardly anyone cared enough about the outing, but it seemed to affect them more than it showed. Yunho had transferred out a week ago, and San hadn’t been actively spotted in the school. He seemed to have taken two weeks of leave after the deep uality secret was exposed online for everyone out there to see.
Until Wooyoung had to pee in the middle of class. He had the chance to glance up in the bathroom and catch sight of the man washing his hands. The face he’d seen around the school before; the same face he’d seen in that exact exposed video.
At least it hadn’t looked like San had been crying. Somber, almost, as he gazed over Wooyoung’s wandering eyes almost instantly. Almost as if he was aware of the stares he’d be receiving upon returning to school.
Was it monumental? No. Not in the slightest. But Wooyoung still spilled the beans. That seemed to be all he was good for.
“You saw San? You found him?” Mingi questioned Wooyoung as he stalked up to him, holding his fingers out for the tip of his cigarette to be lit. A large puff of smoke was sent spiraling into the air. “You’re not ing with me?”
“Yeah,” Wooyoung responded, taking a quick drag. “He had a jersey on too. Looks like he decided to join the football team.” It was a dense assumption, but it was certainly a correct one. Wooyoung paid no attention to the sports, but the jersey strung on San’s back was unmissable.
“Damn. I didn’t think he’d show his face again. I thought he’d transfer out like that Yunho guy.” Mingi muttered, letting his eyes graze the fog outside, “It’s like negative degrees out here, the school has to let us start doing this inside.” He had already seemed to move on from the topic.
That didn’t affect Wooyoung. As he hardly cared in the first place. Though, it was the first time he had seen San and taken any notice of him. He couldn’t lie and say it didn’t strike just a bit of curiosity within.
“But I just know that wouldn’t happen, not with these new laws. Can you believe they don’t even let people curse in the hallways anymore? You’re supposed to report it if you hear anything. God knows I’m not doing that- I’ll curse all I want. What are they going to do about it?” Mingi sighed, kicking his feet up onto the curb. “Everything’s so soft now.”
“Yeah.” Wooyoung nodded, eyes traveling to the school ground. Hundreds of socialites boomed with life as they chatted with their friends, talking about the recent school day. They were probably all talking about weekend plans and how much homework they had. Few people were probably discussing such niche topics, such as the uality of their peers.
The sky was gloomy, to say the least. Maybe it was due to Wooyoung’s slowly dampening mood, or Mingi’s excessive cigarette use. He couldn’t quite tell.
Wooyoung was bored. Mingi never had any fun activities planned. It was either smoking or watching in his basement, which somehow turned into a group activity. Occasionally Mingi would steal alcohol from his unsuspecting parents, but even that wasn’t the most fun. Everything in his life was just too damn boring.
“Maybe I should try out for a sports team.” He mentioned casually after gazing out towards the football field for a moment too long.
Mingi laughed in response, “You? I can’t even remember the last time you did any sort of exercise, let alone enough to be good at a sport.”
Wooyoung rolled his eyes, forgetting that Mingi apparently knew everything about him. Offering a small shrug, he leaned back farther against the bench, “I don’t know. It could be fun.”
“Sure, if you’re a loser like San.” Mingi chuckled, tossing the cigarette bud onto the floor. “I still can’t even believe that. What team even accepts faggots? Isn’t the whole brand to be, oh, I don’t know, men?”
Wooyoung felt his teeth clench at the mention of that word. It was the first time he’d heard it fall so easily from Mingi’s mouth, especially when talking about another student. Without responding, Wooyoung took another drag in hopes to get high enough so he wouldn’t have to stay attentive for long, especially since it seemed to be getting colder out. As long as they were far enough from the school grounds, it would be fine.
A crack of lightning struck over the sky, startling the two guys onto their feet. It was loud with a heavy impact as if it was sounding from right on top of them. Wooyoung stumbled to his feet a bit, quickly more alert.
“Where the did that come from? It’s not even raining!” Mingi complained, looking around like he would find an answer to his question. “This is dumb. Man, I’m going home before it starts to rain.” He muttered, picking up his backpack and walking towards the exit of the gate. “You coming?”
Wooyoung shook his head, glancing up towards the sky. It was only slightly stormy out. Some rain never hurt anyone. “Nah, I’ll probably stop by the store on the way home.” He said with ease.
“Sick. Get us some more—" Mingi motioned the act of drinking out of a bottle with his hands “—while you’re out there.”
Wooyoung rolled his eyes in response, tossing up a quick wave to send him off. He wasn’t going to the store, and he was certainly not going to the store to get alcohol. He’d probably be killed if he was caught even attempting that. So not worth it. Minors buying alcohol was illegal, a small fact that Mingi seemed to graze over.
Instead of going home like he considered, Wooyoung moved inside the school to avoid the blistering cold. It was either he sit at home and do nothing, or sit at school and do nothing. One didn’t include a sense of emptiness and disappointment, so he opted for the school.
The doors opened, surprisingly not locked after school ended, and the hallways were clear. Almost. Chatter arose from the male locker rooms, and Wooyoung decided to snoop it out, curious to know what was causing the ruckus.
A football ball flying into the hallway gave him an indication of what was happening inside, and a small smile arose on his face. Wooyoung squatted down on the floor outside, twiddling with his thumbs while pretending to be lost in thought about something oh-so-important. They had to exit the locker room at some point.
And he was right. Four minutes later, herds of boys walked out, cleats in hand and smiles on their faces, strutting to the exit without a care in their mind. Gloomy weather outside, yet they had their same glowing smiles.
Though the last person who walked out didn’t look nearly as happy.
His face was smiling all the same, but his eyes were droopy, and he looked tired. Just by straight observation, it was easy to tell that something was on his mind. Wooyoung felt the urge to call out something to get the boy's attention somehow, but the only thing he could think to do was stick out his foot right in front of where San was walking.
San didn’t see in time so he stumbled slightly. But his footing was quickly regained, and he turned harshly to set his eyes on Wooyoung. “What the man? Why would you trip me?”
Wooyoung felt his cheeks heat up, not expecting such a harsh reaction from a man he thought to be so quiet. “Geez, my bad. It was an accident.” He muttered defensively, crossing his arms, and shifting his position.
San rolled his eyes. Wooyoung expected him to walk away yet he stayed behind, his eyes unmoving from the crouched boy, “What? You’re not going to say anything else?”
“Like what?” Wooyoung flicked his eyes toward him. His words were strong though he felt a bit timid at the sudden confrontation.
“Anything. You’re not going to say anything else to me?” San said, pursing his lips. “I saw you stalking the football field earlier. You watched for a second, and then you ran along to your little friend. You’re really not going to tell me anything else, Wooyoung” San spoke his name with venom. His words almost indicated that he was expecting more, perhaps for Wooyoung to litter him with insults and harsh words.
Wooyoung, however, felt his heart nearly stop. His fingers froze in their place once San revealed that he noticed his act of stalking earlier. Less stalking, more observing. Sure, he told Mingi, but it was hardly with any malicious intent. It was simply a conversation starter.
Though, given the situation, he couldn’t blame San for being defensive. Wooyoung certainly would be as well.
“Go ahead, you can say it. I’ll only report your to the school and get you kicked out. I’m not afraid of your bull, or anyone else’s for that matter.” San threatened, tone turning defensive as Wooyoung remained stationary, beginning to hate himself for deciding to trip the boy. He’d obviously been harassed before by people in the school, his first instinct would be to assume someone else was taking part.
“Look, I really didn’t mean to. I’m sorry, San.” He repeated once more. “I don’t have anything else to say.”
San scoffed, unconvinced, “I guess I’ll just hear it from Mingi tomorrow, then.”
Wooyoung’s brow furred, confused by the sudden statement and mention of his friend, “What?”
“You mean he’s not going to look me in the eye and call me a again? Give me a break. I’m keeping a close eye on you guys, one more time and I won’t hesitate to speak up about it. I’m not going to take this .” San scowled, eyes retracting into small slits, nearing the appearance of a frustrated cat.
“He called you a what?” Sure, Wooyoung was aware of his friend’s use of that damned word, but he wasn’t aware of its usage towards a gay person. That felt wrong. Saying words behind someone’s back was completely different than saying them to their face... right?
“On multiple occasions, actually.”
“That .” Wooyoung muttered under his breath. He was unaware of his ‘friends’ antics in harassing a dude who just got his uality exposed. People were obviously going to talk, but talking straight to his face was somewhat of a surprise. “That’s ed up.” He stated, more to himself, as he glared out into the hallway.
When did Mingi have the time to call him names, when Wooyoung had just seen him that morning? It couldn’t have been more than a few days since San had been back at school. Which could only mean that Mingi was doing his own research, staging his own interventions.
Or, he was in close contact with Kim Hongjoong. The reason everything happened in the first place. And that might have been the scariest thought of all.
“You didn’t know about this? What are you, clueless?” San glared back at him with low eyes and raised eyebrows, one hundred percent judging Wooyoung and his lack of awareness of his surroundings.
“No, I didn’t,” Wooyoung answered honestly, though his focus was still on mentally cursing Mingi out. “I didn’t know he was calling you names.”
San paused for a moment, looking as if to bite his lip. “Well, now you do. Not like anything will change. None of this will.” He spoke, the second half sounded more to himself. His defensive stance redacted a bit and he let his arms fall to his sides.
Wooyoung felt like a ty person. Something needed to change. He refused to be associated with such a ty person, even if he was the only one he generally spoke to in school. But Wooyoung, he knew himself. And he knew he would never have the bravery to make that change.
He blinked back the reflection thoughts on himself, focusing all of his attention back on San, “What do you mean by that?”
“What do I mean? Are you seriously asking me that right now?” San almost looked offended by his words.
With a sigh, Wooyoung shook his head, trying to find a way to explain his thoughts. “I mean, I know Mingi and Hongjoong and a few others have been messing with you, but is there anyone.... else?” The question sounded ty, he knew that.
“Seriously? You can pass your two friends, but you can’t pass anyone else?” San questioned, putting a hand over his jacket, indicating that he was trying to leave.
Right, Wooyoung was standing in the way of his exit view. Leaving would be the much more preferred option for San rather than standing and talking, surely. “I didn’t mean it like that, San. I just want to know if anything else is happening. That I... that I don’t know about.”
“That sounds very savior mind of you, Wooyoung,” San replied, clenching his jaw. “Do you think you’ll be able to do something about it? More than what you’re doing about your own friends? Which, to me, seems like a whole lot of nothing”
He realized then that he didn’t even tell the man his name. San had spoken it twice, yet Wooyoung never gave an introduction. Meaning the only reason San knew of him was through the actions of others he was acquainted with. And that wasn’t a very positive thought.
So, he sighed, looking down, dejected. San was right. What was Wooyoung even thinking? He’d have no power “No. I won’t be able to do anything. I’m sorry for getting in your way, then.” He replied, shifting his feet a bit, allowing San to cross with ease.
“Alright.” San merely hummed as he stepped forward with his head high.
Wooyoung shoved his hands into his pockets, deciding to remain on the ground for the time being. There was no use getting up and going anywhere. He had nowhere to go. Nowhere meaningful, for that matter. Nobody would be waiting for him.
“Wooyoung, for the record,” San called out again, turning around.
“Yeah?” He perked up a bit.
“No. It’s been nobody outside your group of friends.”
“San, they’re not my friends—" Wooyoung tried to say, but San had already exited the building.
After thirty minutes of sulking, the lights in the school flashed off, indicating that he was probably the only one left. With a sigh, he stood up and made his way towards the door, once again met with the blistering cold.
His words were full of truth, though. If he had much of a choice, he wouldn’t call himself friends with any of those guys. But that message would be hard to convey to San, the one they were so clearly terrorizing.
Nobody told Wooyoung that High School was going to be so damn heartbreaking.
As Wooyoung began his walk home, he decided to consider the next step. He would have to say something to stop the harmful activities from happening. Out of all the people in the world, he was probably one of the only ones with the power in hand to do so. Though, he no longer regretted running into the newly appointed football player. Wooyoung gained shocking information, but it was useful, extremely useful.
Mingi was most certainly already home, lying in bed, high as a kite while some show played in the background, living a lavish life with no thoughts in his little brain or any sense of guilt for the people he might have hurt.
Once home, Wooyoung threw his bag onto the couch and walked over to the kitchen to find a note from the maid. It was letting him know that she was taking a self-given day off due to being worked overtime. Wooyoung sighed, it wasn’t like he needed her help. She was used to keeping the house kept while nobody was home, which seemed to be the majority of the time.
The next time saw his mom, he’d have to let her know about getting a new main. Until then, Wooyoung had free range to basically everything. He played Xbox all night, eager to distract his brain from everything that had happened recently.
Though, it was nearly impossible to distract his wandering mind. Wooyoung threw off his headphones as he found himself getting too worked up about everything.
It wasn’t his fault, right? He wasn’t responsible for anything, only conversing with his friend about a kid in the school. That didn’t directly conform to bullying.
, it did. Wooyoung was a bystander.
He had to apologize to San first thing tomorrow. But he also had to confront Mingi. Which to do first lingered in his mind as he hoped the right answer would reveal itself. Wooyoung couldn’t do it on his own. He somehow always made the wrong decision.