Medium(s) Used: word “antique”
Warning: drinking, implied sex
Summary: Taehyun likes vintage and Seunghoon likes him.
Author's Note: It’s been a very long time since I’ve written anything. This was a challenge but I’m glad I was able to participate. Thank you to the mods for organizing and hosting this event! Also thanks to my peach who held my hand through the entire process, ily. Hope you enjoy! Title taken from a song by The Kooks.
“Talk to me,” Seunghoon starts, balancing his phone between his shoulder and ear as he stuffs his sweat pants into the duffel bag. He didn’t need to check the caller ID to tell it’s Seungyoon calling, the younger sounding two seconds away from complaining.
“Where are you?” Seungyoon asks in a tense voice. “You do know that the surprise party starts in half an hour, right?” There’s a shuffling noise in the background and Seungyoon’s voice is muffled. “No Hyuntae we’re not keeping the inflatable sex doll out.” There is more shuffling for a second before Seungyoon’s voice returns clearly. “Are you gonna bring him to the party or should I just tell Joohyun to do it?”
“Better tell Joohyun, I still have to buy a present,” Seunghoon answers, groaning and hitting his head on the locker. He knew there was something important he had to do today.
Seungyoon sighs exasperatedly on the other line. “Okay, I’ll text her. See you in thirty.” Seunghoon can briefly hear Jaehyo shout “Hyuntae popped the sex doll!” before the line cuts off.
The mall is twenty minutes in the opposite direction so Seunghoon scrapes that idea as soon as he has it. He considers buying socks from E-mart again but he had gotten Minho socks on his birthday last year too. Seunghoon walks down the street quickly now, hoping that something will pop out at him. He passes by a flower stand and a sporting goods store but does not stop until he reaches some obscure store he has never noticed before. It looks like a kind of hole-in-the-wall place, with a green wooden door and a random assortment of things crowded into the window display. The peeling golden letters on the window read “Antiques & Collectors.” He checks his watch, feeling slightly worried that he has only fifteen minutes, and goes in.
The place is empty of people except for a boy sitting behind the counter, hair falling into his face and bent over a pretentious looking book. He hardly seems to notice that Seunghoon walked in, despite the chimes hanging over the door. Seunghoon waves fruitlessly to get his attention, stopping with his hand in midair when the boy simply turns the page.
The store is small and very cramped. Lamps dangle from the ceiling, paintings and tapestries hang crookedly against the wall and things sit stacked and scattered over spindly tables with furniture placed disorderly around the vicinity. It feels like he just walked into his grandmother’s attic, complete with the plastic covered floral armchair and everything.
Seunghoon carefully steps past an unbalanced looking table covered in glass animal shaped candle holders and stops to examine a spin dial phone covered in pictures of Elvis Presley for a few seconds before noticing the wire connected to it is severed. “Junk,” he mutters. He hadn’t even said it loudly, but within a few seconds he can feel a presence looming around him. He turns around slowly and the boy from behind the counter is there now, looking at him crossly. Seunghoon laughs in surprise, “Wow, where did you come fro—”
“It’s not junk, it’s a collector’s item.” The boy interrupts, flicking a lock of blond hair out of his face and crossing his arms.
“Okay, but, does it work?” Seunghoon counters, pointing accusingly at the severed wire.
The other boy opens his mouth once or twice, sputtering. “No… But like, that’s not the point.” He looks kind of flustered, it’s kind of adorable. On another occasion, Seunghoon would have totally teased him about it but a quick glance at his watch throws him into a fresh wave of panic.
“Look, it doesn’t matter. I need to get a gift for my friend his party is in like ten minutes and my other friend will murder me so help me out. He doesn’t like Elvis.”
The boy uncrosses his arm and his face softens a little. “Fine, what does he like?”
“Um, let’s see. He likes rap music, abstract art, the color pink, beer, the galaxy, big boobs, and kittens. What do you reckon?”
“That’s an interesting list…” He twitches his mouth cutely and glances around the store before snapping his fingers suddenly. “I got just the thing.” He walks towards the back of the store, Seunghoon at his heels, and points at a neon sign on the wall. “What do you think? It’s from the Rainbow Bar in LA from the eighties.”
The sign has a picture of a topless buxom blonde holding beer jugs in both hands and writing flashing “FREE JUGS! beer jugs too” in the most obnoxious shade of blue.
“That is the tackiest thing I have ever seen…” Seunghoon starts, breaking out into a grin. “It’s perfect, I’ll take it. How much?” He’s already pulling out his wallet and heading towards the counter as the other grabs a stool to get it down.
“50,000 won,” the boy calls out, bringing it behind the counter as Seunghoon frantically checks every pocket of his small wallet.
“Okay, how about this…” He leads off and the boy get the hint.
“Okay, how about this Taehyun: I give you 40,000 but then I tell all my friends and students about your store. There’s a lady in my senior salsa class that’ll just love that elephant foot umbrella stand. I’ll drop in a word.”
“But it’s 50,000,” Taehyun frowns.
“But I don’t have the money right now. Don’t you guys usually haggle anyway?”
Taehyun snorts. “I sell antiques, I’m not a pawn shop.”
“You sell junk, isn’t some business better than no business?” Taehyun’s frown deepens. Seunghoon can tell he’s not winning this. “Okay, not junk. But like, come on man. Please?” Taehyun looks unconvinced. “I’ll bring my friends here. I’ll force them to buy something.”
Taehyun clearly looks like he doesn’t want to give in but Seunghoon is relentless. His quirky eyebrows are slanted so deeply by the time Seunghoon promises to bring his grandmother’s book club; they look like they’re going to slide off his face. “Okay, okay, fine. Just, shut up. 40,000.”
“Yes! Thank you Taehyun I swear to god I could kiss you right now.” Seunghoon slams the bills onto the counter while Taehyun wraps up the sign in tissue and bubble wrap before fitting it into large paper bag.
“Yeah, well, don’t.” Taehyun says while blushing a little. “But, I expect that elephant foot umbrella stand out of here by the end of the week or you have to buy it.”
Seunghoon ends up being an hour late but doesn’t get into too much trouble. Minho has more friends than Seunghoon can keep track of and the small flat is packed with people by now. Hardly anyone notices him slipping in. Well, except Seungyoon, who manages to find him in seconds. Seunghoon is lucky that he’s such a lightweight, he skips over the nagging and thrusts a cold beer bottle into his hand instead.
Minho is bouncing around the room from person to person but zooms to Seunghoon in an instant, pulling him into a big bear hug. “Friend!”
“God, it’s hardly been an hour and you’re all wasted. Let me guess, next Jihoon is gonna take off all his clothes and break out in a ballad.” Seunghoon is totally joking when he says this, but Jihoon does exactly that some twenty minutes later and Seungyoon passes out on the couch eventually. (He wakes up with “virgin” written on his forehead with lipstick. He asks Seunghoon if he saw who did it but Seunghoon lies and says no, winking at Soojung across the room).
It’s about hours later, when the number of people are dwindling and the hype is slowly fading out that Minho gets around to opening Seunghoon’s present. “This is… the best thing anyone has ever given me,” Minho says dramatically, staring at the sign reverently. “My parents gave me the gift of life but this. This is something else. Thanks, man.”
“It cost me all my spending money for the week so you better appreciate it,” Seunghoon warns, but with no real malice in his voice. Minho hangs it up in his cramped dining room within minutes, casting the area in an ugly bright glow, despite Joohyun’s look of disapproval.
Seunghoon finally collapses into his own bed around 4 am, after struggling to help Eunji get Seungyoon into a cab and pointlessly trying to help Minho and Joohyun clean up as much as he could without tripping and giggling. He also had to convince Jihoon to put on his pants back on but that’s something he would rather forget.
He’s only blessed with about two hours of sleep before his shrill alarm goes off, scaring him and causing him to roll off the bed in a cocoon of blankets. He dresses himself sloppily in some sweats (probably mismatched— it’s too bright in his room to open his eyes fully), grabs a pair of sunglasses and a can of tomato juice from the pantry and heads out.
This is the downside of taking up all sorts of classes to teach at the recreation center. He loves it, and does it for free most of the time, but he should have known better than to book a 7 am class when he has Song Minho for a best friend.
“Rough night?” Jinwoo asks from behind the information desk, only looking up from his computer for a split second.
“How did you know?” Seunghoon asks, leaning across the counter to steal a few chocolates from Jinwoo’s stash.
“Saw you come in wearing the same thing as yesterday and with tomato juice. You do know your class is full of loud 8 year olds, right?”
Seunghoon nods miserably. “Pray for me?”
“Later, I have to beat Seungri’s score.”
Seunghoon isn’t sure what is the best way to break it to Hip Hop for Kids class what a hangover is and instead plays nursery rhymes and let’s them tumble around on the mats while trying to hide away in the corner. It goes well for the most part, until Hanbin accidentally kicks Chanwoo while somersaulting and Seunghoon has to begrudgingly sit in the thick of things and endure Yedam trying to climb on his back while Lalice hopscotches around him.
He makes it out alive, thankfully half an hour later, but his headache is threatening to tear open his skull by this time and Jinwoo is still ignoring him. Seunghoon slumps into the empty chair next to him. “Kill me.”
“Can’t. I like you too much. Also, I’m live streaming, so.” He does, however, place a comforting hand on Seunghoon’s neck and rubs it gently. “You get something to eat,” he says sweetly. “And bring me a coffee when you come back.”
It works out because he gets a call from Minho a few minutes later, asking to go out for brunch. They meet up at a diner halfway between them, loading up on waffles and eggs and bacon. Minho’s alcohol tolerance is enviable, and he’s as chipper as he is on any other day. “Why were you so late to my party? Don’t think I didn’t notice,” Minho starts through a mouth full of food.
“Wow, you just called me because you wanted to carp at me. Stop hanging out with Seungyoon so much.”
“No, I’m just curious, okay?” Minho drowns his hash browns in ketchup. Seunghoon grimaces. “Also, man, your gift.”
“No need to worship me, I know it was the best.” Seunghoon mentally pats himself on the back for being able to pull off a miracle in such short notice.
“But Joohyun won’t let me keep it up,” Minho whines. “She wants me to return it.”
“But she’s letting you keep the inflatable sex doll?” Seunghoon asks incredulously.
Minho stifles a laugh. “Yeah, she thinks it’s kind of fun. Actually, we—”
“It’s okay,” Seunghoon interrupts. “Don’t finish that sentence. I’ll return it. But you’re whipped, just so you know.”
“Yes but she made me this hella good seawood soup yesterday and we had great doll inclusive sex last night. Meanwhile, you’re going to be teaching old people how to salsa in the afternoon. I’m pretty sure I’m winning.”
“Don’t laugh at me, I love dancing with grannies they have so much wisdom to share, fuck you Minho.”
Seunghoon stops by Minho’s place after his salsa lesson, which was very fun thank you very much. Mrs. Kim even baked him a sweet potato pie which he had great pleasure shoving under Minho’s nose and leaving before he could get his hands on it. He makes a quick stop at home to drop it off and comb through his hair before heading out again.
The store is just as empty as last time, except this time a petite girl with amber colored hair sits behind the counter. Her eyes light up with recognition when she sees him. “Seunghoon! What brings you here today?”
“Oh hey, Seungwan. You work here?” Seunghoon sets the package down on the counter. Seungwan is one of the students in his beginner’s ballroom class. He’s surprised to see her here; he had expected to see Taehyun. “You’re certainly more cheery than the guy here yesterday.”
“Taehyun? Don’t mind him, he’s like my grumpy pet cat.” Seungwan laughs cutely. “So what can I help you with?”
“I have to return this, I bought it for a friend but his girlfriend won’t let him keep it.” Seungwan blushes when she pulls it out from the bag and wrapping paper, looking at him accusingly. “Really, I swear to god it was for a friend. Come on, you know I’m gay as hell.”
“True. Okay, let me just find where Taehyun kept the ledger, ugh he’s always leaving it in different places.” Seungwan opens and closes several drawers behind the counter before groaning and calling out through the beaded curtains, “Taehyun? Where’s the ledger?”
There’s no immediate response, but Taehyun saunters out from the back with a thick leather bound book in his hand. Seungwan sighs and takes it, “We should really get a computer for this.” Taehyun merely shrugs in response.
Seunghoon had been in too much of a hurry yesterday to really look at Taehyun. He’s wearing one of those oversized leather jackets and tight jeans. Seunghoon’s eyes travel appreciatively down and back up, stopping at Taehyun’s crossed arms. He blinks and looks into Taehyun’s face.
Taehyun scoffs, “You said you were going to bring all your friends and your entire extended family, but you’re returning the gift?”
“It’s really the most unfortunate turn of events, but yes.” Seungwan’s eyes keep bouncing back between the two boys. Seunghoon pushes the sign on the counter a little towards Taehyun.
Taehyun pushes it back. “Sorry, we don’t take returns.” Seungwan opens her mouth, ready to correct Taehyun, but Taehyun puts a finger to her mouth to keep her shushed.
“Seungwan was just going to take it back, though.”
“Seungwan doesn’t know anything. Ignore her.” Seungwan squawks indignantly.
“What am I gonna do this with this piece of junk? I don’t even like any kind of jugs.”
“Me neither, keep it.”
“No, you— Wait, so you’re like?” Taehyun doesn’t answer but Seungwan nods enthusiastically behind him. There’s a smirk tugging at Seunghoon’s lips at this. Taehyun is a bit of a tool, but he’s still cute. It’s not like Seunghoon to let an opportunity pass, however, he’s quickly shut down when Taehyun rolls his eyes.
They say seem to go on for several minutes in a back and forth of “take it back” and “keep it” before Seungwan finally butts in and takes over the return. “Just take it back Taehyun, don’t be difficult.”
“He didn’t even pay full price. He called everything junk,” Taehyun whines, but to no avail because Seungwan is opening the cash register already. Seunghoon laughs, just to spite him. “I’m serious though, that elephant foot umbrella stand better be out of here but the end of the week or I’ll hunt you down.”
“Will you give it to me at a discounted price again?” Taehyun scowls. It’s kind of cute.
“I did it. I returned it.” Minho is having dinner at Seunghoon’s place. Joohyun is working late and Minho’s cooking expertise spans from slightly undercooked chicken nuggets to burnt bagel bites with some stiff mozzarella sticks thrown into the mix. At least, Seunghoon can put together a decent stew.
“The end to a very short era,” Minho deplores and stuffs a spoonful of rice into his mouth.
“The guy over there hates me. But I found out Seungwan works there. Funny, I always thought she would work at a bakery or daycare of something,” Seunghoon starts offhandedly.
Minho smiles impishly. “Oooh, a boy.”
“Stop acting like a 12 year old girl, yes, a boy. But it doesn’t matter now because like I said, he hates me. I’m like 92% sure.”
“Okay, but is he cute?” Seunghoon snorts.
“Yeah, but he’s kind of an asshole.”
“You’re also an asshole, you can’t complain.”
“You got me there,” Seunghoon concedes, pushing the vegetables around his bowl. “Ugh, this is all Joohyun’s fault. Tell her I’m unfollowing her on Twitter.”
He doesn’t really give Taehyun another thought after that. Well, not really. Except for that one time when he saw some guy wearing a leather jacket in the street. Also, that time he saw a neon sign flashing “Beer Here” and another time when Jinwoo kept sending him cat videos. He was also slightly reminded of him when Seungri bustles into the center with blond hair one morning. But other than that, not a single thought.
He had nearly forgotten about him, almost, kind of. That is, until he walks into his beginner’s ballroom dancing class one afternoon and Seungwan waves him over. “I brought a friend along, I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not all, this class is open to everyone,” Seunghoon says happily and he is pretty happy too until the friend turns around. “Junk boy,” Seunghoon says in surprise.
“Jugs boy,” Taehyun counters. Seungwan laughs nervously between them. “Play nice boys!”
Seunghoon smiles at her reassuringly and pats Taehyun’s shoulder condescendingly before making his way up to the front of the room. He plans to go over waltzing today and Seungwan volunteers to help him demonstrate correct posture and the basics of a box step before telling them to split up in pairs.
Seungwan skips over to Jongdae much to Taehyun’s disappointment. He overhears her tell him, “Sorry, I always partner up with Jongdae, maybe you can dance with Seunghoon!” Seunghoon swears she glanced at him, before turning back to Jongdae and grinning.
Seunghoon starts the music. Taehyun looks kind of lost standing towards the edge of the room with his arms crossed nervously, watching everyone else. Seunghoon tries to ignore him as he walks around the room, fixing stances and going over how to count the steps properly. It takes him a while to teach Jaehyung the correct way to lead Ahyeon, but after that there’s not much to occupy himself with.
Taehyun looks kind of timid when Seunghoon approaches but quickly stands up straight in an attempt to look confident. “Wanna dance?” Seunghoon asks simply, holding out his hand.
“Nope, you’re here, you have to.” Seunghoon grabs Taehyun’s hand and drags him away from the wall. “Do you want to lead or should I?” Taehyun shrugs, looking everywhere but at Seunghoon. “Okay, you can lead.” Taehyun makes an oomph sound when Seunghoon pulls him in roughly, finally looking at him. Seunghoon smiles cloyingly, just to be an ass, and places a hand on his shoulder and holds the other one up for Taehyun to hold. He doesn’t take it. “Come on Taehyun, it’s your first class and you’re already slacking off?”
“I didn’t even want to come,” he grumbles, begrudgingly placing his right hand on Seunghoon’s shoulder blade and taking his hand. “Seungwan forced me.”
Taehyun takes a step forward, to the side and back. Seunghoon’s rather surprised. Either Taehyun is actually paying attention, or he knows his stuff. “Why did she bring you along?”
“Stop being so emo, let’s do something fun,” Taehyun mocks, complete with a high-pitched voice and sneery expressions.
“What were you doing?” Seunghoon is starting to feel a bit bad for asking so much questions but Taehyun doesn’t seem to mind yet and keeps answering.
“Listening to my B.B. King records.” Taehyun shoots an annoyed glance at Seungwan across the room and Seunghoon’s eyes follow. Honestly, Jongdae keeps stepping with the wrong foot. He really should go over there and fix it but he finds himself turning back to Taehyun. (This class is just for fun anyway, he reasons with himself.)
“That really suits your vintage junk aesthetic.” Taehyun doesn’t respond verbally but instead with an unsurprising roll of his eyes. “Your eyes will get stuck like that.” Taehyun takes his time rolling his eyes dramatically this time around. Seunghoon laughs. Taehyun is not all that bad, really.
Seunghoon hardly realizes how long he’s been letting Taehyun guide him around the room. It is effortless. “You’re pretty good at this,” Seunghoon compliments. He really should be paying attention to his actual students.
“Thanks. I can do other things besides, you know, sell junk.” He smirks and his eyes seem to twinkle.
“Right.” Seunghoon really needs to let go now. He’s pretty sure that was Sandara who just screamed right now. Chanyeol has a terrible habit of stepping on her feet. “I should make another round.”
“Yeah.” Taehyun lets go of him. Seunghoon’s hands feel cold all of a sudden.
“Why are you bringing us here?” Seungyoon asks.
Seunghoon shrugs. “Dunno, I thought maybe you would like it.”
“That’s a blatant lie,” Minho butts in, pushing his way to walk in between Seungyoon and Seunghoon. “He has a crush on one of the employees. He told me so.”
“I said he was cute. Once!” Minho looks at him smugly and raises a heavy eyebrow, earning himself a rather painful flick to the forehead. “Now behave,” Seunghoon warns before opening the door.
It seems to be only Taehyun here today and Seunghoon hates that he feels a bit happy about this. Taehyun, of course, doesn’t seem to notice there’s anyone else in the store, despite the chimes. He’s focused on polishing something small, eyeing it with a monocle. “You’re kidding.” Seunghoon can’t resist. “In the 21st century, we just use a magnifying glass.” He’s glad the other two have gone into the depth of the store so he’s free to walk up to Taehyun without them sticking to him.
“Let me live out my vintage junk aesthetic in peace.” Taehyun pops the monocle off and looks up at him grimly. “What are you doing back jugs boy?”
“Don’t act like you’re not happy to see me.” He points over to Minho in the corner. “I brought my friends like I said I would.”
Minho walks along the wall with the various signs tacked up, occasionally stopping in front of the beer sign Seunghoon had bought and shaking his head sadly. “What is he doing?”
“Mourning,” Seunghoon answers solemnly. His straight face doesn’t last long, breaking out into a small smile when Taehyun laughs at his joke.
Seunghoon leans against the counter and Taehyun leans against the counter. He’s close enough that Seunghoon can smell his cologne, a really enticing and warm scent of sandalwood and musk. “So he likes big tits but his girlfriend doesn’t? Sad.” Taehyun’s words snap him out of his momentary trance. He stands up straight abruptly and looks back to Minho.
“Isn’t it?” Taehyun nods and chuckles. “She does love butts though. It’s why she’s dating Minho,” Seunghoon adds as an afterthought.
Taehyun turns again, clearly eyeing Minho’s rather voluptuous bottom. “Because he has a nice ass?” Seunghoon feels the smallest twinge of jealousy but quickly pushes it aside. It’s nothing.
“No, because he is an ass.” He pauses. “Okay, yeah, and because he has a nice ass.”
Taehyun giggles. Seunghoon feels another twinge in his stomach. It’s not jealousy this time, but something fluttery.
He can’t see Seungyoon but he knows he’s there because every few seconds he erupts in a loud “Wow!” or “Look at this!” or “I want this!”. Seunghoon is just about to ask Taehyun if the ugly fruit bowl painting has a story (not because he cares but because he wants to hear Taehyun talk more) when Seungyoon jumps out from behind a display shelf holding the Elvis phone proudly. “Seunghoon, look at this! I’m getting this.” He looks so excited, like a child on Christmas.
Taehyun seems to think so too. “Should I tell him?” he asks guiltily.
“Nah, you’ll break his heart. Make your money, junk boy.”
In the end, Seungyoon does buy the Elvis phone along with some rock band posters and no one mentions anything about the phone. Minho almost doesn’t buy anything, until Seunghoon steps on his foot and he limps over to the nearest table to pick up some trinket he didn’t even look at.
Minho smirks at Seunghoon with one of those annoying all-knowing looks when he catches him smiling at Taehyun. Seunghoon steps on his other foot.
Seunghoon tries to take Jinwoo along during his lunch break the next day but Jinwoo is too preoccupied flirting with one of the volunteers to take him up on the offer. He considers going there by himself for a bit, nearly slaps himself and then calls Seungyoon to talk him out of it.
Calling Seungyoon turns out to be a terrible decision. Rather than talking him out of it, he talks him right into it. Literally right into it, like standing right outside the door into it. “Over-enthusiastic bastard,” Seunghoon mutters. Seungyoon cackles on the other end of the line. He calls Seungyoon a few more rude words and hangs up before Seungyoon can laugh at him some more.
He feels a little disappointed to see Seungwan wave at him warmly. “I was expecting to see Taehyun.” Seunghoon didn’t plan to say that out loud.
She drops her hand. “Nice to see you too,” she greets sarcastically.
Seunghoon is embarrassed. “No, I mean. Hey! How are you?”
“I’m great. It’s Taehyun’s day off.” Seunghoon is really, really embarrassed now.
“I didn’t come here to see him. I wanted to see you, actually. You’re my favorite student.” He tries to turn on his charm but it’s completely lost on Seungwan. She can see right through him.
“Yeah, sure. Nice try Seunghoon.” Seungwan rolls her eyes playfully and flips to the next page of her magazine. Seunghoon looks down at his feet, unsure what to do next. He doesn’t want to leave right away and give Seungwan the satisfaction of thinking that he came in hopes of seeing Taehyun. Which he totally didn’t. Not even a bit.
He settles on wandering the store again and wastes a good twenty minutes of his time studying an ostentatious crystal chess set. Seungwan is too absorbed in 46 Heatless Hair Hacks and 101 Ways To Pleasure Yourself to pay him any attention. No one ever seems to pay attention in this store. Maybe he should go.
He sets one foot out of the store and then he sees it out of the corner of his eye. That god-awful elephant foot umbrella stand mocks him from the corner. Seunghoon has no idea what compelled him to do this but he marches back inside, picks it up and takes it to the counter. “Oh, honey… No, it’s not worth it,” Seungwan reasons. To be honest, Seunghoon wholeheartedly agrees. His actions betray him, however, and he whips his wallet out anyway.
Seungwan eyes him curiously the whole time, calls him desperate and tells him to come by tomorrow with a wink. Seunghoon hates this.
At least Minho and Seungyoon don’t know.
“Heard you bought some ugly ass shit from the store when he wasn’t even there.” Seunghoon should start checking the caller ID before picking up. Nothing good comes from Minho’s call.
“Stop calling me,” Seunghoon whines through the phone. “How do you even know?”
“Joohyun said that Seulgi said that Minji said that Sunyoung said that Seungwan said you bought some ugly ass shit from the store when he wasn’t even there to impress him. This is a new kind of desperation.”
“It wasn’t desperation, I was just tired of not having a proper place to put my umbrella. You know, it rains and I come home and I’m like? So, where do I put this umbrella now? I was just seeking a solution to my problem. It just happened to be there.”
“It hasn’t rained in two weeks. Do you even own an umbrella?”
Seunghoon ignores Minho’s questions and bulldozes through a monologue no one asked for. “I also happen to like elephants. They are intelligent and graceful animals. Their memory is amazing! And I want to support local business. Our economy is suffering and these greedy big name corporations are destroying the livelihoods of these—”
“Listen to yourself. Are you listening to yourself right now?”
Seunghoon groans. “I’m hanging up. Tell Joohyun I’m unfriending her on Facebook too.”
It does rain the next day and Seunghoon does not own an umbrella. The ceramic elephant foot is really turning out to be Seunghoon’s most useless expense yet.
He trudges into the building stupidly, dripping water over the tile and shivering. “I need to get an umbrella. Or a car,” Seunghoon grumbles pathetically.
“Get an umbrella,” Jinwoo suggests, popping a chocolate into his mouth and tossing another one to Seunghoon, who catches it with ease. “So you can have something to fill that elephant foot with.”
Seunghoon nearly chokes. “Shut up, what the hell? Who told you?”
“Seungwan.” Exactly how many people has Seungwan gossiped too?
“I’m going to kill her. I really am.” Jinwoo nods sympathetically. “After I change into something warmer.”
“Yes, you should go do that. Murder is only fun if you’re warm and comfortable first.”
Seunghoon makes a weird frustrated sound and drips over to the locker rooms.
He finds Seungwan stretching near the mirrors when he walks into the room a few minutes later in a dry change of clothes. “Hey buddy!” she calls out, smiling cheekily.
“You’re dead to me,” Seunghoon deadpans. Seungwan shrugs. “I can’t believe you told Jinwoo about my pathetic love life, he’ll never let this go.”
“It’s more your lack of a love life, isn’t it?” Seunghoon’s expression turns pained and Seungwan finds it way too amusing for Seunghoon’s liking.
“I’m partnering you up with Chanyeol.” That shuts her up.
His lesson plan consists of perfecting everyone’s box steps and maybe teaching them how to do a proper dip. He feels great joy telling Chanyeol “Yes, bend further. That’s it, try get her head to touch the floor,” much to Seungwan’s horror.
Seunghoon weaves through everyone, occasionally stopping to fix someone’s posture or count the music out loud. It’s what he always does, but today it feels different. The last lesson with Taehyun spoiled him; he wishes he had someone to dance with too. His eyes land on Hayi waiting against the wall for her partner to come back from the restroom. He could dance with Hayi for a bit. Instead, he just gives her a thumbs up.
He wishes to dance with Taehyun again.
Seungwan punches him on the arm at the end of the lesson. “Can you tell my ride to wait a few minutes?” Seunghoon hisses and rubs at the quickly reddening spot on his bicep.
“And why would I do that?”
“Because my ride is Taehyun.” She smiles sweetly, sickeningly so, and skips out the door. Dammit.
He borrows Jinwoo’s umbrella and doesn’t tell where he’s going despite being asked. Taehyun’s car is not that hard to spot. There’s only two cars parked outside and one of them has a bright yellow head leaning against the window.
Taehyun jumps a little in his seat when Seunghoon knocks against the glass. Seunghoon motions for him to lower the window, which he does. It takes a while, however, because Taehyun has one of those older cars with the crank for the windows and even with the rain pouring down, Seunghoon can hear the way it creaks every time Taehyun rotates it.
“Really?” he asks, eyeing the crank.
“This isn’t on purpose. My mom gave me her old car when she bought a new one.”
“At least, you’re getting a good workout for those skinny arms,” Seunghoon teases, mentally kicking himself. He needs to stop making fun of Taehyun every time he sees him. He’s no better than the eight year olds he teaches.
Taehyun purses his lips but doesn’t seem too offended at the comment. At least, Seunghoon hopes he’s not. He shouldn’t be, because actually, Taehyun’s arms are kind of nice. They’re strong but still soft and slim. Nice arms. Seunghoon blinks a few times to will away the thought of being held by those arms.
“Why did you come out?” Taehyun asks instead, pulling Seunghoon’s attention fully back to the conversation.
“Well, it all started in eighth grade in the boys locker room,” Seunghoon starts. Taehyun breaks out in laughter, his eyes scrunching up and his gums showing. It’s so cute.
“That’s not what I meant!” He covers his mouth with his hand to stifle another laugh. He made Taehyun laugh, and laugh this much. Seunghoon wants to gloat. “But really?”
“Seungwan wanted me to let you know she’ll be a few minutes.”
“Well, she better hurry. I’m starving.” His stomach growls at just that moment, as if to prove his point.
“Me too.” He doesn’t know what compels him to say it but it’s tumbling out of his mouth before he can stop himself. “Let’s ditch her.” Taehyun looks surprised and Seunghoon instantly regrets being so forward.
“You want me to ditch Seungwan and go somewhere with you?”
Seunghoon laughs nervously, shifting uncomfortably on his feet. “Well, when you put it like that…”
“Okay,” Taehyun says simply. Seunghoon can’t believe it. “Get in.” He nods towards the empty passenger’s seat.
Taehyun ends up texting Seungwan to grab a ride with someone from class and they venture off to eat pizza at a small family-owned restaurant hidden between a laundromat and tailor, cramped into a tiny booth where their knees bump against each other’s. He peeks over the laminated menu to look at Taehyun, watching him read over the list of toppings with concentration. He’s really so cute when he’s concentrating. “Want to share a pie?” Seunghoon suggests.
“Yeah okay.” They can’t decide on toppings they both want and instead order a mess of pizza with toppings ranging from anchovies to pineapples to sliced sausage with the compromise that they can pick off anything they don’t want.
“You don’t like mushrooms?” Seunghoon asks incredulously. Taehyun shakes his head and pushes his plate towards Seunghoon, who ungraciously grabs at the pile of mushrooms and sprinkles a few onto his own slice. “You’re crazy.”
“They’re so slimy tasting though.” Taehyun shudders. “And apparently, beer and mushrooms make a deadly mix. I saw it on a tv show.” He nods his head earnestly like he actually believes this.
Seunghoon eyes the can of beer he’s been sipping and then the slice in his hand doubtfully. “Mm, sounds fake.”
Taehyun shrugs, eyebrows slanting downward. “I warned you, at least.” Seunghoon grabs some mushrooms from Taehyun’s pile and pops them in his mouth and washes it down with a gulp of beer. Taehyun rolls his eyes playfully and tuts his tongue. “Any last words? A dying wish perhaps?”
“A dying wish? Probably more of this pizza, to be honest.”
“Well, it was nice knowing you. Wish we could’ve been closer.” Taehyun bows his head in fake lamentation and Seunghoon knows Taehyun is just joking but it doesn’t stop him from feeling all fluttery at his wish to be closer.
He bumps his knee against Taehyun’s leg. “We can be closer right now.”
Taehyun gives Seunghoon an unreadable look for a few seconds and breaks out in a shy smile. “The elephant foot umbrella stand is gone. I opened the store up this morning and it wasn’t there.”
“Do you know who bought it?” Seunghoon bounces his legs nervously. The inside of his knee rubs against the inside of Taehyun’s knee. This isn’t helping.
Seunghoon lets out a breath he doesn’t realize he’s holding when Taehyun shakes his head no. “I told you Mrs. Park from my salsa class would like it,” he lies.
Taehyun gives him an unreadable look for a few seconds and bites his lip. “I guess you’re probably right.” He smiles. “Thank god that ugly shit is gone though.” Taehyun reaches a hand over to pluck a pineapple off Seunghoon’s slice and pops it in his mouth. “What?” he asks unabashedly. “I love pineapples.”
He also happens to love pepperoni and the friendly sharing turns into a battle for the last slice. Seunghoon forfeits the slice over when Taehyun pouts, which is totally adorable and totally unfair of Taehyun. He makes up for it though when he rips the slice and gives half to the elder.
Seunghoon also finds out that Taehyun is still in university, a music and art history major, but close to graduating some time next year. Taehyun also likes old musical comedies from the thirties (“Is there anything from this century that you like?”) which explains why waltzing came so easily to him. “I bet I could tap dance too if I tried,” Taehyun brags. “Fred Astaire would turn in his grave.”
“Even I don’t know how to tap dance, you would have to teach me.” Taehyun promises that he would teach Seunghoon if he came down to it; the thought makes Seunghoon feel almost giddy.
They exchange numbers at the restaurant but Seunghoon is too nervous to do anything with it. He supplies Jinwoo with a cursory explanation about where he had disappeared to for the last hour. Seunghoon doesn’t go into detail; he has no doubt he and Seungwan gossiped about him already anyway. His salsa class passes by in a daze as well and Mrs. Choi even asks him what has him so star struck.
He collapses onto his bed that night, staring at the new contact in his phone. That stupid fluttering feeling in his stomach is back.
Had fun today! we should do it again soon. He types it out and erases it right away. Good night. He erases this too. Which Astaire movie do you recommend? This gets erased as well.
Seunghoon tosses his phone towards the end of his bed and groans into his pillow. Crushes are nothing new to Seunghoon. He’s had his fair share and they usually come and go without Seunghoon ever losing much sleep about it. But something about Taehyun is so different. He’s not even sure when Taehyun went from being the pretentious asshole at the junk shop to cute and sweet and funny pretentious asshole from the junk shop.
Damn that Taehyun.
Taehyun seems to have no qualms in texting him, however, for which Seunghoon is very grateful. Seungwan has to pluck his phone out of his hands one day and remind him he has a class to teach. “Not everyone is born with the ability to jive Seunghoon,” she chides.
They eat together more often too, at various hole-in-the-wall eateries that Seunghoon never knew existed. Taehyun lectures him about Basquiat and Caravaggio and Handel and Lennon, meanwhile Seunghoon tries not to get distracted by how cutely Taehyun’s lips move when he speaks or how his eyes light up when he’s talking about his favorite works.
Sometimes Seunghoon likes to tease Taehyun too — Seunghoon is seriously 8 years old — because the satisfaction of seeing Taehyun act flustered and pouty is worth it. It’s okay though. Taehyun doesn’t miss any opportunity to diss his overenthusiastic use of patterned clothing or to randomly jump out or yell just to startle him.
Seunghoon still feels the nerves in his stomach every time he thinks about Taehyun but they melt away quickly once he actually sees him. Talking to him so easy too, Seunghoon thinks he can talk to Taehyun about anything at this point. It’s not really dating. They never went on any official date and Taehyun has never called Seunghoon his boyfriend or vice versa. They haven’t held hands or kissed or hugged. But sometimes he thinks he catches Taehyun starting at his lips but Taehyun blinks and looks away so fast he isn’t sure if it happened or if he just imagined it. Seunghoon pretends he just imagined it.
“Break a leg!” Seunghoon yells, the loud music pulsing through the speakers nearly drowns out his voice. He claps Seungyoon on the back and gives him a thumbs up before being shooed away so Seungyoon can tune his guitar. Ungrateful bastard.
The club is close to the local university and has no particular style, packed with all sorts of people from all sorts of places. Seunghoon maneuvers past a group of sorority girls taking tequila shots in the corner and side steps a group of intimidating goths to get to the bar where Minho sits.
Seunghoon plops down on an empty stool and bumps Minho’s outstretched fist with his own. “Nice to see you after 8,000 years!” Minho yells. Everyone is yelling. Trust Seungyoon to find the loudest place ever to book a gig.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You’re always hanging out with your boyfriend lately,” Minho starts. The lights are dimming while the spotlights turn on towards the stage. Seungyoon’s band should be coming on any minute. “I thought you forgot about me.”
Seunghoon fights down the urge to blush at the thought of being Taehyun’s boyfriend. “He’s not my… boyfriend. Please.”
“Then why is he over there?” Seunghoon looks to where Minho is pointing.
Taehyun sticks out among the crowd with his bleached blond hair and bright red leather jacket. He looks so fucking hot, attracting Seunghoon like a magnet. His feet move of their own volition and he’s sure Minho is cursing him out for ditching him but he really doesn’t care.
He taps him on the shoulder and almost melts at the way Taehyun’s eyes brighten up when he notices who tapped him. “What are you doing here?” Seunghoon asks.
“Came by with some friends from class. You?”
“Remember my friend Seungyoon? The Elvis phone guy? His band is performing.”
As if on cue, Seungyoon walks out into the center of the stage and grabs the microphone aggressively. “WE ARE THE BAND I DON’T KNOW! ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?!” The audience erupts into raucous applause at Seungyoon’s introduction and they launch right into the first song. Seunghoon nearly gets knocked over when a group of headbangers rush to form a mosh pit at the front of the stage.
“What the hell kind of name is The Band I Don’t Know?” Taehyun asks about 5 times before Seunghoon can actually hear him.
“I don’t know, I think Seungyoon was drunk when he decided the name.” Seunghoon has to cup his hands around his mouth and lean in towards Taehyun’s ear. They don’t end up talking much after this. Seunghoon starts to lose himself in the rhythm of the heavy guitar riffs, jumping and swaying to the music. Taehyun stares at him, his expression seemingly unreadable. His eyes look dark.
Seunghoon pulls him close to him, “Dance with me!” Taehyun’s almost awkward at first but quickly adjusts, moving along with Seunghoon with ease, mouthing along to the words and occasionally dragging burning palms down Seunghoon’s body.
They go off towards the bar when the band is taking a break between sets and grab a couple of empty seats at the end. Minho is nowhere to be found anymore and Taehyun is pressing into his side. “Having fun?” he asks. He doesn’t even wait for Seunghoon to answer. “Want to ditch?”
Taehyun bites his lip. “I think I want to kiss you.”
That is enough and Taehyun has Seunghoon folding like putty in his hands. He kisses him first just a little outside the club, pushed against a brick wall with his fingers gripping the lapels of his jacket.
Taehyun keeps pulling him along to god knows where, stopping to kiss him under a street lamp and again under the awning of the florist shop. “I know you bought the elephant foot umbrella stand,” he utters between hot kisses.
Seunghoon breaks away to lean against the cool glass of the building, panting heavily. “Is this your idea of dirty talk, junk boy?” Curling his fingers through Taehyun’s belt loops, he tugs him closer.
“Why didn’t you tell me it was you?” Taehyun kisses his chin, his cheek, his cupid’s bow, pulling his head back before Seunghoon can reciprocate. Why is Taehyun talking right now and not letting Seunghoon kiss him? What the hell?!
Seunghoon shrugs, tucking a loose strand of hair behind Taehyun’s ear. “I thought you would make fun of me or think I was a loser or something.”
Taehyun blows air through his nose in an amused sort of way. “I do think you’re a loser.”
“Wow, if you’re trying to get into my pants it’s working.” Taehyun smiles into the kiss and interlaces their fingers together.
“But why did you buy it?” Taehyun punctuates his question with a kiss to the jaw, and another to the throat. How is Seunghoon even supposed to concentrate on answering him?
Seunghoon growls frustratedly, spinning them so Taehyun is pinned against the glass instead. “Obviously because I fucking like you, junk boy. So, shut up and let me kiss you.”
Taehyun smirks and trails a finger down the side of Seunghoon’s face. “How close is your place?”
Taehyun groans quietly when Seunghoon slides out and unhooks Taehyun’s leg from his shoulder. He slips the condom off, knotting it and tossing it into the trashcan, before grabbing a few tissues to clean the quickly cooling cum off Taehyun’s torso. Said man pants lightly, an arm thrown over his head and body relaxed. Seunghoon leans down to kiss his cheek softly, fixing the blankets around them before sinking in. He’s not sure what he’s supposed to do now. Is he supposed to lie away from Taehyun, or spoon him, or just face him or—? Taehyun answers the question for him, tugging at Seunghoon’s arm until frames his shoulder and scooting a little closer. He doesn’t say anything, just breathes a sigh of content and traces his fingers over Seunghoon’s collarbones.
Seunghoon likes this. He likes the way Taehyun fits against him. His frame is just slightly smaller and his height just a little less than Seunghoon’s but his face fits perfectly in the crook of Seunghoon’s neck. It’s nice. Taehyun turns onto his back and hums. “Why is your room so bare?”
Seunghoon’s eyes follow Taehyun’s, looking across the room. “I don’t know.” It looked fine to him. Off white walls, light wood floors, a dresser on the left and a door leading to the bathroom. He doesn’t spend much time in this room, or even in this house, other than to sleep. It has never occurred to him to decorate with more than the bare necessities.
“You should get some artwork in here or something. To liven things up,” Taehyun says finally after a few minutes of deliberation.
“If you’re trying to sell me that ugly fruit bowl painting again, I’m never going to sleep with you again.” Seunghoon laughs at the small scoff that escapes Taehyun’s mouth.
“Nevermind, your room is so beautiful,” Taehyun struggles out, sounding pained at the last word.
“You can try selling me that neon beer light though.”
“Only if you pay full price.”