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Title: When in College, chapter 5
Pairing(s) / character(s): Jiyong / Seunghyun, Chaerin / Dara, Youngbae, Bom and Minzy
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 2844
Note: find chapter one, two, three and four here.
Summary: Double dates are confusing. You might just end up falling for the wrong person.



Chapter five



Chaerin stared at her phone screen. On her phone screen was a picture Dara had uploaded to her Twitter five minutes ago, and which she had favourited two minutes ago. Dara smiled up at her, fingers held in a cutesy V-sign. Chaerin didn't smile back. Instead she chewed her fingernail.

See, she was busy Figuring Things Out. About Dara, about their cinema date, about everything that connected the two. She was no Kwon Jiyong who'd walk with his head in the clouds one minute and crashed down the next with no guidebook on his feelings whatsoever. She needed clarity, certainly before discussing it with other people. Which was why she hadn't said anything to Jiyong yet, even though she'd been about to yesterday afternoon.

Coming to a decision, she switched to Whatsapp and selected Park Bom, who'd added her right after meeting.

wanna go out for those drinks this week?

Sometimes it was better to do these things through friends. She wasn't new at this game.

The reply came almost instantly. It took a moment to figure out all the bright emojis, but Chaerin thought that was a yes.

That was settled then.





The next Saturday – the first of December – Chaerin walked into a crowded and cheerfully lit l'Étoile for a “night out with the girls”, as Bom had put it amidst an array of emoji. It was supposed to be just them and Dara, plus their other roommate whom she'd missed the night she was at their place.

Surely enough, Chaerin spotted them at a corner table, drinks in front of them.

“Hey!” she greeted amicably, stooping down to hug Bom (whose level of enthusiasm in hugging back suggested she was already well on her way of being tipsy). After a second of deliberation she gave Dara a smack on the cheek, as friends do. Dara giggled a little, corners of her mouth turned upwards.

Lastly she turned towards their roommate. “I heard a lot about you already,” Minzy said by way of greeting, after they'd briefly hugged.

“Good stuff I hope?” Chaerin asked as she sat down.

“Mmm,” she answered neutrally, though her expression as she looked at Dara (the apparent source of all her info) was meaningful.

“So!” Dara said in an apparent attempt to divert attention from the matter (and Chaerin had to smile at how obvious she was being, bless her) “do you want something to drink, Chaerin-ah?”

“Wine is fine,” she answered. She would switch to the more fun stuff later.

After the drinks had been taken care off, the mood quickly got turned up a notch. They held a toast for the night, Bom vehemently declaring that girl's nights out were the best nights out because men were disappointments anyway. Chaerin hummed her agreement and cast a meaningful glance at Dara, seated next to her. The girl hid her smile in her wine glass, but it didn't go unnoticed.

Bom soon started entertaining them with anecdotes about her fellow students, many of who ended up as her unsuccessful suitors. After listening for a while with half an ear, Chaerin turned to Dara.

“I'm glad I get to see you again.”

Dara looked as pleased at that confession as she'd hoped she would. Chaerin turned it up a notch and leaned in, their arms and shoulders brushing. It was too noisy to be certain, but still she was sure she could hear Dara's breath hitch. A flurry of excitement made itself present in Chaerin's belly.

“You look pretty tonight,” she told her. The matter-of-fact tone of her voice was negated by the smile on her face.

“Thanks.” Dara's shy expression turned coy when she added, “You don't look so bad yourself.”

Chaerin laughed and was about to reply when a familiar voice called out, “Hey, ladies!”

Seungri. Chaerin turned around in a knee-jerk reaction and narrowed her eyes.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, switching from flirty to apathetic in less than a heartbeat.

Seungri was undeterred, naturally.

“Meeting people. It's a free place and a free country, Chaerin-ah.” He then turned towards Dara, still pressed close to her. “Hiya noona.”

“Hey Seungri!” Her smile appeared sincere, as was his.

She could understand the latter (people who weren't happy to see Sandara were people to be wary of, surely) but the first was harder to understand. Seungri didn't really have any redeemable qualities to speak of.

Okay, maybe there were some. He had his talents, in a way. And he wasn't too bad-looking. Whatever. Not that she'd ever admit it out loud.

“Are you gonna stand here all night? I thought you were a busy man,” Chaerin asked, smiling sweetly.

“Sure am,” he answered with matching smile, not missing a heartbeat, “but how is our Jiyong-hyung? I haven't seen him in a while.”

“Jiyong?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. “He's fine. Same as always, that is.”

“I think he's seeing someone,” Seungri declared, as though these were important state matters, “he always gets evasive when there's a person involved.”

“I don't think there is,” Chaerin said, before stopping herself. She frowned, as certain events from the past few weeks came back to her. The texting, the meet-ups, the secrecy – things started falling into place suddenly.

“Anyway, I won't interrupt your night any longer,” Seungri talked over her thoughts. “Have a good evening ladies” – he smiled winningly at Bom and Minzy, who giggled – “and I'm glad to see my double date arrangement is still a success,” he added, giving Dara and her a pleased smile, as though they were yet another successful business transaction.

And with that he was off. Chaerin pursed her lips. Dara giggled.

“He's something, isn't he?” she said.

“That, I'll say,” she agreed. After a moment's pause, she turned towards Dara and said: “Well, where were we?”





The evening Chaerin went out for drinks, Jiyong was on the phone with Youngbae, on the verge of maybe a small panic attack.

“I need your help,” Jiyong said bluntly, and a little desperately.

“That's very specific,” Youngbae answered on the other side of the line, patient but with a definite undertone of sarcasm. Why did he get a best friend like that, he often wondered.

“Seunghyun-hyung is about to arrive any minute and I promised to show him some of my songwriting but I'm not ready!” Jiyong said in a rush.

“Wait, hold up,” Youngbae said and Jiyong snapped his mouth shut.

“You're going to show your songwriting?”

“Yes.”

“To Seunghyun, your new “friend”?” Jiyong could practically hear the air-quotes.

“...yes,” Jiyong said again, briefly wondering what said air-quotes meant.

There was a pause.

“You never show your songs to anyone. You've hardly shown me any,” Youngbae then said, and okay, there was definitely an accusatory undertone there.

“I had to, okay,” Jiyong said in a somewhat pleading voice, “I wanted to see his writing, but the only way he'd let me was if I showed mine. So I agreed, but now I actually have to show mine. I mean, which ones should I do?”

Youngbae didn't answer his question, and instead commented with mild surprise (and perhaps there even was some admiration), “He writes?”

“Yeah,” Jiyong replied, not without pride. “He's a lit student.”

“Huh.”

When Youngbae didn't elaborate, he asked: “What?”

“Your Mystery Man keeps surprising me, is all,” Youngbae replied.

Jiyong smiled a little giddily at that term. “That makes him sound like he's the lead in a spy film or something,” Jiyong said, which, to be fair – wouldn't be ill-suited. Actor looks and all.

“Whatever,” Youngbae said.

“He's very handsome you know,” Jiyong insisted, pressing a point that perhaps didn't need to be pressed.

Youngbae remarked, again with the patient sarcasm: “I've no doubt. No, as for the more important part,” – Jiyong pouted a little – “just show the songs you're most pleased with. Or the ones you feel that most express what it is that you want to say. If he really cares for you, he will appreciate it.”

Jiyong's chest got a little warm. “Thanks,” he said sincerely.

The sudden sound of a doorbell interrupted their exchange.

“Shit, he's already here,” Jiyong said hurriedly. “All right, I gotta go, thanks again, bro.”

“No problem, break a leg,” Youngbae said, “I mean. Not literally.”

Jiyong grinned, shaking his head, and pressed 'end' to the call.




Five minutes later, Seunghyun was standing in the apartment.

He looked about him curiously. Jiyong was very aware, suddenly, of how dated some of the stuff was Chaerin and he had bought on a student-budget.

“It's very clean,” Seunghyun commented.

“Really?” Jiyong looked around in surprise. He hadn't gotten around to cleaning the place as much as he'd liked to, what with his last-minute crisis and all.

Seunghyun shrugged. “Yeah, I think so. Much cleaner than my place anyway.”

Jiyong grinned. “You know, normally when people visit a place they comment it looks nice and stuff.”

“You want me to say it looks nice? I can do that.”

“You don't have to,” Jiyong laughed.

“It's very nice,” Seunghyun went on regardless, holding his gaze. Jiyong's heart did a strange fluttering.

“Whatever,” Jiyong said, attempting casualness and probably failing. As one does.

“You want something to drink?” he asked instead, finding distraction in being the gracious host.

“You got any wine?”

“Eh, yeah sure,” Jiyong replied, “just sit wherever you want, I'll go get it.” And as he disappeared into the kitchen to find a bottle that hadn't expired yet, Jiyong reasoned that wine was probably not a bad idea at all. If Seunghyun was going to hear his songs, they might as well get drunk while they were at it.

“I've got a red one here,” he called towards the living-room as he studied the beige label, “that fine?”

“Is it a sauvignon?” Seunghyun called back, “it's the only one I drink.”

Jiyong paused. “Ehm...”

Then a chuckle came from the living-room. “I'm kidding, yah, anything's fine.”

Jiyong emerged from the kitchen with a grin and a bottle and two wine glasses in hand. “I didn't know you were! What with your writing and your Irish coffee, you seem pretentious enough.”

Seunghyun stuck his tongue out at that, which immediately erased any notions of pretentiousness. (And yeah, he shouldn't be allowed to look cute doing that, but he did. It was all rather unfair).

They nestled themselves on the couch. Jiyong could hear the faint sound of traffic outside, punctuated by the howling December wind. Another cold night. It made it extra nice to be inside (nicer yet to have company).

He twirled the wine glass in-between his fingers. He was very aware of Seunghyun sitting mere inches away from him; of the eyes trained at him. Suddenly he felt a tinge of awkwardness or shyness as he wasn't sure how to proceed.

“Let's do a toast,” Seunghyun declared out of nowhere.

“Eh?” Jiyong's head snapped up.

“A toast to your musical career,” Seunghyun elaborated, lifting his glass.

Jiyong laughed, lifting his glass as well. “All right,” he agreed, bringing their glasses together. There was a neat ting sound.

“Let's do one for your writing as well,” Jiyong promptly said. “Which you're going to show me later, am I right?” he added, giving him the slight side-eye.

“Of course,” Seunghyun answered, smile maybe a tad too mischievous to be true.

Their glasses met again. After that they did another toast for a good night, and another for all classes to expire so they'd be free until the end of year (Seunghyun's suggestion) until Jiyong finally declared he wanted to drink.

Soon their glasses had to be refilled and the mood got livelier. Jiyong started to forget what had been the purpose of their rendez-vous in the first place.

That is, until Seunghyun reminded him. “I was hoping you'd forgotten by now,” Jiyong half-joked.

“You wish,” Seunghyun replied and playfully poked him in the side, to which Jiyong giggled. Okay, so maybe they were already a little tipsy.

Jiyong got up reluctantly, both because of nerves and because the couch was just that comfortable. Yet when he fetched his notebook from his desk – his room dark and familiar and soothing – a calm sense of excitement came over him too. He didn't write these songs to remain unheard, he wrote them to be turned into real music one day.

Might as well start today.

When he emerged from the bedroom, notebook in hand, Seunghyun looked up expectedly. Perhaps it was an underwhelming entrée without guitar or keyboard, but it had to do.

“This is where you pen your lyrics?” Seunghyun asked, eying the notebook.

“Yeah,”Jiyong answered, giving it a tap as he repositioned himself on the couch. He took a breath. Chanced a side-way glance at Seunghyun, and saw that the other guy still had a look of genuine curiosity on his face. Some of his nerves made further way for excitement.

“So,” he suggested, “shall I show you some of the lyrics?”

Seunghyun nodded enthusiastically, so Jiyong proceeded to thumb through his notebook, trying to find something suitable. Yet while he'd usually been content with the lyrics once he'd finished them, they all seemed ill-fitting now; not up to standard.

In the end he settled on something he'd written a short while ago, in one of his happier moods, when the sense of possibility (of love) felt as real as the changing leaves.

As he handed over the book with mild trepidation, Seunghyun's eyes slowly roamed the page. Vulnerable didn't begin to describe how he was feeling now. He tried to discern anything from Seunghyun's face, but if anything his expression was merely focussed.

Finally, when he'd reached the bottom of the page and had done a second once-over, he concluded: “It's good.”

“Really?” Jiyong couldn't hide his relieve if he tried.

“Yeah,” Seunghyun said, forefinger moving along some of the lines, “there's a pattern, you know, a rhyme. Like here.”

Jiyong squinted at what Seunghyun pointed at.

“Ah, that. Took me ages to come up with that one.”

“It's funny,” Seunghyun decided and Jiyong felt a definite sense of pride.

“You want to hear me rap it?” he suggested, his confidence having been boosted significantly in the past few minutes.

“Yeah, I'd like that,” Seunghyun said, again looking at him with such genuine interest that it made his skin prickle. It was a bit like standing underneath a spotlight, but a very warm and pleasant one.

Like the spring's first sun rays after a long winter.

Jiyong cleared his throat, and focussed on the words in front of them. He didn't really need to read them, as he knew them by heart now – but a reminder didn't go amiss, under the circumstances.

As he started rapping the first verses, the words soon came naturally, and with it the feeling when he'd written them all those weeks ago. The thrill of making new friends; of it potentially leading to something more.

He felt Seunghyun's gaze on him, but rather than a distraction it only spurred him on. There was a tingling in his body that seemed to be linked directly to it.

Once the song was over, silence filled the room. Then Seunghyun loudly broke out into applause, as though he'd been to a show.

Jiyong cracked a grin. “It wasn't that great,” he said, self-deprecatingly, even though the lopsided grin on his face wouldn't disappear.

“Not as great as Tupac,” Seunghyun allowed, “but not bad.” He nudged him with a playful expression, and yeah, that grin on his face would probably never go away.

“Who's the song about?” Seunghyun asked, suddenly levelling him with a very sober look. “The one you say you're falling in love with.”

Jiyong faltered for a moment. You didn't really seem to cut it.

“Artist's knowledge only,” he finally said with a cocky grin, though his face likely already gave the answer away. It always did.

And yes: Seunghyun seemed to effortlessly catch on as moved closer to him on the couch. Jiyong stared down at their legs and arms, inches away from touching – then up towards Seunghyun's face, closer than it'd ever been before.

Jiyong's breath hitched. Seunghyun's eyes travelled down to his lips; stayed there for a moment; then settled on his eyes again.

“What would you do if that person were to kiss you?” Seunghyun asked, casual if you like, except his gaze was far too intense.

“I... would not be opposed to it,” Jiyong replied, huge understatement.

It was difficult to come up with words at the moment. Everything was a distraction: the fluttering of Seunghyun's eyelashes; the faint scent of his eau de cologne (musky, strangely familiar); his fingers and clean nails – so different from his bitten ones – and the way they inched closer and closer to his waist; the unbuttoned collar of his dress shirt, revealing an Adam's apple that bobbed up and down as Seunghyun swallowed; the off-key, loud beating of his own heart.

“That's good,” Seunghyun said, and leaned in.






A/N: Seungri's cameo was all me, because I secretly (now not so secretly) love Chaerin/Seungri. Them and Dara is the ot3. Writer's privilige to add whatever you want, haha :D

Probably one more chapter after this! Stay tuned.


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