Pairing(s) / character(s): Jiyong / Seunghyun, Chaerin / Dara, Youngbae
Word Count: 2707
Note: find chapter one, two and three here.
Summary: Double dates are confusing. You might just end up falling for the wrong person.
The night Chaerin went to the cinema with Dara, Jiyong hit the club with Youngbae and Seungri. They'd chosen Octagon as the venue for their post-exam celebration, a club which compensated its expensive entrance fee with excellent music. Jiyong felt all stress from the past two weeks leave him as a heavy bass sound greeted him – some might say sleep or money was the best solution to one's problem, but Jiyong would counter-argue it was music.
As it was a Friday night the club was crowded, but Jiyong liked that. Liked the feel of people's bodies pressed against his. He needed the energy, the affection, the attention, even if it was (mostly) unintentional. Being alone wasn't his forte, is what it was.
Seungri was soon off to whichever corner of the room the prettiest girls happened to be, so it was just him and his longest-standing friend in the crowd. Youngbae was meticulous in his dancing, always garnering a handful of impressed stares. In the years before college his friend had regularly attended dance lessons and still liked to practice by himself. Jiyong's dancing was more instinctive: he needn't think when the music was on, his body did it for him. After a pretty exhaustive forty minutes of dancing, Jiyong's body was gleaming with sweat. He beckoned Youngbae and signaled towards the bar. A drink was in order.
Youngbae seemed to think much the same way, wiping the sweat from his brow as he ordered a coke with the busy bar lady. No alcohol for him.
They leaned against the bar side by side, overlooking the dance crowd in front of them. From here it looked like one moving collective instead of a group of individuals. Youngbae drank his coke with relish as Jiyong twirled the mini-parasol from his drink between his fingers. The orange colour stood out against the black of his jeans.
“So, who is it?” Youngbae said mildly after a comfortable silence (silence against the backdrop of loud bass, that is).
“Eh?” Jiyong's attention was still with the crowd.
“Who's the girl?” Youngbae clarified with a knowing look, because he was his best friend and could read him like a book.
Except in this instance, anyhow.
“There's no-one,” Jiyong huffed somewhat annoyed, and untruthfully. But because he sucked at lying, at least when his best friend was involved, he added against better judgment: “There's no girl.”
That, at least, was the truth.
“Ah,” Youngbae said meaningfully, effortlessly catching on to the nuance of his reply.
“Let's talk about it another time,” Jiyong said, because a) he didn't feel like having that conversation right now, b) he was about to meet with Seunghyun tomorrow and he'd like to see how that panned out first and c) most importantly, Rihanna had just come on and it was a disgrace not to dance to Rihanna, so.
Downing the last of his drink, he moved to the dance floor again, Youngbae in tow. Soon he lost himself once more in the movements.
See, it's not like it was a secret that he'd also had crushes on guys. Too many good-looking folk in this world not to, in his humble opinion. It's just that he'd never really done anything with those crushes apart from shallow admiring and the occasional (veering into frequent when tipsy) flirting.
And maybe right now, in-between the text messages and meet-ups with Seunghyun, he was rather hoping that was about to change.
The café he'd agreed to meet Seunghyun was unfamiliar to Jiyong. Seunghyun had suggested it, saying it was a place he liked to frequent.
Jiyong checked Google maps once more to see how close he was. He was running late, having overslept thanks to the clubbing the night before. The text he'd sent Seunghyun had yet to be replied to. Typically.
He'd never been around this neighbourhood much, a relatively quiet area south of the bustling center. It was charming though, with older buildings and several interesting-looking art shops. He ought to check those out later. Maybe together with Seunghyun, if he hadn't ruined any prospects of that with his tardiness.
Jiyong stopped his speed-walking when he finally spotted the café. 'Orchard' the sign read. He quickly – maybe more like thoroughly – checked his reflection in the window of the furniture shop next to it. The beanie covering his bed-head was mostly a means to an end, but could be read as fashion accessory all the same. The ultimate hangover look.
Good to go, he pushed open the door of the café. Wooden paneling and a jazzy tune greeted him. A quick glance at the bar showed him that yeah, this was something else from his staple Friday night bar, all right. Wine bottles lined the entirety of the wall.
Seunghyun was easily spotted as there weren't many customers in yet. He was sat at a table near the window, hunched over. Writing, Jiyong realised. He stopped in his tracks to look, both because he was unsure whether to interrupt and to take in the picture.
It could be a scene from a film noir, this. Man writing in a jazzy café on a Saturday morning.
Stalker guy watching from afar, his brain helpfully added, which started his legs into motion. Right.
“Hey,” he greeted as he approached Seunghyun's table.
The other guy looked up. “Hey,” he replied in a somewhat surprised tone, though his smile was warm. It made Jiyong's chest tingle pleasantly.
“Didn't want to interrupt you,” Jiyong said as he watched Seunghyun file away his notebook. Jiyong wished he didn't. He rather wanted to see what was written on it.
“It's fine,” Seunghyun said, “I was just passing the time.”
“Sorry I'm late,” he said as he took off his jacket and hung it around the back of his chair. “Did you get my text?”
“Yeah, I heard but hadn't come around to checking it yet.”
Jiyong snorted, sitting down opposite him. “Figures.”
Seunghyun gracefully ignored the jab and instead asked: “Rough night?”
Which, okay. It was Jiyong's turn to scowl.
“Shows then, does it?”
Seunghyun smiled a little sheepishly at him. “Nah, just a hunch. You look fine.”
Which was enough to transform Jiyong's scowl into a bright smile. As Chaerin probably would've commented: too easy.
“Was great fun yesterday, pity you couldn't come,” Jiyong said in a fruitless attempt to divert attention from his beaming face.
“Next time,” Seunghyun promised him.
Right then the owner appeared at their table. From the way Seunghyun greeted him, it was clear he was a regular at the place: they appeared to be on first-name basis.
“What can I get you?” the man asked.
“An Irish coffee, please,” Seunghyun ordered.
Seeing as he was still in the process of undoing his hangover, maybe alcohol wasn't the best idea right now. “Just a regular one for me,” Jiyong said.
As the man walked away to get their orders, Jiyong turned to Seunghyun with a grin. “You're the only one I know who orders Irish coffee at eleven a.m.”
“Helps me get started,” Seunghyun said jokingly, and Jiyong's grin widened.
“Is that like a writers thing?”
Seunghyun's look turned a bit self-conscious. “I'm not a writer.”
“But you want to be.”
Seunghyun didn't object to that. Jiyong leaned forward, propelled by his curiosity.
“Can I see what you were writing just now?”
“No,” Seunghyun said.
Jiyong pouted. “Please?”
Seunghyun shifted in his seat. “Outside my writing class I don't really let anyone see. It feels weird.”
“I'll let you hear my songs in return,” Jiyong promptly offered. He hadn't really thought it through before he'd said it, but there it was.
Seunghyun seemed to actually consider this. “All right,” he finally said.
“Yeah. You promised to let me hear them ages ago, anyway.”
Jiyong remembered their conversation outside of campus, back in October. I just want to do music, he'd said, strangely open towards someone he barely knew. But Seunghyun had nodded understandingly, wearing that blue hoodie of his.
He strangely wanted to see that again.
“You can stop by our apartment later this week,” Jiyong offered, a faint feeling of excitement starting to bloom in his stomach. Yeah, it'd be nerve-wrecking to show him his songs, but he'd get something in return. And there was plenty of time to worry about that later, anyhow.
The owner reappeared at their table to hand them their coffees.
“Thanks,” Jiyong said and gratefully took a sip from his cup. Caffeine was just what was needed in times like these.
Seunghyun's beverage seemed to have the same effect on him. He seemed undeterred by the alcohol by all accounts: definitely a stronger stomach than Jiyong, then.
“So, did you have a good time with your family?” he asked after a small drinking pause.
“Yeah,” Seunghyun answered. “I showed them around town a bit and then we had dinner at The Peacock. You know that place near the square?”
Jiyong did know, and also knew the menu prices far exceeded his student budget.
“Kinda fancy, isn't it? Food must be good,” Jiyong said.
“The pasta is great,” Seunghyun agreed with a happy dimpled smile and Jiyong's chest did that thing again.
You know. The 'feeling warm for no apparent reason' thing, other than the guy in front of him seeming happy about food. They had that in common then though, so that was great.
Seunghyun took his phone from his pocket. “I could show you a pic if you want? We took some yesterday.”
Jiyong looked up. “Yeah,” he said, probably a little too eagerly.
It seemed to work for Seunghyun though, as he proceeded to swipe through his phone's gallery to conjure up some pics.
“Here,” Seunghyun said after a moment, as he showed him a picture of yesterday's meal. And okay, yeah, even in his current hangover state Jiyong wouldn't say no to that.
“We should go there,” Jiyong said without really thinking about it.
Seunghyun didn't agree, but then he also didn't disagree – and if the little smile on his face was anything to go by, Jiyong ventured it was closer to the first than the second.
Seunghyun swiped to the left, and a picture of his family appeared. Him seated next to an older girl who appeared to be his sister, and an elegant woman who was evidently his mother. For a moment Seunghyun seemed to want to swipe on, but then stilled his finger.
“I can see where you got your good looks from,” Jiyong remarked cheekily (though entirely accurately). In the short time he'd gotten to know Seunghyun, the guy appeared to be quite private about his family life. Jiyong felt privileged, somehow, to get to see this. Light-heartedness seemed the best route to take to diffuse any tension or awkwardness.
His comment seemed to have the desired effect, as a somewhat baffled smile appeared on Seunghyun's face.
“If you start getting ideas about Hye Yoon noona, I'll have to fight you.”
“Don't worry, I'll be a good boy,” Jiyong said with a grin. And then, because Seunghyun was seated so close to him or perhaps because he simply couldn't resist: “Does that apply to all Chois?”
He cocked an eyebrow. Seunghyun wet his lips.
“Well. Maybe not all,” he said and that was all Jiyong wanted to hear.
Around noon, Jiyong and Seunghyun exited the café to look at some of the shops in the neighbourhood. As it turned out, Seunghyun had a surprising interest in art and furniture – though really, at this point maybe Jiyong should let go of surprise altogether as Seunghyun always seemed to do the unexpected. He liked to listen to Seunghyun's passionate talks about some designer or another, winding down to a somewhat sheepish and self-conscious finish. Jiyong merely smiled in encouragement, which was enough to get him started again.
In-between, Jiyong looked at some clothing. The garments were without exception too expensive for his sorrow budget, but he got enough inspiration to find similar things elsewhere. Or make it himself, if need be.
When it was nearing two p.m, Jiyong's stomach reminded him he'd only eaten a grand total of one piece of toast today (everything he could muster before he'd had to rush out of the door this morning). And although he'd love to grab lunch with Seunghyun, at this point his bed beckoned as much as lunch did.
“Sorry, but I think my lack of sleep is catching up with me,” Jiyong said mournfully as they existed their eighth shop.
“No worries,” Seunghyun replied, “I've been there.” They stopped at the pavement, facing each other. “Better to pass out in bed than here on the pavement, right?” Seunghyun added as some kind of sage advise, and Jiyong had to grin at that.
“It's not that bad,” he said, even though his body indignantly screamed the opposite. Yeah, okay, he really needed that sleep.
“So,” Jiyong said.
“So,” Seunghyun replied.
Right. The infamous doorstep moment. Or pavement, in this case.
“I'll see you again soon?”
“You're gonna have to show me your songs, remember?” Seunghyun said.
“Before you show me your writing, yeah,” Jiyong reminded him with a smile. “So we can text, set up a date.”
They looked at each other. Seunghyun's fringe was windswept. Jiyong wanted to reach out and touch.
Before he could think about it, Jiyong took a step forward. One awkward moment it seemed as though his hug was not going to be reciprocated, but then Seunghyun finally caught on and did the same: his arms enclosing him fully. Jiyong slotted perfectly in-between them. Head lightly resting on the other guy's chest, Jiyong breathed out slowly.
He could detect the faint scent of an eau de cologne. It smelled musky.
When they finally let go, it seemed reluctant on both sides.
“All right, well, see you then,” Jiyong said a little breathlessly, mind still trailing a few seconds behind.
“See you,” Seunghyun replied, and his smile rather felt like a promise.
When he finally arrived home, Chaerin was lounging on the couch.
“Hey,” he greeted, mind already floating towards his bedroom.
“Hey,” she greeted back. She then took a critical look at him and commented, “You look terrible.”
Jiyong managed to scowl even in his sleep-deprived state, which he considered to be an achievement. “Hello to you too.”
Chaerin smiled somewhat conciliatory at him. “I take it last night was fun, then?”
“Yeah,” Jiyong said, as he looked around for something to eat. Sleeping was going to be difficult on an empty stomach, no matter how tired he might be.
Chaerin threw him a bag with chips, apparently reading his mind like the helpful roommate she was. “Here,” she said.
Jiyong gratefully took some. “You're an angel,” he said as he munched on them. “Sometimes,” he edited himself, giving her a half-hearted glare. That was for the 'terrible' comment, anyhow.
Chaerin shrugged with a smile, undeterred. “Where were you headed from just now? Can't have been at Octagon all afternoon, can you?”
Jiyong shook his head, too engrossed in eating to answer at first. “I was with Seunghyun, met up in the south district,” he finally replied.
“Oh,” Chaerin said.
For such a short and infinitely vague answer, that oh could signify a lot of things. He looked up at her questioningly.
“Nice neighbourhood, isn't it?” Chaerin continued, leisurely winding a strand of hair around her finger.
Jiyong paused. “Yes,” he then said. “Its got great boutiques.”
Chaerin nodded. There was a silence. Then Jiyong threw the bag of chips back in her direction: binging on salt and fat might not be the wisest thing for his stomach right now.
He stretched his body, fully intending to finally fall onto his bed and not exit for the next twelve hours, before he remembered his roommate's plans yesterday evening.
“Before I forget, how was your night?”
“Oh, it was great,” Chaerin answered. Jiyong paused as he felt that she would add something, but after another second Chaerin merely repeated: “Yeah, it was just really great, you know.”
Jiyong nodded, shuffling in the direction of his bedroom at last.
He had the distinct feeling they were both not telling each other something.
Next chapter here!