Apr. 13th, 2017

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The humid Oahu air assaulted him, the thickness of it a wall he had to wade through. It shocked him, to feel like the air was so humid he could slice through it after the frigid air of the New York winter he’d left behind, the clinical dryness of the airport also abruptly squashed. He felt the humidity seeping into everything, a welcome warmth that softened his dry skin.
Three years ago he had been stepping into Honolulu International, his luggage clicking against the white scuffed tiles, the realization that he was finally leaving the confines of the island weighing on his shoulders. He remembered the excitement when he’d been accepted to Columbia, but at the airport he’d only felt the weight of his sudden freedom as a burden.
Standing by a black car was his mother, more glimmering silver strands in her pitch black hair than he had remembered, the small golden cross still occupying the hollow of her neck. She sniffled, dabbing at her eyes with the back of her hand and patting it dry on her skirt before holding her arms open. He walked into her embrace, breathing in the soft scent of jasmine perfume and baby powder, the scent of home.
The familiar “howzit’s” and “da kine’s” tittered in the background, the cool breeze that so often preceded thunderstorms blowing them over him, rustling his hair.
“Welcome home, son,” his mother whispered, rubbing circles on his back with her hand. He couldn’t let go, his nose still buried in the soft cotton of her peach cardigan, tears spilling from his eyes though he hadn't meant to let them out.
It wasn’t until they got home, settled in his room, his mother sitting at the edge of his bed, filling him in on the juicy news about all of Oahu that he felt it; he was home, but something was missing, something didn’t quite click in with the rest. The picture frames on his drawer, untouched since he’d left, stared at him, the joy in those faces too bright for Kyungsoo to look at. When his mother left the room, he lay them flat on the surface.

It was Mrs. Kim, though he hardly recognized the hunch in her shoulders. She looked far older than she was, the bitterness in the hard set of her lips evident even from a distance. She was dyeing her hair, that he could see, too, though it had been a while, gnarled silver roots shining against her black hair. She was fumbling with a cloth, tying it on her head to cover up the silver roots. The shopping basket hanging from the crook of her elbow clattered against the shelves, nearly knocking several cans over. Peering at the cans and deciding against them, she shuffled down the aisle, closer to him, looking at the packs of ramen noodles and muttering about the brands. She pulled out one of the packs, sending the ones on top of it onto the tiled floor, cursing colorfully. The plastic crinkled against her feet and she hunched over, her thin back curving painfully. Her thin shirt clung to her, the outline of her ribs clear, and it startled Kyungsoo to see her so decimated, but he made no move to help her. Her bony fingers clumsily curled around the packets, and it was those bony fingers he was afraid of, of the force they had to destroy something so fragile. He grabbed a can of baby corn and turned on his heel, leaving Mrs. Kim cursing at the packet of noodles that slipped from her grip again.

“I saw Mrs. Kim at the supermarket,” Kyungsoo’s mother continued sorting through the groceries. Kyungsoo repeated himself, taking the starfruit from his mother’s hands and laying them out on the marble countertop. His mother hummed in acknowledgment. “She looks real skinny.” His mother opened the fridge.
“That woman, she’s lolo, doing what she did to her poor son. Ack, why did she care so much he mahu? He her son! It shouldn’t matter,” she shook her head, taking out the empty egg carton and slipping in the new one. Kyungsoo took the empty carton from her, watching her shuffle across the kitchen. Her accent seemed to him much stronger, the oddness of the cadence of the pidgin with the clumsiness of her Korean accent meshed into one.
“Not everyone is like you, Eomma,” said Kyungsoo, hugging his mother and resting his cheek on her head. She swatted him away, giggling. “She’s still not talking to you?”
“I tole you, she lolo. Byun-ssi tried to say hello, Kim-ssi gave her stink-eye! Byun-ssi tole her she wanna be friends again, Kim-ssi tole her nevamine, like Byun-ssi a child. She lolo, that woman,” his mother shook her head vehemently, handing Kyungsoo the scallions to put away. “Jongin’s Appa still with her. That man too good for her. He talk to Jongin still, help him with the apartment.” Kyungsoo bumped his head against the cabinets, cursing. “Jongin still talk to me, too. He even buy me new slippahs when he saw my ole ones. That boy is too good, too good.” Kyungsoo slammed the cabinet shut, murmuring an apology when his mother frowned at him.
“And how is Jongin?” His voice cracked. His mother looked at him for a moment, cradling a head of cabbage in her hands, before shooing him aside, reaching for the fridge again.
“He’s good. Got his own apartment, an’ he tole me he got a job at that bookstore on Ala Moana,” she said, her curtness surprising him.
“Oh, the Barnes and Noble?” his mother nodded. Kyungsoo couldn’t help the smile; it was what he’d expected, for Jongin to surround himself with books.
“Jus’ until he finish studying,” she said, “Now go somewhere else, you in my way,” she shooed him out again, eyeing the starfruit he grabbed before ducking out of the kitchen.

Mrs. Byun had suggested it, one night after dinner, while they were sitting on the back porch, nursing their mugs under the azure sky, the last tinges of daylight streaked along the horizon in brilliant pink.
“Baekhyun been struggling to pay that place by hisself and none of the roommate he had been reliable. Is too good a place to give up,” she’d started, leaning back in her rocking chair and glancing at Baekhyun over the rim of her glasses. “You two best friends, and you could make your Eomma’s life easier by moving out.” Kyungsoo’s mother made a noise, the disagreement plain on her face.
“Is been three years since I had my son home, you ole fart, he stay as long as he want,” she swatted Mrs. Kim’s arm, the two of them giggling.
“Well, if Baekhyun doesn’t mind me moving in, I think that would be a great idea,” said Kyungsoo. Baekhyun shifted, meeting Kyungsoo’s eyes for the first time that night, a half smile on his lips.
“It’s better than having a stranger, especially a haole,” said Baekhyun.
“Or a Japanese,” Mrs. Byun added.
“Ma, you can’t be saying things like that,” said Baekhyun, the horror clear in his eyes. Mrs. Byun shrugged, slipping her feet out of the sequined slippers and crossing them at the ankles.
“Where’s the apartment?” Kyungsoo asked, meeting Baekhyun’s eyes. Baekhyun tilted his head, placing his mug between his feet.
“Over by University Ave, close to the highway,” he replied. Kyungsoo nodded, regretting voicing his agreement. Maybe they once had been best friends, but the howzit Baekhyun had produced when he arrived was less than enthusiastic, and for Baekhyun, who was energetic and enthusiastic even when running on three hours of sleep, that was a clear enough sign. Kyungsoo didn’t blame him, but it hurt, a knot forming in his stomach at the coldness with which Kyungsoo regarded him the whole night.
Kyungsoo’s mother brought out the starfruits he hadn’t devoured (she hid the rest from him when she’d realized he’d eaten half of what they bought in one sitting), sliced and arranged in a circle on the plate. He reached out to grab a star but his mother swatted his hand away; by the time he reached the plate, once Baekhyun and his mother left, the rest of the slices were gone.

The apartment was on the corner of Waiola and McCully, the main entrance off the side since the arch for the parking ran straight through the middle. Squat palm trees were clustered on one corner, below the windows, as squat as the building itself. It had four apartments, three floors, a window wrapped around the front corner that let the afternoon light into the living room, the glare of it ruining afternoon plans of watching tv. It was a short drive from Manoa on a good day, but there was never a good day for traffic in Honolulu, which meant Kyungsoo had to wake up earlier than he wanted to each morning, leaving an hour early in order to avoid the traffic jams that choked University Ave.
Manoa was spread out to the north of them, a sea of apartment buildings and houses divided by the highway and crowned by the deep green of the edge of the crater. New York had been endless gray, metal and sharp lines, concrete and pigeons, everything faster than the life he’d lived in Honolulu. It had left him with a massive headache for the first week, shoved and squeezed and trodden over, the tiny studio apartment that faced the saddest park he’d ever seen no help. He longed for green, for fresh air, for the wind to caress him, not cut through his jacket. But what he had missed most about being in Honolulu was the freedom to wake up in the morning, throw on a bathing suit and some slippahs (“What’s with this flip-flop nonsense, brah, this no New York,” Baekhyun teased), and drive to the beach, spending the day watching the glittering blue of the Pacific crash against the white sand.
Queens Beach hadn’t changed much in those three years, still watched over by high-rises and slender palm trees, the bustle of the crowds of Waikiki not far off. Diamond Head loomed above it all, massive and solid, the emerald slopes spread out languidly over the corner of the island. It was a rush of nostalgia, sitting under the shade of the palms, the afternoons after exams or the afternoons in which they cut class, wading in the crystalline water. It made the inevitable chastisement worth it; even when Kyungsoo and his mother moved out to Mauna Lua the tittering of the aunties reached her. She would wait at the doorway, giving him a lecture, but she was never hard on him and she would revoke the punishments as soon as she gave them.
Kyungsoo was sitting on the towel, his feet buried in the sand, watching the grains fall every time he shifted his toes. Baekhyun had gone for a swim after his nap, waving his arms and screaming at the top of his lungs as he ran into the water, disappearing under the spray. The others on the beach looked at the sopping head of hair that popped up a few feet in, then over at Kyungsoo, who blushed and shook his head. Baekhyun hadn’t changed much either, not since high school, as effervescent and loud as he had been once the initial coldness of seeing each other again passed. And yet, there was something that still didn’t sit quite right; it haunted him, and he knew he couldn’t run from it, not on an island as small as Oahu.
The droplets from Baekhyun’s hair startled him, Baekhyun standing before him and shaking out his hair. Kyungsoo smacked Baekhyun’s legs with a towel, joining in Baekhyun’s laughter when he tumbled onto the towel.
“What’sammater, New York left you all clammed up? You a cold city kanē now,” Baekhyun asked, throwing his wet towel on Kyungsoo.
“Tanks, brah,” Kyungsoo muttered, shoving Baekhyun into the sand. Baekhyun laughed, his hysterical cackles carried across the beach by the breeze.
“Baekhyun! Howzit?” the voice that called it out made Kyungsoo’s blood run cold, the sun feeling too hot against his skin and the sand too harsh. He didn’t dare look up, watching Baekhyun return the shaka and leap up to his feet.
“Where you been, eh? Haven't seen you in a week,” said Baekhyun. Kyungsoo looked up, swallowing hard, but the lump in his throat didn’t move. He looked the same, though his shoulders were broader, and his dark hair a bit longer, shining obsidian strands dripping with water. He embraced Baekhyun, turning to greet Kyungsoo, but the hello never passed his lips. His dark eyes, heavy lidded and as alluring as Kyungsoo remembered them, met Kyungsoo’s eyes, but Kyungsoo couldn’t hold the gaze, not when he recognized the flicker of pain.
“Kyungsoo,” he said stupidly, scattering sand when he shifted his weight.
“Jongin,” Kyungsoo said, feeling equally stupid. “Howzit?” It wasn’t the right thing to ask, he knew that, not when they weren’t close anymore, but in his panic he had let it slip.
“I didn’t realize you were back,” said Jongin, his voice soft, softer than Kyungsoo remembered it being, and Kyungsoo could feel Jongin’s eyes searching, but he refused to look up. Baekhyun, who had been staring at both of them, finally thumped Jongin on the back, drawing Jongin’s attention away from Kyungsoo.
With Jongin’s eyes on Baekhyun, Kyungsoo took the chance and looked at him, and for a moment he saw the boy from eight years ago, standing on the same beach; he’d been admiring the triangle of Jongin’s brown skin that formed between the open collar. It was August, the sunset bringing the welcome relief of night, each wave that crashed bringing with it a cool breeze. Jongin was all smiles, his long brown fingers wrapped around the pale yellow of the starfruit Kyungsoo had fished from his backpack. Taking a bite, Jongin pulled a face.
“Why do you always bring the sour ones, hyung?” he whined, coughing.
“It’s mo’ better sour. If you don’t want it, hand it over,” Kyungsoo held open his hand. but Jongin shied away, shaking his head. “No complaining then.” Jongin stuck his tongue out at him, yelping when Kyungsoo knocked him over. His nose was wrinkled while he ate the starfruit, tossing the core away and wiping his fingers on his shorts.
They sat in silence for a while, Jongin scooting closer and bumping their legs together. Kyungsoo looked over, his cheeks flushed when he met Jongin’s eyes, the cat-like eyes that were always so intense, so full of emotion that simmered under the calm surface.
“What?” he asked, his voice sharper than he’d intended. Jongin laughed.
“You lolo,”
“Am I still lolo if I want a kiss?” Kyungsoo choked, his ears burning.
“What you want a kiss for?” Kyungsoo asked, his voice cracking. Jongin blushed, his head hanging, digging his toes in the sand.
“Maybe cause I want you to be my boyfriend,” he said, so softly Kyungsoo barely heard him.
“Oh,” Jongin looked up at him, the apprehension clear in his dark eyes. Kyungsoo tried to hide his smile, but Jongin saw it, smiling back at him, radiant. Leaning over, Jongin nudged Kyungsoo’s cheek with his nose. Kyungsoo laughed, turning to look at him, their noses touching. Jongin closed his eyes, leaning closer, but Kyungsoo beat him to it, pressing their lips together. It was that night, sitting on the beach, the sky alight with orange and pink, that Kyungsoo decided his favorite fruit was starfruit.

The apartment was only three blocks away from Kyungsoo and Baekhyun’s place on the ninth floor of one of the high rises on Wiliwili Street. Jongin was quiet, the same quiet, closed manner he’d had when they first met. Jongin had a subtle vibrancy, in the shine of his eyes, in the movement of his hands when he spoke, but only when he was around people he trusted. It was a question Kyungsoo had been asked so many times when they were together: “Isn’t he cold? He’s so emotionless. Does he ever feel anything?” And Kyungsoo had wanted to scream yes, stand on top of Diamond Head and shout it to the whole of Oahu, but now he found himself outside of Jongin’s world, the doors closed to him for the first time since they’d met.
“Hey,” Jongin stepped aside to let him in, closing the door and hovering behind Kyungsoo, unsure where to go. Kyungsoo stepped in further, drawn to the balcony in the corner of the living room. Air, he needed air.
“Want tea?” Jongin asked. Kyungsoo looked over at him, startled that Jongin was speaking to him. He took a deep breath, nodding. He was here, he was home, he was back, but it wasn’t the same. A breeze blew in through the balcony, cars honking at the corner, and Jongin cursed, water spilling into the sink. Kyungsoo edged closer to the balcony, leaning out to take a breath of fresh air.
“It’s a nice place you got,” said Kyungsoo, murmuring his thanks when Jongin gave him a mug, the steam curling and dancing above the fragrant tea. Jongin hummed in agreement.
“How was New York?” Jongin asked, settling cross legged onto a chair in the balcony. Kyungsoo sat on the other chair, hissing at the heat of the mug against his fingertips.
“Cold, mostly,” Kyungsoo chuckled, the smile disappearing when Jongin merely nodded. “Interesting. Too fast-paced for me, though. Guess the Hawai’i in me couldn’t keep up.” Jongin smiled at that.
“You sound like a kotonk,” he said into his mug. Kyungsoo sputtered, nearly choking on his tea, opening his mouth to protest but decided against it, pouting instead. Silence settled over them, uncomfortable, pregnant with all the things they wanted to say but didn’t, the three years a distance too long for them to travel.
“Still not talking to your mother?” Kyungsoo finally asked. Jongin pursed his lips, looking out over the balcony, a heaviness forming in the silence.
“No,” he said at last, taking a noisy sip from his mug. “Not talking much to Appa either, but he won’t get a divorce. It’s been too many years, they’ve been through too much to just end it like that.” Jongin’s voice was soft, almost wistful, but the accusation in his eyes made Kyungsoo’s ears burn in shame.
“I’m sorry,” he hadn’t meant to say it, but he didn’t know what else to say, not with the weight of those three years on him. He didn’t look up, afraid to see Jongin’s reaction, the silence heavy, too heavy, his chest tight, each breath more labored, keeping the tears in though they burned his eyes.
“Me too,” said Jongin, waiting for Kyungsoo to look up; the pain in his eyes was too raw, too overwhelming for Kyungsoo, the salt of his tears spilling into his tea.

The sun filtered through the window, laying its warmth on Jongin’s back like a blanket, the golden sheet of light playing on golden skin. The sheets were mint green, the same shade as Jongin’s polo the night they were on Queens beach, wrapped around Jongin’s waist, the gold of his skin glowing under it. Kyungsoo traced his fingers across Jongin’s shoulders, down the shoulder blades, relishing in the warmth of his skin. Jongin wouldn’t wake up soon, not if he still slept like he did when they were together, sometimes waking up when it was nearly four in the afternoon, sleeping through hurricanes, through volcanic eruptions. The world ceased to exist while Jongin slept.
Kyungsoo’s stomach rumbled, a reminder that they hadn’t eaten dinner, so caught up on re-discovering each other that they went to sleep without food. He crept out into the kitchen, opening the fridge as quietly as he could, but everything required more effort than he was willing to put in, until he spied the starfruit, pale yellow, the edges brown and slightly bruised. He grabbed two, rinsing them in the sink and walking back to the room, slipping under the covers again, the sour tang of the tart flesh filling his mouth. Jongin stirred, blinking the sleep away and looking up at Kyungsoo.
“Oh, I didn’t mean to wake you,” Kyungsoo murmured, gently pushing a few strands of Jongin’s hair away from his eyes.
“You’re eating those sour starfruit? You still lolo,” Jongin chuckled, reaching out to take the other starfruit from Kyungsoo.
“Sour’s mo better,” Kyungsoo said softly, laughing when Jongin puckered his lips. The sun had shifted, now fully on Jongin, and he glowed under it, the starfruit juice glimmering on his lips. Somehow, with the tartness of the fruit and the warmth of the sun, that disjointed feeling that had been haunting Kyungsoo dissipated, evaporating in the sunlight of the morning.
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A/N: I'm horrible at signaling when a flashback starts so whenever you see three little palm trees, that's a flashback. Also this is a lot shorter than Part 1 and for that I'm so sorry (what is pacing and how can I do it properly). Oh also, the flashback scene has a bit of smut so ye hath been warned.

But of course, it would have been stupid to think the disjointed feeling would be gone forever, his return to Honolulu now incorporated seamlessly into their lives, as if he had never left. There was a gingerness to the way people spoke to him, too pleasant and superficial in their greetings, their questions; it bothered him, but he knew confronting it meant confronting Jongin, so he played along, as charming and pleasant as the people around him. He hated pretending he was fine, staying over at the apartment for takeout, slurping greasy noodles while he and Baekhyun watched a corny show, or spending the night with Jongin, which often meant hot, rushed sex and more takeout, this one eaten on Jongin’s bed. Weekly visits to his mother, 3 AM grocery runs, his cart filled with chips and ice cream, and the sense of dread preying on him at every moment, filling in the emptiness of the aisles.
His mother found out about his rendezvous with Jongin and he knew it was Baekhyun who ratted him out; she had finished laying out the banchan, plopping onto the chair opposite from Kyungsoo, and looking him straight in the eye.
“You better be doing right by that boy,” she’d said, and Kyungsoo knew exactly what she spoke of, but rather than face her judgement he picked up his chopsticks and began to eat. Judgement came anyway, muffled by the mouthful of rice his mother was chewing. “You been by his apartment, right?” Kyungsoo thought of the rushed blowjob he gave Jongin that morning after they’d had breakfast, still in the kitchen, the lines of the tiles imprinted on his knees. He blushed, nodding. “Don’ play around with him. You already hurt him bad once-“ Kyungsoo sputtered in protest, lowering his eyes when his mother gave him a hard look. “Either you with him or you not with him, but you betta choose. Make things right with him.” She finished, just as cryptic as she’d started, and continued eating. And there it was, the feeling of dread he’d been avoiding, sitting down with him for dinner. This wasn’t the first time she’d said this, dropping hints, and it was in the tone of Baekhyun’s voice whenever he spoke of Jongin, the judgmental glint in his eyes when Kyungsoo came home in the morning, smelling of Jongin and wearing Jongin’s clothes.

“So you two are on a daily oof basis, huh?” Baekhyun asked, slurping loudly. The mango juice spilled down his chin anyway. Kyungsoo’s neck flushed, throwing his bag a bit too roughly onto the couch.
“No. Not daily,” he muttered. Baekhyun snickered.
“At least once a week tho,” he said, sinking his teeth into the mango’s yellow flesh. Kyungsoo closed his eyes, taking a deep breath.
“Why do you care if we’re fucking or not?” he asked through gritted teeth.
“Oh, fucking. That’s the New York in you. No need to snap,” said Baekhyun, thoroughly amused. “That’s the problem, brah, you fuckin’, not makin’ love. You oof just to oof.” Sputtering, Kyungsoo turned to face him; Baekhyun nibbled on the mango, unbothered.
“And what would you know about that?” Kyungsoo snarled; it was a low blow, he knew it, but it was too late. Baekhyun laughed, licking the mango juice that ran down his hand.
“Junmyeon an’ me know about that just fine,” said Baekhyun, grinning at the surprise Kyungsoo was unable to mask.
His bag clattered to the floor, the tin water bottle sliding out of its pocket and rolling across the uneven floor. The bag was slumped on its side, the blue fabric stained and torn, the zipper of the small pocket refusing to close. It was a bag Kyungsoo had borrowed from Jongin years ago, like the shirts and sweaters that Kyungsoo refused to take with him to New York, only to miss them once he arrived. They were in his closet on Waiola now, most of them threadbare, and slowly joined by new ones, no longer the bright colors Jongin’s mother used to buy. Kyungsoo wore them at the apartment on the days he didn’t stay with Jongin, even if AC was down, sweating with sleeves past his fingertips, the warmth of his body helping the release of the scent of Jongin entrenched in the fabric.
He avoided Baekhyun for the rest of the afternoon, collapsing onto his bed and waiting for his phone to vibrate, the pile of quizzes he had to grade ruffled by the dying fan.

🌴 🌴 🌴
They were shy with each other, though they’d been best friends for as far as their memories extended. The soft touches, the glances, the kisses; they were seeing each other with new eyes (ones filled with a cloying sweetness that Baekhyun never stopped complaining about). It had become daily routine now, to rush out of school and buy a snack, eating at Queens Beach and watching the sunset. Jongin had put on his bathing suit beneath his pants (“Guess what, hyung!” “Eh?” “I’m commando.” “I- why are you telling me this?” “Well, technically maybe I’m not, I put on my bathing suit but no underwear!”), dipping in the cold water for a bit while Kyungsoo watched, until the sky was lit up brilliant orange. He shivered, water trailing down his chest, clinging to his eyelashes, trailing down the sharpness of his jaw. Kyungsoo stared, unaware of the intensity of his gaze until Jongin blushed and laughed, ducking his head.
“I’m cold,”
“I don’t have a towel,” Jongin gave him a pitiful look, trembling. “I can’t get my uniform wet what’m I supposed to do?” Jongin drew his knees in closer, shuffling closer to Kyungsoo and burying his nose in Kyungsoo’s neck. “Ah! No! No, no, you’re sopping wet.” Jongin huffed, curling up further. A droplet ran down his cheek, slipping down the curves of Jongin’s lips, and Kyungsoo leaned forward, wiping the droplet off Jongin’s bottom lip. Jongin rested his cheek on his knees, looking at Kyungsoo with the intense stare he always reserved for making him flustered, and Kyungsoo swallowed hard. A cool breeze rolled in, blowing over them with each wave that crashed, and Kyungsoo kissed Jongin, tasting the saltwater on Jongin’s lips, sucking on Jongin’s lower lip with a confidence that surprised them both. Jongin pulled away, licking his bottom lip and looking at Kyungsoo with equal parts curiosity and lust. Kyungsoo leaned in for another kiss, feeling Jongin unfurl underneath him, a tanned arm planting itself in the sand for support. They leaned into each other, breathing heavily, tasting each other with a desperation that hadn’t allowed themselves to feel before, held back by the timidity of their reserved personalities. Kyungsoo placed his hand flat on Jongin’s chest, caressing the collarbone with his thumb, drinking in the shivers that still racked Jongin’s body.
“Hyung, I- oh,” Jongin sucked in his breath, looking down at Kyungsoo’s hand, which had caressed its way into his bathing suit, resting tentatively on Jongin’s dick.
“Is this okay?” Kyungsoo asked, waiting for Jongin to look up at him.
“Yes. Please,” Jongin said softly, touching Kyungsoo’s wrist as if to make sure he was solid, looking back down at the form of Kyungsoo’s hand under the wet orange fabric of his bathing suit. Kyungsoo’s fingers were gentle, exploring the skin of Jongin’s thighs, chasing after droplets. Jongin fidgeted under Kyungsoo’s touch, torn between looking at the movement of Kyungsoo’s hand in his bathing suit or at Kyungsoo’s face, his brow slightly furrowed, lips slightly parted, his cheeks flushed a soft pink. A truck honked its horn far off, scaring them both, Kyungsoo squeezing Jongin’s balls and stuttering an apology.
“It didn’t hurt,” Jongin said softly, shivering when another breeze blew. There were still droplets of water sprinkled across his shoulders and chest, his legs glimmering with drops as well. His bathing suit was stiff with the cold, but Kyungsoo’s hand kept him warm, alternating with a maddening slowness between stroking his dick and massaging his balls, pressing soft kisses along Jongin’s shoulder. Jongin dipped his head to kiss Kyungsoo, drinking Kyungsoo in with a fervor that nearly threw Kyungsoo off balance.
Kyungsoo stroked Jongin’s dick, desperate to pull Jongin’s bathing suit down, to have a peek, to taste Jongin, lick the salt of the ocean off of him. Jongin’s hooded eyes and soft sighs drove Kyungsoo on, spreading the beads of precut down Jongin’s dick, picking up the pace. Letting out a stuttered moan, his fingers curled in the sand, droplets dripping from his hair onto the starched white of Kyungsoo’s uniform sleeve.
Jongin’s moans were carried off by the breeze, soft sighs and messy, hot kisses exchanged as Jongin trembled under Kyungsoo’s fingers, hot cum spurting onto Kyungsoo’s fingers.

The pile of quizzes now littered Jongin’s coffee table, half of them corrected, the other half waiting for the attention Kyungsoo refused to give them. He pushed the uncorrected pile further into the table with a socked foot, tucking the foot back under him on the sofa. Jongin walked over, drying his hands on his shirt (a habit Kyungsoo had tried to break years ago but failed) and sitting on the corner of the sofa, stretching his legs out along its length, feet perched on Kyungsoo’s lap. It was a position they’d grown used to since Kyungsoo got back, lacking the warmth of Jongin pressed against Kyungsoo’s back when they would study, curled up as close together as they could, but they were sitting together, and that was enough for Kyungsoo, or so he tried to convince himself. Hesitantly, he put a hand on Jongin’s ankle, relieved when Jongin didn’t move it off.
“So Baekhyun and Junmyeon are a thing now?” Kyungsoo asked, clearing his throat. Jongin had just picked up a worn book, the edges tattered with a few missing page corners, the red skyline of New York drawn across the bottom and the red letters spelling out Let The Great World Spin; he opened it, leafing through the first few pages.
“Yeah, they got together right about when you left,” said Jongin, his voice neutral, which unnerved Kyungsoo.
“Oh. Baekhyun hadn’t mentioned it until today,” said Kyungsoo, tracing the hair on Jongin’s legs until Jongin shook his leg, giving Kyungsoo an annoyed glance over the book. “Sorry.” Jongin went back to the book, gnawing on his bottom lip and narrowing his eyes in concentration. Kyungsoo wanted to kiss him, to run his fingers through Jongin’s hair, but he didn’t dare. They kept their touching confined to sex, kissing and caressing and touching only in the heat of the moment; Jongin, with the exception of the seating arrangement on the sofa, kept his distance, hardly touching Kyungsoo and it made his heart ache.
Jongin noticed Kyungsoo’s stare, raising an eyebrow at him.
“You’re staring.”
“Oh, sorry. I hadn’t really noticed, I just spaced out,” Kyungsoo chuckled, licking his lips nervously. Jongin pressed his lips together, his attention once more absorbed by the book. The fan ruffled the abandoned quizzes, and Kyungsoo reluctantly reached out, taking the pile and uncapping the purple pen (courtesy of his mother), correcting the near illegible scribbles. The sky grayed, the cold breeze of a thunderstorm rushing in through the balcony, but the sounds within the apartment were much the same: Jongin turning the brittle pages, the scratch of Kyungsoo’s pen against the quizzes and the quiet whirr of the fan shaking its head.
🌴 🌴 🌴
His bags were still only half packed, tucked under his bed with the illusion that not seeing them mean they wouldn’t have to be finished. He tapped his pen against the desk, looking over at his room. He’d decided not to change it, leaving the picture frames hanging on the walls, spaced apart on the drawers, youthful smiles beaming down at him. He considered laying them face down, but it would draw attention to questions he didn’t want to answer, to questions he’d avoided answering for the past month. His mother had been surprised when she walked into his room, but she didn’t pry him for answers. His friends wouldn’t be so mercifully quiet; neither would Jongin. It had been a month of careful calculations, meticulously planning details when he was alone, avoiding them, all of them, and their exuberant post-graduation celebrations. Most of his friends were content with a B.A., others wanted an M.A. but were content with Oahu; Kyungsoo knew that he couldn’t believe they didn’t want to leave the confines of the island, the vast expanses of blue separating him from the life he wanted to start living. But these dreams, they were too big for Oahu, too big for the lives of his friends to comprehend, so he kept it secret, tucked under his bed like his half-packed bags.
“Kyungsoo, Jongin here to see you,” his mother called. Kyungsoo cursed softly, tucking a few papers into the near empty drawer of his desk, running to stand outside the door of his room before Jongin reached the top of the stairs.


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