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Hanahaki Strings

Chapter Text

When the hearts unite and beat as one,

That's where it will all began.

In the depth of their empty hearts,

The Strings would appear and the process starts.

With their hearts' in pain and distress,

This symbolizes the end of the process.

As realization dawned for them all,

The flowers bloom and the petals fall.

There appears an extraordinary Strings,

Where vine and flowers clings.

A pull out of nowhere,

Will brought them together.

Proving to be the chosen ones,

That will be grace with both gloom and brilliance,

By the legendary phenomenon that Fate brings,

Which everyone called as Hanahaki Strings.

Chapter Text

"Fucker, how dare you stab me on my back?!" Seungcheol furiously exclaimed as he violently pushed his classmate when they reached the back of their building.

The poor boy trembled in fear as he frantically sat. "I'm s-sorry! I didn't mean it! I swear, I didn't!"

Seungcheol's gaze turned darker at the response, "I'm sorry? You didn't mean it? How the hell would it compensate for the grade I lost?" He leaned down to grip the boy's collar, "I know you fucking hate me, everyone fucking does! But I know you are aware of how important my grades are for me and that I never kid around about it! So why the fucking hell would you fucking do that?!"

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I didn't mean it! I just didn't believe it when you asked me to be your partner because you never talk to me about it! So I thought you're just messing around with me!" The man cowered in fear as he desperately tried to explain to the furious man holding him, "everyone in our class told me to ignore what you said! They told me you can handle it alone and that I was just your next target because I accidentally hit you so you asked me! I'm s-sorry!"

Seungcheol closed his eyes in an attempt to calm himself down. He could sense the sincerity in the boy's voice. He let go of the boy's collar in a rather harsh way. The man quickly crawled backwards, still trembling while avoiding his eyes.

"You…" Seungcheol trailed off, "I will let this pass just this once but if you ever do that again, I swear I'll break your limbs."

"I-I understand."

"Do something about my grades," Seungcheol added with a menacing gaze directed to the poor man, "if you won't, I'll make sure you won't ever walk again. Do you fucking understand me?"

The man nodded frantically, "Y-yes! I understand, I'll t-talk with Ms. Kim."

With one last glare, Seungcheol strode away with heavy footsteps.

Everyone who would come across Seungcheol would immediately move or give way. He's wearing his murderous look that scares everyone off. They wouldn't want to mess up with Seungcheol with that kind of look on his face.

Seungcheol went inside the restroom, banging the door loudly, not caring for the other male students who's using the restroom. He went straight to the sink to wash his hands thoroughly, as if he caught a bacteria.

The other people inside seemed to be annoyed by Seungcheol's nonchalant, arrogant action. But they chose to stay silent as they saw he's not in the mood to give fuck to everyone who wants to beat him.

When he finished washing his hands, he shot a piercing glare towards the others who's staring at his every move. They looked away immediately while Seungcheol just rolled his eyes and went out.

As soon as he reached his dorm room, he slumped himself in his bed and closed his eyes.

He has no roommate. He was alone and no one wants to share a room with him because they are all scared of him. All his previous roommates would go to the head's office to complain and would be asked to change rooms. The head grew tired of all the complaints so he decided not to give Seungcheol a roommate.

But despite his image that everyone had seen on him, he hates being alone, although he's literally alone. He wants to have a roommate too, who he can have late night talks with, who he can worry about when it's already past curfew yet he still wasn't back, who he can confide with what's happening to him.

He has no friends. His parents separated when he was just a child and they're just supporting his financial needs. He was all alone.

But he can't do anything about it. Everyone's scared of him and no one wants him near them.

He finds them pathetic and stupid. He always thought about how stupid they are for believing the rumors about him beating people up when he wants to. Just because someone who had witnessed him beating up a group of boys who cornered him spread a false rumor, everyone else sees him as a delinquent. Where in fact he was just defending himself from those people who tried to put him down.

It was absurd being labelled as a delinquent, yet he couldn't find it in himself to deny the rumors nor to defend himself. He let them believe it and because of it, he was naturally isolated from the other students, as if there's an invisible barrier between him and the others.

He was avoided, ignored, and feared. No one dares to approach him for the almost six years of his stay in their freaking school. If there's anyone who would, it wasn't a pleasant approach.

He couldn't even experience dating because no one wants to befriend him nor get too close to him.

So he spends his everyday life alone, away from those people. 

He's spending his everyday life, wishing for his soulmate to show up.

Because he believed that once his soulmate shows up, he won't be alone anymore. Someone would understand him, would believe him, would stay by his side.

He may be a delinquent in other people's eyes, but he is also a human who longed for love and care which he never received.

He's just a poor, lonely boy who seeks for love and company.

Yet everyone else sees him as a freakin' delinquent.








"AAAAAAAAAH!"

Jeonghan suppressed his laugh as he tiptoed his way out of the teacher's office.

When he was sure he's safe to go, he quickly ran and stopped at the stairways. There he let out his laugh he's been suppressing.

He looked like a psycho as he laughed endlessly. He would stop for a moment to wipe the tears in his eyes but laughed again as he remembered what he just did to their physical education teacher.

"That was lit, Yoon Jeonghan! You're so great man!" He complimented himself and laughed once again.

When he finally regained his composure, he made his way to his dorm room and went straight to their mini-fridge to drink some water.

"Ah, my poor throat," he uttered before he drank one bottle in one go.

He then slumped himself in his bed. He was tired because he prepared that prank on his teacher for two hours and waited in the teacher's office for one and a half hours. He hasn't eaten anything yet because he's busy pranking his teacher who gave him zero on their physical activity earlier on in their class.

He hates that teacher for underestimating his capabilities in sports because he has a low stamina. He hates being underestimated in general. So he did what he did to get himself out of his anger to his teacher since he doesn't want to have lingering anger whenever they're having class.

And pranking people who he believed had wronged him or annoyed him is his way of removing his anger and releasing his stress because he didn't want to prolong his anger or it will just turn out bad.

He then remembered his classmate who also mocked him when their physical education teacher told him he's zero in their activity. It was the famous Kwon Soonyoung of the dance troupe in his academy, who's known to be such an annoying fellow along with his two younger friends. They would tease everyone whenever they had the chance. They love teasing and annoying people as much as Jeonghan loves pranking others. But unlike Jeonghan, they weren't hated. They were loved because their antics were funny and harmless. 

And that boy specifically loves teasing Jeonghan. They're not that close, but he would always tease and annoy him and remembering it right now has given Jeonghan an idea of what to do next.

He clapped his hand excitedly as he laughed at his own thoughts.

Just you wait, Kwon Soonyoung , he thought. I'll make sure you'll embarrass yourself on your own. You dare to pissed me off, huh?

He was interrupted in his thoughts when the door of their room creaked as it was opened by his Chinese roommate— Wen Junhui.

Jeonghan sensed something was off with him. Junhui was bright and bubbly. He would always greet him when they're in their room but now, he's walking slowly towards his bed with his head hung low.

Jeonghan immediately approached him, "Jun, what's wrong?" He asked directly, holding both of his shoulders to make the latter face him.

Junhui heaved a deep, long sigh before raising his head to look at Jeonghan, "Jeonghan..."

"What is it?" Jeonghan asked.

"I failed two of our exams earlier," Jun uttered in a low voice, his face looked so sad.

Jeonghan sympathetically looked at his roommate. He knew how important it is to Jun to pass those exams to pass the qualifications of the scholarship examination.

His friend, Jun, was broke for his parents were in China and would just send him money once a month. Jun would want to work, but he's studying in a boarding school where they can only leave the campus premises every weekend. Luckily for him, he passed the scholarship, with the help of Jeonghan, so his stay here in their school was quite nice because everything was free. 

But he needs to pass the exam in order for him to pass the qualifications to have a test for the scholarship he applied for for his college. And he's having a very difficult time passing it. He just got lucky that Jeonghan found him a tutor to help him back then.

Jeonghan then lifted Jun's chin, and gave him a soft smile, "I'll help you find a tutor again, alright? Since I'm not smart enough to tutor you and I'm too lazy to read books, the least that I can do is to help you find someone who can tutor you. I knew so many smart people anyway. It won't be that hard."

Jun's eyes brightened up for a moment, but he realized something and his shoulder fell once again, "But I don't have enough money to pay for their service," he mumbled.

Jeonghan jokingly punched his shoulders, "Leave it on me."

"You won't pay for it in behalf of m—"

"No, no. Just leave it on me, okay? Trust me. All you have to do is focus on your retake while I'll search for some possible tutor."

Jun just nodded and he flashed a wide smile, sighing in relief, "Thank you so much, Jeonghan! You don't have an idea how helpful it is to me if I found myself a tutor. I'm kinda struggling in Korean Literature and some Science stuff. I really need some help on that."

"Anything for you," Jeonghan ruffled the younger's hair and went back to his bed.

Jeonghan may be a prankster but when he started to care for someone, he would care selflessly

He would listen to their problem without hesitation, no matter how long it takes for them to open up.

He loves helping as much as he loves pranking. 




 

 

"Hey Josh!"

Joshua immediately turned around to see his classmate, Jo Sooyoon, who's calling for him.

The boy smiled shyly at him, "Uh, I just want to ask if you finished our homework yesterday?"

"Ah, yeah. I finished it all last night. Why? Do you want to copy it?" Joshua offered innocently.

The boy, Jo Sooyoon, prevented himself from grinning as Joshua offered him his assignment. He knew so well that the innocent man would say it and so he decided to approach him in that way. 

Sooyoon smiled and nodded, "If it's alright for you..." he said, acting all shy.

"Of course, why not," he said as he rummaged through his bag and gave his homework to Sooyoon.

"Thank you! I'll give it back immediately," Sooyoon said and Joshua just smiled as he left. He quickly turned back to the book he's reading, not noticing his homework which was passed along the whole class.

It was so chaotic as they were fighting over his notebook. Joshua didn't bother to hear what was the cause of the noise as he was used to it and it became normal for him.

He continued reading silently. It's a vacant time for their supposed teacher who was absent and fortunately, didn't leave any activities which is why they are all chaotic. He had no more to do since he already finished the homework given by their next teacher.

While Joshua's too preoccupied, someone sat beside him and stole the book he's reading. He was about to whine when he saw who it was.

"And I thought you'll sleep in the garden?" he asked his friend, Jeon Wonwoo , who was the one who stole his book.

Wonwoo returned the book after skimming through it. Joshua closed it to face his friend.

"There's a couple making out there. Almost like fucking each other," Wonwoo said nonchalantly.

Joshua's eyes widened and he immediately slapped Wonwoo's arm, "What the— what was that for?" Wonwoo asked, surprised.

"How can you say that so nonchalantly? You're so blunt! Someone might hear you," Joshua scolded the younger one.

Wonwoo rolled his eyes, "I forgot you're a saint."

"I'm not. It's just inappropriate for our age."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Wonwoo said.

Just then, they heard a familiar voice yelling from behind. They both turned around and saw their friend— Lee Jihoon — holding Joshua's notebook that he lent to Sooyoon.

"What's wrong with you, Jihoon?" Sooyoon asked in a very annoyed tone.

Jihoon glared at him, causing the latter to step back a little.

"You sick bastard, you're putting Joshua in trouble!" Jihoon yelled at him.

Joshua and Wonwoo quickly went to Jihoon to stop him. Wonwoo had an idea on what's happening while Joshua was completely clueless.

"Jihoon, what's happening here? And why are you holding my notebook?" he asked Jihoon.

"Why did you lend your homework to this bastard? He's sharing it to everyone! Mind you, it wasn't just homework, Joshua!" Jihoon said.

Joshua's eyes slowly glanced at Sooyoon who shook his head, then he turned back to Jihoon.

"It's not like that, Jiho—"

"Let me guess, you offered your homework, didn't you?" Jihoon cuts him off.

"Yeah, because he nee—"

"And why would you do that?!"

"Because Sooyoon is my friend." Joshua answered, "seriously, what's with you, Jihoon?"

Jihoon laughed sarcastically while Wonwoo remained silent. Joshua's forehead creased, confused as to why his friend is laughing.

"Seriously, Joshua Hong? You thought he thinks of you as a friend? He's just taking advantage of your kindness and generosity, for pete's sake!" Jihoon blurted out.

Joshua's eyes widened, "what do you mean?" he asked, very confused.

Jihoon was about to answer him when their next teacher entered. They all quickly went to their own seats while Jihoon secretly gave Joshua his notebook before going to his seat. Meanwhile, Joshua was still confused by what Jihoon just said.

What was that supposed to mean? He thought as he walked to his chair.

All throughout the class, Joshua is thinking of what Jihoon blurted out. He was really confused. For Joshua, he and Soo yoon are friends since Sooyoon would often talk to him and ask him about his assignments.

Little did Joshua know, what Jihoon said was right.

When the bell rang indicating the class ended, the teacher immediately left followed by the students. Joshua immediately went to Wonwoo and Jihoon who's sitting beside each other.

"Hey, Lee Jihoon. You've got some explaining to do," he told Jihoon who just rolled his eyes.

"You're really dumb, Josh,” Jihoon spat.

"What th—"

Jihoon cuts him off immediately, "Why can't you differentiate the people who're treating you genuinely and those who're just taking advantage of you?" He asked, his tone was clearly annoyed.

Joshua's lips parted. He didn't know what to say. He had no idea what Jihoon was implying.

Jihoon sighed in frustration and was about to yell it in front of Joshua when Wonwoo stopped him. He signalled Jihoon that he'll explain it, which the latter just agreed. It's better for the calm Wonwoo to explain it rather than the hot-headed Jihoon. He might end up yelling at Joshua if he continued.

Wonwoo then faced the clueless Joshua, "Listen, Josh. Jihoon was mad earlier because of Sooyoon. He was mad because that fucker took advantage of your innocence once again. He knew you'll offer your own homework and so he asked you. He shared it with his friends like he always does when you lend your homeworks to him. It annoyed Jihoon— and me that you're so dense of the people around you, using your kindness to benefit them. Do you understand it, Joshua? They're all not genuine in befriending you, they're using you."

Joshua didn't answer. Again, he didn't know what to say.

The two let out a sigh as they ruffle Joshua's hair in frustration. They knew Joshua didn't fully understand what Wonwoo explained, and they decided to just let him be. 

"You know what? It's pointless to explain it to you. Let's just go. We'll just have to handle it anyway," Jihoon said and walked out of the room, leaving Joshua and Wonwoo behind.

Wonwoo then patted Joshua's shoulder, "Don't think about it anymore. Let's just go ahead," he said and walked away from Joshua..

Joshua sighed and followed his friends. He decided not to think of what they told him since aside from he couldn't get it, he didn't want to think ill of his classmate.

He put Wonwoo and Jihoon in a headlock as soon as he reached them, "You two, you're giving me a headache!" He said.

Jihoon easily shoved him away which Joshua just chuckled at, his other arms remained on Wonwoo's shoulder, tiptoeing a bit to reach it.

"Shouldn't we be the one to say that? You're such a baby when in fact, you're the oldest among us three. We always need to keep an eye on you," Jihoon fired back, rolling his eyes.

"Hey! When did I become a baby?" Joshua whined.

"You're a baby. Big, dumb, innocent baby," Wonwoo teased him.

They went on their way as Jihoon and Wonwoo continued teasing Joshua while he would whacked their head teasingly from time to time.

Joshua's too innocent for his own good. He never looks at the bad side of people because he believes kindness would always overpower it.

Yet despite all of that, he knows how to be very playful if he wants. In a considerate way, since he never wanted to go overboard with his jokes and unintentionally hurt other people's feelings.

 

Chapter Text

"Hey Jun. When will you have your retake?" Jeonghan asked his roommate while he was fixing his uniform.

Jun turned to him, "In three days. Why?"

"Just asking. I'll start to find it later so that you can start reviewing," Jeonghan said.

His roommate smiled at him, "It's alright, Jeonghan. Take your time. I'm staying up in the library to read anyway."

Jeonghan nodded. He bid goodbye to his roommate to go eat breakfast alone before proceeding to his classroom since Jun hasn't taken a bath yet and Jeonghan's already hungry.

On his way to the school's cafeteria, he's been mentally listing potential students that he knew. He's acquainted with so many smart students that he can just choose anyone. He knows he can make them agree immediately. He has his ways of convincing people. By hook or by crook.

Kim Taehyung? Hmm, he's too hot-headed. Park Jinyoung? Nah, he's a busy man. How 'bout Wonho? Geez, he's a pervert I remember. Who else is there?

Jeonghan can't pick despite the long list he has in mind. He just can't pick anyone, he needs to consider their attitude too. Jun needs a tutor who has a lot of patience because he's Chinese and he might have a hard time understanding some lessons.

He decided not to dwell on it for now because his stomach was growling at him already, and so he fastened his pace on the school's cafeteria.

Since Jeonghan went way too early, there's only a few students eating at the cafeteria. He quickly got his breakfast and found himself a place to eat his food peacefully.

Jeonghan wasn't used to eating alone. He often eats breakfast, lunch and dinner with his only two friends- Jun and his boyfriend, Xu Minghao- who is a year below them- and both are Chinese dudes.

Yes, the prankster Yoon Jeonghan is a third wheel.

But although he's a third wheel, he never felt left out. The two weren't showing too much skinship nor saying too many sweet words to each other when they're in public or when they're with Jeonghan. And the latter found them considerate for it since he also wouldn't want to see them showing too much affection with each other given that Jeonghan is a single soul and hasn't found his mate yet. Although there were times only the two of them hung out, Jeonghan understands that and he respects it.

And Jeonghan hasn't really given any thoughts about his lovelife, but he's still waiting for it, for the right time to come where he'll finally meet his soulmate.

Everyone does tho.

Jeonghan turned to the door of the cafeteria when he heard noises coming in. It's not only him, other students who were quietly eating their breakfast also turned to the door.

The three male students were pushing each other as they entered the cafeteria. But they halted when they noticed the stares from the other students.

Jeonghan recognized the three. They were quite popular, and were also students just beside his room. His eyes widened when he saw one of the men who just entered.

Right! How come I forgot him? Jeonghan thought as he stared at one of the guys who just entered. 

Joshua Hong. Jeonghan knew him. He's one of the top students in their batch and known for being nice, yet naive and innocent. Jeonghan's aware about how other students would take advantage of this poor man because of his kindness and naivety. 

Other than that, he's popular with some girls and boys. You know, typical gentleman ideal types.

Jeonghan doesn't need to ponder for too long. He had finalized his decision. He chose Joshua to be Jun's tutor since he knew the guy would have the patience to tutor his Chinese friend. All he needs to do is to talk with Joshua later when he's no longer with his two friends who're always beside him. Jeon Wonwoo and Lee Jihoon. His overprotective, intimidating friends who would defend Joshua from the long list of students who would use Joshua for their advantage.

And Jeonghan's gonna be included in that long list later.

For now, he decided to finish his breakfast first and proceed to his class. He'll just think of it later.

After eating his breakfast and putting back the tray, he went to the restroom first. When he finished doing his business, he washed his hands and dried them.

Just before he exited the restroom, someone went in.

"Oh! What a perfect timing," Jeonghan exclaimed as his eyes locked with Joshua's confused ones.

Joshua's forehead creased because of what the latter said, "H-huh?"

"Are you alone?" Jeonghan asked while looking around.

Joshua nodded although he's confused.

He knew Jeonghan, of course. Who wouldn't? He's a troublemaker. Not the type who fights with every student, but the type who pranks everyone, even teachers yet he always gets away with it because well, no one has a solid proof he's the one behind the pranks but everyone knows it's surely him.

Luckily, he never did it to Jisoo or to any of his friends. He doesn't have any reason to do so in the first place.

Jeonghan smiled victoriously, looks like lady luck is on my side today.

"Can I ask a favor?" Jeonghan started.

Upon hearing the word 'favor', Joshua instantly stood straight up, "What is it?"

Jeonghan internally grinned. At this point, he knows Joshua would approve of his favor without him forcing or blackmailing the naive man. And it's much easier and relieving for him.

"I have this Chinese friend who's taking a test to pass the qualifications of the scholarship exams. However, he's having a hard time with the tests since he's a Chinese dude. I'm wondering if you can help him? Since you're one of the top students in our batch..." Jeonghan stated, carefully examining Joshua's face.

Unsurprisingly, Joshua smiled, "Sure! I have nothing else to do anyway. When do I start?"

Jeonghan knew Joshua would agree, but he didn't expect he wouldn't ask further questions.

He thought he would have many questions, but fortunately, he didn't.

"It's alright with you? You're supposed to be busy, right?" 

"Nope. I finished all the things I needed to pass. So, when is it?" Joshua asked.

Jeonghan smiled widely, "His test will be in three days. If it's alright to you, you can start later." 

"It's fine with me. Just... uh, give me his number so I can ask him where he wants to..." Joshua said hesitantly.

"Give me your phone," Jeonghan said, which the latter immediately handed over. Few years of being friends, Jeonghan memorized Jun's number and so he didn't need to look for his contact on his phone.

"What's his name, by the way?" Joshua asked after Jeonghan gave back his phone.

"Jun," Jeonghan answered, "I hope you'll be patient with my friend. I think it'll be hard to tutor him since he's Chinese but don't worry! He's smart and hardworking."

Joshua smiled, "Don't worry about that. Anyways, I need to go inside. See you later!" He said and entered a cubicle before hearing Jeonghan's answer.

Jeonghan chuckled, "Thank you so much Joshua!" He said before leaving the restroom.

Phew, that was easy . Jeonghan thought.

He then remembered to text Jun to inform him about Joshua. So he took out his phone.

 

Jeonghan:

Hey man, I've got you a tutor. I gave him your number.  

 

Not long after he texted, Jun immediately replied. 

 

Jun:

Really? Thank you so much, Han! I'll treat you to bubble tea next time! 

 

Jeonghan:

There's no need to treat me. I'm glad to help. 

 

Jun: 

No. I'll treat you. That's the only way I can repay you. 

 

Jeonghan:

Fine, if that makes you feel better :))

 

Jeonghan chuckled before he pocketed his phone with a smile plastered on his face.

He has this overwhelming feeling of satisfaction after helping Jun. He always felt it whenever he'd help someone, may it be small or big.

It was such a great feeling for Jeonghan, and so he really liked it when he managed to help someone in need.

 

Chapter Text

As soon as the bell rang indicating it's lunch time, Joshua took out his phone to text the man named 'Jun' who he agreed to tutor. He doesn't have any problem with it because just like what he told Jeonghan, he's free. He doesn't have any other things to do so being a tutor isn't that bad.

When he saw the number Jeonghan had put in his phone, he immediately sent a text on it.

 

Joshua:

Hey, is this Jun ?

 

Almost immediately, the guy replied.

 

Jun:

Yes, it's me! I assume you're Joshua? The one Jeonghan asked to tutor me?

 

Joshua:

Yeah. I just wanted to ask where you want to study? Jeonghan told me your retake is in three days and so you have to start as early as possible.

 

"Who are you texting?" Wonwoo approached Joshua and tried to peek on Joshua's phone but the older instinctively avoided him. When he realized it's just Wonwoo, he heaved a sigh.

Joshua smiled, "Jun."

Wonwoo, and Jihoon who just reached where they are, frowned, "Jun? Who's that? Is he an admirer of yours?" Jihoon asked.

Joshua blushed at his question, "H-he's not!"

"Then who is he?"

"A Chinese man that I'll tutor," Joshua said.

"What?" Wonwoo exclaimed while Jihoon raised an eyebrow.

Joshua was about to explain when his phone vibrated, and so he signalled the two to wait as he read Jun's reply.

 

Jun:

Jeonghan and I shared the same room. Is it fine for you if we'll study there?

 

Joshua:

Sure. I'm fine with anything. Just tell me your dorm room and I'll go there after class.

 

Jun:

Room 013, 4th floor .

 

Joshua:

Alright then.

 

Jun:

Thank you sm Joshua! You don't know how much help it'll be for me.

 

Joshua:

You're welcome ^^ I'm glad to help .

 

Jun:

<3

 

Joshua smiled as he pocketed his phone and turned to his friends who's waiting for him to explain.

He sighed, "Don't be mad, okay? It's just that, I don't have anything to do so I agreed to Jeonghan's favor.”

Wonwoo and Jihoon's eyes widened, "Wait—what? Jeonghan's favor?" Wonwoo asked.

Joshua nodded, "I know what the two of you are thinking but I assure you, he didn't do anything to me and he seemed like he really needed it. Why else would he approach me, right?"

No one answered, and so Joshua continued, "So earlier after I finished my breakfast, I met him at the restroom. He asked if I could tutor his Chinese roommate who's struggling to pass the tests for the qualifications of scholarship exams since he was a Chinese student. And so I agreed since I have all the free time in the world."

"But what if he's jus—"

"I don't know why, but I'm sure Jeonghan's not planning anything. So don't worry, okay? I can handle myself." Joshua cuts Jihoon off with what he was about to say.

Jihoon and Wonwoo glanced at each other and sighed. They can't do anything if Joshua's firm with his decision. They're aware of that.

"Fine. But call us if something's suspicious or you need help, alright?" Wonwoo stated which Joshua just smiled upon and nodded.

Then they all made their way to the cafeteria to have their lunch.

It was crowded inside and they struggled to find a place to sit in but Joshua saw vacant seats in the far corner of the cafeteria where Seungcheol usually eats alone.

He nudged Wonwoo's shoulder, "There's a vacant seat there." Joshua said and pointed in Seungcheol's direction.

Wonwoo turned to where Joshua was pointing and he immediately glared at the older.

Joshua frowned, "What?"

"Are you insane? Didn't you see Seungcheol sitting there?"

"What's wrong with Seungcheol sitting there?" Joshua asked with his forehead creased.

Wonwoo also frowned, then he nudged Jihoon who's just silently looking for a table to sit in.

"What?" Jihoon asked.

"Talk to your friend here. He must be really crazy." Wonwoo said and pointed at Jisoo who's pouting a bit.

"I'm not crazy! Ya, Jeon Wonwoo! I'm still older than you!" Joshua whined and hit Wonwoo's arms lightly.

"Yeah, you're older yet you're acting like a kid." Wonwoo said.

"I'm not!"

"Yes, you are!"

"I said I—"

"Joshua?"

The three of them turned around only to see Jeonghan holding his silver food tray with his forehead creased.

"Uh..." Joshua looked at his two friends who didn't seem to know what they're going to do, before turning back to Jeonghan, "We're looking for a table to sit in. The cafeteria seemed full."

Jeonghan then smiled at him, "Then sit with us. My friends are already there and there's still a vacant seat next to us since no one would approach us." He pouted.

Joshua was reluctant to agree since he knew his friends weren't comfortable around Jeonghan knowing his nature but he didn't want to look rude seeing that Jeonghan was just offering.

And besides, his stomach was already growling in hunger.

He smiled, "Sure. Where is it?” he responded.

Jeonghan let out a bright smile, "Follow me! Jun's also there, you can talk to him about the favor I asked you!" He said and walked ahead of the three.

Joshua followed, and so did the other two.

Jihoon then whispered to Joshua, "Why did you agree?"

"Aren't you hungry? Cause I am. Besides, there's no other place to eat at and you don't want to share a table with Seungcheol for God knows why," Joshua answered.

The two just sighed and fell silent as they followed Jeonghan.

Jeonghan stopped in front of two handsome yet foreign looking men who's talking to each other.

"Hey there disgusting lovebirds, scoot over and someone's going to eat with us," Jeonghan said as soon he stopped in front of the two.

They both turned to Jeonghan, "Who?" Minghao, his younger Chinese friend asked.

Jeonghan then smiled at Jun, "Hey, Jun! Joshua's here to eat with us since all the other seats were occupied already. You won't mind sharing with him and his friends right?" He asked.

Jun smiled brightly, "Of course! Right, Hao?" He turned to the younger male which the latter nodded at.

Jeonghan turned around and he motioned the three to sit down.

Hesitantly, they sat down. Wonwoo sat beside Jun while Joshua and Jihoon sat beside Jeonghan.

"Are you Joshua?" Jun asked Wonwoo who sat beside him.

Wonwoo immediately shook his head, "Uh, I'm Wonwoo."

"Jun, this man beside me is Joshua," Jeonghan chuckled.

"Really? I'm sorry!" Jun quickly apologized to both Joshua and Wonwoo.

Joshua softly chuckled, "It's fine."

"And he must be..."

"Jihoon. Lee Jihoon." Joshua answered since Jihoon was too shy to introduce himself.

Jun bowed at him lightly, which he returned shyly.

"Nice to meet the three of you. Also, this man beside me is my boyfriend, Minghao. Xu Minghao. We're both Chinese," Jun said with a smile.

Minghao smiled at the three new faces, "Nice meeting the three of you."

"You all know me, right?" Jeonghan butts in, making all five men turn to him before they can even say something to the other two.

"Who wouldn't know you?" Minghao retorted.

"Hey, I'm nice. It's just that, pranking is my way of relieving my stress," Jeonghan defended himself.

The younger one just rolled his eyes.

"Sorry for that. Don't mind what Jeonghan said," Jun quickly said to the three.

Wonwoo and Jihoon were too shy to interact with the three, and so Joshua mustered up some courage to speak up, "It's fine. He seemed nice to me."

"See?" Jeonghan smugly turned to his friends.

"Whatever. Anyways, is it really fine for you to tutor me?" Jun asked Joshua who nodded immediately.

"Of course."

"It might get hard for you to tutor me since I am..."

Joshua quickly interrupted him, "No, it's fine, really. Jeonghan already told me before I agreed."

Jun smiled widely, "Thank you so much! Also, I've heard from Jeonghan that you were a top student, and so I felt relieved."

Joshua shyly smiled and glanced at Jeonghan who's already munching his food, then turned back to Jun, "Uh, thank you I guess, and you're welcome." He just replied.

The lunch continued with Jun and Minghao initiating a conversation with Wonwoo and Jihoon who slowly loosen up. In the end, the four of them comfortably conversed.

On the other hand, Joshua was silently eating his food since he doesn't really like talking while eating, same as Jeonghan.

When they finished eating, Minghao was the first one to bid goodbye since he needed to finish his unfinished activity.

The rest walked altogether to their building since their room was just beside each other, except for Jun who's room is below them.

In the middle of the conversation, Joshua excused himself to the restroom.

"I'll go with you," Jeonghan then said after Joshua excused himself.

The other three turned to Jeonghan with a questioning look, especially Jihoon and Wonwoo who's still suspicious of Jeonghan.

Jeonghan then frowned at them, "What's with the look?" He asked.

Joshua noticed it too, and so he said, "Wonwoo, Jihoon. I told you, Jeonghan is nice."

Jeonghan realized what Joshua just said, making him pout as he turned to Joshua's friends, "Do I look that bad?"

The two immediately felt guilty so they averted their gaze on Jeonghan. The latter chuckled as he tapped Jihoon and Wonwoo's shoulders, "It's fine. I understand. But I really need to pee right now. So if you don't mind, we'll go now." He said and turned around along with Joshua who smiled at his friends.

Jeonghan wasn't the type to care about what others see of him, but that made him feel sad for a moment, knowing that they find it hard to trust him.

Is my image of being a prankster that scary? he thought. But I don't do that just because I want to. Hmp.

Other than that, he was also surprised to see that Joshua's friends seemed scared of him. They looked more intimidating than him. Are they scared I'll prank them too?

"Sorry about that, Jeonghan."

He averted his eyes to Joshua who's looking apologetically at him, "For what?" He asked.

"For my friends. They're just too protective towards me which I really can't understand why. I'm weak, yes, but no one's harming me though," Joshua uttered absent mindedly.

He really is naive and innocent, isn't he? Jeonghan asked in his mind while staring at Joshua.

"Don't worry, I understand them. You do really need protection from someone,” Jeonghan said, making Joshua confused.

"And why?"

"Because you're so naive... and innocent."

"I'm not naive or innocent. And even if I am, why do I need protection?" Joshua asked with his brows furrowed in confusion.

Jeonghan sighed as they entered the restroom, "Because too much innocence can be bad, you know." He said.

Joshua was about to say something to defend himself but stopped on his tracks when they saw Seungcheol leaning on the walls with his knuckles bleeding.

Jeonghan and Joshua looked at each other, like they're both asking in their minds what happened to the man in front of them.

Seungcheol noticed their presence, "If you're not going to do anything aside from staring at each other, leave me alone here." He said, making the two look at him.

"Hey... uh, your hand is bleeding..." Joshua spoke.

Seungcheol looked at his hand and chuckled without humor, "Don't mind me."

"But it might b—"

"I said don't mind me," Seungcheol said in a hard tone, making Joshua who was about to approach him step back.

Jeonghan then butts in, "Hey, he was just worried."

Seungcheol frowned, "Did I ask for it?"

"No, but you don't have to scare someone who's just concerned about you," Jeonghan fired back.

Seungcheol halted upon Jeonghan's words.

It struck something inside him but he decided to dismiss it. He doesn't need any of it right now, he needs to do something more important than to treat his hand or appreciate others' concern for him which is very unusual for Seungcheol.

"I don't need anyone's concern," he uttered blankly and walked past the two, brushing his shoulders harshly against Jeonghan, making the latter step back and hit Joshua who's behind him.

"Hey! You—" Joshua held Seungcheol's wrist before he could even leave but as soon as his hand came into contact with Seungcheol, all three of them fell down as they held their chest.

They can feel the abnormal fastening of their heart beat as it felt like it was being squeezed inside. They knelt down as they held their chest while clenching their teeth to minimize the pain but it didn't lessen a bit.

The rapid increase of their heartbeat made it more painful for them. A tear escaped from Joshua's eyes as he closed his eyes tightly. Jeonghan was gripping the sink while his other hand remained in his chest, while Seungcheol hit his chest repeatedly but to no avail.

In the end, they're all kneeling on the floor, screaming from the unexplainable pain that's going on in their hearts.

Meanwhile...

Jun, Wonwoo and Jihoon were just talking about some stuff in Jun's classroom on the second floor. For some reason, they felt comfortable talking with each other despite the short time they just met.

"Is Jeonghan really what other students said he is?" Wonwoo suddenly asked, making Jihoon nudge him but he ignored it.

Jun smiled at Jihoon, "It's alright," he assured the man before turning to Wonwoo who's waiting for his answer, "Anyway, to answer your question... yes, he's what the other's said."

Wonwoo and Jihoon fell silent.

"But..." Jun immediately said, "He's really kind to the people he's close with. Like what he said, he's doing it to release his stress. He just doesn't prank anyone just because he wants to. He does it to release his anger or stress on that person who has done something wrong to him."

"But he does pranks on teachers too," Jihoon said.

"He may be wrong on pranking teachers but I honestly can't stop him. He once told me that he's doing it to the people who're acting unreasonable on him," Jun said, "But I assure you, he's really nice. He cares so much for the people he loves to the point he's becoming selfless. It doesn't look like that, right? But I've seen it many times.”

"I honestly don't trust him that much because of his image but seeing that Joshua trusts him, I guess I should too," Wonwoo blurted out.

"How about Joshua then? What is he like?” Jun asked in pure curiosity.

"He's naive and innocent. Also, he's kind too. Really, really kind. To the point of people taking advantage of him and he won't even realize it." Jihoon said.

"What do you mean?" Jun's forehead creased.

Wonwoo sighed, "There's a lot of students who're taking advantage of his naiveness. May it be girls or boys. That is why we're always looking out for him although he's older than the two of us."

"But he can be very, very playful too," Jihoon added.

"I can see that he's nice. But playful? I can't seem to imagine him to be one. He looked so innocent."

Wonwoo and Jihoon chuckled.

"We thought of that too when we first met, but as time goes by, he's slowly becoming playful. The type of playfulness you won't ever be pissed off because despite that, he's considering if he'll hurt others with his playfulness. That's how kind Joshua is.” Wonwoo said.

"But to—"

"Tae, Tae! Look outside!"

"Wh..what the fuck is that?"

"Jin, tell me I'm hallucinating."

"No, Kook. It's true..."

Jun, Wonwoo and Jihoon exchange glances for a second, before running outside Jun's room to follow his classmates and other students who're staring outside the window of the hallway.

Their jaws dropped upon the sight they're witnessing.

It's raining... of flowers.



Chapter Text

"A-argh..." Joshua mumbled as he clutched onto Seungcheol's arms unknowingly.

Seungcheol would harshly shrug it off if it weren't for their aching hearts. So instead of shrugging Joshua's hands off him, he also clutches his hand on Jeonghan's shoulder who's silently whimpering in pain while holding on Joshua's arms.

They're holding each other, enduring their aching hearts (no pun intended) while silently wishing for it to end.

They didn't have any idea about what's happening outside. They can't hear the screamings in shock and awe by the students because they were busy enduring their own pain. They can't even mutter some help, let alone stand up to call someone.

"I-i ca-can't-ta-ke i..t..." Jeonghan cuts off what Joshua was saying by pressing his hand that's holding Joshua's arms.

"M..me too.." Jeonghan muttered, almost inaudible.

"D..don't t-talk..." Seungcheol shuts the two of them off.

"B-but-"

"I s-said, don't t-talk.." despite the pain Seungcheol is feeling, he managed to shut Joshua up with his infamous glare. Immediately, Joshua closed his lips along with his eyes.

A few more minutes of enduring, the pain was slowly reduced. They all sighed in relief when they managed to sit and lean on the restroom's wall.

"W..why isn't anyone coming-here?" Jeonghan asked, catching his breath.

"I th-thought i'm going to die..." Joshua whispered.

Seungcheol didn't say anything. He remained leaning on the wall, catching his breath with his eyes closed.

When they all managed to breathe properly, one by one, they stood up.

"What the fuck just happened." Seungcheol muttered.

Just when they thought it's all fine, Seungcheol, who was about to leave the restroom, fell down.

Joshua shrieked in surprise while Jeonghan immediately went to Seungcheol. He examined Seungcheol's pulse and sighed in relief when he felt his pulse.

"Joshua, I need some help! Help me carry this douchebag in the infirmary! Quick!" Jeonghan said to Joshua who immediately complied despite his trembling hands.

Joshua helped Jeonghan put Seungcheol in his back, then they ran off to the infirmary.

But they didn't even go far away from the restroom when Joshua stopped.

"What... is this?" Joshua asked as a flower fell on his head.

"Ya! Why are you still standing there?!" Joshua turned to Jeonghan and saw him struggling to carry Seungcheol in his back.

He turned to the falling flowers once again, before running towards Jeonghan to help him guide Seungcheol. They both scurried towards the infirmary with Joshua still questioning why flowers are falling from the sky while Jeonghan is still oblivious about it.

Joshua frantically opened the door and made way for Jeonghan to enter. He clumsily laid down the unconscious Seungcheol on the nearest bed.

"Joshua! Call the nurse in charge!" Jeonghan yelled while he's examining Seungcheol. He frowned when he didn't hear any response from the latter.

He turned around to look for Joshua, who's standing on the doorway while staring at something.

Jeonghan rolled his eyes and went to Joshua.

"What's with yo-" He didn't finish what he's going to say when he saw what Joshua was staring at.

"What the fuck... is happening?" He muttered in surprise.

"I don't know either..." Joshua replied, not removing his gaze from the falling flowers.

They stayed like that on the doorway, staring at the outside. forgetting the weird incident earlier and the unconscious Seungcheol.

"Wait, this seemed familiar..." Joshua suddenly said.

Jeonghan turned to him curiously, "What? What is it?"

"I can't remember what this phenomenon is called... but I've read and watched something like this," Joshua said as he closed his eyes, trying to recall something. "As far as I remember, this is a legend that started in the 16th century. I never thought I'd actually see this."

"So what is it?" Jeonghan impatiently asked.

"Wait, I'm trying to remember it."

"Make it fast."

"Can you be quiet for a moment? I can't focus."

Jeonghan was growing impatient every minute that had passed while staring at Joshua who's struggling to remember the so-called phenomenon.

He rolled his eyes, "So what kind of phenomenon is this? Is it some sort of a blessing or curse? What? Is it the same as the red string-"

Joshua's eyes widened. It seemed like something had occurred in his mind. He turned to Jeonghan with a surprised yet excited expression, "Right!" He told Jeonghan.

Jeonghan's brows furrowed, "What?"

"It's that legend! Like the red strings!"

"GODDAMN IT JOSHUA JUST TELL ME WHA-"

" Hanahaki Strings . That's what they called it."

 

 


 

 

"Still don't have any idea about it?"

"Yeah. No one knows either. The teachers haven't said anything though."

"Maybe they're also figuring out what's that... phenomenon."

"It's so weird and scary."

"I know right?"

"What a scaredy cat."

"Ya! Stop acting brave, you shi-"

"It's just a flower! Why would you be afraid of flowers?"

"Ya, even flowers have thorns! Who knows it can be harmful?"

Joshua slowly opened his eyes, but quickly closed it once again when the blinding light from the light bulb welcomed his eyes. He adjusted himself to the light and his blurry vision became clear once again. His eyes roamed around to see where he was, and saw four men sitting on a couch.

Where am I ? He asked himself.

The four men who's bickering on the couch noticed the newly awakened Joshua and scurried over his bed in an instant.

"Thank God, you're awake, Joshua!" Wonwoo exclaimed and sighed in relief.

"You've been asleep for almost seven hours! It's already seven o'clock in the evening right now," Jun said.

Joshua's brows furrowed in confusion upon seeing Jun and his boyfriend, Minghao.

"W-what are you two d-doing here?" He asked.

The two glance at each other before answering him, "Uh, you're in our dorm?" Jun hesitantly said.

"W-what? Why am I here?" Joshua asked.

"Well, you and Jeonghan fainted at the infirmary. We don't know why though. Some students who's walking around there saw the two of you lying on the floor and they immediately called for us in the middle of our class since the nurse in charge at that time was nowhere to be seen," Jun explained calmly, "What happened anyway?"

With that question, memories of what happened earlier slowly came back on Joshua's mind.

Seungcheol. Jeonghan. Falling flowers. Legend. Hanahaki strings.. .

His eyes widened a bit, then he sat up straight and turned to the men in front of him, "First of all, where's Jeonghan and Seungcheol?" He asked.

The four had their forehead creased with Joshua's question, but they still answered him, "Jeonghan is still sleeping on my bed. There." Jun then pointed at the bed next to him, a few meters away from the bed he's sitting at.

Joshua was relieved to see that Jeonghan is fine.

"But we don't know about Seungcheol," Wonwoo said with his brow knitted, "We didn't even see him."

"Eh? He's also in the infirmary with us though," Joshua said.

"Maybe he left before we arrived?" Jihoon said, "Oh, whatever. I don't care about him anyway."

Joshua didn't like what Jihoon just said. Although he admits Seungcheol was what everybody is saying, hearing something like that makes him feel something. Something which he can't explain.

But he decided to ignore what Jihoon said.

"Anyway, can you tell us now what happened?" Minghao butts in their conversation.

They all turned to Joshua who cleared his throat, "Well.."

He told them everything. From when they had a small argument with Seungcheol in the restroom, up to the unexplainable pain in their hearts, Seungcheol fainting and him and Jeonghan bringing the unconscious man in the infirmary, to the conversation he had with Jeonghan.

"That's the last thing I remember. I don't have an idea why we both fainted," Joshua said.

"How odd..." Jihoon stated.

"G...guys! Open the television! It's on the news!" Minghao frantically exclaimed while looking at his phone.

Wonwoo, who's the nearest one on the television, quickly ran to it and opened it. The news about the incident earlier welcomed them.

"Earlier today, October 26, 20**, at exactly 11 am in the morning, an spectacular incident had occurred and was captured in the whole country which doesn't have any specific occurence.

According to the elders, verified by some researchers, this so-called phenomenon is called 'Hanahaki Strings' which first occurred in the year 1600 and the last record of its appearance was in 1982.

This phenomenon is most likely the same as the belief we had which is the 'Red Strings of Fate'. For those who don't know this phenomenon, here's a brief explanation about it according to the researchers.

The legend of Hanahaki Strings. It is a curse disguised as a blessing, or a blessing that can outshine the curse depending on the chosen people. The Hanahaki Strings are almost the same as the Red Strings of Fate, where it connects the souls and hearts of two people. The only difference between the two, is that Hanahaki Strings have their own downside. People who's bounded by this, will vomit flowers, although no one knows the reason behind the vomiting up until now.

A witness from the last occurence of the said phenomenon has explained the form of Hanahaki Strings. Here's her testimony regarding about it;

"That time, all of a sudden, in the middle of nowhere, we just saw a very looooong string. Wait- it's not the same string like what we usually see. This string is peculiar! It has flowers embedded on it! Out of curiosity since it's the first time I saw it, I followed it. It's not only me who followed it though. all, as in all the people who saw it followed it! We walked way too long and trailed the person who's bound by it until the people who were chosen finally met. The strings had connected them and they said they didn't willingly follow it- they were pulled by the strings. And that time they met, it rained flowers once again."

Many speculated that it occurred once again because the legend has chosen another soulmates to be bound by the Strings of Hanahaki.

This is **** news, stay tuned for the next updates!"



Chapter Text

 

"Hey Jun," Joshua greeted Jun who called him as soon as he finished wearing his uniform.

Wonwoo and Jihoon, who are also Joshua's roommates, turned to him with their brows furrowed as they anticipate what Jun's going to say.

"Josh! Are you free after class?"

"Yeah, I've got nothing to do. Why are y— oh, right! Our tutoring session! Sorry, Jun! I totally forgot it!" Joshua quickly apologized as he remembered they were supposed to start yesterday for Jun's tutoring session.

"It's alright! You needed rest yesterday."

"Thanks, Jun. So after class then?"

"Yes, Josh! Thank you!"

Joshua ended the call after bidding goodbye to Jun then he faced his roommates who's still frowning at him, "What?" He asked innocently.

"So you'll start later?" Jihoon asked.

Joshua nodded.

"Are you really fine, though?" Wonwoo asked.

Joshua chuckled, "Very fine. I can even punch you right now." He joked, making the two laugh.

"Yeah, honey punch." Wonwoo teased him which Joshua frowned at.

"What honey punch?"

"Yours. It doesn't even hurt a bit!" Jihoon said laughing.

"Hey! I'm older than the two of you!" Joshua grunted.

"But that doesn't make your punch stronger," Wonwoo said with a teasing grin plastered in his lips.

"You're a baby. How can a baby give a strong punch?" Jihoon added.

Joshua just glared at the two before he picked his bag and strode out of their room, leaving the two laughing at him.

Let's see, you punks . Joshua thought as he continued on his way.

 


 

What on earth was that? Seungcheol asked himself for the nth time as he thought of what happened yesterday.

He found it weird to have a sudden heart attack (not literally) in the bathroom. He finds it even more weird that it happened to the three of them at the same time and place. As far as he can remember, he doesn't have any heart complications. But even so, how can it happen at the same time to three people?

He can't formulate any conclusion no matter how much he thinks of it. It's oddly suspicious so he can't let go of it without finding out what's the meaning of it.

"Choi Seungcheol."

What could it possibly mean? Seungcheol thought. Or maybe, the two have something in their hearts.

"Seungcheol?"

But what's bothering him the most is the falling flowers. It's all odd. 

Does it have any connection with what happened between the three of us?

"CHOI SEUNGCHEOL!"

"What the fuck!" Seungcheol stood up in surprise when someone slammed a hand on his table as it screamed his name right in front of him.

"Your audacity to cuss at me when you're not even paying attention at my class?" His English teacher asked while frowning at him profusely.

Seungcheol mentally cursed. His teacher here was annoyingly strict. He knew that and so he never dozed off nor slept in her class yet here he is, being scolded because of dozing off.

"I didn'—”

"Detention after class and zero for today's quiz. Now, get out of my class," his teacher said in a frown.

Seungcheol's eyes widened, "What? That's to—" 

"I said get out right now or do you want me to make all your quizzes zero?!" His teacher angrily spat, crossing her arms in her chest while directly glaring at Seungcheol's distressed yet defeated eyes.

Sighing, Seungcheol left the room. He wanted to shut the door loudly but he doesn't want to add zero anymore on his record. One zero can affect his grade, what more if he adds another? He might not be the first in the rank anymore.

He went to his favorite spot to cool down his head. Since it's still class hours and no one is allowed to enter their dormitories during class hours, he sneaked in the emergency ladders to climb up the rooftop of their dormitory building.

He was welcomed by the fresh air as soon as he climbed up. His hair was disheveled and he didn't bother fixing it. He sat on the corner.

"At least I can think clearly here without interruption..." Seungcheol mumbled to himself.

"Now I'm wondering if those two are just as confused as I am..." He asked himself. He ruffled his hair frustratedly.

The conversation between Joshua and Jeonghan yesterday at the infirmary popped out in his mind. He just gained consciousness that time Joshua mentioned the 'Hanahaki Strings' and after that, the two suddenly fell on the ground.

Seungcheol didn't know what to do and so he left them there. He sneaked back to his room and there he rested for the rest of the day.

" Hanahaki Strings ..." he whispered, "does it have anything to do with us ?"

Seungcheol tried to search it up but no one really knew what exactly it was and how to know why it occurred. All he found was that it's just like the soulmate thing. But the difference is, soulmates can break up and find another one if the other dies. But the chosen ones of the Hanahaki Strings are bound forever and nothing or no one can remove it.

But as Seungcheol tried to think of one thing he read, something came up in his mind.

"Hanahaki strings connect people who's bounded by each other like soulmates... me... Hong Joshua... and that troublemaker Yoon felt the same pain in our hearts at the same time when we're together at the same place..." He uttered with his eyes closed, trying to make sense of what he's thinking.

His eyes then widened, "Is what I'm thinking... possible?"

His heart pounded violently at the thoughts that formed in his mind when he put one thing and another.

He doubted it was what he's thinking. But he can't let go of this idea no matter how impossible it was.

"Are we... the chosen ones? "

 


 

"This should be fine, I guess..." Jeonghan mumbled to himself as he checked one last time the string he organized in the male's restroom where his so-called-enemy, Kwon Soonyoung, is doing his business. 

The man had angered Jeonghan earlier in the class and Jeonghan wouldn't let it pass. He had enough of Soonyoung and it's time for the younger to learn not to mess with him.

"You freaking hamster, I'll get back at you this time," Jeonghan grinned, "How dare you embarrass me in our class?"

Earlier in their math class, Soonyoung kept on kicking Jeonghan's chair while their teacher was having a lesson. Jeonghan would always be more quiet in math class than the other subjects since he's just so bad at it. But Soonyoung had to ruin it all.

He was sitting in his seat quietly, listening to his teacher intently and trying to absorb the lessons in his mind but he can't concentrate because of the man behind him who's kicking his chair repeatedly.

Jeonghan waited for their teacher to turned her back on them and when she did, he quickly turned to Soonyoung with a glare, "Stop kicking my chair." He said in a whisper yet hard tone before looking back in front again just when their teacher finished writing an equation on the board.

He felt relieved when he thought Soonyoung wouldn't kick his chair again but the latter did it again.

Annoyed, Jeonghan tried to pinch Soonyoung's legs secretly which made the younger yelped a little and retreat his legs with a pout.

Jeonghan thought it's over but Soonyoung kicked his chair a lot stronger than the previous ones and it surprised him a lot that he didn't stop himself from yelling at the younger.

"What the fuck!" He exclaimed and stood up to face Soonyoung who's just innocently looking at him.

"What do you fucking need, Kwon?!" He angrily yelled at the other.

"Mr. Yoon!"

That's when Jeonghan realized he just interrupted their class. He closed his eyes in embarrassment as he turned to his math teacher who's raising an eyebrow at him.

"M-ma'am..."

"How dare you interrupt my class by cursing at your classmate?!" She furiously asked. "Detention after class!"

"What?! Why am I the one to go to detention?!" He asked in surprise.

"Because you're the one who interrupted me in my class and the one who used profanity in front of his teacher," his teacher responded in a matter-of-fact tone.

"But I was listening to you! Someone's just botherin—"

"I don't want to listen to anymore of your excuses. You're a troublemaker afterall. Now get out!" She yelled, pointing out of their room.

His eyes widened, "What? That's unfai—"

"Get out!"

Left with no choice, Jeonghan took his bag with him and left the room, banging the door loudly. He made his way to the back of the building, plotting revenge for Soonyoung.

Jeonghan has this wide grin plastered on his face as he waits for Soonyoung to get out of the restroom.

His heart pounded on excitement when he heard footsteps nearing the door. He mentally counted before he let go of the string he's holding.

He ran away immediately while laughing when he heard Soonyoung's frantic screamings. 

When he was far away from the restroom, feeling satisfied with the outcome of his revenge on Soonyoung. 

But he sighed in frustration when he remembered his detention.

"Fucking Kwon Soonyoung. This is your fault," Jeonghan muttered as he started walking to the detention room. He can't just skip it and think that no one would know he didn't come. Teachers who're giving detentions make sure students go. And so Jeonghan had no choice.

When he arrived at the detention room, he was surprised to see Seungcheol sitting in the corner with his eyes closed but he opened it to see who came in and saw Jeonghan.

No one dared to say anything as they sat far from each other. The teacher in charge was just sitting on his chair and there's a glass barrier between him and the studenBut.

Minutes had passed and Jeonghan slowly became bored. He can't use his phone since there's a teacher inside who's monitoring them and the purpose of being in detention is to reflect on their mistakes by sitting in the corner and thinking of what you've done wrong.

But Jeonghan doesn't do that kind of thing.

He turned to Seungcheol who looked like he's sleeping already. Jeonghan was reminded of the incident yesterday and he wanted to ask Seungcheol about it if he had any idea about it, but the latter was sleeping so he chose to keep it to himself.

Instead, he analyzed Seungcheol's features. He always sees him but he never got the chance to see him this close. He admit, Seungcheol is attractive. His long lashes, dark rounded eyes, his pointed nose and red lush lips. Despite being a delinquent, Jeonghan is also aware of how Seungcheol is a grade conscious student and that is one of the things that other students used against Seungcheol.

Jeonghan thought about how someone as handsome as this man had no friends. He's not even that bad of a delinquent for all he knew although he somehow knows he had some attitude based on how he treated Joshua yesterday in the bathroom, but he knows he's not that bad. 

So what's the matter with this man?

"Stop staring."

Jeonghan snapped out of his own thoughts when he heard a deep baritone say that.

He just realized Seungcheol knows he's staring at him although his eyes were closed. He's not bothered, though.

"You're handsome," Jeonghan bluntly said.

Seungcheol slowly flattered his eyes open as he frowned at Jeonghan, "What?"

“I said, you're handsome," Jeonghan quickly responded.

Seungcheol didn't know what to respond to. Should he thank Jeonghan? No, why would he? Or should he just ignore him? But he's bored as heck. 

He didn't reply to that statement. He's not used to being complimented on his physical appearance since he barely talks to someone seriously.

So instead of responding to what Jeonghan said, he asked, "Do you have any idea about what happened yesterday?"

Jeonghan diverted his gaze at Seungcheol, "I don't and I don't want to think anymore about it. My head's just gonna ache if I push myself onto it since I wouldn't be able to find something," he answered quickly as his gaze turned to the open space again.

Seungcheol didn't answer that since he also agreed with him.

A few minutes of silence when Jeonghan asked him, "How about you?"

"What about me?" Seungcheol asked with his eyebrow raised.

"Do you have an idea about it?"

Seungcheol looked away. He has. But he's too embarrassed about it to say it out loud to Jeonghan.

"Seungcheol?" Jeonghan called for him.

"Well, I had thought about it and yeah, I have an idea. But it's ridiculous." He said in his usual cold voice, still not glancing at the other.

What he said pique Jeonghan's interest, and so Jeonghan quickly went over near Seungcheol which startled the latter, "What the fuck!"

The teacher in charge turned his gaze at Seungcheol and glared at him, to which he responded with a slight bow before glaring at Jeonghan.

"What?" He asked, annoyance is visibly audible in his voice.

"Tell me about your idea," Jeonghan said.

It made Seungcheol embarrassed even more, "That's only for me. I'm not sure about it and I just concluded.”

"It's alright, just tell me."

"It's ridiculous."

"Whatever it is, just tell it. Who knows if it's right?"

Seungcheol's forehead creased at Jeonghan's consistency. 

Doesn't he know who I am? Why does it seem like he's so comfortable with me? Seungcheol thought as he stared at the man in front of him.

They're too close because Jeonghan's leaning at him. Seungcheol can clearly see Jeonghan's overly clear white skin, his eyes that show his emotion very clearly, his pointed long nose and rosy plump lips. Seungcheol can also smell his very intoxicating scent.

Seungcheol realized how handsome the man in front of him was.

If what I concluded is somehow... right, then I think I have no problem with it. He thought.

When he realized what he just thought, he quickly pushed away Jeonghan who pouted.

"I'm just asking, no need to push me!" Jeonghan whined.

"I said it's ridiculous and so don't think I'll say it." Seungcheol said, looking away.

"I don't care. Just tell it. What is it? Are we like mortal nemesis who's bound to kill each other in the future or we're soulmates that's w—" Jeonghan stopped midway when he realized what he just said.

He then turned to Seungcheol who's still looking away but his ears were visibly red, meaning, he's blushing.

Jeonghan thought about it. Soulmates? Is that how we knew our soulmates? 

But as far as he knew, it's not like that, though.

Although he thought it's highly impossible to be chosen by the Hanahaki Strings, somewhere in his mind thought it's possible. No matter how low the probability of it knowing how many people are there in South Korea.

But if it's true, he had no reason to not want it.

He's bound to Seungcheol and Joshua (if their speculation is right), shouldn't they accept it? But why does Seungcheol find it ridiculous?

"Why do you think it's ridiculous to be bound to me and Joshua?" Jeonghan asked absent-mindedly.

Seungcheol's eyes widened. He was caught off guard in Jeonghan's question.

"W-what?" He stuttered.

The latter seemed to snap out of his thoughts and realized what he asked. But instead of changing the topic, he continued, "Why do you think it's ridiculous to be bounded by me and Joshua?”

"Why? Do you think it makes sense that the three of us were bound?" Seungcheol fired back.

"No, it doesn't," Jeonghan quickly answered.

"See? So why can't I fin—"

"But I don't find it ridiculous though."

Seungcheol frowned at him, confused.

"Why would you find it ridiculous if you found out who's your soulmate? Shouldn't you be happy about it? No matter who it is and how bad or good they are." Jeonghan quickly added.

"But having more than one soulmate is impossible." Seungcheol retorted.

"Nothing's impossible, you know. Everything can happen." 

The older one was speechless of what Jeonghan said.

The truth is, Seungcheol found it ridiculous because Joshua and Jeonghan are too much for him. It felt like he didn't deserve them.

Although he just thought about it and nothing had been confirmed, he knew he didn't deserve the two.

"Do you perhaps think that you're too bad for us that's why you found it ridiculous?" Jeonghan asked, which made Seungcheol confused.

"H-how did you know?"

Jeonghan shrugged, "I just thought. Knowing your reputation and ours."

Seungcheol didn't respond.

He didn't know what to say.

Just then, the teacher incharge on monitoring the students on the detention butts in between the two.

"You two, your detention hour has finished. you can go."

Seungcheol quickly stood up and strode on the door, but Jeonghan followed him. He held the hem of Seungcheol's uniform which made the latter stop in his tracks.

"Seungcheol. Why don't we find out if our speculation is true?" Jeonghan said.

The older turned to him, "How?"

"We'll find a way to figure it out. I want to know why that happened to us. I'll include Joshua when he finishes tutoring my friend. But for now, let's figure this out. together," Jeonghan said, hopeful, "So..?"

Seungcheol stared at Jeonghan's face intently, which the latter also did.

They stared at each other for a while, until Seungcheol spoke.

"Fine, let's figure this out. Together."



Chapter Text

"Really? He did all of that alone?" Joshua asked in disbelief, mouth slightly agape.

Jun nodded with a chuckle, "Why? It doesn't look like he's someone to do it?"

Joshua nodded, still dumbfounded by what Jun had revealed.

The younger one told him some of Jeonghan's most extreme pranks. It was surprising for someone like Joshua. He knew about how much of a prankster Jeonghan is but he never thought he would go that far, although Jeonghan never harmed someone. Still, it was way too hard for a simple prank.

Joshua felt goosebumps as he imagined someone who has such an angelic face like Jeonghan would do that. 

"Joshua? You alright?" 

Joshua was snapped out of his own thoughts when Jun called him. He turned to the younger and smiled, "Yeah, yeah. I'm fine."

Jun chuckled and tapped his shoulder reassuringly, "Don't think too much about it, Joshua. As long as you don't do anything that'll stress or anger Jeonghan, you're safe from his pranks."

"Huh?" Joshua asked, furrowing his eyebrows.

"Jeonghan doesn't prank just because he wants to see others' misery. He's pranking people who give him a lot of stress or anger. Since he can't handle it well, he releases it by pranking the people who caused him that," Jun explained.

"But that doesn't seem so right."

Jun sighed, "I know. But I can't stop him. He's Yoon Jeonghan. What he wants, he will get. By hook or by crook."

Joshua fell silent.

"I don't know if I should tell you this but... I'll tell you. The look on your face tells me that you're starting to think of something about Jeonghan," Jun said.

The older one didn't answer, because it was true anyway.

"Jeonghan has... an anger management issue."

Joshua abruptly turned to him, "He has what?"

"Anger management issue," Jun repeated. "He can't deal with his anger so well. He told me that in the past, he would slit his wrist just to release his anger. But it didn't work, so he came up with just pranking those who angered him."

Guilt was evident in Joshua's face after what Jun had told him.

He felt guilty for judging Jeonghan just like that. He doesn't even know the latter's side. But even so, it wasn't justifiable. However, although it wasn't much better, at least he won't cause himself harm.

"I'm sorry for judg..."

Jun cuts him off, "No. It's alright."

Before Joshua can even respond, the door of Jun and Jeonghan's room burst open and came in Jeonghan. Jun quickly eyed Joshua as he put his finger on his lips, visually telling Jisoo not to tell Jeonghan about what they talked about which the older one nodded.

Jeonghan noticed it but he didn't ask anything. Instead, he creased his forehead to Jisoo who's sitting in Jun's bed, "What are you still doing here, Joshua-ah?"

Jun and Joshua exchanged glances before he answered, "I was talking with Jun about some random stuff."

"You finished with your tutoring session?" Jeonghan asked as he slowly walked towards the two.

Jun nodded with a smile, "He's so great! I thought it was hard but he taught it to me so easily and it didn't even take long enough for me to understand it!"

Joshua blushed at the compliment, while Jeonghan smiled at the younger and tapped his shoulder, "I did a great job finding you a tutor, huh?"

"Yes! Thank you so much! I think I can pass the test already!"

Jeonghan fondly ruffled Jun's hair and turned to Joshua with a smile, "Thank you, Joshua. But I think you should head back to your room right now. It's past the curfew already."

Joshua and Jun's eyes widened as they looked at each other.

"I didn't notice the time! We talked much longer than our tutoring session," Jun chuckled while helping Joshua pack his things.

"I know right?" Joshua chuckled too.

Jeonghan laid on his bed while staring at Joshua packing his things.

Is it really possible? He thought, pertaining to the talk he had with Seungcheol earlier. If it is, why us?

"Earth to Jeonghan!"

Jeonghan blinked his eyes repeatedly as he turned to Jun, "Huh?"

"I said, I'll just walk Joshua to the elevator!" The younger one said.

Jeonghan nodded and turned to Joshua, "Goodnight Joshua-ah!"

Joshua felt a sudden sting on his heart. It was brief, but enough for him to feel it.

"Joshua? You alright?" Jun asked him worriedly when he noticed Joshua wincing visibly while clutching his chest.

The older one turned to him, "Y-yeah. I'm fine." Then Joshua turned to Jeonghan, "Goodnight too, Jeonghan-ah."

He left the room with Jun, not noticing Jeonghan who was also clutching his chest when he felt the same sting in his heart like what Joshua had felt a moment ago.

W..what is this? He asked himself. I'm pretty sure I saw Joshua like this too. What was that supposed to mean?

He was so drowned in his thoughts that he didn't notice Jun came back and had told him he'll just shower a bit. He was pulled by dreamland as soon as Jun entered the bathroom.

All he thought of before he drifted to sleep was Joshua and Seungcheol.

 


 

Joshua's phone vibrated just before he was about to enter their room. Since their teacher still hadn't arrived, he chose to check it first.

 

Jun:

Joshua! Sit with us later again, please?

 

Jun:

Of course, bring Wonwoo and Jihoon too!

 

Joshua:

Sure

 

Joshua entered their room as soon as he responded to Jun. He immediately saw Jihoon and Wonwoo at the back talking about something. He went towards them and he noticed the frown in Wonwoo's face.

"What's wrong?" He asked.

"Haven't you heard the rumors?" Jihoon asked back.

"What rumors?" Joshua asked, furrowing his eyebrows.

Jihoon turned to Wonwoo first before he said, "There was a rumor spreading here in our campus that they saw a red thread with vines on it. They said it showed for a brief moment, and so they weren't quite sure if it's really vines. But they're sure it was a red thread."

"Red thread? With vines?"

Jihoon nodded, glancing at Wonwoo silently.

Joshua quickly understood why Wonwoo was frowning. 

Wonwoo hates 'soulmates' to the depth of his soul.

He hates the idea of 'soulmates' and people who have their own. Wonwoo's first love and relationship ended because his ex-boyfriend had left him because he said he met his soulmate.

Wonwoo loved him dearly, for he was his first in everything. First crush, first love, first confession, first boyfriend, first kiss, first date and his first heartbreak.

So when he left Wonwoo for his soulmate, Wonwoo hated the word and concept of 'soulmates'. He hated that guy and his soulmate although he never knew who it was.

Nevertheless, he hated soulmates.

"But why are there vines in it?" Joshua asked in confusion, "Is it about the one we watched on the news? Hanahaki Strings ?" 

"I don't know either. I just heard of that when a group of girls passed by me." Jihoon shrugged.

"It's not true. Those were just delusional girls. It's impossible for them to see a vine in a red thread. Can we just stop talking about it? It's making me sick," Wonwoo blankly said.

Joshua just nodded, but his brows furrowed when he saw Jihoon became pale.

"Jihoon? Is there anything wrong?" He asked the younger one.

"H-huh? Ah! It's nothing," Jihoon nervously answered.

Joshua was suspicious of it, but he chose to shrug it off. He's not the type to dig in if someone doesn't want to say it. But he's the type to start observing even on the smallest things. 

"Anyway, Jun texted me. He told me to eat lunch with them," Joshua said, "With the two of you of course."

"I'm fine with that," Jihoon said, not as pale as he was earlier.

"I'm getting along with Jun very well. Minghao's a bit quiet though." Wonwoo shrugged.

Suddenly, the bell rang and their teacher came in. They all rushed in their respective seats as the class started.

"Okay, class. Before we start, you know winter is coming, right?" Their teacher said.

They all answered 'yes' with few murmuring around. The teacher shushed them up as she continued, "So you also know that the winter trip is also coming?"

The students screamed in excitement as they all realized what the teacher was pertaining to. They will have their winter trip this coming November, and no classes for a week.

"Quiet down, class. I'm not yet finished. I haven't discussed what's the theme of this upcoming trip," their teacher interrupted their imaginations. They all turned quiet and turned to their teacher to listen intently, "What was the theme of our previous trip?"

" From me; To you , ma'am!" One of the students said.

"Right. Our previous theme was entitled, 'From me; To you'. It's all up to the students on who they want to give the gift they bought. Your partners in your rooms were also decided by all of you, right? The teachers have no say in it."

The students fell silent, until Jihoon spoke, "Does it mean the theme for this year's winter trip was that the teacher has a say on this one?" 

Their teacher smiled at him, "You got it right, Jihoon-ssi."

"The theme for this trip was 'Simon says', which we, your teachers, will organize who you're partnering up with the whole trip. who your teammates are, roommates. You can't go with your friends, nor sleepover in their rooms. Once we see you sleepover in a different room, we'll give you community service for a week." Their teacher stated with a grin plastered on her face.

Series of complaints were heard. Sighs of frustrations and disagreements filled the room.

"That's so boring!"

"What if we're not close with our teammates?"

"Let us decide on our roommates, atleast!"

"Quiet!" Their teacher yelled which they all immediately obliged, "The reason for this theme is to get you all closer. The last trip was fun, for you are with your friends. But how about those others who had no friends? They didn't enjoy it. Who knows, on this trip, you'll be able to make new friends, or best of all, you'll meet your soulmate?"

The mood suddenly changed at the sudden mention of 'soulmates'. They were excited, some were anticipating, some weren't. Wonwoo is included in the list of students who weren't excited, especially when their teacher mentioned 'soulmates'.

"The trip is in two days, Wednesday, and will be back on Monday. We have four nights and five days for this trip, so pack your things carefully and just go with the flow, okay?" 

They answered in unison, "Yes, ma'am!"

"Okay. We'll post the teams and rooms later, after class. For now, let's proceed to our lesson."

 


 

"Who's excited for the trip?" Minghao enthusiastically asked the other men at their table.

"I'm excited, but not as much as you are," Jun answered.

"Me too," Jihoon said.

"Not much, but I'm anticipating the teams." Jeonghan said.

"Me too," Joshua uttered.

They all turned to Wonwoo who's just silently eating his lunch. When he noticed the others staring at him, he asked, "What?"

"Aren't you excited for the trip?" Minghao asked.

Wonwoo rolled his eyes, "Not even a bit."

"Why? It seemed to be fun. You'll meet new friends and you can even meet your soulmate there!" Minghao exclaimed, but received a jab on his side from his pouting boyfriend.

"That's mainly the reason why I'm not excited," Wonwoo said.

"You hate strangers?" Jun asked.

"I hate soulmates." Wonwoo answered with a blank expression on his face.

They all fell silent. The other three didn't know what to respond to. The atmosphere suddenly turned awkward, although they didn't know why.

Suddenly, Jeonghan yelled, "Seungcheol! Come sit here! Hey, Seungcheol!"

The other man on the table turned to where Jeonghan was yelling at and saw Seungcheol looking for a vacant seat. His usual seat was taken because he arrived late for lunch. It wasn't like he could tell them to go away, it wasn't his property.

"Are you crazy? Why are you inviting him over?" Wonwoo asked in disbelief.

"Why can't I? He's a friend and there's no available seats other than our table," Jeonghan told them and turned back to Seungcheol who's clearly hesitating to go to their table.

Joshua then waved at the older, "Here! You can sit here!"

"Are you two insane? Don't you know who he is?" Minghao whispered to the two older men.

"Don't judge someone just because of the rumors you heard, Hao. He's nice. I talked to him once." Jeonghan said.

When Seungcheol was about to leave, Joshua and Jeonghan simultaneously stood up and went to Seungcheol to pull him to their table, surprising the students inside the cafeteria. 

Jeonghan was confused too on why Joshua pulled Seungcheol too but nevertheless, he was glad he's not thinking bad of the older like how the others do.

"Don't. I'm fine alone. I can just eat alon-"

"We don't take no as an answer," Jeonghan cuts him off.

"Don't touch m-"

"You have nowhere to sit, so just sit with us," Joshua was the one to cut him off this time.

Seungcheol fell silent. He was enticed by Joshua's soft voice. He never heard such an angelic voice from a man before. 

He was mesmerized by Jeonghan's ethereal beauty and Joshua's honey voice. So the wall he built had cracked a bit and let the two boys pull him in their place.

What the fuck has gotten into me? He asked himself.

Seungcheol didn't know why he let someone pull him just like that. He's not the type to just let anyone order him around or pull him everywhere. But he himself didn't know why he let himself be pulled by these two men who he just thought of being his soulmate.

Is this one of the signs that what I'm thinking of is right? He thought.

When Joshua let him sit beside him, he immediately averted his gaze away from Joshua and Jeonghan's friends who's staring intently at him.

When the two sat down, Jeonghan immediately asked Seungcheol. 

"Why are you late? You're usually early." 

Seungcheol looked at the others before he responded to Jeonghan, "I went to the teacher's office to talk about something." 

"Is it about your grades?" Joshua asked. 

Seungcheol nodded. 

Wonwoo, who's irked by the mere presence of Seungcheol, couldn't help himself and asked;

"What's with the three of you?" 

The three of them exchanged glances, but Joshua was the first who looked away and answered, "What do you mean? There's no more seats left, so we offered him to sit with us." He answered innocently.

Jeonghan and Seungcheol had a different thought though. 

"But he is Choi Seungc-"

"Guys, look outside! It's happening again!" 

They all turned towards the student who screamed while pointing outside the window.

The students gasped once again at the sight they're witnessing once again.

"It's falling of flowers again..." 

"Hanahaki Strings..."

Chapter Text

 

"What the hell is happening?" Jihoon asked while staring outside the window of the cafeteria.

"No one knows," Minghao said.

The whole cafeteria was loud, for all of them kept on talking, asking each other what was happening and why are flowers falling from the sky again.

Everyone was so preoccupied with watching the flowers that they didn't notice anything.

No one saw how the red thread showed up for a brief moment. No one saw the vines that showed up along with the thread.

No one saw it.

They were all so busy staring at the window that they didn't notice the time. The bell rang, indicating that lunch time was over. Series of complaints were heard in the cafeteria.

"I haven't even touched my lunch!"

"Why is lunch time so fast but class hours aren't?"

"I know right?"

"Let's go, Joshua," Wonwoo said as he pulled Joshua's uniform, wanting to leave as soon as possible since he doesn't like being near Seungcheol.

"Oh my! I need to hurry up now! See you later guys!" Minghao exclaimed. He gave Jun a peck on his cheek before he sprinted away.

Seungcheol sighed as he stared at his foods. He haven't even touch it too. His stomach was rumbling. He regretted being so preoccupied by the falling flowers that he forgot he's hungry.

"Here. Eat this instead," Joshua then handed a biscuit to Seungcheol who furrowed his brows.

"You didn't touch your food. You might be hungry," Joshua said. When Seungcheol didn't take the food from his hand, he reached for Seungcheol's hands instead and placed the biscuit there. He gave the older man a warm smile before he let himself be pulled by his friends.

"We'll go ahead, Seungcheol. Let's just talk later," Jeonghan said and hurriedly followed his friends who's running outside the cafeteria.

Seungcheol was left there while staring at the biscuit in his hand.

"I'm late already, what's the use of running?" He mumbled to himself, and instead of eating the food in his food tray, he found himself eating the biscuit Joshua gave him.

 


 

"Why am I paired up with them?!"

"I don't even know who this Jooheon guy is!"

"Who is Nayeon? And Mina and Sana and this Dahyun?"

"Oh shit, I'm paired with Taehyung!"

"Roommates and teammates are the same?!"

The bulletin board was crowded with students as they pushed each other to see the pairings of roommates and team mates. 

The incident earlier at lunch time quickly died as the upcoming winter trip had resurfaced again. The students were excited, so they already forgot about the falling flowers.

When the students looking at the bulletin decreased, that's when Joshua and his friends decided to look at it.

Wonwoo's eyes widened.

"What the fuck? We're paired with Seungcheol?"

Joshua quickly slapped his lips, "Language, Jeon Wonwoo."

Wonwoo rolled his eyes and didn't respond.

Joshua's eyes narrowed at the list.

"Oh. We're also paired up with Jeonghan," he said.

"How about Junhui and Minghao?" Jihoon asked.

"They're on a different team." Joshua said.

"I thought roommates and teammates were different," Jihoon said, "How did they come up with the pairings, by the way?"

"How can we know what the teachers are thinking?" Wonwoo sarcastically asked which earned a glare from Jihoon.

"Sssh! Don't fight. Let's just be glad we're paired up," Joshua shushed the two of them.

Wonwoo rolled his eyes again, "Yeah, and Seungcheol's with us."

Joshua turned to him with his forehead creased, "Why do you hate Seungcheol so much? As far as I know, he never did anything to you."

"Because he's a delinquent, Joshua. A delinquent. Isn't that enough reason to hate him?" Wonwoo responded.

"But he never did anything to us. He didn't punch me and Jeonghan when we pulled him earlier. Don't judge someone just because of what you heard, Wonwoo-ah. That's bad," Joshua said, tapping Wonwoo's shoulder who just rolled his eyes for the nth time.

Joshua just shook his head and scan through the list. His eyes squinted and his lips parted when he read a familiar name at the bottom of their team.

" Kwon Soonyoung ..." He muttered out loud, causing the sulking Wonwoo to turn to him and even the silent Jihoon beside them.

Wonwoo raised an eyebrow at him and Joshua pointed at the board. The two turned simultaneously to find the name which Joshua uttered.

Wonwoo's face turned blank, while Jihoon turned pale which Joshua immediately noticed yet he didn't react to it. He knows something, but he didn't bring it up. Not in front of wonwoo.

"This adds to the reason why I'm not excited for this trip," Wonwoo blankly stated.

"What are you planning to do, then?" Joshua asked.

The latter shrugged, "Just go with the flow. I don't have any choice anyway."

"If you don't want to attend the trip, we can reason ou—"

Wonwoo cut him off, "No. It's fine, Joshua. I need to join the trip even if I don't want to. And besides, it's all in the past. He has his soulmate already." He said and walked away from them.

Joshua immediately turned to Jihoon and saw how Jihoon's lips trembled while looking at Wonwoo's disappearing figure.

Joshua tapped his shoulder, "Wonwoo won't be mad, Jihoon-ah. He would understand. It's not your fault anyway." He said and left the younger there who froze on his spot.

Kwon Soonyoung, the one who keeps on bothering Jeonghan, was Wonwoo's ex-boyfriend .

And Lee Jihoon's soulmate .

Joshua sighed. What a fate.

 


 

"Seungcheol!" 

With his forehead creased, Seungcheol turned to where the voice came from. He saw Jeonghan running towards him with a bright smile plastered on its face. The morning sunlight shining directly onto the guy.

How can someone look so pretty even while running? Seungcheol thought as he stared at Jeonghan's approaching figure. He quickly shrugged it off when he realized how cringy it sounded.

What the fuck was that Choi Seungcheol? That was so out of your fucking character. 

He mentally cursed at himself for what he just thought but he regained his composure when Jeonghan stopped in front of him.

"Have you seen the list for the teams?" Jeonghan asked, panting hard from running.

"I haven't. Why?" Seungcheol asked.

"We're teammates and roommates!" Jeonghan joyfully exclaimed, "and also Joshua!"

Seungcheol maintained his composure although his insides were beating violently. He didn't really feel any excitement on the upcoming winter trip but after hearing what Jeonghan said to him, he felt a bit excited.

Maybe because he finally has someone to talk to unlike the previous trips wherein he's just an outcast who unwillingly joined for the sake of points.

But what made him more excited, was the fact that Jeonghan and Joshua were in the same team and room with him.

They still haven't confirmed what they thought of, but it's an opportunity to find out anything about it. It's also an opportunity for Seungcheol to gain a friend.

"Were the team and roommates just the same?" Seungcheol asked, trying his best to hide his true feelings.

Jeonghan nodded, "Maybe the teachers were too lazy to think of separating it. Anyway, I'm fine with it. Don't you think it's an opportunity to bring the three of us closer? Especially Joshua seemed to like your presence."

Seungcheol felt his cheeks burned in embarrassment at Jeonghan's sudden compliment, but he ignored it.

"I think so too," was all he just responded and turned his back at Jeonghan who grinned before following Seungcheol.

"Wait for me, Cheol! Let's have breakfast together!" 

Seungcheol halted at his track.

"Cheol? What's wrong?" 

Seungcheol turned to him, "C-cheol?"

He was surprised by what Jeonghan had called him. No one ever calls him that ever since he left his home. It felt so new to him.

Jeonghan sheepishly smiled, "Uh, I just thought it was cute to call you that... so yeah, I said it. Is it fine for you?"

Seungcheol wanted to say yes but his pride prevented him from agreeing. So instead of saying yes, he just said, "W-whatever you want." Then he walked ahead of Jeonghan once again.

It's not because he's embarrassed but because a smile formed in his lips. 

He felt like that was the start of their friendship and so he felt so happy about it that he couldn't hide his smile.

"You should smile more often," a soft voice emerged out of nowhere.

Seungcheol abruptly turned to his side and saw Joshua approaching him.

"You looked handsome while smiling. I didn't know you have dimples," Joshua said.

"What? He smiled? When?" Jeonghan's voice approached them from behind which made Seungcheol want to facepalm.

Joshua smiled at Jeonghan, "Just now. You should've seen it. It was a rare sight. It looked so precious."

What's so precious about a smile? Seungcheol thought while creasing his forehead at Joshua.

"Ooh, did you smile because I called you 'Cheol'? Was it too cute for you?" Jeonghan smirked at Seungcheol whose face was slowly turning red.

"What's with 'Cheol'?" Joshua asked curiously.

"You should call him that from now on, Joshua. Whenever you see him. It's such a cute name, right?" Jeonghan continued to tease Seungcheol who averted his gaze away from them.

Joshua seemed to notice what Jeonghan was doing, and so he responded, "Yeah, it suits him. Cheol~" 

Seungcheol's heart skipped a beat, hearing Jeonghan and Joshua's voice calling him by that name was like music to his ears. But he didn't want to show that he likes it so much. 

His pride and reputation is preventing him from doing so.

He was so used to keeping his emotion, that he felt embarrassed to blushed right in front of Joshua and Jeonghan and so he turned his back on them and walked ahead of him.

He heard the soft chuckles from the two which made his heart react to it again.

"Cheol! Wait for us!"

Stop smiling, Choi Seungcheol, for fuck's sake. This is so not you! Stop smiling . Seungcheol thought, mentally punching himself.

Despite his embarrassment for being seen blushing, he can't contain his smile which he rarely does. 

The smile of genuine happiness. Happiness which felt so foreign to him.

Chapter Text

 

Awkward.

The atmosphere in their table was awkward with Seungcheol sitting silently between Joshua and Jeonghan who's casually eating like no one's staring at the three of them.

Joshua and Jeonghan's friends started to eat breakfast and lunch together, for they enjoyed each other's company. But what surprised the four was seeing Joshua and Jeonghan with Seungcheol when they entered the cafeteria earlier.

It's not only the four of them who's curious why the three are together again, some students were also looking at their direction and murmurings filled the cafeteria.

Seungcheol was used to it but he's uncomfortable with the awkward atmosphere, Joshua didn't care at all while Jeonghan was starting to get annoyed, but he chose to ignore it like the other two.

However, their friends can't stay still.

"I didn't know the three of you were close already?" Jun broke the awkward atmosphere in their table.

The three synchronously raised their heads to look at Jun who seemed startled at their synchronization.

"We're going to be roommates and teammates, shouldn't we start to know each other for better teamwork?" Jeonghan stated while grinning.

"And Cheol is fun to be with. He's cute when he's blushing," Joshua innocently retorted which earned a glare from Seungcheol but he just smiled at it.

"W..what?" Minghao and Wonwoo stuttered.

"He blushed? Choi Seungcheol blushed?" Jihoon asked in disbelief.

Who wouldn't? Everyone sees him as a cold delinquent. it's new to them to find out he blushed especially from Joshua. They even called him 'cute' which doesn't suit his reputation at all.

"I didn't," Seungcheol coldly stated.

"You did," Joshua said while munching his breakfast.

"I didn't," Seungcheol turned to him with a glare.

"You did," Joshua then smiled at him, "Right, Jeonghan?"

"Come on, Cheol. You don't have to deny it. We've seen it ourselves," Jeonghan said.

While the three of them were bickering, their friends were just staring at them in awe. They didn't expect the delinquent Seungcheol would bicker with their childish friends without getting punched right in their faces.

"Uhm, we're still here?" Minghao tried to butt in between the three.

They immediately halted and Seungcheol felt embarrassed that others had seen him acting out of his character. So he just silently continued eating his breakfast.

"When did you become close with him anyway?" Jihoon asked.

Jeonghan and Joshua looked at each other then they turned to the older who's just eating his food without glancing at them.

"Just recently, when I went to detention. It's only the two of us there so we talked about what happened the day before when we got that heart—" Jeonghan stopped on what he's saying when he realized he shouldn't have told them that.

He looked to Seungcheol who's also looking at him with his forehead creased, while Joshua was just curiously looking at them like the other four.

"What happened the day before? What do you mean?" Wonwoo asked.

"Is it about the incident in the restroom?" Joshua then asked.

Jeonghan sighed, before he nodded. Their friends knew about it but they never got the chance to discuss it. They won't get any answer from themselves, anyway.

"Right, he's there," Wonwoo mumbled.

"So? What really happened back then?" Jihoon asked.

Jeonghan and Seungcheol exchanged glances, "We had no idea either." Jeonghan responded.

He lied, they thought of something but there's no confirmation so they can't say it out loud. It would be embarrassing if they'd jump into conclusions without any confirmation and would end up not being true.

No one asks anything about it since they don't know anything about it anyway. So they went back to the three.

"How about you Joshua?" Minghao called for Joshua who's silently eating.

"What about me?" He softly asked.

"How did you become close with S-Seungcheol? You are total opposites. How come?" 

It felt weird for Seungcheol to hear someone addressing his name without a hint of malice since he rarely talked with anyone that isn't someone who he had fought.

Everything's new to him.

Joshua let out a warm smile, "We're not really close. We just talked earlier."

"You seemed so close," Wonwoo sarcastically retorted, which made all of them turn to him.

"Wonwoo," Joshua said in his warning tone.

Wonwoo furrowed his eyebrows, "What?"

"Quit the sarcasm. He's not doing anything to you," Joshua said.

"Huh, so I guess he really clouded your mind." 

Seungcheol loudly put his chopsticks on the table that earned attention from the students. Joshua and Jeonghan were startled, as the others.

"If you have a problem with me sitting here with you, just say so. Stop with that fucking sarcasms of yours and tell me straight up your problem," Seungcheol furiously spat at the startled Wonwoo. 

Everyone at that table was surprised by Seungcheol's outburst. He's naturally short-tempered, and so it pissed him off how Wonwoo talks just like that when he's right there in front of him.

"Cheol... don't make a scene," Jeonghan mumbled while pulling the hem of his shirt.

"I'm not, Jeonghan. I just want to know what your friend here has against me," Seungcheol diverted his gaze at Wonwoo who's now blankly staring at him. He glared at the younger, "What ? Fucking tell me right now. I never beat you up. Let alone talk to you. So what's your problem with me?"

"Cheol... he doesn't mean it lik—" Joshua was interrupted when Wonwoo spoke up.

"Because I don't like you. I don't want you here. A delinquent like you shouldn't associate themselves to someone as nice as Joshua. You have an ulterior motive why you're befriending him, right? Because just like everyone else, you're taking advantage of my friend's kindness," Wonwoo said in a hard tone. His face was expressionless.

The genuine happiness that Seungcheol felt earlier had disappeared in an instant because of what Wonwoo said.

It was like a bomb was thrown right in his face.

"Jeon Wonwoo!" Joshua angrily yelled.

Wonwoo was taken aback, including the others. But Seungcheol didn't show it. He was still processing what Wonwoo just said. 

"Joshua..." Wonwoo muttered his name out of surprise.

Before Joshua could say anything, Seungcheol stood up and without saying anything, he left the cafeteria.

Jeonghan hurriedly stood up and followed Seungcheol out of the cafeteria. Joshua then turned to Wonwoo, and for the first time, he glared at the younger.

"What's wrong with you, Jeon Wonwoo? How can you just outright judge someone in their faces?" Joshua coldly retorted.

Wonwoo felt a pang of guilt upon remembering Seungcheol's face when he left.

"I.. I didn't m—"

"I'm disappointed, Jeon Wonwoo," Joshua said and stood up, leaving Wonwoo and the other three on the table.

Wonwoo looked down while Jihoon tapped his shoulder and followed Joshua. Minghao and Jun exchanged glances at each other before they tapped Wonwoo's shoulder.

"I went overboard, didn't I?" He asked while looking at his hands in his lap.

"Yeah. You should apologize," Minghao said.

Wonwoo sighed.

"Joshua's scary when he's mad. I guess he really cares for Seungcheol although they just met," Jun said.

"I know right?" Wonwoo whispered, "It's his first time yelling at me."

"Because you really did go overboard."

Wonwoo felt guilty even more.

"I know you didn't mean it, Wonwoo. So apologize to Joshua, especially to Seungcheol. I saw his expression, and it was the first time I saw him look like that," Minghao retorted.

Wonwoo nodded slowly.

Just then, the bell rang.

"Oh shit! I'm late again! I'll go ahead, Junnie. Wonwoo! Apologize to Seungcheol later!" Minghao exclaimed and gave a peck on Jun's cheek before he sprinted away from the cafeteria.

Jun and Wonwoo quickly took their tray back and left the cafeteria with Wonwoo looking so guilty.

Jun caressed his back comfortingly, "Just apologize to Seungcheol, Wonwoo."

"I know. I just felt guilty." Wonwoo said.

"Let's hurry up to our class first before you apologize," Jun said, which Wonwoo nodded at before they started to run to their respective rooms.

 

 


 

 

"Fucking shit. What's wrong with befriending a delinquent? Tss." Seungcheol muttered as he went on his way to his room.

"Nothing's wrong with that, Cheol."

Seungcheol immediately turned around and saw Jeonghan walking towards him.

"Why did you follow me?" Seungcheol asked, his face was expressionless and his deep-cold voice naturally came out.

"I know what Wonwoo said had an impact on you," Jeonghan said.

Seungcheol looked away. 

"He didn't mean it," another voice came from behind which made the two of them turn around again. Joshua was slowly walking towards their direction and his face had this guilty expression while looking directly at Seungcheol.

He stopped right in front of Seungcheol, "I'm sorry on behalf of my friend, Cheol-ah. He's just over protective towards me and so he said that. But I guarantee you, he didn't mean it." Joshua said apologetically but Seungcheol just looked away once again. He's embarrassed, and he doesn't know why.

Joshua then held the hem of his uniform, "I'm telling the truth, Cheol. He didn't mean everything he said. There's nothing wrong with us being friends, and you have no ulterior motives right? Besides, I'm the one befriending you and not the other way around," he softly muttered.

Jeonghan was just smiling from behind as he stared at Joshua and Seungcheol. He didn't know why he's smiling, it naturally came out.

Seungcheol sighed. How can he get angry when Joshua's like this?

You pathetic piece of shit. How did you become like this? I didn't know having friends can make people soft hearted. Seungcheol thought as he stared at Joshua.

He let out a small smile which Joshua returned almost immediately.

"So , are we fine now?" Jeonghan butts in between them, "If we are, then join us again later at lunch and dinner!"

"No thanks. I can eat alone," Seungcheol quickly refused.

"Well, I didn't ask and I don't take no as an answer either! So you'll join us whether you like it or not," Jeonghan grinned and winked at the older.

"Our friends are nice. Mine was just over protective at times," Joshua said.

"No. I can eat alone," Seungcheol firmly refused while shaking his head.

Joshua and Jeonghan exchanged glances and with just that look of their eyes, they immediately knew what to do as if they've done it a million times.

Jeonghan held Seungcheol's left arm and Joshua held the other one. Seungcheol stiffened at their sudden skinship and when he looked at the two of them, they were doing this 'puppy-eyes' at Seungcheol.

"Come on, Cheol-ah~ Eat with us later~" Jeonghan said in a sing-song voice while acting cute in front of Seungcheol .

"Cheol-ah~" Joshua added in a sing-song voice too.

Seungcheol closed his eyes and he pushed the two off him, "F-fine! Fine! I'll j-join you. just... stop doing that." Seungcheol stuttered and immediately turned his back at the two and walked ahead of them.

It may look like he's cringing at them acting cute, but he wasn't. He's blushing profusely and he didn't want them to see it. 

Fuck myself. Fuck those two. Fuck their cuteness. Seungcheol thought. 

Despite his embarrassment, he can't contain the happiness that came back in his chest. 

He was beyond happy.

He never felt so happy like how he's feeling right now.

In a matter of a few days, just because of the incident in the restroom, he gained friends. two annoying yet adorable friends even if it's embarrassing to say that they're adorable, but they really are.

He was so happy that they insisted on making him join them for lunch and dinner. 

He's just hoping what Joshua said about his friend was true. That Wonwoo didn't mean what he said. Because it'll ruin again the happiness he rarely feels.

He just wanted to have friends, so he hopes it'll go well later.

Meanwhile, Joshua and Jeonghan gave each other a high-five.

"That was cringey, Jeonghan!" Joshua exclaimed while laughing.

"But you have to admit, I'm adorable!" Jeonghan said.

"Well, you really are," Joshua said, "But that was the first time I acted cute. Geez. It's cringey! I won't ever do that again."

Jeonghan chuckled at him, "But you're also adorable!"

"Wonwoo and Jihoon say that too."

"Because you really are."

Joshua just shrugged. He really didn't see himself as adorable as Jeonghan, but his friends keep on saying it and Jeonghan too.

Just then, the bell rang. Joshua's eyes widened as he turned to Jeonghan .

"Let's go, Jeonghan! We'll be late again!" Joshua exclaimed and started running towards their room.

Jeonghan smiled before he followed the younger.



Chapter Text

"Can't I do it after class?" Wonwoo nervously asked the annoyed Joshua while Jihoon was just discreetly rolling his eyes at his stubborn friend.

"I'm warning you, Jeon Wonwoo. Do it now," Joshua firmly stated.

"But I'm nervous. What if he's mad? What if he doesn't accept my apology?" Wonwoo asked, looking so stressed as ever.

"At least you apologized for your mistake. And don't worry, he isn't mad anymore," Joshua assured the younger.

"But..."

Joshua immediately sent the younger one a warning glare making Wonwoo shut his mouth from complaining.

"So can we proceed to the cafeteria now? My stomach has been grumbling for almost five minutes," Jihoon blurted out.

"Sure. They might be there already," Joshua said and walked out of their room with Wonwoo and Jihoon trailing behind.

Jihoon tapped Wonwoo's shoulder, "Don't worry. It's just a punch," he said to Wonwoo.

The latter irritatedly shoved his hands in his shoulder, "I'm nervous as hell right here to apologize yet that's all you're going to say?"

Jihoon shrugged, "You put yourself in that situation. Besides, I'm not great at comforting." He stated and walked ahead of Wonwoo to walk along with Joshua.

Wonwoo frustratedly ruffled his hair.

When they reached the cafeteria, they immediately saw Jeonghan waving his hands at them. Joshua waved in return before they proceeded to get in line for their lunch.

After they got their food, they went straight to where Jeonghan and his friends were, including Seungcheol who's conversing with Jun and Minghao comfortably already.

Joshua smiled at the sight of Seungcheol being comfortable with them. But it's still not settled because of Wonwoo. He sighed as he reached them.

"Hey Cheol! Glad you eat with us," Joshua said as he sat beside Seungcheol with Jeonghan on the other side. So Seungcheol was sitting in between the two again. While Jihoon and Wonwoo sat beside Jun and Minghao.

It was another awkward atmosphere because of Wonwoo and Seungcheol. Wonwoo was averting his gaze from everyone. Joshua understands what Wonwoo wants.

He wants to apologize alone. Maybe because he was too embarrassed.

"Joshua! Do you know Seungcheol loves to play football?" Minghao asked Joshua to stop the awkward tension that is slowly growing in their table.

Seungcheol felt that 'foreign' feeling of being called by his name softly once again. Minghao and Jun have been calling him that ever since he sat with them earlier, but he's still not used to it.

It will take a lot of time for him to get used to it.

Joshua's eyes immediately landed on Seungcheol, "Really?"

Seungcheol nodded without saying anything.

"Then do you want to join the football team?" Jeonghan asked.

They all turned to him.

"What – why are you all looking at me? I'm just asking," Jeonghan said immediately.

"I can't join the football team even if I want to," Seungcheol blurted out while looking at his food, "The captain of the football team has a grudge towards me. And so when I tried to join them, he didn't accept me. He even brainwashed the others to not let me join them."

Silence filled the table.

Jun and Minghao exchanged glances, and so did Jeonghan and Joshua. Jihoon remained silent while Wonwoo just stared at Seungcheol.

Joshua and Jeonghan can see in Seungcheol's eyes that he really likes to play football. Anyone who would hear him say that can clearly hear the sadness in his voice.

Because of his reputation, he can't even join the team he wanted to be part of.

Slowly, a grin started to form in Jeonghan's lips.

"Do you really want to join the team, Cheol?" Jeonghan asked.

Jun and Minghao, who have been Jeonghan's friends for many years, can see right through Jeonghan's mind just by looking at the grin he's wearing on his lips.

"Jeonghan, I know you've got something in your mind again," Minghao said.

"That's the smile of someone who just thought of another evil plan," Jun added.

Jeonghan just chuckled, "Well, Seungcheol wants to join. I just want to help a friend."

"You're thinking of a different way of helping, aren't you?" Jihoon asked him.

The older one just smiled proudly.

"Don't bother, Jeonghan. It doesn't matter," Seungcheol nonchalantly said, but deep inside him, he's curious of what Jeonghan is thinking to do in order to make him join the football team.

"No. I know you want to join, so you'll join."

Joshua secretly smiled at Jeonghan's stubbornness. He would like to help Jeonghan in his plan but his plan wasn't Joshua's thing. Although no one knows what he is planning.

"I don't know why you're bothering too much, but it's really fine for me if I don't get to join the team," Seungcheol half-heartedly said.

"You cannot stop Jeonghan if he already formulated a plan in his mind," Minghao said which Jun immediately agreed upon.

Seungcheol just sighed in defeat.

"Won't you get in trouble?" Jihoon asked.

Jeonghan smiled, "Just trust me."

Well, he's not just a low kind of prankster anyway. So they just shrugged at him.

Suddenly, Jun gasped.

"What's the matter, Junnie?" Minghao asked worriedly at his boyfriend.

"I almost forgot I have an exam later!" Jun exclaimed.

"Oh, right. For the university scholarship." Jeonghan said.

"University scholarship?" Jihoon asked in confusion.

Jun nodded, "I applied for a test to have an examination for it since rankings aren't announced yet. I'm broke as hell and I don't have any savings for future purposes and so I have to enter a university for free."

"Right, I remember now the reason why we became close was because Jeonghan asked Joshua for a favor to tutor you," Jihoon said.

They all nodded except for Wonwoo and Seungcheol.

"I'll go ahead first,guys! I'll spend the rest of my break time reviewing for later," Jun said while standing up.

"Want me to help you, Jun?" Joshua asked.

Jun's eyes brightened in delight, "Of course, I would love to! But you haven't finished your lunch yet."

"It's alright. I'm not that hungry anyway. Let's go?" Joshua stated and stood up while holding his food tray.

"We'll go ahead hyung. See you later, Haohao!" Jun pinched his boyfriend's cheeks before he left the cafeteria with Joshua eyeing Wonwoo which the latter just nodded upon. They watched as the two disappeared from their sight.

"Winter's trip tomorrow yet they still have an exam? Can't they move that?" Minghao asked out of annoyance.

"I know right," Jeonghan responded, "Good thing Jun already prepared his things."

"How about you, Seungcheol? Have you packed your things?" Minghao asked the silent Seungcheol.

All eyes then turned to Seungcheol. Jeonghan knows Minghao was trying to make Seungcheol comfortable around them, and he's happy to see his friend is already acknowledging the older.

Seungcheol cleared his throat, "Uh... I haven't..."

"What? Why? Aren't you going to join?" Jihoon asked in surprise.

Seungcheol looked down, "I'm going. I just forgot to pack my things."

Jeonghan sighed in relief, "I thought you won't join anymore."

"I have to," Seungcheol replied, "The activity has a point, and I need to acquire some of it."

"Right, you're a top student too like Joshua." Jeonghan mumbled.

They continued talking about the upcoming winter trip. Minghao would ask Seungcheol from time to time since the older doesn't seem to have any plan on joining the conversation unless he's being asked.

Minghao was the most excited one for the trip among all of them, while Wonwoo isn't looking forward to it even a little bit. So he didn't bother joining the conversation although he really is quiet even earlier.

Until the topic about who their roommates and teammates came.

"Who else is there in your team anyway?" Minghao then asked the four of them who's in one team.

"I forgot about them already. All I know is Seungcheol, Wonwoo, Jihoon and Joshua are my roommates and teammates," Jeonghan simply answered, but his eyes suddenly widened, "Oh my gosh! I remember another one of our members!"

"Who?" Jihoon asked, his forehead creased.

"I bet you are familiar with that hamster-looking kid in the dance troupe who annoys the hell out of students, especially me. Gosh! My blood is boiling everytime I remember I'm in the same team and room with him!" Jeonghan exclaimed, whining about the fact he's with Soonyoung for the rest of the trip.

"Who was it?" Minghao curiously asked.

"Kwon Soonyoung. You don't know him?" Jeonghan said to which the younger shook his head.

Wonwoo and Jihoon remained silent when the topic about 'Soonyoung' came up. Wonwoo lost all the remaining interest he had while Jihoon was nervous, his heart was pounding nervously at the mention of that name.

"How unfortunate for you then," Minghao said while chuckling.

Jeonghan just glared at him.

"But the teachers are confusing. They said they'll split up students randomly, yet Joshua and these two here are in one team," Minghao retorted.

"I know right? But anyway, you're with Jun. Why are you complaining?" Jeonghan said.

Minghao was about to respond but he closed his lips and averted his gaze instead. The others find it suspicious, especially the nosy Yoon Jeonghan.

"Hao? What's wrong?" He worriedly asked.

Minghao just let out a faint smile. Gone was the bubbly and excited Minghao from earlier. His smile was forced. His eyes suddenly lost interest.

"Nothing," he simply replied, "I'll go ahead first." He said and left without waiting for the other's response.

Jeonghan, Wonwoo and Jihoon just looked at each other. The two shrugged while Jeonghan was still confused. Seungcheol doesn't have any idea about it and so he chose not to meddle with it.

"Anyway, let's go ahead. It's almost time," Jihoon said and kicked Jeonghan's foot under the table then he stared at its eyes, sending a signal to leave Wonwoo and Seungcheol alone.

Jeonghan, being the quick-witted guy he is, immediately understood what Jihoon wanted. When they went out of the cafeteria, he immediately pulled Jihoon's hands and ran away from the two.

"Goodluck, Wonwoo-ah!" Jeonghan yelled from a distance.

"Jeonghan! We just ate lunch!"

"Oh right. sorry!"

"Aish!"

The faint yelling of the two slowly disappeared, leaving Wonwoo and Seungcheol alone.

Wonwoo was nervously fumbling with his fingers from his back as he was avoiding Seungcheol's gaze.

"Are you going to say something or not? Time is ticking," Seungcheol blankly said.

Wonwoo visibly gulped and heaved a deep sigh.

"I ...I'm sorry..." he said, lowering his head out of embarrassment.

He was waiting for Seungcheol to hit him, but instead of a punch in his face, he felt a tap on his shoulder. He raised his head and met Seungcheol's gaze.

"It's alright. Just... don't repeat it again," Seungcheol averted his eyes away after he said those words.

"I promise, I won't ever say those things again—"

"Don't judge me ever again just because of what the others say about me," Seungcheol mumbled, but Wonwoo still heard it.

He felt a pang of guilt once again.

Seungcheol then stared directly in his eyes, "I'm really happy that someone is approaching me without getting afraid of me. I'm really happy Joshua and Jeonghan are trying their best to befriend someone like me. I'm not taking advantage of Joshua's kindness and Jeonghan's friendliness. I may be a delinquent, but I also want to have a genuine friendship with someone." Seungcheol stated without breaking their eye contact.

Wonwoo was speechless. Every word Seungcheol spat struck something in his heart. He's guilty. He saw the overwhelming longing and craving in Seungcheol's eyes.

Longing for care. Craving for love.

He never fathomed that he would sympathize with someone like Seungcheol who he once thought was strong and untouchable.

But he saw another side of Seungcheol right now.

And he regretted every word he spat earlier even more.

"I'm... really sorry, Seungcheol. I didn't mean everything I've said earlier. I was just protecting Joshua from whom I thought was taking advantage of him," Wonwoo explained, "I swear to god, I didn't mean it! And I regretted every bit of it. I'm sorry, Seungcheol!"

Seungcheol just smiled. A real, sincere smile.

"I told you, it's alright. Just don't repeat it again."

Wonwoo immediately nodded, "I promise!" he said.

Seungcheol nodded, "It's fine then."

The younger one hesitated for a moment, but eventually extended his hand towards Seungcheol as he said, "Friends?"

Seungcheol was a bit surprised, but nonetheless, he accepted his offer.

"Sure."

He couldn't even hide his smile anymore.





Chapter Text

"Joshua! Hurry up, will you? I haven't taken a bath yet!" Wonwoo irritatedly yelled from outside their room's bathroom.

"Wait a second! I'm almost done!" Joshua yelled back from inside.

Wonwoo rolled his eyes. He's been waiting for almost fifteen minutes but Joshua is still not going out. Jihoon and him usually took five minutes to take a bath but Joshua takes fifteen minutes or more.

He regretted letting the older one take a bath first.

Just then, the door of the bathroom creaked open and let out Joshua who's wiping his hair with his towel.

"I thought you'll never let me take a bath," Wonwoo said to Joshua.

"You're exaggerating again. It didn't even take me half an hour," Joshua snorted.

"We'll leave in thirty minutes! I also need to prepare, you know," the younger said and stomped his feet as he entered the bathroom.

Joshua just pouted.

"Just let Wonwoo off today," Jihoon suddenly spoke. He's just lying down on his bed since he finished preparing his things and he had taken a bath already, "He's grumpy."

Joshua nodded and sat beside Jihoon, "Do you have any plans on when to tell him about it?" Joshua whispered.

Jihoon looked around before he sighed, "I'm afraid to tell him. I treasured our friendship more than anything. But..."

"You also love him," Joshua finished what Jihoon was hesitating to tell, "But you have to tell him before he finds out from others."

"I know, Josh. I'm just waiting for the right time."

"And when is that?" Joshua asked softly.

"When he found his own soulmate," Jihoon answered, looking away.

Joshua just nodded understandingly as he fondly ruffled the younger's hair. They didn't talk about it anymore, afraid that Wonwoo might hear them.

A few minutes later, Wonwoo came out and saw that Jihoon and Joshua had already finished preparing their things.

"We already prepared your things, Wonwoo-ah," Joshua said to him.

He nodded, "Thanks, Joshua."

Joshua was sad that Wonwoo isn't a bit enthusiastic about this trip because of one of their members. But he can't blame Soonyoung, and he will really not. The boy didn't do anything wrong and the teachers have no idea about their past relationship and so no one can be blamed.

The three of them left the dormitory and headed towards the gymnasium where all the students from the twelfth and eleventh grade will gather to have a brief meeting of the rules and regulations about the trip.

Joshua immediately saw Jeonghan with the Chinese couple as they entered the gym. Jeonghan pointed at the seats they reserved for the three of them so they quickly went to their place.

"Where's Seungcheol?" Wonwoo asked the moment he sat beside Jun.

They're friends already. When they had dinner last night, they exchanged numbers and he called Seungcheol when they got back to their respective rooms. He apologized once again and talked about some random things with Seungcheol.

He feels more and more guilty as he finds out something new from the older. But he enjoyed their conversation nonetheless.

"We don't know either. Maybe he'll arrive after this meeting," Jeonghan said.

"Jeonghan would've done the same thing if we didn't force him here," Minghao said and chuckled.

"It's because this is boring. They said it'll be brief but it will take an hour before we finish," Jeonghan rolled his eyes. The others just chuckled at him while Joshua took out his phone to send a message to Seungcheol again.

 

Joshua:

Hey Cheol. Where are you?

 

Joshua:

Cheoool. Are you still sleeping

 

Joshua:

Are you attending or not?

 

Joshua:

Please reply Cheol.

 

Joshua stared at his phone, waiting for Seungcheol's reply but it's been five minutes yet the older man hasn't replied yet.

"Good morning students! Are all of you present?" A voice came from the stage. All eyes turned to the speaker. It was the headmaster of their school. He's wearing a thick coat and brown earmuffs.

The students screamed, one because they are present and second, because the headmaster rarely shows up to them and he is drop-dead gorgeous. He didn't look like someone in their 40's.

He chuckled, "Okay, okay. I'll make this really brief since I am just as excited as you all are."

The students laughed at his remark.

"So for the rules, it's just basic. Don't leave your team. Don't leave without your teacher's permission. Do not stroll around. You can't hop on another team or room since we'll have someone to check on it. Strictly be with your team all the time," the headmaster said which made the students groan in frustration.

Especially Wonwoo who hated all of this.

"The keys for every room will just be one. Also, you'll travel with your teams. Two teams in a bus. You saw who's the assigned teachers for every team right? So go to them right now and form a line! We'll proceed to the bus now!"

Some students excitedly stood up to find their assigned teacher, while some didn't. They're annoyed.

Jun and Minghao bid goodbye to the others as they head to their own team. The remaining ones find their assigned teacher. Led by Jeonghan himself.

"There she is!" Jeonghan said and pointed to a teacher. A bit young looking teacher which made them giggle.

Wonwoo's remaining interest deflated even more as his eyes met a pair of slanted eyes which he is very familiar with.

Fuck this trip, Wonwoo scowled at his mind. Rolling his eyes and turning around.

"What a luck. We're in one team, Jeonghan!" Soonyoung greeted Jeonghan after locking eyes with Wonwoo to avoid any awkward atmosphere.

Joshua and Jihoon turned to Soonyoung after hearing what he said. They exchanged glances and turned their heads to Wonwoo who's avoiding their direction.

Jeonghan raised an eyebrow at him, "Don't talk to me, Kwon."

"Come on! You had your dirty revenge on me already. Aren't we fine?" Soonyoung whined.

"That's not enough. And we'll never be fine," Jeonghan rolled his eyes at the younger.

Soonyoung pouted which made Jihoon look away. Just then, Wonwoo turned around and saw how Soonyoung pouted his lips.

Fucking lips. Wonwoo cursed on his mind as the memory of their first shared kiss resurfaced on his mind. He closed his eyes and turned his back once again.

"Go away, Kwon. I'll really punch you straight on your face," Jeonghan threatened the younger one.

Soonyoung smiled, "Nah! You don't like violence so you won't. Besides, I'm too cute to be punched!" He stated and left them there. He went towards the front of the line.

"Stupid hamster," Jeonghan mumbled and rolled his eyes out of annoyance. He then turned to Wonwoo who's looking away from them, "You alright, man?"

Wonwoo sighed, "I'm not. I don't even want to be here right now."

"Why? You can avoid interacting with others if you don't want to. Just stick with us. Enjoy the trip. It's our last, anyway," Jeonghan stated.

"I can't enjoy knowing someone I truly hate is here."

Jeonghan raised his head as he became curious of who Wonwoo was pertaining to, "Truly hate?"

Before Wonwoo can respond, the voice of the headmaster can be heard.

"Okay, listen up students and teachers!" All heads turned towards the headmaster. "We'll now enter our respective buses! Teachers, please guide your students well and don't let anyone leave alone. Keep your eyes at your students and always check your team's attendance. For the students, listen to your teacher's instructions and when you need to go somewhere, ask for permission from your assigned teacher and go in pairs! Remember; Do not hop on another team. We'll give you a one week community service if we catch you. Now, teachers, lead your teams and board the buses! Be careful and try to befriend your teammates!"

Jeonghan already forgot what they were talking about as he suddenly remembered Seungcheol. The older ones haven't arrived yet. So he quickly nudges Joshua who's staring at his phone.

"Joshua, Seungcheol's still not here." He informed the younger one.

"I know. I texted him a few times already but he hasn't responded to it," Joshua said, concern evident in his face, "This is an important trip. Isn't he attending?"

"Joshua! Jeonghan! Why are you still there?" 

The two turned their heads towards Jihoon who's already a bit far from where they were standing. Their team is alreading boarding the bus but there's still no sign of Seungcheol.

They exchanged glances first before they followed their team on their bus. They walked towards the back seat of the bus where Jihoon and Wonwoo were sitting.

The other team's assigned teacher and theirs were the last ones who entered the bus. The other teacher looked around and asked with a smile, "I'll check the attendance first before we leave, okay? Just raise your hand if I called your name."

"Ahn Hyoseop."

"Park Chanyeol."

"Kim Namjoon."

"Kim Seokjin."

Joshua and Jeonghan are becoming more anxious and worried as the teacher from the other team has finished checking their attendance. It was their team's turn. Their teacher kept on calling their names but Seungcheol still hadn't arrived yet.

"Kim Yugyeom."

"Kim Mingyu."

"Kwon Soonyoung."

"Jeon Wonwoo."

"Lee Jihoon."

"Still haven't replied?" Jeonghan whispered to Joshua.

Joshua shook his head in Jeonghan's dismay. This is a chance for them to get even more closer so he really anticipated the trip more than he thought.

"And last, Choi Seungcheol." Their teacher said, but no one raised their hand.

"Choi Seungcheol?" She called once again but still no response.

"Oh, Choi Seungcheol won't be attending?"

"Miss, he will just—" Jeonghan's words were cut off by someone who just entered the bus.

He's panting heavily as he stood at the front. Hair still disheveled and his eyes were still sleepy. Jeonghan and Joshua's eyes brightened at the sight of the man they've been waiting to appear.

"I-I'm here, miss. Sorry for being late." Seungcheol said, still catching his breath.

Their teacher smiled at him, "It's alright. You may sit down wherever you want now so we can leave already."

Seungcheol bowed at her and turned his eyes around. He immediately saw Jeonghan and Joshua waving their hands at him while pointing to the seat between them.

He internally smiled.

Finally , he muttered in his mind. It's the first time he had a friends he can talk and sit with during a winter trip. He was an outcast before, so he'll just stare at them from a distance.

But he finally has someone with him.

He headed towards their seat not minding the judgemental eyes of the other students inside.

Wonwoo, who's sitting beside Jeonghan, waved at him and smiled faintly when he sat down between Joshua and Jeonghan, "We thought you won't attend anymore." He said.

"Right. These two over here were so anxious." Jihoon said who's sitting beside Wonwoo.

Seungcheol then turned at the other two, "Uh... I woke up late and I just finished preparing my things earlier so... I was late." He shyly explained.

"It's alright! At least you came," Jeonghan said with a smile.

"But why didn't you respond to my texts?" Joshua asked.

"My phone's inside my bag. I forgot to bring it out," Seungcheol answered while scratching his nape.

Joshua just nodded.

"Students, please look here first and listen," their team's teacher suddenly said.

"So I know you all know me and my friend beside here but for formality, we'll still introduce ourselves," Jeonghan's team's assigned teacher said, "I am Shin Minah but you can call me Ms. Shin, and I am team A's assigned teacher."

"And I am Song Hyekyo but call me Ms. Song. Team B's assigned teacher."

"You've heard what the headmaster said earlier, right? No team and room hopping. We're going to check the attendance from time to time so don't ever think of defying the rules and sneaking in to other teams," Ms. Song said.

"And I hope you all will get along on this trip like what we really want. For the theme of this trip which is 'Simon says', it'll start later when we arrive at the site," Ms. Shin stated.

"So students, you can sleep first. The ride is almost two hours so you might want to take a rest first so you can prepare yourselves later for the activities," Ms. Song said.

Some of the students slept like what their teacher recommended, while some decided to talk to their teams to get along except for the five men seated at the back seat like they're in their own world.

"I'm gonna sleep. I'm a bit sleepy since I slept late last night," Joshua said.

"Are you that excited for you to sleep late?" Jeonghan teasingly asked which Joshua just chuckled at. He leaned on the backrest of the seat and soon drifted to sleep.

The other three except for Seungcheol decided to sleep too. especially Wonwoo who has no interest in what's going to meet them at their destination.

Seungcheol isn't that sleepy so he stayed up on the ride.

It was peaceful on their ride since the majority of the students were sleeping. He plugged in his earphone and took out his phone in his bag. He played his favorite music and leaned on the backrest as he closed his eyes.

But he flinched a bit when something came in touch with his shoulders. He opened his eyes and saw Jeonghan and Joshua's head leaning on his shoulder.

He gulped as he felt the abnormal beat of his heart.

Calm your fucking heart, Choi Seungcheol. They're just sleeping. calm the fuck down.

He shook his head and let the two men beside him sleep on his shoulders. If it were other people, he would've pushed their head away. But these two are his very first friends in his whole damn life. So he let them do that. He felt comfortable with it anyway.

He didn't even notice he slowly fell asleep as he thought of Joshua and Jeonghan.

 

 


 

 

"Students! Wake up! We're here at our destination!"

Seungcheol jolted awake at the voice of their teacher waking them up. His abrupt movement caused the two men beside him to wake up too.

"What was that?" Joshua asked, his voice was quite raspy.

"We arrived at our destination," Seungcheol answered.

Jeonghan was rubbing his eyes when heard Seungcheol's answer. He felt excited once again so he immediately stood up, eyes sparkling, "Let's go!" He exclaimed and picked up his bag before he left the bus.

Joshua just chuckled while Seungcheol smiled.

They formed a line once again when they got down. The cold breeze welcomed them and Joshua and Wonwoo, who easily gets cold, shivered.

"Wonwoo-ah, do you have any hot packs with you?" Joshua asked, knowing the younger is also fast to get cold.

Wonwoo shook his head. Being the kind, selfless man he is, Joshua handed him his hot packs, "Here. Use this."

"How about you?" Wonwoo worriedly asked.

"I'm fine. I can handle," Joshua reassuringly said, handing over the hot packs. Wonwoo hesitated, but Joshua insisted so he had no choice but to get it.

"Thanks, Josh," Wonwoo said.

Joshua just patted his shoulder and put his hands in his coat's pocket to at least relieve the coldness.

"So we'll check the attendance once again. Raise your hand if I call your name, okay?" The students groaned, but still obliged.

After the attendance, the teachers led their own teams inside a hotel where they'll stay for a week. The students were fascinated because it is a lot more expensive than the last trip.

"So we'll give you two hours to rest and prepare. We'll call you after that and you will all gather at the lobby. By teams. Alright? teachers, lead your teams in their rooms!" The headmaster exclaimed.

As they walked to their respective rooms, Seungcheol noticed how Joshua's lips trembled and was visibly pale. He was also clasping his hands. So he rummaged through his bag to get his extra hot packs and put it in Joshua's overly cold hands.

The younger one was surprised, but smiled upon feeling the warmth of the hot packs, "Thanks Cheol. But do you have your own?" He asked the older one.

Seungcheol nodded, which made Joshua relieved.

Their team, led by Ms. Shin, was on the fifth floor of the building. They stopped in front of room '017'.

"So in each team, you'll occupy three rooms. Room 017, 018 and 019 is assigned for your team. So who will handle the keys for your rooms? Anyone who is responsible?" Ms. Shin asked.

Jeonghan raised his hand, "Miss!"

Ms. Shin smiled widely, "Yes? Will you volunteer to handle your keys?"

Jeonghan shook his head, "No, miss. Joshua will!"

All eyes then turned to Joshua who also seemed surprised. He confusedly turned to Jeonghan who's just smiling like he didn't do anything.

"Oh, right! Hong Joshua, right?" Ms. Shin asked.

Joshua shyly nodded. He was a bit shy of the attention he's getting because of Jeonghan.

"Can you keep these keys for your team? You're automatically the leader of your team. By that, you will also be responsible for your team too," Ms. Shin said.

"He can handle it, miss! He's a top student!" Yugyeom, one of their teammates said which the others agreed upon.

Ms. Shin turned to Joshua once again, "So, will you?"

Joshua sighed and nodded, "Yes, miss."

"Alright then. Here. Check your teammates, okay? I'll be depending on you from now on," Ms. Shin said and handed him the key. "Goodluck!" She winked at Joshua before she left them there.

Joshua then eyed Jeonghan, "You'll help me handle the group since you recommended me."

"Don't worry Joshua, you got us!" Jeonghan winked at him too. Joshua just shook his head and went towards the door of room 017 to open it.

The moment the door was unlocked, their other teammates pushed Joshua aside and hurriedly entered, causing the poor man to stumble on the floor.

Seungcheol felt annoyed, and so did Jeonghan while Wonwoo and Jihoon helped Joshua to stand up. Seungcheol walked in while yelling at their teammates, "Hey! Can't you be careful when entering? Is this your first time sleeping in a high-class hotel? You should've let Joshua move aside first!"

The others then turned to him, "Oh. The outcast delinquent Choi Seungcheol is interacting now, huh?" Baekho, one of their teammates teasingly said.

"Just because you have friends doesn't mean you can yell at us like that. You're still an outcast, Choi," Jinyoung, another teammate spat at him.

Seungcheol glared at them, he was about to speak but Joshua held his arms. He turned his head to Joshua who's shaking his head, implying to just ignore them.

"What? Got your tongue tied Choi?" Baekho teased.

"Hey, don't act all mighty just because Seungcheol isn't responding to you. You are nothing compared to him," Jeonghan butts in. He really wanted to spat those words earlier and when he got the chance, he immediately said it.

"Jeonghan's right. Just because you're popular doesn't make you mighty. You can't even pass your exams, moreover entering the rankings. Unlike Seungcheol who's a top student despite of being known as a delinquent," Wonwoo said, clearly annoyed by what they said since he was reminded of how he judged Seungcheol too. He didn't want any more of that.

"Be arrogant when you have an accomplishment like Seungcheol has, alright? Not because of your looks. Because he got both." Jihoon retorted, which made Jeonghan cooed and offered a high-five.

Seungcheol was beyond touched because of how they defended him and what they said. It felt so good to hear it for him.

"Huh, so you have someone to defend you now?" Baekho's eyes turned grim as he slightly walked forward.

The other members became alert, especially Joshua. The girls were just watching from the side since they can't stop them anyways. They're just there in case the boys stir a fight then they would seek help from teachers.

"Uh, can you all stop? Let's not fight please. We're gonna be teamma—"

Joshua was interrupted by Jaebum, one of Jinyoung's friends, "Shut up nerd. No one asks for your opinion."

Joshua quickly sealed his lips and stepped backwards, embarrassed.

His friends felt annoyance bubbling in their system because of that, and so Seungcheol said, "Don't talk to him like that. He didn't do anything wrong." He said in a hard tone.

"Why? Do you like him?" Jinyoung teased him.

"Aww, the outcast delinquent Choi has a crush on nerdy Joshua!" Baekho said, grinning.

Seungcheol immediately pulled his collar, "Stop calling him that!"

"Why? You gonna punch me? Go on! You're a delinquent afterall!" Baekho said, pushing Seungcheol to his limit.

Seungcheol clenched his fist. He's been itching to punch the man, but he stopped himself because of Joshua and Jeonghan who held his arms.

"Don't bother, Cheol. Let's just ignore him," Jeonghan said.

Seungcheol heaved a sigh and he slowly loosened his grip on Baekho's collar but what the latter said next pushed him into his limit.

"What are the three of you, some sort of soulmates? A delinquent, troublemaker and nerd? What a disgusting trio."

That's it. The last string of patience Seungcheol kept was lost and he landed a punch on Baekho's face.



Chapter Text

"I don't want this kind of thing to happen again! If I find out you fight within your group once again, I'll immediately stop this trip and we'll all go home. I'll also make sure you won't get any points and I'll deduct your points too. Do you understand that?" The headmaster exclaimed, his voice was serious and hard unlike earlier.

 

Joshua and his group nodded.

 

The headmaster then turned to Joshua which startled him, "You're the team leader, you should've stopped them. Tsk."

 

Joshua just lowered his head.

 

"If you can't control your teammates, I'll make your grade lower than them. You were appointed, so bear the responsibility of being the team leader."

 

Joshua felt it was unfair that he needs to carry the burden of being leader but he didn't say anything. He just nodded his head.

 

On the corner of their room, Seungcheol has his head looking down. He felt even more guilty after he heard what the headmaster told Joshua. It was his fault for snapping out at Baekho yet it's Joshua who's gonna suffer.

 

"I'll go ahead, then. Remember: I don't want another fight here. And don't forget the gathering at the lobby later." The headmaster said before leaving their room.

 

The girl members were rolling their eyes, complaining why they have to be included in the punishment when they didn't do anything wrong. They can't interfere because they can't stop a boy's fight anyway.

 

Meanwhile, Jeonghan tapped Joshua's shoulder.

 

"Sorry, Joshua. I shouldn't have recommended you to Ms. Shin. Now you have to carry such a burden from us," Jeonghan stated, looking apologetically at the younger.

 

Joshua chuckled, "It's not your fault. Don't blame yourself." He said. He then remembered Seungcheol. His eyes went past Jeonghan's shoulder and saw Seungcheol sitting on the single person couch at the living room with his head lowered down.

 

Joshua knows exactly what Seungcheol is feeling right now and so he approached him.

 

"Cheol..." he called the older man softly.

 

Seungcheol couldn't look straight at Joshua's eyes. He's ashamed and embarrassed. Joshua did nothing but to be a good friend to him yet he just brought Joshua trouble.

 

"Hey. Don't blame yourself. It's not your fault," Joshua said. "I'm not mad if that's what you're thinking."

 

Seungcheol raised his head to look at Joshua. He felt his heart pounding when he saw Joshua smiling straight at him, "You're not?"

 

"Of course, I'm not! Just don't engage yourself in another fight. Okay?"

 

Seungcheol smiled in relief. Thank goodness. He thought.

 

"Okay." He simply answered.

 

"Promise me you'll just ignore them when they're teasing you?" Joshua asked once again.

 

Seungcheol thought that making promises is childish, but since it's Joshua who said it, he found it adorable.

 

"Yes, I promise." He answered with a smile.

 

"Okay, listen here guys!" Jeonghan called their attention after hearing Joshua and Seungcheol's conversation. All heads turned to him.

 

"Since we've been scolded and warned already, can we use it as a lesson now? Can we forget about what happened earlier and have a ceasefire for now?" Jeonghan spoke. He was standing near a flower vase, crossing his arms while his eyes were roaming around his teammates. "I'll speak on behalf of our team leader. Now, let me ask you once again: Can we have a ceasefire even just until the trip ends? I know we all don't want to end this trip right away just because of your immature attitudes." He said, glancing for a moment at the direction where Baekho and the other two were then back to his own friends.

 

Their brows furrowed, especially baekho, "Are you specifically pertaining to us?"

 

"No, it's for all of us." Jeonghan quickly responded.

 

"No. I think you're pertaining it only to us," Baekho said.

 

People inside there felt the tension had aroused once again. However, Jeonghan remained calm while Baekho was starting to get agitated.

 

"If you're taking what I have said like that, then don't get mad at me. It's you who's thinking that way. I'm generally speaking on behalf of Joshua," Jeonghan calmly retorted. "And will you please stop stirring a fight? I'm trying to find a resolution in this team problem we have. Please cooperate, will you?"

 

Baekho didn't respond, he couldn't think of any rebuttal to what Jeonghan had said. The latter noticed it and so he continued: "So, are you willing to set aside your problem with us, which I don't know what but it doesn't matter. Will you?"

 

Baekho rolled his eyes and was about to respond to the question when the door of their room burst open. There came in Ms. Shin, their assigned teacher. She's smiling from ear to ear, or more like grinning.

 

"Hey guys. I heard what happened. So, who won?" Was what she said as soon as she stopped near them.

 

The students were weirded out. They didn't know what their teacher was thinking of.

 

Just as Joshua was about to speak, Ms. Shin chuckled, "Kidding aside, I'm here not to scold you anymore since I know you all got an earful from the headmaster already. I'm here to tell you the first order I have as your assigned teacher."

 

Their forehead creased, anticipating what Ms. Shin is about to reveal.

 

"So you all remember the theme of this trip, right?" She asked, putting her hands in her chest.

 

They all nodded.

 

Ms. Shin grinned, "Now, Simon says, pick your roommate by... luck."

 

"Luck?" The students asked in unison.

 

Ms. Shin nodded with a grin still plastered in her lips, "Yes. Luck. Which is, picking here."

 

She then pulled out something from her coat's pocket, revealing a pink and blue popsicle stick which has a number written on it.

 

"Of course, girls and boys have different rooms. Room 019 will be occupied by the girls but you still have to choose who will you share your bed with since we only have three bedrooms for every room, so two people will share a bed," Ms. Shin explained to them.

 

"What?!" Baekho immediately reacted, eyes widening.

 

"Why? Are you complaining?" Ms. Shin asked softly while still smiling, but her gaze told otherwise.

 

Baekho felt the chill from her gaze, and so he shut his mouth as he stepped backwards.

 

Ms. Shin cleared her throat, "So as I was saying, you will pick a popsicle stick here. Whoever picked the same number as yours will be the one who you will share with. After picking, you'll proceed to your respective rooms and no one should get out until the allotted time of resting has ended. The one who'll step out of their bedroom will receive a punishment which will make you regret stepping out of your room. Any complaints?" She asked.

 

They all shook their heads.

 

"Alright, let's start with the girls."

 


 

 

"No, you're going to sleep on the floor."

 

"And why would I follow you? You said it, then you sleep there."

 

"No! You will!"

 

"Hell no."

 

Seungcheol and Baekho have been arguing about who will sleep on the bed or not. Neither of them were willing to give way. They keep on pushing and yelling at each other. Good thing their roommates were in their own beds in the other rooms.

 

They both picked the same number earlier. Both of them reacted the same: surprised and of course, they complained. But they just received a piercing glare from their gorgeous teacher and they ended up just having a glaring contest with each other.

 

Inside the other bedroom in room 017, Joshua and Mingyu were sharing the same bed. Mingyu was one of Minghao's friends and an eye-candy in their batch. They immediately felt comfortable with each other since he is so approachable and nice like Joshua. They both clicked.

 

Beside their bedroom were Jeonghan and Jihoon's room. Jeonghan was fine with the younger since they are friends. Jihoon's fine with it too but he seemed rather gloomy ever since they picked their roommates.

 

Jeonghan noticed it. He was not like that earlier. It happened after the whole roommate thing.

 

Being the thoughtful person he is, Jeonghan slowly approached the younger who's looking so dazed while sitting on the edge of the bed. He gently tapped the younger's shoulder and asked, "Are you alright, Jihoon-ah?"

 

Jihoon couldn't bring himself to answer. He wanted to say 'yes' or just a simple nod: but he can't.

 

"Jihoon?" Jeonghan called him softly.

 

The younger sighed as he decided to just lie, "Don't worry Jeonghan, I'm fine. I'm just... thinking of something."

 

Jeonghan was quick-witted, so he immediately understood that Jihoon didn't want to reveal why he felt so gloomy. Instead of prying more into it, he just ruffled the younger's hair and went inside the bathroom.

 

Meanwhile, in room 018, there were the rest of the boys.

 

Jaebum and Yugyeom were sharing the bed in the first bedroom. Jinyoung and their other member, Mark, who's been quiet and aloof the whole time were sharing the second one and the last room was occupied by Soonyoung and Wonwoo.

 

It's like destiny was playing and they were its toys. This is the reason why Jihoon is so gloomy. His soulmate who happened to be his friend's ex-lover were sharing the same bed.

 

Jihoon felt so jealous, and nervous.

 

Jealous because the two had a past with each other that he can't replace despite being Soonyoung's soulmate.

 

And nervous because he's afraid that Soonyoung would accidentally spill the truth if ever Wonwoo would pry him.

 

But Wonwoo didn't even bother glancing at his roommate. He's been avoiding to look at Soonyoung's direction when he found out he will be his roommate.

 

He didn't know what to react, and so he maintained the blank expression he's wearing.

 

Soonyoung on the other side was so conscious of Wonwoo. He's afraid whatever he does might make Wonwoo agitated, and so he's being careful at his actions the whole time.

 

He felt awkward for being in the same room with the man he left. Unlike his usual bubbly appearance, he's a lot more conscious of himself right now.

 

But being the noisy man he is, he couldn't stand the quiet atmosphere that's been surrounding them ever since they entered their bedroom.

 

"Uh... do you want me to sleep on the c-couch instead?" Soonyoung nervously asked, trying to start a conversation between them.

 

But Wonwoo was not having it.

 

So Soonyoung tried again, "You can sleep on the bed alone if you want to. I'll just sleep on the couch outside..."

 

Wonwoo didn't respond once again.

 

"I'll take that as a yes then. This room's all you-"

 

"As much as I want to agree on that, I don't want to be punished. So just shut up there, will you?" Wonwoo cuts him off, surprising Soonyoung.

 

"I can lie to them-"

 

"I said it's fine. Stop pushing and quit talking! Just your voice makes me so annoyed." Wonwoo turned to his direction for the first time ever since they entered the room, but he just shot a glare at the man.

 

Soonyoung lowered down his head, "Al-right. I'm s-sorry."

 

Wonwoo felt guilty, but it immediately subsided as he recalled the past. And so instead of staying in their bedroom, he decided to leave their room. Soonyoung saw it and stopped him. "Where are you going? You'll be punished if you leave our room."

 

Wonwoo realized what he said was right and so he just rolled his eyes and made his way on the bed, lying down. His back facing Soonyoung.

 

The older one just sighed while staring at Wonwoo.

 

What have I done ... Soonyoung heaved one last sigh.

 

In room 017, while everyone's enjoying the time to rest which was given to them, Seungcheol and Baekho were still fighting over the bed.

 

"Ms. Shin clearly stated that no one shall sleep on the couch or floor. But if you keep on complaining, you might as well be the one to do it," Seungcheol stated.

 

Baekho glared at him, "There's no way I'd do that!"

 

"Then just shut the fuck up and rest instead! Just accept we're going to share the same bed because we don't have any other choice. You don't want to face a punishment for disobeying our teacher's order, then so do I! So just cooperate and rest. Damn it," Seungcheol finally snapped. He's tired of arguing with Baekho and so he decided to end it once and for all.

 

Baekho was speechless. His mind was agreeing to what Seungcheol said, but he didn't want to admit it out loud. To save the last bit of pride he has, he just bumped into Seungcheol's shoulder and walked past him to lie down on the bed.

 

Seungcheol sighed, finally.

 

Following Baekho's step, he laid down on the bed but he didn't forget to put a pillow between them to serve as a barrier.

 

Moments of silence had passed between them.

 

Seungcheol slowly felt sleepy in the silence. Just as he was about to drift to dreamland, their door burst open and revealed Joshua. behind him was his roommate, Mingyu.

 

"Hey guys. As much as I want to congratulate the two of you for not punching each other, we need to hurry up at the lobby right now. The team who's first to arrive there complete and safe will have an advantage for the first game. So hurry up and let's go!" Joshua said and went out of their room.

 

Without a moment of hesitation, Seungcheol immediately stood up. Baekho was whining but still followed.

 

As they left their hotel room, they saw a bunch of students running out of their rooms and hurrying their way to the lobby. They created chaos on the elevator and stairs which gathered attention from the staff.

 

Joshua sighed. He decided to surrender because they won't stand a chance. They'll just end up tripping on the floor and pushing each other which can cause harm to each other.

 

"Alright guys. Let's just go down peacefully and safely in the lobby. It's dangerous to battle with those teams," Joshua announced.

 

His members agreed since they also witnessed the chaos in the hallway.

 

They decided to use the stairs since the elevator's still in use. Joshua led his team and beside him were Seungcheol and Jeonghan.

 

When they arrived at the lobby, they saw the other teams looking down. The teachers were behind the headmaster who's standing with all his might in front of the students.

 

The headmaster turned to their direction. Joshua quickly instructed his members to hurry up, and so they ran towards the lobby and stood in line as a group.

 

"Alright. So should I announce the winner?" The headmaster asked, smiling widely.

 

The students started screaming. Every group would insist that it was them who arrived first with complete members. Their noise gathered attention, but no one cared. Including the teachers and the headmaster.

 

He rented the whole hotel anyway and had informed them about this. So they already expected it to happen.

 

Well, they're not known for being one of the most prestigious boarding schools in Korea for nothing.

 

"Students, quiet down."

 

With just those three words, all the group except for Joshua's team immediately shut up. They were the last ones to arrive, and so they couldn't argue with the others.

 

"The first one to arrive... was that team," the headmaster announced as he pointed at Joshua's team.

 

They were surprised, as much as the other teams are. They were the last to arrive, how on earth did they win?

 

Even the teachers were confused, except for Ms. Shin who's smiling proudly at her team.

 

"All of you must be wondering why they won. Well, simply because they arrived complete and safe here," the headmaster stated. "My instructions were clear: The first team to arrive completely and safely will have an advantage for the first game. But when all of you rushed down here, you were pushing each other. I even saw some students fall down. Meanwhile, that team went safely. Do you understand?"

 

The students understood it, but they couldn't agree. For them, it was unfair. But for Joshua's team, they were happy.

 

"So, the advantage of the winner will be announced at the site where we will conduct our activities! Are you all ready?"

 

Despite not agreeing with the decision of the headmaster, they quickly set aside it and screamed 'yes' at the question. They were excited for the games and they didn't want to spoil the fun just because of that unfair decision.

 

"Alright! But before we proceed to the site, we will reveal the second order." The headmaster grinned evilly.

 

The students groaned. Series of complaints had filled the lobby which the elders just laughed at.

 

"Okay. Simon says, hold your roommate's hand and find the site!"




Chapter Text

"The first five pairs who'll raise the flag on the location site where we will have our games will have a luxurious buffet for dinner! And for the others, they'll just eat plain ramen! So hold your partner's hand and start running in three... two... one!"

 

They were already standing near the river in a line of teams. Each group was wearing jackets with their names plastered behind it. Seungcheol was standing at the back, clearly not in the mood. His brows were furrowed.

 

Feeling annoyed was an understatement if you would describe what Seungcheol is feeling right now.

 

Sharing a room and sleeping in a bed with Baekho was already annoying as it is, what more about holding his hands?

 

Earlier after the second order, he had to hold Baekho's hands or else they'll be punished. They were both cringing and disgusted while holding each other's hand. In the end, they were the last to arrive at the site because they kept on bickering on where to head.

 

"Okay, listen up students! So the first five pairs who arrived here were: Hong Joshua and Kim Mingyu, Kim Dahyun and Chou Tzuyu, Jooheon and Minhyuk, Wen Junhui and Yan An, and Eunwoo and Moonbin. Congratulations and you can enjoy your luxurious buffet later!" The headmaster joyfully exclaimed as he clapped for the students he mentioned.

 

Other students were jealous but they still clapped and congratulated the winners.

 

"Now, let's start," the headmaster said and all students put their hands down. "You're all wearing different colors of jackets per group right?"

 

The students nodded.

 

"And you have a name tag sticker behind the jacket, am I right?"

 

They all nodded once again, now genuinely curious of its purpose.

 

The headmaster then grinned playfully, "Now we'll see how well your unity as a team."

 

"The third order; Simon says, rip the other group's name tag!"

 

Without any moment of hesitation, Seungcheol ripped the nametag of the man who's standing beside him.

 

They immediately scattered around, hiding and protecting their name tags from the other teams.

 

"The last team standing will get this prize." The headmaster exclaimed in the middle of the chaos. All heads turned to him and their jaw-dropped.

 

"Gold?!"

 

"Is that real gold?!"

 

"You've got to be kidding us!"

 

"This is not a drill students. It's real gold," the elder grinned. "So if I were you, do your best and never face your back to your enemy!"

 

With that, students from each team launched at each other.

 

"Joshua!" Jeonghan called the younger one who seemed to not know what he should do.

 

"Jeonghan!"

 

The older was about to run towards Joshua, but then he saw someone approaching Joshua from behind.

 

"At your back!" He yelled at the younger.

 

Joshua immediately turned around and avoided the man who was about to rip his nametag.

 

"Ya, Wen Junhui! Why would you eliminate me?" Joshua asked with a slight pout, avoiding the taller man who's grinning at him.

 

"Sorry Joshua, but we're on different teams!" Jun exclaimed and tried to reach for him but Jeonghan who just reached their direction pulled Joshua away from him.

 

"Hi Jun. It's nice to see you," Jeonghan smirked evilly at the younger. Jun visibly pale at the sight of his older friend who's giving him a sinister grin.

 

"Uh, hi Jeonghan. But I've got to go!" Jun hurriedly turned, trying to avoid Jeonghan.

 

"Na-uh! I won't let you off! You tried to rip my teammate's name tag, so I have to rip yours!" Jeonghan blurted out before he pulled the hem of Jun's jacket and tackled him gently on the ground.

 

Jun didn't have the chance to fight back because he was surprised by Jeonghan's strength and speed. He immediately ripped Jun's nametag.

 

The younger pouted, "You're so mean."

 

"Sorry, Jun! But you know me when it comes to games," Jeonghan just chuckled and handed him his nametag before he turned around and went to Joshua.

 

Meanwhile, Seungcheol was just defending himself. He just ripped other's name tags when someone's trying to attack him. He didn't initiate first. And he already ripped out almost half of a team which make the others avoid him.

 

As a result, Seungcheol was just watching them.

 

But his eyes caught Jeonghan and Joshua who's being surrounded by a group of guys. Jeonghan was hiding Joshua in his back and he has this sinister grin plastered in his lips, same as the one he showed to Junhui awhile ago.

 

Seungcheol was about to help his teammates, but two guys approached him. They were fast, but Seungcheol's reflex was faster. He avoided one of the men and quickly ripped it's nametag while the other one was a bit tough.

 

He grabbed the back of Seungcheol's jacket and pulled it upwards. But Seungcheol didn't back-off, he was quick to shrug off the man and do what the man was supposed to do to him: He pulled the man's jacket from behind and ripped the name tag from in front. After that, he left the two speechless men as he ran towards Jeonghan and Joshua who's struggling to protect their nametags.

 

He quickly got rid of the two men holding Joshua from the side because their back was facing him. The others abruptly retreated a bit when they saw it's him. But Seungcheol recognized them as they grinned at him.

 

"Oh. The almighty Choi Seungcheol is here," the man in the front said.

 

Seungcheol recognized them for they had once tried to beat him up in their school. Luckily for Seungcheol, they were just a bunch of weak, revengeful guys who wanted to beat him.

 

"He's not almighty anymore, Eunkwang. He's a knight in shining armor now," another one said.

 

Seungcheol frowned at them, "I see you still held a grudge against me for beating you up alone."

 

It made the guys visibly annoyed.

 

Joshua held the hem of Seungcheol's jacket, making the older man turn to him, "Don't aggravate them anymore, Cheol." Joshua softly mumbled.

 

"Let him be, Joshua. They're a bunch of annoying and boastful jerks," Jeonghan said.

 

Joshua didn't respond to that. He was nervous Seungcheol would engage in another fight again.

 

"Stop blabbering and let's just end this once and for all, shall we?" Jeonghan asked, letting out his sweet yet dangerous smile.

 

As if on cue, their enemies dashed towards them and surrounded them. Seungcheol made sure to eliminate anyone who's attacking Joshua since Jeonghan can surely protect himself while Joshua was panicking.

 

"Huh! What are you, knight in shining armor?" The man in front of him huffed out while he's protecting Joshua.

 

Seungcheol shot him a glare and harshly pulled his jacket to tackle him on the ground and ripped his nametag.

 

"Tss. You can't even fight back yet you have the confidence to tease me." Seungcheol muttered at the man who looked so embarrassed.

 

"Cheol! Let's help Jeonghan first!" Joshua said, pointing at Jeonghan who was surrounded by four men.

 

They quickly ran towards him. Seungcheol attacked the guys while Joshua helped Jeonghan with another one while holding Jeonghan's name tag so that it won't be ripped by their enemies while they're fighting.

 

"I got it!" Jeonghan exclaimed as he raised the nametag of the man named Eunkwang from earlier. The latter sighed in defeat as he walked away. Just then, a man sneaked from Joshua's back and ripped his nametag. Jeonghan and Seungcheol were surprised. Joshua looked stunned as well but he just chuckled sadly.

 

"It's alright guys. You can do this! It's already a miracle I had stayed for this long," Joshua said as he waved at the two.

 

Jeonghan glared immediately at the man who eliminated Joshua, "You motherfucker, how dare you rip his nametag—!" With that, Jeonghan furiously jumped towards the man who seemed afraid of him as he fell on him. He tackled him to the ground and harshly ripped his nametag from its back.

 

"This is what you get for messing with my team, asshole," Jeonghan said and turned around. Just as he turned, Seungcheol eliminated the remaining guys.

 

In the corner of his eyes, he saw Jihoon staring blankly at Soonyoung who's protecting Wonwoo from two men who're trying to eliminate them.

 

The two of them quickly went towards their teammate's direction, but someone stood in front of them with a weak smile.

 

"Hi guys," Minghao greeted them.

 

"Hey there, Hao. It's nice to see you still alive but I guess we have to eliminate you now cause our teammates need us," Jeonghan said.

 

Minghao smirked, "I guess you'll be eliminated first."

 

As if on cue, Jeonghan heard someone approaching him from behind. The man held his nametag on his right hand but when Jeonghan tried to avoid it, he pulled it using his left hand.

 

Jeonghan pouted, "What a pity."

 

"Nice one, Chan!" Minghao gave the man who eliminated Jeonghan a high five.

 

"Not so fast, Minghao."

 

"Minghao-hyung! Your namet—"

 

Minghao was eliminated immediately by Seungcheol.

 

"Oh fuck, I forgot about you!" Minghao frustratedly exclaimed.

 

Jeonghan chuckled, "I guess we have to leave then. Good luck, Cheol! I know you can win this!" He said to the older man and gave him a wink before he left with Minghao who's still frustrated.

 

Seungcheol was flustered by the wink but he didn't let it on as he's still in the middle of a game. He faced the man named Chan and stepped forward to him.

 

"Uh... I'm s-sorry for ripping your teammates name tag!" Chan immediately apologized, stepping away from Seungcheol.

 

Seungcheol raised an eyebrow, "Why would you apologize? This is a game."

 

"Then can you let me off just this on—"

 

"Not so fast kid." Seungcheol said and launched toward the young man who yelled in fear. Seungcheol got hold of Chan's name tag, but Chan didn't back down as he reached for the older name tag too. He held it's edge, all he have to do is pull it—

 

But Seungcheol was faster.

 

Chan sighed, but he smiled almost immediately, "Atleast I put up a fight before being eliminated!"

 

Seungcheol couldn't help but feel soft for the younger's cuteness, and so he said, "Yeah, kid. You put up a good fight." With a slight tap on the younger's shoulder, he turned around and ran towards his teammates.

 

Jihoon was already eliminated, and there's only Wonwoo, Soonyoung, Baekho, Jinyoung and Seungcheol in their team. All the girls were quickly eliminated. So they stick up together. There's still a lot of enemies from other teams.

 

"Seokmin! I see you're still not eliminated," Soonyoung grinned at the man named Seokmin, his younger friend who is one of his partners in crime.

 

"Of course! What do you think of me?" Seokmin smirked back. "It's more surprising to see you still standing there!" Soonyoung snickered at his remark.

 

"Guys, should we end this once and for all?" Soonyoung whispered to his teammates.

 

"Let's end this! We have an advantage!" Jinyoung exclaimed.

 

"Yeah, but don't be too confident." Wonwoo said.

 

"Then let's go!" Baekho exclaimed. With that, they ran towards their enemies.

 

Some were stunned by the sudden attack, some panicked while the others fought back.

 

Seungcheol ripped two name tags, Wonwoo just assisted Soonyoung on ripping a guy's name tag. Soonyoung was too happy and even offered a high-five at Wonwoo who just stared blankly at him. When he realized what he just did, he immediately retreated his hands. He was so preoccupied with the embarrassment he had with Wonwoo that he didn't notice Seokmin sneaking on his back and before he could even react, Seokmin ripped his nametag.

 

"Yes! I got you there!" Seokmin happily exclaimed while raising Soonyoung's name tag.

 

"Yeah, and I got you too," Wonwoo said from behind Seokmin and ripped the younger's nametag.

 

Soonyoung burst out laughing at Seokmin's dejected face while Wonwoo just left them.

 

"Hey, at least I eliminated you," Seokmin said, smirking.

 

Soonyoung just rolled his eyes, "At least you followed very soon." He fired back.

 

Meanwhile, Baekho was eliminated and so was Jinyoung. Wonwoo and Seungcheol were the last members in their team, and there's still four people from different teams.

 

"Seungcheol, let's hurry up." Wonwoo mumbled.

 

"I'll pull their jackets, and you rip their name tags. Got it?" Seungcheol mumbled back in which the latter nodded.

 

Seungcheol immediately pulled the jacket of the man near him, and Wonwoo ripped it just like what they planned.

 

When someone held Seungcheol's arm, Wonwoo stood right beside him and held Seungcheol's name tag to shield it from the enemies just like what Joshua did to Jeonghan earlier.

 

Wonwoo ripped the nametag of the man who's pulling Seungcheol, but another one ripped Wonwoo's nametag.

 

Seungcheol saw it and he immediately launched towards the man. He was a lot smaller so it was easy for Seungcheol to eliminate him.

 

There's only two people left now.

 

Seungcheol versus Jun's roommate, Yanan.

 

"Go Cheol!" Seungcheol heard two familiar voices cheering for him. He didn't have to turn to look who it was, he knew it already. And he can't be distracted right now because a moment of distraction might make his nametag ripped.

 

"Let's end this quickly and neatly, shall we?" His opponent, Yanan, asked.

 

Seungcheol couldn't help but smirk, "Sure."

 

With that, Yanan dashed towards him. He's so fast that Seungcheol was stunned. Thankfully, his reflexes were fast and so when Yanan reached for his nametag, his hand automatically reached for his nametag too.

 

They looked like they're hugging each other, but they're not.

 

They were both gripping each other's name tag, and it's just a matter of who was faster to rip in their back.

 

In the end, Seungcheol raised Yanan's nametag and his teammates rejoiced as they ran towards him. Including Baekho, Jinyoung and Jaebum who he fought earlier. They momentarily forgot their feud and were so happy about their team's victory.

 

"Alright, winners! Gather here in front," the headmaster called them.

 

They immediately ran towards the headmaster's direction. He was holding a suitcase. When he opened it, there were golds inside. Series of sighs of frustrations, regrets and jealousy were heard but Joshua's team ignored it.

 

"Just what I've said earlier, winners will get this prize! So leader, claim it now," the headmaster said while smiling.

 

They immediately turned to Joshua who smiled and turned to Seungcheol.

 

"What? You're the leader." Seungcheol said.

 

"You were the last man standing, so I'll give you the honor to claim our prize," Jisoo softly said.

 

It took a lot of energy for Seungcheol not to blush at what Joshua said. And so he turned towards the headmaster and reached for the suitcase. When the elder gave it to him with a warm smile, he smiled back.

 

"Now listen here again, my dear students!" The headmaster yelled. "It wasn't the official first game, so there's no points."

 

Joshua's team didn't care about it. They were just happy to receive the gold. But the other students brightened up a bit.

 

"It was just a warm-up! And the first game was just going to start. So let me ask you; are you ready?!"

 

Chapter Text

"Just enjoy the buffet, winners! Eat all you want and remember: NO SHARING." The headmaster said and smiled as he walked away from the students.

 

All the students were at the rooftop of the hotel where there was also a large infinity shaped pool. The luxurious buffet was served there, and so was the plain ramen for the other students.

 

The teams were scattered all over. They weren't in their own team anymore since the headmaster let them just for the night.

 

Even Joshua's team separated ways after getting their food. Baekho and his friends went on their own, while Joshua and his group were sitting near the pool. Jun and Minghao (who seemed like they're not on good terms since they came separately) had joined them already.

 

The atmosphere between them was awkward and Jeonghan couldn't take it anymore. He put his chopsticks down and heaved a deep sigh which caught the attention of his silent friends.

 

"What's with the two of you?" Jeonghan asked while raising an eyebrow at the two chinese fellow who's unusually seated apart from each other and is trying their best to avert their eyes away.

 

"Nothing." "Minghao is being unreasonable." They answered simultaneously which confused the others.

 

Minghao immediately glared at the older Chinese male upon hearing what he said. He was about to say something when Jeonghan butts in.

 

"What? Did something happen?" He asked once again, older brother mode: on.

 

"How can nothing happen when he's being unreasonable?" Jun said, not even bothering to look at Minghao who's still glaring at him.

 

"Tell m—"

 

"Did you expect me to be cool about what I've seen? Excuse me, I'm not being unreasonable with my attitude. You are just being insensitive again," Minghao retorted furiously.

 

Jun frowned, "Where am I being insensitive, huh? Tell me, where? I was just talking with him!"

 

"I won't have any problem if you were just talking with someone else. But he is not just someone else!"

 

"Don't involve the past here, Minghao. That has nothing to do with this!"

 

"How can it have nothing to do? It was basically the reason why I'm acting like this!"

 

"Acting like what? Being unreasonable?"

 

"I'm not unreasonable!"

 

"Then how can you justify your attitude, huh? He was approaching you nicely and you'd roll your eyes? Really, Xu Minghao? How can you say you weren't unreasonable?"

 

"I'm jealous, okay? I'm fucking jealous, Wen Junhui!" Minghao yelled, gathering little attention from the students near them. "I'm fucking jealous because you were talking with your goddamn ex-boyfriend!"

 

Jun fell silent at Minghao's outburst. His lips parted a bit.

 

Their friends were looking back and forth between the two of them, and couldn't find a chance to butt in their heated argument and stop them.

 

"What are you jealous of? He's already in the past," Jun said as he finally processed what his boyfriend said.

 

Minghao lets out a sarcastic laugh, "Of course you won't understand what I'm feeling. You are Wen freaking Junhui."

 

Jun frowned, "What was that supposed to mean?"

 

"You don't have an idea?" Minghao chuckled, "Well, your name is equivalent to insensitive and that is why you won't ever understand what I feel."

 

"How can I —"

 

"Okay, that's enough." Jeonghan's voice stopped the two of them. His voice was unusually cold and deep, meaning he was serious.

 

The two Chinese men immediately shut their mouths as soon as they saw the older man's serious expression.

 

Joshua, Wonwoo and Jihoon sat there silently, not knowing what to react or what to do since it was the first time they saw Minghao and Jun arguing. They were usually sweet and bubbly. Sure, they often bicker but in a joking way. Not like this.

 

"If the two of you have some issue with each other, might as well talk privately. Not yelling at each other and letting other people hear you both," Jeonghan said.

 

That's when the two roamed their eyes around and saw some eyes looking at them. Embarrassment filled their system as they averted their eyes away.

 

"See? You've caught attention. Now, go resolve your issue before you go here. I don't want to hear another argument from the two of you. Go!" Jeonghan said once again and pushed the two away.

 

Minghao immediately glared at Jun before he stood up and strode away. Jun let out a sigh before he followed his boyfriend.

 

Jeonghan sighed when the two left.

 

"Well, who would've expected a drama on this winter trip?" Wonwoo broke the awkward silence.

 

Jihoon chuckled, "Minghao's cute when he's jealous."

 

"You got it," Jeonghan said, making the others chuckle.

 

"It's weird seeing them fight. They were usually sweet," Joshua said.

 

"Get used to it. Minghao got a jealous ass and Junhui's oblivious of it," Jeonghan said, rolling his eyes.

 

"Wait, where's Cheol?" Joshua suddenly asked, while looking around. The three immediately roamed their eyes around and saw no sign of Seungcheol.

 

"He's with us earlier, right?" Jihoon asked.

 

"Yeah, he's with us when we went here an—" Joshua paused, he suddenly recalled when they went to the rooftop and he was sure Seungcheol was with them. But he couldn't remember if Seungcheol went with them when they went to get some food.

 

"Maybe he went to a quiet place or he went back to our room?" Wonwoo asked.

 

"But there's like a gathering here?" Jeonghan said.

 

Wonwoo shrugged, "I'm just guessing. You know how he was before right? Maybe he's not used to socializing and so he wants to be alone."

 

They fell silent for a moment before Jeonghan stood up.

 

"I'll go find him."

 

Joshua quickly stood up, "No, you haven't finished eating. I'll go."

 

"But —"

 

"I'll go," Joshua said firmly yet softly as he tapped Jeonghan's shoulder before he walked past him. Jeonghan sighed in defeat as he sat down again.

 

"You and Joshua had a soft spot for Seungcheol," Jihoon said. It wasn't a question, it was a statement.

 

Wonwoo chuckled, "I've noticed it too. It's just been a few days when you started to become friends yet the two of you would always look for Seungcheol."

 

"Maybe because they're all the same age," Jihoon said.

 

Jeonghan didn't respond to that. He just smiled fondly upon remembering the two.

 

 


 

 

Seungcheol stared at the moon as he laid down on the grass. He was humming silently while tracing the constellations in the night sky.

 

He stealthily went away from the crowded place and went towards the other side of the rooftop where no one else was staying. He didn't want the awkward atmosphere back there in the swimming pool area, and it was too loud for his liking.

 

He was happy to have friends but he's still not used to socializing and he needs more time to adjust to it.

 

But his very reason is because he's afraid to be attached to someone then they'll end up leaving him because they'll realize he's just plain and boring.

 

He's afraid his friends might see him as boring and such because he can't ride in with their jokes and teases. He's afraid they'll find him too serious and killjoy. He's afraid they would leave him if they find out about his secrets.

 

He's overthinking everything.

 

Like what Wonwoo said, it has been only a few days ever since he became friends with them, but he felt too attached to them already, especially to Joshua and Jeonghan who's so nice and friendly to him.

 

They're so kind to him that it scares him. It makes him overthink about everything. He can't even understand why they would befriend him.

 

It's been days yet in his innermost thoughts, he still doubts them.

 

He's too afraid to trust someone.

 

Because everything's foreign to him.

 

"Cheol?"

 

Seungcheol hitched on where he's lying when he heard that familiar soft voice called his name. He abruptly sat and turned to his back and saw Joshua heading towards him with a soft smile.

 

"Why are you here?" Seungcheol asked as soon as Joshua sat beside him.

 

"I should be the one asking you that. Why are you here? You suddenly disappeared there," Joshua asked, his lips pouting a bit as he waited for Seungcheol's response.

 

The older glance at his pouting lips but eventually averted his gaze away from the younger, his ears slowly turning red.

 

Why the hell are you fucking blushing, Choi Seungcheol? Have you gone nuts?

 

Seungcheol just shrugged all his thoughts away as he responded to Jisoo, "The noise was annoying for me."

 

"Didn't you also attend last year's trip?" Joshua asked, forehead creasing.

 

The older one nodded.

 

"Last year was way louder than right now though."

 

"I attended the last trip and joined the activities but I isolated myself from everyone when it came to gathering."

 

Joshua raised an eyebrow, "You don't like socializing?"

 

Seungcheol heaved a sigh as he laid back on the grass and looked at the night sky once again. He didn't know what to answer, or if he even wanted to.

 

He's afraid that Joshua will come to judge him because he over thinks about everything and is too sensitive. He's afraid Joshua might find him so over reacting over such simple things although he knew Joshua wasn't that kind of person.

 

Sighing, he said, "It's not that I don't like it. I just don't know how... You know I'm an outcast, right?"

 

Joshua fell silent for a moment as he stared down at Seungcheol, then he smiled. "But you have us right now. You're not an outcast anymore," he blurted out.

 

Seungcheol's heart skipped a beat upon glancing at the younger's smile.

 

"We don't know much about you because we just met a few days ago and we don't really expect you to give your full trust to us but I assure you, you won't regret having us as your friends."

 

"Wonwoo told us we were your first friends here and so we're fully aware it's hard for you to trust us. You might be overthinking about some things but I want you to know that we are serious when we told you that you are our friend and we like your presence and company," Joshua continued. "You can have all the time to adjust to everything, Cheol. Then by the time you have finally decided to trust us, you are very welcome to the gang. You have us the moment we became friends."

 

In just a split of seconds, all of Seungcheol's worries and anxieties had disappeared in an instant. Joshua's words had washed it all away, even his voice was so endearing and persuasive that Seungcheol couldn't help but believe in everything he said.

 

Seungcheol couldn't be more thankful to Joshua for washing away all his worries that literally made him anxious on staying with them.

 

It seems like the younger one understands what he's thinking even without him saying it. Joshua threw the perfect words which Seungcheol wanted to hear.

 

His lips perked up in a small yet genuine smile then he turned to Joshua, "Thank you."

 

The younger just smiled back and laid down beside the older then they both turned silent while staring at the night sky full of constellations.

 

The silence wasn't awkward for the two of them. It was comforting. Joshua isn't the noisy type like Jun and Jeonghan but he wasn't that silent like Wonwoo and Jihoon. He's just the same as Minghao. In between. But he finds silence comforting.

 

As they continued to stare at the night sky, they both flinched when they saw something.

 

"Falling stars..." They mumbled at the same time.

 

Their eyes met after that.

 

Seungcheol's heart pounded violently once again as he stared deep into Joshua's eyes. Joshua's eyes which seemed to be so transparent to everyone. His eyes don't lie and it conveys what he feels.

 

Right now, it was sparkling as he stared at Seungcheol's captivating eyes.

 

His eyes screamed fondness to the older, which made Seungcheol blushed profusely and averted his gaze away.

 

Joshua chuckled as he found it adorable for someone like Seungcheol to feel shy at eye contact. Luckily, he couldn't see the red tint on Seungcheol's cheeks because it was already dark.

 

Another silence had passed. Seungcheol's beating heart calmed down and his flushed cheeks were already gone.

 

He heaved a deep sigh as he started a conversation after thinking about it for some time.

 

"You're right, you guys were my very first friends here ever since we were freshman," Seungcheol started.

 

Joshua tilted his head slightly to Seungcheol's direction, "Hmm?"

 

"And you're also right when you said I'm overthinking about some things."

 

Joshua stayed silent but he was listening intently to the older. Seungcheol took it as a cue to continue. "You see, I'm not an introvert. I'm just an outcast. But because of the years I've spent alone, I got used to being isolated and not socializing to the point having a company became so foreign to me. I can join activities and games but when it comes to social gatherings, that's where I would stay away. "

 

Seungcheol sighed, "I guess I developed a fear."

 

"Fear?" Joshua repeated in a small tone.

 

"Yeah. Fear."

 

"Fear of what?"

 

"Fear of trusting people."

 

Joshua's lips parted in surprise.

 

Seungcheol cleared his throat, "I think it started when... when my f-family separ—"

 

"You don't have to tell me if you're not yet ready, Cheol. Don't force yourself," Joshua cuts him off, worriedly looking at him as he notices how the older stutter.

 

Seungcheol shakes his head, "When my family s-separated, I lived alone. They would support my needs and necessities and they even paid for my tuition, but they left me alone. They each found themselves another family while I'm here, living alone."

 

"Adding to that, I never had any friends. So maybe because of it, I became sensitive and it made me doubt people."

 

"I'm sorry about your family..." Joshua mumbled.

 

"There's nothing to apologize for. It's fine." Seungcheol responded lowly.

 

"But thank you for telling me those things, Cheol. That was personal. Does that mean you are slowly giving your trust to me?" Joshua asked, his lips perking up a bit.

 

"I guess so," Seungcheol chuckled.

 

His deep-voiced chuckle lingered in Joshua's mind for a moment before he decided to shrug it off. It was odd for him to think about his chuckle too much and think it was kinda... hot.

 

Shaking his head, he turned to Seungcheol who's also looking at him, "What?"

 

"Tell me something about you," the older muttered.

 

Joshua cleared his throat and smiled, "Well... I'm from LA."

 

"LA? You mean, Los Angeles?" Seungcheol asked.

 

Joshua nodded, "I lived in LA for about twelve years before my parents decided to go here because of work. Since they can't watch out for me that much, they decided to enroll me in a boarding school. Well, I don't have something interesting to share aside from that... if it's even interesting. "

 

The older shook his head in disapproval, "No, I'm interested in it. How's it living in LA?"

 

Joshua was surprised to hear Seungcheol asking excitedly. He thought the older one will just pass on this topic as it doesn't seem to be an interesting one.

 

"Well, it's fine. Korea's better for me. I don't know much to say about LA aside from the fact that people there live in freedom."

 

"Because it's a free country."

 

"Yeah, right." Joshua said. "Why are you interested about LA"

 

"My mom resided there."

 

The younger one froze a bit on his tracks, "Y-your mom?"

 

"Yeah. But let's not talk about her. I just want to have an idea about the place she's living in. But anyway, I'm curious about something." Seungcheol said.

 

"What is it?"

 

"Do you have a Korean name? I'm pretty sure Joshua is your name when you live there, and I never heard your friends call you by another name."

 

Joshua didn't immediately respond to that. He hesitated for a moment, but when he met Seungcheol's eyes, he sighed.

 

"I have one..."

 

"Really? Mind if I ask what it is?"

 

"I don't want to sound bad, but I think the name is too femi ist for me so I prefer my English name."

 

"So what is it?"

 

"Hmm, it does sound feminist."

 

"Right?"

 

Joshua chuckled. Seungcheol smiled.

 

Just like that, the night continued and the two exchanged more information about each other. Slowly, they knew they were getting closer after knowing some things about one another.

 

Their hearts are slowly connecting as time passes by without them noticing it.




Chapter Text

"Argh, why the fuck do I need to wake up this early," Baekho whined while scratching his head out of annoyance.

 

"Shut up, will you? It is already annoying as it is, don't add up to it," Seungcheol groggily said as he shot a glare at Baekho who returned the glare.

 

Joshua sighed as he pulled Seungcheol's jacket and shook his head. Seungcheol just nodded.

 

It was just five in the morning yet they're all making their way towards the lobby of the hotel where the headmaster told them to gather.

 

They were all sleepy and tired. Their supposed dinner which turned out to be a mini-pool party ended up at midnight. Everyone was just happily eating and conversing with their own group of friends not until they heard the splash on the pool. It turned out to be a group of female students who had played around and pushed each other and ended up falling into the pool. That's when the others decided to push each other too and it became a pool party.

 

Now, they're all groaning in frustration as they sit down in the lobby. Some were lying down on the tiled floor while some were on the couch.

 

Just when Joshua's group reached the lobby, the headmaster came and behind him were the teachers who all looked fresh. It made the students groan even more.

 

"Good morning my dear students! Did you have fun last night?" The headmaster asked teasingly with a grin on his lips.

 

The students answered simultaneously, creating unexplainable words and noises. They were complaining about waking up so early and not having the chance to clean up first.

 

The headmaster chuckled but he eventually asked the students to quiet down, "Hey, why are you all complaining? It was all your choice to stay up until midnight. All I said was 'dinner'." The headmaster said.

 

Once again, the students whined.

 

"Alright, alright. Enough of the complaints," the elder said. The students wanted to complain more, thinking that they might change the headmaster's mind but upon seeing the elder's expression was firm, they decided to just shut up.

 

"Okay. The reason why we'll conduct the first activity this early is because we'll have another later at night. After the morning activities, we'll let you rest for the whole afternoon and proceed to our evening activities. That will be the everyday's process for the entire trip. Do you understand it?"

 

"Yes, headmaster!"

 

"For our first activity this morning, we'll be playing... relay race!"

 

 


 

 

"Okay, team C acquired fifty points for winning the dodge ball, team E got twenty-five points for placing second and team H got ten points for placing third," the headmaster announced as he placed the sticker on the board where the points given were plastered.

 

Out of all the teams, Joshua's team was in second place. Jun and Minghao's team placed fourth.

 

"Since we finished all our morning activities for today, we'll let you spend the rest of the afternoon just like what I said earlier. Do whatever and wherever you want just as long as you tell your teachers about it. You may go back to your respective rooms and change."

 

The other students quickly ran back inside the hotel. They played a total of three games this morning and were extremely tired and hungry despite having their breakfast earlier after the first game.

 

Joshua yawned. He's not that tired since he lost the games immediately and became a spectator only. He's just sleepy since he also slept late.

 

He shrieked in surprise when someone suddenly rested an arm on his shoulder. When he turned, he saw Jeonghan laughing at his reaction and beside him was Seungcheol .

 

"You startled me!" Joshua exclaimed, holding his chest which is pounding nervously right now.

 

Jeonghan grinned, "At least you're not sleepy anymore."

 

Joshua just playfully rolled his eyes as they headed back to their room.

 

"Where's the others?" Joshua asked.

 

"Wonwoo went back first saying he wants more sleep, and also Jun. Minghao went with Mingyu and that Seokhee guy."

 

"Who's Seokhee?" Joshua asked.

 

"It's Seokmin, Jeonghan." Seungcheol butts in.

 

"Oh, was it?" Jeonghan cheekily said, giggling which made the two shake their heads.

 

"Anyway, how about Jihoon?"

 

Jeonghan shrugged, "He said he wants to go somewhere quiet then he went off."

 

Joshua instantly felt worried. He noticed something was troubling Jihoon, and he had an idea about it but he chose to keep it a secret. It's not his, anyway.

 

"Something's wrong with Jihoon, isn't it?" Seungcheol asked, "Even Jun and Minghao. Did they fight?"

 

"I don't know what's happening with Jihoon but Jun and Minghao had a lover's quarrel last night." Jeonghan responded.

 

"Figures," Seungcheol mumbled.

 

They head back to their room silently with Joshua still worried over Jihoon. Jeonghan seemed to notice something's bothering Joshua but he didn't say anything while Seungcheol was just silently observing them two without any reason. He just wants to.

 

They went to their respective rooms to shower and change the moment they reached their hotel room.

 

When Joshua finished taking a bath, he went to Jeonghan's room. He knocked first before opening the door. There he saw Jeonghan lying down on the bed alone. Jihoon hasn't gone back yet.

 

"Oh, Joshua." Jeonghan said.

 

Joshua smiled, "Are you going to sleep?"

 

Jeonghan shakes his head, "I want to but I can't."

 

"Then do you mind accompanying me to the river?"

 

Jeonghan's forehead creased, "Why? It's cold outside. It's starting to snow already."

 

"Nothing. I just want to look at the frozen river."

 

Jeonghan chuckled but agreed nonetheless. He took his jacket and gloves. They went out of his room and were about to go out when they heard someone calling them.

 

"Joshua? Jeonghan?"

 

They both turned around and there they saw Seungcheol coming out of the room, all dressed up and looking so fresh.

 

"Where are you going?" Jeonghan asked, eyeing the older from head to toe.

 

"I was about to go out to the river." Seungcheol answered.

 

"Woah, really? Cool. We're about to go there too." Jeonghan said.

 

"Then let's just go there together."

 

The three of them silently went to the river after informing Ms. Shin where they're heading. The teacher reminded them of what the headmaster said earlier about gathering at the lobby later which they just nodded.

 

Joshua sat near the river, staring thoughtlessly. His mind was drifting somewhere else but was cut off with Jeonghan's voice.

 

"What took you both so long to return last night?"

 

"We just talked and got engrossed," Seungcheol answered.

 

Jeonghan pouted, "why didn't you bring me along?"

 

"Because you haven't finished your food, Jeonghan," Joshua said.

 

"Still," Jeonghan huffed. "What did you talk about?"

 

"A lot of stuff," Joshua answered lazily, earning a playful slap from Jeonghan. 

 

"Just things about us, like Joshua living in America and having a feminine Korean name."

 

"Oh, you have a Korean name? And you lived in America?"

 

"Yeah, but I prefer 'Joshua' so I didn't bother to use it."

 

"Why'd you come here, if I may ask?"

 

Joshua let out a smile, "Because of my parent's work. They also want to live here since they're both korean but they had work in LA so we stayed there. Then they got promoted to a higher position here so they decided to stay here for good."

 

Joshua continued to tell Jeonghan what he told Seungcheol last night. Jeonghan looks so dazed upon hearing the younger. It has always been Jeonghan's dream to travel in America and knowing a friend of his had lived there excites him. He wanted to hear some things about his dream place from someone who had experience living there.

 

Seungcheol on the other hand was silently listening since he had already heard of it. He was looking at Joshua and Jeonghan's face and he couldn't help but be mesmerized by their faces.

 

He always knew Joshua has this gentleman type of looks while Jeonghan just looked ethereal even at first sight. He's never seen anyone as handsome and as perfect looking as these two.

 

Their visuals never failed to mesmerize him. So whenever he had the chance, he would always steal a glance at their faces. It sounds creepy to him and so he tried his best to keep it a secret. He didn't want to intimidate the two, he just wanted to hide his attraction to their appearances.

 

"What? You had your first relationship when you were just a kid?" Jeonghan's voice snapped Seungcheol out of his thoughts.

 

His forehead creased upon processing what Jeonghan said.

 

First relationship? Kid? He thought.

 

He saw Joshua's ears turned red as he nodded his head.

 

"Oh my gosh, Joshua Hong you're such a horny boy!" Jeonghan exclaimed, faking a gasp.

 

Joshua's face immediately blushed at Jeonghan's words, "Hey! I'm not horny! Be careful of what you're saying!"

 

Seungcheol was so confused about what they were talking about. He had no clue since his mind was drifting somewhere else earlier.

 

"Cheol! Can you believe it? Joshua had his first girlfriend way back when he was ten years old!" Seungcheol turned to Jeonghan abruptly when he heard something.

 

Girlfriend? Joshua's into girls? He thought as he glanced at Joshua's blushing face. He felt something on his stomach as he thought about the younger's preference. He didn't know why he's feeling this pit in his stomach. It's not like he likes Joshua or what.

 

"Correction, it's not a girlfriend." Joshua said.

 

Jeonghan halted and so as Seungcheol , "H-huh?"

 

Joshua sighed, "My first relationship was with a boy. He's the son of a family friend."

 

"Didn't know you were into boys."

 

"Well, no one asked."

 

Seungcheol then felt two pairs of eyes looking at him and he proved it right when he turned to his side, "What?" He asked.

 

"How about you? Did you have any girlfriends?" Joshua asked.

 

Seungcheol quickly averted his eyes away from the two as he answered, "I...never had one." Because I'm into boys, too.

 

"So you've been single since birth?" Jeonghan asked, the side of his lips perking up.

 

"Why? Is there anything wrong about it?" The older asked in confusion.

 

The two shake their heads, "Nothing. It's just that Joshua had his first relationship when he was a kid while I just tried dating back in freshman year. I'm just surprised you never had one."

 

"Of course I won't have a girlfriend," Seungcheol said, "I'm gay."

 

"You don't look like one," Joshua said.

 

"So as you," Jeonghan said to Joshua.

 

"How about you?" Seungcheol asked Jeonghan .

 

"I'm bisexual. I'm attracted to both girls and boys," Jeonghan said. "But my first date was with a man."

 

Something was lifted up in Seungcheol's stomach after hearing this new information about his friends.

 

They continued on talking about things. mostly about themselves and Joshua and Jeonghan ganging up against Seungcheol. They had fun teasing the older because they find it adorable when Seungcheol's eyebrows almost touch each other and his lips were pouting while trying to defend himself from the two.

 

In the middle of the fun, Jeonghan excused himself from the two because he needed to go to a bathroom. He decided to just head back to their room since the area was so open and he wouldn't really want to just pee anywhere.

 

But just as he was about to enter the elevator, he heard faint voices near the elevator. Out of curiosity, he stealthily tiptoed towards the voices.

 

He was brought to the end of the corridor which is really near the stairs. He hid himself behind the walls which is the only barrier between him and the owner of the voices.

 

"What the fuck did you say to him?"

 

"I didn't say anything about us or our past, I swear!"

 

Jeonghan's curiosity rose up as he heard the voices of two men. It was familiar but he couldn't point out who it was.

 

"Then why did I see him crying in your room?!"

 

"I don't know either! I just saw him crying the same time you came in!"

 

"He wouldn't cry like that if you didn't do anything to trigger his emotions."

 

"Damn it, why can't you just believe me? I also care for him as much as you do and I don't want to see him in pain again just because of me!"

 

There was a silence after the sudden outburst of the unknown man. Jeonghan can only hear nothing but a subtle sob.

 

"I ...I'm sorry for yelling. I just... can't handle it anymore," the man who just yelled took a deep breath. "I pretended to be fine by all the hate I've received from him since it was my fault anyway. I pretended to be fine even after you continued to ignore me. I pretended to be fine knowing I caused both of you pain. But I'm really tired, Jihoonie..."

 

Jihoonie?

 

Jeonghan's eyes widened in realization as he finally pointed out who was the owner of one of the voices he's hearing right now.

 

It was Jihoon. Lee Jihoon , their friend. But he couldn't recognize the other one that much although it was familiar.

 

Just then, he heard loud sobs and he knew it came from Jihoon this time.

 

"But you promised to wait for me... you promised you'll wait until Wonwoo found his own soulmate..."

 

Why was Wonwoo involved here? What's happening and who is Jihoon talking to? Is this his soulmate? He found him already? Jeonghan had several questions in his mind as he continued to eavesdrop. He totally forgot he needed to go to the bathroom. He was very intrigued by what he's hearing.

 

"Please don't cry, Jihoon. I never said I'll give up. I just said I'm tired, don't cry please."

 

"But it seemed to me that... that you want to give up."

 

"No, I won't. Believe me when I say I won't."

 

"Please, wait for a little longer, Soonyoung ."

 

Jeonghan gasped loudly upon hearing the name which Jihoon just mentioned.

 

Soonyoung and Jihoon were soulmates.

 

His mortal nemesis and newly found friend were bound together.

 

He couldn't think straight that he didn't even notice the two heard his gasp and so they immediately turned to the other side of the wall where Jeonghan was hiding. Jihoon's face lost it's color while Soonyoung immediately turned nervous.

 

"J-Jeonghan... what are you doing here?" Jihoon nervously asked, swiftly wiping the tears in his cheeks.

 

Jeonghan felt nervous too when he realized he just got caught eavesdropping. He didn't want them to see him, but out of surprise he revealed himself.

 

"I just happened to pass by when I heard voices here. I thought someone's doing a miracle but it was just the two of you. I'll take my leave then!" Jeonghan quickly reasoned out and scurried upstairs without looking back despite hearing the two screaming his name and asking him to stop running, but he didn't.

 

He immediately closed the door of their hotel room as soon as he entered.

 

His thoughts were tangled, still processing the information he found out from eavesdropping.

 

"Lee Jihoon and Kwon Soonyoung... are soulmates?" he whispered to himself. "What a fate."

 

Jeonghan felt dismayed upon knowing Jihoon was the soulmate of his mortal nemesis. He planned to pull endless pranks on Soonyoung's soulmate to at least revenge himself from all the headache Soonyoung had caused him.

 

But how can he when Jihoon was his friend?

 

"Life is really a bitch," Jeonghan sighed.

Chapter Text

"Jeonghan?"

 

Jeonghan jumped in surprise when he heard someone call his name as soon as he entered their hotel room.

 

"Gosh, Wonwoo! You startled me!" Jeonghan exclaimed while clutching his pounding chest.

 

Wonwoo shrugged, "Not my fault. I just called you because you entered the room looking so anxious. And oh, you entered the wrong room."

 

Jeonghan then remembered the conversation he just heard earlier. He remembered hearing Wonwoo's name in their conversation and even though it's short, he had an idea about their relationship. He concluded based on what he heard.

 

Just then, he recalled something which Wonwoo had mentioned before they went to their location on the trip, just before they rode the bus.

 

"I can't enjoy knowing someone I truly hate is here."

 

He wasn't entirely sure of the exact words which Wonwoo said since he almost forgot it out of excitement on the trip, but he's sure enough that Soonyoung has something to do with it given the fact of what he heard from Soonyoung and Jihoon.

 

Being the quick-witted guy he is, he also concluded that Soonyoung and Wonwoo were the reason for Jihoon's sudden change of mood.

 

In short, there was something wrong with the three of them and he was so intrigued by it. Aside from the fact Jihoon and Wonwoo were his friends, Soonyoung was his mortal nemesis. Someone he wants to get back at someday.

 

"Jeonghan?"

 

Jeonghan snapped out of his thoughts when he heard Wonwoo's voice again, "Huh?"

 

"You looked dazed. Are you sleepy?" Wonwoo asked.

 

Jeonghan chuckled, "I'm not. I'm just... thinking of something." He answered while staring at Wonwoo's face. He's trying to come up with how he will bring up the topic of Soonyoung and Jihoon.

 

When he noticed the dark circle under Wonwoo's fox-like eyes, an idea popped out in his mind.

 

"Wonwoo," he called him. "Did you cry?" He asked. He recalled Jihoon saying Wonwoo was crying and so he tried to use it to ask Wonwoo some things.

 

Wonwoo's face turned pale, "N-no. Why would I cry?"

 

"Your eyes tell otherwise," Jeonghan said.

 

"I'm just sleepy."

 

The older rolled his eyes, "Come with me." He said and pulled the younger's wrist inside Wonwoo and Soonyoung's shared bedroom. He made sure to lock the door in case Soonyoung came, he won't hear what they're talking about.

 

He let Wonwoo sit on their bed as he stood in front of the younger one while crossing his arms on his chest, "Now, why did you cry?"

 

Wonwoo averted his gaze away from the older. Jeonghan was aware that Wonwoo isn't comfortable with him just yet, but he was genuinely concerned at this point. He wants to obtain information about Soonyoung and Jihoon, but he considers Wonwoo as his friend and he cares for his friend so much no matter how little time they spend. And so he chose to set aside his greed on getting information about his nemesis.

 

He sat beside Wonwoo and held the younger's shoulder, making Wonwoo turn to face him, "Jeon Wonwoo. I know I'm not the nicest person you know and I'm definitely not. And I'm very much aware you still doubt me and my intentions given my reputation but believe in me when I say I consider you as a friend. So you can tell me what's bothering you, I'll help you. You can't just bottle up what you are feeling, otherwise you won't get to enjoy the trip."

 

Wonwoo looked down after hearing what Jeonghan said. He didn't disagree because Jeonghan's right, he really still doubted him. Sure, they're friends. But they just met each other and Wonwoo still had trust issues.

 

He can't open up that easily given what had happened to him.

 

Jeonghan sighed because he knew Wonwoo wouldn't open up to him right now. Instead of pushing the younger to tell him his problem, he just ruffled the younger's hair affectionately.

 

"It's alright, Wonwoo-ah. If you can't tell your problem to me, Joshua's still there." Jeonghan said.

 

Wonwoo sighed, "I'm sorry, Jeonghan," he said and lifted up his head to meet Jeonghan's soft eyes. "Believe me, you are a friend to me too. It's just... my trust issues are still..."

 

"You don't have to be sorry. It's alright not to tell me as long as you're fine, but you're clearly not. So talk to Joshua, okay?"

 

Wonwoo nodded his head.

 

Jeonghan suddenly stood up and smiled awkwardly at Wonwoo, "I need to go, Wonwoo." Without hearing the younger's response, Jeonghan went inside their room's bathroom.

 

Wonwoo thought the older's mad but seeing how he was looking so awkward and hurrying inside the bathroom, he understood what's going on.

 

Call of nature.

 

 


 

 

"Joshua," Jeonghan called Joshua as soon as he returned to the river where Joshua and Seungcheol were talking.

 

The younger one turned to him, "Oh, you're here. What took you so long?"

 

Jeonghan wondered if he can ask Joshua instead if Wonwoo won't tell him. He understands Wonwoo's trust issue but he's really curious as hell. It won't leave his mind until he finds out.

 

But then he remembered Seungcheol was there too. He thought if it's alright to talk about it when he's here. But he's also a friend. He should at least know too, right?

 

Jeonghan sighed and sat beside Joshua. Joshua was now in the middle.

 

"Can I ask you something?" Jeonghan asked.

 

"About what?"

 

"Wonwoo," Jeonghan quickly said.

 

"Why? Did something happen? Is he alright?" Joshua asked, concerned visible in his eyes.

 

"No, he's not hurt... but he cried," Jeonghan said.

 

"What —why?" Joshua asked with his forehead creased.

 

Seungcheol was just silently listening as usual but he was attentive and curious too.

 

Jeonghan shrugged, "That's what I don't know. That's what I am going to ask you because I think it has something to do with Soonyoung and Jihoon." He said.

 

Joshua's eyes widened, "W..what?"

 

Jeonghan knew right then that Joshua knows something, so he hesitated because he's not sure if it's alright to tell Joshua if Seungcheol's here.

 

Seungcheol seemed to notice that and he respected it, so he said, "I'll leave first, then. I'll give you your priv—"

 

"No, no. It's alright Cheol. You're our friend too." Joshua quickly said before Seungcheol could even stand up.

 

"You don't have to let me hear it if it's too person—"

 

"Soonyoung and Jihoon are soulmates," Joshua blurted out, cutting Seungcheol once more.

 

Jeonghan wasn't surprised but Seungcheol was.

 

"I guess you know it already?" Joshua asked Jeonghan who simply nodded.

 

"I overheard Soonyoung and Jihoon's conversation. That's when I found out Wonwoo cried and I concluded it has something to do with the both of them," Jeonghan said. "I tried to talk to Wonwoo but he didn't tell me. He said he still has trust issues and I understand that. But I'm just worried... and curious."

 

The youngest sighed, "I guess it really has to do something with Soonyoung but not with Jihoon."

 

Seungcheol and Jeonghan confusedly looked at Joshua, visually asking why.

 

"Because Soonyoung and Wonwoo were past lovers," Joshua revealed nervously. "I know I'm not the one who should tell you this but I think you two deserved to know since you're Wonwoo's friends too. Also, we can help Wonwoo more if we knew right?"

 

Seungcheol nodded, "Why does it seem like Wonwoo doesn't know about Jihoon and Soonyoung being soulmates?" He asked.

 

"Wonwoo really doesn't know because Jihoon didn't want him to find out he's the reason why Soonyoung left him. Because of it, Wonwoo changed. He's scared that Wonwoo will get angry at him knowing Wonwoo's anger towards soulmates," Joshua said. "That's why Jihoon is avoiding Soonyoung as much as possible."

 

"You mean, he's not in a relationship with Soonyoung even when they found out they're soulmates?" Seungcheol asked in disbelief.

 

Joshua nodded.

 

"He cares for Wonwoo so much that he chose to set aside his feelings for Soonyoung. I heard Jihoon said to Soonyoung to wait for him until Wonwoo finds his own soulmate," Jeonghan said after being silent for awhile

 

Joshua nodded once again.

 

They all fell silent while looking at the river which is slowly being covered by the snow.

 

They all shivered when they realized the snow was slowly getting thicker on the ground they're sitting on. They didn't notice it earlier because they were too preoccupied by what they're talking about.

 

"Uh... should we get inside now? It's getting colder," Joshua said, burying deep in the jacket he's wearing while clasping his cold hands together.

 

"Right. We might freeze here," Jeonghan agreed.

 

They all stood up and headed back to the hotel side by side.

 

When they reached their floor, Joshua stood in front of their room to face the two older male, "What we talked about back there, please keep it a secret. Let's not spoil Jihoon and Soonyoung's secret until Wonwoo himself finds out first, okay?" He said with pleading eyes.

 

"Of course. It's not our secret to tell either. Besides, they're both my friends but not Soonyoung," Jeonghan said.

 

"I don't talk that much," Seungcheol just responded.

 

Joshua mouthed a small thank you before they entered the room and went to their respective bedroom.

 

Jeonghan was relieved Jihoon's not there in their shared bedroom because he doesn't know how to handle an awkward atmosphere he built himself out of curiosity.

 

Time passed by quickly and when six pm struck, they all headed to the lobby where the headmaster was waiting. 

 

"Good evening my dear students! Did you rest well?" The headmaster brightly asked.

 

The students answered 'yes' in unison.

 

"Since you rested well, then I guess you'll enjoy tonight's activity!" The headmaster exclaimed, "This isn't tiring. Since it's freezing cold outside, we'll be having a bonfire. You'll sit by your team and form a large circle where all of you will sit. This is more like a healing game rather than extreme activity. Me and the teachers will provide marshmallows for all of you and a hot chocolate which we requested from the hotel's cafeteria."

 

The students cheered. They're happy it's not a tiring activity where they'll have to do legwork.

 

They all proceed to where the bonfire was located. Nearby the river. There were logs placed in a circle and in the middle was a large bonfire. The headmaster assigned each group to sit on the log. Since there were many of them in a team, the boys were seated on the ground and on the log were the girls.

 

"Alright! Are you ready, kids?" The headmaster exclaimed.

 

The students cheered loudly. Their mood was good tonight for they love the bonfire paired with marshmallow and hot chocolate that the teachers and headmaster had prepared.

 

"If you're ready, then do as Simon says... enjoy the night!"

 

No one said anything. They all fell silent and confused as to what the headmaster is pertaining to. So they just stared at the older, visually asking what he meant.

 

"We really didn't plan anything, to be honest. All we discussed for tonight's activity is the bonfire and marshmallow and hot chocolate which we prepared. We thought you'd enjoy it even more when we let you kids decide the game on your own."

 

"Does that mean we can play whatever we want?" One of the students asked.

 

"Yes. Just as long as no one will fight and no one will be hurt. You can do everything you want but we'll monitor you from time to time," the headmaster said. He smiled upon seeing the satisfied smiles of the students. "You can discuss what you want to do for the night now. I'll get going! Remember: No one should get hurt and strictly, no fighting. or else we'll end this quickly."

 

They all nodded at the elder and with that, the headmaster left.

 

They decided to play the frying pan game but with teams. Since there were too many, they decided to just name their teams the alphabets like what the teachers are calling them.

 

Jisoo's team may be great at extreme activities but they lost this game immediately. They can't coordinate with each other because of many reasons. And that's why they just became the first spectators.

 

In the end, none of Joshua and Jun's team won.

 

The next game was truth or dare but still by teams. Whoever gets pointed at by the bottle of wine (which they borrowed from the teachers after a long time of pleading) will have to choose on their team who will do whatever they chose. By rock, paper and scissors.

 

Jeonghan, being the prankster he is, enjoyed the game the most. His evil smile never disappeared. He totally forgot whatever happened earlier. Evilness had corrupted his mind already.

 

Luckily, their team still hasn't got pointed by the bottle.

 

Or not.

 

"Rock, paper, scissors!" Jeonghan quickly shouted as soon as the mouth of the bottle stopped in front of Baekho.

 

Good thing they all threw something. They caught Jeonghan's trick.

 

No one gets out.

 

"Rock, paper, scissors!"

 

Baekho, Wonwoo and Jaebum and two girls won. They moved away happily.

 

"Rock, paper, scissors!"

 

This time, Mark (who's just silent the whole time), Jihoon, Yugyeom, Seungcheol and the remaining girls won.

 

Jeonghan was starting to get nervous. He didn't want to be their group's representative. The dares were too extreme and the question's intense.

 

Joshua, on the other hand, was just calm as he usually is. But deep inside he's as nervous as jeonghan.

 

"Lose, Joshua, Jeonghan," Seungcheol teased the two who just playfully glared at him.

 

"Rock, paper, scissors!"

 

It was only Jinyoung who won. He teasingly grinned at the remaining ones which were Jeonghan, Joshua, Mingyu and Soonyoung.

 

"Bitch, I hope it's you," Jeonghan said to Soonyoung.

 

Soonyoung squinted his eyes at the older, confused on why the older is talking to him casually. But Jeonghan totally forgot about the things he found out because he was enjoying the game too much.

 

Soonyoung chose not to respond.

 

"Rock, paper, scissors!"

 

"Yes! Shit, I thought I'll end up losing!" Jeonghan yelled out of happiness. The others laughed at his reaction as he accepted Seungcheol's high five. But the remaining ones are not showing any reactions. None of them wants to be the representative.

 

Who would want to be, anyway?

 

"Rock, paper, scissors!"

 

Closing their eyes, they all threw their respective choices.

 

Suddenly, they heard screams and laughter from the others. Curious, they fluttered their eyes open.

 

Joshua stared at their hands for a moment, processing what happened when Jeonghan jumped on him.

 

"Oh my gosh, I thought you lost!" Jeonghan exclaimed.

 

Joshua chuckled. He was relieved too. They all then turned towards Mingyu who was the most surprised of them all.

 

He threw rock while Soonyoung and Joshua threw paper.

 

"What a luck..." Mingyu grumpily mumbled.

 

"Alright, Mingyu! Truth or dare?" Dahyun asked, one of the members of the team who spinned the bottle.

 

Mingyu sighed. He can't do anything nor complain. It was purely decided by luck. And unfortunate of him, he didn't have that.

 

"Dare," Mingyu said, earning a loud scream from the others including his own teammates.

 

He silently wished he chose a better one.

 

"Okay. For your dare..." Dahyun trailed off, smirking evilly. "Kiss one of your teammates who you find attractive."

 

Mingyu's eyes widened, "W..what?"

 

"Come on, it's just a kiss Mingyu. Whoever you kissed should feel honoured. You find him/her attractive!"

 

Mingyu gulped and his eyes automatically drifted to the silent man beside him who's looking so bored at everything that's happening.

 

It didn't go unnoticed to Jeonghan.

 

"It's Wonwoo, isn't it?" Jeonghan blurted out, making Wonwoo turn to Mingyu and caught the younger one staring at him. They both blushed and looked away.

 

Joshua's forehead creases when he notices his friend's reaction.

 

Wonwoo was never the type to blush because of something like this.

 

So he finds it odd for Wonwoo to act like this.

 

Mingyu let out a loud sigh as he started to get fed up by the screams of the others to kiss Wonwoo. Standing up, he gulped as he pulled Wonwoo's collar and gave him a peck on the cheeks.

 

When he pulled away, he earned 'boos' from the others. He shrugged, "You didn't specify what part of his body I should kiss so I decided on my own."

 

"You're no fun, Mingyu."

 

Mingyu just chuckled.

 

While Wonwoo was left stunned, blushing hard as he tried to process what just happened.

 

But what made them all shut their mouths was when they noticed a glowing red strings. It glowed and showed itself to them for a moment, before it disappeared into their eyes.

 

The red strings came from Mingyu and Wonwoo.



Chapter Text

"He still won't get up, right?" Jihoon asked as soon as Joshua left Soonyoung and Wonwoo's shared bedroom.

 

The older sighed and nodded solemnly.

 

It has been two days since the red thread was shown in Wonwoo and Mingyu's pinky finger. Since that day, Wonwoo never left their bedroom. He was just lying down on the bed all day even when they're conducting an activity. The teachers and the headmaster had witnessed the red thread too but just like Mingyu and everyone else, they didn't have an idea why Wonwoo was acting like this.

 

Who would've hated meeting their soulmates, right? Only Wonwoo.

 

While Wonwoo locked himself in their shared room, Mingyu was participating in the activities to avoid further deductions aside from Wonwoo's absence. But he wasn't as cheerful as he was before.

 

He was happy to know who his soulmate was.

 

But who would be happy when their soulmates seem to hate them?

 

Joshua and Jihoon had been comforting Mingyu. Jihoon, who wasn't close to Mingyu, had become close almost immediately. He would always say comforting words to Mingyu to assure him that Wonwoo just had a painful past which is why he's like this. He was partly doing this because he's afraid Mingyu would leave Wonwoo soon if the older keep on acting like this, especially to Mingyu.

 

That means he'll also have to ignore Soonyoung for as long as Wonwoo moves on. Of course it wasn't only because of him, but also because he's afraid Wonwoo would be in great pain once again, especially if it's his soulmate who'll leave him.

 

Except for Mingyu (and Soonyoung who knows about why Wonwoo is locking himself up), their friends had eventually found out because Joshua told them except the fact Jihoon was Soonyoung's soulmate. Aside from them, everyone in their team was annoyed by Wonwoo because his absence keeps on deducting their points.

 

If it weren't for Seungcheol and Jeonghan, they would've confronted Wonwoo already without knowing the reason behind his actions.

 

"What should we do, hyung? He can't keep acting like this," Jihoon worriedly said.

 

"I won't stop persuading him, Jihoon-ah. So don't worry. It's fine as long as he's eating properly," Joshua assured the younger.

 

Joshua knew Jihoon was afraid that Wonwoo would go back to the way he acted before when he and Soonyoung broke up. But Joshua won't let Wonwoo do that anymore.

 

Not when his soulmate had shown up.

 

"Anyway, where's Seungcheol?" Joshua asked, changing the topic to avoid making Jihoon even more worried.

 

"Maybe in their bedroom, bickering again." Jihoon nonchalantly responded. They went back to their own room and he slumped himself on their living room's couch as soon as they entered.

 

It was afternoon and the headmaster had decided to let them rest for the rest of the day since they conducted their activities so early in the morning.

 

And here they are in their room, just doing what they want.

 

Joshua sat beside him, "When will they stop? Even Jeonghan is bickering with Baekho now." He said, letting out a loud sigh which Jihoon did too.

 

Yesterday, Baekho had decided to confront Wonwoo because of their deduction points but Seungcheol and Jeonghan stopped him from doing so. As expected, he and Seungcheol argued since Jeonghan and Joshua tried their best to avoid any physical fight. But then Baekho said something which annoyed the hell out of Yoon Jeonghan.

 

"You three are in a disgusting homosexual relationship, aren't you? That's why you're ganging up against me, you faggots. Threesome whores."

 

Joshua couldn't stop Jeonghan at that point because the older had exploded and spat harsh words to Baekho. Instead of stopping Seungcheol from bickering against Baekho, Jeonghan joined.

 

Joshua was so stressed about it. But then he thought that what Baekho said must have triggered something in Jeonghan which made him that mad. Then he suddenly remembered Jun saying that Jeonghan has an anger management issue which Joshua had no idea about.

 

He knows it, but he really didn't know much about that case.

 

He always sees Jeonghan in his calm state that it shocked him to see the older had exploded. Was it because of that anger management jun had told him? Or is it because he was just so pissed at Baekho at that moment?

 

He didn't know.

 

But he knows one thing for sure.

 

Baekho is on Jeonghan's blacklist.

 

And he felt nervous for the latter.

 

"I guess we'll just have to get used to it until the trip ends," Jihoon shrugs. Joshua just sighed.

 

Just then, the door of Seungcheol and Baekho's bedroom burst open and a fuming Baekho came out. His piercing eyes landed on Joshua who's confused as to why the latter was fuming mad. But he became nervous with the glare Baekho shot him. It was different than before.

 

Joshua just stared nervously at Baekho's disappearing figure. When the latter completely disappeared, he exchanged glances with his small friend before he decided to head towards their bedroom with Jihoon cluelessly trailing from behind him. There he saw Seungcheol lying on his bed, his fist were clenched so tight that it was already shaking.

 

"Cheol... What happened? Why is Baekho so mad?" Joshua asked worriedly.

 

Seungcheol didn't answer. He closed his eyes while facing the ceiling. He was breathing heavily while still clenching his fist like it's the only thing that can stop him from whatever's going on in his mind.

 

Joshua went closer to Seungcheol, "Cheol, what happened?"

 

No response.

 

"Cheol."

 

Still, there's no response. Joshua worriedly turned to Jihoon but the latter was just as confused as he was.

 

"Seungcheol, what h—"

 

"Get out."

 

Joshua's forehead creased, "What are you—"

 

"I said get out. What can't you not understand with that?" Seungcheol snapped, glaring at Joshua who seemed so flustered.

 

"But ... but Baekho —"

 

"Are you going to leave or I'll drag you out myself?!" Seungcheol screamed, sitting up while still glaring at the younger.

 

Jihoon then pulled Joshua to him and shot a glare at Seungcheol. "What the fuck is wrong with you?" He asked, annoyed by the older's attitude.

 

Seungcheol turned his glare at the smaller and said, "I said leave! I don't need any more arguments! Just leave!"

 

Joshua shook his head and left the room without saying anything. Seungcheol saw the pain in Joshua's eyes as he stormed out of the room. Seungcheol immediately wanted to apologize but he restrained himself from doing so. He just turned to the glaring midget in front of him.

 

"You bastard. Joshua was just concerned and you'll act and talk like that towards him?" Jihoon asked, his voice dripping in suppressed anger while clenching his fist at his side.

 

Seungcheol never felt the desire to explain himself over someone until this moment but he just has to keep it to himself now. So instead of apologizing and explaining, he decided to just avert his eyes away.

 

"Just leave, Jihoon."

 

Jihoon let out a mocking laugh, "So that's how you return Joshua hyung's kindness to you, huh? You could at least be gentle at him! He didn't deserve what you did to him earlier!"

 

Seungcheol didn't respond. He laid down on the bed and faced the other side of the room to avoid Jihoon's penetrating glare.

 

"Asshole. Don't go near him again," Jihoon harshly spat before he stormed out of the room, leaving a very guilty Seungcheol.

 

Seungcheol closed his eyes while still clenching his jaw tightly. His heart was pounding so loud not because he's flattered by something but because he's nervous.

 

Baekho's words rang in his mind again.

 

"You're not undefeatable anymore, Choi Seungcheol. You have a weakness now."

 

This was the most intense argument he had with Baekho. They were just clearly pissing each other before but what Baekho said seemed to be a threat like he's pertaining to the fact that Seungcheol can be defeated using his weakness.

 

And Seungcheol wasn't stupid to not understand who is Baekho pertaining as Seungcheol's weakness.

 

Seungcheol never felt so afraid of a threat. This is the first time. Because it wasn't just all about him being harmed.

 

It's about hurting someone important to him.

 

To think he just met them, he didn't want to drag them in his messed up life just because of his delinquency.

 

And so he pushed Joshua and Jihoon away.

 

Seungcheol laid down on his bed for a few hours, thinking about what to do with baekho. He's surprised that they're usual bickerings had turned to a heated argument where Baekho had bursted out all his anger at Seungcheol to the point he even indirectly threatened Seungcheol.

 

Suddenly, someone opened the door of the room. In came Jeonghan whose eyebrows were deeply furrowed at Seungcheol.

 

"Yah, Choi Seungcheol. What have you done to Joshua?" Jeonghan's usual calm and soothing voice was now deep as he asked that to Seungcheol.

 

The older sighed but he didn't say anything.

 

Jeonghan went inside the room and locked the door. He sat at the end of the bed while still looking at Seungcheol.

 

"I heard from Jihoon how you acted like an asshole towards Joshua. Why'd you do that?" Jeonghan asked again. But Seungcheol just won't respond.

 

Jeonghan's temper slowly rose as he tried to calm himself down. One of the things Jeonghan hated was being ignored. and so he got pissed instantly.

 

"If you don't want to tell what's wrong with you, forget we became friends." Jeonghan blurted out bluntly as he stood up. Seungcheol froze. His heart felt like being stabbed by knives as he processed what Jeonghan just spat.

 

"Forget we became friends."

 

He smiled bitterly. He knew the happiness he just felt these past few days were just temporary. Why did he even assume it would last for a long time?

 

Being alone is his destiny, after all.

 

"If you can't even trust us with what's going on with you and just continue acting like an asshole, you better forget we've been friends in the first place. Friends aren't supposed to be like that," Jeonghan said before he walked out of the room, leaving Seungcheol alone once again.

 

Seungcheol bit his lips. Every word Jeonghan had said was shooting him directly in his heart and it was so painful for Seungcheol.

 

"Fuck life." Seungcheol mumbled.

 

 


 

 

Jeonghan was contemplating whether he would apologize to Seungcheol or not. It's been an hour ever since he spat those harsh words to Seungcheol and he's been feeling guilty ever since he left the room.

 

He has a soft spot for Seungcheol just like what their friends had told him and Joshua. And saying those words to the older man made him feel so guilty and hurt.

 

He knew the older one doesn't have any friends aside from him and his friends but he still said those words to Jeonghan. Although he somehow meant it, he still shouldn't have said that. It was just because he's pissed of how Seungcheol ignored him, which he really hates. He's also concerned about Joshua, knowing that the younger was sensitive.

 

In the end, after two hours of contemplating, he decided to apologize to Seungcheol. He knew something's going on with Seungcheol and he should hear him out first before getting mad. So he stood up and was about to leave his shared room with Jihoon when the latter suddenly burst inside the room, startling Jeonghan.

 

"What the hell, Jihoon!" Jeonghan said while clutching his chest, "You scared me!"

 

Jihoon ignored that as he stared seriously at Jeonghan, "Joshua's nowhere to be found."

 

Jeonghan slowly removed his hand on his chest as his forehead creased, "What?"

 

"Joshua is nowhere to be found."

 

"Maybe he's just strolling around?" Jeonghan asked.

 

Jihoon shook his head in disapproval, "It's been hours. He gets tired immediately, and it's freezing cold."

 

"Maybe just procrastinating somewhere?"

 

"He doesn't do that."

 

"Maybe in the other's room?"

 

"That's against the rule. And he doesn't disobey rules," Jihoon said frustratingly, "Jeonghan, we've been looking for him for an hour and we still haven't seen him, not even his shadow."

 

Jeonghan was denying what Jihoon had said. Joshua was old and smart enough not to get lost in this place. It's also freezing cold outside and he knows Joshua gets cold fast so he wouldn't stay outside for hours. So where is he? It couldn't be that someone took him. That's not possible.

 

"Let's just wait for him, Jihoon-ah. He's old enough and he knows what to do with himself. Maybe he's just cooling his head off after what Seungcheol had told him," Jeonghan said, reassuring the younger to avoid making him even more worried.

 

"But he wasn't the type to cool off his head, hyung. He talks to us when he's letting off some steam," Jihoon said. "Now I'm starting to think Seungcheol has something to do with this."

 

"Why?" Jeonghan asked in confusion.

 

The midget shrugged, "I don't know. I just had the feeling he knows."

 

"Then let's go ask him." Jeonghan said and walked past Jihoon.

 

He didn't bother to knock at the door. He just barged in which startled seungcheol who's just lying down on his bed.

 

"Cheol," he called the older. Seungcheol seemed flustered that Jeonghan still calls him that but he immediately dismissed it as he's curious on why they suddenly barged in his room knowing they're upset with him.

 

"W..what?" He stuttered.

 

"Have you seen Joshua? He's been out of the radar for two hours." Jeonghan asked.

 

Seungcheol furrowed his brows while slowly sitting up on the bed, "Joshua's missing?"

 

Jeonghan nodded while Jihoon remained silent, still upset at the older.

 

Seungcheol felt his heart thump nervously. It couldn't be...

 

"Have you also seen Baekho? And his friends?" Seungcheol frantically asked.

 

Jeonghan shook his head, "I've been in my room for the past few hours."

 

"How about you?" Seungcheol asked Jihoon.

 

The smaller snorted but he still responded, "I've seen him and his friends fooling around near the forest. Why are you asking about them when it's Joshua who's m—"

 

Without letting the midget finish his words, Seungcheol dashed out of the room not minding Jeonghan and Jihoon's yell.

 

He won't go that far, right? He's not serious about his threats. He won't do that .

 

That's what Seungcheol kept on muttering, convincing himself that Baekho has nothing to do with Joshua's sudden disappearance.

 

He wished they're just overreacting about it, that Joshua was just somewhere. He wished it wasn't because of him that Joshua's missing.

 

Because he won't forgive himself if something bad happens to Joshua.

 

The cold breeze welcomed him as soon as he got out of the hotel. He forgot to bring a coat. It's snowing and a jacket isn't enough to warm himself. But he set aside it as he ran towards the woods.

 

"Baekho... make sure you have nothing to do behind this. I won't ever let you off," he muttered to himself while running. His heart was beating so loudly.

 

As he entered the woods, he heard voices somewhere. He looked around in search of the voices but he couldn't determine where the voices came from. He ran his hand frustratedly in his hair. "Fuck this shit." He said and ran towards where his gut felt had told him.

 

As he continued running forward, the faint voices earlier were slowly sounding clear. They're laughing like crazy. And Seungcheol couldn't help but curse even more when he recognized Baekho's voice in those laughter.

 

He stopped running when he saw Baekho and his friends from a distance. They're slowly approaching his direction, still laughing around.

 

Without hesitation, he walked hastily to them. They were a bit surprised by his sudden appearance except for Baekho who's grinning so wide.

 

"Oh, the outcast is h—" Baekho didn't finish what he's saying when Seungcheol violently grabbed his collar. His friends immediately reacted and were about to land a punch on Seungcheol but Baekho stopped them.

 

"Where's Joshua, you bastard! Where is he?" Seungcheol asked furiously, glaring at Baekho.

 

Baekho chuckled which his friends followed, "So I guess I'm right that he's one of your weaknesses seeing how you react right now."

 

Seungcheol's grip on Baekho's collar tightened even more, "I'm not fucking around with you, Baekho! Where is he?!"

 

Baekho's gaze turned serious then he shoved Seungcheol. He dusted his collar as he stared directly at Seungcheol's eyes. "Why don't you go find him? Where's the thrill in this if I tell you where he is?"

 

With that, Seungcheol landed a strong punch on Baekho. His friends immediately went to Seungcheol but he just shoved one away and kicked the other's stomach. He went straight to Baekho who's lying on the ground while clutching his jaw. He pulled his collar again and punched him repeatedly.

 

"Fucking tell me where he is or I won't hesitate to break every part of your fucking face!"

 

Baekho was helpless as Seungcheol kept on punching him. Even his friend couldn't take away Seungcheol. He's way more stronger now that he's mad. fuming mad.

 

"Where the fuck is Joshua, you bastard!"

 

"He. ..he's there... g..go stra-ight.." Baekho whispered. He can't even properly say it but Seungcheol managed to understand it. He stood up after punching Baekho one last time.

 

He stared down at the beaten man, "If something bad happened to Joshua, I won't let you off, fucker." He said before running towards where Baekho pointed at.

 

He ran so fast as if his life depended on it. He ran like crazy, not minding the surroundings. He instantly froze when he saw a familiar figure of a man lying down on the ground.

 

With his trembling hands, he slowly approached the figure.

 

When he saw the face of the man, he couldn't help but fall down on his knees.

 

The man's face lost its color. His lips were slowly turning violet. Aside from that, there's a visible mark on his cheeks like it was slapped repeatedly. On the side of his purple lips were fresh bruises. And his hands were so cold it felt like the hand of a corpse. He even saw a mark on its wrist. He was tied down for sure. He's also just wearing a thin blazer and pants which made him feel even colder.

 

Seungcheol held Joshua's cold hands tightly. His eyes were fuming mad while staring in front. He's trembling so hard, trying to contain his anger.

 

"Fucking Baekho... you'll pay for this shit you did..." He mumbled.



Chapter Text

"He has the guts to even show himself?"

 

"He's so shameless."

 

"I wonder why they're still hanging out with him."

 

"They shouldn't have trusted him in the first place."

 

"Look what happened to that good guy."

 

Jeonghan immediately shot a warning glare at the students who were gossiping at Seungcheol who's walking beside him and Jihoon. They looked down and walk away as soon as they saw Jeonghan's glare.

 

When Jeonghan turned to look at Seungcheol, the older was looking down, his fist clenched tightly at his side

 

"Cheol... don't mind them. It's not your fault." Jeonghan said to Seungcheol, looking at him worriedly.

 

"The rumor that had spread was definitely nonsense. Don't let it get into you, Seungcheol." Jihoon added.

 

Seungcheol didn't say anything. He remained looking down.

 

The incident of what happened to Joshua spread like wildfire. But it wasn't Baekho who was the center of the hate. They knew Baekho was the one who did it to Joshua, but Seungcheol was blamed.

 

They said if Seungcheol just didn't befriend the kind and innocent Joshua, he wouldn't be dragged into his messed up life. That Joshua became the target of his enemies he made before. If it weren't for Seungcheol who keeps on fighting with Baekho, Joshua wouldn't experience this harsh incident.

 

It was absurd for Seungcheol's friends when they found out the truth and heard the other's hate comments because Seungcheol wasn't the one who did that to Joshua. But for Seungcheol, what they said was right. It's his fault.

 

Baekho found out he has weakness now which makes them target him since they can't beat Seungcheol .

 

Although his friends had assured him countless times already, he still thinks it's his fault.

 

It has been a week eversince the winter trip had ended yet Joshua still hasn't come back. He hasn't even texted any of his friends. Although he's fine already according to the teachers, he's just resting at their house.

 

His friends found out he experienced stage three hypothermia. Since he was exposed to the cold atmosphere for almost two hours knowing he gets cold instantly, his temperature goes down. The bruises in his face healed quickly but he still had to rest.

 

Joshua's parents filed a case to Baekho for that. His mother was beyond furious that he even went to the school to see Baekho. The latter's parents keep on apologizing and begging for her to have mercy on their child but Joshua's mother was too furious to even listen to them.

 

In the end, Baekho was sent to the police and was kicked out of the school.

 

But it was Seungcheol who suffered from the hate of the students. Good thing his friends didn't get mad at him. They knew why he acted harsh to Joshua and understood it. So they stayed by Seungcheol's side.

 

However, Seungcheol received a one day punishment for beating up Baekho. He was tasked to clean up all the restrooms of all the buildings including the girl's restroom. Seungcheol didn't mind it. He thinks he deserved it, even more than that. Fortunately, Baekho's parents didn't file a case at Seungcheol.

 

The classes resume with Seungcheol's mind drifting away as time passes by. He didn't even notice that the classes ended. He just saw Jeonghan and Jihoon by the door of their room. He stood up and silently approached them.

 

"It's weekend already! Should we go hang out?" Jeonghan asked.

 

"Instead of hanging out, why don't we go visit Joshua?" Jihoon suggested, looking for the approval of the older male.

 

Jeonghan and Seungcheol's eyes brightened up a bit. But when Seungcheol realized something, his shoulder fell.

 

"What's wrong, Cheol?" Jeonghan asked the older.

 

"I don't think I can join you guys."

 

"Why? You have something else to do?" Jihoon asked.

 

Seungcheol shook his head, "I'm afraid Joshua's mom might berserk when she sees me."

 

The two of them sighed in frustration upon hearing Seungcheol blaming himself for the nth time.

 

"She won't, I assure you with that. Besides, I don't think she's at their house. Aunt is usually with Uncle on a business trip. Only the maids were there to take care of him," Jihoon said.

 

"See? So let's go, Cheol!"

 

"Let's go where?" A deep voice suddenly butts in their conversation. They all turned towards where the voice came from and saw Wonwoo with Jun and Minghao behind him.

 

"We'll visit Joshua." Jihoon said.

 

"Really? Can we join?" Minghao asked excitedly.

 

"Of course, you can." Jeonghan chuckled, "Let's go then!"

 

They all head out of their building while bickering about what they should buy for Joshua before they go visit him. But they halted upon hearing who Minghao called.

 

"Mingyu-ah!"

 

Mingyu, who's just heading home alone, turned to where Minghao was. Jun nudged his boyfriend's side, his eyes visually asking why he called Mingyu.

 

"He wants to visit Joshua too. Can't he?" Minghao reluctantly asked, then he turned to Wonwoo. The older raised his eyebrow.

 

"What?"

 

"Is it alright if Mingyu will come with us?" Minghao hesitantly asked.

 

"Why are you asking me?"

 

"Because you are his sou-"

 

"Let him. Who am I not to let him if he's Joshua's friend?" Wonwoo muttered. No one responded because the subject of their concern approached them already.

 

"Hey, Ming. Why'd you call me?" Mingyu asked. His eyes avoided the others, especially his soulmate.

 

"Uh... I'm wondering if you want to come with us? We're gonna visit Joshua," Minghao told the taller man.

 

Mingyu wanted to, but when his eyes met Wonwoo's eyes, he hesitated.

 

He didn't know why but he was aware the older one doesn't like his presence.

 

The others then exchanged glances. They knew it'll be awkward for Wonwoo but just like what he said, they don't have any rights not to let Mingyu visit Joshua.

 

Jihoon felt uneasy. He didn't know why though.

 

Jeonghan then cleared his throat and he broke the silence, "So, will you come with us or....?"

 

"Is it alright for you?" Mingyu hesitantly asked.

 

"Of course! Let's go then!" Jeonghan exclaimed, then he walked ahead of them. He tried to be bubbly to avoid any awkwardness in them. Minghao pulled Mingyu with him along with his boyfriend. While Jihoon, Wonwoo and Seungcheol silently followed with Wonwoo avoiding his soulmate's stare at him.

 

The awkwardness in them vanished naturally as they argued on what to buy for Joshua. They were arguing inside the supermarket which earned lots of attention. Some were annoyed but some found it cute. Well, mainly because they're all good-looking.

 

But when a guard went to tell them they're attracting too much attention and they're disturbing some people, they immediately turned quiet. They blamed each other which caused another noise.

 

In the end, they just left the supermarket. They end up buying some fruits and snacks in a nearby convenience store.

 

"Why did you buy some snacks?" Seungcheol asked Jeonghan.

 

Jeonghan smiled, "Of course, we're gonna watch some movies too! It's so boring if we'll just go there and talk with each other right?"

 

"But Joshua is rest-"

 

"It's not like he's going to move around. We'll just lay down, okay? Besides, Joshua might be bored there. He's just alone."

 

Seungcheol wanted to protest. But what Jeonghan said might be true. So he just sighed.

 

They all walked together on the way to Joshua's house. They were too noisy for Joshua's neighborhood. Their voices can be heard clearly since no one else was outside, not even a barking dog or a fighting stray cat. Just their loud, chaotic voices.

 

"Where's Joshua's house, really. We've been walking for almost half an hour already," Minghao complained.

 

"Hao's right. We've walked past this house already. Why did we come back here again?" Jun added.

 

They all turned to Jihoon and Wonwoo who exchanged glances, visibly gulping.

 

Jihoon scratched his nape, "Uh, to be honest... I forgot his exact address."

 

"What?!" Jeonghan exclaimed, "I thought you know?"

 

"Well, I also thought I knew... but when we started walking, I suddenly forgot their address." Jihoon explained, averting his eyes away out of embarrassment.

 

They all facepalmed.

 

"Should we ask Joshua then?" Mingyu suggested.

 

"No!" They all screamed in unison.

 

"That would ruin the element of surprise!" Jeonghan exclaimed.

 

"Fine, fine. Geez, " Mingyu said. "What should we do then?" He asked, eyes automatically glance at his soulmate who's back was facing him, clearly avoiding his direction.

 

"Wait, I remember something..." Wonwoo mumbled, taking his phone out of his pocket. He tapped for a moment then his phone beeped loudly. A small smile formed in his lips then he typed something before pocketing his phone again.

 

"Let's go! I remember now," he said.

 

"Are you sure?" Jun asked.

 

Wonwoo nodded, "I really remember it."

 

"Who was that anyway?" Jihoon asked as they continued walking, following Wonwoo who's leading them.

 

"That's Joshua's mom. I asked her their address and told her we're going to visit Joshua."

 

"Oh right! We have her number." Jihoon uttered.

 

"Why'd you have her number?" Jeonghan asked.

 

"She gave it to us the first time we went there. She asked us to look out for Joshua and message her when something happens to him," Jihoon explained.

 

They all nodded in understanding.

 

"And here we are." Wonwoo stated, pointing at a large gate.

 

"He's living in a castle already, why would he study in a boarding school?" Jun asked, his jaw dropping out of amazement by Joshua's house.

 

"It's his parents who want him to study in a boarding school since they can't look out for Joshua hyung that much because of their work. They didn't want him to be bored, so that's why," Jihoon said as he approached the gate and pressed the doorbell.

 

A few moments of waiting, the gate was opened by a woman who seemed to be in her late 50's already.

 

Her brow raised as she scanned the boys, "Who are they...?"

 

"We're Joshua's friends. Is he here?" Jihoon politely asked.

 

"He's inside. Do you want me to call him or..."

 

"No, no, no, it's alright. We actually planned to do a surprise visit. Don't worry, Aunt was already informed about our visitation." Wonwoo immediately cut the elder off.

 

"Is that so? Then come in." The woman moves aside, letting the boys enter the gate before closing it once again.

 

She escorted them inside. Their mouths hung open as they saw Joshua's garden in the distance.

 

"That's a paradise..." Mingyu muttered.

 

Jihoon and Wonwoo chuckled, "Aunt loves planting whenever she has a day-off. Joshua adapted it and they both planted flowers and other plants there." Jihoon said.

 

"They must be close then," Jeonghan mumbled.

 

Seungcheol who was walking at the back was just silently admiring the garden. He can't join their noise no matter how much he wants to fit in. Something has been bothering him.

 

He's thinking if Joshua is mad at him.

 

If Joshua is annoyed at him for not listening to him.

 

If Joshua regretted befriending him.

 

Because he still strongly believes it was his fault.

 

He's regretting everything. He regretted not listening to Joshua when the younger told him not to engage in any fight. He regretted not controlling his temper and spat harsh words at Baekho which agitated the latter so much. But he also didn't expect Baekho would go to that length just because of their bickering.

 

He's regretting everything, and it was bothering him so much.

 

Jeonghan noticed how awfully quiet Seungcheol is but he didn't do anything. It's futile. Only Joshua can assure him it's not his fault because it's Joshua he's thinking of.

 

So instead of comforting the older, he just sighed. What should I do to you, Cheol? You're so insecure.

 

He shook his head and continued walking.

 

The elder opened the door for them and they thanked her before entering the house.

 

As soon as they entered, they immediately saw Joshua's figure in the living room, sitting comfortably on the couch while watching television.

 

"Hong Joshua!" Jeonghan immediately screamed, then he ran towards the younger and gave him a tight hug.

 

The others just sighed as they followed Jeonghan to the living room.

 

"Wait a minute, Jeonghan-ah. I can't b-breathe properly..." Joshua mumbled.

 

It has been awhile ever since they heard Joshua's soft voice. It soothes Seungcheol's bothered heart for a moment, but eventually subsided. He scanned Joshua's features while the younger was greeted by their friends.

 

Joshua's color came back. His natural red lips came back and gone was the trembling purple one. His skin wasn't that pale anymore. The bruises on his face were merely visible. But the bags under his eyes grew bigger and his body became a bit thin.

 

"It's a relief to see you fine now. I was so damn nervous to see you in that state. That fucking Baekho..." Jeonghan said.

 

Joshua chuckled, "I'm very fine right now, don't worry. Mom just wanted me to rest." He said then he turned to the others, "What are you all doing here, anyway? Aren't you supposed to go back at your house?"

 

"We decided to visit you first. We want to know how you've been doing since you're not responding to our messages."

 

"Well, mom confiscated my phone too." Joshua said.

 

His eyes roamed around the room and it landed on Mingyu. He smiled at him, "Hey, Mingyu-ah. Thank you for visiting."

 

"Your welcome, hyung. I've been worried sick about you so I really wanted to visit you. Good thing they asked me to come." Mingyu responded with a smile.

 

"They did?" Joshua asked, glancing at Wonwoo who just shrugged.

 

Joshua squinted his eyes at Wonwoo but he just chose to shrug it off. Instead, he pointed at the plastic bags which they dropped on the table. "What's that?" He asked, his forehead creased.

 

Jeonghan lets out a sheepish smile, "We bought you fruits and snacks."

 

Joshua smiled, "Thank you for the fruits but I can't eat snacks."

 

"Well, the fruits are for you but the snacks are for us," Jeonghan smirked, "We're going to have a movie marathon!"

 

"You decided without informing me?"

 

"Do we have to?"

 

"But... this is Joshua's house?"

 

"If I told you about it then it would ruin the element of surprise!"

 

"Yoon Jeonghan, really."



Chapter Text

"Aren't we too old for this?" Wonwoo complained.

 

"I know right," Jihoon added, which made the others hush the two of them. They just rolled their eyes.

 

"Seriously, spongebob? How old are you." Jihoon muttered.

 

"Hey, age doesn't matter when it comes to spongebob!" Jun said which earned nods from the others.

 

Jihoon and Wonwoo just scoffed.

 

They decided to watch spongebob squarepants in Joshua's room since it was big enough for them to fit in. The decision was made by Jeonghan which majority of them agreed upon except for Jihoon and Wonwoo. They kept on grumbling that it's only for kids and they should just watch action movies instead but no one listened to their whines.

 

And they had no choice but to just sit and wait for it to end.

 

Seungcheol, on the other hand, was just silent. He's sitting on one of the bean bags  and beside him was Jeonghan who's lazily laid down on the floor. The others were on Joshua's bed while the owner of the house was on the other bean bag just across Seungcheol's.

 

Seungcheol wasn't focusing on the show, he's glancing at Joshua from time to time, waiting for the younger to smile and greet him like how he did to the others.

 

But Joshua didn't spare him a glance.

 

Everyone had noticed it but they didn't say anything. They didn't want any awkward atmosphere lingering around as they hung out with Joshua once again and so they decided to keep quiet. Seungcheol wanted to leave but he understood why the younger one was acting like that.

 

He acted like an asshole to Joshua before that horrible incident happened. He thought Joshua was mad at him for it.

 

He wanted to explain himself and apologize, but he's too shy to talk to Joshua in front of the others. He's just waiting for the right time and the right moment to talk to the younger which isn't right now wherein they're in the middle of watching a cartoon.

 

Sighing, he gave up on glancing at the younger and he chose to look at the screen blankly. He wasn't watching though.

 

Jeonghan, who's silently watching him, had seen it. He slowly sat up and scooted closer to the older and tapped his shoulder. Seungcheol turned to him and raised an eyebrow which Jeonghan returned with a reassuring smile.

 

He motioned the older to lean closer which Seungcheol obliged then Jeonghan whispered, "If you want to talk to him privately, I'll help you."

 

Seungcheol knitted his eyebrows, "How?" He asked without any voice coming out so that he wouldn't interrupt the others who's too engrossed in watching.

 

Jeonghan just smiled.

 

Just then, Jun exclaimed, "What?! That's all?"

 

"Aren't you satisfied yet, you already watched four episodes." Wonwoo lazily retorted.

 

Jun raised an eyebrow at him, "Dude, even if I watched hundreds of episodes, I won't get sick of it!"

 

"You're exaggerating again, Junnie." Minghao said.

 

Jun pouted at him, "It's an expression, Haohao."

 

Joshua chortled at the Chinese couple. His eyes forming a crescent shape and his gums showing a bit. It has been awhile since he laughed like that. He was so bored being alone and not even reading books can take away his boredom.

 

So he's really happy that his friends decided to visit him. He didn't expect it and he appreciated it so much. Even Mingyu joined them although they just met because they shared the same bedroom on the trip and even though it was painful for him to come where Wonwoo was.

 

Then his eyes met Seungcheol's all of a sudden. His smile faded and he immediately averted his eyes away from the older. Seungcheol looked down, trying to ignore how his heart clenched for a bit.

 

You deserve this, Seungcheol. You deserve this. He reminded himself.

 

He can't stand being with them when Joshua was ignoring him. He expected this already but the comforting and reassuring words his friends had told him made him assume that maybe Joshua wasn't really mad.

 

But no matter how kind Joshua is, he's still a human. He knows how to get mad too, especially when he experienced that kind of incident because of Seungcheol.

 

Seungcheol sighed.

 

Of course, Jeonghan noticed it. And so he cleared his throat before he spoke, "Aren't you guys hungry?"

 

They all turned to Jeonghan after hearing what he said. Joshua then asked, "Should I ask our cook to co—"

 

Jeonghan quickly interrupted him, "No, no! That's such a bother for your maids. We're going to cook."

 

"You can cook?" Joshua asked.

 

"Of course! What do you think of me?"

 

"Are you sure it's edible then?"

 

"Hey, that's quite offensive." Jeonghan said, pouting a bit as his brows knitted.

 

Joshua chuckled, "I'm just kidding."

 

"But Jeonghan really can't cook. It'll be a mess if you let him cook." Minghao suddenly blurted out, earning a frown from Jeonghan.

 

"I'm not that bad at cooking, Hao."

 

"You are."

 

"You're mean."

 

"Okay, okay. If no one can cook edible food for us then I'll just ask our cook. That's more safe and sure, right?" Joshua innocently asked, looking one by one at his friends. His eyes crossed out Seungcheol.

 

"Uh... I know how to cook?" Mingyu suddenly spoke. His voice was hesitant while waiting for the other's response.

 

"Oh right! Mingyu's great at cooking! How can I forget that?" Minghao exclaimed.

 

"You can?" Jihoon asked. Mingyu nodded his head shyly and looked away from their stares.

 

Jeonghan smirked internally  before he stood up, "Alright! Let's go and help Mingyu prepare the ingredients then!"

 

"I can do it alo—"

 

Jeonghan cut off what Mingyu was about to say, "No. We're going to help."

 

"But we can't cook?" Jihoon complained.

 

"He said he can do it alone. What else can we help?" Wonwoo added, obviously too lazy to stand up and help.

 

Jeonghan rolled his eyes, "We're going to help Mingyu whether you like it or not. Are you going or you won't eat?"

 

The others groaned but they eventually stood up as Jeonghan stared down at them while crossing his arms on his chest and sassily raising an eyebrow.

 

Joshua was the last to stand up but Jeonghan stopped him. All of them turned to Jeonghan with their forehead creased, "You just stay here and rest. Leave this to us."

 

The younger hesitantly looked at him, "I'm fine, though?"

 

"Still, just rest. We'll just call you if the dinner's ready," Jeonghan quickly roamed his eyes around and he pointed at Seungcheol. "You stay here with Joshua."

 

Seungcheol tilted his head a bit with a confused look. But when Jeonghan eyed Joshua, he finally understood what he was doing.

 

Jeonghan was plotting this so he can talk to Joshua alone.

 

"Okay." Seungcheol answered.

 

Joshua hesitantly turned to Jeonghan but the older joyfully clasped his hands together, "Alright then! Let's go guys. I'm hungry."

 

Silence takes over in Joshua's room when the others had already left. Seungcheol turned to look at Joshua and he was a bit surprised to see the younger staring back at him.

 

Silence totally filled the room as they just stared at each other. Seungcheol wanted to say something, but he couldn't construct anything to say. He didn't know where to start or how to start.

 

Sighing deeply, he tried to muster up some courage to speak.

 

Where the fuck has my courage went to? Just explain and apologize, you stupid asshole. What's so hard about that? Seungcheol thought. But then he internally sighed. It's hard because it's Joshua. Not just anyone else.

 

"Cheol..."

 

Seungcheol's eyes widened a bit when he heard that familiar soft voice called him by that name. He didn't expect Joshua would talk to him. Moreover, they call him by the nickname they had given to him along with Jeonghan.

 

"Are you mad at me?" Joshua softly asked, eyes avoiding Seungcheol.

 

The older frowned, "W.. What?"

 

"I'm asking if you're... mad at me."

 

"Aren't I supposed to ask that? You were the one ignoring me," Seungcheol said.

 

Joshua let his eyes wander around his room as he responded, "I'm not ignoring you. I was just... nervous."

 

"Why?" Seungcheol asked, the frown on his face not leaving.

 

"Because I thought you were mad at me. You pushed me away back on the trip, remember? I thought I did something that made you upset so you acted like that..."

 

Seungcheol's expression immediately softened after hearing what Joshua had said. He felt guilty upon remembering how he pushed this guy way back in their trip and seeing his pained expression as he left the room.

 

Seungcheol bit his lips as he slowly approached Joshua, "I'm not mad."

 

Joshua's eyes brightened up a bit, "You're not?"

 

The older one nodded.

 

"Then why did you do that..."

 

Seungcheol sighed, "Baekho and I fought. That was the most intense argument we had all throughout the trip. The insults and profanities we exchanged back then were harsher than usual to the point where it seemed like he threatened me."

 

Joshua didn't answer, but his eyes were staring at Seungcheol.

 

Seungcheol took it as a cue to continue and so he continued, "He didn't directly threatened me but I wasn't stupid not to understand what he's referring—or more like, who is he referring. They can't hurt me. You know how much of a delinquent I am and how no one has ever beaten me up when it comes to physical fights. So he threatened me using my... my... "

 

"Weakness," Joshua continued what Seungcheol seemed to be struggling on saying.

 

Seungcheol averted his eyes as he nodded, "He found out I already have a weakness and so he used it against me."

 

"Is that why you pushed me away? Because you're afraid he might harm me?"

 

Seungcheol frowned, "He did harm you, Joshua."

 

"You should've told me that instead of pushing me away. I wouldn't go with them then," Joshua said.

 

"What?" Seungcheol frowned even more upon hearing that, "You did what?"

 

"I went with them to the woods because they told me they wanted to show me something," Joshua explained. "I believed it of course because I had no idea he would go that far. And I never expected it because I didn't fight or argue with him either. I was just surprised when he suddenly kicked me then the rest was history."

 

Seungcheol's blood heated up in anger after processing what Joshua just said.

 

His fist was tightly clenched on his side while he was gritting his teeth in anger. His face slowly turned red upon remembering how awful Joshua looked back in the forest.

 

He wants to kill Baekho right now.

 

Joshua noticed it. He regretted telling this information to Seungcheol but he can't do anything about it. It already happened.

 

He stood up and walked closer to Seungcheol. He wrapped his arms around the older who stiffened at the sudden skinship. His fist loosened its grip and the anger he felt for Baekho subsided instantly.

 

Joshua's hug felt so warm. So warm he immediately forgot how mad he is towards Baekho.

 

"Don't think too much about it, Cheol. I'm fine right now and Baekho's paying for what he have done. Stop getting mad at it." Joshua said.

 

His voice was enough to soothe Seungcheol's anger. Sighing, Seungcheol returned his hug shyly.

 

"Don't ever... be hurt again." Seungcheol whispered.

 

Joshua chuckled and Seungcheol couldn't help but to feel how his heart skipped a beat upon feeling the warmth of Joshua's breath on his neck when he chuckled. He felt goosebumps all over his body.

 

"I promise." Joshua said and pulled away from the hug. Seungcheol felt disappointed. He loved the warmth which the younger emitted.

 

"So, are we good?" Joshua childishly asked, smiling sheepishly at the older.

 

Seungcheol can't help but to chuckle at the younger's cuteness as he nodded his head.

 

"I.. I'm sorry, Joshua."

 

Finally ! Seungcheol thought. He was still feeling apologetic even after the younger had reassured him. He will always feel sorry about this incident.

 

Joshua smiled, amused, "I told you, it's fine. Don't dwell too much on it."

 

"Still, I'm sorry. You didn't deserve that." Seungcheol mumbled.

 

"No one wanted that to happen, but let's not think too much about it. Let's just use it as a lesson for ourselves, okay?"

 

Seungcheol knitted his eyebrows, "Don't you even feel mad at me? What happened to you is inhumane. It's just so unforgivable."

 

"It really is. But it's not you who did it to me. So why would I get mad at you? But getting mad after it happened won't change anything. The only thing we can do is to move on and go forward," Joshua retorted. "Why? Do you want me to get mad at you?"

 

"No. It's not like that. But..."

 

Joshua shrugged his hands around playfully, "Enough with that. Let's forget about it. If you're really feeling sorry for me, then bake me a cupcake."

 

"What? That's so random."

 

"Why? You don't want to?"

 

"It's not that I don't want to. It's just..."

 

"If you don't want to, then forget it."

 

"But I don't know how to bake."

 

"Then just forget about what happened. Okay? If you don't want to bake me a cupcake." Joshua said in a dismissive tone. He knows Seungcheol was the type who would still feel apologetic no matter how many times they assure him it's fine. So he decided to just dismiss the topic. He didn't want to hear any more of that.

 

Seungcheol sighed in defeat, "Fine."

 

The younger one smiled triumphantly.

 

"So... you alright already?" A voice emerged all of a sudden.

 

Seungcheol and Joshua turned to where the voice came from and saw Jeonghan standing by the door, smiling widely.

 

He entered the room with a triumphant smile, "See, Cheol? I told you, Joshua wasn't mad. You worried over nothing."

 

Seungcheol just rolled his eyes playfully.

 

Jeonghan chuckled at his action, "Anyway, dinner's ready. Let's go?"

 

"Jeonghan..."

 

Jeonghan and Joshua, who were about to walk out of the room, simultaneously turned to Seungcheol. The older smiled at Jeonghan, "Thank you."

 

The younger returned the smile with a salute, "Anything for you, Cheol."

 

That night, after happily eating dinner and arguing over who's going to wash the dishes (which ends up being Wonwoo), they bid goodbye to each other with smiles on their faces. 

 

That night, Seungcheol finally slept peacefully back in his dorm room (since he had no place to go except his apartment and the dorm room) with a smile plastered on his lips. The heavy feeling on his chest was lifted up already.

 

That night, Jeonghan slept peacefully, thinking about the scene he witnessed in Joshua's room. He can't help but feel soft after seeing it. He felt so proud that Seungcheol was slowly loosening up and stepping out of his comfort zone. He also felt so proud over Joshua on how he never tried to look at the bad side.

 

That night, Joshua slept peacefully. His mind was finally cleared after knowing that Seungcheol wasn't mad at him. He's also thankful over Jeonghan who was the one who made a way for them to talk alone.

 

Also that night, when everyone's already sleeping, the sky rained of flowers once again.



Chapter Text

"Why did I wake up so early and join you guys here at this time of the day," Jeonghan grumpily mumbled as he laid his head on the library's table where he's sitting along with Seungcheol and Joshua.

 

Joshua chuckled lightly while Seungcheol just ignored his whines.

 

"You need to review, Jeonghan. We're gonna have our examinations later," Joshua said, flipping his reviewer over to another page.

 

Jeonghan rolled his eyes, "Review my ass. I'd rather plan a prank for Soonyoung than to read our lessons."

 

"That sounds like Yoon Jeonghan," Joshua said and just shrugged his shoulders as he continued reading.

 

Jeonghan furrowed his eyebrows. He eyed Joshua and Seungcheol's reviewer then back to the two again. He pouted when none of them paid any attention to him.

 

He sighed as he leaned to his chair. He closed his eyes, hoping that he could sleep right there but a few minutes had passed yet he's still wide awake. Annoyed by the boredom he's feeling, he ruffled his hair frustratedly and heaved out a loud sigh.

 

But Joshua and Seungcheol did not even spare him a glance.

 

Can't take the silence anymore, Jeonghan started to bother the two, "Cheoool, Shuaa, stop reviewing, will you? I'm so bored here."

 

"Just read, Jeonghan." Joshua stated.

 

"I don't want to. I hate reading. You're both smart already, why would you review?"

 

Seungcheol finally glanced at Jeonghan who's pouting his lips with his brows furrowed, "To gain a high score."

 

"Why would you need that when you can pass it easily?"

 

"Passing the exams is different from acing it. In our case, we're both on the top ranks and so we need to maintain our grades." Seungcheol explained.

 

"But you already read all day yesterday! Can you atleast put away your books just this time?" Jeonghan muttered.

 

Seungcheol just sighed as he continued reading.

 

Jeonghan sighed too. Then his eyes brightened up when he thought of something to make the two put away their reviewers.

 

"Let's eat breakfast first before you review. You won't be able to suck all the information there when your stomach is empty." Jeonghan said.

 

"I already ate a sandwich." Joshua responded.

 

"I'm not hungry." Seungcheol then added.

 

"Oh come on, Seungcheol, Joshua! Rest your mind, will you? Or I won't stop bugging you two and make your review pointless." Jeonghan started to threaten them, his voice raising a bit which made the others turn to him and hushed him down.

 

He rolled his eyes and he turned back to his friends who's now looking at him.

 

"We need to review, Jeonghan. We need to maintain our grades, especially Seungcheol since he had a zero mark on one of his projects." Joshua said.

 

"But you already did yesterday!"

 

Joshua and Seungcheol sighed.

 

Jeonghan noticed that the two really won't give up on reading their lessons. But he won't either. However, he thought of another thing which made him smirk.

 

"Ya. I won't bother you anymore but I've got some deal."

 

The two furrowed their eyebrows, "What is it?" Seungcheol asked.

 

"Let's go to the arcades later."

 

"What? No, Jeonghan. It's still weekdays. We can't leave the school premises yet." Joshua quickly disagreed while shaking his head.

 

"And we still have exams tomorrow. Aren't you worried about your grades?" Seungcheol added.

 

Jeonghan smirked even more, "I can pass my examinations without reviewing but maybe not as high as your scores. So don't worry about that. So..?"

 

"No, Jeonghan."

 

"Come on, Joshua! At least enjoy your high school year! Don't be such a nerd."

 

"I'm enjoying my high school year, Jeonghan. And I'm not a nerd. I just love reading."

 

"But you haven't tried breaking any rules, right?"

 

Joshua shakes his head, "No. I won't agree with your deal."

 

"Then I won't stop bugging you." Jeonghan said, his voice full of determination.

 

Joshua let out a sigh of frustration then he turned to Seungcheol to ask for some help.

 

"I think that's a good idea." Seungcheol said, which made Jeonghan clap his hands loudly, earning glares from the others once again but he just ignored them.

 

Joshua's shoulder fell, "Even you, Cheol?"

 

The older shrugged his shoulders, "He has a point."

 

"So will you join us now, Shua? Huh?" Jeonghan asked once again, his eyes sparkling from excitement.

 

"Still a no, Jeonghan. It's too risky. What if we got caught? My parents would surely give me an earful and I might taint my record."

 

"Hey, I'm offended." Jeonghan said. "I'm Yoon Jeonghan. Do you think I'd let that happen?"

 

"I know you're an expert in this field but I don't want to take a risk."

 

Jeonghan was slowly getting frustrated over Joshua's consistency. He stared directly at Joshua's eyes which the latter did too. Jeonghan is thinking of another way to make the younger agreed, and when he thought of an idea, he grinned evilly.

 

Joshua didn't like that smile of his. It meant he's doom.

 

"I don't want to do this especially to you, Shua, but you left me with no choice..." Jeonghan trailed off, slowly leaning towards Joshua who gulped out of nervousness while Seungcheol watched them, amused by both of their consistency.

 

Honestly, Seungcheol agreed to Jeonghan's idea because he likes the thought of spending time with them. He never got to go to arcades with his friends mainly because he had no friends before. He wanted to try it at least once.

 

Joshua then mustered up his courage to ask, "What is it, Yoon Jeonghan?"

 

Jeonghan's lips perked up as he responded, "If you won't agree to come with us, I'll tell your mom you had a boyfriend when you were just a kid."

 

The younger's eyes widened, "No, you won't."

 

Jeonghan grinned even more when he saw the younger's expression. He knew he'd win this one.

 

Joshua had apparently told them about his parents disapproval of any relationship unless it's his soulmate. He told them about it when they asked why his parents had called Jihoon and asked if Joshua has a boyfriend among those who visited him. His mom was glad there was none and said she didn't want Joshua to have any relationship if it's not his soulmate.

 

And Jeonghan took advantage of it.

 

"Yes, I would."

 

"No. You can't tell her, she'll get mad!"

 

"That's why you should come and join us!"

 

"I'll tell mom you're asking me to go to arcades on weekdays."

 

"And I'll also tell her you had your first relationship way back in LA."

 

"She'll be mad at you if she finds out about you, bringing me to the arcades when it's not even weekend."

 

"Then she'll also be mad at you if I told her about him."

 

"Fine, fine! I'll go with you, okay? Just don't tell her!" Joshua finally surrendered, his expression was that of defeat.

 

"Yes! You hear that, Cheol? He agreed!" Jeonghan exclaimed triumphantly. His smile was so wide and happy that Seungcheol couldn't help but to chuckle.

 

"But I want to have a condition as well," Joshua then interrupted Jeonghan's mini-ceremony.

 

His wide smile immediately turned into a frown, "Oh, come on Joshua! You already agreed!"

 

"You're disturbing my study time. I should atleast have my own condition, right?"

 

The older just rolled his eyes, "What is it then?"

 

"We'll go when the results come out." Joshua said.

 

"You'll pass it for su—"

 

"And if you didn't pass all the examinations, we won't go. But if you pass, we'll follow whatever you want." Joshua quickly interrupted Jeonghan.

 

The older frowned even more, "Again, I felt offended. I'm not a moron, Shua-ah! I can pass it all."

 

"Not the results, but in our passing score." Joshua smiled mischievously.

 

"I like that idea." Seungcheol responded to the younger and they had a fist bump while grinning at Jeonghan.

 

"You two are underestimating me," Jeonghan whined, "Fine. What's your passing score?"

 

"70%." Joshua quickly responded.

 

Easy peasy.

 

"Fine. I'll accept that deal. But if I pass it, you're gonna follow whatever I want." Jeonghan smirked.

 

"Without cheating, Yoon Jeonghan." Seungcheol retorted.

 

"Sure." The latter answered.

 

"It's a deal then? So can we review peacefully now?" Joshua asked.

 

"I don't think that's possible. Classes will start at five minut—"

 

"Ya, Yoon Jeonghan! This is your fault!"

 

"We shouldn't have listened to you."

 

"Too late! We already had a deal!"

 

"Are the three of you finished yelling at each other? If you have no plans to read silently, can you leave the library now? You're disturbing the other students!"

 

 


 

 

Jeonghan was too excited to hang out with his new found friends on weekdays. One who's been an outcast and one who disapproves of breaking the rules so much. He wonders what will happen.

 

He was so excited that he didn't even realize it was the day the results would come out. He knew he could pass it. He's confident about it although he didn't review.

 

Jeonghan wasn't as smart as Seungcheol and Joshua, but he wasn't a moron too like what he said.

 

When the bell rang indicating the classes were over, the students quickly ran out of the room to check the results. Joshua was left alone in their room because even Wonwoo and Jihoon had run out too.

 

He wasn't arrogant that he would pass, he just wanted to check his exams peacefully without anyone pushing him or pushing someone to him.

 

So he stayed in their room for a bit and when his classmates came back one by one, he decided to go and look for his and his friends' results.

 

"Shua-ah!"

 

Joshua quickly turned around and saw Jeonghan who's pulling Seungcheol along with him. They went towards Joshua's direction with a grin plastered on Jeonghan's lips.

 

"Are you going to check our results?" Jeonghan asked.

 

Joshua nodded.

 

"Then let's see it together!" Jeonghan happily exclaimed as he pulled the two with him.

 

Joshua suddenly felt nervous over the older's joyful attitude. He seemed not to be nervous about his scores. Was he confident he'd win their deal? Joshua wasn't sure.

 

When they reached the bulletin board where the scores were plastered, Jeonghan squealed ever so loudly while jumping.

 

"You both aced the exams! Look, you're both just exchanging ranks in all of the subjects!"

 

Joshua and Seungcheol exchanged glances, then they both chuckled.

 

"You did great, Cheol."

 

"You too, Joshua-ah."

 

"Okay, now let's find my scores..." Jeonghan then butts in, carefully examining the results.

 

As he trailed over the names and scores, hw stopped by his name.

 

"Yoon Jeonghan... overall result..." Jeonghan squinted his eyes when he finally saw his score.

 

He slowly turned to Joshua who smiled sheepishly at him, and Seungcheol who gulped loudly.

 

"I got... 79%!" He revealed, jumping around while pointing at the two, "You're both dead meat, Joshua, Seungcheol! I passed!"

 

The two checked the score and Jeonghan wasn't lying. It was indeed 69%.

 

Joshua sighed in defeat, "Fine, you win, Yoon Jeonghan."

 

Jeonghan smirked evilly, "What are you standing there for? Let's go to the arcades!"

 

"Wait —what?"

 

"Can't we at least change into casual clothes?"

 

"No can do, sirs! Hurry up!"

 

 


 

 

"I swear, Yoon Jeonghan! If my parents find out about this—"

 

"They won't, Josh. Calm down, will you? We already got out of the campus safely."

 

Joshua just sighed frustratedly. Seungcheol tapped his shoulders, "Don't stress too much about it. Just enjoy."

 

"But..."

 

"Just enjoy, Joshua. Who knows when we will ever get to do this? Stop thinking about what might happen, think about what we should do to make this worth it." Seungcheol retorted.

 

Jeonghan smiled at that. He put his arms around Joshua and Seungcheol's shoulder then he said, "Cheol's right. We came here to enjoy and free our minds from all the schoolworks. Don't worry, there's so many students out there like us."

 

Joshua sighed, "What else should I do other than to enjoy this? Let's just get this started!" He exclaimed and went inside the arcades.

 

Jeonghan and Seungcheol chuckled as they followed the younger.

 

"What should we play first?" Joshua asked while holding tons of tokens. He gave some to the two older male as he asked.

 

"Why don't we battle over every game and the loser will pay for our meal?" Jeonghan suggested.

 

"Call!" Joshua quickly responded.

 

"Sure." Seungcheol added.

 

"Let's start with basketball then!"



Chapter Text

"I quit, I quit!" Joshua exclaimed, crossing his arms on his chest as his brows furrowed frustratedly.

 

Seungcheol chuckled and Jeonghan burst out laughing at the younger's reaction.

 

"You suck at games, Joshua!" Jeonghan teases him.

 

"It's because I don't usually play stuff like this," Joshua reasoned out to defend himself.

 

"It's my first time playing here too but I'm not as bad as you," Seungcheol retorted with a playful smile plastered on his lips.

 

Jeonghan and Joshua quickly turned to him, eyes widened a bit, "It's your first time?" Jeonghan asked.

 

The older one nodded.

 

"How come you're so great at these?" Joshua asked.

 

"I'm not, you just suck at this stuff."

 

Joshua just frowned.

 

"Anyway, you lost, Shua! You'll pay for our meals!" Jeonghan exclaimed happily, pointing at the younger mockingly.

 

"Fine. Meals on me." Joshua admitted, sighing in defeat. He roamed his eyes around and it brightened up a bit when he spotted something. He quickly turned to the two older male and pointed at what he saw.

 

"Before we eat, can we go there first? I want to-" Joshua didn't finish what he was about to say when he felt his phone on his slacks vibrate. The two older male visually asked him what he was saying but he excused himself first and took a look at his phone.

 

His eyes widened when he saw various messages from Jihoon and one missed call from Wonwoo. He opened the messages first to read them.




Jihoon:

 

Joshua, where are you?

 

Jihoon:

 

Have you seen the results of the exams?

 

Jihoon:

 

We're getting worried. Why are you not replying? Please reply if you see this message.

 

Jihoon:

 

Jeonghan and Seungcheol were also nowhere to be seen. Are you with them?

 

Jihoon:

 

JOSHUA I'M GONNA CALL THE POLICE IF YOU STILL WON'T RESPODN

 

Jihoon:

 

*respond

 

Jihoon:

 

SO TEXT BACK AS SOON AS POSSIBLE OR I'LL CALL YOUR MOM AND TELL HER YOU'RE MISSING.

 

Jihoon:

 

JOSHUA HONG I'M SERIOUS I'M GOING TO REPORT YOU NOW TO THE POLICE WITH SEUNGCHEOL AND JEONGHAN AND I DON'T WANNA THINK YOU CUT CLASS BUT DID YOU REALLY SNEAKED OUT OF THE SCHOOL? WITH SEUNGCHEOL AND JEONGHAN????




Joshua mentally facepalmed as he read the messages. He totally forgot to tell his friends he was going to sneak out with Jeonghan and Seungcheol mainly because he thought Jeonghan wouldn't win. Not that he doesn't believe the older would, he just thought so.

 

Joshua just wished Jihoon didn't tell his mom yet or else he's doomed.

 

He then checked the missed calls which came from Wonwoo. It was the latest and so he decided to just call him.

 

"JOSHUA HONG, WHERE THE HELL ARE-"

 

"Language, Jeon Wonwoo. And I'm still older than you," Joshua quickly interrupted the younger.

 

"No, Joshua. Don't use that tone on me. Where are you?"

 

"I'm at the Shining Diamond mall, playing arcades with Jeonghan and Seungcheol."

 

"Shining Diamond? Did you just... sneak out of the school?"

 

"Yes, I just did. I lost a deal with Jeonghan and so we went there. Also, sorry for not replying or answering. I was too engrossed in the games. Don't worry, after we eat, we'll get home immediately."

 

"How can you get back when it's closed already?"

 

Joshua mentally facepalmed, "I don't know either. I just have to trust Jeonghan with this."

 

"Alright. Be careful on your way back."

 

"Thanks, Won. And please tell the others, especially Jihoon, that I'm fine and don't call the police. Most especially mom. Please?"

 

"I will."

 

"I'll hang up then." Joshua said and ended the call right away. He heaved a deep sigh before he went back to the two.

 

"Who was it?" Seungcheol asked.

 

"It's Wonwoo. They were worried."

 

"But I told Jun and Minghao that we're gonna sneak out tho?" Jeonghan confusedly asked.

 

Joshua seemed surprised too, "Really? But they were also worried."

 

"Maybe they forgot." Seungcheol muttered.

 

Jeonghan chuckled, "Ah, those two, really." he mumbled, then he turned to Joshua, "You were pointing something earlier. What was it?"

 

Joshua's eyes beames in excitement as he searched for what he wanted to do earlier. He pointed to the stage near the entrance where various instruments were there.

 

It was a free-performance stage. You can play the instruments there or sing for free. You just have to inform the staff for it then they'll set the speaker and mic for you. Only those who have the courage to perform in front of a lot of people can manage to perform there.

 

And Joshua was one of those people.

 

Seungcheol and Jeonghan eyed the younger in disbelief, "You want to perform there?" Jeonghan asked. 

 

The younger nodded his head, "Yeah. I've been eyeing it ever since we entered here. I forgot to bring my guitar with me at the school so I haven't play it for awhile."

 

"You sure?" Seungcheol asked.

 

Joshua nodded, "Can I?"

 

"Of course, why not! Let's go there then!" Jeonghan looked more excited than Joshua as he pulled the two at the stage.

 

He was the one who informed the staff that Joshua would play the guitar while singing which the staff immediately acted upon. They activated the mic and speaker which gained attention from the other people who's playing inside the arcade.

 

"It's all set, sir." One of the staff said to Jeonghan.

 

"Thank you, miss!" Jeonghan exclaimed then he turned excitedly to Joshua, "What are you waiting for? Go up there and perform! Show us what you've got, Joshua Hong!"

 

Seungcheol playfully cheered while Jeonghan clapped profusely. Joshua blushed as they garnered some attention. But he knew he would so he prepared himself from it. All he wanted to do is to play the guitar, anyway.

 

Sighing deeply, he slowly went up to the stage, picking up the guitar as he let his fingers trailed it.

 

"Do you know that Shua can play guitar?" Jeonghan asked Seungcheol.

 

The older shook his head, "I don't, either."

 

Before Jeonghan could even speak, Joshua spoke on the mic.

 

"Mic test, mic test. Ah." Joshua muttered.

 

It immediately garnered all the attention inside the arcades. Some girls began to giggle while some boys whistled.

 

"Uh, good evening to all of you. I'm sorry for the sudden disturbance... but I really just want to play a guitar right now. So please bear with my voice for now." Joshua said and he let out a smile which showed his bunny teeth and his eyes formed a crescent shape.

 

"What's his name?"

 

"He's so handsome!"

 

"I call dibs on him."

 

"His voice is so soft for a man."

 

"I think I fell in love..."

 

Seungcheol couldn't help but to look towards the group of girls who's mumbling and giggling to each other about how handsome the man on the stage was. But it wasn't the compliments that bothered Seungcheol.

 

It was what the last one had said.

 

"I think I fell in love."

 

Isn't she overreacting? Who fell at someone they just met? She doesn't even know Joshua's name. Tss.

 

Seungcheol had no idea why he was so annoyed after he heard it. It wasn't like it was a bad thing. But he himself can't understand what he's feeling right now. He just felt so annoyed at the girl who said that.

 

Instead of prying too much about it, he just turned back his attention to Joshua who started to strum his guitar. After a few strums, he pulled the mic closer to his lips as smiled and started strumming for real.

 

" Sunday morning rain is falling ..."

 

Seungcheol froze.

 

It felt like the whole world stopped as soon as he heard Joshua singing the first line.

 

His heart skipped a beat.

 

His eyes were stuck on Joshua.

 

His lips parted a bit in awe.

 

His ears flattered, desperately wanting to hear more of Joshua's voice.

 

" Steal some covers, share some skin

Clouds are shrouding us in moments unforgettable.

You twist to fit the mold that I am in

But things just get so crazy, living life gets hard to do ."



Why... Why is my heart beating so fast? Seungcheol thought as he cupped his heart which was pounding so loudly and fast.

 

He was confused about what was suddenly happening to him.

 

" And I would gladly hit the road, get up and go if I knew

That someday it would lead me back to you

That someday it would lead me back to you

That may be all I need

In darkness she is all I see ."

 

"Cheol? You alright?" Jeonghan asked the older when he saw him clutching his chest tightly.

 

Seungcheol nodded, not removing his eyes on Joshua.

 

"You sure?"

 

"Y-Yeah." Seungcheol responded.

 

" Come and rest your bones with me

I'm driving slow on Sunday morning

No I never want to leave

My fingers trace your every outline yeah

Paint a picture with my hands, no no

And back and forth we sway like branches in a storm

Change of weather still together when it ends all ."

 

Jeonghan didn't pry on it as he was also enticed by Joshua's voice. He didn't mind the giggles of the girls from behind him. Joshua's voice was so soothing. Like a lullaby.

 

" That may be all I need

In darkness she is all I see

Come and rest your bones with me

I'm driving slow on Sunday morning

And I never want to leave yeah

Oh, oh yeah but things just get so crazy living life gets hard to do. "

 

"Why is he so attractive right now?" Jeonghan asked, still in awe.

 

"I don't know either..." Seungcheol absent-mindedly mumbled.

 

" And Sunday morning rain is falling and I'm calling out to you

Singing someday it will bring me back to you yeah

Find a way to get myself back home to you

 

Sunday morning yeah

On Sunday morning yeah

Yeah on Sunday morning

May be all I need ."

 

Joshua bowed after he finished singing. He gently put back the guitar where he took it, then he bowed once again, ignoring the screams and pleas of the girls and some boys about his personal information. He just quickly went down the stage.

 

"I didn't know you have such a great voice, Shua-ah!" Jeonghan said as soon as the younger approached them.

 

Joshua smiled in satisfaction, "It's not really that great for me, but thank you Jeonghan."

 

"Your voice sounds like a lullaby. Damn, I should've recorded it and showed it to our friends!"

 

"Glad you didn't. I wouldn't want Jihoon and Wonwoo to see me singing that song once again." Joshua chuckled.

 

Seungcheol was just staring at Joshua, his soft and sweet voice lingering around his mind.

 

He didn't know why but as he stared at Joshua for a long time, his heart suddenly palpitated, not in a dangerous way, but in a fluttering way.

 

"Cheol! What are you still doing there? Let's go!"

 

Seungcheol was snapped out of his thoughts when he heard the voice of the man that is bothering his mind right now. He turned around and saw the two younger male walking towards the exit. Joshua was looking at him with a smile while motioning him to go.

 

Why the fuck is he shining in my eyes?

 

Seungcheol was bewildered when he saw Joshua in a different shade of color as he turned around. It was just plain black and white before, but why did it suddenly turn colorful? Why did he suddenly turn into a bright shade of colors, not the usual plain and boring ones?

 

Why?

 

Most of all, why is my heart beating this fast? Seungcheol thought.

 

"What's taking you so long? Jeonghan's little tummy is grumbling already. Let's go!" Joshua said as he approached the older then he held Seungcheol's wrist, pulling the older with him out of the arcade where Jeonghan was waiting for them.

 

Seungcheol never thought the feelings he had read in fiction would have happened to him.

 

The moment Joshua held his wrist, he felt a spark of electricity. He flinched, luckily, Joshua didn't notice it.

 

What made it worse, is when Joshua turned his head towards his direction and let out the sweetest smile Seungcheol had ever seen in his entire life.

 

And his heart pounded violently.

 

He's fucking dangerous ... Seungcheol thought. I'm in danger.

 

 


 

 

"Restaurant is better."

 

"Fast food chains are the best."

 

"Restaurant has a better quality of food."

 

"Fast food has a home-like feel."

 

"Let's just eat at a restaurant!"

 

"No, we'll go to fast food."

 

"But you lost!"

 

"And I'll pay for our meal so I should decide where we'll go to eat."

 

"That's not fair! You should follow me! You lost on our deal, remember?"

 

"But this is my treat!"

 

"Uh... Josh?" Seungcheol tried to butt in on the argument between Joshua and Jeonghan which he successfully did because the two quickly turned their heads sideward to him. "Your phone has been ringing for a while."

 

"My phone?" Joshua repeated, fishing out his phone on his slacks. His eyes widened when he opened it.

 

"Why? What is it?" Jeonghan quickly asked after he noticed the change in Joshua's expression.

 

Joshua lifted his head, lips parted as he said, "Mom called."

 

Jeonghan sighed in relief, "Oh, your mom. I thought something bad had happened."

 

Seungcheol and Joshua looked at him with a confused and weirded look. Jeonghan's forehead creased when he noticed their stares, "What? Why?"

 

"It's my mom." Joshua repeated.

 

"And so? Then call her b- YOUR MOM?" Jeonghan suddenly yelled out of surprise when he realized what Joshua was pertaining to.

 

Seungcheol quickly shushed him down because some people turned to them. Jeonghan slightly bowed his head as he turned back to the two, "Did she find out?"

 

"Yes. Jihoon apparently told her that I'm missing. Fortunately, I called Wonwoo so they stopped her from reporting it to the police," Joshua explained. "I'll surely get an earful later."

 

"I'm sorry, Shua." Jeonghan mumbled. He felt guilty about it. He thought they would slip away easily. But here they are, Joshua will get scolded.

 

Joshua chuckled as he tapped Jeonghan's shoulder, "Don't worry about it. It's fine as long as we enjoy it."

 

"Still, I'm sorry."

 

"It's alright. I'll just call her back. Wait for a moment." Joshua said and he walked away to call her mom.

 

Jeonghan sighed. Seungcheol saw it and so he tapped the younger's shoulder reassuringly which Jeonghan smiled upon.

 

"Are you alright, Cheol? You seemed to be in a daze when we left the arcade," Jeonghan suddenly asked, catching Seungcheol off-guard.

 

"H-huh?" Seungcheol stuttered, his face flushed into a bright red as he remembered Joshua's smile and his sweet voice. He felt his heart palpitate again and so he averted his face away from Jeonghan.

 

"Cheol?" Jeonghan confusedly called the older. "What happened?"

 

"It's n-nothing," Seungcheol responded.

 

"But you're blush-"

 

"I... I just don't feel good." Seungcheol quickly reasoned out.

 

Jeonghan's confused face turned into a worried expression almost immediately. He put the back of his hand on his forehead and then to Seungcheol, "Do you have a fever? You're temperature is quite higher than mine."

 

Seungcheol couldn't take the worried expression plastered in Jeonghan's angelic face. He looked so genuinely worried. So worried it made Seungcheol's heart flutter.

 

"You should've told me you're not feeling good! I wouldn't have pushed this sneaked out plan then."

 

Why are you so concerned, Jeonghan? I'm not sick. Seungcheol thought while staring at Jeonghan's face. I'm perfectly fine. I'm feeling good. I don't have any fever.

 

He wanted to say it to the younger, he wanted to swat the younger's hands away from his face. He wanted to push him away from him.

 

But he's enjoying the feeling of having someone getting concerned for him.

 

He's enjoying staring at Jeonghan's worried expression.

 

He's enjoying it so much, he didn't notice Jeonghan stopped blabbering somethings and is now staring back at him with one hand's on his forehead, checking his temperature but got distracted with his stare.

 

Seungcheol wanted to look away out of embarrassment. But something in the younger's eyes made him stare back. Jeonghan's eyes were hypnotizing him. He just can't look away no matter how embarrassed he is.

 

His eyes were as pretty as Joshua's.

 

"You.. Your eyes are pretty." Seungcheol muttered thoughtlessly.

 

Jeonghan furrowed his eyebrows. That's when Seungcheol realized what he just spat out.

 

He internally panicked. He didn't know what to say. He didn't know if he should take it back or not. He didn't know whether to just dismiss it or reasoned out.

 

But all of his worries were blown away when Jeonghan let out a smile.

 

One sweet smile.

 

"It is, right?" Jeonghan mused, then he chuckled.

 

Fucking heart... calm the fuck down.

 

Just like earlier, Seungcheol's heart pounded violently. His eyes were stuck on Jeonghan's smile. The younger's laugh was so sweet to his ears, it lingered for a while.

 

What the fuck is this? Seungcheol thought. Why am I feeling this way again?

 

"Sorry, guys. Mom scolded me for a bit," Joshua then said when he approached the two. "But luckily, she's not angry. She even told me to go home while I'm out."

 

"Really? That's a relief then." Jeonghan said, heaving a sigh of relief. He pulled away his hand on Seungcheol's forehead which disappointed the older.

 

"But he told me to bring the two of you."

 

"What?!" Jeonghan squealed once again. "The two of us?"

 

"Yeah, she wants to meet the two of you. She always gets to know who I'm befriending with, that's why." The younger one explained. "So, will you come?"

 

"Why not? I just hope she won't scold me though." Jeonghan said.

 

"Don't worry, I didn't tell her that you were the mastermind behind our sneaking out."

 

"Should I be thankful?"

 

"Of course, you should." Joshua chuckled, "How about you, Cheol? Are you going with us?"

 

Seungcheol snapped out of his trance, then he looked away as he answered, "S..sure. I have no problem with it."

 

It's a lie. Seungcheol suddenly felt uncomfortable being with Jeonghan and Joshua right now that he can't sort out what he's feeling. He suddenly became nervous and conscious around the two (which he overcame before but it suddenly came back now) and his mind isn't functioning that well.

 

"Then let's go!" Jeonghan exclaimed happily.

 

He and Jeonghan walked away while Seungcheol remained there, standing and dazed. The two noticed it and so they went back to Seungcheol and pulled both of his arms.

 

Jeonghan held the elder's right wrist, while Joshua held Seungcheol's left wrist.

 

Seungcheol felt a spark of electricity go through his system because of their touch.

 

And his heart skipped a beat when the two smiled fondly at him.

 

What is this... feeling? Seungcheol thought.




Chapter Text

Seungcheol

 

"So, how are you boys?"

 

I gulped nervously as my eyes met Mrs. Hong's. Her stare at me and Jeonghan was intimidating unlike the stares she's giving at Joshua, full of warmth and adoration. But her voice was soft, contrary to her gaze. However, that doesn't make me less nervous.

 

Jeonghan is just calm beside me. I am too but my insides were near to exploding.

 

Why am I so nervous of facing Joshua's mom when I don't even feel scared at a whole group ganging up against me?

 

Am I really insane?

 

But then again, she is Joshua's mom. My friend's mom. A friend of mine who experienced something horrible because of my delinquency.

 

And the guilt of it never left me at all. That must be the main reason why I'm so nervous in front of Mrs. Hong. I saw how furious she was when she saw Baekho. Even her husband can't calm him down. The sight of her furious face and her venomous voice was just so terrifying that it even got me scared.

 

"We're fine, Mrs. Hong. The results came out well. Joshua and Seungcheol alternatively aced all the exams!" Jeonghan happily announced.

 

Mrs. Hong looks delighted, but there's a slight pout on her lips which made her resemble Joshua's even more.

 

"Really, Josh?" She asked her son who choked on his food. Joshua looked embarrassed as his ear slowly turned red, but he nodded nonetheless. "Well, I wasn't even surprised! As expected of my son."

 

"He's my son too," Mr. Hong's voice suddenly erupted from the side. He was just quiet ever since we started eating. If Joshua got her features from his mom, he definitely got his appeal from his dad.

 

Hong genes.

 

Mrs. Hong raised an eyebrow at Mr. Hong's direction, "Shut up there, Jisung. I'm not talking to you."

 

"Aren't we fine already?" Mr. Hong whined like a child.

 

"Shut up, Ji. Act your age in front of the kids," Mrs. Hong sharply retorted at the old man who just pouted. Her eyes then darted to me, catching me off-guard as she asked, "You're Seungcheol, right?"

 

I absent-mindedly nodded, too nervous to form coherent words.

 

She lets out a smile, "Congratulations, sweetie. You did a great job."

 

I felt myself reddened in both embarrassment and gratitude. I wasn't used to talking with elders, more importantly being congratulated. So what she said caught me off-guard. She even called me 'sweetie'.

 

"T-thank you, Mrs. Hong." I stuttered.

 

Mr. Hong suddenly burst out laughing while Mrs. Hong's brows furrowed.

 

"M-mrs. Hong? Sounds so old, Hae Jin!" Mr. Hong exclaimed while laughing. One sharp glare from his wife made him shut his mouth and continue eating.

 

Rolling her eyes, Joshua's mom turned to me and Jeonghan, "Please just call me aunt. I feel so old when you address me like that. I'm not that old compared to that old man sitting there."

 

"Excuse me, we're just four years apart." Mr. Hong quickly defended himself.

 

"You're in your 50's already, I'm still in my 40's. You're older." Mrs. Hong replied.

 

"That doesn't make you younger."

 

"At least I'm not yet in my 50's."

 

"But you're still old."

 

We just watched silently as the two elders bicker around who looks much older.

 

Now I know where Joshua got his attitude of bickering around on nonsensical things. He got it both from his parents.

 

"Sorry if my parents are making you uncomfortable. It's just how they show their affection towards each other," Joshua then mumbled to me and Jeonghan who seemed amused at the elder's bickering.

 

"Don't worry, it's not uncomfortable. It's amusing. They're cute," Jeonghan muttered.

 

"Cute? How is that cute?" Joshua huffed in confusion.

 

Jeonghan raised an eyebrow at him, "Aren't you like them too? You like to argue about small things too!"

 

"As if you're not." I mumbled.

 

"Are you saying something, Cheol?" Jeonghan asked.

 

I just shook my head as I continued eating.

 

"Anyway, let's just pretend that old man isn't here, okay?" Mrs. Hong then returned his gaze to us completely ignoring her husband's complaints.

 

"So just call me aunt. I don't want to hear any of you calling me that way, okay?" She said, which made me and Jeonghan nod.

 

"Now let me ask you three..." she trailed off, her sweet voice and soft gaze suddenly turned serious. "Why did the three of you sneak out of your campus?"

 

My breath hitch. I immediately glanced at the other two who also seemed nervous. We eyed each other, visually asking what we should reason out but none of us knew what to do.

 

Joshua said we won't get scolded so we thought it's fine to come here.

 

With a gulp, Joshua tried to answer, "We went to play on the arcades, mom."

 

"But it's still weekdays, Joshua. You could've went on weekends. You won't have to sneak out and receive punishment when you get caught. Why would you think of going out of the campus premises in weekdays?" Mrs. Hong asked, her voice were serious and so as her stare. Even her husband didn' bother to comment or add some remarks.

 

Joshua's eyes were unsettled. He obviously didn't know what to say. And I'm feeling guilty right now that we made him join in our little endeavors and then made him lie to his parents.

 

Sighing, I was about to speak up and take all the blame when someone suddenly cut me off before I could even say something.

 

"I'm sorry, aunt. It's my idea to sneak out on weekdays. Please don't be mad at Joshua, it was me who insisted on making him join." Jeonghan said, his head hung low and his voice was dripping with guilt.

 

Mrs. Hong raised an eyebrow at him, "Why did you come up with that idea?" she asked.

 

Jeonghan raised his head to meet Mrs. Hong's eyes, "I want to make Shua experience how to sneak out of school without getting caught. I'm so sorry for bringing your son wuth my stupid idea."

 

Mrs. Hong didn't say anything. It made me even more nervous. Joshua was just looking down while Jeonghan was looking away.

 

Our heads turned to Mrs. Hong when she heaved a deep sigh, "I'm not mad, kids. I just want to know why you sneaked out. You may not be caught on the way out, but how will you ensure your way back? And you'll probably receive punishments if you get caught."

 

None of us responded. We were all too guilty.

 

"I'll let this pass this time. But the next time you do it again, I'll ground you, Josh. Do you understand?" Mrs. Hong asked Joshua.

 

"Yes, mom." Joshua responded in a low voice.

 

"Now raise your heads, boys. I'm not mad. Just promise me you won't do it again."

 

"Yes, aunt." "Yes, mom." We simultaneously said.

 

"Finish your food. Jisung will take you back to your campus. You three deal with how you get back inside without getting caught."

 

***

 

"Thank you, uncle!" Jeonghan said.

 

Mr. Hong nodded, "Goodluck boys. Hope you get caught."

 

"Dad?" Joshua complained, making the three of us chuckle at his reaction.

 

"Just kidding, son. But really, good luck getting back. I need to go back, your mom probably missed me already."

 

Joshua's stare at him in disgust, "Whatever, dad. Get home safely!"

 

"I will, son!"

 

We just stared at Mr. Hong's car as it slowly faded away from our sight. When we couldn't see it anymore, we turned to each other.

 

"Your mom was so scary, Josh. But they're both cool." Jeonghan said.

 

"Sorry for that, by the way. They're both cool but mom can be pretty scary too." Joshua said, scratching his nape.

 

"Silly, why are you apologizing? You did nothing wrong," Jeonghan said.

 

"Yeah, it's Jeonghan's fault. You don't have to apologize," I said while tapping his back.

 

Jeonghan then turned to me, "I thought you're gonna say it's no one's fault." He said in disbelief.

 

"How can I say that when it's really your fault? You said it yourself earlier," I innocently remarked.

 

Joshua chuckled while Jeonghan just rolled his eyes, "Fine, my fault! I just thought you're gonna say that."

 

I shrugged, teasing him.

 

"Let's get in before the guards roam around. We still have 15 minutes before the curfew." Jeonghan said as he led us inside.

 

We walked past the large grasses and the large rusty gate welcomed us. I never knew we had a back gate until Jeonghan told us. He said it was rusty and it was easy to open it, he usually used this way when he's sneaking out. I guess even the guards have no idea this gate exists since it was covered by the piles of broken chairs and tables.

 

When we got in, we hid behind the piles of chairs. Jeonghan was the one who's looking around to see if anyone's out there. Joshua was just behind me, mumbling words about how nervous he is. I suppress my chuckle because he is literally trembling. So instead of laughing, I chose to hold his hands to help him calm down a bit.

 

But then it made my heart pound instead.

 

Ignoring my increasing heartbeat, I mumbled, "Calm down a bit. We won't get caught. Trust Jeonghan."

 

Joshua stared at me with those doe-eyes. It made my heart pound even more. So I just looked away and turned to Jeonghan.

 

"The coast is clear. Hurry up, let's go!" Jeonghan then said.

 

I stood up and pulled Joshua who calmed down. I squeezed his hand as I pulled him to run with me.

 

"Hurry!" Jeonghan said.

 

Our dormitory was quite a distance away, so we really needed to run faster yet stealthily.

 

But I guess lady luck isn't on our side.

 

A light suddenly emerged from our back, along with it was a scream from a man.

 

"Hey! Why are the three of you still out?"

 

The three of us glance at each other and we already know what to do.

 

"Run!" Jeonghan yelled.

 

I pulled Joshua with me who seemed the most nervous out of the three of us. The guard followed us while yelling to us 'Come back here! It's already curfew!' but none of us turned back.

 

The dorm was within our reach, and thankfully the guard was a bit far from us.

 

When we got to the entrance, Jeonghan tried to open it but it was already locked.

 

"Shit, we're doomed." He mumbled.

 

"I somehow regret agreeing with this idea," Joshua mumbled while panting hard.

 

When I saw the guard nearing us already, I pulled both Joshua and Jeonghan with me.

 

"Where are we going?" Jeonghan asked while running.

 

"My room. I know how to get in there." I replied.

 

I brought them to the emergency exit ladder. I hurriedly ran upstairs with the two trailing behind me.

 

"But the gates were also closed here, Cheol." Jeonghan said.

 

"Not on my floor."

 

When we reached the uppermost floor, I quickly opened the gate, "Hurry up!" I said when I saw the guard climbing up the stairs too.

 

My room was just beside the gate. And so I quickly opened it and let the two enter before I closed it.

 

Panting heavily, we were scattered in my room.

 

"That was... close." Jeonghan muttered.

 

"I won't ever agree to any of your risky plans, Yoon Jeonghan." Joshua said.

 

I remained standing on the door, staring at them as my eyes roamed around my room.

 

It's first time someone had entered my room. And it makes me a bit uncomfortable since I'm used to having no roommate.

 

"How did you know about the emergency exit, by the way?" Joshua asked.

 

"I accidentally found it when I tried to go up the rooftop. We're not allowed to go back in our dorm unless necessary and so I tried finding some ways to go up," I answered.

 

"Why would you go on the rooftop?" Jeonghan asked.

 

"That's my safe haven. I usually go there since I have no one to talk to anyway."

 

"Well, it saved our ass. We've got to be thankful for that." Jeonghan grinned.

 

I just chuckled.

 

"Is he still out there?" Joshua asked.

 

I tried to open the door and looked around before I closed it again, "He's not here anymore. You can go to your room. Just be careful not to bump with him." I said.

 

They both stood up, "Thanks, Cheol. I had fun today."

 

"Yeah, although I somehow regret it," Joshua said which made Jeonghan pout. "Just kidding. It was fun."

 

"Anyway, good night Cheol!" Jeonghan said.

 

"Good night, Cheol." Joshua followed.

 

I smiled a bit as I said, "Good night, Josh, Jeonghan."

 

When they both went away, I closed the door and heaved a deep sigh.

 

My heart is still pounding violently. I can't take Joshua and Jeonghan's smile off my head. Even while running earlier, I still have time to feel their soft hands. It's making me insane how soft and warm it was.

 

I should just ignore this turmoil inside me, right?

 

Of course, you should.

 

Don't let those emotions take over you. You just gained friends, don't let it ruin that.

 

But how?

 

How can I ignore it when even the way they smile and speak makes my heart go crazy already?

 

How can I ignore it when my eyes can't stop staring at them?

 

How can I ignore it when I can't take them off my fucking mind?

 

I am seeing them in a completely different shade right now.

 

How can I fucking ignore it?

 

This is shit.

 

 


 

 

The next day, when I went to the cafeteria to eat, none of them were there.

 

My forehead creased. They're usually earlier than me. I would always spot a waving Jun and Jeonghan at me from afar. But not even their shadows were there.

 

Strange.

 

With a shrug, I chose to eat alone in our usual seat.

 

It felt different now to eat alone and received some stares when I just got used to eating with someone. It felt like I started all over again on being the outcast I was before.

 

And I fucking hate that feeling.

 

I just sighed. I should just do what I usually did way back when I was used to eating alone: ignoring everyone else.

 

I hurriedly finished my food, uncomfortable with being alone again. I walked towards our building alone.

 

Is Joshua and Jeonghan fine? How about Jun and Minghao? Even Wonwoo and Jihoon didn't show up. Where are all of them?

 

My eyes then glistened in joy when I saw a familiar back walking towards our building. I fastened my pace and walked beside him.

 

My forehead creased when I noticed his expression, "What's wrong, Wonwoo?" I asked, and couldn't hide my worry anymore.

 

His expressions were unreadable as his head hung low.

 

"It's nothing, Cheol."

 

I wasn't convinced even a bit. He seemed so troubled, "You know you can also tell me your problems right? I may not be thes best person to confide with, but my ears are always open to hear your problem."

 

He turned to me. Now I can fully see his eyes. It was... solemn.

 

"It's Mingyu..."

 

I looked around first, before I asked, "What about him?"

 

He bit his lips as if he's preventing himself from crying. Without saying anything, I held his wrist and pulled him with me. He was submissive, he didn't complain when I pulled him towards the rooftop. It's the only place I can think of where no one can see him cry nor hear what is troubling him.

 

Just as I was about to open the door of the rooftop, a familiar voice made us halt on our step.

 

"Why are you giving up right now when we're almost there?"

 

"I can't take the guilt anymore, Soonyoung! It's killing me! It's not only Wonwoo who's hurting, even Mingyu got affected!"

 

My eyes widened when I realized who was talking inside the rooftop. I quickly turned to Wonwoo who's solemn expression faded and now he's brows were furrowed.

 

Shit, you're an idiot Choi Seungcheol!

 

"Uh, Wonwoo? Should we talk somewhere el—"

 

"No, Seungcheol." He responded.

 

"But someon—"

 

He ignored my words as he pushed me aside. He leaned closer to the door which made me facepalm even more.

 

You're doomed, Choi Seungcheol.

 

"So what now? You're just going to leave me? After all those years I've waited for you, you're just going to leave me?"

 

"I never said I'm leaving you!"

 

"That was what you're implying!"

 

"I didn't. All I said was I just can't take the guilt anymore! I can't bear to see the pain in both Wonwoo and Mingyu's eyes whenever they look at each other!"

 

"How many times did I tell you it's not our fucking fault, Jihoon!"

 

"How come it's not our fault? Wonwoo's hurting because you left him for me! Mingyu's in pain because his soulmate loathes him without him knowing why!"

 

"But it's still not our fault that we're soulmates!"

 

I saw how Wonwoo's jaw dropped as soon as Soonyoung exclaimed. He stepped backwards, still seemed to be absorbing what he just heard.

 

"You know what? Let's just talk some other time when our minds are both clear."

 

It was too late to run away because the door of the rooftop burst open and a very surprised Soonyoung came out. His eyes darted to me and then to Wonwoo who's just blankly staring back at him.

 

"Wonwoo..." Soonyoung nervously mumbled.

 

"Soonyoung! We're not done talk—" Jihoon followed behind Soonyoung and his forehead creased in confusion when he saw Soonyoung just standing on the doorway. "Why are you ju—"

 

He literally froze on his spot when he saw Wonwoo blankly staring at the two of them.

 

"W-wonwoo..." Jihoon muttered.

 

"Was it true?" Wonwoo coldly asked. It both made Jihoon and Soonyoung gulp nervously.

 

"Wonwoo... did you hear—"

 

"Was it true?" Wonwoo repeated, his voice became more deep and his voice were venomous. It sends a chill down to my spine.

 

Jihoon closed his eyes, and a tear dropped as he opened it, "Yes, Wonwoo. It's true."

 

"Me and Soonyoung... we're soulmates."




Chapter Text

Jeonghan

 

I craned my neck from left to right in hope of finding even just one of my friends. But to my disappointment, I saw none. Even their shadows are nowhere to be seen.

 

Sighing, I went out of the cafeteria. I lost my appetite to eat. I hate eating alone although I've done it a few times. I've gotten so used to eating with my friends that being alone seemed to be foreign.

 

Where the hell are they?

 

When I decided to give up on searching for them and just proceed to our room, my phone vibrated in the slacks I'm wearing. I fished it out of my pocket to see what it was.

 

Seungcheol:

 

Wonwoo found out.

 

My forehead creases as I type away my reply.

 

Me:

What did he find out?

 

I stared at my phone, anticipating his reply. But minutes passed by and Seungcheol still hadn't responded.

 

Me:

Cheol, what happened?

 

The bell suddenly rang just as I sent the message. I waited for about a minute yet he still hasn't replied.

 

I sighed. Maybe I'll just talk to him later.

 

I attended the classes with my mind drifting somewhere else. I shouldn't have attended, it was useless when I couldn't even focus on our lessons.

 

Hours pass by without me noticing it. I wouldn't even know it was already break time if it weren't for Soonyoung who gently tapped my shoulder.

 

"What is it?" I asked, shoving his hand away from me as I stood up.

 

"Jeonghan..." He trailed off. "Won-" His words were cut off when my phone rang. I gestured to Soonyoung to wait for a moment who just nodded his head.

 

When I saw the caller's ID was Jun, I immediately answered, "Hey, Jun."

 

"Jeonghan..."

 

My eyes slightly widened when I heard Jun's voice crack as he called me.

 

"What happened?" I asked, suddenly alarmed.

 

"Minghao and I had a fight."

 

"You two always fight. You'll eventually-"

 

"No, Jeonghan. This is probably the most serious fight I ever have with him. I doubt this will get better later."

 

"Alright. Tell me what happened later. Where are you?"

 

"I'm in the Infirmary."

 

My brows furrowed, "Why the hell are you there?"

 

"Why do people go here?"

 

"Wen Junhui."

 

"Fine, sorry. I brought Yanan here."

 

"What the fuck, Wen Junhui?" My voice raised in surprise and confusion. I turned to Soonyoung who's patiently waiting for me with his brows furrowed in confusion at my sudden raise of voice.

 

"Wen Junhui, you better have a better explanation for this. Wait for me there." I said before I hung up the call.

 

I looked back at Soonyoung after the call, "What is it?"

 

"Uh, it seems like you need to go somewhere. You can go ahead." He said. The usual playful demeanor of him was nowhere to be seen. His eyes weren't cheerful too and his voice wasn't lace with playfulness. It felt weird to see him like this.

 

"No, it's fine. Tell me." I said. He looked reluctant, but when he noticed how eager I was, he spoke.

 

"Wonwoo found out about me and Jihoon."

 

My eyes widened in surprise for the nth time. Wonwoo... found out?

 

"Where is he?" I asked.

 

"We don't know either. He stormed away from us as soon as Jihoon confirmed it." He said, avoiding my gaze.

 

I stared at him for a moment, examining him.

 

For the first time since I met Soonyoung, I didn't feel annoyed just by looking at him. I don't feel any irritation at him standing in front of me. I sympathize with him, I understand what he thinks and feels (although I hate to admit it). It wasn't his fault that he is Jihoon's soulmate. None of them are at fault. Wonwoo's hurting because they weren't destined to each other. He is hurting because his ex-boyfriend whom he loved so much is his best friend's soulmate.

 

And for the first time since I met Soonyoung, I told him, "Don't feel guilty, Soonyoung. It isn't your fault."

 

He raised his head and I could see the guilt and confusion in his slanted eyes. I smiled at him, "Find Wonwoo and talk to him."

 

"Jeonghan..."

 

"Go. I need to go somewhere first. Just remember: none of this is your fault." I said and reassuringly tapped his shoulder before I stormed out of the room.

 

I ran towards the infirmary as fast as I could. I didn't mind my phone which keep on vibrating. I let it be.

 

When I reached the infirmary, I immediately scanned the area and saw Jun standing beside a bed. When I approached his direction, there I saw an unconscious Yanan laying on the bed beside where Jun was standing.

 

"Jeonghan!" Jun called for me when he noticed me approaching.

 

I stared at him, "Mind explaining this, Wen Junhui?"

 

I saw him visibly gulp, "I just brought him here. I saw him lying on the corridor, unconscious. How can I ignore him there?"

 

"Is this why you and Minghao had a fight?" I asked.

 

"Jeonghan, let's not talk about it here please?" He said.

 

"Why? Is somethi-"

 

"Jeonghan, please!" He pleaded.

 

I shut my eyes as I heaved a sigh. I glared at him and turned around to head out of the infirmary.

 

When we finally got out of the infirmary, I faced Jun, "What the hell happened between you and Minghao?"

 

"He saw me carrying Yanan and confronted me," he started. He's fumbling with his fingers as he speaks. "It was fine for me if he asked it calmly, but he yelled at me, accusing me of things I won't ever do to him! He didn't even let me explain first. He just bursted out at that moment."

 

I don't know what to say as Jun just continued telling me what happened between him and Minghao. I couldn't tell who's right or wrong, and I won't take a side either. Jun has a reason, and Minghao didn't hear him out for it. He was blinded by his jealousy. But I can't blame Minghao too, he had enough of it. Maybe he had enough of his boyfriend, interacting with his ex-boyfriend.

 

Especially when they are not even soulmates to begin with. Minghao's reaction is understandable, but not justifying.

 

"Jeonghan, how can I assure him that me and Yanan won't ever go back with each other? How can I stop him from being so paranoid and jealous? Because seriously, I don't like fighting with him. I don't like seeing him hurt over his jealousy." Jun frustratedly muttered. He ran his hand in his hair as he sighed in frustration.

 

"It's simple, Jun."

 

He raised an eyebrow at me, anticipating my answer, "How?"

 

" Avoid Yanan ," I said. "Because only Yanan can make him go jealous like that because he was your first love."

 

He didn't respond. He remained staring at me.

 

"It's up to you, Jun. If you want to continue seeing Hao like that, then go talk to your ex-boyfriend even more until Hao explodes. But if you want to be on good terms again, avoid Yanan at all costs."

 

He looked down, his hands were shaking.

 

"Jun-"

 

"I need to tell you something..."

 

My brows furrowed as my heart thumped in both curiosity and nervousness, "What is it?"

 

"Yanan, he..."

 


 

Joshua:

 

Where are you?

 

Joshua:

 

I heard about Jun and Minghao. It's the talk of the campus .

 

Joshua:

 

Have you talked with them?

 

I sighed as I read Joshua's messages to me. People and their nosy ass. I bet the rumors that are going around were completely hilarious, and were just spread thoughtlessly with the goal of putting my friends' on the center of gossip so they can have something to talk about.

 

I put back my phone in my pocket, not bothering to reply to Joshua's messages.

 

I've been occupied for the last few hours. What me and Jun had talked about earlier still lingers around my mind no matter what I do. I was in a complete daze on the remaining classes I had.

 

Why is fate so cruel? Does it really enjoy torturing our minds and emotions?

 

How can the most wonderful feeling be so painful?

 

I've been thinking about it for the last few hours, and I'm very aware that I can never answer it. But I just can't help but to ponder about it.

 

Will my love life be as complicated as my friends? Will my soulmate accept me and love me? Will I be the first and only love of my soulmate? Will I face the same problems that my friends are having right now?

 

Will I be happy about it?

 

I'm starting to feel afraid of meeting my soulmate now that I'm thinking about my friends' situation. I just want a simple love life. I want to be happy.

 

But who am I kidding? Fate is cruel. Destiny is cruel. Love is cruel.

 

"There you are."

 

I immediately turned around to see who's the owner of that voice. I sighed in relief when I saw Joshua's angelic, soft smile.

 

"You startled me there," I said.

 

He didn't respond. He just places himself next to me, sitting down comfortably while looking at the sunset.

 

"What are you doing here?" I asked him.

 

"I should be the one asking you that: what are you doing here on the rooftop? You're not responding to my messages," he said instead of answering.

 

"Well, this is a good place to clear my mind." I responded.

 

"Was it about Jun and Minghao's rumor?"

 

"Part of," I replied. "What's the rumor about, anyway?"

 

"I heard that they fought. Two chinese boys fighting, another one was pathetically begging the other to stay with him and don't come back to his chinese ex-boyfriend who apparently is unconsciously lying on his back."

 

"Wait- what?" I asked, annoyed by what I heard. "First of all, the rumor is completely hilarious. Second, no one's 'pathetically begging' to stay with him. Third and last, no one's 'coming back' to his Chinese ex-boyfriend. Who the fuck started that fucking rumor so that I can kick his stupid ass off?"

 

"Alright, calm down there, Jeonghan." Joshua said, his hands caressing my shoulder which surprisingly calms me down.

 

"It was just a rumor, okay? Don't get too angry with it. As long as it's not true, it's fine." he said.

 

I heaved out a deep sigh. Calm yourself, Jeonghan. Don't let your anger eat you up.

 

"Are you calm now?" Joshua worriedly asked, which I responded with a slight nod.

 

"Good. Is it fine to tell me what really happened between the two?"

 

I bit my lips before I told him what Jun had told me outside the infirmary earlier, except for one thing. He was just silently listening to me. He didn't interrupt me nor did he react to any of what I said. Maybe he was carefully thinking about it.

 

"I guess our friends have complicated relationships, huh?" Joshua finally uttered something.

 

"I know right?" I agreed. "And I've been thinking if mine's going to be as complicated as theirs." I added, looking at Joshua's direction.

 

"Now that you've said that, I also wonder about mine." He said, looking back at me.

 

Our eyes met, and none of us looked away.

 

I stared at his face. Carefully examining his flawless features. I've seen him for how many times already yet I still admire his flawless, soft skin. His hair was being swept away by the wind from the rooftop, exposing his forehead. His lips were rosy, his nose were pointed, like so well-sculptured. His eyes were a bit drowsy, and the bags under his eyes added to it.

 

I always see him, but at this specific moment, I find him so gorgeous.

 

No wonder he's popular not only with girls, but also with boys.

 

He's handsome, yet has a feminine vibe when you first look at him.

 

"Jeonghan? Is there something in my face?" I was snapped out of my thoughts when I heard his familiar honey-like voice.

 

I grinned, "There is."

 

"What? Where? What is it?" He asked a bit frantically.

 

"Handsomeness." I responded.

 

Silence.

 

He blink his eyes slowly, staring right at my eyes. When it seemed like he finally registered in his mind what I've said, his face slowly contorted into a grimace.

 

I burst out laughing at his reaction.

 

"Your reaction is priceless!" I exclaimed.

 

"That's so cringy, Jeonghan! I felt goosebumps there!" He said.

 

I laughed even more.

 

He then later on laughed with me as he thought of it again.

 

When we both stopped laughing, I cleared my throat. "I almost forgot to ask, how is Wonwoo? And Jihoon and Soonyoung? Did they talk?" I asked.

 

He looked down as he shook his head, "They didn't."

 

My brows furrowed, "Why?"

 

"Wonwoo begged me to tell them not to find and talk to him for a while. He said he's still not ready to talk about it, and that he doesn't want to see any of them for a while."

 

I nodded my head in understanding, "He needs time to think about it. It was so sudden for him."

 

"And painful." Joshua added in a low voice which I agreed.

 

Silence ensued between us. We remained staring at the sunset, letting our thoughts flow in our mind.

 

"We're too young to think about these things," Joshua broke the silence. "But this is the time of our life where love blooms, and heartbreaks are giving us early lessons."

 

"What do you mean?" I asked, confused about what he's pointing out.

 

He smiled, "What I'm saying is, these problems are probably, or most likely to be just a lesson for us. Aren't pain and problems given to humans in order for us to be strong? For our friends, they must be facing these problems for them to be ready for a much more difficult life ahead of them. These are typical teenage love problems."

 

I stared at him for a moment, processing what he said. When I came to realize what he's really saying, I nodded in agreement.

 

"They just have to be strong. We're still young, and we're here for them anyway. " I said.

 

"Right. It's easier to resolve problems when we have someone to help us."

 

"Do you think we're going to experience those complications too?" I asked thoughtlessly.

 

Joshua glanced at me for a moment before he answered, "Who knows? Maybe, or maybe not. We just have to prepare ourselves."

 

Prepare ourselves.

 

Right. What else can we do, anyway? If it comes, it comes. We can't stop it, nor change it.

 

"Should we go back? I'm already a bit hungry." Joshua said.

 

I glanced at my wristwatch before I nodded. He stood up first and offered me his hand, which I quickly accepted.

 

We both went down and went straight to the cafeteria. I somehow expected that our friends were there, but much to my disappointment, they're not.

 

Gladly, Seungcheol was there. After we get our food, we approach him.

 

"Hey, Cheol." I greeted him. I haven't seen him all day. I didn't see him in the morning because I woke up a bit late. I didn't see him in our lunch break because I became preoccupied with what I found out about Jun. And I haven't seen him after class because I headed straight to our building's rooftop.

 

"Oh, you came," he said. His face suddenly brightened up a bit. "I thought none of you would show up for dinner."

 

"Have you seen Jihoon and Soonyoung?" Joshua asked.

 

Seungcheol shakes his head, "I last saw all of them in the morning. They didn't even come to eat lunch. It's a bit good to see the two of you now."

 

"Sorry for leaving you alone, Cheol. We were just thinking of something," I said.

 

"No, it's fine. I'm used to it. I'm just really glad you two came now." He said and let out a small smile.

 

We ate in silence. Mainly because none of us really likes talking while eating. When we were eating together, only the others were talking around. The three of us just silently eat.

 

I then raised my head to glance at them. They were continuously eating their food. That moment, I suddenly remembered the forgotten deal I had with Seungcheol way back when we both met in the detention room.

 

I don't have any idea why it suddenly came out of my mind. But as I stared at them two, I just thought of it.

 

Speaking of which, I think what me and Seungcheol had initially thought of was completely nonsense and baseless. I didn't even know why we even came up with that.

 

Hanahaki Strings.

 

Being chosen by it, would it be good?

 

Well, why am I even bothering to think about it anyway? It's not like we're going to be chosen. That was just a ridiculous theory we had.

 

After eating, we walk side to side towards our dorm.

 

"Cheol." Joshua suddenly called for Seungcheol.

 

"Hmm?" Seungcheol was walking beside me. I am in between them, and so they couldn't look at each other.

 

"Can we hang out in your room for a while?"

 

My forehead creases, "Why did you suddenly think of hanging out?"

 

Joshua shrugged, "Can't I? Besides, Seungcheol's just alone in his room. It's so boring to be alone."

 

"Well, I don't really mind having visitors." Seungcheol responded.

 

"Speaking of room Josh, aren't you in the same room with Jihoon and Wonwoo?" I asked.

 

He suddenly stopped on his track, making both me and Seungcheol stop too.

 

"Right. Good thing you reminded me of that." Joshua said and he took out his phone in his pocket. He tapped on his phone before he put it in his ear.

 

"Won? Where are you?" Joshua asked. I signaled him to put it on speaker which he immediately obeyed.

 

"In our room. Why?"

 

"Well, uh... You know... Jihoon's our roommate too, right?" Joshua nervously stuttered.

 

Wonwoo didn't speak on the other line but we could hear him mumble a few curses.

 

"Well, what can I do? It's not like I can push him away. It's also his room."

 

"But I can ask him to just-"

 

"No, Josh. Don't. It's alright. I can avoid hi-"

 

"You can sleep in my room, Wonwoo." I butted in on their conversation.

 

"Jeonghan?"

 

"It's me, Wonwoo," I said. "Anyway, like what I said, you can sleep in our room if you want."

 

"I don't want to cause inconvenience because of my dram-"

 

"You're no inconvenience. It's alright for me." I cut him off before he could even finish his words.

 

"Will it be fine for Jun, though?"

 

I smiled even though he couldn't see it, "Of course, you two are also friends."

 

There were a few moments of silence before he responded again, "If it's really alright, then I'll go sleep there then."

 

"It's really fine. You can just come back to your room in the morning."

 

"Where will I sleep though?"

 

I grinned then I turned to Seungcheol who glanced back with his forehead creased, "On my bed. You can sleep on my bed."

 

"What? I'm fine on the couch. Where will you sleep if I sleep the-"

 

"I'm gonna sleep over at Cheol's room!" I beamed out excitedly as I grinned at Seungcheol who's eyes widened a bit.

 

"O-kay?" Wonwoo muttered, unsure. "If you really insist, then it's really fine for me. Thank you, Jeonghan. Good thing you told me about it. I'm really not prepared to talk or even see him right now. I might say harsh things to him especially now that my emotions are still unstable. I don't want to be mad at Jihoon without hearing him out."

 

It made the three of us smile. I know Wonwoo wouldn't be mad, even if hears Jihoon's explanation. He's understanding and kind, after all.

 

After a few more thank yous and goodbyes, Joshua ended the call.

 

"Are you serious about having a sleepover in Seungcheol's room?" Joshua asked.

 

I nodded. "It's fine, right, Cheol?"

 

"Well, uh, it's the first time I'll have someone with me in my room... so I don't think I'll be a great company..."

 

"I'll just take that as a 'yes'," I cut him off, rolling my eyes. "Do you think I'd suggest sleeping over in your room if I don't like your company at all? My gosh, Choi Seungcheol. Let's just go!"

 

Joshua chuckled at me which made me grin. I saw how Seungcheol averted his gaze away from the two of us, but I clearly saw how his ears reddened even if the night was dark.

 

I smirked. Should I have a 'fun' with Seungcheol for this night so that he would always remember the first time someone had a sleep over in his room?

 

Chapter Text

 

Joshua 

 

 

"Your room is large, but it feels so empty," Jeonghan said as he roamed his eyes around Seungcheol's room. "How did you manage to live here alone? I can't imagine how boring it is not to have any roommate."

 

"Didn't I tell you I'm used to it? It's not like I have any choice. No one wants to share a room with me," Seungcheol responded with a shrug as he sat down on his bed.

 

This is the second time that we entered his room but I didn't have the chance to carefully look at his room last night since I was so nervous of being caught. But now that I'm here again, I scanned his room too.

 

There's two bed, one is where Seungcheol is sitting at which is most probably his bed and the other one is neat and clear, plain black curtains on the windows, no designs on the wall, no picture frames laid on his study table nor his side table, book shelves full of educational books, no novels or such.

 

He doesn't even have food on his mini-fridge nor any drinks.

 

Now I can agree with Jeonghan.

 

"Those fools," Jeonghan mumbled.

 

Had I known Seungcheol was staying alone, I could've volunteered to share a room with him. I always knew about him. Seeing him alone everywhere. I know about his reputation but never had I ever thought of him as that. I don't like to judge people based on what I just heard. That is why I'm so guilty for judging Jeonghan when Jun had told me his pranks. I don't want to repeat that.

 

"How about you, Shua?" 

 

I turned my attention to Jeonghan who's currently lying down on the couch.

 

"What about me?" I asked, sitting down beside Seungcheol.

 

"Are you going to sleepover here too?"

 

I shake my head slowly, "I'd love to, but Jihoon's gonna be alone in our room if I do so."

 

He nodded understandingly.

 

I'm really not great at observing people but looking at Jeonghan right now, he probably decided to have a sleepover in Seungcheol's room to clear off his mind and avoid thinking too much about what happened earlier.

 

I would do the same but my friend probably needs someone right now.

 

"Do you want to watch a movie?" Seungcheol suggested amidst the silence that ensued between us.

 

Jeonghan instantly sat up from his position, "What do you have there?"

 

"I have Hollywood movies here..."

 

"Let us see," I said and went towards his side table. I rummaged through the several CD's there with Jeonghan whispering 'no' at everything I showed.

 

"Wait— how about this," I said as I pulled out one CD.

 

"Maze Runner?" Jeonghan asked with his brows furrowed. "What's that?" 

 

"It's a novel. Action-adventure," I said. "I read its story before and I've been thinking of watching its movie but I always forgot about this." 

 

"So Maze Runner it is?" Seungcheol asked, asking for Jeonghan's approval.

 

"Sure, if Shua finds it great, then let's go watch it!"

 

We all huddled up on the couch of Seungcheol's room after he started the movie. Jeonghan plopped himself on the couch lazily, leaning his head against Seungcheol's shoulder. I sat on the other side of Seungcheol, hugging a pillow as I watched the movie.

 

It's a bit different from the book, but for me, the cast portrayed their characters very well. I've read this novel a lot before. All of its series. And I can't wait to watch the other two movies!

 

As the movie is nearing its end, I glance at the two beside me. Seungcheol looks so stiff while watching. His posture was so straight as his eyes were looking straight at the television. But as I stared at him closely, I noticed his eyes were wavering. He wasn't completely focused on watching.

 

What's distracting him too much? Or was he just bored?

 

Meanwhile, Jeonghan was still leaning his head on Seungcheol's shoulder. His arms wrapped around Seungcheol's waist while watching. It seemed like he's sleeping but he's still watching.

 

I stretched out my hands as soon as the movie ended, "Woah! The movie was quite different, but still great!" I exclaimed happily. "Do you have the other two movies of it, Cheol?" I asked the stiffened Seungcheol beside me.

 

He turned to me, looking so dazed, "Huh?"

 

My brows furrowed, "Are you alright, Cheol?"

 

"Huh— Of course!" He responded and chuckled nervously. "And yes, I have the complete movie trilogy of it. Should we watch the second one?"

 

I glance at my wristwatch, "I don't think I can watch it right now. It's almost curfew, I should head back to my room." I said.

 

Jeonghan sat up properly on the couch, yawning, "Are you sure?"

 

I nodded, "Jihoon might be lonely there."

 

"Text us if something happened, okay?" Jeonghan reminded me.

 

I nodded once again. I stood up and yawned, "I'll get going. Good night, Cheol, Han."

 

"I'll wal—"

 

I cut off what Seungcheol was about to say, "I'm fine, Cheol. My room's just below. You can enjoy your first sleepover." I said, motioning him to sit down.

 

I waved one last time before I stormed out of the room. But before I can even completely leave, I glance at Seungcheol's eyes.

 

He seemed so troubled.

 

What's happening to him? He was just fine earlier.

 

I shrugged, I will talk to him tomorrow. For now, Jeonghan can entertain him surely while I go talk to Jihoon.

 

When I reached our room safely, without being caught, I saw no one. Jihoon still hasn't arrived and Wonwoo is probably at Jun and Jeonghan's room already.

 

I sighed as I plopped myself on my bed. I yawned while staring at the ceiling. I wasn't tired nor sleepy earlier but maybe my mind is exhausted from all the worry I felt from my troubled friends.

 

Without knowing it, I slowly drifted to sleep.

 

 


 

 

"Joshua!"

 

I immediately turned around when I heard Jun's voice calling me from a distance. He is smiling brightly while making his way towards my direction.

 

"Oh, Jun," I muttered when he stopped right in front of me. "You looked so happy."

 

"I really am!" He exclaimed happily.

 

I smiled, "So you and Minghao had reconciled already?" I asked.

 

Almost immediately, his bright smile faded. It made my forehead crease.

 

"No. We haven't reconciled yet," he said in a low voice. "It's about my scholarship."

 

"Oh..." I scratched my nape in embarrassment. "So you passed it, huh?" I said, trying to divert the topic to lessen the awkward mood which I started.

 

"Right! I passed it! After so many attempts, I finally passed it!" I smiled a bit when his cheerful aura came back.

 

"Congratulations, Junhui! Should we celebrate it after class then? It's already the weekend, anyway."

 

"That's what I'm about to tell you. I'll treat you after class!" 

 

"You don't have to—"

 

"No, Joshua. I insist! I want to treat you as a gratitude. I wouldn't have passed my test and gotten a scholarship if it weren't for you." He said in an adorable tone which he didn't seem to notice.

 

I chuckled at his cuteness, "Fine then. Is it only the two of us?"

 

He nodded.

 

Maybe he's trying to divert his mind away from Minghao.

 

He looked happy, but his smile wasn't the usual smile he gave us before. It didn't reach both sides. It just seemed like he is trying to show it to us, but he's very obvious even to someone like me.

 

"Alright. Bubble tea it is." I surrendered with a chuckle.

 

He smiled, then his gaze went past me and his forehead creased, "Oh, there's Seungcheol."

 

I turned to where he pointed at and smiled upon seeing the sight of Seungcheol. But it immediately faded away when I saw him looking so dazed while walking mindlessly. Also, he and Jeonghan were supposed to be together right? Or maybe Jeonghan let him go first since he needs to prepare himself and go back to his room.

 

"What's wrong with him?" Jun asked.

 

I shrugged, "We'll never know if we won't ask." I said, motioning Jun to approach Seungcheol.

 

Even when we reached beside Seungcheol, he still didn't notice. If we didn't even tap his back, he wouldn't know we're walking with him.

 

"J-joshua? Jun? What are you doing here?" He stuttered, his eyes unsettled as he glanced at me.

 

"Well, we also study here?" I jokingly replied.

 

That seemed to snap him out of his daze. He shook his head, "Oh, right."

 

"Cheol, what is wrong with you?" I asked, my voice coming out more serious than what I intended it to be. "You've been acting like that since last night. Did something happen?"

 

His gaze softened for a moment as he shot me a quick glance, but it immediately disappeared and turned into an unreadable one when he turned to Jun.

 

"I'm fine, Joshua. Don't think too much about it."

 

"Clearly, you are not fine."

 

"I'm just thinking about something. No need to make it a big deal."

 

"And what is that 'something' that can make you look so troubled?"

 

"It's my grades, Joshua." Seungcheol answered in a calm yet stern tone. "I'm worrying if my grade will go down this quarter."

 

I looked at him suspiciously, "You've been so hard-working. Why would you fail?"

 

He looked away, "I'm just... worried."

 

I sighed, "Cheol, you know you can tell us what your problem is, right?"

 

"I know, Josh." He replied. "But it's really nothing. You don't have to overthink too much."

 

"Fine. But tell us if something is troubling you," I said, sighing in surrender. He nodded.

 

"What's the matter here?"

 

I jumped slightly when someone suddenly spoke beside me and placed his arms around my and Jun's (who was just quiet the whole time I'm arguing with Seungcheol) shoulder.

 

"Really, Yoon Jeonghan, you really love surprising us, don't you?" I asked, smacking his arms lightly.

 

He chuckled, "I didn't. You three are just so absorbed in what you're talking about."

 

"Aish, Jeonghan, your arms are heavy." Jun complained, shrugging off Jeonghan's arms which Jeonghan just pouted as he turned to Seungcheol who's eyes became more bothered.

 

"Should we have breakfast?" Jeonghan asked.

 

"I—I need to go somewhere. I won't go with you today," Seungcheol quickly interjected before we could even move our legs.

 

"You won't eat breakfast first?" Jun asked.

 

He shook his head, "I had one already. I have to go." He said without looking at either of us.

 

He turned around and walked away from us, his strodes were fast and a bit panicky. Why does he look like he's avoiding us?

 

"But he hasn't had breakfast yet?" Jeonghan muttered beside me.

 

"What?"

 

"He has no food in his mini-fridge. And I'm pretty sure he still hasn't eaten nor went to the cafeteria. So he's lying," Jeonghan explained, still staring at Seungcheol's disappearing figure.

 

"Did something happen last night, Han?" I asked.

 

"Han? What a cute nickname for an evil mastermind, Joshua," Jun giggled. "Sounds like the short term for 'honey', hon. You know? Endearment of cringey couples."

 

We both looked weirdly at Jun who's giggling by himself. When he noticed our stares at him, he stood straight and cleared his throat. "What was that you're asking, Joshua?"

 

Shaking my head, I turned to Jeonghan who's still staring at Jun, "Did something happen last night, Jeonghan?" I asked, emphasizing his name while eyeing Jun who just let out a sheepish smile.

 

"What do you mean?" Jeonghan asked in confusion.

 

"I mean, I noticed him acting so stiff and weird last night when we're hanging out in his room. Did something happen when I was gone?"

 

Jeonghan gulped visibly, averting his eyes away from mine. What's with him, too?

 

"Nothing that can make him act like that. I just... you know, had a little fun with him last night." Jeonghan responded, his lips forming a grin as if he was reminded of the 'fun' he was pertaining to.

 

"What the heck, Jeonghan?" Jun suddenly exclaimed. "Did... did you.."

 

"Not like that, idiot!" Jeonghan quickly interjected what Jun was about to say. A blush slowly creeped on his flawless cheeks.

 

"Then what? It sounds like that when you say it like that."

 

"You're just dirty-minded!"

 

"No, you just happened to say it weirdly! Anyone would think you both did that thing!"

 

I blinked profusely. My eyes turn to Jeonghan and Jun ast they bicker around.

 

What are they saying?

 

Did I miss something?

 

What's that that Jun is going around? What's so dirty-minded? What's weird?

 

I eventually gave up deciphering what they were arguing about. I couldn't keep up with them. I don't even understand anything that they're saying! 

 

When I can't take being out of place anymore, I butt in on their conversation, "Can the two of you slow down? I can't follow what you're talking about anymore."

 

They stopped bickering and they slowly tilted their head towards my direction.

 

"I don't have an idea what you're bickering about, but Jeonghan, you still haven't answered my question," I added.

 

He scratched his nape then he smacked Jun's arms.

 

"What was that for?"

 

"You and your dirty-mind! Shua's here..." Jeonghan trailed off as he turned his gaze back to me. He smiled, "Anyway, about what you're asking, I really don't have an idea why he's acting like that. Nothing happened last night aside from when I tried to made 'fun' of him." Jeonghan added, eyeing Jun for a moment.

 

"What kind of 'fun' did you do?" I asked.

 

He scratched his nape, "Do you really have to know?" he asked, his cheeks slowly forming a blush.

 

Just a moment ago, he looked so proud of what he claimed he had 'fun' with and now he's acting all shy and embarrassed. What did he really do, seriously?

 

"You better not know, Joshua." Jun responded.

 

My eyebrow raised, "Why?"

 

"Jun's right, you better not know, Shua!" Jeonghan added. "Let's eat breakfast! Let's just talk to Cheol later!"

 

With that, they both grabbed my arms and pulled me to the cafeteria, refusing to answer my question. 

 

 


 

 

Me:

Wonwoo, talk to Jihoon and Soonyoung as soon as possible, please?

 

Me:

I can't take the awkwardness between the three of us.

 

Me:

 

Me and Jun will go out to drink some bubble tea. Might as well talk it out with Jihoon.

 

I sighed after sending it to Wonwoo. I hope he'll talk with Jihoon already. It was so awkward earlier when we had lunch.

 

I had pulled him and Jihoon to eat lunch with us. Jeonghan and I tried our best to lessen the awkward atmosphere. But even Seungcheol seemed so awkward. He was silent the whole time, and he kept on avoiding my and Jeonghan's eyes. It was weird for me, but I don't want to ask him again. It will just add fuel to the awkwardness that's been surrounding us that moment. And I'm pretty sure he won't answer me honestly.

 

I don't know if it's a good thing that Minghao didn't join us that lunch or I won't bear the atmosphere anymore. Jun was with us, and Minghao's on the far front of the cafeteria with Mingyu and another one of his classmates that if I remember right is Seokmin.

 

I suddenly halted on my track when I noticed Jun wasn't walking beside me. I turned around and saw him a few meters away from me, looking down at his phone. 

 

"Jun?" I called him.

 

He raised his head. His eyes were glistening with the tears that's threatening to fall on his eyes.

 

I quickly went to his direction, "W-why are you crying?"

 

"Joshua..." He shut his eyes tightly and the tears fell down. "C-can we move our celebration? I... need to go somewhere."

 

"What happened?" I worriedly asked.

 

He bit his lips as he looked down, "Just..." He trailed off, not knowing what to say.

 

I took that as a hint that he doesn't want to tell me what's going on. I nodded, "Alright. You can go."

 

He looked at me, "I'm sorry, Joshua."

 

"No, you don't have to. We can celebrate anytime. But this seemed to be important so go wherever you need to go."

 

He nodded, "Don't tell Jeonghan about this, please? Especially Haohao." He said, his voice turning low at the mention of his boyfriend.

 

I nodded, "Take care, Jun."

 

"I will, thank you, Joshua." He said and hurriedly stormed away.

 

I sighed when he was out of my sight already.

 

What should I do now?

 

I can't think of anything to do. I don't want to go home since my parents weren't there.

 

I should just rest for today, I guess. Jeonghan will surely go home, Jun went somewhere. Jihoon is with Soonyoung, Minghao's probably with his same-age friends, Wonwoo is nowhere to be seen and Seungcheol is—

 

Right. Seungcheol. I have to talk to him.

 

I took out my phone to text him.

 

Me:

Cheol, where are you?

 

I stared at my phone for about five minutes yet still no response.

 

Me:

Cheol?

 

I felt a wave of sadness when minutes passed yet there's still no response.

 

What's happening to my friends?

 

Without waiting for his response, I made my way towards his room. I remember him telling me that he doesn't usually go home to his apartment. Or more like, he doesn't really go there even on weekends. He's just going there when it's the holidays. So I'm sure he's in his room right now.

 

I heaved out a deep sigh when I arrived in front of his room. His room was on the uppermost floor and climbing up on the stairs all the way up is more tiring. What's unfortunate is the elevators are on construction while it's weekend.

 

When my breathing was steady again, I knocked on the door. No response.

 

"Cheol?" I called while knocking on the door.

 

My forehead creases, is he taking a bath?

 

I took out my phone once again and dialled his number. I thought he wouldn't answer, but I felt relieved when I heard his deep voice.

 

"Hello."

 

"Cheol! Where are you? I'm in front of your room right now." I exclaimed happily.

 

It took him a moment before he responded, "Uh... I'm not inside the campus, Josh..."

 

My shoulders fell in disappointment, "Where are you then?"

 

"I went back to my apartment."

 

Now that's odd. He said he doesn't want to go back there since he feels so lonely there. I'm pretty sure right now he's avoiding us.

 

But why?

 

"Is that so?" I just said, I couldn't even hide my sadness anymore.

 

"Yeah. I've got something to do," he said. "I need to go now, Joshua."

 

"Al...right. See you on Monday, Cheol."

 

"Hmm," he replied, then he ended the call.

 

Silence ensued as I let my hands fall on my side as I stared blankly at his door.

 

Well, looks like I have to spend my weekends alone. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Seungcheol

 

 

"Should we watch the continuation of it?" Jeonghan asked as soon as Joshua left the room.

 

I tried to remain calm as I answered, "I don't think we should. Maybe when Joshua's here next time. Let's just watch another one."

 

He nodded as he moved away from me and stretched his arms while yawning. I turned to the other side as I heaved out a sigh of relief. I held my chest in an attempt to calm my raging heart beat. I'm just wishing right now to not let Jeonghan hear it or notice my awkwardness.

 

"Should we sleep instead? I'm already sleepy, plus I am so tired. I just want a rest," Jeonghan suggested as he yawned again.

 

Thank goodness.

 

"Sure, you can sleep there on the vacant bed. It's clean, don't worry," I said.

 

He stood up and went straight to the bed and plopped himself on it. I chuckled a bit as I shut down the television and went to bed.

 

"Won't you clean up first?" I asked Jeonghan.

 

He sat up lazily to face me, "I didn't bring any shirt nor my toothbrush." 

 

"I have an extra toothbrush in the bathroom, you can use it. I can also lend you a shirt."

 

"Alright then," he said and stood up. 

 

I took a deep breath when Jeonghan went to the bathroom. It feels like this is the first time I breathe ever since we entered this room. I felt so suffocated before. Not the kind of suffocation where I'll die, but the kind of where I find it hard to breathe because of a certain someone who's invading my personal space and clinging onto me the whole time we're watching.

 

I just felt so thankful he did not hear the sounds of my heart beat. I couldn't control it earlier. He was so close to me.

 

Him, sitting next to me was fine. Definitely fine. But with him sitting next to me with his head resting on my shoulder and his arms wrapped around my waist had me frozen. I was so stiff the whole movie. He was practically hugging me! Him, Yoon fucking Jeonghan! How the fuck can I calm down?

 

It doesn't help that he's gonna sleep over here. The only thing that's keeping me sane is that he's gonna sleep on the other bed. Or else I'm probably doomed. I don't want him to notice my unsettled heart. I don't want to creep them out when I can't even understand what I'm feeling. 

 

I snapped out of my own thoughts when the door of my bathroom clicked open and Jeonghan's head was peeking slightly.

 

"Can I have the shirt you're going to lend?" He said in his unusual shy tone. This is the first time I've heard him use that tone and it is amusing to see him like this. 

 

I nodded and went to my closet to find a shirt which could fit Jeonghan's proportions. I pulled out one of my plain blue shirts and tossed it to Jeonghan's waiting hands.

 

"Thanks, Cheol!" He quickly exclaimed before he closed the door.

 

I let out my smile when he couldn't see me anymore. Crap, I had never thought I'd smile like an idiot because of one's adorableness.

 

I stood up on my bed as soon as Jeonghan left the bathroom. He smiled at me which I returned lightly before I entered the bathroom. I hurriedly locked it up and went to the sink to wash my face.

 

I tried calming myself down as I took a quick bath but my heart won't calm down! And so when I went out of the bathroom and saw Jeonghan lying peacefully on the other bed, I felt a wash of relief creeping on my whole system.

 

With a sigh, I headed towards my own bed, turned off the lamp and plopped myself down. 

 

As soon as my eyes closed, image of Jeonghan and Joshua's smiling face appeared in my mind. I tried to brush it off my mind but their smile was so fascinating that I allowed myself to think of it.

 

I would never deny the adoration I feel for both of them. Both of them had charming smiles and kind personalities. To add that they're the very first ones who approached and befriended me, it makes me closer to them.

 

They treated me kindly. They showed care for me. One that I never thought I'll be able to feel again.

 

They accepted who I am. My delinquency. My past. My reputation. The thing that prevented me from having a friend before. The thing which isolated me from the others.

 

"Cheol..."

 

My eyes fluttered open and my head tilted a bit only to come face-to-face with Jeonghan who's leaning so closely to my face. Too close for my own liking, and my own being.

 

"Cheol..." He called again and I could clearly smell his minty breath as his face was slowly inching closer to mine.

 

I tried to push him away by pushing his chest, "W.. What are y..."

 

He silenced me by putting his finger in my lips as he muttered, "Sssh..." then he put both of his hands on either side of my head as he tilted to his head while inching closer.

 

"J-jeonghan, what the h-hell are you up to?" I nervously stuttered as I tried to pry him off me only to fail miserably as my hand turned out to be so weak as he completely dominated me.

 

"Don't worry, I'll be gentle, Seungcheol-ah..." he whispered right to my ears and I felt goosebumps all over my body because of the feeling of his hot breath brushing onto my ears.

 

When he moved his head away from my ears, our eyes met. His eyes were drowsy yet it eyed me so... so sexily.

 

"Cheol, tone down your voice, alright?" He whispered, then he let out a grin.

 

As he inched closer to my face with his eyes staring right at my lips, I suddenly felt the temperature going hot. I am thankful I turned off the lights or else he'll see me blushing all over my face. I am also thankful he still hasn't noticed the rapid increase of my heartbeat. It's beating abnormally that I could almost feel it exploding any moment by now. 

 

"J-jeonghan-ah..."

 

"Sssh, just enjoy." He whispered.

 

Feeling so helpless by the situation, I closed my eyes and waited for him to do what he's gonna do.

 

But the sound of laughter and feeling his body dropping beside me had me open my eyes again.

 

What the fuck was... that?

 

"Oh my gosh, Cheol! If only you saw your expression! It's priceless!" He managed to utter as he continued to laugh out loud.

 

I stared at him, my body still frozen as I tried to process what just happened.

 

Did he just... pulled a prank on me?

 

"You're so cute, Seungcheol! Gosh, I should've taken a picture of your face!" He added.

 

When he noticed me still staring at him without saying anything, he abruptly stopped laughing and sat up to look at me with a worried expression plastered on his face, "Cheol? You alright?"

 

I blinked my eyes multiple times before I managed to respond, "Y-yeah, I'm fine. I was just surprised."

 

"Sorry about it. I just thought it was fun to... prank you," he said, looking so apologetic. "Did I make you uncomfortable?"

 

I hurriedly shake my head, "No, no. It's fine. I was just really surprised. Don't worry, you didn't make me uncomfortable." I lied. It made me so uncomfortable. But I don't want to tell him that. I don't want to make him feel bad. Although I felt a bit upset for making fun of me while I was completely powerless and clueless, I couldn't really feel mad at all.

 

He's a known prankster after all. I should've expected him to prank me although we're friends. Jun and Minghao had warned us about that.

 

I should accept it, like how he accepted my delinquency.

 

And right now, I really couldn't be mad.

 

But I felt majorly troubled.

 

He let out a sigh of relief, "I thought you're mad."

 

I gave him an assuring smile, "I'm not. Don't worry."

 

He chuckled and lied down beside me. We both lie quietly while staring at the ceiling.

 

The silence was so deafening, that it scared me that Jeonghan might hear my abnormal heart beating so violently because of him.

 

Not until he broke the silence, "Is it alright if I sleep here beside you? It feels so different to sleep in a different room. At least when I sleep beside you, I know I'm with someone."

 

When I thought I'll be able to sleep peacefully...

 

"Of course," was what I said. "Goodnight, Jeonghan."

 

"Goodnight Cheol!"

 

Dear God, please give me a rest. 

 

 


 

 

I guess I'm destined to not have a good sleep at all.

 

It's already one a.m. yet here I am, still wide awake because of a certain man sleeping beside me.

 

I could sleep if he were just really sleeping beside me. But no, he is hugging me again!

 

His arms were wrapped tightly in my waist as his hand was resting on my abdomen, his legs were on top of mine and the most uncomfortable part was his face was on my neck. I can clearly feel his hot breath. It was tickling me a bit but he is already sleeping so peacefully that I chose to let him be.

 

But here I am, unable to sleep.

 

I sighed for the nth time. 

 

I just want a peaceful sleep. 

 

Yet my heart and mind won't allow me. 

 

Minutes of staring at the ceiling, sleepiness slowly coming to me, but with Jeonghan's breath on my neck, I couldn't fully submit myself to the darkness. So I tried to pry Jeonghan's arms and legs away from me, which I successfully did. I hurriedly moved an inch away from him and turned my back against him.

 

I smiled as I finally freed myself from his grasp. I yawned and closed my eyes. Darkness are slowly consuming me until and I am slowly drifting to sleep-

 

When an arm wrapped on my waist again, hugging me from behind and I can feel his breath now on my nape.

 

Can't I really sleep peacefully?

 

 


 

 

The next morning, I woke up because of Jeonghan's constant voice waking me up while shaking my body.

 

"Get up, sleepyhead! Rise and shine! You have to prepare for class!" He said while giggling.

 

Sleepyhead my ass. You're the reason why I'm so sleepy right now!

 

Groaning in frustration, I sat up while scratching my eyes.

 

"Pull your ass out of the bed and take a wash, Choi Seungcheol! I'll go back to my room to prepare too." He said.

 

When I finally managed to open my eyes completely, memories of what happened last night flashed through my mind in an instant. I felt the embarrassment in last night's event creeped over my being right now as I stared at Jeonghan's morning face.

 

My eyes traveled to his eyes, down to his pointed nose and stopped on his rosy lips. The image of his close up face last night and the feeling of his warm, minty breath came back to me.

 

I felt my cheeks burning in embarrassment.

 

"Cheol?" He called me which snapped me out of my thoughts.

 

"A-ah, yeah. Yeah. I'm going to take a bath. Yeah, see you later." I stuttered as I went towards the bathroom, leaving him all confused.

 

I heaved out a deep, frustrated sigh when I locked the bathroom door.

 

How can I fucking face Jeonghan without remembering what happened last night? I will just end up staring at his lips, for pete's sake!

 

I thought it'll be fine the next day. I didn't think that it would be hard for me to look at him the next day.

 

And so when I finished taking a bath and preparing myself, I went ahead to the cafeteria without waiting for Jeonghan. 

 

My heart's still unsteady right now even without Jeonghan. I could still feel my heart beating abnormally. And even without him, the events last night keep on flashing in my mind. I tried to brush off the image of his eyes, his flawless skin, his soft hair, pointed nose and his rosy, kissable lips. I couldn't stop thinking about it.

 

Fuck this, why does he have to prank me with that one?

 

But then I remember something... 

 

I also felt this way to Joshua before, when we went to the arcades. The moment he sang the first line, I felt my heart skip a beat. When he smiled and pulled me, my heart beat increased rapidly. When we ran hand to hand towards our dormitory building, my heart was so unsteady even when they left my room. 

 

I felt the same way about two different people. And I'm not stupid enough to realize what it means. I'm not naive or ignorant about these feelings. 

 

But I don't want to accept it. I don't want to ruin our friendship and make them feel uncomfortable. I don't want to ruin everything. It was the first time ever since I can't remember that I felt so happy being with someone else I called my friends. 

 

And to deal with my feelings and accept it will ruin everything. 

 

That is the reason why I didn't stay at the campus. Joshua was there. I concluded he won't go home since his parents weren't at home, and that he'll remember that I am staying at the campus even on weekends. I don't want to face him or Jeonghan right now. Not when I'm in this state.

 

So here I am, bored as fuck in my apartment.

 

I'm slowly regretting my decision to come home here. I'm feeling guilty right now that Joshua was left alone on the campus. But I can't really face him as of now. I'll calm my heart for now, and forget these feelings blooming inside me.

 

Enough of that, I guess staying here all alone wouldn't help me forget at all. 

 

Grabbing my coat, I went out of my apartment to take a walk. The harsh winter wind blew as I stepped out of my apartment building. The cold seeped through my layers of clothes. Even my thick coat couldn't shield my body from the coldness.

 

As I walk aimlessly, I can see the Christmas lights and trees on the buildings and stores I passed by. The snow on the ground emphasizes the Christmas feelings in their homes.

 

I smiled inwardly. I hope I can also feel the warmth of the Christmas season too.

 

I have never celebrated Christmas ever since my parents left me. Living alone at such a young age, with having only the money my parents are giving to me to sustain my needs. I couldn't even buy whatever I wanted since I'm afraid that they'll stop giving me money one day. So I saved it, and never tried to buy any Christmas decorations nor attend any parties.

 

With a heavy feeling, I continued my aimless walk. I don't want to reminisce more about my past. There's nothing fun about it.

 

I stopped on my tracks when a certain coffee shop had caught my attention. It wasn't anything special, but maybe its aesthetic structure and design is a bit of my liking.

 

I'm not really into coffee, but there's no harm in trying. It's freezing cold right now anyway, and I skipped eating breakfast and lunch in an attempt to avoid Jeonghan and Joshua's non-stop queries.

 

Shrugging the thoughts away, I entered the coffee shop. I went out to clear my thoughts, so I should at least stop thinking about them for now.

 

I headed straight to the counter and ordered the only coffee I am familiar with: Americano, and ordered some waffles too. After paying for it, I head towards a vacant seat just beside the glass wall. 

 

I ate the waffles silently while sipping my Americano. I would glance outside the glass wall once in a while, staring at the snow. But then my eyes caught something. Or more like, someone.

 

Jeonghan.

 

But he's not alone.

 

He's with a girl.

 

His arms were resting on the girl's shoulder.

 

I squinted my eyes to have a clear look at them. Jeonghan was wearing a thick coat and earmuffs. He was smiling brightly while listening to what the girl was saying. My eyes darted to the girl. She's pretty. But I don't know her. I don't think she's studying in our school.

 

My eyes blink repeatedly when they walk past the coffee shop I am in right now. The image of Jeonghan's face last night was now replaced by the image of him laughing with a girl.

 

My heart suddenly clenched. I ignored it, thinking maybe it was because of the coffee. But when it didn't subside after a few minutes, I felt nervous. It didn't subsided, it kept on clenching even more.

 

I gritted my teeth to prevent myself from screaming because of the pain. I left my waffles and Americano on the table while I scurried out of the coffee shop. I walk towards a nearby alleyway where there's no people. I held my chest while gritting my teeth.

 

I let myself kneel on the ground as soon as I turned to the alleyway.

 

This is the same pain I felt way back in the restroom in our campus, along with Jeonghan and Joshua.

 

The same pain where I felt like something was squeezing my heart with a spike on it. It hurts as hell. I don't know the right term to describe the pain, but it really hurts.

 

I gasped for air, breathing in and out when the pain somehow subsided. I held the wall beside me to support myself from standing up.

 

"Cheol? Is that you?"

 

I instantly turned around. All the pain I felt from earlier was now gone as I stared at Jeonghan and the girl beside her with wide eyes.

 

Crap. I tried my best to avoid him earlier and I thought I succeeded. But here I am, facing him with the unknown girl beside her. 

 

"What happened? We saw you kneeling here," he worriedly asked as he slowly approached me.

 

"I'm f-fine," I responded. Before he could even pry on it, I asked, "What are you doing here?" 

 

"I'm on a date with Jeongyeon," he replied. 

 

Date. 

 

He's on a date with this girl beside her. 

 

Date. Date. Date. Date. Date. 

 

"Jeongyeon?" was what I said. 

 

The girl smiled at me, "Nice meeting you! I always heard about you from Jeonghan. I'm Jeongyeon." 

 

I forced a smile, "Seungcheol," I said. 

 

"Are you sure you're really fine, Cheol? Why are you kneeling here?" Jeonghan asked once again. 

 

"I'm just tired and so my knees gave out," I said. What a lame excuse. 

 

I know Jeonghan didn't believe that, but thankfully, he didn't pry on it even more as it seemed like he noticed I didn't want to talk about it. 

 

"Do you want to join us? Since you're here already," he offered with a slight smile. 

 

I shake my head, "No, I'm fine. I'm on my way home anyway. Just enjoy your date." I said, my voice bitterly spouting the last sentence. 

 

Luckily, he didn't notice it as he nodded.

 

"Alright then, see you on Monday, Cheol!" He said, waving his hand.

 

"Nice meeting you Seungcheol. I hope I can get to know you more!" Jeongyeon said with a bright smile plastered on her face.

 

I smiled back forcefully, and without realizing, it had a hint of bitterness, "Nice meeting you too, Jeongyeon. And yeah, I hope we get to know each other soon."

 

I waved back before I turned around and walked away from them, my heart clenching once again. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Jeonghan

 

"He looks so pale, Jeonghan," Jeongyeon told me when Seungcheol's already far from us.

 

"I know. I've seen it too," I said.

 

"But have you seen his eyes when he looked at me?"

 

I raised an eyebrow at her, "What do you mean?"

 

Jeongyeon stared at me, "Are you two just friends?"

 

My forehead creased at her sudden question, "Why are you suddenly asking me that? Of course, we are just friends."

 

She turned to look at where Seungcheol had walked away then she mumbled something which I didn't hear.

 

"What did you say?" I asked.

 

She shakes her head then she smiles, "It's nothing! Let's go?"

 

I just stared at her weirdly as she left me there. I looked back one last time before I followed Jeongyeon.

 

Jeongyeon is clinging in my arms as we walk side-by-side. She's telling me something but I couldn't hear her that much. I couldn't understand what she's saying, I couldn't focus on her.

 

I can't stop thinking about what I've seen earlier. Seungcheol, kneeling down while holding his chest. I wasn't sure if it's him at first, but I decided to approach whoever it was because it seemed like he's in too much pain. But when I was slowly getting nearer, I could clearly see it was Seungcheol. It made me worried.

 

I tried to ask him but he didn't tell me why he was kneeling down while clutching his chest. I didn't push further, thinking he doesn't want to share it with anyone.

 

For some reason, I was also reminded how strange he acted earlier at the campus. He was definitely avoiding us. He didn't have any breakfast, and he didn't show up at lunch. And as far as I know, he doesn't go out of the campus on weekends except that time we forced him to join us to visit Joshua.

 

Most of all, the way his eyes kept on avoiding mine were strange.

 

Or maybe I'm just overreacting.

 

But I'm worried. What's happening with him?

 

"Earth to Yoon Jeonghan!"

 

I snapped out of my thoughts when I felt a smack on my head.

 

I quickly turned to Jeongyeon and glared at her, "What the fuck was that for?" I scowled at her.

 

She pouts her lips, "You weren't listening at me!" she whined, "and stop cursing, will you?"

 

Right. I am with her.

 

I smiled sheepishly, "Sorry. I was just thinking about something."

 

"It's that handsome man from earlier, right?" She asked, grinning widely.

 

I raised an eyebrow, "What's with the look?"

 

She grinned even more, "Well, I'm just curious."

 

"About what?"

 

"Do you like him?"

 

My brows furrowed, "What? Of course, not." I quickly denied.

 

"But does he like you?"

 

"What the hell are you asking? We're just friends."

 

"But his eyes were telling otherwise..." Jeongyeon mumbled.

 

My forehead creased, "Look, I know he's handsome and all, but we're really just friends. Also, you know I don't want to engage in any relationship right now, right? Unless... "

 

She cuts me off with a pout on her lips, "Fine. I was just asking."

 

I shake my head while chuckling.

 

"But Jeonghan..." she trailed off.

 

"What?"

 

"That Seungcheol guy..."

 

I narrowed my eyes at her, waiting for her to continue.

 

She then smiled, "No, it's nothing. Nevermind."

 

"What the hell, Jeongyeon! Stop starting off like that when you're just going to shrug it off!" I told her with a frown.

 

She giggled, "Sorry. But it's nothing. Let's go watch a movie!"

 

"No, I don't want to watch anymore," I said, not moving from where I'm standing while crossing my arms in my chest, acting like I'm sulking.

 

She looked at me with a frown, looking like she's so disgusted, "Stop it, Jeonghan! It doesn't suit you. Come on!"

 

I looked away, still unmoving.

 

"Yoon Jeonghan! The movie will almost start!"

 

I scoffed, "No."

 

"Please!" she begged, pulling my arms but I immediately shook her hands off.

 

"No."

 

"Jeonghan!"

 

"No." I stubbornly refused once again.

 

"Please, oppa?" she muttered lowly, sighing in defeat.

 

I let out a triumphant grin as I walked towards her, putting my arm in his shoulder as I teasingly mumbled, "What are you waiting here for? Let's go watch a movie, sis."

 

She glared at me before she elbowed my stomach lightly, causing me to back away from her.

 

"Argh, you're so annoying!" she exclaimed as she took large strides away from me.

 

I chuckled, "Hey, wait for me!"

 

"Shut up!"

 

 


 

 

"That was tiring!" Jeongyeon exclaimed as she slumped herself on the couch of our living room in our house, "but that was fun!"

 

I threw the shopping bags right on her body as I said, "Of course, it should be fun. Not all people have the privilege to have a five-hour date with Yoon Jeonghan on weekends."

 

She glared at me, "Disgusting. Privilege my ass." she mumbled.

 

I chuckled, "I'm heading upstairs." I said.

 

"Alright, good night Jeonghan!" she said, waving her hands at me without glancing.

 

I pursed my lips because of what she called me again. But I chose to ignore it. I'm so tired right now. I just want to sleep!

 

As soon as I entered my room, I headed towards my bed and slumped myself on it.

 

I closed my eyes, yawning, but then my phone suddenly rang which startled me.

 

I lazily fish it out of my pocket and glance at the caller's ID. Why's Joshua calling at this hour?

 

"Hey Josh," I greeted him.

 

"Did I disturb you?" he asked.

 

"No, not really," I lied. "Why'd you call?"

 

"Have you talked to Seungcheol?"

 

My forehead creased, "Why? Did something happen?"

 

"No... he just..." he paused for a moment, "I just think he has a problem..."

 

I sat up on my bed, intrigued, "I think so too. I saw him earlier."

 

"Oh, really?"

 

"Yeah. He was in a quiet alleyway, kneeling down while clutching his chest." I told him about what I saw earlier.

 

"What—why?"

 

"Hey, calm down," I said after hearing the panic in his voice, "he was fine... I think. He went away after I introduced him to Jeongyeon."

 

"Who's Jeongyeon?" Joshua asked.

 

"She's my younger sister," I answered. "Haven't I told you about my sister?"

 

"No. You never told us anything about you and your family," Joshua replied with a chuckle, "you're a bit secretive."

 

I froze for a moment. I'm a bit secretive?

 

I thought I was so open to them, to my friends. I thought I always tell them what's going on with me. I thought I always tell them everything.

 

I didn't know I was being secretive.

 

"Jeonghan? Are you still there?"

 

I snapped out of my thought upon hearing Joshua's soft voice from the other line, "Yeah... I'm still here."

 

"So what happened after Seungcheol met your sister?" he asked.

 

"Well, he just walked away."

 

"Eh?"

 

"Listen here, Shua," I hesitated for a moment, but I eventually added, "we're going to talk to Seungcheol on Monday, alright? There's obviously something wrong with him."

 

"I know, I noticed it too," Joshua said, "but why not now?"

 

"Do you know where he lives?"

 

He didn't answer immediately. It took him a few seconds before he responded, "I... I don't."

 

"And I also don't think he'll tell us where he lives given that he's also obviously avoiding us," I said.

 

"I'm worried about him, Han."

 

Han...

 

A smile slowly formed in my lips upon hearing it. But I immediately shrug it away as I remember what we are talking about.

 

"That's why we'll talk to him, Shua. For now, let's leave him alone." I assured Joshua.

 

I heard him sigh, "Why does it seem like all my friends have a problem?"

 

"It's life, Shua. We're born to face problems."

 

He chuckled a bit, "Right."

 

Silence ensued between us, but none of us tried to end the call. We remained silent.

 

"Han? Are you still awake?"

 

I tried my best not to smile. The way he called my name is just... heart fluttering. I don't know what's with me and nicknames but I really like making nicknames for people and I love it when people call me with nicknames. It just felt so good in my ears.

 

"Yes, Shua. I'm still up," I answered.

 

"Can you... can you not hang up until I fall asleep? I feel so lonely here in our dorm."

 

My forehead creased, "What? You stayed there?"

 

"Yeah. My parents weren't at home, right? And I thought Cheol would be here too so I stayed on campus."

 

My heart clenched for a moment upon hearing Joshua's voice.

 

"Sure, Shua. Do you want me to sing for you so you can sleep?" I asked.

 

"You can sing?"

 

I smiled proudly even though he couldn't see it, "Of course!"

 

"Then sing for me, please?"

 

I grinned, "You should call yourself lucky, Joshua Hong. Not all people can hear me sing."

 

He chuckled, "Alright then, it's my pleasure to hear it."

 

I smiled before clearing my throat.

 

"Whenever it's hard for you

You can get a hug from me

I am the same."

 

I closed my eyes as I started to sing. I couldn't hear Joshua, so I assumed he's just listening. Or probably drifting to sleep.

 

"No matter how much you hide it

You know you can't hide it forever

So we can smile together," 

Don't be sorry

Don't worry

Don't be scared

Now don't cry,"

 

I took a deep breath before I continued.

 

"To me you are very precious

You can tell me today was tough

I am here, you suffered a lot

I love you

 

I will hug you."

 

Silence.

 

"Shua?" I called him softly, but there's no response. Only a soft snore can be heard.

 

It made me chuckle. He had fallen asleep.

 

My mom used to tell me my voice was sweet and it's perfect for a lullaby. So it wasn't surprising that he immediately fell asleep, especially since it's already late at night.

 

With a wide smile, and a confusing pounding of my heart, I mumbled to Joshua, "Goodnight, Shua-ah."

 

 


 

 

"Wake up, sleepyhead!"

 

I was awoken by the annoying, high-pitched voice of my annoying sister. She shakes my body repeatedly which made me groan in annoyance.

 

"Go away, Jeongyeon!" I muttered with my raspy voice as I smack my pillow right on her face even without opening my eyes.

 

"Ouch!" I heard her whining, "You sure won't go easy even on your sister, huh."

 

"Shut up. Just leave," I said.

 

"No! You have to wake up. It's past lunch time already! Have you forgotten about our second date today?" She asked.

 

"I can't remember having an appointment with you for today," I responded, still not opening my eyes as I snuggled my pillow closer.

 

"Huh! When I just thought about buying you some lego, there you ar—"

 

In one swift motion, I quickly sat up as I stared at her. My head turned dizzy at my sudden movements as the lights blinded my just awoken eyes. I blinked my eyes a few times before it finally adjusted to the light. After that, I stared back at my sister.

 

"You will what?" I asked.

 

She rolled her eyes as she crossed her arms in her chest, "Nah, I didn't say anything."

 

"I heard you mentioning lego!"

 

"I didn't!" she denied.

 

"Yes, you did!" I insisted, "You will buy me."

 

"I was about to, but you acted all cocky and annoying and forgetful so I change my mind," she muttered with a pout.

 

"Who said I forgot? I was just about to stand up!" I said.

 

"Seriously, Jeonghan. You're not poor. Why don't you buy yourself one if you love making one so much?" she asked with her brows furrowed.

 

"I'm saving money. Plus, it's more enjoyable to construct a lego when it is given to you." I replied.

 

"Well, whatever. Go buy yourself one. I'm heading back to my room," she said and sassily turned around while flipping her hair.

 

"Wait!" I stopped her by grabbing his wrist, "I thought we'll go out?"

 

"I changed my mind."

 

"No, we'll go."

 

"I'm not in the mood anymore."

 

"I'll prepare now. There's a good movie out there."

 

"I said I'm not in the mood anymore." She frowned.

 

"And Jun told me he'll have a date with Minghao too."

 

"I said I don—" she froze. She slowly turned to me with her eyes widened, "What—who?"

 

"Jun told me yesterday he'll have a date with Minghao," I said, completely lying.

 

My sister has a massive crush on my Chinese friend. I find it disgusting to see her all whipped to Jun but for the sake of my lego, I need to do this.

 

"So I guess you don't want to go ou—"

 

"Who said I don't want to?! I'm just going to change!" she frantically exclaimed and headed towards my door, "hurry up preparing!"

 

"How about my lego?" I asked.

 

"I already ordered it!" she replied before completely disappearing from my room.

 

I smirk triumphantly.

 

Sorry sis.



Chapter Text

Joshua




I woke up with the sound of my alarm ringing with a loud vibration on the wooden side table of my bed. I forgot to remove the weekend alarm which keeps on disrupting my supposed rest.

 

Without much choice left, I stood up to wash my face so I could proceed to eat breakfast. I can't sleep again after being woken up by the alarm, anyway.

 

As I entered the bathroom to do my morning routine, I tried to recall what happened last night.

 

I remembered calling Jeonghan because I was so bored and I couldn't stop worrying about Seungcheol. He wasn't answering my calls or messages. Or am I just too clingy that he finds it annoying? But I'm just genuinely worried about him. I couldn't help it.

 

Then I remember that Jeonghan sang for me! That's the last thing I can recall though. Maybe I had fallen asleep.

 

But remembering his voice... it was so sweet and soft. Unfortunately, I fell asleep and so I didn't finish hearing all of it.

 

After doing my usual morning routine, I went out of my room.

 

It's eerily silent. This is the first time I stayed here at the campus on weekends. Had I really known Seungcheol wouldn't stay here, I would have gone home.

 

With a sigh, I head towards the cafeteria.

 

There's still so many students here, though. But I don't have someone else to talk to. I'm acquainted with many, but I don't really have other people who I consider as my friends. Wonwoo and Jihoon had always told me not to trust anyone at this school if their first approach to me is asking for a project or homework. That is something which will always be a mystery to me.

 

Anyway, I guess I'll have to endure this weekend alone. Geez, I won't stay here again. It's more bearable being alone at home than here. At least there, I can go to a mall or wherever or just play video games in my room. I don't have any games here with me.

 

Also, when 8 p.m. on Friday has passed, they will close the gates already and it will open again at 5 p.m. on Sunday. So I can't go out now.

 

When I entered the cafeteria, there's only a few students inside, and it's not as loud as usual. It's so weird to see the campus this quiet.

 

I took the seat where we usually sit. Unlike before, I'm alone.

 

"Well, this is my choice. I have to endure it," I mumbled quietly before I started to dig in my breakfast.

 

The food tastes so bland right now. Or maybe it was just what I thought. Do our taste buds really change according to what we feel? Because this is the first time it tasted bland to me.

 

"Joshua hyung?"

 

I raised my head to see who just called me and I was a bit startled to see Soonyoung in front of me, carefully examining me while holding a tray of his own.

 

"Oh, hey Soonyoung," I awkwardly greeted him.

 

"Are you all alone, hyung?" He asked, roaming his eyes around.

 

I nodded, "Yeah. All my friends went home."

 

He nodded, but he didn't walk away. He seemed hesitant to say something as he opened his lips but then he would close it again.

 

"Are you going to say something?" I asked him.

 

Hesitantly, he asked, "Can I sit here?"

 

I chuckled, "Of course." Why was he so hesitant about it?

 

He smiled and went to sit in front of me. I smiled back as I continued to dig in the bland foods. He did the same.

 

I stared at him who's enjoying his food. I then suddenly remembered Jihoon. Jihoon told me he's with Soonyoung. But he's not here.

 

"Soonyoung," I called him. He raised his head and visually asked me why I called him, "where's Jihoon? He told me he's with you."

 

He halted on eating. He put down his spoon as he answered, "He went home. I told him to talk first with Wonwoo since he went home too."

 

"Is Jihoon alright?" I asked.

 

"He's... sad," Soonyoung responded while looking me in the eyes. He then lowered his gaze as he continued, "he badly wanted to talk and explain to Wonwoo, but he couldn't because of Wonwoo's request to leave him alone for the time being."

 

"How about you?" I asked again which caused him to raise his head.

 

"Huh?"

 

"Are you alright?" I asked, "because this is not only about Wonwoo and Jihoon. I know how hard it must have been for you too, knowing that your ex-boyfriend and your soulmate were best of friends. I know you're blaming yourself, and that you're hurt too."

 

He didn't respond. He just stared at me with his lips parted a bit. I saw a hint of sadness and pain in his eyes as he refrain himself from saying something. He bit his lips and averted his gaze.

 

"I'm alright, hyung. This is the price I have to pay for pushing myself to Jihoon although he is Wonwoo's friend. This is the price I have to pay for hurting the-"

 

I quickly interrupted, "No, listen here, Soonyoung. No one's blaming you, okay? This is all just a phase in your lives, and all of it happened not because of you. It was your destiny. Cheesy as it is, but Wonwoo would eventually move on and probably, would learn to love his soulmate. By then, you can all be happy without hurting each other. We're all still young. This isn't something that can tear them apart. Trust Wonwoo. Trust Jihoon. They would be fine. So don't blame yourself. This is something I can assure you as someone who's been their friend for years. Trust me, Soonyoung."

 

He bit his lips, seeming reluctant to believe but eventually nodded, "I trust you, hyung." he said, eyes full of sincerity.

 

I smiled.

 

"No more blaming yourself?" I asked, offering a pinky promise.

 

He smiled and nodded again, "No more. I promise." he said, connecting his own pinky finger on mine which we eventually chuckled upon.

 

"Soonyoung hyung!" an obnoxiously loud voice suddenly beamed at the cafeteria which made all of us turn to look who yelled it.

 

A familiar man is heading towards our direction with a wide smile plastered on his lips. Trailing behind him was a smaller man with cute chubby cheeks. He seemed embarrassed at the man who yelled as he covered his face while heading towards our direction.

 

I stared at the man's face who yelled as he slowly drew closer. He's so familiar. He's the man with a very pointed nose. A perfectly sculptured nose which I always envy because it's a work of art. His face always has a bright expression. He's always smiling, and so are his eyes.

 

But I can't remember his name. I know I've heard of his name before but I couldn't recall it.

 

"Seokmin? I thought you went home," Soonyoung suddenly said to the man who's already standing beside our table.

 

Seokmin. Right! He's also Minghao and Mingyu's friend. He is also one of the infamous, chaotic trio Jeonghan had told us before, along with Soonyoung and a younger man which I don't know the name of, but I think is the man trailing behind Seokmin.

 

"I overslept. The gates were locked when I woke up," Seokmin answered sheepishly, then his eyes darted to me, the smile on his lips not faltering, "Hi, sunbaenim! You're Joshua, right?"

 

I nodded, "Hello, Seokmin. It's nice to meet you." I greeted him back with a smile.

 

"Hi, sunbaenim. I'm Seungkwan," the other man introduced himself to me when he reached our direction.

 

I smiled at him, "Nice to meet you, Seungkwan. I'm Joshua."

 

"Can we sit with you...?" Seokmin hesitantly asked.

 

Soonyoung peered at me, as if asking for my permission, to which I quickly responded, "Yeah, sure."

 

The three of them smiled at me as Seokmin sat beside Soonyoung and Seungkwan beside me.

 

"You're not going to eat?" I asked them when I noticed they didn't bring any food with them.

 

"Nope, we already ate in our dorm." Seokmin replied with a smile.

 

How can he smile all the time? It looks like his wonderful smile is already plastered in his face. I wonder if he's jaw isn't hurting.

 

"It's my first time seeing you here at the campus on weekends, sunbaenim," Seungkwan started off.

 

I chuckled at what he called me, "You can call me comfortably. I'd prefer that."

 

"Sure, hyung, " Seungkwan replied.

 

"And about what you said, well, this is the first time I stayed so it's understandable you haven't seen me before," I replied to what he's saying earlier.

 

"Where's your friends though?"

 

"They all went home. I don't know about Jun or Minghao though."

 

"Hyung, speaking of them, do you perhaps know what happened between Jun and Minghao?" Seokmin suddenly asked, the smile on his face slowly disappearing.

 

My smile faded too, "I do. Jeonghan told me."

 

"Is Jun hyung cheating?" He bluntly asked.

 

Soonyoung quickly smacked Seokmin's arm and at the same time, I felt Seungkwan kicking his feet below the table. Seokmin yelped at the unexpected hit.

 

"That hurts. I'm just asking!" He defended himself.

 

"Don't you think it's rude to ask that to someone you just spoke to for the first time?" Soonyoung asked in his unusual, serious tone.

 

"Hey, Soonyoung. Don't worry, it's alright," I intercepted before he got mad. Seokmin didn't say it just to be rude, right? He's just Minghao's good and concerned friend. Also, maybe the rumors had reached them too. He's understandable.

 

Soonyoung looked at me apologetically, "Still, it's rude, hyung."

 

"He's just worried about Hao, Soonyoung. Don't get mad at him," I told him.

 

Seokmin lowered his gaze as he muttered, "No, he's right. I'm sorry hyung. I didn't want to come out rude. I'm just mad at Jun hyung."

 

"I can't really tell their problem since I just know some few things about it, and I don't know if this will help, but Jun's not cheating."

 

Seokmin stared at me for a while, before he slowly nodded, "Okay, hyung. I'll trust that," he said, a smile slowly forming once again in his lips.

 

An awkward silence ensued between the four of us after that. The three of them weren't looking at me. I feel like I'm intruding in their way, and that I'm making them uncomfortable by the way they act. Jeonghan told me they're chaotic, and seeing them so quiet makes me feel shameful for being with them.

 

When I couldn't take the awkwardness of the atmosphere anymore, I broke the silence, "I'll go ahead now then. I already finished my food, anyway."

 

They all turned to me.

 

"Where are you going, hyung?" Soonyoung asked, his eyes seemed concerned.

 

"I'm going back to my room," I responded.

 

He seemed hesitant, but ended up nodding. I smiled at him and bowed politely at Seungkwan and Seokmin who did the same.

 

Before I could even turn around completely, my eyes met Seokmin. His smile was completely gone. His eyes show an unreadable expression, so different from his happy eyesmile earlier.

 

Not knowing what else to do or say, I just smiled at him and turned around, leaving the cafeteria with my heart feeling the overwhelming loneliness once again.

 

 


 

 

Boring.

 

That's the only word I can describe about what I'm feeling right now.

 

How did Seungcheol even manage to stay alone for years? It's only been an hour for me yet here I am, feeling so lonely and bored as I stare at the ceiling of our dorm room.

 

I am so used to having Jihoon and Wonwoo with me that this feeling of loneliness I have right now seems so foreign. Yes, I am alone in our house. But at least I have the freedom to go out and roam around the city. Unlike here, caged inside the walls of the school. Well, it's not like they lock me here. It was my choice to stay. So I have no one to blame. Not like I'm going to though.

 

I sighed for the nth time. Should I use the secret passage that Jeonghan had shown us so I can go outside this school?

 

Before I could completely agree to my thought of sneaking out, I was cut off by a knock on the door.

 

Who would knock at our door?

 

It can't be my roommates. They can't go in at this time anymore.

 

Curiously, I stood up and went to open the door for the anonymous visitor.

 

"Hi, Joshua," Soonyoung greeted me with an awkward smile while waving his hand.

 

Behind him was Seokmin and Seungkwan.

 

This is surprising?

 

"Oh, Soonyoung. What made you come here?" I asked.

 

He exchanged glances with the other two before he turned back to me, "Well... we figured you'd be alone and so we thought of inviting you over to Seokmin and Seungkwan's room?" He responded reluctantly.

 

I wanted to say 'yes' and join them, but remembering the awkward incident earlier at the cafeteria made me reluctant.

 

"I told you I'm alright, Soonyoung. You don't have to worry about me," I told him.

 

"But we wanted to..." Seungkwan said, his voice slowly fading.

 

I smiled at him, "If it's about earlier, don't worry, I'm not mad. You don't have to feel guilty, you know."

 

"It's not just about that, hyung. I really wanted you to come with us." Soonyoung said, which made me stop.

 

"Come on, hyung. If you're not mad at us, or with me, then join us!" Seokmin exclaimed, his eyes pleading at me.

 

Cute.

 

"I'm really not mad, Seokmin, but if you really insist, then fine. I'll join you." I finally surrendered.

 

They all looked at me with a smile as they muttered a loud 'yes'. Seokmin and Seungkwan simultaneously grabbed my arms while Soonyoung led us.

 

"Just a heads up: I'm not as energetic as the three of you and I'm not fun to be with." I said as we walked towards where Seungkwan and Seokmin's room resided, which is on the 2nd floor.

 

"I don't agree with that! Jihoon told me you're fun!" Soonyoung said.

 

"Yeah, and we'll have to know and find it out first before we agree or disagree with that!" Seungkwan added.

 

I shrugged, "I'm just saying in case you got disappointed and regretted inviting me over."

 

"Hep! No more of that! We're almost there!" Seokmin said and he pulled me away from Seungkwan and Soonyoung as he stopped in front of room 04.

 

"Let's start the movie marathon!"

 

 


 

 

It was fun.

 

I never knew the trio that Jeonghan finds annoying isn't as annoying as how he described them to be. They were so funny and ridiculous and entertaining. I almost didn't notice the time if it weren't for Seungkwan who yawned.

 

We watched movies at first, but Soonyoung got bored in the first fifteen minutes so we stopped. The three of them proceeded to suggest what we should do to kill time while I watched them in amusement. It was just earlier when Soonyoung looked so troubled and in pain, Seokmin looked so serious and Seungkwan fumbled out of nervousness. But there they are, arguing about what to do to entertain me.

 

I find it heart-warming how they wanted to entertain and amused me, when they already did by simply arguing like the teens they are. I looked like a dad looking so happy with my children.

 

When they finally finished arguing, they decided to just play foot volleyball. Losers will order desserts from outside (since it is allowed and the food will just be left to the guardhouse where we will pick it up).

 

I knew about that game but I never played it before. Mostly because my stamina is weak. Meanwhile, Seungkwan is a member of the foot volleyball team and he claimed that he's an ace on it.

 

It was a 2 vs. 2 match. Since there's not many people on the campus, we played on the field, but there were few people who watched us and it made me embarrassed and I wanted to back out, but with their constant reassurance, I agreed. Me and Seokmin were teammates. He was surprisingly bad at it because I believed him when he said he's good at it, while I surprised myself because I was the one who carried our team to victory.

 

Seungkwan couldn't accept it. He wanted a rematch, but I'm so tired that he just accepted defeat. Soonyoung on the other hand, didn't mind the loss.

 

Seokmin, however, was exaggerating. He went on with how surprised he was at my foot volleyball skills and that neither he and Soonyoung had won against Seungkwan. He even told me to join the team. Of course I refused. It was ridiculous. I just think of it as beginner's luck.

 

After playing, Soonyoung and Seungkwan ordered ice cream as per the bet.

 

We went to eat dinner first while waiting for the ice cream. When the ice cream arrived, we went back to their room. We didn't play anymore, we just sat and ate and talked about random things.

 

I didn't feel left out at all. They were constantly asking me things and making sure the topic they've been talking about won't leave me out. They would explain it to me. I found them so kind and considerate.

 

The night ended when Seungkwan yawned, followed by Soonyoung, me and then Seokmin. We laughed at it and called it a day. They wanted to walk me to my room, but I refused. They did so many things for me and I don't want to be such a nuisance anymore. Although I admit I somehow love to be babied. But I was the oldest among us.

 

However, Soonyoung insisted he'd walk me back since his room is just above mine. I couldn't refuse when he insisted on it so much. He just thanked me before he went upstairs.

 

It felt like I just had new friends in them. It felt euphoric to have new friends. In just less than a year, my circle of friends is growing. From only to Jihoon and Wonwoo, then to Jeonghan, Jun and Minghao, then Seungcheol, and those three chaotic trio.

 

I thought I'll spend this day just lying down on my bed, regretting my decision to stay. Good thing I did, though. I became close instantly to my best friend's soulmate and his friends.

 

I lay down on my bed with a smile on my face. It was so tiring, yet so fun.

 

I snuggled my pillow closer to me to have a good sleep. I was slowly being pulled to the darkness, if it weren't for my phone which suddenly rang.

 

Without looking at it, I took it from the side table of my bed and answered it.

 

"Hello?"

 

"Shua," I heard Jeonghan's voice calling me. I moved my phone away from my ear to look at the caller's ID and it was indeed Jeonghan.

 

"Oh, Han. Why'd you call?"

 

"How was your day there? Is it boring?" he asked.

 

I smiled. How thoughtful of him.

 

"It wasn't. It was surprisingly fun."

 

"Why? Mind telling me what happened and why do you sound so delighted?"

 

"I don't know if you'd find it interesting..."

 

"No, I want to hear it. How was it?"

 

I bit my lips to suppress a smile as I felt my heart skipped a beat on how he sounds genuinely interested in hearing my day.

 

"Well, I'm with Soonyoung, Seokmin and Seungkwan," I reluctantly told him.

 

"Wait- what? You're with the three of them?" he sounded so surprised, based on how he raised his voice.

 

I nodded my head.

 

"Shua? Are you still there?"

 

When I realized he couldn't see me nod my head and that's why he thought I left, I immediately said, "Yeah, yeah. I'm here. And yes, I'm with the three of them earlier."

 

It took him a few seconds before he responded, "What did you do with them?"

 

"Hmm..." I trailed off, remembering what we did earlier. I told him how we watched a movie at first but then ended up playing foot volleyball because Soonyoung got bored. I also told him how I carried our duo and how I won against the foot volleyball team member. I added how thoughtful of them to me that I didn't even feel out of place even once, and that Soonyoung walked me back to my room.

 

I didn't tell him about the incident in the cafeteria earlier. We forgot about it anyway. It will just ruin the mood.

 

"It must've been really fun, huh? You sound so happy compared to your gloomy voice last night," Jeonghan said.

 

I chuckled, "I know right? I didn't expect it either."

 

"How were you able to cope up with their energies? As far as I know, you have weak stamina."

 

"I'm surprised about it too. I was so tired. Seungkwan wanted a rematch to salvage his pride but I couldn't move my feet anymore."

 

I heard him laugh from the other line which made me laugh too.

 

"Guess you just tried your best to cope up."

 

"Right? Man has too much stamina," I said. We both chuckled and then followed by a long silence.

 

"Han?" I called him after a long silence.

 

"Hmm?" he hummed.

 

"Sing for me again, please?"

 

He chuckled, "Sure, Shua-ah."

 

I heard him clear his throat first before he sang.

 

"If I am given a second life 

I may live and breathe differently compared to now 

Among the streets we'll walk past each other without knowing 

I hope we remember each other 

Even in our next life,"

 

I let myself smile as I carefully listened to his soft, soothing voice. I didn't finish listening last night because I fell asleep, so I'm listening to it right now attentively.

 

"Even at that time, I'll go to you

We're already beautiful I like it because it's us No words are necessary

The gaze, the touch

Even if a second life that's different from now comes to me,"

 

As I continued to listen and feel his voice, I felt my heart skip a beat. It was refreshing. Like all the tiredness I felt earlier were instantly wiped out.

 

"The one thing I can say is 

That I'm going to be by your side 

On a sudden day when I'm left alone 

I'll take my steps towards you again 

When I see my face in your two eyes 

As if the world has stopped, I will hug you..."

 

A moment of silence had passed after he finished singing. Did he fall asleep?

 

"Shua?"

 

"Oh, Jeonghan. I thought you fell asleep." I replied.

 

"I thought you were too," he said.

 

"I wouldn't want to miss your voice again like I did last night." I jokingly retorted.

 

He chuckled, "Good. Because you can't hear it all the time, you know. You're just lucky."

 

"Yeah, sure." I said.

 

"I'm glad you had fun there, Shua. Let's call it a day?" he asked.

 

"Yeah. Thank you for listening, Jeonghan."

 

"Always. Good night, Shua-ah. Sweet dreams."

 

My heart pounded, "Goodnight, Han-ah. Have a sweet dreams too."

 

Minutes after the call ended, I was slowly pulled by the darkness that I refused earlier just to finish hearing Jeonghan's singing voice. I wasn't paying much attention after that as I let myself drift to sleep.

 

I didn't pay much attention that I barely glanced at the glowing red strings that shone through my room, a vine slowly creeping around it.