Yoseob is watching the tiny whirlpool in his coffee rise to the surface and disappear when two arms wrap around his waist to pull him against a warm, clothed body. He tilts his head several degrees to the left, the newcomer’s chin landing right on the shallow dip in his collarbone area. For a second, he feels embarrassed for having gone straight to the kitchen after waking up without taking a shower. How could he forget that Junhyung has never let a single morning pass without embracing him?
“Black, right?” asks Yoseob. Junhyung nods and does not stop, in effect playfully massaging Yoseob’s shoulder with his chin. He keeps the shorter boy locked in his arms even when Yoseob has to walk in front of the counter to get a mug and a spoon from one of the overhead cabinets. He silently watches the other work. Yoseob has made coffee for him so many times before that he can probably measure with his eyes closed the perfect amount of coffee and sugar to delight Junhyung’s taste buds.
Yoseob does not say anything but looks at the tattoo running across Junhyung’s right forearm when Junhyung reaches out to touch his mug. He lifts his hand and traces the letters with his index finger. Though his brain is still too sleepy to form proper thoughts, he figures he does not need to think now and just feel—feel the warmth, softness, and smoothness under his fingertips. What the gesture even means or what it is ultimately for will have to wait because the most important thing to take note of is the silently raging intimacy between them, not ual or friendly but something else. It is indistinct; it is unidentified.
Junhyung breaks the silence. “Any plans for today?”
“…Nothing in particular. You?”
“No secret date with Hara-ssi?” Yoseob’s fingers go to the second line of Junhyung’s tattoo.
“She’s busy,” answers Junhyung, smirking. “I’ll just call her before the day ends,”
“Like you do every night,”
“Like I do every night, yes,”
Yoseob folds in his lips between his teeth in an attempt to suppress laughter. He has heard Junhyung talking to Hara in a hushed voice in the balcony a couple of times before, and no one will probably believe him if he reveals any of the cheesy and corny things he has overheard. Despite his usually indifferent exterior, Junhyung is marshmallow-soft on the inside and he cannot help but show it to his girlfriend. And Yoseob.
“Breakfast is on the table, hyung,”
“Um…I think it wants to be eaten. I made pancakes. You like those, don’t you?”
“I like you more,”
Anyone else would have melted into a puddle of giddiness at those words, but not Yang Yoseob. If there is anything Junhyung is better at than rapping or dancing, it is play flirting. He does it to Hyunseung, too, but Hyunseung rolls his eyes at each attempt so Yoseob has become the favorite target slash victim slash receiver of Junhyung’s greasy, half-hearted comments.
“Fine. If you like me and pancakes, let’s eat together, okay?”
“Sure. So…you eat the pancakes and…I eat you?”
“UGH! Get off me, hyung!” says Yoseob with a toothy smile and nudges the other man away with his left elbow. Junhyung laughs and takes a couple of steps back, momentarily catching Yoseob by the crook of his arm to stop him from moving. Yoseob pouts, lifts his mug off the counter, and heads for the dining table. Junhyung grabs two plates and silver utensils before following suit, sitting across his friend.
“Why did you cook all of a sudden?” Junhyung puts two pancakes on Yoseob’s plate but Yoseob frowns at it so he adds two more, earning him a smile.
“Doojoon-hyung hadn’t woken up yet when I did but I was already hungry and I saw that we had pancake mix left so…”
“Which one?” asks Junhyung, referring to the two bottles of syrup already on the table. Yoseob raises both eyebrows and silently mouths “choco”. Junhyung concludes that no matter what the occasion, the other boy will always release some form of cuteness, whether he himself is aware of it or not. He squeezes chocolate syrup on top of the stack he had given Yoseob, still lost in the thought.
Gikwang then enters the dining area with a towel over his shoulder and wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. After grabbing a box of juice and last night’s leftover salad from the refrigerator, he sits down on one of the chairs situated at the end of the table farthest from where Junhyung and Yoseob are. While eating, he notices that his two band mates are poking pancakes from the same plate, Junhyung having left his empty. The two of them are not talking, just munching away, and Gikwang supposes that they’re doing their usual non-verbal communication because a minute later, they are both sporting ear-to-ear grins which grow into toothy smiles and are later joined by snickering.
“Shut up,” hears Gikwang being said by Yoseob.
“When did I say anything?” teases Junhyung.
Yoseob glares at the other. “Well you made something,” Gikwang looks up from his food and his eyes widen slightly at the sight of one of the pancakes that had been shaped into an imperfect heart. “Stop it. I’m going to tell Hara-ssi about this,”
“Who said she didn’t already know?”
Yoseob’s right eye twitches. “You talk to her about me?”
“Nope,” Junhyung presses the side of his fork down on one of the non-heart pancakes to cut off a small part and puts in his mouth. “I talk about this. I talk about us,”
Gikwang chokes on his food and starts coughing, disturbing Yoseob and preventing him from responding to Junhyung’s comment. He quickly stands up and runs to the bathroom, leaving two men around the dining table once more.
“Quit it. You’re making me assume things I shouldn’t be assuming,”
“And those would be…?”
Instead of answering, Yoseob stuffs his mouth with an entire pancake, his stern eyes not leaving Junhyung’s. Instead of feeling guilty, Junhyung finds the puffy cheeked glutton in front of him so amusing that his lips stretch into a toothless smile. He puts his right elbow on the table and rests his cheek on the back of his hand while watching Yoseob chew, and though he has done nothing but shift poses, to Yoseob it is a whole other matter. It is a form of mockery, a gesture screaming about giving in to the unknown and disrespecting the values you have always lived with. (He supposes it is all in his head and that no one else will be able to see it for what he thinks it is, however.) He hates it but he hates Junhyung more for slapping him on the face with it.
Yoseob swallows “I’ve had enough of this,” Yoseob abruptly gets up from his seat and starts walking away. Before he can get very far, Junhyung grabs him by left shoulder to make him turn around.
Junhyung lets out a bit of laughter. “Don’t be mad,”
“It’s not funny,” says Yoseob in a soft voice, frowning. “You can’t keep messing with me like this,”
Junhyung’s face is wiped clean of expression. In the few seconds that the older man decides to keep silent, Yoseob feels his heart hammer in his chest. Is he not the one who is supposed to be upset?
Without warning, Junhyung’s stare becomes overwhelmingly intense. His next words make Yoseob feel weak. “I know you’ve been fixated on this for a while now so let me make it clear for you once and for all—I mess with everyone…but you,”
A pair of lips quivers.
“…Even…even if that were true…I don’t want to be second…”
Junhyung bites his lower lip, takes a step forward with his hand on Yoseob’s right cheek, and kisses silky, jet-black tresses. “Have I not done everything to show that you’re still at the top of my list?” he asks in a barely audible voice.
Certain things he had taken for granted before flash in Yoseob’s mind, like how Junhyung cannot seem to keep his hands off him whenever they are a foot or less away from one another. How often Junhyung has to embrace him in one day before he gets satisfied, and how tightly he does it every time. How there is a subtle difference between Junhyung’s smile for others and the one he flashes at Yoseob. How Junhyung kisses him quickly, lightly, and secretly, and walks away as though he had done nothing but pass by.
How he says his type of girl is one with a small head and of short stature, and the description may match Hara very well but it is so for Yoseob, too.
“Hara is my girlfriend…” Junhyung moves away to let his eyes meet Yoseob’s. “…but you are everything else,”
Yoseob pouts (a nearly habitual reaction). “’Everything else’ is too broad of a term. I’m not your toothbrush. Or your cellphone. Or your mo—mmph!” His words are muffled by Junhyung’s left hand over his mouth.
“Sarcastic punk,” Seconds later, Junhyung becomes aware of the only centimeters-wide gap between their faces. Yoseob’s eyes widen for a fraction, seemingly coming to the same realization. An awkward silence falls upon them—a moment of hesitation and reflection. Who will make the first move? What is the ‘first move’ exactly? Why are they both blushing?
Junhyung lowers his hand, answering the first question; Yoseob can only swallow in nervousness. The shorter boy can feel his heart beating erratically, hear it even, and something inside him urges him just to run away because everything is happening too fast. Still, a stronger force keeps him where he is even when Junhyung takes a step towards him. The rapper has his head bent to the side so his and Yoseob’s noses are not bumping into one another. Yoseob moves his eyes away but a finger that caresses his jaw once tells him to do otherwise.
The rapper’s eyes reflect everything he refuses to say and reveal. Though Yoseob deems it improper to interpret the shadows and highlights there, a single, solid thought forms in his head.
Junhyung is in love with him…as well.
The second Junhyung leans forward, Yoseob’s eyes fall shut. The darkness is more nerve-wracking than comforting.
“Yoseob-ah…” he hears in the low register of the other man’s voice. “I…”
“I…” Yoseob suddenly has the urge to punch Junhyung for pausing so much in between words. “…don’t kiss someone unless they’ve brushed their teeth,”
Yoseob’s eyes fly open before Junhyung can finish his sentence. His entire face turns beet red and takes a couple of steps back immediately.
“Where do you think you’re going?” asks Junhyung and pulls Yoseob back in his arms. “I’m not going to kiss you but I am still forcing you to eat that pancake,”
“I don’t want to! Let go of me!” Struggling is futile yet Yoseob still does it. “Yong Junhyung, leave me be!”
Junhyung’s expression darkens. “What? Did you just say my name informally?” He pokes Yoseob’s side, causing the boy to yelp at the tickling sensation. “I made that for you. When someone like me carves a heart pancake, it is a big deal. Eat it or else,”
“Or else wh—AAHHH!” Junhyung tickles Yoseob in full force, showing no mercy. “Junhyung—HAHAHA—stop it, HYUNG!”
“Too late to show respect now, kid,”
That is how Gikwang sees them when he comes out of the bathroom: Yoseob trapped in a killer tickling embrace by Junhyung. He feels like saying something but he dismisses the idea and keeps it to himself. The scene makes him smile, though.