don't you dream impossible things?
genre: high school!au, coming-of-age!au, childhood best friends-to-lovers!au, basketball captain!jaehyun (fluff, mild angst, kind of mutual pining?, jaehyun has a girlfriend for a solid portion of the fic)
pairing/s: Jaehyun / Reader, Jaehyun / OC(Rina) (ft Sicheng, Johnny & Ten)
word count: 27k
tw: mild coarse language, mentions of sexual activity, suggestive language?? idk... lmk if I missed out anything... Jaehyun's gf is a bit manipulative
a/n: this was inspired by the little discourse on my blog about what Taylor Swift songs you guys (and me) associated with different nct members! with that being said, this was more or less based off of 'you belong with me'~ (as well as starlight and you are in love!) happy reading~~ also! the interchanged(?) use of jaehyun and Yoonoh is intentional!
read on ao3
Senior year. Just a three-pointer away from college, as his uncle liked to say (whatever that meant). But unfortunately for Jaehyun, nowhere closer to where he felt like he needed to be.
“Jay! How was the game yesterday, dear?”
Your head snapped up from your textbook at the sound of his nickname, angling your body where you sat so you could get a better look at Jaehyun who was sitting next to Sicheng at the back of the room.
Jaehyun, whose hair was neatly messy as it fell slightly below his eyebrows after he ran a hand through it, whose school blazer was hung (almost like a permanent fixture) on the back of his chair, top button of his school shirt undone and one arm resting on the table so he could fiddle with his tie while the other hand twirled his pen above his textbook.
And Sicheng, his closest friend (well, other than you). He’d recently chopped his hair short as an impulse decision to want to look as cool as someone he saw in a K-drama, but even so, he managed to pull it off. His shirt was perfectly pressed and so was his tie, but you could laugh at the way the telltale red and blue motif of his training shirt was peeking out from the sleeves of his uniform.
Sicheng’s face was priceless, annoyance written in the way his eyebrows furrowed.
Turning his head, he sighed, “Here we go again.”
Jaehyun let out a huff of laughter, “At least she’s not asking you.”
Ignoring Sicheng’s bitter follow-up of, “It’s our senior year and she still has no idea I’m on the team,” Jaehyun directed his gaze to the front of the class.
Keeping his gaze fixed on your teacher, Jaehyun shrugged, fixing a polite smile on his face.
“It was good, Miss. We won.”
Clasping her hands together in delight, she cheered, looking upon Jaehyun with eyes filled with the kind of unspoken bias kids like Jaehyun were always subjected to.
“That’s wonderful! I’m sure you played wonderfully as always. Am I right, Sicheng? I’m sure you’d managed to watch the game yesterday, practically the whole school was.”
You watched in amusement as Jaehyun's ears had grown red, Sicheng rolling his eyes and flipping to a random page of his textbook, muttering bitterly under his breath as Jaehyun fought a chuckle from his teammate’s annoyance.
“It’s a wonder how you manage to juggle your grades and basketball so effortlessly,” the woman spoke again, making her way over to Jaehyun’s desk as she personally handed him his marked assignment (again, a privilege only Jaehyun got. You were much busier at your desk flipping through the stack that got passed to you trying to find your own name amidst all the red markings).
“You did wonderfully on this assignment, dear. Good job.”
Jaehyun could feel it even stronger now, the stares from the other students in the class, even some murmurs of ‘of course’ coming from behind him.
He worked hard on that assignment (and got a lot more help from you than he was proud to admit), so it was natural that he would’ve expected himself to do well. He shouldn’t have had to feel embarrassed for something like that.
So he pressed his lips together in a tight smile, trying to suppress his discomfort under the many stares of his classmates. Shoving the paper in between a random page of his textbook, he let his gaze briefly flicker to where you were seated, an embarrassed smile making its way on his face, dimples showing cutely when you clapped silently for him with a knowing look on your face.
Shaking his head at you, trying to dismiss the way he felt his ears grow even hotter, he turned back to his textbook, eyes glazing over as he entertained his thoughts.
He had basketball practice after school, and that would probably run till about five. Sure, he was excited to train, but he wasn’t that excited to be training in the same gym where the cheerleaders would be practicing too.
“Lucky you, you get to see your girlfriend later,” Ten would sigh during lunch when the topic of practice came up.
Shouldn’t he be excited? It was his girlfriend, after all… but Jaehyun just couldn’t shake the feeling of unsettling discomfort from within him after the dream he had the night before.
It wasn’t a big deal, really. He had a dream that his girlfriend Rina wasn’t happy about his friendship with you and they fought. But that was it, wasn’t it?
Jaehyun was momentarily pulled from his thoughts when the juniors walking past his table had smiled at him, shyly murmuring hello when they met his glazed over gaze.
“You played so well at last weekend’s game, Jay!” they praised, “Yeah! You did so well!”
Jaehyun mustered a small smile and nod. He was thankful, of course, just… not really in the mood for celebrating (or anything, for that matter).
You would’ve known what to do or say to cheer him up, but like every other day this season, you weren’t having lunch with Jaehyun. Instead, you were at the library getting some studying done. But he was starting to wish you were, at least then he could be sure that they would be talking about something much more interesting than basketball practice.
Smiling politely at another girl who had caught his eye and smiled shyly at him, Jaehyun turned back to face his food with a sigh.
Was he really that lucky? To be under the gaze of so many other people who were hanging onto every little bit of interaction he had with the head cheerleader to determine whether their relationship was going smoothly. To have everyone hanging on his every word just so they could get a longer glimpse into Jaehyun’s private life.
Jaehyun didn’t think so.
But as always, he would just force out a smile, shrug and reply with a simple, “I guess I am.”
Only when he was at the gym did he realise just how long the day was going to be.
It hadn’t been five minutes since he’d started doing warm-ups when he heard the telltale drawl of his girlfriend from the other side of the sports hall.
It was as if his mind was such a mess that he had to work extra hard to compartmentalise just so he could focus. As if he were sifting through the files in the inventory of his head.
Grades, no. Basketball, yes. Practice was going to start. Girlfriend?
Turning his head to cast her a glance, he saw her flash him her sickly sweet smile, waving happily at him.
“Have a good practice, baby!” she called out.
Low teasing hums and murmurs had erupted amongst Jaehyun’s teammates, even his coach couldn’t help but smile at the sweetness of it all, but Jaehyun turned back around almost immediately, ears flushing red and embarrassed out of his mind. She didn’t usually call him ‘baby’.
Letting out a small sigh, Jaehyun turned back to Sicheng, who was eyeing him curiously as he helped Jaehyun with his stretching, feet spread out and pressed against Jaehyun’s as they took turns pulling each other by the hands.
“What? Not gonna wish your ‘baby’ a good practice too?” Sicheng teased.
Jaehyun had simply rolled his eyes, glancing around to make sure his other teammates weren’t in earshot.
“I don’t call her that,” he finally said. He should’ve known that wouldn’t be enough to get Sicheng off his back.
He didn’t know how to explain to Sicheng that he was still feeling unsettled by his dream. Sicheng would’ve said he was reading too deeply into it. But Jaehyun couldn’t help it, it felt real enough that the feelings of frustration and resignation had lingered with him throughout the day.
“Why not?” Sicheng feigned shock, a gasp leaving him as he giggled.
They were interrupted by one of Jaehyun’s teammates who’d let out a low whistle, slapping Jaehyun on the back, “Lucky you, dude.”
Jaehyun, as always, mustered a sweet smile, nodding to his teammate and letting them walk away before he returned to stretching with Sicheng.
“Not your baby? Is she your angel, then? Sweetie? Love?” Sicheng teased, a knowing look in his eyes.
Jaehyun rolled his eyes, ignoring the way he was tempted to think of just who his brain had compartmentalised under ‘angel’.
Jaehyun huffed, shaking his head so his hair would get out of his eyes, “I don’t know, I always just call her by her name. She’s not my baby, or any of those other names you said, anyway.”
“Oh, but she very much is. Or at least, that’s what you guys have the whole school believing,” Sicheng shrugged.
Letting go of his hands and pushing himself up so he was kneeling, Sicheng shoved Jaehyun’s chest, a silent gesture for him to lie down so they could continue stretching.
Bringing one of his legs up off the floor, Sicheng helped to push Jaehyun’s leg back in a stretch, a mischievous smile on his face as the boy below him winced from a particularly hard push.
“You enjoy this too much,” Jaehyun glared at him.
Sicheng raised his eyebrows, grinning, “Stretching? Yeah. Love it.”
“You know what I’m talking about.”
Switching legs, Jaehyun let out a deep sigh, focusing his gaze onto the ceiling, the sound of the cheerleaders talking echoing into his ears like white noise.
“I wish I didn’t, it’d be a lot more fun that way. Are you guys gonna get dinner after this?”
Jaehyun shook his head.
“Nah, she has a tutoring session.”
Sicheng snorted, his expression turning sheepish just for a moment before his features pulled into a frown, “Sorry, no hate or anything but… she tutors?”
Jaehyun shook his head, almost letting a laugh slip from him. It was true, his girlfriend wasn’t the most… charitable person. Charitable, not really, but ambitious? Definitely.
“It’s for her college apps.”
Sicheng let out an understanding hum, “That makes more sense.”
Jaehyun barely realised he was done with his set of stretches, only registering it when Sicheng had happily laid down on the floor and closed his eyes as if he were about to get a massage.
Getting up off the floor with a grunt, Jaehyun lifted Sicheng’s leg and helped him stretch, at this point unsurprised at the ease with which his leg could be pushed towards his chest.
“It’s our six month anniversary soon,” Jaehyun added casually.
“Would you at least try not to act so surprised?” Jaehyun laughed, shaking his head at Sicheng, “And yeah, it’s three weeks from now.”
“I mean, honestly, you gotta let me be a little impressed. I never expected you guys to get along with each other, much less actually like each other.”
Jaehyun sighed, he knew that too. It was a shame Sicheng made sense, it made it harder to defend himself.
“I know, but… you guys were the ones that were saying we’d be a good match, right?” Jaehyun sighed, the lack of response from Sicheng making him feel as though he had to do a better job of defending his girlfriend.
“Good match,” Sicheng snickered, “What? You think the team said that ‘cause she’s a gemini? Cause her ‘life trajectory’ lines up with yours? You know better than anyone that the basketball team thinks with their dick—”
“Whatever. Anyway, she’s not that bad,” Jaehyun murmured, the uncertainty in his tone making Sicheng shoot him a pointed look, propping himself up on his elbows as Jaehyun let go of his leg.
“I’d believe you if you sounded more convinced of yourself.”
Jaehyun sighed, letting Sicheng move into the next stretch, the boy’s hair flopping sideways as he angled his head to the left.
“She just… Rina just has a different way of showing her love,” he shrugged.
Jaehyun wasn’t sure whether he really believed that. But he figured it was always a benefit of the doubt thing. You know, if his friends (and everyone else in the school it seemed) thought they both were a good fit, there must’ve been some sound reasoning behind that conclusion, right?
“Different,” Sicheng echoed, earning an eye roll from Jaehyun.
“Leave her alone, she's trying her best. Seriously, who the hell even knows where their ‘life trajectory’ is headed towards in high school.” he waved Sicheng off, standing up and fixing his Jersey.
Sicheng bit his tongue, though he really wanted to push for the agenda that they had very different wants and needs (and priorities and goals, for that matter), he figured he should respect his friend’s decision nonetheless, even if it was a stupid decision in his opinion.
Or, at least, that was what Sicheng was trying to tell himself so he could stand watching his best friend continue to try to save a sinking relationship.
Sicheng decided on keeping his mouth shut, pressing his lips into a thin line, raising his eyebrows and sighing.
Dismissing the thoughts that had started to brew in his head at the thought of his girlfriend, Jaehyun worked on keeping these thoughts at bay.
Standing up, the coach had called the team into a pre-practice huddle of sorts, keeping his gaze trained on Jaehyun almost the entire time.
“We’re almost in competition season, boys. We did well for the last game but I don’t want any of you to get too cocky that you start forgetting that it’s the sport you should be caring about and not your own asses.”
Sicheng’s eyebrows furrowed, “that did not make any sense in my head.”
“That means you, Win,” their coach added, earning a disgruntled sound from Sicheng.
“I meant what I said at the last game. Take this as an example, boys. Number seven over here couldn’t keep his choice words off the court. So, he’s benched for the season. It’ll teach you some sportsmanship.”
Sicheng scoffed, “I have sportsmanship,” he muttered indignantly.
Jaehyun couldn’t help the amusement from showing up on his features.
“Fine, anger management, then,” Coach corrected with a sarcastic smile.
Sicheng took in a deep breath, letting it out in a sigh.
“I have a few choice words for him,” Sicheng muttered low enough for only Jaehyun to hear.
Luckily for him, his little comment went unheard by the coach, who continued his little pep-talk. Dismissing the team shortly after to split up into their usual training groups, the coach made his way over to Jaehyun.
“Jay, you’re in your best condition right now, so I really need you to keep up the momentum you got going on. This team needs their leader to bring us to the gold.”
Jaehyun nodded, a soft sigh leaving his lips, nodding at his coach. He didn’t mind as much, he liked basketball.
“There’s gonna be scouts at these games, I'm telling you. And they’re gonna want you. So show them what you got.”
“Got it, coach,” Jaehyun nodded firmly.
His coach let out an abrupt burst of laughter, glancing over at the cheerleaders running their routine.
“You know, son, you kind of remind me of myself, back in the day… I was just like you. Dating the head cheerleader, basketball scholarship on my mind… you’ve got everything going for you, Jay... I wouldn’t give that up if I were you.”
Jaehyun nodded, letting his coach walk away as he mulled over his words. This part… maybe he did mind it a little bit.
Grades, basketball, popularity. All these things seemed to be falling into place. Girlfriend? He couldn’t seem to remove the question mark that lingered behind that particular category.
He glanced over at the cheerleaders, spotting Rina getting tossed upwards in their complicated looking formation.
Maybe he should ignore Sicheng’s attitude and try to think about things he liked about Rina. Yeah, maybe that would help.
He guessed he liked how she always spoke her mind, how she wasn’t afraid to tell him how she felt, what she liked and what she didn’t like. How she carried herself so confidently, as if she was here for one thing and she already knew exactly how to get it.
Their relationship made sense, to some extent. It was almost… expected. Rina was pretty admired in school, he knew that—lots of people wished they would have the privilege of catching her eye. He couldn’t say it was hard to understand, she was everyone’s idea of a conventionally beautiful girl.
Her attention was almost like a prize to be won.
But Jaehyun just never thought it was his place to fight for it, you know, if they were in a relationship, he wanted to be able to trust her and be honest with her even if everyone else (mainly his parents and Sicheng) was telling him not to.
There was just one little factor that was preventing him from doing that, something that clouded his senses every time he let his mind go quiet.
Feeling the paper of the book page you were on between your thumb and index finger, your eyes scanned the rest of the words quickly before flipping the page, the ping of your phone distracting you momentarily.
It was a text from Yoonoh.
1:33am - coming over, u better not be reading -
The smile on your face came naturally, rolling your eyes at the text.
1:33am - im trying to Relax~ over here -
1:33am - u can relax when im gone -
1:34am - ok so go away -
1:34am - im kidding, just don’t be noisy my parents are sleeping -
It was only a matter of time when you saw the door to your treehouse open, wondering what was the cause of Yoonoh’s pensive look that only disappeared when he met your gaze, replaced with a smile almost immediately.
There was a certain flush to his cheeks and neck, his hair messy and sticking to his forehead slightly, a sheen of sweat on his neck. He looked as though he’d just finished a training session.
“Did you run here?” you laughed, not being able to hear yourself with the music playing in your headphones.
Yoonoh huffed, dropping his things with a loud thud on the small rug in the treehouse, making his way over to you and peering over to see what you were reading with a playful hint to his gaze.
Murmuring the words under his breath as he read them upside down, he let out a disappointed huff.
“Lame, thought you were reading something exciting,” he teased, flopping down onto the floor next to you, rolling over so he was lying on his belly, his eyes scanning over the page of your book even though he wasn’t really reading, his eyes hurt too much.
“Even if I was, it’s not like you’d read it. The last time you read a book for fun was like four years ago,” you told him pointedly, almost being able to picture the beat up copy of ‘The Little Prince’ that was an almost permanent fixture in his bedside drawer.
Yoonoh laughed, “Why bother when I could just hear about it from you?”
Turning to look at him, you noticed the way the collar of his black shirt had fallen slightly, exposing the rather freshlyforming bruises that were littered on the skin over his collarbones and at the base of his neck.
Okay, well, that explained his appearance a little better.
Heat flushed through your chest, up your neck and to your face, averting your gaze quickly and putting your book down.
Why would he come here if he just did… that?
“Were you at Rina’s before this?” You dared to ask, the huff that let his lips at the mention of his girlfriend’s name speaking volumes.
“Yeah,” his reply was curt, a certain kind of frustration laced in his tone.
“What are you listening to?” he changed the topic, not bothering to wait for your reply before he rolled over onto his back, reaching up to remove the headphones from your head, yanking the wire out of your computer from his harsh action and interrupting the chorus of hey stephen that was currently playing.
Putting on your headphones, Yoonoh didn’t need long to recognise the song that was playing (and wasn’t even playing through the headphones), his smile widening as his dimples deepened, his eyes forming crescents as a poorly stifled laugh escaped him.
“Are you… in love?”
You rolled your eyes, not being able to help your own laugh when he shut his eyes, moving his hands and nodding his head as he danced to the song as he lay on his back, his lips mouthing the lyrics perfectly even though you knew Yoonoh’s music taste didn’t usually consist of Taylor Swift.
“I can’t help it if you look like an angel,” he sang softly, opening his eyes to look at you as he continued to sing along.
You couldn’t have been prepared for the feeling the sight of Yoonoh like this gave you, the chorus stirring something within you as you looked at Yoonoh whose gaze was expectant, his grin contrasting how he was really feeling just minutes before he arrived at your house.
Were you in love?
“I wish,” you lied, removing the headphones from Yoonoh’s head as he sighed.
“Indeed,” he spoke with exaggerated seriousness to his tone, “And I was just kidding, I know your playlist literally only has like one artist in it…thinking about it, maybe that’s why you like her songs so much. It’s like listening to an audio book with a better melody.”
You shot him a look. His rambling had always been a sign that he was trying to distract himself. It’d just always been like that with Yoonoh, and as always, you entertained his rambling.
“Did you come here just to analyse my music taste?” you scoffed, making him wave you off in dismissal.
“Or maybe it's because of that thing where love songs don’t feel so shitty when you listen to them when you’re actually in love…” he continued, ignoring the knowing look on your face. He knew he didn’t have a chance of lying if he met your gaze.
You laughed, “You’re speaking from experience?”
Yoonoh’s rambling halted almost instantly.
That was correct, Yoonoh was in a relationship. In a relationship with the prettiest and most popular girl in school. The prettiest and most popular girl whose house he’d just come from. Or more accurately, the house he just got kicked out of.
Yoonoh should’ve known you would see right through him, especially since he wasn’t really trying to hide it. Maybe it was because he knew you wouldn’t hold it against him.
“What happened?” you mentally prepared yourself for his answer.
Yoonoh ignored your question, “Can you pass me a tissue and my glasses?”
You frowned, your concern for Jaehyun taking precedence over your curiosity.
“Don’t think you can run away from the question. But what’s wrong with your eyes? Are your contacts bothering you?”
Yoonoh nodded, blinking harshly and hissing, “I’m fine, I think I just wore them for too long.”
Rina liked how he looked more when he didn’t wear his glasses.
Propping himself on his elbows, he reached over your lap to grab his bag from behind you, fishing in the front pocket and pulling out a small bottle of eye-drops.
Removing his contacts, he blinked a few times as he looked at you, letting his eyes adjust.
“Can you help me?” The smile he gave you was cheeky, with only a hint of sheepishness, but it wasn’t necessary, it wasn’t like you were going to say no.
“Give it,” you held your hand out, rolling your eyes when you felt Jaehyun rest his head on your thigh, his hands fiddling with his glasses absently.
If he saw himself, it probably would’ve reminded him of Sicheng during warm-ups.
You helped him to apply the solution, seeing him close his eyes. A little drop of the solution escaped his eyes and rolled down his temple, your hand moving instinctively to wipe it away with the pad of your fingertip.
Just as you were about to ask him what happened again, he opened his eyes, dimples appearing again as he gave you a tired smile, his eyes redder than they were before.
Putting on his glasses, Yoonoh enjoyed the way your features came into focus, the way the warm light from the lamp beside you was casting a nice glow on you, the colour of your eyes looking more pronounced.
Grades. Basketball. Girlfriend? Angel.
As if he’d saved the image of how you looked into the imaginary file in his head, he smiled.
You felt as though you stopped breathing.
You were in love, alright. Horribly.
Shoving Yoonoh’s head off your lap and hearing the thump and the yelp of pain that left him, you took that opportunity to compose yourself. Shifting your position so you were leaning against the sofa, you glared at each other.
You did your best to feign menace at him, knowing very well when and why he’d started calling you that. You’d wanted so badly to be the Angel Gabriel in your elementary school’s nativity play production, but you’d gotten cast as an innkeeper instead. With the fake moustache drawn on with eyeliner and all.
Yoonoh, of course, had nabbed the role of Joseph. You could still picture the chubby faced, dimpled cheeked boy dressed in gowns too big for him and waving around a staff that was a lot taller than him as everyone gushed to take photos with him. Meanwhile, nobody cared to remember your name. You were just innkeeper number 2. You weren’t even the innkeeper that would let Joseph and Mary in.
You know for a fact that if you rewatch the videos your parents had taken of the play, you’d definitely be able to hear Yoonoh’s snickers through the microphone during your lines (or line, for that matter). Afterwards, when you’d gotten angry at him for laughing, he’d insisted that you would always be the angel to him, pretending to be upset along with you as you spent the rest of the night in your treehouse cursing out your head teacher for her shitty casting until it was time for him to go home.
You guessed that was just how it’d always been for the both of you, which was why Yoonoh’s behaviour now was coming off as very very suspicious.
“Shut up, Yoonoh. There’s literally no normal reason for you to come to my place at this time of the night after you got freaky with your girlfriend unless something happened. Out with it,” you kept your gaze serious, triumphant when he finally sighed, rolling over so he was on his belly again, resting his head on his arm as he shot you a teasing smile.
You and your family were the only ones that still called him Yoonoh instead of Jaehyun (and his grandma, of course). It was always something you figured was like a habit you couldn’t shake, after having called him that for as long as you could remember. Sometimes, it felt like Jaehyun was his nickname.
“So do you want me to shut up or talk?”
Glaring at him, he held his free hand up in surrender.
“Fine, fine. I had a dream last night…” he started, wondering if he was going to change the subject again. Yoonoh’s dreams were always vivid (when he remembered them), and you were the only person that would ever entertain his detailed recounts.
“Rina was in my dream… and we were fighting about—” he stopped himself. Should he filter his words? No, this was you he was talking to.
“... we were arguing because I said something about having kids and she got mad at me I remember her showing me something on my phone and asking me about it and I was trying to explain it to her but it wouldn’t get through to her because she wasn’t listening… and I just got so frustrated and we were just yelling at each other.”
You frowned, “Is that what’s been bothering you?”
He rolled over, another sigh leaving him, nodding eventually.
“That and… we actually fought just now… ” he murmured, letting out a deep sigh before continuing, “She got mad ‘cause of something I said.”
“Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy,” you muttered, ignoring the unamused look he gave you.
“Was it that bad? What did you say?” you winced.
Yoonoh groaned, “It was really a lot of things we both said… just kind of snowballed and exploded,” he rolled over onto his back with a grunt, running his fingers through his hair in frustration before letting his hand fall limply on his stomach.
“You know Johnny Seo?” he continued.
“Johnny Seo...John—” your eyebrows furrowed, unsure why your voice dropped to a whisper (it wasn’t as if your parents could hear you anyway), “wait, the fuckboy? What does he have anything to do with this?”
Yoonoh nodded, sitting up in his frustration, frowning as he found his words, nudging his glasses up with his knuckle.
“Yeah, him. She’s been hanging out a lot with him recently, and I just told her I just wanted her to be careful, you know? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t exactly have the best intentions in their… ‘friendship’.”
You sighed, bringing a hand up to run it through your hair, your eyebrows furrowing slightly.
“So, you told her not to hang out with him?”
Yoonoh grunted, shaking his head, “No, not at all. I mean, I respect her decision to hang out with him. After all, I don’t actually know him so I wouldn’t know if he’s actually fun to hang out with or whatever. But I don’t trust him… all I told her was that I think she should be careful.”
“I don’t know, maybe I’m just upset ‘cause it seems like she spends more time with him than she does with me these days. And even when we do hang out, all she wants to do is fuck and—” he stopped himself short, sighing.
You hummed, “I don’t know, maybe…” you paused, racking your brain for a possible way for him to diffuse their fight.
“It’s not ridiculous for me to be concerned, right? I mean… everyone knows him to be pretty… available… ” he trailed off, frown deepening.
Your lips parted in shock, shaking your head slowly.
“You don’t seriously think she’s…”
“Fucking him?” His harsh tone made your eyes widen, “Well, I’d like to think she isn’t. She’s my girlfriend, after all.”
You couldn’t help the deep sigh that left you.
“What’s your plan, then?” you asked.
It was saddening, the way Yoonoh had simply shrugged, shoulders slumping and his fingers picking at the unraveling thread of the rug he was seated on.
“Our six month anniversary’s coming soon… maybe I’ll just do something special for her that day to make it up to her.”
“You’re gonna have to talk to her before that, you know,” you gave him a pointed look, earning a half-hearted huff of laughter from him.
“I know, I will.”
Yoonoh was like that, never one to give up on a relationship no matter how much it frustrated him. He didn’t believe in dating to break up over small quarrels. That was just how he was, even if Rina wasn’t.
“Thanks for telling me, anyway,” you gave him a reassuring smile, “if there’s any way I can help, just… let me know.”
“Honestly, you just listening to me is doing loads for me right now…” the look in his eyes was unreadable, heavy laden with an emotion you couldn’t place.
There it was, the something, he realised once again as he looked at you. It was something that only heightened whenever he was around you, because you were the very cause of it.
The problem that began without him even realising, when he was barely entering puberty and he was still the shy, soft spoken, chubby-cheeked boy that bonded with you over dream journals, all the books you read that he loved to hear about from you instead of actually read and all the sports he did that you loved to watch him play but never thought of trying yourself. The thing Yoonoh unfortunately realised only when he’d agreed to being set-up with Rina, in his search for love that would accept him for who he was.
The problem that lingered even when everything seemed to be falling into place in his life, the reason why he didn’t quite feel like it was. Like he wasn’t exactly at the place where he needed to be.
The problem, that he felt like he could only truly be himself around you.
Grades, basketball, popularity, girlfriend….
The obvious classification for you in his head would be best friend, the angel folder. But he couldn’t shake the fact that it felt like something was missing. You were more than that, definitely, but he hasn’t found a label for it yet.
You frowned, feeling as though you were a deer in the headlights with how he was looking at you.
It wasn’t the first time, the look had adorned his face on multiple occasions, but each left you feeling confused. The way his lips would purse just slightly, how there would be a slight furrow to his eyebrow, as if he were intentionally holding back.
It was as if he was hoping you would understand how he was feeling without him having to say it. It scared you, because what could Yoonoh- the boy who was always oversharing with you--possibly be feeling that he couldn’t bring himself to speak out loud?
“What kind of friend would I be if you had to hide yourself around me… right?” you murmured, averting your gaze as Yoonoh mustered a laugh, trying to ease the tension in the room that he knew you felt.
“A shitty one?” he grinned.
You rolled your eyes. He was clearly feeling better already.
“Did you have basketball practice today?” you asked, even though you knew the answer to that already.
Yoonoh nodded, “Hell yeah, I did. Oh, by the way, are you gonna be at my games?”
His games. It was like he knew you only went for him.
“I have a life outside you and your games, you know,” you shot him a look.
You couldn’t stop yourself from smiling at the sight of that same mischievous smile that had simply evolved over time. More beautiful, perhaps, more defined even, but all the same mischief of the ten year old boy that insisted he could play the piano and dribble his basketball at the same time.
“Alright, see you there,” he stuck his tongue out at you for good measure, “things are gonna get a lot busier soon… coach hopes we can qualify for finals but Sicheng’s banking on a bronze at most.”
“Why?” you frowned, shaking your head on second thought, “Nevermind, Sicheng’s always been like that.”
Yoonoh had rolled over so he was lying on his side, supporting his head with his hand as a giggle had left him.
“You would’ve died if you were at practice today, Sicheng was so funny. Coach said he’s benching him for cussing out our last opponents,” he spoke between his giggles (you could see how desperately he was trying to contain his laughter because your parents were right next door - or next house?), “said benching him would teach him anger management.”
You couldn’t help but shake your head, laughter escaping your lips, “Is that why he’s banking on a bronze?”
Yoonoh nodded, scrunching his eyes shut, “He keeps saying the coach benched an ‘ace’.”
Calming down from your laughter, you sighed, “I miss Sicheng… kinda wish he didn’t quit the library club.”
“Didn’t get kicked out, you mean,” he corrected, a knowing smile on his face. You didn’t miss the snicker that Yoonoh let out, accompanied with the low murmur of, “my god… Library club.”
You waved him off in dismissal, “Whatever, same thing. It was more fun when he was there.”
Yoonoh’s eyebrows furrowed, amusement written in his gaze.
“Fun? If you call watching him game the entire time ‘fun’.”
You rolled your eyes. “As if you do anything better when you come to the library.”
He fell silent at that, and you swore you saw his ears start to tint red, Yoonoh opening and closing his mouth before shaking his head.
“Shut up,” he murmured. He knew very well his reasons behind meeting you in the library during your shifts just so he could sneak in undisturbed naps in your (comforting) presence.
“Anyway, pretty sure he misses hanging out with you too… he’s always asking me about how you’re doing, it’s as if he’s your best friend.”
You brought a hand to your chest, acting more moved than you actually were just to piss Yoonoh off.
“Tell him I miss him too.”
Yoonoh made a fake gagging sound, rolling over so he was on his belly again, “Stop flirting with Sicheng. Seriously, you guys could just text each other instead of using me as your messenger.”
“Why? Jealous?” you teased, and you barely noticed the way Yoonoh’s eyes widened, recovering smoothly as he scoffed.
“I’m not an owl!” he did his best attempt at mimicking Hermoine Granger, making your laughter bubble out from you uncontrollably.
“You’re totally jealous.”
Yoonoh rolled his eyes in spite of the smile that lingered on his face.
“I take it back, flirt all you want.”
You grinned, reaching over to nudge his shoulder, Yoonoh taking your silent cue to make space so you could lie down next to him.
“You don’t have to be jealous, I’m your best friend,” you sighed, letting your eyes wander as you looked at the few stars you could spot in the sky from the little window in your treehouse, “even if I flirt with Sicheng.”
You heard him huff, a long silence ensuing.
“Even if we go to different colleges?”
You frowned, not expecting Yoonoh to have brought that up. College talk had been unheard of for the both of you, not even your parents had mentioned it during dinners yet. But you figured it was only a matter of time, you knew you and Yoonoh were thinking about it more than you both let on.
A sour feeling weighed uncomfortably on your chest as you turned to look at him. You couldn’t help yourself, there was a certain sadness in your heart now, wondering what the next stage of your life after high school would be like.
You weren’t sure what came over you, speaking without hesitation.
“Even if we’re in different countries,” you muttered softly, as if you were correcting him, “Who knows what overseas study opportunities would open up in a year.”
The look on Yoonoh’s face was all you needed to rid you of any regret from your words. The way his smile was gentle, blinking slowly as he let out a long sigh.
“I wonder what kind of people we’ll be in a few years, like… let’s say five years ” he thought out loud, no such thing as a filter to hinder him whenever he was with you. You figured that was what made your friendship so special. Nothing was too much for each other.
You huffed, amused at the thought.
“Are you preparing for college interviews already?” you teased, earning a shrug from Yoonoh who seemed actually deep in thought.
“No, really. Haven’t you thought about it before? I’m always kind of… you know, curious about how things’ll play out.”
“I don’t think we’ll be that different,” you shrugged, your shirt bunching up slightly at your neck when you did so, “I mean, yeah, physically we’ll probably be different… but other than that, I don’t know? Maybe we’ll get new hobbies, meet new people and get new interests and habits because of that… maybe we’ll find out some things that change our perception on obscure things we never thought about before or something… but I don’t really see us being very different from how we are now.”
Yoonoh hummed, “You think so?”
You shrugged again.
“Just guessing. I don’t really know what to expect from college other than debt and bad-to-worse sleep habits.”
Letting out a chesty laugh, he nodded, “Damn… me too. It’s kind of funny now, thinking about it.”
He brought his hand up to run his fingers through his hair, another sigh leaving him.
“Like how when we were younger we thought turning eighteen was like… the dream, right? We always thought we’d be able to do so many things at that age—”
“You kept thinking you were gonna have a kid when you turn twenty,” you giggled at the memory.
Yoonoh sucked in a sharp breath, a certain resignation in his tone, “Might have to take a rain check on that… Rina’s not really into kids.”
Your eyes widened, eyebrows raising.
“Yeah… but it’s like what I said, who even knows, right? Maybe in five years Rina and I won’t even be together anymore,” he shrugged, throwing it out there casually, his words eliciting a frown from you.
“I mean… ” you suppressed the feeling of conflict in your heart, “I’m sure if you guys love each other, you’ll work something out.”
Yoonoh nodded, another sigh leaving him, “Suppose so, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say I love her.”
“I mean… you guys have been together for six months, right? That’s… wouldn’t you sort of know if you wanted to continue being with her by now?”
Yoonoh turned to you, “and what if I don’t?”
You were at a loss for words, unsure why he seemed so… resigned about his relationship. And hating the way it unsettled you.
You nodded, your discomfort getting the better of you, “Fine, then maybe in five years you’ll meet someone new… someone who you really love. You can’t ever be too sure when it comes to these things.”
Yoonoh had simply looked at you, that same unreadable expression on his face.
“You think so?”
Yoonoh turned back to face the ceiling.
“She’ll have to really be something, alright. I’m coming to realise it’s not so easy to find love these days.”
You rolled your eyes, laughter bubbling from your lips in a way that made Yoonoh shut his eyes just so he would restrain his urge to look back at you. It wouldn’t be good for him, not with the way his heart was stirring.
“You’re so dramatic, old man. You talk like you’ve been in the dating scene for forty years,” you scoffed, earning a shrug from Yoonoh.
He pursed his lips, poorly stifling his giggles before letting them out, “Seriously, it’s hard finding someone who I can be totally honest with and loves me. These days it’s like it's mutually exclusive or something.”
“Honestly, I’d just marry you if I could,” Yoonoh blurted out, immediately thankful his eyes were closed so he couldn’t see your reaction.
Your silence, though, was practically yelling at him. He didn’t know what to make of that.
“Could you ever see that happening? I remember we used to always talk about it when we were in middle school. Like permanent roommates or something.”
It was true, you did. Maybe you’d both just been too inspired by all the coming-of-age movies you were watching. All those ‘if we’re not married by 40 we’ll marry each other’ pacts getting to the both of you.
“Marrying each other?” you spoke cautiously, making Yoonoh shrug.
“Guess it doesn’t have to be that way. Where do you see yourself in 10 years, then? Would that be different from the 5 year image?”
Immediately, for some reason, you pictured yourself in your dream job, setting up a bookstore in a cozy part of town. You imagined that Yoonoh had been discovered as a basketball genius or something. Maybe he’d even get scouted to represent the country on the national team. But knowing him, he’d probably be studying at the same time, whether it’s something like social work or teaching or architecture and design, maybe even all at different stages of his life. You pictured yourselves in a world where though the two of you lived such different lives, you’d still find a deliciously normal way to reconnect with each other after your long days, like meeting each other at a troublesomely located dumpling shop to talk to each other, about everything boring and exciting about your days, your dreams, your hopes. Not a care in the world, just… the two of you finding your way in the world with each other as that little bit of yourselves that kept each other grounded.
As impossible as that seemed to you right now.
“I don't know… where do you see yourself in ten years?” you asked, curious to know what he was thinking (and more so not wanting to get ahead of yourself).
“I think in ten years… I’ll be playing for the national basketball team. I’m still deciding between architecture or design or engineering so i’ll probably have a degree or diploma in one of those by then… you’ll set up your own bookstore that’ll be really cozy and beautiful and authentic like Meg Ryan in you’ve got mail…” the more he spoke, the more you felt like it was your mind playing sick tricks on you, “And we’ll rent out cheap apartments because the goal is to save up enough to travel, obviously. And we’ll meet each other to do something stupid that we don’t get to do a lot... like furniture shopping or just meeting up to eat like we always do. Not anywhere fancy, though, I don’t know why but I'm kinda picturing those quaint little shops with bomb ass food because they’re run by those grandmas with secret recipes.”
You didn’t know how to react, you almost wished he would stop talking. Did the fates think this was funny? Planting this idea into both of your heads even though the circumstances seemed so far from it now.
“Sounds… impossible,” you finally spoke.
You didn’t mean to be so negative, you just felt like you needed to remind yourself not to get carried away, especiallyunsettled now at the fact that he hadn’t mentioned Rina in his future.
Yoonoh’s eyelids fluttered open, turning his head to look at you, a soft smile on his face as his little dimples showed on his soft cheeks.
“Don’t you dream impossible things?” he sang.
You couldn’t help the grin that showed on your face, Yoonoh’s smile growing as well as he hummed the chorus in short bits. Reaching over for your phone, he disconnected your headphones, playing ‘starlight’ just for added effect, distracting you from your previous inner frustration.
“Does Rina listen to Taylor Swift?” you laughed, trying to bring her back to the forefront of the conversation as if that would help to put some invisible boundary between you and Yoonoh, “At this rate it’s as if you listen to her more than I do.”
Yoonoh’s music taste was nothing like yours, but you figured that was what was nice about it. Sometimes you would introduce songs to each other that the other person never would’ve discovered on their own but you knew they would love. But at your question, Yoonoh realised that it was kind of funny how he seemed to have heard the songs so much from you that he knew the lyrics by heart as well. He would never tell you it was simply because he liked how her songs reminded him of you. They were your thing, and he loved that.
“I like her songs,” he shrugged, “Rina hates Taylor’s music,” he let out a small huff of laughter, and he left it at that.
You hummed, “To each his own, I guess.”
Yoonoh grinned, eyes glinting with mischief.
“Not gonna defend your idol?” he teased, nudging you as if he was trying to elicit a reaction from you, sighing exaggeratedly and shaking his head slowly in feigned disappointment, “I expected more from you…”
“Stop... trying to stir shit between me and Rina, that’s not very loving for a Valentine boy, huh?” You rolled your eyes, though his shit-eating grin stayed unwavering.
“I was just born on Valentine’s day, doesn’t make me cupid,” he defended smugly, “plus, it’s just a fan defending their favourite artist, isn’t it?”
“You’re so stupid,” you huffed, allowing the silence to envelop the both of you.
You don’t know why (or maybe you did know) there was a part of you that felt a little satisfied knowing that this was something special that you and Yoonoh shared. But you couldn’t deny the lingering frustration within you about whether there was more of a reason behind that satisfaction than you were willing to come to terms with.
They first got together around the middle of last year. But you knew something in your gut was telling you that it wasn’t a coincidence that was the period Yoonoh’s popularity in school had peaked. He was a star player on the basketball team, not to mention with his changing physique and his good-looks, and especially the way he made people feel as though they knew him when in reality they knew quite literally nothing about him. You guess that was just the result of being put on a pedestal.
The Valentine boy. You heard countless times from people in your class, even your own friends, how they wished they had a chance with him- who was ‘perfect’ as anyone could be.
He became the centre of attention in school, earning him various privileges and opportunities that though admittedly were good for him, boxed him up into the person that they wanted him to be. The perfect, faultless pride of the school.
But the Yoonoh you were friends with, the one you knew, was not perfect. He was just… Jung Yoonoh. He had annoying little quirks and thoughts and beliefs he had that he hid from the people who adored him because they weren’t thoughts and beliefs that the perfect Valentine boy would have. There was no such thing as flaws or unconventionality when it came to this Valentine boy. But if you knew him like you thought you did, you would’ve known that Yoonoh hated having to hide himself for the sake of being accepted. Yet he did it anyway.
So when he’d chosen to let his friends set him up with Rina, when he’d gotten swept up in newer, bigger, more popular friend circles as a result, you didn’t say a word. You’d simply hoped he made those decisions on his own.
But as you were starting to notice, it was almost as if it was a survival scheme of sorts. A power couple decision. You couldn’t necessarily fault him, or her, it helped them thrive in school (and you knew how difficult something like that could be).
Looking at him now, you couldn’t tell if he was dropping all these comments about Rina for a reason, or if it was just your own urge to play detective that was getting the better of you. Whatever it was, you were conflicted between wanting to be a good friend to him by supporting his relationship with Rina, but also knowing that the person he showed to Rina and to the rest of the school was very different from how he was when he was with you.
You weren’t sure if he knew which he liked better.
More importantly, you weren’t sure if you were just a bit of the old he was hanging on to for good times sake. It seemed too good to be true, that even when Yoonoh had what seemed like the whole world at his fingertips, that he’d still choose to do something as stupid as show up at your treehouse at an ungodly hour in the morning just to talk about something he could’ve just called you to talk about.
It made you feel like you were somebody to him, and that was dangerous.
“I’m… I’m kind of tired. I think I’m gonna call it a night,” you lied, seeing Jaehyun yawn just as you mentioned being tired.
“Can I crash here? I’m kind of lazy to walk back home,” he gave you a sheepish smile, earning a deep sigh of feigned disappointment from you.
Nodding, you already made your way to grab the blankets from where they were draped over the sofa, frowning when you realised Yoonoh hadn’t moved from where he was on the floor.
“You’re not sleeping on the couch?” you hummed, earning a hum from him.
“Nah, it’s okay. I need to brush my teeth, anyway… think I'll just stay like this for a little longer.”
You let your gaze linger on his face, trying to detect any emotion that was out of the ordinary but coming up short.
“Okay. G’night, then.”
Yoonoh smiled, the hum of his voice almost distracting you from a step out of the treehouse.
Sitting up once you were gone, with his gaze fixed on you as you walked across the garden towards your house, he waited until he saw the warm orange light glowing from your window. Training his gaze back towards the deep blue of the sky, Yoonoh let his mind go quiet for the first time that day, and strangely enough, he felt okay.
“Oh my God, my favourite librarian!”
Your hand jerked in surprise, making the can slip from your fingers in the vending machine, turning to see Sicheng dressed in his hoodie and basketball shorts making his way over to you.
Reaching your hand under the flap again, you fished out your canned drink from the vending machine, straightening up to flash a smile at Sicheng, the boy reaching an arm out to pull you into a side-hug.
“Where are you going? Library?”
Sicheng nodded, “Nice, me too.”
You gasped, a teasing smile on your face, “Really? Thought you said you’d never show your face there again after you got kicked out?”
Turning in the direction of the library, you both continued to walk with Sicheng’s arm lazily draped around your shoulder.
You heard him let out a deep sigh.
“I thought so too. But I just found out I’ve got insane overdue book fees that I can’t resolve ‘cause I have no idea where those books are anymore…”
Not being able to help the giggle that slipped from you, you shook your head, “If I were the librarian, I’d be pissed at you too. But I'd probably just waive the fee and ask you to just pay for the book.”
He turned to you with a playful glint in his eyes, his lips curving into a wide smile, “Oh, but you are a librarian, aren’t you? Don’t you think you could pull some strings for your second best pal?”
“Second best?” you furrowed your eyebrows, amused.
Sicheng looked at you as if you were an idiot for not getting that, “First best is Jaehyun, obviously.”
Your mouth formed an ‘o’ shape in realisation.
Yoonoh… you hadn’t seen him in a while. Though you had English class together, he barely attended, always getting excused since the school was squeezing in extra basketball practice sessions at the same time. If your memory was correct, the last time you saw him was at dinner at your house two weeks ago.
Sicheng seemed to have sensed how you missed him, giving you a small smile.
“Have you guys hung out recently?”
You shook your head, “Not really… the last time I saw him was a few weeks ago... but even then we didn’t really get to talk much before he passed out on my couch.”
Sicheng hummed, seeming to understand what you meant.
“Yeah, he’s really tired these days… keeps falling asleep in class,” Sicheng explained, “he’s… got a lot of things on his plate at the moment.”
“I know,” you shrugged, “but I guess it’s all things he needs… it’s not like he can really afford a break right now.”
Sicheng hummed, pursing his lips slightly as he glanced at the time on his watch. Sicheng didn’t agree, obviously. He was a firm believer of making sure you had a consistent eating and sleeping schedule (something he knew neither you or Jaehyun had at the moment).
“Maybe he can…” he trailed off, seeming distracted by something, not finishing his sentence in the end.
“Right,” you pressed your lips together in a firm line, “Anyway, nope, can’t do anything about your fees.”
He grunted, his fingers pushing the strap of your bag his arm was resting on up your shoulder further, so it wouldn’t slip off your shoulder.
“How’s club life without me?” he grinned, “Boring, I hope.”
You sighed, “I would say it’s pretty… average? Nothing much really happens in the library, and I usually just use the time to read or study, anyway.”
Sicheng nodded, “Tldr, boring.”
You smiled, “Exactly.”
“What about you? Don’t you have basketball practice today?”
Sicheng huffed bitterly at the mention of basketball practice.
“Yeah, well. I’m in exile.”
“Exile?” you laughed.
“Since stupid coach decided to bench me,” he emphasised the word with evident disdain, “I figured he wouldn’t care if I just skipped one practice to do my library shit.”
You shook your head, though your smile remained.
“Might as well make good use of your day off, then. I’m closing today.”
Sicheng hummed, “That’s enticing, but I need to get started on my college apps. God knows I'm just gonna get distracted if I stay in the library for long.”
Reaching the library, Sicheng pushed the door open for you, one hand gripping the strap of his backpack as he met the gaze of the librarian at the main desk who was already glaring at him despite the sweet smile he was giving her.
“Wish me luck,” he muttered through his smile, eliciting a huff of laughter from you.
Going your separate ways, you made your way over to the check-in system so you could clock-in, letting your ID card dangle from the lanyard around your neck as you focused on organising the few books in the trolley before you were free to do whatever you pleased.
You enjoyed the quiet you got in the library. No one ever really came here unless they needed to, and to need to come here was pretty rare in your school. People who came here usually did it because they wanted to find a place in school where they would be undisturbed and not have to worry about anyone finding them. It was easy to get lost in all the rows of shelves and little reading nooks and cushioned corners.
You had a favourite place in the library, just deep enough that people were too lazy to walk that deep into the library for a seat unless everywhere else was taken. It was where Sicheng and you would sit during club hours and read, gossip, game (or nap) for as long as you could.
Now, you focused on making yourself comfortable and cracking open the book you were almost done with.
Reading until you’d managed to cloud any awareness of your surroundings, you were drawn back to reality when you felt a thud next to you on the floor. Turning your head quickly, you were shocked to see Jaehyun of all people, his duffle bag now dumped next to you and dressed in a hoodie and shorts as well. Thankfully, he looked (and smelled) freshly showered.
Jaehyun’s smile was tired, but nothing about it seemed forced. Maybe you being in the library club wasn’t such a bad thing after all, if it meant the privacy allowed Jaehyun to let down his guard (even if it was just by a little).
“Sorry, didn’t think the sound would be that loud,” his smile was sheepish, “mind if I join you?”
“Wouldn’t napping at home be better?”
Jaehyun shook his head.
“I’m having dinner at your house later, remember?”
Right. His parents were coming over. And so was Rina.
A long drawn hum of understanding left you, shifting your body to the side so Jaehyun could make himself comfortable on the floor next to you.
Resting his head on his duffle bag that lay near your knee, the little keychain of his bag clinking against the metal zipper as he made himself comfortable, wasting no time to fold his arms across his chest and close his eyes.
It didn’t take longer than two minutes for his breathing to even out, his chest rising and falling slowly as his arms relaxed.
You tried to continue reading, but you were already distracted. Things between you and Yoonoh were different now, in an almost glaringly obvious way.
Yet you were almost absolutely sure you were in love with him, as horrifying as that knowledge was to you.
You saw his phone screen light up with a text from Rina, texts barely covering his wallpaper that was a screenshot of his very packed schedule.
4:10pm - sorry, didn’t see this-
4:10pm - yeah I’m still with Johnny-
4:10pm - u still cmg over later tho?-
You turned your attention back to your book, forcing your gaze away from his phone for your own good.
You trust Rina not to hurt him.
Turning back to your book, you felt the light buzz of your phone indicating that it was the library’s closing time, shutting your book and turning to Jaehyun, reaching a hand out but stopping yourself just before you made contact with him.
The sight of his sleeping face, the schedule on his lockscreen, the reddish tint under his eyes. You couldn’t bring yourself to wake him up.
So you waited. You waited until it was 5:30 and he had shocked himself awake with the sound of his own snore.
Fighting back your amusement, you took in his confused expression, the dazed look in his eyes before he’d blinked harshly, sucking in a sharp breath and letting it out in a deep sigh.
“Good morning,” you snickered, shoving your book into your bag and slinging the straps around your shoulders, stretching your legs out in front of you and bending forward in a stretch.
Jaehyun glanced at his phone, his eyes lingering on Rina’s texts before he’d turned to you with a frown.
“Why didn’t you wake me up?” he spoke through his yawn, his hand coming up to wipe the sleep from his eyes.
You shrugged, “You looked like you needed the extra hour.”
Jaehyun sighed, his lips curving into a small smile.
“Honestly, I did… thanks, angel.”
Ignoring his nickname for you again (and especially the way it was making your heart feel funny), you stood up first, making your way over to the desk to clock out with your card (making sure not to forget to change the time in the system), waiting for Jaehyun to walk over as you held the door open with your body.
His eyebrows were furrowed as he typed away at his phone, walking out before you and halting so you could lock the door, shoving his phone into his pocket with a huff.
You didn’t ask. You figured he’d talk about it when he was ready.
And it seemed, four blocks from your house was where he decided he was ready.
“Rina’s with John Seo again.”
Your eyes widened, feigning shock as best as you could.
“Oh, really? She is?” you hummed.
Jaehyun’s eyebrows furrowed slightly, his gaze searching your expression for a mere moment before he let out a sigh.
“You made the right choice not going into acting,” he commented, making you drop your facade of fake surprise instantly, sighing.
“Hope you didn’t lash out at her…” you warned.
Jaehyun wasn’t one to get angry very often, but his words always got a lot more blunt when he was annoyed.
Jaehyun shook his head, almost sulking, “I didn’t.”
“Well… then it’s fine, right? I mean… she doesn’t feel the need to hide it from you so…”
Jaehyun shrugged, another annoyed huff leaving him, “She was supposed to join us for dinner tonight but she bailed ‘cause she’d rather go meet him.”
“Maybe it was an emergency?” You attempted to defend Rina.
Jaehyun, unfortunately, couldn’t see past his annoyance to stay objective.
“An emergency at his house? What did he do? Burn himself on a hot kettle? Cut himself trying to open a pizza box?” Jaehyun’s tone was mocking, punctuated by the way he rolled his eyes and scoffed.
You rolled your eyes, “Your examples suck. Maybe she just didn’t feel like socialising tonight.”
“It’s just you and our parents—”
“And that’s plenty of socialising already. Cut her some slack, dude. She asked you if you were coming over after, right? Doesn’t that show she wants to spend time with you?”
You were already walking up to your front door, unlocking the door and greeting both of your parents in the kitchen.
Jaehyun mustered a half-assed smile to your parents, still trailing close behind you as you made your way to your room.
“She could just be asking out of courtesy, you know.”
You groaned, you were starting to get annoyed now and Yoonoh could tell, judging from the way he hadn’t followed you into your room, “Do you want to spend time with her or not? Like you said, she’s still your girlfriend. Her helping out with John Seo’s emergency doesn’t change that.”
You threw your bag somewhere next to your bed, turned around and made your way back to your bedroom door, seeing Jaehyun standing there, pursing his lips.
“Fine, you’re right. I’ll still go over to her place later.”
“Good. Now can we go eat now?”
Jaehyun nodded, letting you lead the way down the stairs, muttering behind you, “Just saying, just because I’m going over to her place later doesn’t mean I don’t still feel like shit.”
You sighed, lowering your volume since you were both almost in the kitchen.
“I know,” you murmured, taking your seat next to your mom and letting Yoonoh find his seat next to his dad on the other side of the table.
Your mom leaned in, dropping her voice to a low murmur, “Everything okay?”
Though she obviously didn’t believe you, it wasn’t like she was going to make Yoonoh’s love life the dinner topic for today, so she’d signalled for everyone to start eating, all of you falling into the rhythm naturally as if nothing had happened.
“How was school, guys?” Yoonoh’s mom asked, earning a grunt from him and a smile from you.
“It was alright,” you glanced at Yoonoh, glaring at him in a telepathic ‘get yourself together!’, “things have just been a bit busy… revision before exams and all.”
Your dad hummed, “Yeah, yeah. Right, and you have basketball stuff on top of that, right son?”
Yoonoh nodded, sighing deeply, “Yeah… it’s been pretty crazy.”
“Oh, right. What happened to Rina, honey? Didn’t you say she was coming?” Yoonoh’s mom had asked, and you missed the look his dad had cast your way before looking at him.
Shaking his head, Yoonoh kept his gaze fixed on his plate as he shoved another forkful of food into his mouth.
“Change of plans. I’m going over to her place later instead.”
You glanced up from your food, shocked to find his parents looking at you for some sort of assurance.
“Yeah, Rina’s pretty busy herself too… with her tutoring sessions and cheerleading practice and whatnot… all those new social dinners to attend since her mom’s running for Mayor,” you smiled, seeing the way his parents had visibly relaxed in response.
Chimes of ‘ahh, right’ and ‘yeah, right, elections are soon’ followed.
“It’s amazing what kind of effort goes into maintaining their reputation…” your dad muttered under his breath, making your mother cluck her tongue in disdain.
“Your father was just telling us just now about how the donations from Rina’s dad have really been helping them down at the police station,” your mom directed her words towards Yoonoh, who seemed apathetic to the entire conversation.
“Yeah...pretty hefty ones, if you asked me,” your dad huffed, making your lips part in shock.
“So, how’s stuff at the university been?” you attempted to divert the topic, hoping Yoonoh’s dad would save the strange tension at the dinner table.
Thankfully, he did. Giving you a small smile, he’d launched into an explanation about the new faculty the college was opening, leaving you finally able to eat your dinner in peace.
Yoonoh however, remained with the same disconnected glazed over eyes, acting like he was listening by nodding every now and then even though you knew he wasn’t.
Truth be told, he wanted nothing more than to curl up in bed and sleep for the next week. But even that seemed a little impossible at this point.
Maybe he would just sleep at Rina’s.
From finishing his dinner, mindlessly nodding at conversations, bidding everyone goodbye and making his commute to Rina’s house, everything had been a blur, the only thought in the front of his mind being that he hoped he could find some comfort and rest in Rina’s presence.
Unfortunately, their relationship didn’t quite work that way.
Upon walking into her (expansive) driveway, Jaehyun realised her parents weren’t home. That seemed to help him relax slightly more, knowing he wasn’t awaiting a swarm of questions about whether he needed ‘help’ to secure his basketball scholarship.
Stepping into the house (the door was unlocked), he spotted Rina on her couch, who mustered a smile at him as he made his way over to sit next to her, dumping his things down on the floor with a sigh.
“You alright?” she asked, leaning over to press a kiss to his lips, her gaze looking almost distracted when she pulled away, as if she wasn’t registering her actions.
Jaehyun nodded, “Just a little tired,” he murmured, not having expected her to lean in to press another kiss to his cheek.
“Why don’t I help you relax?” she offered, her hand smoothing over his chest and moving to the hem of his shirt.
Shifting in his seat slightly, Jaehyun shook his head, his hand finding her wrist to halt her actions, “No, I’m not really up for it today…"
Rina frowned, “It’s fine, you don’t have to do anything.”
Jaehyun shook his head, placing Rina’s hand on her knee.
“Can we just… talk?”
Rina fell silent, pursing her lips.
“You came here to talk?”
Jaehyun huffed, almost amused at her reaction, “Well, I mean, yeah. Why do you say that like it’s a bad thing?”
Rina shook her head, “No, it’s not bad or anything, I’m just confused… are you like… mad at me or something?”
She fiddled with her fingers in her lap, averting her gaze.
Jaehyun sighed, frowning in confusion, “I’m not mad at you, Rina. I mean it, honestly, I just wanna talk to you.”
Rina’s eyebrows furrowed, nodding slowly.
“How was your day?” he asked, resting his head on his arm that was propped against the sofa, a sleepy look in his eyes.
“... you’re being weird,” she huffed nervously.
Jaehyun huffed, “What’s so weird about asking you how your day was? I ask you that all the time.”
“And I always tell you the same thing? My day was normal?” Rina felt awkward, uncomfortable almost.
Jaehyun let out a small huff of laughter, “I wanted to tell you this just now but I forgot, I actually had a dream of you, and we were at the beach and you had this little puppy with you…” he trailed off when he saw the way Rina was looking at him.
He’d seen that look many times before, he shouldn’t have expected her reaction to be different this time.
“You know dreams are meaningless, right?” she laughed, “I seriously don’t get why you bother to remember your dreams… much less why you take them so seriously.”
Jaehyun’s lips parted, a small huff leaving him as well, “Right, yeah. No, yeah, forget it, it was stupid.”
The words felt foreign and bitter on his tongue, as if it was his bodily response to having to lie. Jaehyun frowned.
“I’m gonna be honest, I was a little annoyed with you just now for bailing on dinner to hang out with John Seo, but Y/N managed to convince me—”
“You told her about me and Johnny?!” Rina’s confusion had turned to anger almost instantly, going on the defensive as she glared at Jaehyun.
Annoyance bubbled within Jaehyun, his eyebrows raising.
“‘You and Johnny?’,” he scoffed.
Realisation flashed through Rina’s eyes, but it was masked as soon as they appeared.
“I can’t believe you, Jay. Why would you tell her something like that?”
Jaehyun’s lips parted in disbelief, “You said it wasn’t a big deal. You and Johnny are ‘just friends’, right?” his tone was pointed, as if he were daring her to challenge him.
Rina desperately fought to manoeuvre the situation to her advantage. One thing about Rina that Jaehyun failed to realise was that when you’re brought up in an environment like hers, lying and manipulation came as easily as breathing. After all, you tend to pick up on things like that after they’ve been used on you all your life.
“That’s not the point, Jay. It’s the fact that you’re even telling her private things about our relationship at all,” she said harshly, “that’s how it always starts.”
Jaehyun’s eyebrows knit in confusion before he realised, a scoff leaving him.
“You think I’m cheating on you?” he asked, the look on her face almost unreadable.
“Well, yeah! I mean, all that time you spend with her instead of with me—”
“I would be able to spend time with you if you didn’t always bail on me to hang out with ‘Johnny’,” his tone was spiteful now.
“Don’t try to blame this on me, Jay. I don’t like you spending all that time with her.”
“I don’t even see her that often these days—”
“You know that’s not the point.”
“She’s my best friend, Rina,” Jaehyun groaned, “What do you want me to do? Just stop talking to her?”
Rina pursed her lips, knowing she shouldn’t have said her next words, but said them anyway.
“If you really cared about this relationship, or cared about me, you should be able to tell me anything you tell her. You should talk to me about our problems, not her.”
Jaehyun bit the inside of his cheek.
How was he supposed to be honest with her, if she wouldn’t let him?
But like you said, Jaehyun wasn’t one to give up so easily. So he was going to try.
A long silence ensued, the both of them seated rigidly on the sofa as they tried to calm down.
Jaehyun, as usual, was the first to speak up.
“I’m sorry, I was being harsh just now,” he murmured, his words only serving to make waves of guilt wash through Rina.
She shook her head, “It’s okay.”
Pulling her into a hug, Rina let her head rest on his chest even though it felt foreign, detached. But no matter how horrible she felt, she welcomed his embrace anyway, for the temporary feeling of affection that would put her at ease for now.
Basketball, grades, girlfriend, college, family.
Yoonoh tried turning to all to get rid of the itching feeling within him that was desperate to tell you all the stupid minute little details of his life, and the big ones like his and Rina’s relationship. Unfortunately, none of them were as effective as he hoped.
That was how you found yourself in your treehouse again, sitting at the edge of the balcony as you watched Yoonoh below you trying to shoot his basketball into the little hoop his dad had mounted on the tree when you were in middle school.
The routine reminded you of the days you helped him prepare for basketball tryouts in middle school (and high school), though this time you wouldn’t say you were very happy looking down at him.
You hadn’t spoken to him since he had dinner at your house, outside of exchanging snide comments or wishing each other luck when you’d bump into each other on the way in and out of class. You were even speaking to Sicheng more than him. It wasn’t exactly unusual, per se, but you found yourself missing the little texts that would come in in the morning updating you about the dream he had the night before, or stupid little details like how he was trying a new sequence of showering to see which was the least time consuming, or perhaps updates on a show he was watching.
But perhaps the time away, and time spent with your other friends, was starting to make you realise that maybe it was a good thing to detach yourself from these things, from what you felt for Yoonoh for now. Sure, you loved him, and you loved hearing from him, but you were still trying to come to terms with how it felt like more than the love one usually had for their best friend.
One thing was to fall in love with someone and want to build a life with them, get married to them, have kids, be parents together, grow old with them. And there was falling in love with your best friend, finding that they were someone that saw you for who you were and stayed because and in spite of it, wanting to grow with them and see them through the different stages of life, protect them, cherish them, share in their joys and in their suffering.
You were frustrated that people saw this as a binary choice. As if love could be defined and confined in such a way. Platonic or romantic. Best friends or lovers. Maybe for others, it was easier to classify it that way but like you said, you were frustrated because the love you felt for Yoonoh was everything and all of it.
There wasn’t a reason why you loved him, you just did.
Today, you were extra tired, your reason being the long day of studying and stressing over finals, and so was Yoonoh but for a very different reason.
“It was so weird. I mean, I don’t have a problem with her hanging out with Johnny but—”
“Are you sure she’d be alright with you telling me all of this?” you couldn’t help yourself from asking, grimacing at the way his basketball completely missed and thumped against the tree trunk loudly, feeling the impact under you.
Yoonoh’s gaze lingered on you for a moment, a huff leaving him.
“You know, that’s exactly what she said. She was actually saying that day that she doesn’t like how I tell you things… or tell you about my life,” Yoonoh grunted, bouncing his basketball before making another throw.
“Talk about ridiculous,” he continued, “like, why would I not tell my best friend things about my life? That’s like going to the toilet when you need to pee and not peeing.”
Yoonoh expected to hear a snicker from you, of a huff of laughter at least, not the deep sigh that followed.
“She’s not wrong, you know,” as much as you were reluctant, you knew this was necessary out of respect for Rina, “to want to set boundaries.”
Yoonoh’s hands had held tightly to the basketball in his hands.
You shrugged, “I don’t know.. maybe you just didn’t see it from her perspective until she told you. But you know she’s right… communication between you guys is more important, compared to getting a third party, aka me, to solve your problems without her even knowing.”
Yoonoh stared blankly at you, bringing a hand up to brush through his hair that was already damp with perspiration.
“You understand what I’m getting at, right?” you prompted.
Yoonoh’s blank look persisted, not knowing what to do with himself knowing that you were finally agreeing with Rina, but on something that he never hoped you would think similarly about.
“It’s like, you’re suffering from something and you just keep going to the doctor for painkillers, but you’re not actuallyfinding out what’s causing the pain… ” you continued slowly, searching his gaze for any sign of understanding.
Yoonoh pursed his lips, inhaling deeply before letting out a sigh.
“Fine, maybe you’re right. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s insane.”
You clucked your tongue at him in disapproval.
“It’s not insane, Yoonoh. She wants reassurance, not… to break up your friendships.”
Yoonoh huffed, slumping onto the ground with his legs spread out in front of him, basketball thudding dully on the grass, “Friendship. She doesn’t care if I tell Sicheng.”
“Do you tell Sicheng what you tell me?” you shot back quickly, knowing the answer even without him saying it.
Yoonoh’s lips parted to speak, shutting his mouth before opening it again, “... No.”
“That’s exactly my poin—”
“But that’s because it’s different. Sure, Sicheng’s my close friend but he’s not you,” Yoonoh’s voice raised slightly in his frustration, stopping himself before he let out an exasperated huff.
There it was again, that dangerously comforting feeling of being somebody to him.
“Yoonoh… I don’t know what to tell you. If it’s what Rina wants, I have no right to tell you otherwise,” you sighed.
“Yes, you do. You have a right as my best friend,” he insisted, unsure where to place his annoyance at this point.
What was he trying to do?
“I don’t want to pick a fight with your girlfriend, Yoonoh,” your frustration bubbled out from you harshly, “What the hell do you want me to do? It’s not like our relationship is the same as your relationship with her, right?” you shook your head, your chest feeling hot with anger and your eyes beginning to sting.
Yoonoh’s head was pounding. It wasn’t. It definitely wasn’t and that was starting to drive him crazy.
You didn’t think you had it in you to continue down this rabbit hole, getting up from where you were sitting on the treehouse, ignoring the painful way your shin had accidentally scraped on one of the wooden barriers on the balcony while you did so. You already felt so frustrated you could cry, the little scrape on your shin was nothing. But Yoonoh noticed the way you started to blink harshly, and though you didn’t say it, he knew he was at fault.
“I think you should leave,” you murmured, your voice teetering dangerously on the line between firm and shaky.
Yoonoh’s gaze was filled with remorse.
“Y/N, I didn’—”
“I mean it. Finals start tomorrow and I need to study.”
Yoonoh nodded, dropping his basketball and leaving without another word. You guys didn’t fight with each other often, but this time, it put him in a mood more sour than ever.
His dad noticed when he’d come home and he didn’t hear the music that usually played in the shower when Yoonoh was back from school. It was only a matter of time before his dad had heard the soft padding of bedroom slippers behind him as he was in the dining room marking assignments.
“Dad… can I talk to you?” Yoonoh murmured, the heaviness of emotion laced in his tone. The light scuffing of the bedroom slippers against the hardwood floors continued until Yoonoh was sitting at the dining table facing his dad, his hair damp and curling in loose waves after his shower and his eyes behind his glasses looking as though he rubbed at them for too long.
“Sure, what’s wrong? Did something happen at school?”
Yoonoh shook his head, lips pursing as he averted his gaze from his father’s eyes, training them on the stacks of papers instead.
“It’s actually… a lot of things… but…” he sighed, “I think I upset Y/N.”
His dad’s eyebrows raised in surprise, making him feel even worse.
“I know,” Yoonoh groaned, propping his elbow on the table and leaning his head on his hand.
“Rina told me that she wanted me to stop telling Y/N so much about my life… and about our relationship, and I was just ranting about it to Y/N when I was at her place just now but I didn’t expect her to agree with Rina.”
His dad frowned, “What did she say?”
Yoonoh shrugged, “I mean, she was just defending Rina, I guess. She was trying to say it’s the right thing to do to set boundaries or whatever but it was so—” Yoonoh groaned, “because she’s the only person I could ever be so honest with… if I can’t even talk to her then who the hell am I supposed to talk to?”
Yoonoh’s dad gave him a knowing look, humming thoughtfully.
“… don’t you think you may have been putting Y/N in a tough position? You can’t expect her to disrespect Rina by going against her wishes, but at the same time you can’t expect her to be happy about it either.”
Yoonoh nodded, there didn’t seem to be any easy way around this.
“Yoonoh… don’t you think you should be able to confide in Rina, or at least, be able to turn to her when you’re struggling? She is your girlfriend…”
“You’re gonna say I’m an idiot. But that’s the thing… I… I can’t. It’s like each time I try to be myself around her or just tell her the things I would tell Y/N it’s just as if she doesn’t want to know. It’s always been more… natural with Y/N. I don’t have to be a specific person when I’m with her.”
Yoonoh was glad he could be honest with his dad, at least. But again, it wasn’t quite the same as how he felt with you.
“I won’t say too much, because at the end of the day it’s something you have to decide for yourself. But maybe it’s time you start thinking about why you’re with Rina if you feel as though you have to be someone else with her.”
Yoonoh buried his face in his hands, fingers covering his eyes under his glasses, palms muffling his words.
“Don’t get me wrong, dad. I want to try to make things work with Rina, I just… really don’t understand why that means I have to give up Y/N.”
Yoonoh’s dad shrugged.
“Not everything has to be forced, Yoonoh. Sometimes, if it doesn’t work, that’s all there is to it. It’s not as if it’s your fault it’s not working.”
Yoonoh lifted his face from his hands, looking at his dad with furrowed eyes.
“You think I should give up on Rina?” he asked, searching for answers in his dad’s expression.
He simply shrugged.
“I think you should do whatever feels right for you.”
Letting out an amused huff at his son’s expression, he waved him off.
“But first, I think you should get finals out of the way.”
Yoonoh huffed, standing up and stretching his arms out behind him with a yawn.
“Fine,” he sighed, “Thanks dad.” The scuffing of bedroom slippers echoed as he left the kitchen.
He received a hum in reply, going back to his marking once he heard Yoonoh’s bedroom door shut.
“Jay! Come here and meet some of my dad’s friends!” Jaehyun was momentarily pulled out of his conversation with Rina’s mom as he saw her beckoning him over to the group of suit-clad men (well, almost everyone here was wearing a suit), Rina standing out amongst them in a beautiful dress he knew he could never afford.
Rolling his shoulders back, Jaehyun pushed aside his anxiety and made his way over to Rina, something about this environment making him feel like he was in high school; endless murmurs and stares wondering who Rina’s boyfriend was and why he was so privileged to be on the receiving end of all the attention.
“Nice to meet you. Jay, was it?” One man extended his hand out for Jaehyun to shake, his build and mannerisms awfully reminding Jaehyun of his coach, “I’m Jason, the manager for our national basketball team.”
Jaehyun would’ve corrected them on his name if he wasn’t close to having an out-of-body experience. The manager? He should’ve known Rina’s father’s connections weren’t to be underestimated.
“Matthew here’s our coach,” he patted the man next to him with a smile, and if Jaehyun wasn’t starstruck before, he sure was now.
The coach smiled at him, “Rina’s dad told us a lot about you. We’d love to see you in action, if you’re interested.”
Jaehyun nodded vigorously, almost choking on his own saliva in his haste to talk, “Yeah, yeah! Of course! That’d be insan— I mean, yeah, that’d be really amazing!”
Jaehyun could already imagine your reaction, wanting nothing more in that moment than to whip out his phone and message you the good news.
“Dude, It’d be great to have you on the team with us, we’ve been looking for some new blood,” one of the other suit-clad men (younger looking, lean built and just half a head taller than him) said, and Jaehyun had practically grinned.
“Maybe we could play one of these days, see if you’re really as good as Rina’s dad’s been saying,” he proposed, earning a huff of laughter from Jaehyun.
“Of course, I’m down for that.” His reply was relatively calm, even if he was jumping for joy on the inside.
He had barely noticed Rina’s absence from the group of them until he’d turned to find her missing, excusing himself as he whipped his phone out in his excited daze, unlocking it only to be met with reality once again.
His phone showed the last app he was on before locking it, his notes app revealing the dream he’d typed inside in his half-awake daze when he’d woken up that morning.
‘Dreamt that it was raining very heavily n u were there and your hair was drenched and i went to you n i think it was cold and u like took my hand or smth n held it closer to urself n but i felt like my hand was really cold n i felt bad so i rmb telling u smth like omg im sorry this wld be nicer if my hand wasnt so cold n u just said it was ok n then u hugged me’
Jaehyun sighed deeply, swiping out of his notes app and shoving his phone back into his pocket.
The dream wasn’t the problem, no. It was a dream he would have easily texted you any other day. Hell, it was typed as though he were texting you, but since that day at your house, you hadn’t spoken to him and he knew that you still needed your space… as much as he wanted the opposite.
He didn’t like how distant he felt from you, how unsettled it made him feel knowing that he truly wished to hear the stupid little details of your day or something you read in your book or a conversation you had with your mom or even what happened to you as you were getting ready for school. More than that, he was starting to realise that maybe he even wanted this more than his relationship with Rina. He couldn’t keep doing this with Rina, and he was realising that now.
As if by some sort of divine intervention, a text had come in from his dad.
5:33pm - we’re having dinner at yn’s house, will you be joining us? or do you have dinner with Rina’s family? -
Jaehyun typed a ‘ok’, his thumb hovering over the send button before he’d erased what he typed, fingertips padding over the screen before sending his edited reply.
5:34pm -i'll drop by if we’re done early. don’t save any for me, i’m not hungry-
The thought of you had continued to gnaw at him for the rest of the gala. Suddenly, everything seemed to remind him of you.
The arrangement of the cutlery on the table reminded him of a conversation he had with you about how you thought different cutlery for different courses was confusing, the classical music playing in the background reminding him of how you’d always wanted to learn piano but got fed up with his impatience when he was trying to teach you how to play ‘forever and always’ on the piano for three weeks straight, the glittering ring on Rina’s dad’s finger reminding him of your favourite beaded ring you always wore.
He wanted nothing more than to get out of here, to change into more comfortable clothes and return to your treehouse and listen to you read whatever chapter you were on in your book. Why was it that even in a luxurious environment like this, with every opportunity and privilege he could possibly imagine just waiting for him to accept it, his thoughts were still revolving around you?
“Babe?” Rina’s voice had sounded like a bell in his head, attracting his attention briefly before his mind returned to its musing.
“Hmm?” Jaehyun blinked, noticing that almost everyone was beginning to stand up, some already making their way out of the hall.
“The gala’s over, we’re going to my house for drinks, c’mon.”
Nodding dumbly, Jaehyun followed behind Rina, huffing as he finally found himself seated against the polished leather seats of her car, the driver already setting off even though he’d barely settled in.
Jaehyun felt a buzz in his pocket, whipping his phone out and frowning at the screen.
7:18pm - image attached -
7:18pm - y/n has starbucks perks??? did you know the barista has a crush on her??? he gave me this for free because I told him we were cousins-
7:18pm - u met y/n? -
Jaehyun debated on skipping out on dinner at your house. Though he desperately wanted to make up with you, he had no idea where to start. He figured he needed some kind of important-enough reason for you to have to converse with him. Simple dinner conversation just didn’t seem like it was enough… not with how upset you still seemed to be.
7:18pm - yeah i saw her studying in starbucks when i was going to the bus stop-
7:18pm - think she went home already tho, she told me she needs a nap cause shes losing her mind over her physics paper on monday-
Physics. That was just the excuse he needed. Thank you, Sicheng!
Before he knew it, he was asking the driver to send him to ur address instead, the look on Rina’s face speaking for itself.
“You’re skipping the after party with my parents?” she looked disgruntled, almost afraid, as if Jaehyun was the bolster she was hoping to keep with her for the rest of the night.
Jaehyun tore his gaze away from the speedometer, giving Rina a nod.
“Yeah, I forgot I was supposed to have dinner with my family.”
Rina’s frown deepened, “You do know who’s gonna be at the dinner, right? All my dad’s important business partners are gonna be there,” she stressed.
Jaehyun couldn’t seem to find it in him to care, his insides bubbling with anticipation to see you.
“I know,” he replied simply.
“It could really help you in the future, you know,” Rina attempted to find more reasons to convince him, evidently unprepared for her bolster to have suddenly decided to bail.
Jaehyun huffed, “I already met the basketball people, though.”
“I wasn’t talking about them. I was talking about people that would be actually important for your future career. Investors? Tycoons?”
Jaehyun’s eyebrows furrowed, not seeming to pick up on what Rina was implying.
“C’mon, Jay. You don’t actually think you can make a career out of basketball, do you? Don’t be stupid. You’re really missing out on an opportunity like this for what? Spaghetti with your parents?”
If Jaehyun wasn’t hurt before, he was now. It took a lot to get him annoyed, but like you said, sometimes he couldn’t help but want to be a little spiteful (especially when it came to defending his relationship with you).
“And Y/N’s family,” he replied calmly.
The look on Rina’s face had almost instantly been masked with a blank look, leaning back in her seat and facing forward, no words leaving her for the rest of the car ride.
You were trying to study, but as time passed, you were growing hungrier and the inconsistent thumping that vibrated through the treehouse was starting to annoy you. As if your textbook wasn’t already annoying you enough.
Trying your best to be inconspicuous, you peeped over the little railing on the treehouse, not even surprised when you saw Yoonoh- suit jacket and tie tossed haphazardly on the grass, the top few buttons of his dress shirt undone and his sleeves rolled up to his elbows- trying, and failing, to shoot his basketball into the makeshift basketball hoop your dad had nailed into the tree when you were both in middle school.
You knew Yoonoh. And you knew he must’ve had a lot on his mind to be playing this badly.
Almost forgetting you were trying to be inconspicuous, you’d met his gaze briefly and hurried to lean back so he couldn’t see you.
“I know you’re in there, you know.”
You pursed your lips, hearing (and feeling) another thump resound through the treehouse, the leaves shivering from the impact. You knew that one was probably done on purpose.
You huffed, “Do you mind? It’s kind of hard to focus when the whole treehouse shakes every five seconds.”
Yoonoh almost smiled. This was progress. Annoyance-filled progress, but progress nonetheless.
“Then get out of it and talk to me,” he challenged.
You rolled your eyes. He pulled that stunt with Rina and expected you to just roll with it? You figured you deserved to be at least a little annoyed with him.
“You know what? Maybe I'm fine with the earthquakes after all, it’ll train my patience,” you shouted back.
Jaehyun sighed when he’d tried to shoot another hoop, the basketball bouncing off of the rim of the hoop and back into his arms.
“C’mon, angel, I know you’re still mad at me—”
“At least you know that much,” you grunted, “and don’t call me that.”
“—but would you at least let me apologize to your face?”
You pressed your lips into a firm line.
“I’ll come up if you don’t respond in the next ten seconds.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” you countered.
As if by some stroke of luck, Yoonoh heard your mom call out that they were going to leave for drinks at the lounge.
You wouldn’t be able to ignore him for much longer, and you both knew that.
You heard the thudding of the basketball against the grass, the soft crunching of leaves as Yoonoh left the garden.
You sighed. As much as you wanted to ignore him and stay annoyed at him, you couldn't help it; you missed your best friend.
Maybe you’ll finish this chapter before going in.
Shoving your book on the floor with a thud once you were done, you shifted yourself whilst still cross-legged till you were at the edge of the ladder, sighing as you climbed down, your fatigue weighing down on you and making you feel heavier than ever.
Walking over to the entrance from the garden, seeing that it was already left a crack open, you pushed the door lightly, entering the kitchen and being greeted with the sound of Rina’s voice muffled over his speaker phone.
“You sure you’re not coming over later?” she asked.
Yoonoh was oblivious to your entrance, focused on grappling with your faulty can opener to crack open a tin of canned fruits (you don’t know why he seemed to like them so much, you were sure there was something about them that wasn’t healthy).
“No, I’m not.”
Rina’s sigh was loud, close to a groan.
“Are you sure? My dad’s asking for you, Jay.”
Jaehyun let out a huff of laughter, “Then tell him I'm not there? He knows I have a family too, right?”
Your eyebrows raised, hands going behind you to touch the countertop before you let yourself lean against it, shamelessly eavesdropping on his conversation.
“Jay, seriously. What’s wrong with you? Can’t you see what a mistake you’re making?”
You purse your lips, wondering what could’ve been happening at her dad’s gala for her to be so annoyed with him for not attending.
Yoonoh sighed, “That’s the thing, Rina. It’s not a mistake to me. Now stop hiding in your bathroom and just go join the party.”
A small pause ensued, you could practically hear the tap running.
She hung up first, and you took that as your queue to start alerting him of your presence, pulled your mug out of the rack and huffed at the way the sharp sound of the cups clinking against each other had shocked him.
Yoonoh was leaning against the counter now, a cube of persimmon on his fork that hovered just centimeters from his lips.
He was waiting for it, for something. A snide remark about his dressing, a comment about his horrible basketball playing, even a nag of ‘why don’t you just eat an actual fresh fruit?’.
You took a sip of your water, facing him as you rested your back against the fridge.
“Thought you said you hated people calling you ‘Jay’,” you told him pointedly.
You raised your eyebrows at him, “didn’t seem like you hated it,” you gestured to his phone with your glass.
“I’m a lot better at lying than you think,” he shrugged.
You frowned, grimacing, “That’s concerning.”
Yoonoh waved you off, shaking his head in dismissal.
“It’s no use correcting her, she’ll call me whatever she wants to call me,” he sighed, almost shivering at his memory of Sicheng’s teasing.
You let out a soft huff, downing the rest of your water. The pause that ensued between the both of you made a tense feeling grip you by your shoulders, especially with the way he was looking at you. That same look that made you feel as though he had a million things to say to you but didn’t know where to start.
“Why’d you come here?” You attempted to shake the tension off.
Yoonoh’s lips froze momentarily over his fork, slipping it out of his mouth slowly. He had the audacity to smile at you, poorly stifling it at that, as he twirled the fork around with his fingers
“I have a good reason... but can I apologize first?”
Right, you almost forgot you were annoyed at him.
“Fine, apologize,” you set your glass on the table, folding your arms across your chest. .
“Okay, so… I was thinking about our last conversation… and I feel like shit for putting you in that position. I never meant to do that, but it doesn’t change the fact that I put you on the spot, and that was a shitty thing for me to do,” he began, “I was just upset at Rina, and more upset at the fact that I couldn’t stand up to her… that I took it out on you, as if you were supposed to stand up for me. But I know that was wrong of me, and I’m really sorry for that.”
You nodded, huffing. You had many questions for him, but you didn’t think he had the answers for them right now. But for some reason, you asked them anyway.
“Why do you think you can’t tell her how you feel?”
Something about Yoonoh’s gaze had grown more pensive, more intent, as if the million things he wanted to tell you had intensified.
“I think you already know the answer to that,” he murmured.
Yoonoh nodded. Maybe you did.
You ignored the feeling of being frozen in place, forcing yourself to keep your mind calm, “Did you guys fight again? She sounded pretty pissed at you, you know, when I was eavesdropping just now.”
Yoonoh’s eyebrows raised, “So, apology accepted?”
You scoffed, “Seriously, I don’t need to say it for you to know—”
“No,” he shook his head, the insistence in his voice throwing you off momentarily, “I need you to say it.”
Your lips parted, mouth suddenly feeling dry, rendering you with no choice but to nod, “Apology accepted.”
Yoonoh smiled, dimples appearing, relaxing visibly in the way his shoulders had dropped just slightly. You wouldn’t have noticed the way he was holding himself back from making his way over to you to hug you.
“Anyway, you were saying just now... you had a good reason for ditching the after party?” you cleared your throat, the tension not seeming to be dissipating anytime soon.
Yoonoh nodded, setting the can on the countertop harshly, making you wince at the sound, “To make up with you.”
You rolled your eyes.
“Right, now what’s the real reason,” you laughed, not expecting the look of genuine confusion that graced his features, eyebrows furrowed and gaze searching yours.
“Huh? That was my real reason.”
Lips parting, your grip tightened on the countertop behind your hips.
You sighed, trying to ignore how your chest had started to feel warm, your ears practically burning as you averted your gaze.
“You’re so stupid,” was all you managed to utter out before you were greeted by the sound of his laughter.
“I heard you needed help with your physics paper,” he gave you a knowing look. He always helped you study physics, and though a part of you was still a little annoyed at him, you weren’t sure if you were feeling petty enough to put yourself up for failure for your test tomorrow.
Nodding, you hated the way a smile played on your lips as you began to walk into the living room, “You don’t need your textbook, right?”
You could picture the smile on his face without having to face him.
“Nope. Let’s get to work.”
And just like that, it almost felt like things were how you were always used to it. Yoonoh doing his best to explain different problems to you and threatening to give up ever so often if you refused to focus even though you knew he wouldn’t really give up. Just like how you were used to.
It was one of the rare moments where time seemed to slow down, and just for a second, all you both had to focus on was physics and each other, the simplicity of the situation feeling so rare that you both couldn’t help but feel relieved.In that simple moment, as you begged for a break while Yoonoh insisted that you finish the last problem before you could reward yourself with an episode of Money Heist, he didn’t have to think about Rina, or think about basketball, or even about Sicheng’s birthday party next week.
It was just you, sitting before him, the stupid pleading look on your face that Yoonoh couldn’t ever refuse and the grounding feeling as though he was home. He didn’t have to ask himself why he was simultaneously feeling as though the world was crashing down on him as a feeling of immense realisation had overwhelmed him, his smile disappearing and his eyes glazing over. The same feeling that overwhelmed him at the party almost intensifying now.
You were too busy trying to shove your textbooks further away from you to recognize that same look taking over his features, once again.
That was when Yoonoh knew he was done for. He needed to break up with Rina.
Yoonoh glanced at the time. 2:22am.
“Honestly, I think we can call it a night. I’m really tired,” you sighed, reaching for the remote and jumping slightly with how abruptly Yoonoh had stood up.
“Uh… I think you should just carry on without me, I just realised I was uh… I was supposed to take care of something. I’ll text you if I’m coming back, but don’t wait up for me just… reward yourself. You deserve it,” his words came out choppy, unnaturally, almost as if he were being pulled in the opposite direction and was forcing himself to stay just to get those words out to you.
You gave him a curious look, eyebrows furrowed but still somewhat amused. You didn’t think much of it, since he was prone to being forgetful especially when he was stressed. So you shook your head in dismissal, waving him off.
“It’s okay, just go. Call me if you need anything,” you told him, Yoonoh giving you one last smile before practically running out of your house.
He texted Rina, asking where she was, but she hadn’t replied, so he figured she was still busy with the party. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, so he continued on his way.
What he hadn’t expected, though, was to be met with a quiet house, her parents’ car nowhere to be seen, and especially not the sight of John Seo making out with his girlfriend in her bedroom.
The door swung open after knocking, scaring Rina with a yelp as she flung her hands away from his face as if she were scalded. John Seo, on the other hand, only looked amused. Squinting at first at Jaehyun’s silhouette in the dim light, he glanced between Rina’s look of pure horror as she pulled her shirt down haphazardly and Jaehyun’s face of shock as he stood frozen in the doorway.
John Seo’s mouth formed a little ‘o’ in understanding, a hum leaving him.
“Right. So this must be your ‘Valentine boy’ then, right love?” he drawled, getting off the bed calmly as he fixed his beanie, picking his phone up from her bed and giving her a nonchalant wave, even patting Jaehyun on the back as he strolled past him.
“Good luck, dude,” his words lingered in Jaehyun’s head with a sour aftertaste, shutting the door behind them as nothing else was heard other than Johnny’s footsteps padding down the stairs and the final thud of the front door closing.
Rina was seated at the edge of her bed now, guilt-stricken eyes glancing at Jaehyun nervously, her hands fiddling with her shirt as Jaehyun tried to place the emotion he was feeling.
Why didn’t he feel angry at her? Why was it that even as he looked at her right now, he felt detached? It was as if he were watching a scene from a movie instead of watching his girlfriend sit on her bed after catching her cheating on him.
“Jay, I can explain,” she began, a slight tremor in her voice as she searched his blank expression for any sign of emotion, “… I’m sorry, I really meant to tell you as soon as it started happening but I just… couldn’t.”
Jaehyun’s eyebrows furrowed, “Why?”
His tone was gentle, something Rina found even more scathing. She wished he would be angry at her, to yell, or tell her she hurt him. His gentleness was just making her feel even worse.
“I… I didn’t want my parents to know… I mean, you were the best thing that happened for our relationship. Ever since I got together with you it’s like… they treat me differently, they treat me like I’m finally doing something right, you know?... I’m sorry it meant I had to keep using you but I couldn’t let things go back to how they were.”
“They would never have accepted Johnny… not like how they accept you.”
Jaehyun sighed. She was in love with John Seo. He could tell that much.
He was starting to come to his senses now, and his anger was starting to creep in. He was angry that she lied to him, of course, strung him along for so long just for her personal gain. But more than that, he was relieved. Relieved that he could finally stop trying to revive something that had died long ago.
“I’m sorry, Jay. I know I shouldn’t have done that. I know it’s not right for me to ask you this but I really really just need a little more time. Just a little time so I can think of how to tell my parents that we broke up. Just… at least until graduation, please.”
Jaehyun’s eyebrows furrowed, features pulling into a frown.
“So, what? Like… keep up appearances till graduation?” he murmured. He couldn’t find it in him to be angry at her now. Looking at her expression, hearing the desperation in her voice, he just felt bad for her.
Rina nodded desperately, wanting to get up from the bed but feeling too guilty to make another move towards him, tears pricking at her eyes.
“Please, Jay. Just a few weeks more, that’s the last thing I'll ask you to do for me. Then we can just go our separate ways, I won’t have anything to do with you after that. I just need some time to settle things, and I’ll tell them after graduation before I go off to college. I won’t mess with your basketball scholarship or anything, seriously. I just need you to do this last thing for me.”
Jaehyun wasn’t sure how much time passed before he nodded. He was sitting on her bedroom floor now, gaze fixed on the vape pen sitting on the carpet next to her bed that he was sure belonged to Johnny.
“Just until graduation,” he confirmed, earning a vigorous nod from her.
“Yes. Graduation. After that, no more,” she replied in short bursts, withholding her desperation as much as she could (though Jaehyun couldn’t really find it in himself to hold it against her at this point).
“What… what are you gonna tell your parents?” he asked, getting up from the floor slowly and making his way over to her, sitting on her bed next to her and resting his hands on his lap.
Rina sighed, shaking her head.
“I don’t know yet. But I’ll figure something out, I guess.”
Another silence ensued, something about the room feeling awfully comfortable despite the context of the situation. Jaehyun could smell Johnny’s cologne faintly off of her, surprising himself at the feeling of resignation that coursed slowly within him.
“You know… people always say that your first breakup always feels like it’s gonna be the end of the world... “ he began, seeing her nod as he continued, “Why don’t we feel like that?”
Rina looked up from her hands, meeting his gaze with a certain resignation in her gaze.
“... maybe because we fell in love with other people before we could really reach the point of loving each other.”
Jaehyun’s eyebrows raised slightly, “We?”
Rina scoffed, nodding seriously, “I’m sure you know you’re in love too. Just… not with me.”
Rina was right. He was pretty sure he realised just half an hour ago.
Sicheng’s birthday party was no less painful. A week before graduation, Jaehyun thought that pretending to be with Rina would be easy now that he knew what their relationship really was for the past six months, but he hadn’t expected it to be so painful.
Maybe the cause of his pain was the realisation that he’d gotten so caught up in trying to fit himself into this mold that people expected him to be that was making him frustrated, or maybe it was the fact that he was realising now just how much sanity your presence brought him through all of that and how much he took advantage of that. Maybe it was the realisation that came in a little later that you may not feel the same way about him that was stressing him out, or maybe it was the fact that he had to still keep this charade up for another week before he could truly think about what his plan was to tell you how he felt.
But truly, Jaehyun knew that more than all those things, what felt the worst was looking at you sitting across from him in the bowling alley and knowing that he couldn’t make it too obvious that he wished it wasn’t Rina that was linking arms with him.
His thumb brushed over his lower lip as he pretended to be interested in his conversation with the guy from the basketball team next to him, a junior that assumed Jaehyun’s word had any weight in deciding who the next team captain was.
“Honestly, dude. Your life is everything I wish my high school life would be like,” the junior gushed, “you’ve got a hot girlfriend, the whole school loves you, even your grades—”
“None of that means anything,” Jaehyun murmured distractedly, a hint of a smile playing at his lips as he watched you bowl another gutter ball, pretending you didn’t see it as you walked back to your seat and shoved Sicheng for teasing you.
Jaehyun met the boy’s gaze, wishing he could say a million things to this junior now before he could spend the rest of his years in high school trying to figure out what Jaehyun had only figured out now. That none of that—popularity, attention, adoration, could ever come close to the feeling of knowing someone cared about you and loved you even without all of that.
“Nothing,” Jaehyun forced a smile, reaching over to pick up the ipad when he saw you going up for your turn to bowl again, unaware of his actions as he put the bumpers up for you, earning many shouts of protest and curious glances.
“You’re so obvious,” he heard Rina whisper lowly to him, and you wondered what she’d said to him for his ears to go red the way they did.
Jaehyun had simply shook his head at you, a lazy smile on his face as he mouthed a ‘its okay just bowl’ to you.
The junior had left to talk to someone else, and Jaehyun had wanted nothing more than to go over to you and spend the party with you, but he knew Rina was right. He was too obvious, especially so now that he knew how he felt towards you. It was almost embarrassing how his gaze couldn’t help but follow you even when nothing was happening.
It seemed impossible, the idea that you would see him that way. Yet, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world.
You had your suspicions when he hadn’t offered to send Rina home, offering to take you home instead. But you dismissed your suspicions quickly, not wanting to paint more pictures in your head that would bring you back to that same dangerous feeling that you harbored for him.
You felt selfish, almost, for having these feelings and keeping them to yourself. Especially as you found yourself sitting on the curb outside your house with Yoonoh after a long wordless walk home.
“What did you get Sicheng?” he finally asked, earning a hum from you.
“Got him a hoodie. You?”
“Basketball shoes,” he yawned, leaning forward to rest his cheek on his knee, looking at you with tired eyes.
You tilted your head at him to mirror him, finding his silence suspicious.
“Are you okay?” you asked, earning a smile from him.
Yoonoh nodded, his voice just barely a murmur, “I’m fine, angel.”
“I told you to stop calling me that,” was all you managed to murmur, earning an eye roll from Yoonoh.
“Can’t help it,” he shrugged, a teasing lilt to his tone, “The image suits you so well. Way better than innkeeper number two.”
You scoffed, “It’s not because of that.”
“Then why do you hate me calling you that so much? You never minded until recently,” he let out a huff of laughter, interlocking his fingers around his shin.
You averted your gaze, “it just… it sounds too… too lovey dovey,” you shrugged.
Yoonoh eyed your expression carefully.
“I’m not allowed to love you?” His tone was gentle, but the implication behind his words was too heavy to ignore.
You didn’t answer him. You didn’t have an answer for him. So you settled for shrugging.
“Rina’s parents have a charity event in a few weeks, right? Are you gonna go?”
Yoonoh hummed, “I’m surprised you remembered, even I forgot about that.”
You huffed. It was like you were forcing yourself to keep up to date with these things, just so you wouldn’t be too disappointed if Yoonoh had to bail on your plans together. You understood the networks that Rina’s circle could open up for him.
“How could I forget? It’s on the same day as prom.”
Yoonoh nodded, shifting his hands so they were shoved into the pockets of his jacket, cheek squished against his knee in a way that looked as though it would definitely leave a red mark on his cheek afterwards.
“We agreed that we wouldn’t go for the charity event, you know, since it’s not like we graduate every year.”
“So you’ll be going for prom?”
Yoonoh smiled, “Why do you sound so excited? Hoping you’ll be voted prom queen?” he teased, earning an eye roll from you.
“Shut up. Everyone knows it’s gonna be you and Rina.”
Yoonoh let out a grunt.
“Doesn’t matter. Not like it’s real anyway,” he was quick to reply, his comment making you frown.
Yoonoh surprised you when he stood up first, holding a hand out for you to take, “You should head in, it’s late.”
Letting him help you up, you were almost hyper aware that he hadn’t let go of your hand yet.
You were about to call his name to get his attention when he’d tugged your hand ever so softly, stepped forward and wrapped his arms so cautiously around you in a hug, seconds ticking by before he’d let his head rest against yours slightly. It felt familiar. No hidden meanings, no words unsaid, just… comfort.
“What are you doing?” you murmured.
“I don’t know,” he replied, “do you want me to let go?”
He didn’t have to say more, but you could hear the silent question of ‘I’m not allowed to hug you?’
“... not yet,” you murmured. There it was, your silent answer to his silent question.
You loved him like a best friend, that was clear to you at that moment. And like much more, you realised as you lay in bed drifting off to sleep later on.
You hadn’t seen Yoonoh all night. You’d been here for hours but you hadn’t seen him anywhere. You’d asked around, but they all hadn’t seemed to see him either. Even his phone seemed to be on do not disturb. You hoped looking out for Rina would help you find him faster but it seemed that she was nowhere to be seen either.
Frankly, you were a little tired of waiting, and the gym was starting to feel way too stuffy for you to be able to sit through more wordless techno songs and the occasional slow dance ed sheeran song that left you feeling uncomfortably present. Figuring you’d might as well get some fresh air, you decided to head out of the gym, wandering around the school and trying to find a toilet that wasn’t locked or undergoing cleaning.
It was safe to say that search wasn’t very fruitful either, and by the time you’d searched 2 floors, your bladder was about to burst and you didn’t think you had any patience left in you to find another toilet.
Spotting the nearest one that had a ‘cleaning-in-progress’ sign outside, you’d ignored the sigh and brisk-walked in, oblivious to your surroundings as you emptied your bladder with a sigh. It was only when you were washing your hands that you realised the sniffling sound in the toilet wasn’t coming from you.
People cried in the toilet all the time, you told yourself, about to leave when you heard a retching sound. Okay, whoever was in that toilet was definitely puking their guts out.
“Hey… uh… are you okay in there?” you called out, making your way over to the toilet stall, knocking but finding the door giving way under your knuckles. Whoever was inside must’ve been in a rush to have left the door unlocked. But at the sight of the expensive handbag hanging from the little hook on the door, you recognized them quickly.
You acted before thinking further, moving forward and helping her to hold her hair away from her face, using your fortunately oversized prom ticket to fan her.
After calming down slightly, Rina slumped down onto the floor, leaning against the wall of the cubicle as she stared at you blankly.
“Well, isn’t it ironic that you’re helping me, of all people?”
You frowned, tilting your head at her in confusion, “Do you like… want me to leave or someth—”
“No, no! Sorry, I didn’t mean that… please, stay here with me,” she sighed, not seeming to have any energy in her to even keep her eyes open, letting them flutter shut with a small groan.
“I think I drank too much… should’ve known the punch was spiked,” she sighed, “did uh… did Jaehyun tell you to find me?”
You shook your head slowly, realising she couldn’t see you.
“No, I didn’t see him for the whole night, actually… I just came here to pee,” you explained, seeing her huff, pursing her lips.
You wondered how she still managed to look pretty even as her cheeks were flushed, her makeup was running and her hair was sticking to her skin.
“That’s probably my fault… he was mad that he had to keep pretending we were together.”
Your shock got the better of you with the surprised sound that left you.
Her eyes opened just slightly so she could frown at you, “he didn’t tell you?”
Your silence was enough of an answer for her.
“Well now I feel even more like shit. He was trying so hard to keep the secret for me that he didn’t even tell you. And God knows he tells you everything.”
You pressed your lips into a firm line, brushing her hair away from her face. You didn’t miss how the action made her lips part in shock, as if she hadn’t expected you to do that.
“He hasn’t actually… not since you told him you weren’t comfortable with it.”
“Honestly, that’s most of the reason why he was mad at me… he said he didn’t want to keep lying to you.”
She sighed, “he’s so considerate, seriously,” she grunted, finally having mustered enough energy to look at you, a deep sigh leaving her.
“You know… I always liked the fantasy of the whole ‘high school sweetheart’ thing… like, you know, the kind of thing so cliché it makes you think of Troy and Gabriella…”
You nodded slowly, “Uh-huh…” you prompted, unsure why she decided to tell you this now of all times. You couldn’t help but think of Yoonoh, High School Musical was one of his desert island movies.
“I know you’re probably wondering why I'm telling you this but… I guess it’s cause it took me way too long to realise that maybe Jay was the Troy that everyone wanted, and even though he was so perfect, so faultless in my parents’ eyes, even though he made me seem a million times better than I actually was… I didn’t want that.”
You nodded slowly.
“I thought it was better for me, you know what I mean? Be with someone safe, someone who cared for me and would put up with me. But then I met Johnny… and I realised that he was what I wanted,” she frowned, “he was confident, he didn’t care what people thought of him, he didn’t treat me like my parents’ daughter…”
She sighed, turning to you, laughing at your wide-eyed expression.
“I bet you think i’m some kind of whore right—”
“It’s okay, I get it. You know, like… the ‘bad guy’... and I do feel like shit for stringing Jay along like that but… I don’t know, Y/N. Is it so horrible of me? To just want to feel wanted? Even if it’s only for a moment… even if I know Johnny doesn’t genuinely want me…” her eyes had started to well up with tears, causing her to blink harshly.
“Is it so bad to just let myself pretend for a second?.... I’m always pretending in some way, right? Is it so bad if just one out of those million times, I'm pretending for something that makes me feel genuinely happy?”
Your frown deepened. Sitting in front of you in the disgusting toilet cubicle on a Saturday night wasn’t the poised, perfect head cheerleader Rina, but simply… a girl who was in love with someone who was breaking her heart.
“I’m not like… condoning cheating or anything but…” you shook your head, “you can’t control these things. It’s not your fault for feeling what you feel.”
Rina gave you a small smile, though it didn’t reach her eyes.
“I’m sorry for hurting Jay. And i’m sorry for using your friendship with him as leverage… and I’m sorry that…” she sighed, “I couldn’t see him for who he was and saw him for what he could do for me… you know, especially when all this time he had someone who did,” she gestured weakly to you.
You frowned, rubbing the back of her hand in soothing patterns, making her let out a huff.
“Even now, you’re being nice to me. Even when I was anything but nice to your best friend.”
You shook your head, “It’s okay. No one’s forcing me to do it… I’m doing this because I want to.”
Eyeing her carefully, you saw her suck in a shaky breath, releasing another deep sigh.
“He loves you, you know?” she murmured.
“Huh?” You almost thought you misheard her.
“It sounds cliché, I know. But seriously, he probably doesn’t realise it yet… but he does.”
Your lips parted, not seeming to register her words, letting them sit in your head even as you stood up, offering to take her home.
For some reason, you couldn’t find it in yourself to be angry at her either. If anything, you understood how frustrated she must have felt. Everyone always makes love seem so straightforward, so epiphany-like. They don’t ever mention that sometimes it feels like trying to stop a train with your bare feet.
So you spent your prom in the last way you’d expected to, sitting in the back of a hired car with Rina’s head on your shoulder with a 2000s throwback song playing on the radio.
“Y/N,” she caught your attention before she’d shut the car door, her jacket bundled up in her arms messily.
You gave her a small smile, nodding at her in reassurance.
“Rest well, Rina.”
“Dude, it’s just a ‘merry christmas’ letter, how hard can it be—” Sicheng stopped himself when he finished reading whatever Jaehyun scribbled in pencil on the acknowledgements page of his textbook.
Jaehyun sighed, burying his head in his hands, the neck of his basketball jersey almost choking him as he leaned forward, not having realised he was sitting on the back of his jersey.
Tugging his collar forward to pull the hem of his shirt out from under his butt, he glared at Sicheng, who was fiddling with his new basketball shoes and tying a butterfly knot with the shoelaces absently.
“I told you, I’m only good at writing critique papers.”
Sicheng snorted, “Explains why your note sounds like a roast of the year’s events.”
“Honestly, I don’t even know why you’re rushing, you don’t even know if she’s gonna be here tonight,” Sicheng shrugged.
Giving him a skeptical look, Jaehyun’s eyebrows furrowed, “She said she’d be here.”
“And? That was like a month ago,” Sicheng insisted, “long before she found out about you and Rina’s whole secret breakup fake dating bullshit—”
“Fine, fine. Whatever. But it’s a tradition… I don’t think she’d just… ditch,” his voice turned into a murmur, as if he were trying to console himself more than defend himself to Sicheng.
Sicheng sighed as Jaehyun resumed his fidgeting with his pencil.
“I think you’re thinking too much,” Sicheng shrugged, rolling the basketball around between his outstretched legs, “It’s not like she’s gonna grade it and give it back to you. Just write what you wanna say.”
Nodding resolutely, Jaehyun continued working on his merry christmas note to you, just managing to shove it as neatly as he could into the present he got you as the thick panelled doors opened and his coach had entered.
He’ll focus on the game, and pass you the gift afterwards (if you came). Simple. Or simple enough.
He was trying to manage his expectations, really. But he couldn’t stop himself from searching the crowd every 10 seconds just to see if he could spot you. Like a very difficult level of where’s waldo where waldo may not even be in the picture.
Honestly, you were dressed and ready an hour before the game, busy staring at the note you’d written Yoonoh that you had yet to seal into an envelope. You couldn’t decide if you should rewrite it.
You’d written it while riding on an adrenaline rush the previous night, feeling like your energy vibrations were all too high as you listened to your playlist. But now, as you sat in your room, almost as if you were sobered by the silence, you couldn’t help but wince each time you re-read your letter.
Especially the sign off, a ‘from your angel’ written shamelessly at the bottom of the card.
You shook your head, pulling out another card and rewriting the letter, signing off with your name instead.
It was safe… ish. You couldn’t decide if you wanted Jaehyun to take your words at surface level or to read into them and decipher how you truly felt. You knew this would probably be the last time you would see him before all of your scholarship interviews next week and his pre-orientation programme. Might as well use it as an opportunity to be honest and use the week to hide, right?
Shaking your head, you shoved the wrapped present into your bag, sparing a quick glance at the time and grimacing. You were already late for the game.
Jogging around your house in search of your shoes, you heard your mom call from the living room, “Aren’t you late for the game already?”
Huffing, you haphazardly shoved your shoes on.
“Yeah, I know. I’m leaving,” you said, bidding her goodbye and beginning your brisk-walk(and borderline jog) to the stadium.
You’d just reached barely a minute into halftime, all you could hear was cheering for the cheerleaders who’d already started their routine, Yoonoh and the rest of the team nowhere to be found.
Fortunately for you, there was a seat in the back row, far enough that you could see the full length of the court easily.
Watching as the team had come out onto the court again, you scanned the area for Yoonoh, spotting his number 2 Jersey. He was scanning the crowd, hand gripping onto the hem of his shirt loosely as his gaze flickered around the different faces, eventually meeting yours.
The smile that adorned his face was unlike you’d ever seen before, or maybe, unlike you’d ever seen in a long time.
Why was he smiling? He wasn’t too sure. Maybe it was the reassurance your presence brought him; the idea that you, the only person in this stadium that truly knew him, was still willing to be here to support him.
Sicheng could only laugh at the way Yoonoh’s focus heightened, scoring goals with as much ease as it took him to breathe. Though the competitors were fairly similar in ability, It was only a matter of time before the team was thirty points ahead, starting the running clock.
You didn’t know much about basketball, but you knew enough to know this meant the game could be ending soon.
You couldn’t help but get distracted halfway, your hand going into your backpack to fiddle with the wrapped present sitting patiently in between your stuff. You were the opposite, however, impatiently waiting for when you could give the present to him and have the weight lifted off your shoulders.
You’d barely noticed the game ending until you were drawn back to the present sound of whistling, the deafening buzzer sound and yelling from all around you. Yoonoh, sweaty and flushed, had been too busy running over to his duffel bag to celebrate with his team. Frowning at the thought of what could’ve happened, you felt your phone buzz in your pocket.
9:39pm -don’t leave yet. let’s go home together-
Sucking in a sharp breath, you replied simply, picking your bag up and leaving the stadium, trying your best to be inconspicuous as you waited at the parking lot.
“Did you hear? Jaehyun and Rina broke up! Didn’t you see how he barely looked at her the entire game?” you stumbled slightly as someone walked past you, bumping your shoulder. You apologized, but wished you could take it back after realising what their topic of conversation was.
“He doesn’t usually look at her, though,” the girl that bumped your shoulder had replied, “he’s always too busy looking at the crowd.”
“He does seem like the type to care more about his popularity.”
You frowned, thankful they’d gotten far enough that you wouldn’t have to listen to the rest of their conversation.
It was only minutes later when you felt a sudden pressure on the back of your knee that made your leg give way, almost stumbling before you felt a hand holding you steady, the familiar sound of Yoonoh’s laughter resounding next to you.
“Sorry, couldn’t help it,” he gave you a sheepish smile, letting go of your arm and beginning to walk ahead of you, hands shoved leisurely into the pockets of his hoodie, the hood draped over his head.
“Aren’t you coming?” his eyebrows raised in question when he realised you hadn’t followed next to him.
“Oh, no, yeah. Right,” you shook your head, jogging until you were walking side by side, hearing him sigh.
“Have you eaten dinner yet?” he asked, earning a shake of the head from you.
“Nice, me too. We can order in tonight,” he suggested, and you nodded, tearing your hand away from your bag so you could stop trying to feel the outline of his present through the worn out material.
“You were great just now... “ you murmured, “I know I didn’t see the first half but like, you know what I mean. The second half was good.”
You were nervous, and Yoonoh could tell that much. It was the first time you were talking to him after prom. He knew that you knew about what happened, and he knew you probably thought he was insane for pretending nothing had happened. But you both knew each other well enough to know that you were both stalling.
Pulling out your phone, you continued to stall by pretending to be busy with ordering food, trying to ignore the way he was humming along to ‘it’s nice to have a friend’ (of all songs).
“Ordered,” you murmured a little louder than you intended, dropping your phone back into your bag, seeing him nod at you.
You were already walking into your driveway, past the shrubbery and into your garden as Yoonoh made a beeline for the treehouse.
Dumping his things on the carpet, he’d sat himself awkwardly next to the beanbag, leaning on it yet not quite at the same time.
Sitting yourself down a little further away from him, you missed the way he’d frowned at the distance between the both of you, inching forward almost unconsciously to close a little bit of that distance.
“Heard you got your acceptance letter already,” Yoonoh began, continuing when he saw the surprise on your face, “my parents told me.”
You nodded in understanding, forcing yourself to stop averting your gaze, “your scholarship interviews are next week, right?”
“Guess things are more or less falling into place, right?” he huffed, earning a hum from you.
“Our schools aren’t that far from each other… and plus, Sicheng’s going to the same school as me,” you weren’t sure why you felt the need to reassure him. Then again, maybe it was more for yourself too.
A teasing smile made its way onto Yoonoh’s features, “Should I be worried?”
“Worried?” you couldn’t help but huff in amusement, “What? That I’ll fall in love with Sicheng and ruin your ten year plan?”
Yoonoh grinned, “Precisely that.”
Rolling your eyes, you shook your head, your smile lingering on your face when you’d said your next words.
“You have nothing to worry about, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
A tense silence had ensued, and you thanked the universe for the notification you got that your food was arriving, using that chance to escape from the atmosphere in the treehouse as you collected the food.
Going back up to the treehouse, you ignored the thumping of your heart (blaming it on how quickly you’d ran to the driveway), especially the way it intensified when you saw Yoonoh simply sitting there, staring at nothing in particular.
Eating your food in silence, you put on some music in an attempt to relieve some of the tension, but it seemed your playlist wasn’t quite cooperating with you today. Every song seemed to make you feel as though the tension in the room was amplified. You skipped the song quickly when you heard ‘dress’ come on.
“Why don’t we go without the music tonight,” Yoonoh blurted, reaching over to pause your playlist with his pinky finger.
“Yeah, I think that’s better,” you spoke quickly, letting the sound of the cicadas outside and the low humming of your neighbour’s air conditioning fill the silence.
“So… we’re kind of done with high school, if you think about it,” he murmured, taking a slow bite of his food, searching your face for a reaction.
You nodded, eyebrows raising, “... Yeah, we are.”
You felt as though he were waiting for you to say something, but couldn’t figure it out for the life of you. You couldn’t help it, Rina’s words from that day were still lingering in your head and clouding any possible rational thought within you.
“Are you like… okay?” you dared yourself to ask, seeing Yoonoh’s features pull into a confused frown.
“Uh.. depends on what you’re referring to, honestly,” he admitted. This was good, this was a start. Less stalling.
“I mean… that people are talking about you and Rina’s… breakup?”
Yoonoh’s mouth formed an ‘o’ in realisation, shrugging, “I mean, yeah. I kind of expected it, but I guess it’s only normal? That they’re coming up with their own backstories based on what they think about us.”
“Us?” you blurted, wincing.
Yoonoh nodded, “Rina and I, I mean.”
“How… How long has it been since you guys broke up?” you asked, not having expected him to answer so quickly.
“We broke up a week before Sicheng’s party… so it’s almost been a month.”
You nodded slowly.
“How do you feel?” you asked, seeing him raise his eyebrows at you.
You frowned in disbelief, “Really?”
He nodded slowly, bringing his drink up to his lips to take a sip, eyeing you curiously, “Uh-huh…”
Narrowing your eyes at him, you hummed, “Are you sure—?”
“What are you doing?” he laughed, your eyes widening.
Your lips parting and shutting, you struggled to find your words, “I mean, I don’t know, I just wanted to know how you were coping,” you shrugged.
It wasn’t like you wanted to question him, you just felt like it was too good to be true.
Yoonoh scrunched his nose up, a soft smile on his lips, “Really? ‘Cause it sounds like you’re expecting me to break down or something. Seriously, Y/N, if you want to know how I’m honestly feeling—”
“Yeah I do.”
Your lips parted in shock, unsure what to infer from his choice of words. You could feel what was akin to frustration bubbling within you. You hated the tension between you and Yoonoh now and you were desperate to put an end to it.
Yoonoh nodded seriously, “Relieved.”
You purse your lips, nodding slowly, shaking your head as you were about to speak, Yoonoh speaking up before you could.
“Sorry, I’m kind of not used to it… you know, going from having to filter myself around you for Rina’s sake to suddenly knowing that I can tell you everything I wanted to tell you. But there’s too many things that I have no idea where to start.”
You felt a wave of relief wash over you, as if that was a reminder to you as well, that it wasn’t as if you needed to filter yourself around Yoonoh, and this time wasn’t any different.
Not being able to stop the smile from your face, you nodded resolutely.
“We’ll start from the basics, then. How was your day?”
Yoonoh was practically beaming.
And just like that, it was as if you’d gotten back into the rhythm of things. Though they weren’t entirely the same as before, it was familiar. Though you and Yoonoh had grown, there was still love and familiarity in both your eyes, in your inside jokes, in your witty quips as you talked.
“I have something to pass you actually,” he admitted only after you mentioned that you might call it an early night because you were tired.
Humming, you huffed, almost forgetting about the present in your bag you were previously too hyper aware of to focus on anything else.
“Me too… like an early Christmas present.”
Yoonoh’s eyebrows raised, eyes widening slightly.
“Guess we had the same idea,” he laughed.
“How bout… we exchange it on three so it's not so awkward,” he suggested, earning an eye roll from you.
“You know it’s still gonna be awkward.”
“Fine, but at least it’ll be cute,” he shrugged, making you shake your head, moving over to pull the wrapped present from your bag anyway, the little envelope containing your note making you scrunch your nose up in distaste.
As if he read your mind, he spoke up, “Don’t read it now, by the way. I poured my soul out into that note… it’d be better if you read it when I’m not here.”
You snorted, “I was about to say the same thing.”
Grinning , you counted to three, shoving the presents forward at each other and bursting into laughter at the awkward nature of the gesture, shoving your presents into your bags quickly.
“Okay, you’re free to leave now,” he gestured to the door.
You scoffed, “kicking me out of my own treehouse?”
“I think I’ll stay here for a while before heading back… the stars are really nice right now.”
You narrowed your eyes at him, nodding.
“Okay. G’night, then.”
Yoonoh smiled, the hum of his voice to the familiar tune of starlight almost making you reluctant to leave.
“Sweet dreams, angel,” he smiled, tracing patterns with the stars in the sky in his head.
Once again, Yoonoh found himself sitting up once you were gone, letting his gaze follow you as you walked across the garden towards your house, he waited until he saw the warm orange light glowing from your window.
Training his gaze back towards the deep blue of the sky, Yoonoh found that even though there were a million thoughts in his mind begging to be entertained, even though his mind was filled with uncertainty about the future, or even about the next week alone, the warm glowing light from your window reminded him that he wasn’t going to have to deal with that alone, and he felt okay.
Yoonoh turned his head, looking at you lying next to him from where he lay, reaching out his hand to touch the side of your face, the smile you gave him enough to send bouts of happiness coursing through him. The feeling of your shoulder on his chest was real enough to make him wonder if he was experiencing déjà vu.
“Is that a new shirt?” your voice was clear as day, the lilt to your tone almost distracting Yoonoh from registering what you asked him.
“Huh?” he heard himself reply.
“I think I bought you that shirt,” you hummed, turning around and wrapping your arms around his torso as if it was the most natural thing to do. About to return the gesture, Yoonoh heard the cracking sound of thunder, feeling himself jolt awake.
It was raining heavily outside his window, the darkness of his room and the absence of anything but his blanket wrapped around his torso dragging him harshly back to reality. He mentally cursed the thunder for not being able to wait another five seconds at least.
His eyes flickered to the wrapped present sitting on his bedside table.
He’d been too busy this week to find time to read your note yet, especially so because he was growing more and more anxious about why you weren’t contacting him if you’d already opened his present and read his note.
Yoonoh glanced at the time. It was 6:37pm. He remembered his dad vaguely mentioning that both him and his mom would be working overtime, telling him to settle his own dinner once he woke up from his nap.
Sighing, Yoonoh got out of bed, deciding to take a shower first just to stall time before he decided to properly settle down and open your present.
Once he was done, he walked over to his bed, one hand lazily towel-drying his hair as his other hand continued to stall for time, sending you a text.
7:00pm - parents have abandoned me at home… what should i eat for dinner?-
Waiting for your reply, he tossed his phone aside, picking up the wrapped present from his bedside table, ripping the wrapping paper off to reveal a hardcover copy of ‘the courage to be disliked’ the title making Yoonoh huff in amusement.
Setting the book aside, he picked up the plain envelope, tearing it open and pulling the note out (almost giving himself a papercut in the process), beginning to read the note.
don’t laugh when you see the book title. I didn’t read it so i don’t actually know if it’s any good, but i read the synopsis and figured you’d be into stuff like this so i bought it for you. maybe you can read it and tell me if its any good. god knows when was the last time you read something other than required reading…
you don’t have to tell me explicitly for me to know this year was tough for you. i don’t think you realise it, but i can say this because i witnessed it, and i think you needed a little reminder that it’s okay. it’s okay to want to do well, it’s okay if you don't, it’s okay to want to secure your future, and it’s okay if you want to go with the flow. it’s definitely okay if you want to make plans, and it's okay for these plans to fall apart. I'm proud of you, anyway, because you still tried your best to be loving through all of it (even though i had to be the one reminding you at times).
I’m just glad you haven’t let yourself stop dreaming all these extravagant, impossible-seeming dreams. Like that thing about us working and me having that bookstore and all. and how you said we’d still manage to find each other at the end of it all. I hope that part doesn’t seem impossible to you, even if it does to me at times.
But like you said, what are dreams if not meant to be dreamt, right?
Merry Christmas (or not, depending on when you stop procrastinating opening this), see you soon.
Yoonoh wasn’t sure if he was breathing, it was as if his whole body was just filled with relief that it didn’t feel like his body anymore.
Little did he know you were the same, riding on this feeling of relief as you ran to his house through the drizzle, overcome by some sort of reckless impulsivity that made you feel as if all you wanted was to see him without waiting a minute longer.
All that resounded in your mind over and over again was the words in his note, bits of it floating around and taking turns to supply you with that giddy careless feeling.
‘to: my angel’
You felt the drizzle intensify, making your hood feel heavy over your head and the skin of your face feel cold as the wind blew the droplets against your face as you picked up your pace.
'i wont ask anything of you, i know i put you through enough and i'm sorry for that. but just know that i'm here for you like how you've been here for me all this time. and in ten years, twenty years, forever, i hope that's where i can remain.
You stumbled on the slippery driveway as you let your hands stop your momentum against his front door, knocking firmly as you fought to catch your breath.
One small thing, though. You had no idea what you were going to say.
Realisation sunk in when Yoonoh had opened the door, his hair damp like yours. You would have laughed if you weren’t so frozen with nervousness.
“Hey,” he greeted gently, his voice almost drowned out by the heavy rain beating against his roof.
Your lips parted, throat feeling dry in spite of everything around you being drenched by the rain.
“I read your note,” you told him, still feeling breathless as you looked at him, the blank look on his face somehow heightening your urge to blurt out whatever you came here to tell him.
“I don’t know why I came here… I kind of just,” you shook your head, shrugging, “I came here because after I read your note I just needed to come here and… see you. And I don’t know why. I just needed to make sure you knew that I wanted that too, you know, what you said in your letter.”
Yoonoh’s expression remained blank, his gaze flickering briefly from your eyes to the patterns on your hoodie made by the rain, and very very briefly to your lips that were growing redder the more you bit down anxiously on them.
“As friends, best friends,” you sighed, “and more than that, and everything in between.”
At Yoonoh’s lack of a reply, your adrenaline had started to subside, the cold of the rain and the wind blowing against your face successfully sobering you down, leaving you staring at Yoonoh who looked as though you’d just told him you were moving states.
You shook your head, instantly regretting coming here, stepping away from the door and mustering a small smile.
“You know what? Nevermind, this was a bad idea. I think I read too deeply into what you said,” you nodded, already beginning to walk back out into the rain when you felt him tug your hand, stepping towards you and pulling you towards him, knocking your hood off your head as he held the back of your head gently.
“I took too long to reply, sorry. Just had to make sure this wasn’t another dream,” he smiled, letting his arms wrap around you tighter. Maybe he’d thank the thunder for waking him up, because now he got to hold you in his arms and know it was very much real.
Pulling away from you just enough so he could cup your face in his hands, he sighed, the stupid smile on his face making you wish you could shut your eyes.
“I thought that I loved you in a 'I love my best friend’ kind of way like how I love Sicheng but I'm sorry it took me so long to realise that it's already been much more than that for a long time now.”
“And, you know, just before you came I had a dream that we were just lying next to each other and we literally weren’t doing anything but I wanted to do that for as long as I could,” he continued to ramble, trying to distract himself from the way he wanted nothing more than to kiss you in this moment.
“I don't know anything,” he laughed, “I don't know what my life's gonna be like in five years and that's okay. I only know how I feel... and how I feel with you is... like myself. I don't know much but I know that that's how I want to feel in five years… and I know you're gonna say something about how ‘we never know how things will change in five years’,” he did an awfully accurate rendition of your voice, “but I don't care. I mean, if we've figured it out this far in our lives, who says we can't keep doing that, right? If you want to... I'd go through all of that- the great parts and the shitty parts and the parts that don't feel real, all of that... with you.”
“Shut up, Yoonoh.”
His eyes widened in shock, “Hmm?”
You huffed, “Shut up.”
“The more you talk the more I keep looking at your lips and the more I do that the more I want to kiss you,” you rushed through your words in spite of your embarrassment, not being able to filter yourself even if you tried.
Jaehyun pressed his lips into a firm line, poorly containing his smile, “Well now I don’t want to shut up.”
“So are you gonna do it?” he leaned closer, his lips just barely centimetres from yours, you could practically feel each word he spoke, “You gonna kiss me or am I just gonna keep talking so that you can keep looking at my li—”
You stopped him short by moving forward just slightly, but stumbling slightly from the feeling of yourself being pulled forward, followed by the feeling of his lips against yours.
He’d surprised you when he reached for your hand, bringing it up to place it over his cheek, and you’d let your thumb smooth over his skin, feeling him sigh into the kiss. Strangely enough, there was no urgency behind it, your body somehow feeling warm in spite of the cold. You couldn’t bring yourself to focus on anything else other than the way he held you, the way his lips moved against yours, the warmth that radiated from him to you. You barely registered it when he pulled away from you with a giggle.
“I bet you would’ve shit your pants if I told you five years ago that we would kiss like how they would in a taylor swift song.”
You rolled your eyes, resting your head against his chest, not being able to help yourself from smiling. The feeling of his hands brushing your hair away from your face, touching your face, smoothing over your arm and coming to rest on your waist.
Pulling away just slightly, your gaze landed on his shirt, the captain america logo making you smile. You barely noticed it when you arrived.
“I bought you that shirt, didn’t I?” you grinned, not expecting his eyes to widen.
“Why? What’s wrong?” you frowned, seeing him shake his head.
“No, no. It’s just that I had a dream where you said the exact same thing—”
Your smile grew, the sight of how his eyes lit up only managing to endear you to him, “Okay, how about…”
“Okay, right, nevermind. It’s stupid, it’s no big deal,” he rushed to dismiss his previous words, making you laugh, eyebrows furrowing slightly.
“I wasn’t going to say that… I was gonna say why don’t we get some dinner first, and you can tell me all about it?”
Jaehyun beamed, letting you lead him back into his house.
“Dad! You know me and Mary have to kiss?!” seven-year-old Yoonoh’s voice resounded loudly in the recording, his face close to the camera lens and his eyes bright and sparkling with mischief.
“Is that so?” Yoonoh’s dad laughed.
“No, you don’t! You’re not supposed to kiss anyone!” your (heavily annoyed) voice resounded in the background of the video, Jaehyun turning his head to stick out his tongue at you.
“No, the innkeeper isn’t supposed to kiss anybody! I have to because I'm married to Mary!” he insisted, making you groan.
“Uncle! Can you tell Yoonoh he’s wrong!”
“I’m correct! That’s what Sicheng told me! Mary and Joseph are supposed to kiss so that they can make baby Jesus,” he sing-songed, the recording showing you storming over in your innkeeper costume.
“They don’t have the baby because they kissed,” you scoffed.
“Then you explain how it happens, since you’re so smart,” Yoonoh teased, completely unfazed by your annoyance as he grinned at you.
“It’s the holy spirit you idiot—”
“Alright, that’s enough,” you paused the video, swiping away from it on his phone, your embarrassment intensifying along with Jaehyun’s laughter.
“You were so cute,” he gushed, pulling up the video again to rewind it, earning an eye roll from you.
“And you’re just as annoying,” you huffed, not being able to maintain your annoyance when Yoonoh had leaned over, pressing a loud obnoxious kiss on your cheek, pulling you to rest your head against his chest as you lay on the sofa on top of him.
It took him long enough, but looking at it now, he was done with senior year, still a ‘three-pointer away’ from college. But maybe... he was exactly where he wanted to be.
381 notes · View notes
| into you | j.jh
pair: jaehyun x fem!reader
word count: 7.7k+
summary: as the uni campus’ social butterfly, it’s a given you have a lot of friends, invited to almost all gatherings and all adore you. for the latter, jaehyun does too. he’s so into you and likes how you’re his happy place. or; jaehyun— an unsocial, often misunderstood person, finds his behaviour different with you and perhaps wants to keep you for himself, not anyone else.
genre: fluff + elite!au
a/n: i’m back after a while since i’ve been so so busy! this is not proofread again and i’m sorry if there are any grammar mistakes down there :> this is not canon with “letting go” scenario in case there’s any similarities with the characters. hehe anyway i hope you all enjoy reading! ♡ ~j.
seated at the front row in the amphitheatre-shaped lecture hall, jaehyun frustratingly put his hood back on to hide himself from those who were staring from all around. they were definitely whispering about him, hands by their lips to conceal their voices in case he heard them. he hated this much attention, all because he chose stay of out school and classes— and claimed that it didn’t interest him.
so did coming today.
but the point was his attendance for this class was on the line and his busybody parents were sick of receiving phone calls or mails that kept filling their boxes, all for the same reason; that their son could be expelled despite handing assignments.
he rolled his eyes at the heat creeping up his ears as the whispers grew louder. he slammed the thin granite table, causing everyone to flinch at the sound and his presence. “can i have some quiet?! i can hear you guys talking crap about me!” he turned around at the pairs of eyes, soon frozen like meerkats.
they ticked him off. he couldn’t stand being in the same room with people who repeatedly questioned his existence of being here. he knew that rumours were going around, that the ‘jeong jaehyun’ in high school got into an private elite university— it could be anywhere but never expected it‘d be this campus. it was written in the judgment of their faces.
“chill man,” a guy his age swung his lollipop with legs on the desk. “some are curious why you decided to show up today since first semester’s a week away from ending, while some even wonder why you got into such prestigious and elite university.”
jaehyun’s eyed him slowly from legs to head. “who are you supposed to be?” he snorted at the stranger.
“just a guy who wants to break the distraught you’re trying to start.” he kicked his legs off the desk and stood up on his suede shoes, showing off his pearly whites.
he looked at everyone whose eyes averted from the two of them. “our town’s a small neighbourhood, so everybody knows everybody. we know exactly who you are, jeong jaehyun.”
“excuse me?” he swirled his tongue that it was evident he was pissed. “careful what you accuse me of. you and i both know it’s not going to end well-”
“they’re near they’re near!” a voice echoed the hall, cutting jaehyun’s attempt to intimidate the young man any further.
and with that signal alone, jaehyun could see and observe ladies fixing their hair and make-up, while the guys gave fistbumps to those near them. he rolled his eyes at him returning the favour to them as the guy unbuttoned his collar. “what’s wrong with you?” jaehyun was utterly weirded out. “with everyone?”
the crimson-haired guy only gave a flirty grin with raised brows. “this happens everytime.“
the door swung open with the professor rushing in. the students swifted heads, it wasn’t the first time he ever was late. he was young and good-looking, and it was hard to believe he still a bachelor. he gestured someone at the door, then the held-in giggles and mumbles were soon replaced with whispers of awe, as you walked in carefully with a tower of binder folders halfly covering your view.
clearly the guys around him have been secretly admiring; some had the confidence of taking selfies even if you were far, while others took a picture with their eyes so you were marked in their memories. ladies flocked towards the flustered professor like little chicks and surrounded him.
and that’s when the comments started coming in.
“park seojoon is so hot.”
“hey remember to use ‘professor’.”
“i guess genes runs in the family.”
“his sister is ethereal too.”
“i see her weekly and y/n’s a goddess.”
“y/n! are you coming to the party tonight?”
jaehyun knew who you were through social media and common friends. and he included himself part of the people who admire you. he also remembered because he bumped into you during orientation. he wouldn’t usually care about passerby’s and strangers and although that was a brief moment and short eye contact, something about you was hard to not forget. you had people and friends under a charming spell he couldn’t describe, and that was in a good way.
you tucked a strand behind your ear and became shy afterwards as they whistled and cheered towards your gesture, making you heat up a thousand degrees higher. you should be used to this but every time it happens, you were just as flustered as your brother.
jaehyun’s legs got up on its own and was surprised at himself for making his way to help you. he picked up the fallen binder files and scattered papers while the whiskers by your eyes creased up in shyness.
he hitched a breath realising that the clumsy you was adorable too.
“thank you.” a smile then appearing at the corners of your lips caused jaehyun to freeze for a while. yuta wouldn’t miss anyone’s reaction. he slid his chair close to jaehyun’s as the he came back, nudging his chair for him to give into your beauty.
“i know a person with heart eyes when i see one. now you understand why we’re whipped for y/n. isn’t she a babe- agh.” he held the back of his head from the smack.
“don’t call me that, nakamoto.” you hissed sharply with how confident and careless he could get, especially with people you weren’t familiar with. you looked at the guy in a black sweater and let out an embarrassed sigh. “i’m sorry about my annoying best friend. yuta tends to be chatty when he feels lonely.” you winked at him.
it was jaehyun’s turn to flash short chuckle, its faint sounds perked not only your ears, but yuta’s as well. “not a problem. i know a lonely person when i see one.” jaehyun emphasised through his gaze.
“i’m not lonely! i have y/n and my men!” he whined and turned towards you. “see what you did y/n?”
“it’s good to finally see you, jeong jaehyun.” you ignored yuta and brought out a hand for a greeting.
you pursed your lips to stifle a laugh, jaehyun’s ears quickly turned from pink to red. he gulped loudly and took your hand in his, eyebrows lifting at how you knew his name.
lost for words and you both locked eyes where he forgot to let your hands go. “we take the same course together? i know your name because you’re the only one missing from the class-” you said, shaking his hands to subtly let him know it had been a minute since your hands felt his vainey flesh.
“okay young lad that’s enough time holding my sister.” seojoon separated your hands and jaehyun snapped out of his admiration, inhaling quite stressfully with how stupid he looked. “get to your class y/n.”
“alright, i’ll see you at tea hour.” you waved at the boys.
“as long as you’re treating i’ll go.” yuta hummed in a monotonous voice, fixing his laces that went untied.
“i’m not talking to you dimwit.” you flicked his forehead, leading to your satisfaction of the nut-like sound from it. “jaehyun, because you missed yesterday’s class, prof assigned me to assist you, along with the other topics you’ve yet to cover. i’ll be expecting you at the café near campus.”
before you stepped out of the hall, yuta pulled your sweater, yanking you back. “are you going to taeyong’s party tonight? you never miss an event!”
you puckered your lips, pinching his cheeks that a cute gummy smile came out from it. “you know my rules. as long as you’re driving me home, i’ll go. see you later.”
jaehyun nodded yet was still in a daze. he realised what you said when yuta pushed him. “gross. don’t act as if we’re already close.”
“hm? was i really? i think it’s normal when you’re making a move on my best friend.” he brought out his laptop and typed his password.
i wasn’t. “whatever.”
and to say that jaehyun didn’t feel butterflies flying uncontrollably in his stomach would be an understatement. they made the intestine churn in ways he couldn’t imagine, and he himself wanted to deny that what he was feeling was just from the influence of others. but wouldn’t that mean his feelings were temporary? because if it were, he should perceive you an ordinary person.
yet here he was outside, still admiring you before he entered the café. he found it was amusing of how oblivious you were of his presence— you were too immersed into this assigned task by professor, but others found it funnier when jaehyun looked stupidly in-love and cowardly the lad looked, despite having the overall aura of a stuck-up.
as the sun’s rays brightened the city and the wind’s breeze made the trees leaves dance, only then had you raise your head to see jaehyun waving at you. ten minutes early, not bad for an actual first impression. “hey,” he greeted, making you smile with his low but gentle voice. “am i late?”
you took your bag from across and asked him to sit down. “no no. you’re just in time, it’s really nice to have an early bird around.”
his dimples deepened at the compliment. “how about the project? is it too late? you think i can still catch up?” jaehyun cleared his throat.
“that depends on your dedication. based on the record professor gets, you’ve been doing your tasks and homework quite diligently. he’s just worried about your habit of not attending his lectures might lead to procrastination when second semester starts.” you gave him a slice of cheesecake to eat. “he’s still teaching us another subject.”
“it’s quite the contrary.” he dove in for the dessert. “i don’t have the will to procrastinate at all.”
“then good.” you twisted the pen in your fingers. “let’s get started?”
for that span of two hours, how he wished it could be more. who knew you would have a lot of things in common with him? that time alone was not enough to talk about vinyl and jazz singers and pretty much everything that were overlooked by people. he brought up his favourite spots in the city and how they became a safe haven to escape the reality.
to cut the explaining short, his shell slowly started to open, bits and new things were showing. if you were surprised he was a good person, jaehyun himself couldn’t believe he was able to converse with people normally. being the awkward and shy type, doing this almost seemed impossible.
was it your magic that caused him to do so?
you learnt that jaehyun was rather special and by special it meant he had gifts that you believed were way beyond human limits. he never studied in a library, rewatched lectures or written his notes. and the professor mentioned how jaehyun received good grades in most of the things he submitted.
to be very honest, you were a little jealous. from how he was sitting in front of you, he didn’t seem to be interested but was definitely listening. and you sort of gave up in continuing anyway. “i don’t understand why i’m told i need to guide you when you’ve already caught up with everything.” you let out a soft chuckle that seemed more of a question.
“i was waiting for you to stop..” jaehyun said quite blatantly and stretched his arms and you were hurt because if he didn’t want to, he could’ve said so. heck, even more so, he shouldn’t have come here and wasted time-
“..because it looked like you were forced to do this by prof.” his smile then faded seeing you mirror the same. “are you alright? you’re a little pale..”
your eyes widened. “oh uh, sorry, i assumed-” you sputtered and probably died inside with what he said. you cursed in your mind. dammit y/n.
jaehyun raised his brows, making you more flustered and panicky. you sighed and waved your ‘its-nothing’ hand. “assumed that i’m brusque and a stuck-up?”
he pierced his eyes at you and you weren’t going to lie, he scared you a bit. but that fear immediately disappeared when a gentle giggle and adorable dimples replaced it. “i get that a lot, but don’t worry. i’m different from what people think. they think i’m not friendly, a-and a loner too.”
“you’re not.” he heard you counter him, slightly slamming the fork down. “if you were, you wouldn’t be here with me. or even bothered to come.”
his heart became warm through your words, that act of kindness torn down his walls of inferiority and his perception towards people changed. “thanks.” he checked the time on his watch and twisted his wrist to show to you. “don’t you have a party to attend to?”
“lee taeyong’s?” you stood up to leave the café. “i feel like skipping it for tonight. i’m not in the mood for parties somehow.”
“because i’m a better company for you?” jaehyun teased and boy was he proud with his remark, you didn’t even deny it. “you don’t have to go if you really don’t want to. it’s better to have time for yourself sometimes.”
“you’re saying from experience?” you asked, putting pressure on your words about his claim of being alone.
“it’s more of an advice for you.” he winked.
you thought he was quite observant even though he barely socialised with others. he noticed the light in your eyes sparkling, in which he felt his chest squeeze. you twirled in your toes as you hugged your laptop. “say.. are you up for a movie marathon?”
including now, it’d be the fourth time you both have rewind the specific scene just for that certain song jaehyun kept singing nonstop. and although you loved his voice, having the song on replay would be a little too much and the purpose of the marathon might go in vain. it seemed jaehyun was way into it, so interrupting him would be mean of you so you sang along.
“the nostalgia still hits me ‘til this day.” jaehyun tossed a bag of chips from your kitchen island to you.
jaehyun kept saying it may sound stupid and corny coming from him, but as a child he liked the whole high school musical series; and he pretty much became one when breaking free started to play.
because you both couldn’t decide where to watch the beloved movies by everyone, the marathon ended up being at your apartment. it was subtle, yet quite obvious to you he didn’t want it to be held in his place. you thanked your psychology course for giving lessons to notice even the little things in behaviour.
“how many times do i have to keep telling you it’s okay to like it? not like anyone would tease you for it.” you giggled as you opened the bag and popped a couple of chips into your mouth.
“yeah sure, but i know you would.” he squinted his eyes for you to admit that that was your plan eventually.
“have i?” you singsonged, sipping on the large cola cup.
he pointed at the hairbrush you held and suddenly you bursted out in laughter since jaehyun was obviously— maybe a little— offended with how you mimicked him singing earlier. “okay you caught me.”
jaehyun felt his entire body heating up. still in denial about actually being into you, he took a challenge upon himself and scooted next to you. his arms slightly brushed and touched against yours. “you in for hsm 2?”
“well we are having a marathon, might as well go for camp rock later.” you shrugged and eyed him with a confirming gaze.
“uh-huh.. but i’m still a fan of the trilogy.” jaehyun stole the chips in your hands.
“now aren’t you cheeky.” you gasped at his playful behaviour, and you didn’t dislike it. perhaps you prefer this naught over yuta’s as it didn’t get into your nerves or have the urge to hit him because of the hyperness.
he sat deeper into the beanbag. “i’m comfortable in here. your house feels too homey.”
“so is it my fault that you’re in your comfort zone?” you stated, taking the bag of chips back into your arms.
“yes.” he protested with frequent waves of his palms. “you’re too kind and i might come here to visit often.”
since he arrived here it had him wondering, why did he decide to show up today at campus when there was actually a pure human being like you? he just needed a person— just one— to knock onto his heart. yet with many people in his life trying to do the same thing, none held the correct key. and somehow,
it had to be you.
you’ve lost count of the number of times jaehyun has been hanging at your crib since then. it became a normal routine but never have you been to his place. it was always yours and you didn’t mind that. though he did promise, you respected his decision.
you found out he could be little dorky and corny but that was the unique trait about him. like friends at kindergarten, you both were still at a get-to-know-each-other stage. so that day, he created a schedule where he would hang out with you on wednesdays and fridays, claiming that he didn’t want to be seen by others, e.g. mr. nobody with ms. golden girl.
however, since then, people close to you have been looking at you rather differently. it wasn’t because they sometimes see jaehyun following you around, they sensed a different aura from you. you could feel their piercing stares from all directions, as if you were the centerpiece of a watch. there was something a little different than usual.
and you tried to ignore this ominous feeling for now.
yuta shook his legs vigorously, in which was an unsightly act to see for someone on the soccer team. you could see him from afar with his hands by his lips, biting it as he waited for your arrival at the university’s sports ground. jaehyun jogged towards you with his bag slung diagonally across his torso. he poked your neck and as a person with severe tickle spots, that caught you off guard into a fight-me position to the doer.
“chill, it’s just me.” jaehyun had both of his hands up, whiskers appearing just by the sides of his nose.
“jaehyun!” you relaxed your limbs. “got a better way of greeting? i don’t like being surprised.” you pulled the hem of his sleeve, missing how he pursed his lips in glee when you both instantly became close, like it was overnight.
he let you grab him as you both walked towards where yuta was standing by the bleachers. “i’m sorry?” he giggled loud enough only for you to hear. “i thought i’d get a priceless reaction from you.”
you rolled your eyes that it almost hurt doing so. “be glad i have enough patience for you.”
“and i didn’t have enough patience last night!” yuta joined the conversation seeing you and jaehyun before him. “where have you been? you said you were coming to my place yesterda- why is he here?” he looked at him then at you. “with you? again?”
“ever thought that i want to have my own ‘me’ time for once?” you took off your cardigan and placed it on the bleachers. you could feel jaehyun chuckling softly when you made reference to his remark.
and boy was he proud. “you’re emphasising on that quite often nowadays.” he helped you carry your bag as you to settled down.
“that’s because i never realised how true it actually is until i say it out loud, since being in everyone’s eyes does pressure me.” you balled your fists to nudge him lightly on the arm, and for him to dramatically receive the attack did put yuta in an awkward position.
“uh hello? i’m still here!” in front of you and jaehyun, yuta snapped his fingers several times to divert attention. “what’s going on with you two? how are you both suddenly so close when you’ve just met for the first time two weeks ago?”
jaehyun swifted his head towards you, and the telepathic exchange of words between you and him had yuta clicking his tongue in disbelief. “you were right, he will react.” jaehyun’s voice prolonged while munching on a corn dog.
“told you so.” you flicked your hair and turned to yuta as you continued talking. “bestie, we’ve been seeing each other since then.”
what the hell? the way yuta’s face turn sour at your smile towards jaehyun, he could almost faint right then and there since he swore he saw mr. dimples smile subtly at you too. “and with just that i’ve been replaced-”
“no i would never replace my best friend.” you held his palms hoping he would calm down from his high emotions, but he immediately pulled his hand away from you, much to your dismay. “hey, i’m here to make amends-”
“yeah?” he clicked on a pen and wrote something on a tissue, soon grabbing your bag from the seat and fished out your wallet. “then you’re treating me my meals for a month. i have another order right now.”
now it was your turn whose face became sour. “a month?! i can’t do that- hey!”
yuta tossed your credit card up in the air and upon seeing his eyes darken— though that was all in your head—you gave in and sighed heavily. you stomped your way to the caféteria while yuta comfortably put one leg on the benches with a satisfied grin. “man she’s easy to tease.”
“is that so? then i know now who she gets it from.” jaehyun said through his chews on his food, making yuta’s ears perk up at the response.
the atmosphere lingering between the two of them invited dark clouds. both could sense the change in their moods, and they both weren’t liking it.
yuta spun and played the ball on his hands then forearms, later let out a scoff when jaehyun raised his brows. he didn’t like the vibe jaehyun was giving and so did the latter. “i do it for fun. it’s natural between us.” yuta said.
“hm? she told me she doesn’t like it when you do.” he saw you on your tiptoes as you struggled to tell the order to the person at the high-levelled counter. but another scoff came out from yuta. “you got a proble-?”
“i don’t think so. i can tell it really bothers you when y/n hangs out with me.” jaehyun sat up straight at yuta’s comment about him.
“i should be. because i’m her best friend and who knows what type of person you are.” he did a few tricks with his legs. “but if you really want to know then your attitude is what i have problems with.”
“i remember telling you it wouldn’t be good for you when accuse me wrongly.”
he let out a monotonous and rather mocking laugh, taking jaehyun aback but he anticipated this kind of response from him. “and what? you’ll go berserk like you did years ago? as a high school freshman? beating the innocent up or whoever comes your way?”
“look i don’t know where the hell that came from but it’s not what you or everyone else thinks.” jaehyun aggressively crumpled the hotdog wrapper in his palms.
“c’mon you don’t have to hold it all in,” yuta set his ball aside and rested his hands on his waist. jaehyun was getting uncomfortable the more he listened to him. “unleash that side-”
jaehyun rolled his tongue, nodding his head to test him. “alright, i guess i don’t have to when i have feelings for y/n. thanks for the advice.”
what the..? yuta stared at him when there wasn’t a change in his expression. jerk- “now you’re talking. you wanna fight? let’s do that-”
“tsk yuta! the bill’s too expensive!” you whined and gently put down the tray.
while yuta clicked his tongue at your sudden entry and with how quickly you came back, for a moment jaehyun wanted to hug you for being his saviour. he was so close to lose his temper towards your best friend. the relief seen in his tensed shoulders, but you interpreted it otherwise. “are you okay?” you asked while you sat down beside him.
he hummed, folding his arms and looking at the distance, clearly avoiding eye contact with yuta. “mhm, i just realised the deadline is coming up in three days.” he excused.
you managed to utter out a giggle as you finally ate, finding out how jaehyun’s ears always turned red when given attention to. “you’re stressed about it?”
“aren’t you?” jaehyun drank the remains of his soda.
“not really since i finished mine. but, if you’re worried about your progress, i can help you.” you swirled the fork in the air like a wand. jaehyun smiled to himself when yuta took his ball to throw a fit.
“i’m not worried about the project. but there’s an annoying bug i’m trying to hit so help me.” jaehyun’s dimples appeared deeply again and as the darkening ombré sunset shoned his side profile, there you witnessed how pure he actually was— and you missed out on yuta’s frown towards jaehyun.
you gulped and almost choked on your own saliva, eyes still locked in jaehyun’s. his hair caught in the wind, making it look fluffy and his entire demeanour softer than you usually see him. you hitched a breath since jaehyun seemed like he had no plans to avert his gaze too. both of you were definely mesmerised and hypnotised, and for jaehyun it was just like that time. he remembered the colour palette of your makeup while you recalled the perfume he wore.
in the recent marathons with him you’ve never been this close, physically speaking. so this close-up really debunked the impression you heard from people, especially from yuta.
however, as you were oblivious with the pressure behind jaehyun’s words and even smiled back at him, yuta flicked your temple. he was indeed a worry wart and sometimes he would like to flick you just this once for being too much of a social butterfly. he knew it was in your nature to be kind and always on the look out for others. he’s fine when you were with anyone except with this guy you befriended. not him.
he dodged your flying limbs in attempts to hit him. “oi, you’re not going to ask how i am? if i’m worried?”
the pain from the flick remained on your temple. “no? you look fine to me-” you stared at your phone. the message reminding you of the singles elite party a month from today at 8pm. “a party?”
“yeah if you attended the previous party you’d know that there’ll be another one after taeyong’s.” yuta took off his shoes in change for his casual.
“hm. i’m don’t feel like going.” you jumped off the bleachers to dust off your pants. “probably gonna be boring.”
“i’m the one who’s holding it this time!” yuta put you under a headlock in his arms. “you’re ditching your best friend?!”
you giggled and ticked his sides and followed it with a playful hug. “just kidding. i heard from momo! i’ll be there.” you brushed your hair up into a messy bun while spotting jaehyun starting to feel out of place. “oh! do you wanna come to the party, jae?”
yuta mentally facepalmed and it was given he didn’t like what you did. but your eyes were quick to see his reaction and you slapped his chest. he glared at you while his hands caressed it. why did you have to invite him? it was the whole purpose why he decided to hold a party; maybe you’d finally appreciate his hardwork, or perhaps, notice him as someone more and as not a best friend who only worries and teases you.
jaehyun nodded in response, no words needed. a smile crept your lips as if you were given chocolates on valentine’s. “cool.” you pulled him on the wrist after hearing the coach calling yuta, followed with a loud whistle. “ah yuta, we‘ll get going! see you.”
“mm yeah..” yuta hummed, seeing you both vanish in the distance. “see you..”
your sulking self laid sideways by jaehyun’s lap, head rested on a pillow. it’s been too long since yuta avoided you, purposely ditched your hangouts, seenzoned your messages and ignored your calls. as if these weren’t obvious enough for you to know something was up. there definitely was but you couldn’t put a finger to it. so you forced jaehyun to let you stay at his place, being it your apartment was currently invaded by your brother’s friends from abroad.
but honestly it was also because you discovered jaehyun’s unit was blocks away from yours. fate was gladly on your side.
“y/n, you know i can’t work properly when you’re like this.” jaehyun sighed while he adjusted his sitting posture and lifting his laptop.
you slightly and lazily your body turned upright, seeing his dimples beginning to show themselves. “let me be.” you complained.
jaehyun put down his laptop. “i can’t. you’re in my way of cramming hours. plus, how long have you been coming here? it’s getting too frequent..” he paused when your eyes were no longer on him— rather they were on your phone, staring at the last conversation from yuta.
he couldn’t bring himself to say that he was reason why yuta acting the way he was to you. and for all honesty he would keep this matter to himself. “did i do something wrong?” you asked.
“of course not. he’s probably in his emo phase. guys have them a lot more than you think.” jaehyun typed on the keyboard for the remaining parts of the essay. “but he’ll get out of it eventually.”
“fine i’ll trust on that.” you sat up and scooted over to see his progress. you submitted your assignment hours ago. looking at jaehyun, it seemed he was struggling at some parts. were you unconsciously pressuring him? the beads of sweat began to roll down his temples and that made you giggle if it was the case. uh-huh. he was really feeling that way.
he gulped so loudly that it came out as a weird noise. he hoped you didn’t hear that. but the way you pursed your lips to hold the laughter in only had him discontinuing his report. “d-don’t do that.”
“do what?” you snicker.
jaehyun rolled his eyes and poked your forehead. “you’re too distracting.”
oh how the tables have turned. that comment flipped your head upside down, your heart in a frenzy and stomach churning. it wasn’t “so”, but “too”— that only meant he wasn’t concentrating on his work for a while.
even so, you waited for him to finish despite questionable feelings you’ve been feeling. his coffee cup already did seconds and thirds. and suddenly you remembered the happy hour the local café was promoting and there was a few minutes left until it ends for the day. you had to bring him there.
but you decided that because you wanted to be out of that suffocating air jaehyun caused.
the more you walked faster, the more jaehyun’s wrist reddened and hurt. but he let you be as he liked how you were comfortable with someone like him. your hair flowed with the wind, the remains of your shampoo left a sweet scent. was it lavender? and the wind blew stronger, making the scent clearer to the nose. his heart skipped beats, because it was indeed lavender. he swore in his head. scrap aside the frequent marathons and meet-ups. lavender’s all the more reason why fell for you quickly than ever.
and when the local café closed early for the day, you almost lost sight of the pedestrian signs. jaehyun pulled you in as the light emitted red. though you had your emotions get the best of you, you realised how childish you were for something so minor. you laughed in awkwardness, he did too. “i didn’t want anyone to see this side-”
warmth. that was all you thought of right there. you were in his embrace.
“..of me.” you soon mumbled in his chest, realising later of the action he just did. “jaehyun-”
“it’s okay. i don’t too.” his hand gently caressed the back of your head, treating it with care as if he held a newborn baby. “so can i keep you?”
that warmth became hotter, almost boiling that you weren’t able to breathe properly. “i’m sorry.” he said, that must’ve surprised you.” jaehyun chuckled.
surprised? of course you were. how was it natural for him to do skinship? and that smoothly? you both weren’t at that stage yet, let alone have a relationship with mutual feelings. even yuta couldn’t hug you because of how conscious you felt.
but then again, you looked up. you saw his ears. it was red, the usual reaction whenever you were with him. was it normal though? you were never aware of it up until now.
because it was so clear now.
“i’ll see you tomorrow? i have to help my mom with some things.” you lied as you scratched your neck.
jaehyun nodded and pulled away. “alright, go on ahead.”
you poked his dimples because he has been staring at you like he had questions to ask. “what is it?”
maybe he didn’t notice or maybe he did, but he was leaning closer, his head tilting to the side and eyes staring into your soul. you knew what he was about to do, you feel like letting him do so but at the same time you weren’t sure of your feelings.
just a little more and you could’ve locked lips but..
your phone vibrated.
in panic you looked at your device and eyes widened that brought jaehyun aback.
“ah yuta!” you brought your phone so close to your face, not believing your best friend’s announcement on social media, in which he then followed up with a text message.
the light in your eyes was something jaehyun liked seeing, but didn’t so as well.
“oh! he said the concept for the elites’ party is live wardrobe. all singles will go through a ballot draw. it’s for the clothes to wear for the night..” you locked your phone. “tsk i wanted to wear my favourite dress.”
“i think you’ll look great in whatever gown is chosen for you.” jaehyun pat your head while you were immersed in your phone. “now go. it’s getting late.”
“i’ll expect the same for you.” you replied.
he laughed and that didn’t want to make you leave just yet. “nah don’t. i’m just ordinary in a suit.”
funny how he was so damn wrong.
fate let him draw red, and confidently chose a suit once it was his turn to change. it was as if he knew this attire would go well with him. a suede texture with a black outline on its collar accentuated his brushed up light brown hair, while his black under-shirt contrasted with his porcelain skin. gladly it wasn’t halloween, or else you would’ve mistaken him for a vampire.
he had you feeling all sorts of things, and you didn’t know why when you were nothing more than friends.
an hour ago he was in his usual casual wear. now he was surrounded with ladies who already seemed like they were friends with him for decades. you could see jaehyun was uncomfortable but he kept his cool with folded arms as he leaned against a column. the comments from them irritated you, because at one point they were badmouthing him— and the second he showed up they flooded him with compliments of his good looks and how they named him the “model elite”.
you swirled the wine glass in your hand, the other arm hugged your waist. you rolled your eyes at the falseness these people have towards him. “can’t believe it.” your fingers curled as irritation began to cover your sight. “look at them trying to make a move on him. erlgh too close. they weren’t like that before.”
sicheng rolled his tongue, hands in pockets and walked to be in front of you. “really? you weren’t like that before too.” he pointed out.
“i agree. recently you’re stuck like glue whenever you’re with him.” yuta gestured.
“am so not?” you gasped while your eyes trailed to jaehyun, who was still had patience for the ladies surrounding him. “i just like how he’s a good friend.”
“doubt it.” sicheng poked your cheek. “you wouldn’t feel like this when you have feeli-”
not this again. “i’m grabbing a drink.” yuta suddenly cut the conversation.
“get me one too!” the younger one yelled and after he was satisfied with the gesture, he winced as you pinched his sides from the remark he said earlier. “ow! y/n! it’s true though! i know what i’m seeing!”
truthfully, nothing about sicheng’s words or actions bothered you. but if there was anything that did, it was your own heart. as of tonight, you began to question your feelings towards jaehyun. when did it start? how was it possible to like someone so quickly? “i’m telling you i don’t.” your eyes trailed to him, not realising the rush of heat creeping your cheeks.
jaehyun was approached by yuta, who was giving him a glass of beer. the ladies fled after stealing pictures of the guy and he took the drink in his hands. then they headed towards the garden of the mansion. wonder what he’s here for?
“nice party you have here. concept’s cool.” jaehyun started to break the lingering silence because he knew how awkward this was going to be with your best friend.
“yeah, never knew you’d end up in red. it’s y/n’s favourite colour.” yuta’s voice lowered. there was an impact jaehyun could describe but assuming that would be too rude of him.
“really? i didn’t know.” he hummed. aren’t you a little too happy, jaehyun told himself. he shook it off, for he doesn’t expect him and you to go any further than this.
“now you do. so can you back up for a while? take a week off or something from y/n.” yuta raised his brows.
this was the same feeling from before. he knew this feeling because he felt the exact same way. he wanted to be selfish for once. not like he hated yuta, it was just.. he always had to appear whenever he didn’t want him to. then he would mess his mood. he interrupted his joy of admiring you. jaehyun licked his lips to dampen them. “i’m sorry, who are you to tell me what to do?”
yuta grinned and leaned against the column as he mirrored jaehyun. “don’t you get it?” he asked, his tone rising. “i love y/n. you entering the picture just ruins everything.”
my hunch’s correct. he does love y/n. “if you love her you wouldn’t ignore her.”
“it’s because you’re with her! and she does the same to me! it’s like she’s found someone else-”
“you’re being dramatic.” jaehyun pushed himself off the column and turned to him. “y/n’s sad and moping around because you treated her like she’s all alone. you have no idea how much she waited for you to contact her.”
“what do you know, smartass? you’re just another guy trying to fit in when you know you couldn’t. no matter how much you tried, everyone’s afraid of you. and now you’re telling me you have feelings for y/n? please.” his lips jutted with sounds of disbelief while his body posture challenged jaehyun. “y/n’s kind to everyone she meets. it’s who she is. but to think you have hope to be with someone like her? if you ask me, all i see is a greatest mismatch.”
jaehyun usually didn’t give a damn of the comments about him. he couldn’t care less of any of those. in fact he’d hear them through one ear and out they went. but when he said anything, it irked him.
you see, that was the thing— right now, he actually listened.
he turned a blind eye on yuta’s words and let it off for the night. he was given a drink and maybe the alcohol didn’t work its way on him than it did to guy. in the end, yuta was probably spilling tea even if he didn’t intend to.
“what i feel for y/n has nothing to do with you. just like people can’t control the tides,” jaehyun lightly knocked onto yuta’s chest. “i can’t control mine.”
the footsteps echoed in yuta’s ears, he could hear them despite the noisy hall. “rghhh!” he grabbed hold of his glass and threw it towards jaehyun.
sounds of shattering glass met the ground, as well as catching everyone’s attention. then there was silence. jaehyun began to lose his patience as he turned around. his smirk challenged him. ouch. this was the fight yuta was looking for, seeing jaehyun’s heavy breaths only made him stand on his toes.
jaehyun punched him in the jaw though he knew it wasn’t worth his time. but he wanted to give him a taste of stepping beyond boundaries. yuta punched him back too. he made sure the star of the night was the other— shone the brightest and reveal his true nature. he didn’t count the number of hits he received, as long as jaehyun stayed that way.
“i told you it wouldn’t be good if you provoked me!” jaehyun growled. “you’re asking for show? i’ll give you one!”
“huh..” yuta wiped his bleeding lip. “you sure about that, beast?”
jaehyun held himself for the next punch, feeling all of the pairs of eyes on him. yours included. that was what he feared. “aw. what impression does she have on you now?” yuta’s cooing words caused jaehyun’s eyes to soften.
all bleeding and bruised, jaehyun’s injuries have matched with his suit. he clenched his fists as he frustratingly left the hall.
in your peripheral, your eyes trailed his direction and your legs followed him by heart, without realising yuta calling out your name several times. everything went blank, not thinking things straight because while everyone watched, no one understood. you glared at yuta before heading outside, a more disappointed sigh was the only response he got from you.
yuta was then nudged by sicheng. the latter could see the change in his expression. “what did i tell you?”
“you don’t have to tell me.” yuta dusted his pants.
“i’m still gonna.” sicheng rolled his eyes and poked the lad’s temple. “that’s what you call ‘stupidity’. if only you confessed to her before maybe things would be different between you guys.”
“i don’t want things to be different dude.”
“i’m gonna state the obvious, you probably already know this but.. you lost this battle.”
“crap..” yuta’s voice changed from a nervous chuckle to a soft sob. “i liked her first.”
you spotted jaehyun sitting atop a metal barrier just in front of the carpark— head down to mend his injuries and scratches. he sniffed from the cool night breeze before hopping off. “you’ll hurt your feet.” he pointed at the heels you had dangling in your hands.
his gaze softened when you pointed at his face, especially the black eye. “touché.” he chuckled, later feeling your cold hands against his throbbing flesh. “it’s no big deal-”
“i’m sorry about yuta’s behaviour.” you sighed. “don’t let it get into you. he’s an airhead when he’s drunk-”
“you sure? he seemed pretty sober when he said- ah.” he pursed his lips to speak any further. “nevermind.”
now that gotten you curious. “what did he say? spill it!” you whined, causing jaehyun mouth to curve a little in amusement.
jaehyun prolonged the silence and grabbed your shoes, leading you towards his car. once he unlocked it and opened the door, he bursted out in a loud, healthy laugh. “he said he was head over heels for you.”
you pushed him to the driver’s seat and slammed the door, rolling your eyes at the pun. “that was so lame!” you sat on the other side. “but i know that already if you thought i didn’t. i subtly turned him down ages ago. guess he didn’t take the message.”
as you tended to his wounds, one question still had your curiosity at its peak. jaehyun was quiet through-out, so it was hard to bring the topic up for a while. until your eyes and his met.
“what did you tell him before he threw the glass at you?” you dabbed the cotton onto the beaten area. “it must’ve pissed him.”
he dropped his car keys and let out a nervous hum. “uh..” he didn’t know what else to say. right when he was finally about to tell you, you suddenly giggled.
“unless you told him you like me and that made him angry, but i doubt that happened.” your lips shrank to a circle, cursing at yourself for assuming too much. girl the guts you have was incomparable—
jaehyun’s large hand held yours while you continued to apply medication. the warmth, the heat and the building tension of skinship made you weak. “you’re right.”
your smile and breaths changed in an instant when he fixed himself on the seat. he smirked a little, finding how cute you were. it drove him crazy.
“i like you, for the longest time, since the orientation. i’m so into you that i couldn’t help myself be selfish and have you to myself— i- i don’t know what i’m saying.” he sighed, pushing himself away in embarrassment with arms above his face.
“t-thanks.” you fiddled with your fingers.
“i’m not asking for an answer. i just wanted to let you know.” he said. “gosh this is a bad timing for confession.”
“then is it a bad timing if i said i’m into you too?” you looked away and out in the distance. you could see his reaction on the window’s reflection. he was shocked, but an uncontrollable smile was forcing itself on the surface. it was written in the dimples.
“no,” his husky voice called you to look back. “you’re just about right.”
437 notes · View notes
heart racing ▫ j.yn
in part of the adrenaline rush! collab hosted by @lucas-wongs + @ickjun
⇢ pairing: jaehyun x reader (f) (ft. other nct members + twice’s jeongyeon)
⇢ genre: fluff, angst, racer!au, best friends to lovers
⇢ warnings: swearing, mentions of cheating, mentions and consumption of alcohol, alcoholism, hitting rock bottom
⇢ synopsis: once a revered member of the racing industry, jaehyun has been living at rock bottom for the past few months following a tragic accident that effectively put him out of racing. it seems as though nothing would get through to him, not even you. will he ever break out of the constant loop of doubt and start seeing things for what they really are?
⇢ word count: 8.04k
⇢ fic playlist: get you to the moon - KinaBeats ft. Snøw | Amnesia - 5SOS | You Belong With Me - Taylor Swift | Confetti Falling - Big Time Rush | Go Season - Devin Bronson (highly recommended for the racing scene) | Love Story - Taylor Swift
⇢ a/n : unedited! also posted on this account because I’m considering merging my nct account with my tbz writing blog also PLEASE check out the other writers’ works ^^ we’ve all worked hard on our fics
“Jaehyun, you’re ruining yourself.”
The dim room reeked of stale alcohol and something mouldy as the empty beer bottles that littered the floor clanged noisily against the surrounding furniture, leaking golden yellow liquid all over. Old, worn clothes were draped everywhere, stained and darkened with murky stains while the battered television flickered weakly to live, showing nothing but static. The walls were streaked and striated with scratches, as if someone had just been clawing desperately at them and on the floor amidst the empty glass bottles, were pieces of scrap poster paper. Sunlight peeks in through the drawn blinds, giving a teasing glimpse to the bustling outside world from the sad, decrepit apartment Jaehyun lived in.
Sprawled on the couch with nothing on except a wrinkled pair of jeans, Jaehyun’s eyes were devoid of emotion - blank and dazelike. In his hand, his fingers held on limply to the neck of yet another bottle of beer, possibly his nth for the day. His usually shiny hazel brown hair was greasy with filth and his bare chest was sticky with sweat from being cooped up all day in this tiny, stuffy apartment of his. His jawline was starting to grow a hint of stubble given how much he’d completely let himself go and dark circles were appearing underneath those intense eyes of his.
Slowly, Jaehyun lifted his gaze from the floor to look at you, the first flicker of emotions that he’d ever displayed in the whole day. You stood before him, arms akimbo, your gaze sharp and piercing. He smiled, a smile that held no mirth or happiness.
“Oh, you’re still here.”
You shook your head, ripping the bottle of beer from his grasp. As you approached, the bottles, clothes and torn pieces of paper on the ground almost made you trip and you tutted under your breath.
“Of course I am. I’m your best friend who is somehow still here with you. Best friends help each other.”
He chuckled nonchalantly, waving his hand at the door. “Well, feel free to leave then. I don’t need your help.” His eyes held a hint of anger as he did, something that did not escape your notice.
“Jaehyun,” you said softly, placing the bottle on a nearby table as you dread what was to come next. “Please, not this again.”
Your words only served to fuel the fiery spark of anger in his eyes as he said in a barely controlled tone, the irritation radiating from him in ripples that threatened to evolve into waves, “Why not? I’m a fucking wreck and a loser anyways. Leave like everyone else did. Leave like…” His voice wobbled, “leave like Jeongyeon did.”
Your heart fell and it took almost a godlike willpower not to let your emotions show. Was he still thinking about her?
“What? Are you gonna say I’m not a loser like you always do? Cut the fucking lies. Everyone out there is saying the same thing, what makes you think you can convince me that you’re not thinking it either? Hm?” He spat, the drowsiness in his demeanour dissipating fast as red hot anger replaced it. There was so much internal frustration within Jaehyun that just seeing him like this was enough to break your heart. It was one thing to see him in this terrible state but it was quite another to see him directing his anger towards you.
You drew in a deep breath, trying to calm your pounding heart and to stop the tears that pricked at the corner of your eyes. Having been there with him every step of the year ever since the both of you were children playing and horsing around the neighbourhood, you found yourself desperately missing those much simpler times and wondering how things became so wrong.
For as long as you could remember, Jaehyun had always been interested and had a natural flair for racing. There always existed a competitive streak in him that thrived off a challenge. It didn’t matter what it was, as long as it was a game that could have a clear winner or incited competitiveness, he was all up for it. As kids, the two of you used to compete over everything, be it for the last popsicle in the convenience store down the street or past the gates of your school. It was as if racing was something he needed in order to live. It wasn’t until sophomore year of high school did Jaehyun decide to take his love for racing to a professional level. He began to dive deep into the motorsport industry, starting out as a mere rookie in auto racing. He never did apply to college, preferring instead to invest all his time into his newfound life career.
His rise to fame was quick, quicker than most. Within his first year, he had won a number of races, beating even some of the well known names in the sport. Every other month, he was winning trophies and exorbitant cash prizes which in return earned him the recognition of famous sponsors and racers. Bumper stickers from the various sponsors decorated the back of his ride and it was no time at all before Jaehyun began to don some of the most expensive sports gear on the tracks. With his smouldering good looks, he also appeared on the front pages of magazines and newspapers, all while attracting a loyal fanbase made up of both racing enthusiasts and adoring admirers.
To everyone else, he was the suave, handsome and effortlessly cool young racer who was practically born to race and to do it well but to you, he was your childhood friend… and your first love. In front of the flashing lights and cameras, Jaehyun knew his way around the crowd. He knew exactly when to flash one of his dazzling, dimpled smiles and how to work the crowd - it was just one of his innate charms. Yet, you knew that underneath that, that flashy, extravagant Jaehyun, was the Jaehyun you grew up with and had gradually fallen in love with.
As children, he was there for you whenever you needed him, always ready to lend a helping hand when he noticed that you were stuck in an unfavourable situation. You distinctly remember what had happened in second grade. It was a bright and warm summer’s day, the lovely scent of sweet peas floating in the air as the sun bore down on the earth. Pigeons flitted over the sidewalks, pecking at the cemented floor and the leaves of the oak trees that lined the streets rustled gently in the wind.
You fell with a loud and heavy thud on your bottom, feeling the leaves crunch noisily under your weight. Fear and trepidation coursed through your veins as you stared with eyes wide at your tormentors.
“Look at her, she looks pathetic. Do it, Johnny! Do it!”
A tall, hunkering boy flanked by his cronies stood over you, his dark, massive shadow engulfing you as you frantically scrambled backwards. Tears were beginning to stream down your face and a sharp pain shot up your spine with each move, owing to the impact of the fall. There were scratches on your hands as you dragged your palms over the rough gravel in an attempt to move away.
There was a malicious glint in Johnny’s eyes and his lips were curved into a devious smirk as he stared down at you, domineering and intimidating. The veins in his arms and hands were bulging angrily and as he clenched his fists, you felt your stomach sink. Your legs began to feel like jelly and your vision was beginning to blur from all the salty tears. You were struck with fear and the sense of helplessness you felt made you feel both ashamed and furious at yourself yet there was nothing you could do.
You held your hand up to shield yourself from the impending attack as the bully lifted up his fist.
“Hey! How about you pick on someone your own size?!”
The group of you turned to see Jaehyun, eyes blazing with anger as his chest heaved. His wind-swept hair hung over his eyes, a surefire sign that he’d run over and his cheeks were red from exertion. Even from afar, he was clearly no match to Johnny’s larger build, much less the whole lot of them.
“J-Jaehyun?” You spluttered, shocked.
“Who is this clown- Ow!” Johnny stumbled backwards as a rock pebble hit him on the head, promptly ricocheting off his forehead and bouncing onto the ground. His jaw was clenched in pain and when he removed his palm, a reddish bruise had blossomed and there was even a faint trace of blood. There was a split second of stunned silence before Johnny turned almost magenta with rage.
“GET HIM!” He roared and his cronies shook out of their daze, immediately going after Jaehyun who’d already ran a good distance before the reality of what had just happened set in. His mocking laugh rang through the afternoon amidst a cackle of profanities and threats yelled at him.
It was a laugh that remained in your memories all these years. It was a laugh that strengthened you, a laugh that spoke so much of willful courage and youthful rebellion which was everything you’d eventually come to associate with Jaehyun. That laugh was bright and so… him.
Yet now, you could see none of that playful mischief and vibrancy in those eyes. All that is left is emptiness.
“You’re not a loser, Jaehyun,” you began softly, “you never were in my eyes. You were a fighter.”
Those beautiful eyes you adored so much narrowed at you, his face twisted into a scowl.
“A fighter? Guess what, y/n?” He sneered, his voice dripping with venom. “I fought. I fought endlessly but did that work out for me? I threw in everything I could, every little thing. I worked hard and put in a hundred and one percent of my effort.”
You stared at him, your heart aching for him as a single tear began to roll down his cheek, tears of anger, indignation and pain.
“But did that work out? No, it didn’t. If anything, it left me a wreck. People out there call me a loser, a has-been and even my girlfriend has left me. It doesn’t matter how much effort I put in, how much I fought because at the end of the day, everyone is only here because of what they think I am. They saw me as a champion, an up and coming and the moment I wasn’t anymore, they all dropped me in a heartbeat. What are you waiting for, y/n? Why the hell are you even still here?”
His words echoed through the empty apartment and out loud, it sounded bleak, harsh and biting. His anguished voice tore at your heart and as each word left those lips, it felt like your heart was slowly breaking apart. Neither of you said anything for a moment, locked in a silent, unspoken fight as he held your gaze steadily. His eyes were cold and there was the look of a broken man in them.
“I am here because I love you, Jaehyun,” you said finally, your voice quivering. “I don’t care who or what you are and it pains me to see you tear yourself down like this because I know you are not the loser you believe you are. I don’t know how much of this I can take, seeing you ruin yourself.”
You can see the slight softening in his eyes and you gritted your teeth.
“I’m going to go. I don’t know when I’ll be back. I can’t see you ruin yourself and be able to do nothing about it. I’m not strong enough for that.”
With that, you left the apartment before he could see the tears in your eyes.
The miserable, empty can of beer clattered loudly against the hardwood floor, the sound echoing through the dank apartment.
Jaehyun barely lifted an eyebrow, his fingers growing slack without him even knowing. He stared up at the dark ceiling, a hooded look in those once bright eyes. The stench that hung around him was growing more intense by the day and it was reaching a point whereby he could almost smell himself but there was nothing in him that seemed to care.
Sounds of active civilisation outside drifted in through the windows and occasionally, he’d hear the honking of angry drivers on the roads or the laughter of children playing at the playground at the courtyard below. Normally, he loved waking up to these sounds or at least when he wasn’t off to the race tracks, when he was relaxing with a book in his hands. Now however, he found them irksome, irritating and he wanted nothing more but to block them out. He wanted absolutely zero reminder of the world outside.
Grunting, Jaehyun dragged himself off the couch. As he trudged heavily back to his room where his comfortable bed beckoned to him, he turned to stare at the large, imposing front door where moments ago, you’d slammed shut as you left him to his own devices.
Guilt tugged at his heart and for a split second, Jaehyun contemplated running after you. When you left, there was an indescribable sense of hollowness that engulfed him in a way that he couldn’t quite understand or explain. The apartment was filthy, dark and small but somehow with you around just a few minutes ago, it felt just a little bigger, a little warmer. As much as he hated to admit it, his heart was calling to him to reach out to you, run after you. The crumpled look on your face haunted him but he shook the thought from his mind.
It would be better if you left him. If you knew what was good for you, you would.
The anger in him was beginning to resurface at the thought of everything that had happened over the past few months. His career plummeting on a downward spiral right after his recovery, the exact opposite of what was predicted by his agent.
He was born to race, his family and his friends had always told him so. He knew it himself, he could feel it in his blood, his bones, his spirit. Ever since he was little, Jaehyun had known that his career would have something to do one way or another with racing. As a child, he loved running, competing but most of all, he loved riding in his father’s pickup truck on the way to school. He loved the way the vehicle would zoom past the streets, overtaking other vehicles and he loved the feeling of the wind against his face. He loved the speed and everything about cars or racing. It felt natural for him to pursue a career in competitive racing and a natural he was.
After getting signed with a racing company, Jaehyun quickly rose to fame with his numerous championships, bagging trophies, medals and cash prizes in almost every event he participated in. Sports magazines and reporters would clamour over each other to score an interview with him. People wanted pictures with him, wanted him to sign an autograph for them.
He was the golden boy in the racing world, an untouchable.
In the racing world, everything goes a mile a minute and nothing waits for anyone. After the morbid crash at the June Tokyo Prix, Jaehyun had sustained several fractures to his ribs and a severe concussion that left him in the hospital’s intensive care unit bedridden for several months. The pain was unlike any other and every single move hurt immensely but what suffered more damage than he did was his career and his relationships.
Within months, the racing career he had so painstakingly built up for himself collapsed before him. Due to long inactivity, brands and sponsors began to drop him, slowly at first then steadily one by one. He was also constantly under the media’s scrutiny for a period of time, their cameras and microphones thrusted in his face while he lay helpless on the hospital bed. The bright flashes blinded him and the loud noises made his head pound and even now, he still remembered how that experience was like, shuddering every time it crossed his mind. It had taken Jaehyun countless hours of physical therapy before he could even think of racing competitively again.
Yet when he did, he quickly realised he never could revert back to his old self, the one who got off on adrenaline kicks while zooming along the tracks at breakneck speed, the one who only knew what it was like to win. He was slower, less coordinated. His body could no longer take the pressure racing would subject it too, or at least not quickly enough for him to make a full, stunning comeback.
The tabloids and news had run wild with his fall from grace, writing up horrible, demeaning articles about him. His rivals had mocked him to his face and he could even sense the visible disappointment from his fans emanating from the stands whenever he’d lost yet another race. The thing that really broke the camel’s back however, was when his girlfriend Jeongyeon initiated a breakup.
Jaehyun had hoped that things would turn for the better, never one to give up. He’d trained tirelessly everyday, pushing his brittle body to the limit. He never let up on himself, gritting his teeth through all the physical and mental pressure he had imposed on himself. When the final text was sent, Jaehyun could remember distinctly how hopeless and distraught he’d felt. It felt like his world, the empire he had so painfully and relentlessly crafted for himself from scratch was breaking bit by bit. To add salt to the wound, the next time he’d seen her on television, her body was plastered against his biggest rival, Yuta. Her arms were wrapped around his and her lips pressing against his cheeks with no shame whatsoever for the interviewer interviewing him, no sign of the girl who’d once told him that she loved him with all her heart.
What was once determination and naive hopefulness soon devolved into anger and resentment. Jaehyun began to let himself go and the change was drastic. Where there once existed a time whereby he’d rise from his slumber early to visit the gym, he now regularly slept well into the late afternoon. His diet began to consist largely of takeout, junk food and alcohol and his apartment got more and more cluttered by the day. He’d stopped contacting his friends and family, ignoring their calls and texts, preferring to fester in his own solitude. It wasn’t long before an odour had started to emit from his place, a nauseating mixture of stale pizza, beer and pure filth from the lack of showers.
His appearance was also no longer polished, but rather haggard as if he’d aged five years in a matter of months. He was beginning to lose his fit stature, the healthy glow he’d once been prized on by magazines and gossip columns dimming. It got to a point whereby Jaehyun had begun to avoid looking at his hideous reflection in the mirror, his self-hatred growing with each day.
A poster of him in his racing gear and his race car was tattered and wrinkled on the floor, stained with ketchup and soda. Staring at it blankly with eyes empty of any emotions whatsoever, Jaehyun swiped it up and in a swift moment, he tore it up with a large rip before trashing it somewhere on the floor.
Flopping onto his comforter, he almost moaned in pleasure as he sunk into the soft sheets. Reaching for the air conditioning control, a loud smack on the ground roused him from his hedonistic haze. His hair was sticking up in all directions as he peered over the edge of his bed to see a picture frame that had fallen from his night stand.
Holding it in his hands, he looked at it with a nonchalant air.
It was a picture of the both of you a few years ago, back when he was just kick starting his racing career. He hadn’t yet made a name for himself then as the two of you leaned in for the picture.
You had on a bright, illuminating beam on your face, your eyes alive and glittering with happiness. Your hair was down, wisps of it framing your face as the sun brought out the colour and shine of it. Next to him, you’d completely dwarfed in comparison. He had his arm around you, bringing you to his side and from the picture, Jaehyun could feel a smile begin to crack on his face at the comical height difference.
He’d looked completely at ease here, carefree with the recklessness and restlessness of the soul beneath shining through his dark eyes. His hair was wavy, styled down in that ridiculous fashion he wanted so badly to leave back in high school. He had worn a dimpled smile on his face, the look of someone who knew he was destined for greatness and believed in it.
Jaehyun was about to put the picture down when something caught his eye. He leaned in closer.
There was something about you. At first glance, it would have been clear that you were smiling for the camera but upon closer look, it looked as if you might be smiling at him instead. Your smile was softer, eyes gentler from the first time he’d seen the picture. It was the sort of smile that struck him in his heart, the kind of smile that would make its recipient feel loved, appreciated.
“I want to be a racer when I grow up.”
You turned to Jaehyun, eyes wide as saucers as you popped the ice popsicle out of your mouth.
He shrugged, still struggling with the wrapper of the popsicle. The two of you sat on the wooden bench, side by side as the other kids ran around the park, playing rounds of tag while their parents or babysitters sat watching over them. The sun was glaring down on the earth and though it was a great day to go out to play and sweat it out, it was also a perfect day to find an excuse to buy popsicles with what little pocket money your parents had given to you two. It wasn’t an opportunity to be missed.
“I really like racing. I don’t know if there’s anything else I’d want to be,” he said simply, grinning as he finally succeeded in breaking open the plastic.
You tried to hide the blush that was beginning to creep up to your cheeks, looking away from him.
“My mom says being a doctor is good.”
As soon as you said it, you immediately regretted your words. Jaehyun scrunched up his nose in disgust.
“No way! It’s so boring. Do you want to be a doctor?”
Quickly, you shook your head fervently. “No!”
“Then what do you want to be?” He asks curiously, sucking on his popsicle.
You are quiet for a while as you ponder over his question. What exactly do you want to be when you grow up?
“...A writer.” You said finally and he swiveled around to look at you, clearly not expecting your answer.
“A writer? Hm, why?”
“I just really like reading. I want to write interesting stories that people will like,” you take a tentative lick of your popsicle, the icy, sweet taste of apple flavouring coating your tongue, “Like fairytales!”
Jaehyun broods over your answer, seemingly deep in thought. For a moment, neither of you say another word as you sit together under the warm, sunny day, enjoying your popsicles.
“I want people to like me too.” He says suddenly, his eyes shining. “People will like my racing! I’m going to be a racer and people will like me to win!”
He hops to his feet, his popsicle raised as he made his declaration. There is a triumphant, toothy smile on his face and he says it with so much hope and gusto that you can’t help but feel drawn to his driven spirit. For a boy of five foot, there was a lot of motivation and energy in him and there was just something about him that got you transfixed.
Under the sunlight, his smile seemed almost blindingly bright with the shadows highlighting the charming dimples on those round cheeks. The butterflies in your stomach were going crazy and your heart began to pound. Your words seemed stuck in your throat and you choked out, “I t-think you’ll make a good racer, J-Jaehyun.”
You thought your heart might burst as his smile grew wider, his dimples making deeper indentations. It felt like the sun might just be a little too hot since your face felt like it was positively flaming.
“Thank you, y/n.”
Suddenly, something caught your eye and shakily, you pointed at him.
His smile dropped as his eyebrows knitted together in confusion.
“Y-your popsicle is m-m-melting… down your a-arm.”
The elevator button made an uncharacteristic squeaking sound as Jaehyun jabbed repeatedly at it, his jaw clenched in impatience.
“Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up,” he muttered frantically under his breath, pacing the lift lobby. The red letters above the elevator were moving at a snail’s pace and it seemed as if it’s stopped to pick up some passengers on the 5th floor. How long does it take for people to move into an elevator?
Jaehyun groaned in annoyance as he watched the number on the display crawl up slowly.
This wouldn’t do. By the time it’s here, it would be too late.
Immediately, he sprinted for the stairs instead, his heart hammering against his chest.
There was great fanfare as the rowdy crowd erupted into raucous cheers, the large, industrial sized party poppers going off with a bang, covering everyone in glitter streamers and confetti. Cameras were flashing and clicking away at every corner while throngs of sports reporters flooded the holding area, all trying to reach the champions for their coveted exclusive interviews. Agents and pit crews were all celebrating with the sound of champagne bottles popping and yells and cheers of congratulations ringing through the air.
Jaehyun stood at the top of the podium, shooting the cameras his trademark stunning grin as he posed with his golden trophy that looked to be about the size of his torso. The racing suit he was wearing was uncomfortably hot and he wanted nothing more than to strip from it but the adrenaline and euphoria he was experiencing far surpassed any feelings of discomfort.
This was it, the taste of success. It was everything he lived for, raced for. This was why he always trained so hard, from dawn to dusk. This was why he put his own body through all those hours of endurance training, gym and dieting. It was all for this single moment of true bliss enjoyed and savoured after the extreme thrill of racing. Here on the podium, towering above everyone else… He was truly where he needed to be, where he was born to be.
As he stepped off and the bodyguards swarmed in to escort him to his own holding room, Jaehyun couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. Yet another trophy for display on his shelf back in his apartment. He didn’t think he’d ever get sick of it, the feeling of winning but then again who would?
Reporters were attempting to accost him at all sides, all screaming out the same old questions he had grown tired of early on.
“How do you feel after winning the prix for the third year running?”
“You hit a record timing today! How did you train for the race?”
“What do you have to say to your rival, Nakamoto who came in second this year? By a mere few seconds at that!”
Jaehyun nodded and waved at a few of them, still wearing a smile on his face but there was no answer evoked from him. He’d kept up a calm and cool demeanour throughout but once he was in his holding room alone, the moment the door closed shut behind him, he let out a loud, jubilant howl.
“Fuck yes!” He roared out in happiness before collapsing onto the couch, laughing to himself as he held his trophy above him. He badly needed a shower but he couldn’t care less, not with the trophy in his hands. Under the light, the gold shone and even as a seasoned racer, the excitement and happiness from winning never grew old. In the empty room, the victory felt even more profound, the reality of claiming the championships for yet another year sinking in.
He was in the middle of celebrating and basking in his own victory, he received a text.
Jy: how’s my man doing? congratulations on the win honey ❤️
Jae: thanks babe, it feels fucking amazing. you have no idea… also i missed you so much
Jy: we should celebrate. together, alone. tonight at my place? ;) we haven’t done it in awhile, i miss your body, your kisses
Jaehyun stared at the text. He should be happy, excited to see Jeongyeon again after so long. He had been so preoccupied with training for the big race that he’d barely had any time for her. He had missed her yet now that they were finally exchanging texts again after so long apart, he didn’t seem to feel the same anticipation.
There was something about that text she sent that seemed weirdly… detached. He had imagined their first interaction in over a month to be one that warmed him up in the inside, brought him to a whole new level of euphoria even after winning but if anything, this reality paled in comparison to the scenario he had looked forward to in his mind.
Jae: yeah sure
After pressing send, he tossed his phone onto the coffee table and rested his head against the velvety cushion of the couch. Somehow, that very short exchange with Jeongyeon had dimmed his excitement and readiness to celebrate.
His phone suddenly rang, disrupting him from the reverie he’d found himself in.
“Must be Jeongyeon,” he thought to himself and for some reasons as he swiped to answer the call, he found himself reluctant to talk.
“Jung Jaehyun! I was watching your race on television, congratulations for coming in first yet again! You were terrific out there.”
Jaehyun smiled, feeling his heart swell at your words.
“Thanks, y/n. I really appreciate it.”
“How about we meet for dinner tonight? I know of this amazing Italian place that serves the best lasagna, your favourite! My treat too to celebrate your win, how’s that?”
At the mention of lasagna, Jaehyun could feel his stomach rumbling and his mouth watering. The tangy tomato sauce, copious amounts of cheese and spiced minced beef with soft pasta… He would absolutely be down for some well-deserved lasagna after weeks of feasting on plain, watery salads. Dinner sounded like a great idea.
“Sure, I- Wait, I can’t,” he groaned, suddenly remembering his plans with Jeongyeon. Plans he didn’t even particularly look forward to.
“Why not?” You asked.
Fuck, why is it so hard to say it?
“I have plans with Jeongyeon tonight,” he said, ignoring the strange pang of guilt and indignation that hit him square in the chest.
“Oh! Oh, uh… That’s completely fine. Don’t worry about it, we can always have dinner some other day.”
“Really? That would be great! How does next week sound?”
“Sounds good to me!” Even on call, he could imagine you bobbing your head enthusiastically like you usually did and that brought a chuckle out of him.
“Alright, I’ll see you then y/n.”
“See you! Please rest well, you deserve it.”
“Thank you,” he replied before hanging up.
What is this warm feeling in him?
Jaehyun raced out of the apartment complex, his eyes searching his surroundings.
The sun was glaring and he couldn’t see straight without squinting his eyes. He must have been a weird sight to behold - scruffy, pale from the lack of the outdoors and reeking of the garbage piled up in his apartment. An elderly woman walking past him tutted disapprovingly at his disheveled appearance, holding her nose as she did but Jaehyun didn’t seem to notice her. His mind was on something else, something more important.
A boy from across the street was staring at him with his mouth agape, looking like a deer caught in headlights as he shakily fumbled in his pockets for his phone. Jaehyun let his sights linger on him, wondering if he should have at least thrown on a coat but as he turned, he caught sight of a figure hanging by the bus stop, looking miserable.
He swallowed thickly, feeling the slight clench of his heart and without hesitating a single second longer, he made his way over.
The heart monitor’s methodical beating was driving him near insanity. If not that, then certainly the suffocating atmosphere of the hospital and the bandages wrapped tightly around almost every single inch of his body would. Not to mention the occasional undercover paparazzi who would try to inch their way into his ward.
Jaehyun stared up at the white ceilings, still as a plank. Every part of his body hurt to move, he couldn’t even turn his head without feeling a painful pounding in it. Sometimes, he would get dizzy spells so intense he actually felt nauseous. His appetite for food or anything in general had since plummeted. Everything, but racing.
He yearned to go out there onto the tracks, to resume his training. The Roman Prix is coming up in a month’s time and he was so far from ready. He needed to get out of this place as soon as possible, even if it meant jeopardising his own safety. His career mattered more than anything.
Jeongyeon hadn’t called either since the day he got admitted. Jaehyun had soon grown tired of checking his messages or asking his publicist for news from her, the feeling of disappointment felt deep within him. He closed his eyes, suddenly feeling a wave of fatigue wash over him.
There was a gentle knock on the door and as the door creaked slightly open, you poked your head in. Upon seeing him, you smiled softly and made your way over to him. Jaehyun watched you approach, his eyes following you.
You had brought along a basket with you, seemingly full of items. As much as he wanted to know what you’d brought, he tried not to look overeager. “I made you something special today,” you said, settling down and practically vibrating with excitement.
“Tomato minestrone soup!” You exclaimed, uncovering the lid as the tantalising aroma of tomatoes and a medley of vegetables drifted in the air. Jaehyun almost had to restrain himself from moving, lest he shift a bone out of place somewhere.
Somehow seeing you had sparked a certain kind of joy in him. Maybe it was a sign nobody had really forgotten about him yet. He had watched his number of visitors trickle down day by day and now that it was close to a month since he’d been hospitalised, after the tragic accident, he barely got any. Perhaps three or four a week if he was lucky.
You, however, you were different. You visited him almost every other day, no matter how busy you were. You visited his bedside even if you were worn out from a long day of work, even when you had things to attend to, even when no one else bothered to. You would bring along snacks whenever you did or homemade get-well food like fish porridge or chicken noodle soup you’d whipped up yourself, though they might be far from the usual gourmet fare he was used to back when he was still active when he would go for exquisite dinner parties. Usually, you stayed for a substantial amount of time and sometimes, you even stayed the night.
Jaehyun didn’t understand why you would do all of this for a friend, a friend who never seemed to have time to spare for you at that. More than anything, the feeling of guilt in him only grew stronger with each visit yet he was grateful, extremely grateful. Your presence was like a warm ray of sunshine in this dreary hospital ward. Whenever you visited, he couldn’t help but smile even though he could not find it in himself to smile. But when it came to you, it felt natural.
At the sound of Jaehyun’s voice, you turned and even from afar, he could see your reddened eyes - a surefire sign you’d been crying. Guilt and anger washed over him in waves and he tried not to think how many times he had been the cause of your tears. If only he could turn back time, he would have shook himself for ever dismissing you so lightly like he did, before he saw the situation for what it was.
He was blinded. Blinded by his obsession for winning, fame, glory and pleasing the wrong people. In a way, it felt like a fog had been lifted before him and now that he could see, think, feel clearly… He wasn’t going to let the right person out of his grasp. The person who loved him unconditionally, not just for his fame and achievements. The person who stuck with him through thick and thin but he was just too daft to notice it. The person who always felt like home whether he knew it or not.
“Jaehyun? W-What are you…” You spluttered, desperately trying to wipe your tears from your face as you stared up at him.
It took a couple of seconds for him to regain his breath, his face turning red from embarrassment and exertion. He should really start leaving those beers and junk food alone.
“I…” He panted, both out of fatigue and relief, “We need to talk.”
“Jung is getting closer, any minute now Hendery!”
“I don’t believe this! Are we looking at a potential comeback for this prix? Push, push, push!”
“It seems like we might be! Here he comes! He is absolutely mad!”
The nascars zipped along the race tracks, smoke and some bits of burnt rubber and chipped metal trailing along its wake. They were a blur of colours to the spectators, who were practically glued to their seats as they watched the race reach its climax. A massive telescreen was displaying close ups and the ranking board with huge overhead lights that illuminated the stadium. The crowd was growing wilder by the second as the racecars zoomed past them, their attention fixed on one racer in particular.
The sleek nascar was streaked in royal blue and crimson red over a metallic black base, looking almost purple and black with how fast it was flying across the tracks. The wheels were spinning so fast that the friction between the tough rubber tire and the rough granite almost lit up the tracks. It was charging forward with a steely determination and ruthlessness, closing in rapidly on a green and white nascar ahead of it.
The adrenaline coursing Jaehyun’s veins was unlike any other. The thrill he got from racing could practically send him into an all time high and a cunning grin tugged at his lips as he stepped his foot down hard on the pedal, his hands gripping tightly onto his steering wheel. Rounding around a bend, he clenched his jaw as he pushed his body weight to the left, the muscles in his abdominals and biceps flexing and straining against his racing suit as the car drifted across the tracks in a perfect arc.
“Did you see that perfectly executed drift?! Insanity!”
“Jung is absolutely on fire!”
The thunderous cheers of the crowd and the loud hum of the race cars racing across the tracks faded into the background as he kept his eyes trained steadily forward. Any time now…
“Watch out, Nakamoto,” he whispered under his breath.
Steering his wheel sharply and accelerating much to the crowd’s excitement and trepidation, his race car was now driving side by side along Yuta’s. For a split second, the two turned to look at each other through the window and even though there was no way of seeing the other’s face through that helmet, something in Jaehyun told him that his rival was angered, shocked and… Fearful.
Jaehyun grinned beneath his helmet and without a second thought, he zipped forward, leaving Yuta behind in the smoke.
“He’s going for it, he’s going for it… Wait for it… And he crosses the line! The legend has reclaimed his spot on the top!”
“And that is how you execute one of the greatest comebacks of all time, ladies and gentlemen. Jung has done what we believed to be impossible and dominated the race! I wonder how Nakamoto feels about that?”
The other commentator chuckles into his microphone.
“Well Haechan, if I were him, I’d be pissed off for sure! But I’d also be worried… So very worried.”
The crowd was absolutely wild when he’d disembarked from the car and as he removed his helmet, he was greeted with camera flashes all around him. He shook his head, running a gloved hand over his hair and he took a deep breath. The air smelled of burnt rubber, smoke and… Success.
He had done it. He had made his comeback.
His pit crew made a beeline for him, slapping him on the back, their faces jubilant and lit with pure joy. His new manager, one that he trusted and helped him inch his way back to the top step by step, shot him a thumbs up which he nodded in acknowledgement as the crowd of sports journalists, reporters and photographers began to swarm in on him.
Yet, he paid them no attention. If this was three years ago, he would have basked in the glory, the attention but now he had greater concerns on his mind. His heart was pounding now for a different reason altogether and he could feel his hands growing clammy.
Jaehyun craned his neck and searched the rowdy media crowd. Where were you?
At your voice, he turned and immediately almost stumbled backwards as you crashed into him for a hug. The feelings of you against him sparked a joy in his heart, a joy almost greater than winning. He enveloped you in a hug, holding your waist as he nuzzled his face into your hair. Your scent of honey and jasmine was intoxicating, alluring and a welcomed change from the smell of smoke and rubble.
The two of you had been dating for about two years now, each day together better than the previous. After he’d caught up with you that day, it was as if you were seeing a different Jaehyun from the one you’d seen in his apartment. That Jaehyun who had caught up with you at the bus stop was the old Jaehyun you’d missed and it was as if a switch somewhere had been flipped. To this day, he had never admitted what changed while you were gone for those few minutes. He had subsequently apologised for everything he’d done, even things you didn’t see a problem with. It was shocking to say the least to see the unapologetic Jaehyun apologise for anything at all, but not more shocking than what entailed a few days later.
It started with a vase of luscious red roses being sent to your workplace followed by an invitation for dinner. Before you knew it, the boy you’d loved almost all your life was courting you with a passion. It felt like a complete dream, so much so you had been afraid to wake up suddenly and realise it was all just your imagination. He’d been more of a romantic than he’d let on and many times, you had found yourself completely smitten by his stunts that stretched from learning how to make homemade chocolates for you on Valentine’s Day knowing that you liked them, even though he was well known as a terrible cook to sending flowers up to your doorstep every other week.
Within a couple of months, the two of you were dating and deeply, wildly in love.
Amidst date nights filled with laughter and kisses, he had also been steadily climbing his way back up the ranks of the racing world. After ditching his unhealthy lifestyle he had been living for the past year, the change was apparent. He’d started hitting the gym, eating healthier and before long, he was in prime condition to start racing again. Training was long and tough but he never did give up. He was more determined and driven than you’d seen him and though the old Jaehyun would have been gutted at a loss, this new, better version of him never fussed over a loss of any kind, instead learning from his mistakes.
All of his efforts had led to this ultimate moment, the taste of victory on his lips.
You noticed he had been shifting uncomfortably and you looked up, puzzled and concerned.
“Jaehyun? You okay?”
He looked at you, his ears red, a sign that he was anxious, nervous.
Your words got stuck in your throat as he knelt down on one knee, the lights overhead bringing out the sparkle in his eyes and the shine in his hair. Those dark orbs were so full of hope, anxiety and love all intermingled in one and you found it difficult to believe that those eyes were looking at you directly, the emotions in them all for you.
Jaehyun withdrew a tiny, velvet box from his pocket and popped it open. In the box, was a tiny diamond ring, glittering and absolutely regal. The diamond itself was beautifully cut and interwoven into the metal band with microfibres of white gold and it simply shone as the camera flashes went off. The crowd was going bonkers, screaming and cheering with wolf whistles.
“Y/n,” he spoke softly, his voice gentle. “You have always been there for me, always been my better half. We have been friends for over a decade and lovers for merely two but it seemed as if we always were meant for each other. It took me so long to realise that and there is not a day I don’t regret not realising it sooner. You are my everything - my past, present and future. Falling in love with you was gradual, unconscious. I guess my heart knew you the one before I even did. It started with me being in a dark, dark place where I drowned in my own self-hatred and insecurities. I was beaten, defeated and I just gave up. Where everyone did the same, you never did. You were like a beam of shining light, shining upon me and guiding me even if I didn’t notice it at the time. But when I did, you glowed even more brightly than I’d envisioned. I’d been oblivious to your beauty both inside and outside for far too long and god knows how much I fucking regret it. I’m different now though, because of you. I am the best version of myself right now because I have you in my life. You taught me how to love, allow myself to be loved. There’s no universe whereby I’d want to be without you. I can’t see myself without you in my life. I need you, I love you.”
Tears were beginning to stream down your face and the stadium had grown quieter, all tuning into what was happening.
Jaehyun looked up at you, hopeful and so full of love that you thought your heart might burst.
“So I guess what I’m saying is, will you marry me, y/n?” He asked breathlessly.
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