AU. junsu meets a boy.
YEAH I'M STILL ALIVE. mostly starting fics instead of finishing them which is why, i guess, i go more than a year without posting. i seriously don't want to talk about how much trouble this fic has given me over the past year and a half. for that reason, i'm truly sorry if it blows chunks the same way this 3AM-conceived title blows chunks.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Junsu has soccer practice after school that runs until 5:30. On his walk back to his house, he passes by a bakery that has a pink cupcake cutout with yellow frosting hanging above the door, proclaiming "Kim Bakery" in simple script. The shop's outside is painted bright blue with big windows lining the front displaying all the sweets one may want. What's available is never the same from day to day, new flavors each time Junsu strolls by, some he's never heard of and some he doesn't think he'd ever want to try.
Junsu would never admit it out loud, but he looks forward to Fridays the most, because on Fridays there is a boy that works there with bangs that get pushed over his eyes by the lopsided patissier hat he wears and covers his mouth when he smiles, often leaving behind flour on his cheek and chin without realizing. On those days, Junsu walks a little slower in front of the shop, kicking his soccer ball two steps forward, one step back, pretending like he's practicing complicated footwork and not secretly stealing glances between the trays of cherry tarts and raspberry coffee cakes to see this boy's powdered smile.
One Friday, he is shuffling and passing the ball between his feet before he even turns the corner, stuff he could do in his sleep, but when he peers over the neat lines of tiramisu and red velvet cakes, there is no one behind the counter and no customers inside the shop. He stops the ball under his foot and picks it up, tucking it under his arm as he ventures closer until his face is almost pressed against the glass.
Maybe it's closed today. Maybe the boy has a cold. Maybe --
"Hi." Someone taps his shoulder. "Do you want to come in and taste something?"
Junsu jerks, jumping nearly a foot in the air. His eyes are wide as he stares at the boy he was looking for, the one that's now standing only a few inches in front of him. Today the boy's hat is leaning towards the left and there's no flour on his face yet.
"I always see you looking at everything," the boy says, seemingly oblivious to Junsu's deer-in-headlights reaction. "We give out free samples, you know."
No one told Junsu he had to talk to his crush today, so he panics and blurts out something about not having money with him right before he ducks around the boy and all but speed-walks away.
"I said free samples!" the boy calls after him. Junsu ignores him, feeling guilty, but also too mortified to do anything about it.
When he gets home, he marches straight up to his room and locks the door, grateful that his brother is sleeping over at another friend's house tonight. That means no one will bother him as he mopes in bed, the blanket pulled tight over his head, and wishes he was sampling the red velvet cake and apple danishes, even the weird seaweed cream puff though he hates seaweed. Instead he is alone in his bedroom and the only thing he tastes is the dry cotton of his pillowcase.
Junsu starts taking a different route home after that, somehow so embarrassed by what happened that he can't bring himself to go back and start over with less blubbering and running away, and more saying yes.
He considers sending his brother in to see how much of an ass he made of himself, but thinks though they're fraternal twins and look nothing alike, Junho even being a full two inches taller than him, what if the boy wasn't paying attention and thinks his brother is him and they fall in love? That would be disastrous.
So he tells his brother nothing and continues to avoid the bakery. Continues to mope before he goes to bed.
Two weeks pass before Junsu caves, having quickly grown sick of walking the extra ten minutes from school to home. That Friday, he borrows a few dollars from Junho at breakfast. He has already spent his month's allowance on a new soccer jersey and some comics, but Junho tends to save up as if waiting for Junsu to come and borrow half of it.
"Dude, get a job already so you can start paying me back the hundreds you owe."
"Shut up. When I'm a famous soccer player, I'll pay you back triple."
"If that happens, you're buying me a house. And a car," Junho says, pointing his chopsticks at Junsu. "So what's the money for anyway?"
Junsu stops chewing for a second and mumbles, "Nothing, just stuff," shoving more rice in his mouth afterward. He gets a weird look from Junho which makes him feel oddly defensive. "What? It's fine, it's nothing." And when Junho doesn't stop staring: "Seriously, just because we're twins doesn't mean you have to know about everything!"
Junho doesn't have to, but he figures it out anyway because while everyone knows Junsu is a horrible liar, only he's ever been able to tell exactly what Junsu's lying about. "Who is it?" He glances over Junsu's shoulder, presumably to make sure their mother isn't around to overhear.
Truth is, Junho's also the only person who knows about Junsu liking guys. It was an accident; Junho was supposed to be at baseball practice but it got cancelled due to bad weather and he walked in on Junsu at some not-so-innocent sites on the computer they shared. Junsu had never been so scared in his life and he'll be eternally grateful that all ended up happening was some awkwardness for a while that dissipated with a hug from out of the blue and a quiet joke about them needing separate computers.
That happened about a year ago and since then Junsu has had a crush on only one other boy – a classmate of Junho's at the time. He tried really hard not to make it obvious, but not hard enough, and was so embarrassed when Junho put the pieces together ("Well, you kept staring at his arms," Junho had said) that he couldn't make eye contact for a week.
It's for that very reason that Junsu isn't particularly keen on telling him about this new one, but he knows Junho is just trying to be a good brother. "You know that bakery by the library?" Junho nods and he continues, mumbling, "He works there on Friday afternoons. Maybe other days too, but that's just, you know, when I see him."
"What's his name?"
"How old is he?"
He shrugs again.
"What school does he go to?" Junho doesn't even let him fail at answering that one, holding a hand up right after he's done asking. "Do you know anything about him other than where he works?"
"He is nice and offers me samples of cakes?" Junsu smiles hopefully.
"Look, it's not like I'm going to march in there and ask him out," Junsu says, lowering his voice towards the end. "I'm not stupid. I know he probably likes girls and has a girlfriend and when he gets sick of her, he has ten back-up ones to choose from to take her place."
"Boys," their mom calls from the living room, "school is not going to wait for you. Get out."
They both roll their eyes, but start shoveling what's left of breakfast into their mouths. After that there's a flurry of jackets and backpacks and jamming feet into shoes rather than untying them first. They yell goodbye and rush out, jumping the steps two, three at a time down from their 4th floor apartment.
Halfway to school, Junho looks at him and says, "Really? Ten back-ups?"
"He has nice arms and shoulders," he says, and laughs when Junho pretends to throw up.
It takes Junsu half an hour to even work up the nerve to go to the bakery, much less enter it. By the time he enters, it's fifteen minutes to close. The bell over the door rings and Junsu can hear shuffling in the back as he walks in.
"Be right out!" a voice calls and Junsu taps his fingers nervously on the counter. He's looking at the desserts displayed inside, but barely registering what they are. "Sorry, was putting some things away – Oh, it's you. Hi. Thought I scared you off last time."
Junsu is sheepish and scratches the back of his head, trying to think of what to say. Sorry, something came up. Like me having a crush on you. And then you talked to me and I freaked out. That might be a little too much for a first conversation, so Junsu decides hello would be best, but what comes out instead is, "You don't have your hat on."
The boy reaches up and touches his head, not at all put off by Junsu's weird comment. "Whoops, left it in the back," he says, smiling big at Junsu as if they're good friends already. "It's actually really annoying to wear, but my mom makes me 'cause she thinks it's cute."
It is cute. Junsu reddens immediately and pretends that thought didn't cross his mind.
"So what can I get you?" the boy says, oblivious to Junsu's embarrassment. "To be honest, there isn't a lot of selection left." He smiles crookedly at Junsu. "You should've come earlier."
"Soccer practice," Junsu says.
"Oh, are you any good?"
If there's anything that could bring Junsu out of his shell, it's soccer, and he is, quite frankly, a little insulted to even hear that question. "Of course I'm good."
The boy smiles, the corners of his eyes wrinkling from it. "What, are you captain or something?"
"Yes, actually," Junsu says, and he's not even lying about it to make himself seem more awesome.
"I don't play any sports," the boy says as he reaches into the display counter and pulls out a chocolate cupcake. Or that's what Junsu thinks it is, but the only thing he's going by is the brown color. "Is that embarrassing?"
Junsu smiles this time, feeling unexpectedly at ease for how nervous he was when he first walked in. "Nothing at all?"
The boy shakes his head. "It's probably best for everyone though," he says, taking a small fork out and resting it on Junsu's side of the plate. "The few times I've tried, I was so bad I might as well have been playing for the other team."
Junsu nods, cutting off nearly half of the cupcake and shoveling it in his mouth. Junho likes to tell him that he always looks like a chipmunk gathering acorns when he eats because he takes such huge bites, which can't be attractive, but it's too late. Spitting out the cupcake would be even worse, so he keeps nodding as he chews. At least he was right; it is chocolate.
"Do you um, want some coffee?" the boy says, covering his mouth but not well enough that Junsu doesn't notice him laughing. It makes Junsu feel really stupid and self-conscious, wondering if there's some special way to eat fancy cakes and the boy is amused that he doesn't know how.
When the coffee is brought to him, the cup is tiny and it's on a saucer and Junsu's sure he's going to screw this up too. He wants to be able to talk again though, so he downs the entire thing and pray he doesn't choke. He ends up almost choking anyway, always forgetting how much he dislikes coffee until it's in his mouth.
Junsu's about to answer seriously when he realizes the boy is just joking with him. "I don't really like coffee," he says, swallowing the last of the cupcake and sucking his lips in so he doesn't pout.
"I didn't think you were the type that would, but I didn't have anything else."
"Whatever, only adults like coffee anyway," Junsu says.
The boy smiles. "What do you like? Milk?" Junsu fidgets, shrugging as he mumbles vague agreement. He's surprised when the boy laughs, not that he does but at how it sounds, bright and clear. And loud, definitely loud, but not annoyingly so. "That's kind of adorable."
It's not the first time Junsu's been called that. Some girls at school do it and it's the only adjective his grandmother knows when talking about him. Somehow, it wasn't as annoying or embarrassing hearing it this time.
"Maybe I'll have some handy next time you come around," the boy says. "You know, those little carton ones that they give to preschoolers with the cow on the side that looks like it's drawn in crayon."
"Shut up," Junsu says, reaching across the counter to shove at the boy's shoulder. It's easy being here, now that he's actually here to know it. Everything already feels familiar because of how many times he's looked in from the outside, but also the conversation and teasing and a laugh that might be more obnoxious than his own.
They talk about anything they can think of -- all the sports Junsu is good at and the boy is not ("Badminton is totally a legitimate sport!"), why Junsu has never seen the other at school ("Homeschooled by my sister. The hours count towards her teaching certification; I feel pretty used."), and random things like how they can both play the piano, but only Junsu can play the drum ("I am a prodigy with the finger cymbals."). They only notice the time when a middle-aged lady comes in and asks if the shop is open.
"Oh, shit!" the boy says, and starts apologizing profusely to her. Junsu can't tell if she's more upset that the 'Open' sign on the door is a lie or that someone just swore in her presence. Either way, he feels pretty bad for being the cause.
"I should probably go," Junsu says awkwardly once the woman leaves. He picks up his soccer ball and hugs it to his chest, meeting the boy by the door.
"She probably would've been a really difficult customer anyway, right?" the boy says.
Junsu nods enthusiastically, happy to focus on the silver lining. "And try to get free cake." The boy smiles, open and genuine, and Junsu feels his stomach do embarrassing, unspeakable giddy things. "Yeah, um!" he says, pointing at the door again. "I should go home. Dinner soon."
"Oh, wait." The boy hurries back to the counter, grabs a box, and starts filling it with the leftover cupcakes still on display. He puts six in before closing the top and tying it all up with a ribbon.
"I only brought enough to pay for one," Junsu blurts out, gesturing vaguely at the half-eaten cupcake that he didn't finish because they talked so much.
The boy laughs and slides the box over. "I'm giving it to you," he says. "I would be horrible to con you into buying cupcakes."
"Maybe you're a horrible person," Junsu jokes, digging in his pocket for money for the cupcake he did have. He puts it on the counter, only to get a weird look in return. "What?"
"You did hear me when I said it was for free just now, right?"
"Yeah, but." Junsu points over at the leftover cupcake. "This is for that one."
"Wow," the boy says, with just the slightest hint of a smile, "are you usually this difficult to flirt with?"
Junsu stares wide-eyed, wondering if he heard right and how ridiculous it'd be if he asked if the boy could repeat that. He reaches for the abandoned cupcake from earlier and starts stuffing his mouth, taking three bites in a row, all the while fully aware that he's being stared at.
"You're getting frosting all over your mouth," the boy says, but his face looks worried.
Junsu swallows and feels nauseous, suddenly wanting to run away. He must look it too, because the boy reaches over and touches his arm.
Too nervous to lie, he shakes his head and pulls his arm back to clutch the soccer ball like a shield. "I need to go," he says, turning towards the door when he sees the boy's face fall. "I'm late for dinner."
"Hey, wait, I'm sorry if I was out of line."
Junsu simply shakes his head again and puts the crumpled up bill on the counter. He ignores when he's called after and thinks how stupid this entire thing is; they don't even know each others' names.
The bell above the door rings sharply when he rushes out and he runs home until the heavy, viscous feeling in his stomach is gone.
He spends the next week avoiding his family, even though they had all noticed something was wrong the second he stepped in the door. In the morning, he leaves for school before Junho and at night, eats dinner in his room. He washes up early and gets into bed while his brother is in the bathroom so he can pretend to be asleep and not have to face any questions.
But of course he knew that it could only last so long.
"I know you're awake," Junho says one night. Junsu listens to his brother shuffle around the room. A damp towel lands on his head and he bolts up, glaring at Junho as he pelts it back. Junho catches it easily. "You gonna talk to me?"
"No." Junsu rolls over again to face the wall.
The bed dips behind Junsu. "Do you think I'm stupid?" Junho says. "You've been all mopey since last Friday."
"So," Junho says, prodding the back of Junsu's head. "What happened at the bakery? Does he have a girlfriend? He didn't call you names, did he? Because I'm happy to kick his ass--"
"Hyung, stop it. Nothing happened."
"You know how I tell you you're a terrible liar?" Junho says. "It's still true. I'm going to keep bugging you about it until you tell me."
"Why?" Junsu snaps, annoyed. He whips around and glares at Junho. "I told you nothing happened. Just let it go." He lies down again, pulling the covers up to his chin. "I'm tired."
He hears Junho sigh before feeling him get up. "Listen, I just want you to take care of yourself, that's all," Junho says. "If you got rejected, okay, take all the time you need. But if you're just being scared then I think you're making the wrong choice. If it's about mom and dad, you don't have to tell them if you don't want to. I'll help cover for you. If you do want to tell them, I'll still help. You have options."
Junho switches the lights off and Junsu listens to the other bed creak from Junho's weight as he settles in. "Mom's going to keep asking you why you haven't found a girlfriend yet," he says. "You were always the not-so-secret favorite, you know. They're not going to hate you."
"Can you stop talking, hyung? Please."
"Fine, after I say one more thing."
"I don't want --"
"-- You're miserable. You've been miserable for long enough that I think you've convinced yourself that it's normal and now you're walking around thinking you're happy when you're not," Junho says. Junsu hugs his pillow, hiding behind it. "I just think you deserve to be able to invite your boyfriend to dinner if you wanted to."
"It's not that easy," Junsu mumbles.
"Yeah, well. I don't know if you're even trying."
That hits a nerve in Junsu and he opens his mouth to argue back, but ends up staying silent, just feeling disappointed in himself. He flips onto his side facing the wall and pulls the blanket up to his chin. "Good night, hyung," he says.
Junho sighs behind him.
Junsu doesn't work up the courage to go back to the bakery the next day or the day after that. It's when he's close to deciding that it's just not worth it to go back and he'll probably be forgotten anyway that he runs into the boy on his walk home from soccer practice.
He almost walks right past him if it wasn't for the fact that the boy was still in his bakery uniform, apron and all, glaringly out of place sitting on the park bench. He has his hat scrunched up in his hands and Junsu looks at him like he doesn't know if he's real.
"Hey," the boy says, looking nervous. "I, um. I'm not a creep, I swear. Your brother came into the shop the other day. Told me you went through the park on your way home. Or is that still creepy?"
Not knowing what to say, Junsu thinks he should at least sit first and plops down next to the boy, not too close or too far.
"I just wanted to apologize for being out of line that day," he boys says, wringing this hands in his lap. "I didn't mean to offend you or anything. I shouldn't have said anything at all."
"No, I'm glad you said it," Junsu mumbles finally. "I didn't think that was something I'd ever hear from anyone." He wonders just how they look together at that moment, him still in his soccer jersey and next to him a boy dressed like a baker. A car honks out on the street and Junsu chances a look over, but blushes immediately when he sees the boy staring right back at him, smiling wide. "Don't do that, that looks creepy," he says to try and make himself feel less embarrassed. It doesn't really work.
"So I wasn't wrong," the boy says, still smiling. "I know it sounds self-absorbed, but you kept hanging around because you like me?"
Junsu bites his lip and curls his fingers over the edge of the bench. "Look, I'm not... good at this sort of stuff," he says, staring down at his knees. "My parents don't know. My friends don't know. I don't even like admitting it to myself."
A hand covers his and Junsu tenses up. There are people around, but he doesn't pull away. "It's okay," the boy says. "You don't have to tell anyone about me if you don't want to."
"That's not fair," Junsu says. "I don't like lying. And I want to be able to do all the things I would've been able to if I weren't. Like this."
"Then I'll help you."
Frowning, Junsu swings his leg and kicks at the ground. "Why would you do that? You don't even know me."
The boys laughs, the corners of his eyes crinkling. "Isn't getting to know someone the whole point of dating?"
The words unsettle Junsu, but not in an altogether bad way. "What would -- what would dating be like?" he says finally, feeling a blush crawl up his neck. He gets silence in reply and quickly grows anxious again, worried that he's said something really stupid.
"Wow, you're seriously adorable. It's kind of gross."
Junsu's blush gets 100 times worse.
"Oh! Getting cuter."
Flustered, Junsu jumps up and sputters a little trying to find his words. "If you want us to date, you can't call me cute or adorable!"
"You figured out what dating is then?" the boy says, clearly amused. Junsu presses his lips together and feels his face heat up in embarrassment.
"All right." The boy hops up and dusts off his butt. "I'm free on Friday, are you free on Friday? I've been looking for someone to go see Twilight with me."
Junsu stares at him and the boy laughs.
"I'm joking! We can see something less sparkly. Or, you know, we don't have to go to a movie, we can do something else. Whatever you like! Sorry, I ramble when I'm nervous. Not that you were supposed to know that. Both, I mean -- the rambling and the -- nerves, and wow, I was doing really well until just now, wasn't I?"
"It's cute," is all Junsu says. It's the calmest he's felt in a long time.
Junsu walks into the bakery meticulously fixing his hair and checking for the 500th time that his fly isn't undone. There's no one at the counter, so he rings the service bell. He hears a female voice call out before this tiny lady appears with a giant tray of chocolate chip cookies. Or what looks like chocolate chip cookies -- Junsu has become naturally suspicious of everything in this shop.
Once she sets the tray down, Junsu suddenly realizes this is the boy's mom and goes into an internal panic about whether to formally greet her or pretend to be a customer in case she doesn't know why he's here.
Thankfully, this family is good at making the difficult decisions for him.
"Oh, you must be Junsu," she says, wiping her hands on her apron. Junsu automatically bows and stares at the floor after. "We can't get our Jaejoong to stop talking about you."
It takes a second for things to click in Junsu's head, before he realizes that now he has a name to go with the person that's been causing him all sorts of problems the past few months. He mouths 'Jaejoong' silently, getting used to it, and startles when the loud clatter of cookware falling everywhere comes from behind the kitchen doors.
"Jaejoong, I swear --"
"I'm fine, mom!" Jaejoong calls, sounding out of breath and distracted. He appears ten seconds later with a mixing bowl and hands it to his mother. "See? Nothing broken."
"I don't care about you," she says. "I care about whether or not you just cost me another $500 in less than two weeks."
"Mom!" Jaejoong says, slipping by her to stand by Junsu. "Can't you at least pretend to care in front of my date?"
It makes Junsu feel both hopeful and sad that Jaejoong's mother is so easygoing and accepting that his son is -- 'Gay,' Junsu tells himself firmly. He's gay and you're gay. The admission makes him start to freak out a bit, but Jaejoong grabs his hand then and starts dragging him out of the shop.
"I better not see your face back here earlier than 10 o'clock."
"Mom! Junsu has to be home by 9!"
Outside, Junsu bursts out laughing and nearly scares Jaejoong half to death.
At the theater, they play it safe and decide on an action-adventure blockbuster.
"You don't have a crush on the actor, right?" Jaejoong says as they wait in line for popcorn. "It would just be unfair, I think, if I already had to start competing on our first date."
"He does have really nice hair." Junsu's confidence had been steadily rising ever since they left the bakery. "Would you be jealous if I did?"
"No," Jaejoong says, in a way that obviously means yes. He ends their discussion quickly by pretending to ignore Junsu as he contemplates the tough decision of ordering the large or extra-large popcorn.
Junsu doesn't feel too bad about it though.
He starts growing nervous again when they enter the theater and Jaejoong leads them up to the very last row. The movie's been out for weeks and there's maybe ten other people scattered amongst the seats, the closest four rows below them. Certain thoughts start racing through Junsu's mind, the same ones that he refused to let himself think about while he was getting ready earlier.
Popcorn no longer sounds appetizing, but Junsu forces himself to take some anyway. He hopes it'll calm his nerves.
Instead he catches Jaejoong munching absently on a fistful of popcorn out of the corner of his eye.
Jaejoong seems too wrapped up in watching the filler ads on screen to notice he's being stared at, so Junsu stays quiet, hoping he won't look over and see the way that Junsu is fixated on his hand and his lips and --
Turning beet red, Junsu fumbles for more popcorn and pulls his knees up in his seat, staring steadfastly ahead.
"Are you okay?"
Junsu lets out a undeniable squeak and stares at Jaejoong. "What? M'fine."
"You look more uncomfortable than fine," Jaejoong says, shifting a little to face Junsu. "Hey, you know if you're not ready for this, that's okay, right?"
Junsu hides his face between his knees and mumbles that it wasn't that.
"I can't really hear you," Jaejoong says hesitantly, genuinely sounding bad for not being able to catch Junsu's mutterings over the commercials blaring from the speakers.
"I don't think I can kiss you!" Junsu blurts out. He immediately wishes that a hole would open under him and swallow him up. A second passes, then another, and finally Junsu's curiosity gets the best of him and he looks up, only to be surprised with the sight of Jaejoong with both hands over his mouth.
"Oh my god, did you -- I'm not -- this isn't -- oh my god, I'm an idiot," Jaejoong suddenly spits out. "I just like sitting up high, it's this thing from when I was little, yeah okay, that's stupid, you don't care about me from when I was little, totally stupid, I'm sorry!"
Honestly, Junsu has no idea what Jaejoong just tried to tell him, so he says slowly, "So you don't want to like, make out or anything, right?"
Jaejoong shakes his head furiously. "I mean, yes! I mean, no! Not, like. No, you're totally make-out-able, that's not -- I'm not saying that I don't want to, I would be honored to, but we don't have to." He swallows. "Yeah, um. That."
Junsu stares at him for another second, then stifles a laugh. He covers his mouth, getting butter on his cheek in the process, but doesn't want the entire theater to hear him.
"Are you laughing at me?" Jaejoong says, brows furrowed in confusion.
Junsu nods while he tries to stop. "Honored?" he finally wheezes out.
It takes a second for it to click with Jaejoong, but when it does they both start laughing uncontrollably and the people four rows down have to shush them.
When the hero kisses the girl, Junsu figures there's maybe five minutes left of the movie because that's just how these things go. He's not sure why he does it or where he even gets the courage from, but he leans over the nearly-empty popcorn and their clasped hands that mysteriously happened during the car chase scene and kisses Jaejoong on the cheek before the credits start to roll.
They're 15, and maybe they will only kiss in the dark until they're 16 or 17 or 18, but things will change eventually.
Junsu is no longer scared of that.