summary: a love story in 21 days. based on ian's prompt (@shoujotachi on twitter).
a/n: for ian, without you this fic wouldn't have existed. for amy, lynn, beth, tlist, without you guys I wouldn't have ever finished this.
most people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 75.
The 2x2 portrait stares back at him innocently, as innocently as abnormally large eyes can get, Jongin thinks. It is the result of half-hearted, sloppy efforts to paste the photograph onto the sheet of paper with a bit too much of wet glue. Jongin remembers fumbling for his old, old bottle of glue and trying to squeeze sufficient amounts of the sticky substance just to paste a silly picture on the space provided.
For the second time that afternoon, Jongin snorts and looks around the tiny coffee shop lazily. Two waitresses are hanging by the cashier exchanging time presumably for the latest gossip in town, occasionally sending quick, shy glances his way before looking away. To add on to his misery, the centuries-old air-conditioner continues to whirr on noisily in the background, slaving its life away for Jongin to enjoy waiting for his patient to arrive so they can get on with the patient study.
He checks his watch. Two fifteen, his patient is fifteen minutes late. Okay, well, either that or Jongin is simply fifteen minutes earlier.
Two minutes later, DO KYUNGSOO is still staring at him from the thin stack of info sheet sprawled across the sticky table as if judging him for doing a terrific job pasting the picture on the designated space. KYUNGSOO looks a bit miffed, and Jongin cannot deny that he is feeling the same way too. It’s the summer holidays, he’s supposed to be going back to his hometown and rotting his life away in neuroanatomy and idiopathic diseases instead of trying his best to deal with annoying summer assignments like silly patient studies.
This must be karma announcing her return to screw him up for that one time he took Baekhyun’s assignment for unconsented editing purposes. That bloody cycle, always getting back at innocent people during unsuspecting times.
Do Kyungsoo, Jongin rolls the name on the tip of his tongue and enunciates every single syllable slowly and clearly in his head. He quite likes the sound of his patient’s name chiming in his head, like the quiet little bells above the doors one hears when the breeze blows past. For now, Do Kyungsoo is nothing but a blank sheet of paper in front of him with unfilled spaces and a set of questions printed below to help guide Jongin to conduct his interviews with his patient. He wonders what sort of person this Kyungsoo would be, impatient? Slow? A fucking rocket like how Chanyeol’s patient was just because the clumsy giant triggered a chain of unpleasant memories?
It’s all a big unknown for now, and unfortunately for the world Jongin is not up for playing detective today. He wouldn’t give half a golden ass even if KYUNGSOO is a no-show and bails out last minute. No, wait, on second thought Jongin will be pissed he didn’t walk all the way from campus to this secluded cafe in the sweltering heat just to get stood up by someone he hasn’t met before. It would be a Katrina Blow to his pride!
All in all, unless damages are done to shoot down his pride and dignity, Kim Jongin doesn’t give a poop.
At least, not yet.
But that was Jongin two seconds before Tiny Elf With Big Eyes shuffled up to his table, dragged the chair against the tiled floor and sat down across him, not even once breaking eye contact with him. Two seconds can change a lot of things, a lot of things can happen in two seconds, for a moment Jongin had been huffing and counting the number of stray strands he can catch among his overgrown fringe and the next he’s locked eyes with this boy that must be the subject of his patient study.
This must be Do Kyungsoo.
“You must be the med student I was told to meet.”
In his starstruck state of mind Jongin barely registers the words escaping Kyungsoo’s lips. He is simply too busy taking in the sunken lines on his face from excessive chemotherapy and what little chubbiness the boy has left on his cheeks so his lame response comes out a second later than normal. It sullies the reputation and name of his self-proclaimed med-student-reflexes, to be painfully honest.
“Yeah. Uh. Hi.”
Kyungsoo stifles his giggles without much success. Jongin snaps back to reality and clears his throat, regaining what little professionalism he has left lying and rolling miserably on the oily floor tiles by his flip flops.
Cough. “M-My name is Kim Jongin, and I’m glad you are willing to participate in our university’s patient study. Thank you so much for your time, Kyungsoo-ssi.”
Kyungsoo takes a second to spare the character info sheet lying innocently on the table a glance. Jongin is a med student, he notices the slightest of things in front of him, is trained to, and hence it doesn’t slip from his watchful eyes when Kyungsoo’s eyelids lower for a second before fluttering back up so Jongin can continue staring (ogling) at big eyes with endless depth. Kyungsoo has long lashes, thick enough to fan a buzzing bee ten feet across the room and supply sufficient kinetic energy to power up the radiology department with a single bat.
And then, Kyungsoo smiles. It’s that kind of shy smile jongin has only experienced once in a lifetime when Taemin smiled at him back in fourth grade the day before moving to America. He’s seen that shy smile going around his peers for quite a couple of time, he’s seen it on Baekhyun’s face (the first and the last time) the day Chanyeol stood on the canteen table, mouth still full of disgusting ramen and shit and recited Yeats for the shorter during lunch, and he’s definitely seen it spreading across Sehun’s face every time Luhan sends him coy glances while passing by each other in campus corridors.
It’s the kind of smile that makes Jongin burn up despite fueled with only what seems to be dying embers burning small and slow on a cold winter night. Jongin is on fire now, he wants to touch Kyungsoo and compare body warmth so he can sort of brag about how hot he currently is.
“Ah yes, as I was saying, the university hopes that you could help me improve my consultation skills and broaden my experiences dealing with various types of illnesses that will definitely come in handy in the near future. Everything’s confidential, don’t worry.”
“Ah,” Kyungsoo nods, “but cancer isn’t an illness. It’s you.”
“Uh, I’m pretty sure cancer cells don’t have Kim Jongin stamped all over their plasma membranes.”
“Oh! No, I don’t mean it that way, I mean– oh god I’m making myself look stupid.” Jongin’s eyes follow Kyungsoo’s hand flailing up and down in midair, he looks like a chicken, an undernourished chicken that was once a fat chubby chicken but lost weight due to a deadly case of chickenthermia. “I just meant cancer is made up of you, I mean, it’s all your cells, mutated or not. It stems from your body.”
Deep. Very deep. “So you’re saying it all went wrong with the programming?” which is quite true, one of the essential basis cancer facts were founded upon. He is supposed to ask open-ended questions to gauge reactions out of his patient and understand their views on the medical world but Kyungsoo seems to be a rebel, refusing to let him ask his own set of questions so.
“I guess. It’s just carnivorous, cannibalistic mutation eating ourselves up. Who knows, we might all be mutant ninja turtles one day.”
“Probably,” Jongin pretends to scribble something on a blank sheet of paper that surprisingly doesn’t include delusional and endearing (more like introspective and cute as fuck). Chanyeol would like this guy, but Jongin isn’t going to give Kyungsoo up for anything, not even a week’s worth of liquor and booze. Chanyeol can be stuck with Mrs Machine Gun forever and Jongin will laugh at his hyung’s misfortune over dinner every day.
“So Kyungsoo-ssi, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask how you discovered a bunch of mutated cells multiplying within you one day.”
Said man pauses, and Jongin takes this moment to observe the way the man’s eyebrows scrunch into fat, chubby Heimlich the Caterpillar below deep forehead creases (only this particular Heimlich isn’t green).
Observe body language, patient is distressed over the topic currently in discussion, but not too uncomfortable to the point where he completely shuts down and refuses to speak. Situation code green, okay to proceed.
“I felt a stabbing pain in my thigh. Counterpain or deepheat didn’t work for a week so my grandma took me to the hospital. We got the news a few days later when the results for my MRI scan came out.”
“Did you feel distressed when the doctor broke the news to you? I mean, I’d like to know your reaction and how you dealt with the shock of such information, and your thoughts on how the doctor should’ve told you, if any.”
“I nearly pissed myself when the doctor told us. I wish I did because then I’ll get moved to another ward that was colder so that the cold numbs the pain. My grandma,” Kyungsoo pauses and gulps for a second, “she cried. A lot.”
Sympathy jumps into action and makes jongin’s head nod up and down slowly. He’s seen it all, despite ploughing through only a year of medical studies and a couple of hospital visits, he’s seen the amount of people cry over cancer and the ugly state it thrives on, like parasitism. Enter hospital, get x-ray, get diagnosis, cry, die.
“What sort of treatment did the doctor advise you to take? Do you think he took your opinions (if any) into consideration?”
“I guess? He told us in the end all options lead to surgery, so he advised us to have the lump removed surgically before it spreads. It was painful, I had to bear with the pain post-surgery while taking 10 shots of chemotherapy so the drugs will keep the cancer at bay. I’ve been in remission for three months now so it should be pretty okay.”
A curious, unexpected sense of relief washes over Jongin. Remission is good. It’s good as long as St Christopher works his magic on expensive-as-fuck medication so Kyungsoo can live another day to see the sun rising from the east. For some reason, Jongin wants Kyungsoo to stay a little longer on this blue planet, he has taken an interest in him and hopes to know more about Kyungsoo so they could possibly be friends.
There is something about Kyungsoo that piques his curiousity and spikes his interest. The inquisitive nature inside Jongin wants to know why.
“That’s great, remission is good. So what meal plans have you been sticking to recently?”
They go back and forth like this, Jongin asking the questions like the future doctor he is and Kyungsoo being a cooperative patient, always answering the questions accordingly and giving Jongin the responses he needs for his report at the end of the summer. Kyungsoo’s answers are always interesting, they make Jongin listen instead of falling asleep and wishing to hurry up and end this session. When Kyungsoo talks, Jongin watches. He observes the way Kyungsoo’s pupils dilate or sparkle with excitement on a topic close to his heart, the rise and fall of Kyungsoo’s chest with every breath he takes, and subconsciously he wonders how it would feel to trail his fingers from Kyungsoo’s collarbone down to his sternum, across the patch of skin covering his ribcage, lungs and heart.
“Oh I’m listening, go on.” Oh shit he’s been caught, damn it Kim Jongin what happened to those days you slept with your eyes open in class without the lecturer noticing a single thing god damn it. You’re such a fucking loser.
“But you haven’t written down a single thing I said about my medication and its side effects.”
Oops. “It’s okay, I’m a med student, I have photographic memory.”
Kyungsoo blinks, before crossing his arms and leaning against the back of his chair. Patient has taken on a defensive stance, expression a mixture of confusion and slight dissatisfaction, pull over Kim Jongin it ain’t safe to proceed.
“This is boring you, isn’t it? It’s okay, I know it is. I’m boring myself too.”
OUCH. Is Jongin really that much of a boring person he bores people to death?!
A moment of silence for the conversation that has been rammed into a dead end please. It’s the ultimate showdown of the year in which poker faces are placed in the frontline of the battlefield and no air molecule is spared from being sizzled into nothing but electrons. Across the table, Kyungsoo’s large eyes regard him gravely. There’s no hiding from this steely stare, Jongin knows no amount of concrete can stop the gamma rays from shooting out of pitless pupils so he concedes defeat and lets the tense atmosphere drive them wherever they’ll go.
Besides, Kyungsoo looks pretty adorable, pouty lips pulled into a frown. He’s probably stripping him down mentally with his eyes anyway.
“Look,” Kyungsoo interjects suddenly, “since this is obviously getting us nowhere and I have to catch the next bus to the hospital, perhaps we could schedule another session some other time?”
“Hold on I’m sorry I didn’t mean to offend you–”
Kyungsoo, whose butt is currently hovering a few inches above his seat, shakes his head. “No it’s okay, I understand. It’s the summer holidays, you’re supposed to be out there playing soccer or some shit and enjoying life, not stuck with some sick person for your stupid-as-fuck summer assignment.”
The guilt overrides him like a cowboy on a fucking mexican bull gone wild. While Kyungsoo grabs his backpack and pushes in his chair under the table (neat fellow) to leave, Jongin ignores the crumpled pages and shoves his papers into his bag (messy jerk) and scrambles to catch up to his patient in hopes of remedying the situation as much as possible. Kyungsoo looks mildly annoyed, but Jongin can’t help it because who could possibly resist watching that adorable face twisting and twitching with every flicker of emotion?
“Hey, I’m sorry.”
Outside, the late afternoon sun shines on them mercilessly. Under the sun, Kyungsoo has to squint at Jongin through narrow eyes and even though Jongin knows it’s unintentional, it still kind of hurts his feelings (and pride) because for christ’s sake he had just apologised! Kim Jongin apologises to no one! Not even to the almighty Wu Yifan who terrorizes and rules over campus like Hades on a menopausal day.
“We’ll contact each other soon I suppose. Thank you for having me.”
“Thanks for your time.”
And with that, Kyungsoo turns away and disappears off into the crowd, leaving Jongin alone to mope and cry over his own stupidity and inability to carry out basic conversations with his peers. It is not until ten minutes of self-berating and intense gazing at the spot Kyungsoo had once graced his presence on later that he realises a couple of things:
One, he pissed his patient off.
Two, he pissed Do Kyungsoo off, thus ruining future chances of getting-to-know-each-other’s and being friends (or something more).
And three, he forgot to ask for Kyungsoo’s number to schedule their next appointment.
In short, congratulations, Kim Jongin is royally fucked.
According to howstuffworks dot com the process of memory begins with encoding, which then proceeds to storage and eventually, retrieval. Jongin thinks his hippocampus must have decided that Kyungsoo is worth remembering because for the next 24 hours post-first patient study meeting, all Jongin can think of along with every page of his neuroanatomy textbook he’s studying is Kyungsoo, Kyungsoo, Kyungsoo, and Kyungsoo. Kyungsoo’s name appears along with the subtopic titles and page numbers printed on the index page, his knee is there when Jongin is flexing his synapses to store the nervous system of the lower limb into memory, and Jongin is just sort of thankful neuroanatomy does not cover the reproductive system because holy shit he certainly does not want to see Kyungsoo’s glorious penis magnified 20x and sprawled across the entire page, coloured and each cell labelled down to the very core.
(Actually he kind of wants to but shhhhhhh no one’s supposed to know.)
But then again it seems like it’s all up in Jongin’s head because when Chanyeol walks by that evening and sees Jongin’s handsome face buried in a detailed explanation of the patellar reflex, the taller just barks in laughter and slaps him on the back with a force that would put almighty superman to shame.
“I see you’ve been working those arms,” Jongin mumbles, his voice muffled through the thick pages of his textbook.
“You should too. Brings all the girls to the yard.”
Even though Jongin has no eyes on the back of his head like a fucking tarantula, he knows Chanyeol is smirking and showing off toned biceps to his back where he can’t see.
“Indeed i am.”
The Kyungsoo effect has yet to wear off, Jongin discovers the next morning when he wakes up after a strange dream involving lemons and Kyungsoo’s quadriceps (no don’t ask). The thing is, Kyungsoo doesn’t seem like someone Jongin would notice or glance at any time of the day, so it puzzles him to no end that his shadow would linger at the back of his mind and continue to haunt him during REM even though they had only met for less than an hour yesterday. The memory of Kyungsoo’s large, innocent eyes seems to be implanted onto his mind for life and Jongin is not sure if he is willing to consent because said image seems to be the cause of his poor performance today while carrying out his duties during his hospital visit.
So far, he’s gotten an hour’s lecture from the nurses for misplacing an important document he was supposed to safekeep for a while, and later on while inquiring unsuspecting patients he unintentionally sent one with weak lungs into a fit of agitation and coughs. Oops. He didn’t do it on purpose he swears! Usually, especially on his good days, the patients love him and adore him to no end. The lonely grandmothers who are stuck at the chronic disease floor coo over him and pat his head affectionately when he pays them a visit.
(It’s like seeing duplicates of his late grandmother whom he misses very much. When nostalgia hits, it brings back memories that he wishes he could relive again. But this is life, reality, you can’t go back in time, so Jongin just deals with it and makes sure he always carries an apple to spare for the elderly so he can always call them the apple of his eye.)
“You’re gonna see more days like this in third year, get used to it. You can’t be in people’s good books all the time.” Chanyeol sniggers when Jongin stumbles awkwardly into the hospital cafeteria during lunch later that day.
“Oh my god don’t even remind me.”
Jongin wants to die. Sweet lord is there a cliff somewhere near Seoul where he can fling himself off and erase his existence off this planet?
Rent a car, speed on the highway, crash into a fucking gorilla and instant death upon impact. Yup, sounds like a plan. Jongin continues to ponder over foolproofing this brilliant plan of his while waiting for his turn to order a drink. The queue is insanely long despite the canteen serving only (cold) dakjuk and oversalted, oily japchae, which is ironic because hi this is a hospital isn’t the kitchen supposed to serve healthy food to boost health awareness?
Before him, a balding ahjussi grumbles ungratefully before carting off his bowl of rice and japchae. Jongin is about to move up to the counter when a solid lump knocks into him and shoves him backwards onto the poor, unsuspecting fellow stuck behind him.
“S’cuse me I’d like a bowl of dakjuk–”
Whoa ahjumma stop right there. “Um, miss, it’d be nice if you could line up at the back and–”
“Nothing is ever nice and excuse me young lad I need to order some food for my grandson who is d–”
“Gosh grams! stop!!!”
Fate, n. 1) The supposed force, principle, or power that predetermines events. 2) The inevitable events predestined by this force.
Excuse you Oxford Kim Jongin would like to add that fate is associated with emotions such as awkwardness and uneasiness IT IS SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN BECAUSE WHAT OTHER EXPLANATION IS THERE WHEN DO FUCKING KYUNGSOO POPS OUT OF NOWHERE RUNNING TOWARDS HIM?!?!
With Kyungsoo around in person, the Kyungsoo effect grows stronger on him. For the next few minutes all Jongin can think of is the guy’s flushed cheeks while jogging towards him, messenger bag flying behind him as he comes to a halt in front of him.
“Grams,” Kyungsoo pants, and it hits Jongin. This old ahjumma standing beside him is Kyungsoo’s grandma!
“Kyungsoo!” Ahjumma cries, “what are you doing here?! I told you to look after our table! Look! Someone took it away!”
But Kyungsoo will hear none of that, apparently, because without responding to his grandmother’s cries he turns to look at Jongin with those pair of large, serious eyes Jongin has seen before yesterday during their patient study meeting. Those pool of pitless, deep eyes still stun him to no end, he'll admit, and when Kyungsoo speaks the world seems to fade away until all that's left is Kyungsoo and him and nobody else. Kyungsoo's voice seeps into his bones, it sparks a series of chain reactions within his nervous system. The T-cells and macrophages in his body stop functioning and Jongin lets himself get hit by the vibration of Kyungsoo’s voice travelling through the air.
Then Kyungsoo calls his name.
Not Kim Jongin, not Jongin-ssi, not kkamjong, just Jongin.
Forget jumping off a cliff, Jongin wants to crawl into satan’s hole and perish in dark, blazing flames. His ashes must be scattered across the sea so at least the sharks and fishies have something to live by for a few days.
But Kyungsoo seems to be unwilling to consent to this plan. He destroys the image of Jongin stepping into burning flames and drags him back to reality so Jongin can suffer more. Stupid Kyungsoo. How dare he.
“Yeah, sorry about that, my grandmother is just kind of impatient.”
“Shush boy how could you–”
So while Kyungsoo tries his best to soothe an irritated old woman, Jongin decides to not further anger the insanely long queue behind him and orders two bowls of dakjuk. Silently, he robs what little amount of money is left in his gama-chan and takes the tray to the only empty table left in the cafeteria, which is at the furthest end of the room, away from the chaos and buzzing chatter. He passes by his own table and sneers at Chanyeol who has witnessed the entire commotion and is busy failing to stifle his sniggers.
When he sets down the tray, Kyungsoo is looking adorably embarrassed and flustered. But the image is shattered when ahjumma Do starts fussing over his crumpled shirt and lamenting over the death of young men and their polite manners.
“Thanks, and sorry about just now.” Kyungsoo bows slightly when ahjumma Do is snuggled in her seat and obediently slurping her cold porridge (score!).
“It’s nothing,” jongin shrugs, “I mean, i should help since I do sort of intern in this hospital.”
“Okay. Uh, thanks.”
An awkward pause falls upon them. Kyungsoo looks away in embarrassment, right hand rubbing up and down his left arm. His shoulders are slumped forward like someone who has just came home after a very, very long and tiring journey but is still burdened by heavy thoughts and unimaginable amounts of stress. This is a flash of weakness that somehow Jongin thought Kyungsoo would never display in front of him, because Kyungsoo had seemed so strong and positive when they met yesterday.
It makes him look human. and Jongin likes it. He likes that nothing is ever perfect, that no edges are all round and connected like smooth circles, and that there is always something flawed in humans that someone else will always have to fix and patch up.
Jongin likes Kyungsoo, there’s no denying it.
“Um, I’ll go back to my table now. Enjoy your meal.” Jongin does an awkward wave, as awkward as awkward penguins can ever get, and Kyungsoo’s face lights up into a small grin.
“Yeah, see you!”
It’s extremely weird walking away knowing that Kyungsoo’s eyes are fixated on his back, his eyes could be memorising the outlines of his back and observing the way Jongin’s shadow emerges amongst the glow of sunlight casted upon him. Jongin wants to turn around and confirm his suspicion, but stops before he makes a fool of himself. This is enough embarrassment for a day, he thinks. He needs time to digest the revelations life has thrown his way to decide on the best course of action to take before proceeding.
“So,” Chanyeol grins, showcasing two rows of perfect, milky white teeth at him when Jongin finally takes a seat at their table, “that’s your patient huh?”
Sitting beside Chanyeol and immersed in the virtual world of animal farm is Chanyeol’s sassy
So when Baekhyun looks up from his screen and sends him an all-knowing smirk, Jongin gulps and pretends to be interested in the bowl of nasty porridge Chanyeol has so conveniently slid his way.
Ew. This is Chanyeol’s spoon. Contaminated with traces of Chanyeol’s germs and salivary amylase. Why would Jongin want to exchange saliva with a stupid oaf like Park Chanyeol Jongin absolutely hates his guts. Chanyeol’s not even close to Kyungsoo in terms of mannerisms and looks.
Swapping saliva with Kyungsoo sounds like a much better option. Jongin looks at the innocent spoon and imagines it as Kyungsoo’s perfect plump lips which he can start making out with without anyone knowing at all mmmm WAIT WHAT.
Stop. Kim Jongin. Please.
Mortification plagues him further when Jongin looks up from his fantasy with the spoon to find Chanyeol craning his neck to get another look at Kyungsoo who is currently feeding his grandmother spoon after spoon of dakjuk.
Oh my god how Jongin wishes–
“Don’t you just wish you were his grandma right now?” Chanyeol sighs dreamily.
Yeah how Jongin wishes it were so WAIT HOLD UP FOR THE SECOND TIME OF THE MORNING PARK FUCKING CHANYEOL WHAT IN–
“He’s cute.” Baekhyun muses amusedly.
“Indeed he is. So adorable. That fine piece of ass.”
“Oh my god Park Chanyeol you did not just check my patient out holy mother of all that is holy–”
“He has chubby thighs, the chubs are speaking to me.”
“Fuck you. Go back to Baekhyun hyung.”
Chanyeol widens his eyes and grins that infamous pedo smile that creeps the crap out of everyone on campus except for Baekhyun. Mentally, Jongin takes three steps back and prepares for a fight or flight situation. Creepyeol is on the loose and must be stopped or fear the impending doom of mankind that is the apocalypse.
Stupid gay med students and their dirty puns and lame jokes.
And later, when Baekhyun is done feeding his farm of pigs and poultry on his mobile phone, they get up and head over the wards for their next round of clerking patients.
Jongin tries to get a glimpse of Kyungsoo before exiting the cafeteria, but the latter is busy being fussed over his fussy grandmother to look anywhere else so Jongin sort of gives up after point two seconds of one-sided staring. Maybe he should just stop whatever he’s feeling right now and get on with life. The road to being a doctor is a tough and tedious one, filled with lots of late night shifts and pressurizing decisions that would certainly make a baby age within days. He can’t afford to lose focus.
Deciding to take one last look at Kyungsoo before letting the tiny flame of hope burn out, Jongin shifts his eyes to the back of the room, only to stare back at those orbs that have been haunting him for the entire day. Jongin isn’t sure what he’s looking for, but Kyungsoo gives him that feeling of contentment and peace no one else does. It is great consolation to his soul that there is someone on this planet who can possibly understand him and give him strength to walk down this difficult path.
They say your eyes are a window to your soul. Jongin wants to explore the hidden depths of Kyungsoo’s soul and peel away the layers until all that’s left is the essence of Kyungsoo himself, no other pretences and facades in their way.
But for now, this distance between them will have to do. Kyungsoo never once blinks away from Jongin’s gaze while his grandma strokes his crop of short hair lovingly, and Jongin mouths the words he wants to say, wants to tell Kyungsoo in the future when they can finally be alone together.
Goodbye is much too sad of an expression to say, so he finds another substitute to fill the decreasing gap between their hearts that will one day beat as one.
They have found each other. They just need to find a way to reach each other now.
It travels across the hundreds of people situated in this room, and across this vast expanse it reaches Kyungsoo and sprinkles promises of next time’s and soon’s above his head.
It is enough, for now.
1) The supposed force, principle, or power that predetermines events.
2) The inevitable events predestined by this force.
And it is with this supposed force pulling the puppet strings attached to their lives that they meet again the following day.
It is a hot, humid afternoon and Jongin had been dragged to the shopping mall by his useless bunch of friends to stock up on cup ramyun (and enjoy free air-conditioning). They’ve been running low on ammo recently and without cup ramyun as fuel there is no way Jongin can pull through tiring all-nighters cramming human anatomy and detailed descriptions of various illnesses into his body.
Ramyun is life, SHIN RAMYUN BANZAI.
Anyway, Jongin watches on the sidelines with disinterest as Minseok scurries from counter to counter to swipe an entire row of plastic, red ramyun packets into the shopping cart, arms sweeping and making an arc so perfect that all the baozis in the world would be so jealous of.
“Minseok hyung, I don’t think we need that much (nor do we have that much money). We can always come back for more when we’re out of Pringles.”
Arms full of seafood and barbequed-pork-flavoured ramyun, Minseok peers at Jongin from the tip of the stack and frowns. He looks like a cute white rabbit who had been chewing happily on carrots before receiving news that said carrots have been dipped in cyanide and he has less than 10 seconds left to leave his will.
“They’re on sale! And we brought Joonmyun here for a reason you know,” the shorter jerks his head to the left where a very perplexed kim Joonmyun stares and inspects the price tags displayed on each rack.
Beside him, Sehun yawns. Minseok puffs his cheeks in exasperation.
“Yah Oh Sehun, get your ass here and help us cart these will you?!”
The brat rolls his eyes and in an act of great and daring defiance, saunters away serenading for his beloved Luhan hyung. Jongin sighs. He looks at the cart full of packets and cheap plastic bowls or ramyun and secretly thinks that they must look like fugitives raiding for their last meals in order to survive throughout the upcoming civil war.
Well, Jongin decides that he’s had enough of grabbing cup noodles as if the apocalypse is near, so he promptly dumps the deluxe box of shin ramyun (buy 1 get 1 free!!!!!!!!!) into Joonmyun’s arms and stalks off into an unknown direction.
Truth be told, Jongin hadn’t expected it. He had been pushing his way through the crowded pathways in the mall, trying his best not to bump into people at the wrong places and avoiding body contact (all those germs) when he spotted a familiar silhouette sitting on one of the benches by a fake tree in the middle of the shopping mall.
In a dramatic sense, it’s like stumbling across an oasis in the middle of the desert, salvation in the middle of all despair, the calm amongst chaos and somehow, for some curious reason, Jongin’s shoulders and heart sag in relief when the serenity of the scene before him touches him and spreads much-needed warmth and relaxation across his nerves.
He supposes those scenes in movies really do happen. One moment he is battling his conscience to just walk away and prevent privacy invasion the next he is muttering fuck this shit and
His shadow looms above Kyungsoo who looks up with stunned eyes. This must be the first time he’s ever stood so close to Kyungsoo, and he realises Kyungsoo is so tiny, so adorable it’s illegal. Jongin wants to launch a worldwide investigation and interrogate every single officer on this planet right now and demand to know who the fuck let this tiny guy out of jail.
Kyungsoo pats the empty space beside him and the younger happily obliges. Kyungsoo doesn’t mind that Jongin sits a little closer than necessary to him, their arms almost touching and sending out 100 kilowatt electric sparks to shock them to life, and he doesn’t ask or shy away when Jongin peers over his shoulder to examine the sheet of foolscap paper on his lap.
"Why yes of course, how stupid of me to not know. I see them papers every day."
“It’s a list.”
“A grocery list?”
“No you stupid,” Kyungsoo sighs and in an act of what seems to be frustration (source unknown, Jongin hopes it’s not him), he crumples crisp and clean sheets into a ball of paper before tossing it into the trash bin across the aisle.
Jongin watches in fascination. Clarification: Jongin watches the thousands of emotions flickering across Kyungsoo’s face like millions of movie trailers and credits flashing across the cinema screens in time-lapse photography in fascination.
Dear god, if Kyungsoo was the shooter for his high school basketball team Jongin would like to request to go back in time and cheer for him on the bleachers while holding banners decorated with glitter hearts, all for DO KYUNGSOO.
But. Despite all the heroic imagine-if moments flashing in his mind, Jongin is still a verbally-crippled socialite. Being in Kyungsoo’s glorious presence doesn’t change the fact that the words that escape his lips always make the badass motherfucking street gangstas want to pummel him to the ground and bash him up like he insulted their dead grandmothers when he probably actually did.
“You just made the trees die in vain.” is all his Broca’s area commands him to say.
Kyungsoo stares. Blinks. And Jongin half-expects him to stand up and walk away forever next but surprisingly, Kyungsoo stays. He stays and Jongin finds immense comfort that someone still wants to talk to him even though he’s at the bottom of the list of people Park Geun Hye would ever want to strike up a conversation with.
“Thanks? Though that doesn’t really make me feel much better,” Kyungsoo adds quietly.
“And I guess the fact that you’re stuck with me for the rest of the summer every day only makes it worse huh?”
Kyungsoo shoots him a wry grin. Jongin grimaces in response. It’s really depressing, that someone as awesome and kind as Kyungsoo is stuck with him for their holidays, having to deal with him and the stupid-as-fuck questions he’s supposed to ask for his even more stupid-as-fuck assignment. Kyungsoo probably didn’t sign up for this, and even if he did Jongin knows this little ball of kawaii adorable probably skipped reading the terms and conditions and signed his name to the devil of SM Med School Lee Soo Man.
“It’s too late to save yourself from this boring hellhole. Sorry.” Jongin apologizes as sincerely as he never knew he could.
“Don’t be,” Kyungsoo waves, "you'll want to do things for people anyway because you like them."
And then everything goes quiet. They sit in silence until what it seems to be hours later Kyungsoo stands up and dusts away microscopic dust particles from his shirt and prepares to leave.
“We’ll make a deal.” he says, tone filled with an air of finality, and when Jongin looks up and sees the small, tiny smile perched on pink full lips he sort of falls a little more towards Feelings-topia. again, the Kyungsoo effect.
“You will accompany me on my mission to carry out a meaningful deed every day and at the end of each day I will answer one question on your list. Only one question though."
“Fun, isn’t it? I’ll see you at the cafe tomorrow afternoon!”
“Okay,” Jongin responds albeit a minute too late. Kyungsoo has already disappeared into the crowd, seamlessly zipping back the alternate universe Jongin is still in where they both fall in love and live happily ever after. But Jongin is hopeful, he only hopes that one day time is kind enough to let unspoken words meet and entwine to form prettier phrases that can measure up to the endless worth of what truly means to be in love.
For the rest of the day, Jongin keeps his hopes up and for the first time in years, as he crawls under the comfort of his covers, his heart feels lighter than ever. It blooms from a delicate lonesome rosebud into wild radiant cosmos in .9 seconds flat.
It is a wonderful feeling, and Jongin, while being this hopeful, can only hope longer that it will last.