comes with warning
been staring at this expanse of white space for half an hour. Summary, if you have arrived, pls make yourself known
nc-17; highlight for warning > homophobia, depression, no one dies in case you have been looking forward to it ._.
anytime you encounter a strange word, please refer to the excited chick > (it wants you to click it ._.)
thanks to ~pepper~ because who am i without your smartass comments (a better person, i sometimes think. most of the time, i still try to trip corgis)
& to nyan-nyan for holding my fat paw. it means a lot to me that you held my fat paw because. i. was. in. pain. thank you
special qt pie thanks to faye for taunting me. hey faye, sorry for always eating all the food you can't have teehee
only mom can taunt me about the word count
Yifan finds him sitting on the oak brown linoleum floor, leaning against a navy blue bookshelf, head drooping between folded legs in his slumber. Maybe the boy is kind of cute, but Yifan can’t be sure because one just can’t be sure of drooling people. In the spirit of customer service, Yifan generally doesn’t stop customers from sleeping in the bookstore because it operates 24 hours and there are bound to be stubborn people (as any self-respecting salesperson would interpret: assholes) who refuse to go home and mistakenly think that they are capable of staying intellectual and awake for such a long period of time. Unless they’re loitering in the Erotica section, Yifan realized on his first day of work. Some people just can’t porn in private.
There are new books that need to be placed on shelves, however, and Yifan is nearing the end of his graveyard shift. In addition, it is 6 a.m. and people are generally meaner at shit a.m. in the morning. He gently nudges the boy awake. Well, the plan was to do it gently but he misjudges his patience and smacks the boy on the shoulder with a hardcover. He looks around. No one saw that. So he smacks the boy again. He stirs awake. Slowly. That earns him another knock. Yifan puts on a kind face when the boy’s eyes flutter open. OK, he’s cute, now that his mouth is finally closed. The kid has pouty lips and deep-set lids that compliment his eyes which are currently hooded with sleep. But cute boys aside, Yifan still wants to go home.
”Xian sheng, bu hao yi si, ma fan rang yi rang,” he says with a small smile.
Chanyeol is disoriented as he rightfully should be when one second he’s still caught up in an accidental doze and the next, he’s being woken up by a supermodel. Oh dear. What a nice face that is. His lips are moving. Such nice moving lips too. He’s speaking… what the hell is he talking about? Chanyeol is unsure of what to do but he prioritizes with an unsteady brain and thinks he should most definitely wipe his drool off first.
Yifan cannot decide if drool on Chanyeol’s face is actually less disgusting than drool on Chanyeol’s sleeve. Perhaps this boy is just disgusting. “Ma fan rang yi rang,” he repeats, leaning down to speak.
“Uhm,” Chanyeol mutters intelligently. Pushing himself off the floor, he looks around and sees that he’s most certainly still in the bookstore and not stranded on a catwalk. Chanyeol unfolds to his full height and is surprised to find that he’s staring at the stranger’s perfect nose instead of, say, the perfect top of the stranger’s perfect head as he usually would be (staring at the top of heads, that is. Perfection isn’t a usual occurrence.)
He’s Korean, Yifan realizes, and tall. Too. Just one or two centimeters shorter. His voice doesn’t go well with his face, a little too deep for those large unassuming eyes. “Excuse me,” Yifan switches to Korean smoothly and Chanyeol clings onto his mother tongue like a life buoy in the middle of a foreign ocean. Yifan gestures to the cartload of books next to him and Chanyeol moves (tap dances?) awkwardly aside. He continues to stand there and brilliantly define awkward with body language while Yifan shuffles and slots books onto the shelf that Chanyeol was leaning onto earlier. When he’s done, Chanyeol is still there, picking up all his scattered marbles.
“Is there something I can help you with?” Yifan asks.
Chanyeol takes in the navy and gray uniform that Yifan has on and it finally sinks in that he is a staff in the bookstore. “Oh,” he says, a bit too loudly in the sparsely occupied bookstore, and grimaces. “Oh,” he repeats in a lower volume as if to make up for his unceremonious cry, even crouching a little to make himself look insignificant. An insignificant pile of 1.85m something. Very discreet, see.
Yifan gives him a queer look and he fumbles, hard, because he is being so damn un-cool right now. “It’s alright,” he recovers brightly, picking up a random book and flipping very rapidly through it, “I’ve found what I’m looking for.” He stops at a page and gives Yifan a tight smile before perusing the paragraphs on it.
He can’t read a single line of this shit.
Chanyeol is confused. His eyes agitatedly sweep over the entire page that’s filled with what seems to be Hanja (but not quite it?) and he discovers that he can probably only read the numbers that indicate the page he’s at. Even then they seem weird.
In a really upside-down kind of way.
He nearly drops the book because he could feel Yifan’s gaze boring holes through his being. But Chanyeol just coolly flips the book over and pretends to be really good at Chinese. He looks over at Yifan and nods in a hey-gorgeous-stranger-I-am-confident-and-I-k
Yifan quirks his lips. But in a most indistinct way. “If you like, we also have the Korean translation of ‘50 Creative Ways to Give Blowjobs’,” he offers helpfully.
This time, nothing stops Chanyeol from dropping the book as if it were a human head. The paperback lies innocently on the floor. He frantically scans the cover for a male reproductive organ and is relieved to find that it’s plain and Chanyeol can only decipher the numbers ‘5’ and ‘0’ printed on it. But then he meets Yifan’s eyes and panics again. “Yes, I have always wanted to read this in two languages,” he assures Yifan with morbid calm he doesn’t feel and suppresses the wild urge to slap himself. ‘I have always wanted to learn how to give creative blowjobs in two freaking languages,’ is really what he's just said. As if regular Korean blowjob tutorials just don’t cut it. This is not embarrassing at all. Nope.
Chanyeol chances a glance at the sign that indicates the section he’s currently in. What in the world does 财经管理 mean? It means ‘Sex & Sexuality’, doesn’t it. Oh dear God, Chanyeol wants to fling himself into the path of a speeding bullet train or put his face into a blender. He’s not feeling very picky at the moment, to be honest.
Yifan hides his amusement. He picks up the book and hands it over to Chanyeol who hesitates before taking it most reluctantly by pinching one corner with two fingers. “Let me call someone over to help you get the Korean version.” He starts waving to (an invisible) someone in the bookstore.
“It’s OK!” Chanyeol gives a tiny scream and nearly drops the book again in his rush to stop Yifan. “I’ll, erm, I’ll. M-maybe next time.” Maybe next time? his mind screams.
Yifan nods his head. “So is this all you’re getting?” he asks, lifting those sharp brows and taking the book back from Chanyeol.
No. “Y-yes?” Chanyeol feels trapped.
“Let me show you to the cashier.” Yifan starts leading the way and Chanyeol, apparently bound by mysterious eyebrow authoritative forces, follows him.
“Thank you, see you again,” Yifan smiles like a perfect gentleman as he hands Chanyeol his receipt. The boy takes the small slip of paper and gapes at it.
“See you,” Chanyeol mutters automatically, although he has no plans to ever see the supermodel again. He’s just in shock that he has blown ₩39,999 on a book about blowjobs, one which he cannot read; not that he would, even if he could, get your brain out of the gutter.
The same day, some eight hours later, Chanyeol indulges his friend with his interesting and exciting life story. They are seated in the last row of the lecture hall. The lecture is as stimulating as a wake, Chanyeol has a supermodel story. Surely you’ve gone through the same thing with your best friend.
“You didn’t.” Jongin stands firmly in denial of the stupidity of his friend, even as he watches Chanyeol pull a book out from his backpack.
“I even have the Korean version reserved under my name. I don’t know what happened, Jongin,” Chanyeol appears worried and befuddled. It isn't his fault, really, that Yifan is a very persuasive ass.
There’s a little commotion and they perk up, hoping that the lecture has ended early. But it’s just Kyungsoo, seated up in front. He has sneezed and managed to knock his head on the table in the process. Now he looks lost and puzzled. But then again, he looked lost and puzzled yesterday as well. In fact, he looked lost and puzzled when they first met. Chanyeol helped Kyungsoo pick up his pen which had rolled over to Chanyeol's feet because he appeared distressed. But he soon realized that life and the ever changing universe just confused Kyungsoo in general.
Chanyeol and Jongin dismiss Pororo.
“There’s also a bruise on my shoulder, I wonder how I got it,” Chanyeol furrows his brows while he massages his left shoulder. But Jongin is flipping through the book and has already stopped listening. The lack of illustration leaves him sorely disappointed.
The lecture finally ends. Heaving a sigh, Chanyeol pulls the book out of Jongin’s hands and stuffs it back into the dark depths of his bag, in case any Chinese overseas student walks by. He swings the backpack onto his bruised shoulder as he makes to stand. “I’m going to find Jongdae,” Chanyeol says with resignation so complete, Jongin almost weeps. But then he remembers his lack of a conscience.
“That charming sonovabitch is going to charge,” Jongin calls out as he watches his awkward pal trudge away. Chanyeol replies that, at this particular desperate point in time, he probably wouldn’t even mind if he had to resort to robbing fierce ajummas to pay for Jongdae’s services.
“Or defenseless babies,” drawls Jonggin, who clearly knows Chanyeol better than he knows himself.
Jongdae finds a wee wounded lamb waiting outside his lecture hall after he’s done with CHIN321 Chinese Classic Interpretation Practice I. He walks past it heartlessly.
“Jongdae,” Chanyeol bleats.
“Oh! Hey! I didn’t see you,” Jongdae whips around and cheers. Yeah, because it’s really easy to miss the gigantic lump of Chanyeol blocking the mass exodus of people from the lecture hall, as if he weren’t sticking out like an erecti-ahem in an extremely small pair of Speedos.
“I need your help,” says Chanyeol, and Jongdae looks at his watch. There’s a good three hours to waste before his next class. “I’m kind of busy right now, actually…” he trails off apologetically.
“Help me, you’re my favorite Chinese friend,” Chanyeol tries to engage his help while he wrestles to fish the offending book out from his bag.
“I’m your only Chinese friend,” Jongdae retorts. Then he pauses. “Wait, I’m Korean.”
“What does the title says? Does it mention, um, hmm, jobs of a certain nature?” Chanyeol asks cautiously, showing the book to Jongdae.
“Why? Are you looking for a job? You don’t even need one,” Jongdae says and takes the book, eyes surveying the cover. Chanyeol makes a non-human sound at the back of his throat. Luckily, Jongdae has very strange standards and he takes it as a ‘yes’.
Looking up curiously at Chanyeol, Jongdae says, “I didn’t know you swung this way, Chanyeol.”
Oh dear God. Chanyeol wants to split himself into half so that he could fling himself into the path of a speeding bullet train and put his face into a blender at the same time. He has done too many bad things in his life. Is it because of that time he scratched out 김종인 and wrote his own name onto that Business Statistics paper? Is that it, God? Is it? This is so unfair. He didn’t even pass.
But wait. He has to kill Jongdae first since he knows his secret. Chanyeol’s hands itch for Jongdae’s throat.
“I never knew you were so concerned about early retirement. Planning to go somewhere when you’re 50?” Jongdae asks, clearly oblivious about his imminent death. He pushes heavy glasses up the bridge of his nose as he shuffles through the pages with a thumb and those murderous hands fall limply to the sides.
Chanyeol makes a face that cannot be described in words so I won’t even try.
The same day, some eight hours later, Yifan indulges his flatmate with his interesting and exciting life story. “One day, you will plunge into a deep dark hole of karma and I will be waiting with a gigantic tub of popcorn,” Lu Han comments after Yifan finishes up his tale. He smacks his lips, as if he could already taste the butter.
Yifan nods in agreement even if he doesn’t agree at all. Karma doesn’t exist, honestly. The value of the idea of karma is only to make people feel better that they didn’t fall prey to convenient wicked ways. Even if they really wanted to. He props his feet up on the white coffee table in the living room where they’ve been having lunch. They don’t have a dining room in the small rented apartment and the kitchen cannot contain a table. But the walls are blue and the paint hasn’t cracked yet. They like the place.
“Today, however, you will do the dishes,” Yifan says.
“Why me?” asks Lu Han, who’s sitting beside him on the black couch. Although they both know Lu Han is aware that it was Yifan who washed the dishes last time.
His (comparatively) tiny gege scowls and starts jabbing Yifan’s thigh with his big toe. Yifan takes Lu Han’s leg by the ankle and tries to stick that big toe into the plate of leftover black bean pork ribs that still has a thin layer of gravy on it. Lu Han lets out a shrill cry and almost sweeps all the dishes off the coffee table in his struggles. “I hate doing the dishes,” Lu Han frowns when he has settled back onto the couch with clean toes. But it’s a cute frown because he knows all of Yifan’s soft spots.
Sure enough. “Fine, I’ll do it.” Yifan is bemused. Obliging Lu Han is kind of a masochistic past time of his. It’s that face’s fault. He likes it anyway (it’s easier than admitting he likes his gege).
Lu Han chitters away happily like a precious nightingale. “Do you think he’ll come by again?”
Yifan thinks it over while he stacks the plates. “Well, our return policy is in place,” he replies and watches Lu Han scramble for the phone. “What are you doing?”
“Calling Yixing to change shifts with him tonight. I need to witness this in person.”
Yifan decides he likes Lu Han’s adorable leers as well.
Lu Han snaps his head up like an alert deer when the tall boy walks in. He checks his watch. It’s 2:16 a.m. “The target has arrived. I repeat, the target has arrived. Over,” says Lu Han. But there’s no response. “Do you Roger me? Come in.”
“I’m standing beside you, Lu Han,” Yifan says calmly, sticking yet another price tag onto the pile of brand new 1988 - I Want to Talk with the World novels in front of him, “we don’t use walkie-talkies anyway.” He is a detached admirer of Han Han, preferring his articles (most notably The Literary Circle is Bullshit, Don't Act Like a Know-it-All) over his published works.
“And you think I don’t know that.” Lu Han flattens his disgruntled lips and stops talking into his airy walkie-talkie. “You are just no fun.” He eyes The Boy standing a couple of bookshelves away critically. “On a scale of Zitao to me, I’d say he’s somewhere between Yixing and Minseok,” Lu Han delivers his verdict to Yifan, who hasn’t been waiting with bated breath at all.
Lifting a brow, Yifan says, “Zitao is at the bottom of the cute meter?” And you’re at the top? Yifan doesn’t say that, however. Of course Lu Han would be lording over everyone when it comes to cute. Of course, of course. Or maybe, Yifan just isn’t in the mood for cute squabbles. His gaze flickers over to the kid he pulled one on yesterday, and collides abruptly with another. Amusement pulls at the corner of Yifan’s lips when he sees that The Boy stiffens and hurriedly shifts his line of vision to some magazines in front of him; he picks one up only to start scowling at it. The smile widens since Yifan knows that he doesn’t know a single word of Chinese.
“Look, I like Zitao but stay real, dude, this ain’t a wushu competition. His flying kicks are no match against my eyelashes. I’m docking all his points off because of the eye circles and stop smiling like that, I’m sure there’s a law against it.” There’s a law against being this cocky too, but never mind. Don’t go quarreling with someone who thinks he’s right all the time.
“What does being ‘between Yixing and Minseok’ means?” Yifan asks and loads the cart with novels that need to be shelved. Lu Han replies with a leer. It’s a problem, Yifan thinks, that Lu Han is getting very good at leering. He leaves the lecher and pushes the cart across the room to the wall of books at the other end, passing The Boy on his way but ignoring him deliberately. He shuffles past and senses the shadow of a stare, heavy and lingering on his back. Suddenly Yifan stops, just a step away, and turns his head slightly to the side to examine a row of books on the shelf nearest to him. He feels the gaze shift away from him immediately. Yifan will say that he’s only trying to keep himself in employment when he removes a thin book from the shelf where it rightfully belongs and leans right into The Boy’s personal space to misplace it on the magazine rack. The stare slides back onto his profile but when Yifan reciprocates, The Boy’s panicked eyes are wholly focused on the magazine he cannot read.
When Yifan turns his back to The Boy, he allows the smile to ease back onto his lips.
It’s getting awfully hard not to smile anyway.
Chanyeol slides smoothly (fact: he wobbled) down the aisle, nearer to where the good-looking lying bastard is, on a bent knee over at the shelf, sliding books on and off shelves and rearranging them. Vaguely, he wonders why he’s doing this. Unlike Jongin, he doesn’t have a single blood-thirsty cell in his entire being and he detests confrontations. But then again, who says confrontation is his intention? Perhaps this has nothing to do with the book and everything to do with the way… Chanyeol cannot define that feeling.
He’s actually at a loss. How do you approach a gorgeous stranger? Cutie Chanyeol is usually oblivious to the fact that he gathers more than a few stares himself. Wide eyes, genuine smiles, legs that make you question your stumps. More importantly, he’s someone who won’t hesitate to hold your hand even if it’s sticky with tears. Chanyeol’s personality outshines his looks and in a ridiculous sort of way, his heart makes you think he’s more beautiful than he really is. And you can tell he’s special when he smiles.
When Chanyeol smiles, he trips hearts and makes people fall.
Sadly, he’s just someone who wants to talk to a lying bastard now.
Looking around, Chanyeol spies the ladder of the bookshelf near him. He saunters over like how any other nice book-buying person would, slides it across the aisle like how any other nice book-buying person would, and stops only when he’s two steps away from the stranger like how any other sneaky stalker would. He climbs up the sturdy wooden ladder and freezes when it creaks, which would be normal, except Chanyeol is trying to be a creep right now and he doesn’t want the attention. The sound slices through the quiet bookstore and Chanyeol stops breathing. His eyes slither slowly to the left and Chanyeol is relieved when he sees that the salesperson is still busy shuffling novels. Well, the salesperson is busy trying to hide his very obvious grin right now as well, but Chanyeol is unable to see the arch of his smile from where he currently stands on the ladder.
The blissfully ignorant Chanyeol takes three quick steps up the ladder and then, wait, he has no idea. ‘What next?’ Chanyeol thinks. He looks as suspicious as an Oreo amongst a display of colorful macarons, just standing on the ladder and not doing anything. This must be why the other salesperson in the Chinese section keeps looking over from the other side of the bookstore. That little face keeps surfacing over the mountain of books in front of him and peering in his direction with pursed lips and furrowed brows before submerging into the depths of literature again. The next time he sees the brown of that head go up, Chanyeol panics and quickly reaches out for the nearest book in a flurry of gawky limbs. The hard cover slips through his clumsy fingers, however, and when Chanyeol scrambles to save its fall, his elbow knocks into the row of books on the shelf below and sends a shower of books down.
Right onto the lying basta- maybe he should stop calling him that.
It is not everyday that one gets hit on the back of his head by Dream of the Red Chamber (traditional Chinese), Dream of the Red Chamber (simplified Chinese) and other Chinese classics. Rubbing the painful spot on the back of his head, Yifan picks up a copy of Trimetric Classic, lifts his head up to scowl at The Boy and is rewarded with a terrified look. His frowns are worth their weight in gold and he knows it. It’s fun intimidating people.
The lanky boy gulps and jumps down from the ladder, two steps at a time. He rushes over to Yifan, denim-clad knees hitting the smooth linoleum floor and sliding a little. “Um, I’m sorry,” he apologizes, hands making a meaningless gesture that perhaps means to express his klutzy exasperation. "Does it hurt?” he asks, one hand automatically reaching out to the sore spot at the back of Yifan’s head, only to flinch back like he has been shocked when his fingers first sift through those black locks. “Oh!” he gasps, looking wide-eyed from his hand to Yifan and then back to his hand. “…” Kid looks like he really wants to explain the current situation but all his mouth does is to form weird shapes. Because it’s hard to say ‘I just wanted to massage your head. But then I realized it was inappropriate.’ without sounding inappropriate.
It’s almost impossible to disguise his amusement now so Yifan lowers his head and starts picking up the fallen books. The Boy quickly catches on and puts his disgraced hands to good use as well, helping Yifan gather up those novels. Their fingers get tangled up when they’re both reaching out for a paperback (in truth, Yifan just decided to grab The Boy’s hand), however, and both of them raise their heads at the same time (Yifan raised his head; the Boy’s head jerked up like a startled chipmunk). Yifan blinks at The Boy, who seems a little petrified, and slowly removes his hand. There is some more of that lip-forming-weird-shapes thing again. It’s kind of entertaining.
Oh, Yifan muses, this is definitely better than cute.
Yifan just smiles at him. Like the innocent ass he is. To his credit, The Boy only fumbles twice when he piles up all those books and hands them to Yifan, careful to avoid further contact. It goes without saying then, that Yifan has to encompass The Boy’s hands within his own for three full seconds (he counted) before taking the books over. “Thank you,” he says graciously. He really does appreciate The Boy’s funny lip shapes.
At his words, The Boy lifts his eyes up and without warning, breaks into a broad smile.
By far and large, Yifan cannot be counted as a romantic. Maybe Lu Han, who believes from the bottom of his little heart that one day, DBSK will reunite once again to conquer the world!
But in that moment, Yifan’s world does become shades brighter.
That smile should really have come with a warning.
They have placed the books back on the shelf and the salesperson is about to wheel his cart off when Chanyeol, eager to prolong their conversation, blurts out, “You must be new.” He hopes he’s being subtle. Sure, as far as embarrassments go, Chanyeol is as subtle as a walking blue whale. But hey, some people like blue whales.
The salesperson turns around, an amazing smile dangling off the edge of his lips. “How did you know?”
“I’m a regular.” Chanyeol couldn’t stop a grin from taking over his face, too. “Never seen you around here before.” He wishes he could look into the stranger’s, well, almost-stranger’s eyes when he replies, just like how he always does when he’s talking to people. But he soon discovers that it’s hard and he might just be blushing a little. Chanyeol thought he had already forgotten how to blush. (Don’t be rude. This just means he has learned to accept his graceless self with grace.) This is like having his first crush all over again. But at least he isn’t shuffling his gigantic feet around. Something that smells like promise is tangible in the air and it weighs down in the pit of his stomach, sending heady sparks of excitement surging through him. But Chanyeol just cannot be sure yet.
“I just started a week ago,” the devil replies. “Say, aren’t you going to beat me up over the book?” he asks, the smile turning playful as he spins a book on his forefinger and drops all pretenses.
No, thank you for that prank. Chanyeol tries to scowl but really, all he manages to do is to level up his grin. Why is it so difficult to do anything but smile right now? Maybe it’s because this means the guy remembers their encounter from yesterday, too. That’s ₩39,999 well spent. “Just you wait. One day, I will be waiting for you around the next corner, a sack in one hand and a club in the other.” His threat is as empty as the promises of a presidential hopeful.
“Why would you even need the sack then? I’d definitely know it was you.” A hand runs through those black locks and his bangs are swept to the side. Very attractive. Something like a smirk flits across his face. Uh.
And Chanyeol starts shuffling his gigantic feet.
“Hey,” Almost-Stranger starts and then stops.
Chanyeol ceases acting awkward for a while. “Chanyeol,” he supplies immediately before snapping his mouth shut. Damn. What if he wasn’t actually asking for his name. What if he was actually going to say, ‘hey, dude’ like any other regular guy out there. What if-
“Hey Chanyeol,” Almost-Stranger says, his voice sounds a little husky around the edges of ‘yeol’.
Chanyeol likes his name ninety-two billion times better already.
“It’s nice talking to you and all but I have work to complete before my shift ends,” Almost-Stranger says and Chanyeol feels his spirits being pulled down by a dull sense of disappointment. But at least he sounds sorry? Chanyeol feels a bit encouraged.
“I’ll still see you around?” There’s a hint of prospect in the tilt of Almost-Stranger’s voice and Chanyeol’s stomach tightens. This feels a little thrilling. He’s almost certain now.
“Yeah,” Chanyeol says, lips curling like a cat’s, “yeah.”
Almost-Stranger gives a cheesy two-finger wave, which the normal Chanyeol would have scorned but this Chanyeol is floating right now and cheesy two-finger waves are without doubt, the sexiest things in the world this very moment. Cheesy two-finger waves are right up his alley and over the fucking hills! In a cheesy kind of way, Chanyeol thinks it rather compliments the sexy vibes Almost-Stranger is radiating. He skips once and catches himself in time. Somehow, Chanyeol manages to walk calmly past the other (still peeping) salesperson and out of the store.
He runs back thirty seconds later, however, with his fringe flopping over his eyes and cool act (Chanyeol doesn’t know that it has never worked for him) abandoned. “I still don’t know your name,” he says, all out of breath, and Almost-Stranger pauses in his rearrangement of books.
“Yifan,” he answers, “Wu Yifan.”
“Yifan,” Chanyeol repeats after him. The name is a foreign taste on his tongue. “Yifan,” he says again, savoring the name on the tip of his tongue. It tastes fizzy, the sweetness spreading like the red bleeding out from a fading sunset.
“Yeah,” Yifan replies. The smile starts slow, from a slight tug on the edge of his lips until there’s a flash of teeth.
Chanyeol is sure then, he is not alone in this. Whatever ‘this’ is. Whatever ‘this’ could be.
“Two-finger waves?” Jongin attempts one and Chanyeol twists his lips in disapproval.
“You’re doing it wrong,” he says. “Like this.” With two fingers, Chanyeol draws a perfect arc in mid-air and winks. Someone walking past their lunch table stares at him, so Chanyeol repeats his act for her. The girl gives him a bemused smile that spells hey-michyeosseo? and he laughs boisterously in response, slapping his thighs. Jongin sits a little further away from him. He doesn’t want his bubble of normalcy to get polluted. Or anymore polluted than it already is.
“He winked?” sputters Jongdae. “That’s ancient, dude. Might work on my grandma. And you, of course.”
Chanyeol wants to elbow Jongdae’s mouth for defiling Yifan’s sexy two-finger waves. “No,” he corrects Jongdae, “I just think a wink would have made the perfect ending. Really adding on the vintage charm.” He puts down his spoon, a bit sleepy now that he has demolished his bowl of kimchi jjigae. A sleepy Chanyeol is not a happy Chanyeol. He reached home yesterday somewhere around 3 a.m. and had only about 4 hours of sleep before he had to drag himself up for school. “Why are you even here? I’ve already given you the book. You should be busy saving up for your retirement at 50.”
“What? I can’t invite myself to lunch with you?” Jongdae asks.
Jongin and Chanyeol pretend to think it over. “No,” they chorus. For good measure, Jongin adds in a tragic shake of his head with his mouth upturned. He looks darling.
“Hurt.” Jongdae tries a pout and Jongin flicks him grains of rice that are sticking on his chopsticks. It’s a pity they land on the table and nowhere near Jongdae’s face. So Jongin throws him a half-chewed samgyupsal from his bowl instead.
“Thank you,” says Jongdae. It’s difficult to curtsy when one is sitting down but that doesn’t stop Jongdae from trying.
“So what else did you guys talk about?” Jongin asks.
Chanyeol rolls his eyes skywards as if deep in thought. “Nothing.” This displeases Jongdae who has been expecting exciting developments. “You don’t even have his number?”
Jongin tilts his head enquiringly. But Chanyeol reveals little more than a grin. Jongdae recycles that half-chewed samgyupsal by throwing it at him. With quick reflexes, Chanyeol deflects that oily piece of pork with a suave two-finger wave.
And a wink.
Jason Mraz is singing into his ears. Chanyeol loves this song, probably because he has no idea it’s about getting over someone. He thinks it’s about love. And he can’t help having a spring in his steps, can’t help tripping a little over his own legs, can’t help a grin from spreading across his face when there’s nothing to laugh about, actually. Chanyeol feels a little silly. Alright, more than a little foolish. But he also feels kind of good. Really good. A man stares at his smile when they pass each other on the steps that lead to the bookstore, so he tries to sober up, tries to draw the corners of his mouth down, tries to scowl back at him, even. One of those frowns people have on and they probably don’t even know why; an unconscious habit. But it’s impossible. His good mood is impossible to defeat. It feels like excitement and happiness and trepidation all at the same time. It feels like an inside joke only he knows. He wants to share it with another person, so they can laugh together. Then in the next instance, he thinks it feels like none of this at all. This is absurd. A laugh bubbles up and escapes from him. Chanyeol pulls it back in time but not the second one and he cannot even be bothered trying to hold in the third. He runs up the stairs, not giving two hoots if the man thinks he’s crazy.
If Chanyeol were to condense all his feelings and write them down into a single paragraph, he thinks it’d just be bafflegab, contradictions in every line, cluttered and absolutely true.
Frankly, no one should be allowed to be this happy at shit a.m. in the morning but… Chanyeol cannot define that feeling.
It’s just that sometimes people fall in love without knowing what love is.
The bookstore is deserted as it rightfully should be at 1:30 a.m. Removing his earbuds, Chanyeol spies Yifan at the customer service counter sorting out some magazines. His ‘Hi’ has just the right amount of anticipation in it. He has rehearsed well over the course of a week since they last met, favoring it over ‘Hi!’ and ‘Hi~’. With his elbows placed on the counter, he leans in – but not all the way – and smiles closed-lipped (this means he’s feeling a little shy) at Yifan. He has waited a whole week, although not patiently.
Yifan lifts his head up from the copy of Milk he has been reserving for a customer. “Chanyeol.” His smile is still reserved, all faint curves and slopes. Chanyeol wants to make him laugh out loud without a care, pulling those soft lines into an insane plot. Another day. Now, he just wants to know him better.
“Nice to see you again.” The smile widens just a bit more and oh, fuck big manly laughs, Chanyeol likes mysterious secretive smiles better anyway. “I’m here every Wednesday,” Chanyeol offers and Yifan nods his head but says nothing. Taking the hint, Chanyeol says, “Continue your work. I’ll be browsing around, don’t mind me.” With that, he turns around and walks out of the Chinese section of the bookstore, feeling a pair of eyes on him. The quiver in his stomach is back. It is this that Chanyeol doesn’t explain to Jongdae and Jongin. He quite likes this feeling of exhilaration and he wants to stretch this phase until it wears thin. It is exciting.
It’s almost better than being in love. Almost.
But not quite.
He’s falling too fast but Chanyeol doesn’t care. He’s never one to meet anything half-way. Always inclined towards recklessness, always plunging headfirst into unmapped plans without a lifeline.
The bookstore is massive and covers the entire third storey of the shopping mall. While it stocks mainly Korean books, the store contains not only a Chinese section but also a Japanese section. Chanyeol strides purposefully through the bookstore, however, and just makes the usual pit stops, checking out the latest arrivals, current promotions and the bestselling books of the week. He scribbles the titles down into a well used brown notebook and notes down the date as well. Picking the week’s top selling book off the shelf, Chanyeol settles down on the nearest bench.
This is where Yifan discovers Chanyeol, reading the back of the novel for a glimpse of its contents. He sits beside Chanyeol and taps his wrist twice to get his attention. Alright, fine, admittedly Yifan wanted to make him squirm but he has clearly underestimated Chanyeol. The latter only squirms when the tapping escalates to brief touches. Satisfied with Chanyeol’s reaction, Yifan leans back on the bench. ("Sadistic ass,” Lu Han would say.) “Break time,” he replies Chanyeol’s questioning look.
Putting the book down on his lap, Chanyeol bites his lower lip in thought, heart going a little too fast; he can hear his heartbeats in his ear. What should he say? What would make for an interesting conversation? He lifts his eyes up, meets Yifan’s smiling eyes and his gaze flickers down again, smiling in response. Then he sees the name tagged pinned to his uniform. “Your name is Kris?” Chanyeol asks, peering at it. It says 크리스. “How many names do you have?”
“Management wants me to get an English name, easier for people to pronounce.”
“Yifan, Yifan, Yifan” Chanyeol recites cheekily, as if to prove that he can manage the name just fine. Chuckling lowly, Yifan removes a pen from the breast pocket of his shirt and a random receipt he somehow procured from his pocket. “This is a mouth,” he says, placing the receipt on his thigh and writing a 口 on the back of it, “and this means the sky.” Yifan writes a 天 beneath the 口. “This is pronounced as wu, my surname.”
“Wu,” Chanyeol looks at the messy 吴 Yifan has scribbled and repeats after him.
“Good,” Yifan compliments and Chanyeol beams at him, flashing two rows of white teeth. “This is fan. It means ordinary.” A lopsided 凡 joins 吴 on the paper. For all his good looks, Chanyeol realizes that Yifan’s handwriting is an ugly sonovabitch. ”Wu is also the same pronunciation for this.” With several flicks of his wrist, Yifan writes down another character. Chanyeol peers at the small piece of paper. 无. “It means nothingness. So wu fan could mean ‘nothing ordinary’.” Chanyeol thinks this suits Yifan, who does seem rather extraordinary. “So what does yi mean?” he asks.
The smile turns pensive as Yifan writes 亦 down, right between 吴 and 凡. This time, every stroke is perfectly executed. ”Yi means ‘the same’. Wu Yifan means I could have nothing under my name but I still stand as an equal with everyone. We are the same.” There’s a quiet intensity running underneath his words but when Chanyeol blinks up at Yifan, there’s that un-telling smile again on his face. Briefly, Chanyeol questions if his face tells a different story. He does always have difficulty keeping his feelings hidden. Right now, wonder should be written in his eyes. “What does my name mean?” asks Chanyeol, tilting his head to the side.
“How do you write your name in Hanja?”
The receipt is taken from Yifan. In stark contrast with Yifan’s, Chanyeol’s handwriting is cute and squiggly. He writes 燦烈 under 吴亦凡 and takes a moment to admire their names together before showing it to Yifan.
”Canlie,” Yifan says slowly and something warm unfurls in Chanyeol’s heart before it clenches almost painfully when their eyes make contact. Strangely, it doesn’t feel like falling anymore. In fact, he can define this moment perfectly. There is the worldly swirl of activity around him, the flight of time, the slur of the voices of memories in his head. But the only thing that’s real in this moment is Yifan’s eyes, piercing him through and pinning him down. He is still sitting where he is but the ground has fallen away at his feet.
“The fiercest brilliance.”
The next Wednesday, Yifan reads him something from a novel. His voice is low and free of intonation. As a storyteller, he is deeply ineffective, as he reads this:
The most considerate, intimate and passionate way of repaying her was none other than washing her socks, her second layer of skin. There was no more time, there were no more chances. There would not be another opportunity again. The life of a firework belonged to the night. To suddenly burst into shocking colors in the darkest, coldest, deepest night. And then, there was nothingness. It turned out that the most glorious moment had passed! From now on, no matter how bitter the memories were, they would bring with them a tinge of sweetness.
“Well, that really makes a lot of sense. I totally know what you’re on, of course! Xie xie very much,” Chanyeol gushes exaggeratedly with a most enlightened look on his face. Laughing, Yifan translates for him in Korean what the passage means. The unforgiving planes of his face smoothes into pliant curves when he laughs and Chanyeol is secretly pleased to know that he’s the cause of it. He also thinks it’s adorable the way Yifan struggles to come up with the most suitable Korean vocabulary, all scrunchy lips, angry brows and sexy-cute intellectual vib-
Chanyeol pauses mid-thought. Sexy-cute intellectual vibes? What the hell are those. Are those an upgraded form of ‘sexy vibes’? Chanyeol finds himself fairly gross right now. He needs a moment to doubt his soul.
“It’s about the end of a war,” Yifan continues with his explanation, placing Fireworks in March back onto the shelf and now juggling several copies of Channel A, completely oblivious to Chanyeol’s internal conflict. “And the separation of a woman - who used to be a comfort woman - from her husband.”
“Huh,” Chanyeol replies smartly. When he finally gets over himself, Chanyeol settles down by Yifan’s feet as he fills bookshelves with shiny new novels from the cart. “Did you always want to work in a bookstore, Yifan?” he asks, adding his name in just so he could practice his pronunciation. “Since you like reading so much.”
“No, but I thought it would help me become what I wanted to be.”
“What do you want to be?” Chanyeol takes a random book from the shelf and flips through it. It’s in traditional Chinese so Chanyeol can read bits of it with what he knows of Hanja. But nothing makes much sense. Foreign and familiar at the same time. He thinks he feels the same, too.
Smiling, Yifan takes a book from the cart. “A bookstore needs different types of books. You have the best-sellers,” he waves the copy of Tiny Times 1.0, “and then you have the popular movie tie-ins.” He places Tiny Times 1.0 back onto the cart and takes You are the Apple of My Eye out. “Next, international best sellers translated into Chinese. In my opinion though, what-everyone-thinks-would-be-chic-to-re
“A good book doesn’t necessarily sell well though. Interest and money just don’t mix sometimes.” His fingers ghost over the spine of Fireworks in March. “And you can’t really filter those you think are trash but will eventually sell anyway. It would be nice to have a mix but in the end, it really depends on the bookstore’s clientele.”
In terms of a filter though, Chanyeol is a rather good one. He latches on to the important part. “You want to be a book buyer.” Yifan hums a reply. Then he squats down and nears Chanyeol, who starts scrambling backwards until his back hits the shelf. Contact is probably not a good idea at the moment because his heart has begun stuttering before it settles on a dangerous beat. He wonders if Yifan can hear it. Contact is probably never going to be a good idea, Chanyeol thinks as he eyes the hand that is now on his knee. Although, really, the touch might be justifiable? Because Yifan could really do with some leverage as he leans forward to peer into Chanyeol’s eyes.
But no, Yifan is just being his assy self.
Chanyeol hopes his feeble watery smile is a very charming one. He also hopes he is not twitching. Eh, is that a whimper?
“I have a question, too. Why are you here every Wednesday?” Yifan feels the twitch in Chanyeol’s knee and leans forward a little more. The weird lip shapes are back. He misses them. Is it bad that he’s having so much fun with this?
“Er… school is located near here, ends early on Wednesdays so I usually drop by before I go home.” Chanyeol tries to introduce space by flattening his palms against Yifan’s shoulders and straightening his arms. It’s in this compromising position that Lu Han finds them.
“Ah. Do you need me to call the cops, Chanyeol?” Lu Han asks innocently, folding his arms and looking like he has no intention of walking away like any decent friend would when he discovers his pal creeping in on a delicious prey. Hastily, Chanyeol swats Yifan away as if clearing the dirty evidence of his embarrassing crime. When Yifan turns his eyes to Lu Han, they have thinned into slits.
‘Yes, please,' Chanyeol wants to say. But while he has gotten acquainted with Lu Han since he last visited, Chanyeol hasn’t gotten used to his eccentricity just yet. “It hurts only the first time,” Lu Han whispers loudly before he grins nastily at Yifan and meanders off, ignoring Chanyeol’s flabbergasted look. He doesn’t have any real intention to offer Chanyeol a helping hand anyway. Stroke the dragon’s whiskers but don’t make it breathe fire.
Chanyeol hasn’t even gathered his wits (‘the first time?’ ‘it’d hurt?’) before Yifan speaks up. “So, tell me, Canlie,” he asks, face beaming with a grin that threatens to spill over, “your school ends at midnight every Wednesday?” The corners of his eyes crinkle playfully. This Yifan is the most animated Chanyeol has seen yet. Poor Chanyeol. Clueless puppy.
A flush creeps across Chanyeol’s face. He opens and closes his mouth like a cute pufferfish. Then with something that seems like chagrin, he declares sulkily, “You never know. That might just be true.” Grabbing another book, he starts reading something he can’t read.
Yifan’s laugh is just as wicked as Lu Han’s.
Another Wednesday, the early morning rain drenches Seoul and claps of thunder pepper their conversation. Yifan tells Chanyeol he’s currently studying Korean part time and it’s now term break, which is why he’s able to work the graveyard shift. Chanyeol says he’s studying business administration at college.
“Why are you studying Korean? I think you manage just fine,” Chanyeol asks. Yifan’s accent comes through but it doesn’t hamper others from comprehending him.
“It’s Business Korean. Will help me move on from here. Everyone wants to be a better person, Chanyeol.”
“But I think you’re good, just like this.”
Jolted by his words, Yifan turns and gives Chanyeol a look. When Chanyeol sees the surprise in his eyes, he looks away sheepishly. He might have given himself away just then. Thankfully, Yifan chooses to ignore what he said. “So, you want to be a banker? Or some job in a corporate?” The skies choose to growl at this moment and Chanyeol shakes his head to indicate that he couldn’t hear. “I asked what you wanted to be,” says Yifan, pen ticking titles that have arrived off the list and jotting down the ETA for the rest.
Looking stupefied for a moment, Chanyeol replies automatically, “I don’t know.” Then he decides on a scowl. “I don’t know.” The reiteration is unnecessary but Chanyeol has been caught unaware about the future - a dreamy and faraway concept. He lives just for the present.
“You don’t know what you want to be,” Yifan repeats. His tone is a little teasing. Then he leans in a little closer on the pretext of checking the stack of novels beside Chanyeol, breath skimming the slope of his jaw, and Chanyeol starts fumbling with everything again. His legs are too long, he can’t walk straight. His bag is too cumbersome, it won’t stay on his back. His mouth is too picky with words, they won’t come. Yifan is too close, Chanyeol works like a spoilt toy.
On some other Wednesday, Yifan ditches work without Lu Han’s knowledge and escapes to the 24-hour café that operates on the floor just below the bookstore. Chanyeol learns that Yifan likes his coffee black and he’s currently living with Lu Han in a rented apartment. When asked about his parents, he replies with a faint, “Dead.” Chanyeol fumbles with the spoon before he finally catches and places it quietly on the wooden table, right beside his cup of coffee. “My mum. Too,” he whispers, eyes drifting up before they stray to the back of his hand where Yifan’s fingers now lay, thumb going around the bone of Chanyeol’s wrist in circles. The touch incites no excitement, just comfort, warm and reassuring. “It happened a long time ago,” Chanyeol tries, unsure if he’s ready to share yet, because six years are too short a period for mourning.
But Yifan stops his hesitation with a smile and a slight shake of his head. Neither of them asks any questions, there’s no need to try and pry any deeper into matters. The conversation dies a natural death but their fingers continue to lay knotted together against the blue of the tablecloth as they offer each other silent condolences.
Lu Han is livid. He has been sticking price tags onto the new novels all night before he realizes that Yifan probably has no plans to return from his toilet break and take over for him. Nose red from the great injustice he has suffered, he scouts the whole building before he finds him. Lu Han is about to dash into the café and dramatically accuse Yifan of loafing on his job when he sees the two of them, hands meeting across the table, clasped together. They have their heads turned towards the window, eyes on the bright lights of the occasional car streaking by outside. On one hand, Lu Han wants to spoil the moment for Yifan and taste sweet revenge. On the other, he secretly fears that Yifan might really kill him this time, no matter how adorable a gege he has been to him all this while.
Lu Han thinks he’s too cute to die. So he stalks away, all the while muttering things like ‘lovebirds’, ‘disgusting’, ‘pure love ugh’, ‘nuisance to Mankind’. But oh, really, Lu Han is just too proud to admit he’s jealous.
This Wednesday, Yifan tells Chanyeol that he’s changing to the afternoon shift, now that school is starting. Chanyeol exclaims, “Finally!” Sagging on the bench in the bookstore, he spreads his limbs out and heaves a sigh of relief.
“What?” chuckles Yifan. He gently brushes Chanyeol’s brown bangs to the side and he responses with rapid blinking, shrinking a little into the collar of his blue shirt. Just to be irritating, Yifan lowers his hand to brush softly against Chanyeol’s cheek.
Pushing Yifan’s hand aside so he can function, Chanyeol complains, “Do you really think I like staying up on Wednesday nights?” He glares at Yifan who starts laughing at his eye circles. Chanyeol’s serious face lasts three long seconds. Then he’s clapping his hands and laughing along even though he has no inkling that the joke is on him, too readily open to infections of the happy sort. Yifan loves that about Chanyeol. He’s only too happy to be happy. Happiness is a virus when Yifan is with Chanyeol. As impossible as it sounds, it makes him think he could be happy too. What others spend their whole lives pursuing seems absurdly effortless right now. Just the thought of this sends warmth surging through his body until it reaches his fingertips, and Chanyeol is at his fingertips, skin tingling with Yifan’s touch. It all starts and ends with Chanyeol.
Lu Han walks by and whispers dark curses at them.
For the first time, the sun is still up when they meet. It’s early afternoon on a Wednesday and the bookstore is bustling with people. This is also the first time Chanyeol has to compete with some customers for Yifan’s attention. “Hey,” Chanyeol calls out to him at the customer service counter. “School just ended?” There’s a laugh lurking in the corners of Yifan’s lips. “Yup,” Chanyeol grins magnanimously. It isn't a lie this time. “How are your classes?”
“Not too bad. Last night, we pretended to be executives planning for the company’s budget and had the worst business discussion in the world.” A laugh bursts out of Chanyeol, the sound carefree and light. It tickles a smile from Yifan too.
Then a plump Chinese boy bumps Chanyeol out of the way and steals Yifan attention, demanding the next volume of Naruto. There are some magazines at the counter and Chanyeol browses through them, wasting his time looking at the pictures until the ring of customers clear. “We have an event this Saturday, want to come?” Yifan asks when he’s finally free.
“What’s that?” Chanyeol asks, feeling the familiar stir in his stomach when Yifan taps his forearm for his attention. One day, this feeling will be gone when Yifan’s touch grows to be familiar (and it will, Chanyeol believes) but at the moment, he is still tethering on the edge of something he thinks is momentous and he cherishes every intoxicating step that brings him to the brink.
“Origami class,” Yifan smiles. “Do you even know what that means?” He holds out a piece of paper to Chanyeol.
The headstrong devil in Chanyeol raises his head. Yes, the very same one who insisted that he wanted to learn how to give creative blowjobs. “Of course!” he scoffs, confidence brimming over.
“Are you going to just stand there or are you going to fill out the form?” Yifan rests his forearms on the countertop and invades Chanyeol’s personal space. A lazy grin pulls his lips taut.
“I would like to continue standing here… while I fill out this form,” Chanyeol says fiercely as he grabs an innocent black pen on the counter and stabs the piece of paper he has snatched out of Yifan’s hand.
“Oh Chanyeol, are you going to be here on Saturday as well?” Lu Han sings, pushing an empty cart back to the counter. There’s a grin on Lu Han’s face. Chanyeol thinks it looks evil. Lu Han is evil. “Erm,” he turns to Yifan for help. But Yifan is already immune to Lu Han and doesn’t sense anything amiss. “Yeah… why are you here? Don’t you work the graveyard shift?”
“I requested a change in shift,” Lu Han drawls. I’m watching you, is what Chanyeol thinks he’s really saying. “See you on Saturday.” There’s promise in Lu Han’s voice and the grin morphs into a smirk. This all seems very unpromising to Chanyeol. He needs a plan.
In terms of evilness, Chanyeol thinks Lu Han could be loosely considered a saint next to Jongin. He honestly doesn’t want to push Lu Han into the fiery pits of hell but it’s not like he has a choice. Actually, he thinks Lu Han might just be asking for it. The little guy needs to be distracted. If someone had to be sacrificed for the sake of Chanyeol’s happiness, it’d have to be Lu Han. There’s no other way. Only evil can triumph over evil.
So the next day, after a lecture, Chanyeol starts laying down his trap. It’s the first time in a long while since he has slept well on a Wednesday night and it makes him feel oddly refreshed and wiser. He’s sorely mistaken about the second part but whatever.
“There’s someone cute I want to introduce to you,” he begins nonchalantly and Jongin perks up. This is good. Jongin is just so easy. “Really cute.” And Jongin is now listening with rapt attention. Chanyeol is impressed by how smooth things are going; he had no idea Jongin was desperate.
“This Saturday, the bookstore is holding an event, some class, and we’re going. Yifan will be ther-“
“Who’s Yifan?” asks Jongin.
“Erm. The lying bastard.” Chanyeol feels bad for using this nickname now. “But let’s call him Yifan from now on, ‘kay. Practice it on your own. Don’t call him that when you see him. He’s kind of gigantic, yeah?” Jongin nods. Chanyeol nods. Jongdae nods.
“Go away, Jongdae,” Chanyeol says tiredly.
“Yifan,” Jongdae says in reply. Chanyeol is impressed again, by his pronunciation. But then again, Chanyeol is impressed by a lot of things, say, Yifan’s big manly hands and Yifan’s eyebrows.
“Yifan,” Chanyeol says after him. “Go down a little at ‘fan’,” instructs Jongdae. “Yifan,” Chanyeol attempts again. “Perfect!” Jongdae trills. “Thanks, now go away,” says Chanyeol, “I have only one cutie card to play now. But you’re first in line if anyone shows up again, ok?”
“I’ll trade my cutie card for yours,” Jongdae proposes to Jongin.
“This cutie card is mine,” Jongin says wryly, as if Lu Han were already his.
The disgruntled Jongdae sighs in agreement.
‘Wow, my friends are really hard up,' Chanyeol thinks. He turns to Jongin and for a moment, he is sorry for using Lu Han as Jongin bait. But that cute face has to have a purpose for its existence. Well, besides the fact that Lu Han’s head needs a face. Right? Right.
(Chanyeol is despicable.)
He whips out his phone, does a bit of searching on Naver and finds out what origami means. Paper folding. Great. He has always wanted to know how to maneuver colored paper into cool and manly animal shapes. Just one of those survival skills one needs to learn. (‘If you were a kindergartener and female!’ His inner self clearly needs etiquette lessons. Chanyeol promptly dismisses him.)
“So what’s the class about?” Jongin asks as Chanyeol pockets his cell.
“Book cover design. Typography and stuff like that,” he helpfully informs Jongin who nods his head with what could be vague interest or Lu Han-interest. Ah, yes. Lu Han the reward.
So Chanyeol shamelessly remains guilt-free.