dlwnsghek: (2PM | Junho wearing a hat)
king of Hoes ([personal profile] dlwnsghek) wrote2012-11-24 07:20 pm

[fic] 2PM: a lot of little lies for the sake of one big truth

I started this as a present for [livejournal.com profile] dreamoscope somewhen last year and it's not really finished. I swear, one day, one day. Title after Stars' EP of the same name. 

(uncoded version)

a lot of little lies for the sake of one big truth
2pm ; nichkhun/wooyoung ; pg13
6453 w, au

In which being oblivious doesn't count as lying.


1:

The first time they meet, Nichkhun is already running late for math.

He stumbles over his own feet in the middle of the hallway and ends up sprawled on the floor, books and pens scattered all around him, like little stars in a constellation. The students passing nearby let out whistles and murmurs, how can he be so dumb, honestly, and Nichkhun feels heat and shame coloring his cheeks as he crouches to gather his stuff, failing to notice there's someone already doing it for him a couple of feet away.

Nichkhun is new, no one knows him and he doesn't know anyone.

"Here," a young kid with chubby cheeks says, handling Nichkhun all of his books in a neat, straight pile. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," Nichkhun says slowly, blinking at the boy in front of him, who's now moving to pick up Nichkhun's pens. He has dark, longish hair, and Nichkhun is sure the hoodie he's wearing is at least three sizes bigger. And it's too yellow to be safe.

"You can't run in the hallways, you know? It's kind of the ultimate rule. You remind me a lot of Jinki, always tripping. And always breaking the rules."

Nichkhun understands only one quarter of what the boy says, if he's completely honest. Boy-in-yellow's Korean is too fast for Nichkhun's still foreigner brain. "I'm new," he says slowly, blinking his eyes again.

"Ah, well, that explains it, I think." The kid with chubby cheeks appears to be searching for something; Nichkhun wonders what it is and then the boy lets out a contented ah! when he fetches for Nichkhun's pencil case a few feet away from him. His face falls, quite dramatically, when he catches sight of the imprints on it. "Oh, don't tell me you like Power Rangers too."

And that he does understand. Nichkhun wrinkles his nose. "Surely I do -- everybody likes them." And of course they do, it's Power Rangers. Who wouldn't?! "You don't like them?"

The boy crouched in front of him laughs, "It's not like that. I have this friend, Jinwoon, he wants to be a Power Ranger when he grows up and it's kind of boring to listen to him sometimes." He stands up and dusts his pant clad knees off, rearranging his orange bag over his shoulder.

Nichkhun makes a mental note next to 'ask for a new bike' and 'ask for a Pokemon game' to tell his mom to get him one of those shoulder-strip bags; the one he has always gets in the way whenever he's trying to run in the hallways -- which doesn't happen often, by the way, only when he's late or he gets the classrooms' sections wrong.

He looks down at his messenger bag and frowns, blaming it for all of this.

Chubby-cheeks thrusts up a hand, all of a sudden, and Nichkhun's not sure if it's a greeting or a fight proposition, since it looks like he dislikes Power Rangers and everything. It wouldn't surprise Nichkhun if it were the former one, honestly; he's had his good dose of those so far.

"I'm Wooyoung," the kid says, smiling down at him. "Jang Wooyoung."

Nichkhun finds it funny how the boy's -- Wooyoung's -- cheeks seem to grow twice their size when he smiles, but he's not going to say that. He'll probably push away the only person who's talked to him ever since the year started.

"Nichkhun," he says tentatively, taking Wooyoung's little hand in his and giving it a short, wobbly shake as he stands up. "Nichkhun Horvejkul."

Wooyoung's eyes widen. "That's a very complicated name, I don't think I can say it."

Nichkhun smiles but it doesn't reach his eyes. "It's okay," he says, awkward. "I get that a lot. You can call me Khun."

(He's ten minutes late for math and Professor Jinyoung makes sure to let Nichkhun know he's not pleased, but Wooyoung makes him forget about it when he asks if he wants to sit with Junho and him for lunch through a piece of paper in the middle of second grade equations.

Nichkhun says yes even though he knows he'll probably get the 'your name is funny' again.)

---

Nichkhun might be nine, but he's already old enough to realize when people don't like him or when they pretend to. And this Junho kid is either an inborn actor or he likes Nichkhun for real -- he turns out to be nice. Nice and polite, and Nichkhun likes him a lot.

After the "this is Nichkhun, he's new and he's sitting with us," Junho asks, in really slow, well pronounced Korean if he's having fun at school.

"Yeah, it's really nice," Nichkhun says after a doubtful second, smiling tightly at the boy with tiny eyes in front of him.

Junho asks more stuff about school, if he's having trouble with some of the subjects and Nichkhun is half tempted to say he's got the worst grades in Math, but instead says, "Not really. I think the third grade was harder," which is the lie of the century, because in the third grade Nichkhun had friends and friends make everything a lot easier.

When Junho looks at him with perplexity dancing in his eyes (Wooyoung is too engrossed with his tuna sandwich to notice anything), Nichkhun explains, "I'm in fourth grade."

"You're a fourth grader?" Junho inquires with a mix of awe and disbelief. Nichkhun squirms self-conscious under his stare, smiling thinly as he nods. Junho's eyes widen and Wooyoung makes a remark about how he's "never ever" seen Junho's eyes this big, but Junho swats him away, pointing a finger at Nichkhun. "That makes you our hyung."

"Uh, you don't have to call me hyung if you don't want to," Nichkhun says carefully, eyeing Junho over the brim of his cheese sandwich.

Junho shakes his head, rather sloppily. "It's nice to have a hyung at school. Especially a fourth grader. They're always stealing our lunch; it's nice to have a friend their age. Maybe they'll stop picking on us."

Next to Nichkhun, Wooyoung laughs outright around a mouthful of his sandwich and nearly chokes in the process. Nichkhun pats him lightly on the back. "Chicken," Wooyoung coughs.

"So, anyway," Junho starts, flipping Wooyoung off (which seems to happen on a regular basis). His smile is friendlier than before. "Where are you from?"

Nichkhun chews on his lip. "Thailand," he says.

Junho nods, "Cool. I've never been to Thailand."

"Maybe he can take us someday," Wooyoung says cheekily, throwing a napkin in anyone's general direction.

Nichkhun smiles easily, and just like that, they're friends.


2:

The next year after they meet, Wooyoung gives him a ninja themed lunchbox for his birthday. Nichkhun frowns subtly at it; he remembers telling Wooyoung he's a fervent fan of Power Rangers, but he guesses maybe Wooyoung forgot about it. It is very likely to happen, he knows by now.

"Ninjas," he says slowly, poking his new lunchbox with his index finger. "They're, uhm, nice."

Wooyoung looks far more excited than the situation appeals for. "Yeah, there's this one movie..."

Nichkhun goes home that afternoon with half a dozen must-sees ninja movies. He's halfway down the third one when he pulls a face, and he grudgingly admits that maybe, slightly maybe, Wooyoung might be right about ninjas -- they're cool.

But he won't let Wooyoung know that.

---

Nichkhun gets moved to the seventh grade right in the middle of the school year since his notes are outstanding and his age is more leveled with the rest of his new class, but Nichkhun hates it.

There's no Wooyoung to laugh at when falling asleep in the middle of Professor Park's algebra reviews.

Until this kid with big teeth trips, two seats away from where Nichkhun is sitting, and lets out a gasped oh my god in perfect English, and sends his ninja-themed pencil case flying towards Nichkhun's shin.


3:

There is this one thing that Nichkhun can't wrap his mind around.

See, Junho calls him hyung all the time; Wooyoung never does.

Nichkhun doesn't mind, really, he's not even Korean to begin with, right?, and it's just -- no. No, really, he's okay with it, it's not like he wants to be constantly reminded of how he's older than both of his closest friends or anything of the sort.

Besides, Nichkhun notices how freer and more like himself Wooyoung acts when he doesn't have to address someone as a hyung, so Nichkhun is glad to provide him some comfort zones to feel at ease. What are friends for, anyway, right?

Like, for example, when they're hanging out with Junsu, Nichkhun notices how Wooyoung acts quieter and a lot more serious than usual. Nichkhun is admittedly surprised at that sort of behavior, honestly, because it's like whenever a hyung is around, Wooyoung goes to his quiet self faster than someone can actually say the word. And Wooyoung is always calling Junsu (or Jaebeom, or even Taecyeon, for crying out loud) "hyung" with this notch of respect and admiration that Nichkhun can never get to understand entirely and that he sometimes finds very annoying -- but he's okay with it.

No, really, entirely cool with that. He doesn't mind at all --

Okay, okay, fine, maybe it upsets him a little.

"Should I call you hyung?" Chansung, introduced by Junho a few weeks into the eighth grade, asks with a wide, lopsided smile.

Nichkhun thinks about it for a second and it's about to speak when Junho gets Chansung in a headlock, "Of course you should! He's older than you, you brat."

"But I was just --"

"It's okay," Nichkhun smiles, gently prying Chansung away from Junho's deathly grip. "You can call me hyung but only if you want."

---

"Why is it you never call me hyung?" Nichkhun asks casually one time while they make the line for lunch. Wooyoung stops with his hands mid air-drumming and he turns to Nichkhun with quizzical eyes. Nichkhun swallows. "Well, I am older than you," he points out.

Wooyoung's brow furrows. "I am aware of that fact, yes. But I didn't know you wanted me to call you hyung --"

"It's not like that," Nichkhun amends quickly, and watches as Wooyoung's mouth closes slowly. He feels his ears getting hot now. "It's just. You call your elders hyung, all of them, except me."

Nichkhun is not sure why his heart is pounding so hard inside his chest. He watches as Wooyoung purses his lips minutely, and then as his eyes look for Nichkhun's with the beginning of a smile dancing in his lips.

"I thought," he starts, pulling a face. Nichkhun dubs that the 'You're So Slow, Nichkhun' face, which he doesn't like very much but he still smiles a little. "I thought we weren't into formalities," Wooyoung shrugs, and waves a hand vaguely between the both of them, "You know, that we had a different thing going on here."

Nichkhun thinks maybe Wooyoung's words aren't the ones he should've used, especially because he's not sure what different thing going on here means exactly, but he doesn't comment on it. (Maybe it's just the Korean way to say their friendship is different, right? But then again, how exactly is their friendship different? Nichkhun's brain stops. He'll think about it later.) Instead, he shoves Wooyoung, smiling. "Get me some pudding, will you?"


4:

When Nichkhun turns seventeen, his mom decides to plan a small surprise party for him, and later he discovers Wooyoung is the second-head behind it all -- especially when the birthday cake is smashed against a side of his face and Junho swears he had nothing to with it, all he did was follow Wooyoung's instructions -- but it's not like Nichkhun cares.

He hasn't felt this happy in a long time, if he's quite honest.

After everyone is gone (try his entire year class, thanks to Kwon, who can never keep the 'small get together's small), Wooyoung tells Nichkhun he's staying for the night since it's Saturday and everything.

"I'm too lazy to take the bus home. Besides, my parent's won't be in town 'til tomorrow."

Nichkhun only blinks at him, and then carries on with the video-game he'd been playing prior to Wooyoung's statement. It's pointless to argue (not that he would; it's always fun having Wooyoung around) or ask for further explanations (Nichkhun knows Wooyoung well enough to realize he doesn't like to elaborate on things related to his family) so he just shrugs, "Okay. Wanna game with me for a while?"

Wooyoung is not good at videogames. Nichkhun is (and he's quite good), but he lets Wooyoung win every time because it's funnier (and better) to hear Wooyoung laugh at him for being a moron than to watch him sulk like a five-year-old for not winning a single race at Mario Kart. ("You're terrible," Wooyoung tells him every other time, a shocked expression on his face. "And I can't believe you think I don't know you're losing on purpose.")

Thirty minutes later, Wooyoung says he's tired of winning. He always says that, which is why Nichkhun smiles like he can't help it. He puts the remote down, "You're such a killjoy sometimes, Nichkhun."

"What, why?" Nichkhun asks in between sputters of laughter.

"Never mind," Wooyoung scowls, and fetches for his bag pack on the floor. "Anyway..."

Nichkhun watches interestedly as he pulls out a small, blue box from the front pocket. "Waited 'til everyone left to give it to you." Wooyoung explains when Nichkhun stares at him confusedly, "It would've been a little embarrassing if you'd opened it in front of Jay, trust me. Here," he adds, handling the box over. It has a red ribbon on top of it. "Happy birthday and everything."

"You're so eloquent." Nichkhun tears the paper open slowly, touch almost reverent. He's received many presents this afternoon (like a box of condoms -- courtesy of Jaebeom, of course), but, to be entirely honest, it is Wooyoung's the one he's expected the most.

He's not sure why, though. Maybe it's because Wooyoung has been his best friend in the whole wide world since the fourth grade and the Power Rangers' pencil-case.

Yeah, he thinks. That's it.

"What," he starts, and then goes into a fit of giggles at the sight of the framed picture in his hands. (Manly giggles, mind you.) "Where -- How did you get this?"

Nichkhun stares at a smaller version of himself and Wooyoung: Nichkhun with his face scrunched up funny in what must be his first attempts at winking and Wooyoung cutely pouting at the camera, both covered in mud and god knows what else. It's one of their first pictures together, and Nichkhun feels something mushy and warm taking over his chest when he thinks of how long it's been since then.

"Found it a few days ago while cleaning my room," Wooyoung says, scooting over until he's sitting at Nichkhun's left. "I swear I laughed for ten minutes straight."

Nichkhun wouldn't doubt that. He stares at the photo in his hands a little more and then catches Wooyoung's chicken-scratch in one of the corners. Happy birthday, Khun! is written in messy English, and the Korean half of the message is something Nichkhun will have Taecyeon decipher later.

"Thank you, Wooyoung, really." He looks up in time to watch Wooyoung's thin smile turn into the one-hundred kilowatt grin he's so used to see and Nichkhun feels heat rise from the pitch of his stomach and all the way up to the tip of his ears. He thankfully doesn't blush -- and why would he? This is Wooyoung, his best friend Wooyoung, and there is nothing to blush about, right? Of course not.

There's a flicker to Wooyoung's eyes then, a subtle glint that Nichkhun sees every time Wooyoung wants to say something but doesn't dare to. There's something else in Wooyoung's eyes Nichkhun can't put a finger on but then the lights from the TV catch Wooyoung's eyes and he blinks, and all trace of something else is gone.

"So," Wooyoung starts, flopping down on Nichkhun's bed with a bounce. "You still have one more hour left of birthday. What do you want to do?"

"Should we watch TV?" Nichkhun suggests.

Now that everyone else is gone and it's just the two of them, Nichkhun gets to realize how tired he feels. No to mention he also feels sweaty and dirty all around from the cake and overall excitement. All he wants to do is take a shower, flop down on his bed (maybe kick Wooyoung around a little to make room for himself) and sleep until Sunday. Or Monday, Nichkhun is fine with any.

But it doesn't look like Wooyoung digs that idea very much. He grunts. "That is so boring. Come on, think of something interesting, we always watch TV."

Placing the frame next to his alarm clock on his nightstand, Nichkhun says, "Hey, you're the one that always wants to watch TV." Wooyoung grunts again, face half buried in Nichkhun's pillow, muttering things like boring and typical.

"Fine," Nichkhun sighs, and then flops down next to Wooyoung, making extra effort to ram his elbow on Wooyoung's shin. Wooyoung howls in pain, to which Nichkhun only laughs, "Alright, let's think of something, Woodong."

---

Nichkhun lies flat on his stomach, feet kicking high in the air, while Wooyoung is sitting with his back against the edge of Nichkhun's bed, legs crossed at the ankles. Nichkhun, in between sips of his can, notices how long Wooyoung's legs are, long and nicely shaped, a tangible result of all those dance practices and school showcases, but the thought feels too weird inside his head so he pushes it to the back of his mind, right next to the pleasant buzz from the beer.

He's having his third can and it's only been twenty minutes since the Why Don't We Have A Toast For Your Birthday suggestion, trip downstairs to his dad's "alcohol stash" included.

Nichkhun has made sure his door remains slightly open so he can hear his mom the moment she walks up the stairs and he can hide everything under his bed (not that his mom disapproves of drinking, but still -- Nichkhun is sure she disapproves of stealing and lying). Even the TV is on, just to mislead, not because they're paying attention to it. Besides, Nichkhun's always thought Sponge Bob is kind of creepy.

They drink in companionable silence for a while, until, indeed, Nichkhun hears the unmistakable sound of someone climbing up the stairs. He grabs the can dangling off Wooyoung's hand, grips his own can tightly and shoves everything under his bed, faster than he's ever moved throughout the night.

Wooyoung blinks at him in surprise, and then in discomfort. "What --"

"Are you guys staying up all night?" Nichkhun's mom asks from the door. Wooyoung's jaw slackens, and then closes with a loud click from his teeth.

"Just for another while," Nichkhun answers, changing the page of the magazine in front of him. Which came out from the place the beer is now hiding. Hah, he's so ninja tonight!

She smiles warmly. "Okay, then. Don't forget to turn off the lights in the hall, dear. Good night, boys."

"Night, mom."

"Good night, ma'am."

Just as he hears his mom's bedroom door being closed, Nichkhun pulls out the cans again, and handles one over to Wooyoung, who takes it with half a pout and a smile already in place.

---

Nichkhun forgets to turn off the lights but it doesn't matter. His room is dark but not pitch black, with only the lights coming through the glass panel above his door falling on top of half of his room; Nichkhun can make out silhouettes in the darkness the more his eyes grow used to it.

Wooyoung lies next to him, flat on his stomach like Nichkhun was only a couple hours ago, and he's breathing soundly through his nose. His breath ghosts around Nichkhun's ear, and the sensation, coupled with the light buzz at the back of his head due the alcohol, makes Nichkhun feel lightheaded and tingly all around.

He breathes deeply through his nose, feels his lungs expand inside his chest.

"Hey, Khun?" Wooyoung whispers, just as Nichkhun counts exhalation number two.

"Yes?"

"Can't sleep." Wooyoung's voice is practically a slur. Nichkhun chuckles. "Yah, what's so funny?"

"You're drunk," Nichkhun giggles.

"'M not," Wooyoung retaliates, but it lacks force. He sighs. "Not drunk, just tipsy, okay. Two different things, my friend."

"Whatever," Nichkhun whispers quietly, too tired to even think of raising his voice when Wooyoung lies right next to him. "Can't sleep either," he says after a while of silence as he turns to face Wooyoung, who's only a dark lump at his left side. He has to squint his eyes in order to at least make out Wooyoung's features.

"Should we do something? Until we fall asleep, I mean?" Wooyoung asks softly, voice thick with something Nichkhun attributes to the position he's in plus the alcohol in his system.

There is an unknown sort of anxiety gnawing at the back of Nichkhun's throat, and he doesn't even know why. The warmth flowing off Wooyoung is something Nichkhun is definitely used by now with Wooyoung being clingy by default; still, tonight it feels completely different -- is like it's alluring him, and the sole idea of being attracted to Wooyoung makes Nichkhun's stomach clench painfully.

He's drunk. He's drunk and seventeen and that combination never leads to anything good.

He clears his throat, getting more comfortable around his pillows so he can at least fall asleep faster and end the nonsensical stuff flowing through his thoughts. "Yeah, sure. What do you wanna do?"

Nichkhun can feel rather than see Wooyoung shrug. "I don't know."

"Well, that narrows it down," Nichkhun huffs, and Wooyoung chuckles.

"We can talk."

"About...?"

Wooyoung hums thoughtfully, low in his throat, and Nichkhun feels something unfamiliar unfurling in his lower stomach. "Do you remember that time we slept over at Junsu hyung's place?"

Nichkhun snorts, "Which time? You gotta be a little bit more specific here, Wooyoung, really."

"Okay, that one time with the stocking on Jay's head."

Nichkhun tries not to think too much about how it looks like he and his friends only do girls' stuff like having sleepovers with stockings involved, but fails miserably. Laughter rises through his chest like a volcano, and it flows off him in loud cackles, which he tries to muffle against the pillows.

Wooyoung shushes him hysterically, poking him anywhere he can reach with a long, hurtful finger. "Oh my god, yes, I remember," Nichkhun breathes, and swats Wooyoung's offending hand away. "Hey, stop it, it hurts. What about it?"

Wooyoung's voice is oddly quiet and strained when he talks. "We played truth or dare that night."

Nichkhun remembers that night vaguely. He remembers Kwon making loud suggestions like, "A shot of tequila for every time someone says a word starting with a," and "Let's get Taecyeon drunk with body shots", which Nichkhun doesn't know if actually happened (who knew Jaebeom knew that many words, huh), but he remembers the first game of the evening all too well.

The truth-or-dare part had been way before the tequila shots, and it had been Seulong's idea and they had been completely sober. The truths or dares that were pulled out, though, that's something Nichkhun doesn't even want to go into.

"Yeah, we did," he says, voice noncommittal. "So... what did you do today?" Nichkhun thinks it's only fair that he tries to change the subject, because --

Wooyoung exhales loudly, whole body shifting. "Oh, come on, get over it, we kissed but it was through a piece of paper, Nichkhun, it hardly counts."

There's a blow to Nichkhun's guts then. A slow, hard and throbbing blow that knocks the air out of him and makes him choke -- with his own tongue or his saliva, he's not sure, but he's choking and that's all that matters. He straightens furiously, clutching at his chest because his lungs are burning, and distantly hears as Wooyoung mumbles stuff heatedly, but he can't make out his words -- sounds like breathing too quickly, but he's not sure.

"Come on, breathe," Wooyoung says softly, patting his back. It reminds Nichkhun of their first lunch together, but back then it was the other way around and Wooyoung hadn't started to look purple. Nichkhun is sure he's at least two shades of blue right now.

"Oh my god," he wheezes, blinking back tears. "Oh -- my god -- chest -- it -- it hurts," he manages to say while Wooyoung rubs circles on his back, hand soft and warm.

"Just keep on breathing, do it slowly," Wooyoung reassures, and Nichkhun doesn't miss the way his voice sounds somewhat distant.

Nichkhun does as Wooyoung tells, focuses on inhaling and exhaling at a slow pace, and after a while the only sound in the room is his ragged breathing on its way to normal, with Wooyoung's hand still on his back.

"I --"

"I had no idea you still held some issues with that," Wooyoung's voice is nearly above a whisper, but in the quietness of Nichkhun's room, it almost feels like a heart-ripping scream.

Nichkhun shakes his head, heart thumping all the way up and echoing in his skull. "You just surprised me, that's all."

Truth is, Nichkhun is nowhere near surprised. If anything, he's quite scared -- tonight has been a complicated, weird night, and he's been feeling weird stuff for Wooyoung and just the mention of kissing Wooyoung whether in a game or not, sets his nerves on fire. The most pressing though is that part of him wants to talk about it, maybe even relieve it, but he doesn't think it's appropriate to think that way.

"Okay, forget it. We should get some sleep," Wooyoung says after a while.

Nichkhun agrees silently as he falls back down to the mattress. He's not sure which of Wooyoung's statements is the one he agrees with, but stays quiet all the same until he eventually falls asleep, mind too cramped with ghosting breath on his neck and the feel of a warm hand on his back.

---

The next morning, Nichkhun wakes up and realizes everything is normal -- Wooyoung still acts as he usually does ("I'm so beating you up on Mario today,") and Nichkhun decides that if he doesn't want to discuss anything -- not that something happened -- neither does he.


5:

"Have you thought about where you want to go after you graduate?" his mom asks. She looks up from the shirt she's been ironing and looks at Nichkhun with warm eyes.

Nichkhun already has a life here. A life and friends, and school and just too much to leave behind. Maybe if Mom had asked that question ten years ago, Nichkhun would've said he wanted home, but now this is his home. He doesn't want to change that.

"I'm going to stay here," he says, and just so she understands how important this is, he says it in Korean. "Seoul University."

His mom looks surprised but not disappointed. "I thought you wanted to go to the school your dad went. Was everything you talked about when you were ten." She speaks in Thai, and Nichkhun has to smile dejectedly at the homey sensation budding around him. He also suspects she's using it for the same reasons he used Korean.

He shrugs, smiling sheepishly, and just to make her smile, speaks in Thai as well. "Things change, mom, I'm not ten anymore. I'll stay."

She smiles a mom-like smile, that 'I know more than you think I know' smile that drives Nichkhun crazy most of the times. "I'll support you. Wherever you go, you know that."

Nichkhun grins. "I know, mom, thank you," he says, and pulls out his cellphone from his back pocket. Told mom I'm staying.

Wooyoung's reply is almost instant. stayin where? oh 4 school?? what did she say?!!

She's got my back.

i've got ur back 2 u kno! :DDDD btw i want ice cream .-.

Nichkhun smiles, sets his phone down. "I know."


6:

"I hate my parents," Wooyoung says halfheartedly, slamming the door of his locker shut.

"No, you don't," Nichkhun says absentmindedly, still trying to find his Calculus notes. They've been through this before, they've had this sort of conversation before and it ends up in the same line, always: "You just can't communicate with them. Not the same as hate, man."

"I hate you then," Wooyoung rolls his eyes, and picks up a random paper dangling off one of Nichkhun's books. "Looking for this?"

"Oh, please, you love me, and yes, thanks," Nichkhun smiles thankfully and takes the sheet from Wooyoung (who rolls his eyes yet again) and shoves it into his duffel bag without much care. "Talked to them yet, by the way?"

Wooyoung wrinkles his nose. "You're pretty dense for someone who's in the honor roll – didn't you just say we can't communicate? So dumb. And messy," he points to his bag. "If only your mom knew..."

"Don't try turning this around," Nichkhun laughs, and nods towards the hall so they can walk together to Nichkhun's class. "Talked to your parents yet?"

Wooyoung shrugs. "Only talked to mom. She didn't seem pleased but didn't throw a fizz either. Dad will be... different."

"Do you think he'll tell you off?" Nichkhun asks carefully.

"He's done it before, I wouldn't be surprised."

"I've got your back."

"I know you do."

Wooyoung's smile is soft around the edges and his eyes are like sheets from a book Nichkhun can easily read from. Right now all he can see is Wooyoung needing some sort of reassurance, so Nichkhun smiles, throws an arm around Wooyoung's shoulders and squeezes tight.

"Everything will be fine. It'll work out, you'll see."

Nichkhun doesn't have to look twice to know Wooyoung doesn't believe it either.


7:

It's ten minutes to midnight when Nichkhun's phone rings.

He's fallen asleep in the living room's couch after a thorough folding session with his mom ("Nichkhun Horvejkul, you're not doing it right, at all"), head lolling off the armrest and legs askew. He feels drool slipping past one of the corners of his mouth as he props off the couch on his elbows, eyes blinking blearily.

He tries to reach for his cellphone inside his jeans' pockets but his body is still numb with sleep so he ends up reaching for the remote instead, and when he finally manages to get a hand around his phone, it announces a lost call with a loud, rather obnoxious beep.

He squints at the screen, still fumbling around and trying to sit up straight. "What the -- Holy shit," he jumps slightly when his ringtone blasts off again, phone vibrating in his hand. The caller ID displays Wooyoung's name and as soon as he recognizes it, he presses answer. "Wooyoung, what --"

"I'm really sorry to call this late, Khun, I just --" Wooyoung's voice is tight and it cracks against Nichkhun's earpiece. "I thought it would be proper to check in."

"What -- I've called you all day, where have you been, I was worried sick..." Nichkhun trails off, thinking that maybe half of what he said was in Thai. He runs a hand through his hair, "What is it? What's wrong? What happened?"

"Uh," Wooyoung exhales loudly, "I sort of had this huge fight with my parents this afternoon, okay? And I was on my way to my grandma's, right? But I had forgotten about my phone completely so I had to go back home, which was good 'cause you'd sent a lot of texts and I don't remember your exact number so I had to go back for it so I could let you know --"

"What -- what are you talking about," Nichkhun asks, eyes wide and lost, brain working too fast to be safe. He clears his throat, "Wooyoung, what --"

"I left, I couldn't take it anymore, Khun. I'll stay at my grandma's until summer is over."

---

Wooyoung's grandmother is the sweetest person Nichkhun's ever met. He might even dare to say she's sweeter and kinder than his own grandma, if it weren't for her addiction to pinch everyone's cheeks.

"I think they'll bruise," Nichkhun tells Wooyoung one afternoon, poking his cheek while staring at his reflection on the mirror in Wooyoung's bathroom. Wooyoung's room in his grandma's house is a lot bigger than the one in his own house. "My skin is sensitive, Wooyoung, I chafe."

Wooyoung trashes around in his bed laughing, probably too high on sugar. "That's why I told you not to get so close to her. You never listen to me. And you chafe? That is so gay, Khun."

"Shut up," Nichkhun chuckles, then asks disbelievingly, "How am I supposed to stay away from her, anyways?" He pokes his head out the door to peek at Wooyoung's sprawled form. "She's your grandma. And she made us lunch. Why are you spazzing like a five year old high on kit-kats?"

Wooyoung's grin is lopsided from where he is with his head dangling off the edge of the bed. "I'm happy, that's why."

Nichkhun's brow furrows. "Why are you happy?" he asks, and then jokingly adds, "you see me every day."

"Someone thinks too highly of himself," Wooyoung laughs, and turns around so he's got his chin propped up on his elbows. "Seeing you every day doesn't make me happy, in fact… I might have even got bored of your ugly face."

"This?" Nichkhun smirks, waving a hand vaguely around his head. "You love this face."

"Yeah right," Wooyoung rolls his eyes, and throws one of his pillows at Nichkhun. And fails for like a mile, but Nichkhun won't comment on that just yet.

Nichkhun smiles a little, turning off the lights of the bathroom and closing the door behind him as he makes his way out. Wooyoung has been strangely happy all afternoon and now that's just the two of them (and Nichkhun can't pin the chicken stew they had for lunch as the reason of Wooyoung's happiness) his curiosity has reached a level where it pokes the back of his head constantly.

"Not gonna tell me why you're so happy, then?" he asks, picking up the previously thrown pillow and sitting on the desk chair with it on his lap.

He eyes Wooyoung carefully as he looks up from the floor and shrugs. "It's summer. And for once I'm not going through hell at home. What's not to be happy about?"

Nichkhun nods slowly and understands the pointed silence Wooyoung makes as an okay, we're done talking about oppressive dads and judging moms, so he quickly says, "Your grandma is going to make my cheeks fall off."

"Your cheeks are fine, stop whining, princess."

"My cheeks are not as chubby as yours are," Nichkhun frowns. "Yours are fat. And excuse me," he throws the pillow at Wooyoung and it lands on his face, "I am not a princess. That's Taec."

"My cheeks are filled with poison," Wooyoung shrugs, smirking. "Not my fault yours are so... weak-- hey! No poking!"


8:

It's during the last week of summer that Nichkhun allows himself to break. But only slightly.

"I'm scared," he says, blinking slowly at the cone of ice cream in his hand. It's strawberry flavored and everything Nichkhun had wanted since he left his house to meet up with Wooyoung.

Nichkhun is scared. This means he'll be the new one all over, meaning he'll trip on the hallway and make a fool of himself during PE class because he couldn't tie his laces correctly. (Okay, a small part of him whispers, you're not going to take PE, stop making such a huge mess out of nothing, but still, the point remains.)

Wooyoung stiffens next to him, Nichkhun can feel the slight tense of his shoulders and the grip of his knuckles even if he's not looking directly at Wooyoung. "Khun," he says, and it's a you know I suck at comforting, why are you making my life hell right now, but what follows is, "I know, I know, I am too," edged with a quiet sigh that Nichkhun barely catches.

"What are you scared of?" Nichkhun asks slowly.

Wooyoung shrugs. "Everything? I still don't know how to break it to my parents -- you know, the whole I'm not going to Business School thing."

Nichkhun nods. "Are you gonna go back home?"

Nichkhun turns to Wooyoung at the same time Wooyoung's lips twist to the side into a half wry smile. "That's not my home," he says quietly, "but yeah, I'm meant to go back in a few days."

"Why can't you just stay at your grandma's?" Nichkhun knows he's prying, but damn it, this beats having to think about his situation. Besides, his issues are not as complicated as Wooyoung's, and what are best friends for anyways, right?

"She has enough problems as it is already," Wooyoung chuckles, waving a hand dismissively. "Besides, someone has to keep an eye on my sister."

"You are aware of the fact she's older than you, aren't you, Wooyoung?" Nichkhun teases, just to make the soft, broken look on Wooyoung's face go.

"Stop judging me, princess," Wooyoung bites back, cracking a laugh. "Anyways, can we be done talking about me now? How are you doing?"

It's Nichkhun's turn to shrug. "I'm scared shitless. This is college we're talking about here. And I have to do it all by myself 'cause you still have another year to go, and so does Junho and everyone else is gone and I feel lonely and. Yeah. You know I suck at socializing, and I am going to miss you guys a lot, and it will suck, I can tell already, Wooyoung."

Nichkhun takes in some air, swallows thickly, and lets go. So maybe he's said much more than he should've but it's nothing to be ashamed of; he's only told the truth. It still doesn't explain why five minutes later, Wooyoung still hasn't said a word.

"You know," he says lightly, "you're supposed to be saying something comforting now."

Wooyoung laughs, choking around a mouthful of ice cream Nichkhun hadn't known was there. "I was about to and then you made me choke, you idiot," he whines.

Nichkhun pulls a face and laughs nevertheless, nudging Wooyoung with his body until Wooyoung is almost off the bench.

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