Genre: Angst, Romance
Disclaimer: Only the plot is mine.
Summary: He hates it because Minho thinks love is that one game he can't win against.
A/N: btw. this fic has got nothing to do with my feelings or anything. it's just. ugh. yeah. bye. Enjoy. :)
Minho is competitive. It’s a given when people hear his name, something of an unspoken agreement that the name Choi Minho already stands and speaks for itself. He knows it, and never fails to live up to his title as the one who manages to bring in trophy after trophy during the season of intercollegiate games even down to the most meaningless tournaments. Because to Minho, every game is worth it, and his determination to win always, fortunately, do well for him in the end.
So he gives his all, throws his body around chasing after that white and black ball as sets of feet kick it in random directions, and somehow he manages to snag the rolling sphere into his control and possession. And at that moment, Minho knows it, a smile spreading across his face as he exchanges signals with Jinki and the crowd roars in glee when the ball hits the inside goal and the buzzer then sets off.
Minho likes it. He likes the feeling of being thrown into the air, his breath catches in his lungs and he feels the momentary absence of gravity as hands grab him when he lands only to be thrown two feet higher again. Minho likes the quaking in his feet as he sets his soles down and looks around the audience, scans the familiar faces and sees his friends up in the bleachers rejoicing along with the crowd. He smiles and waves at them, mildly hearing girlish squeals and high pitched screams of Oh my god, he’s so hot and I want him and he’s mine as he makes those girls seal their lips when he sends them a wink or two.
A hand is on his shoulder as Jinki gives him a congratulatory grin and next, the whole team is crushing him on the ground along with the trophy in his hands and the unpleasant stench of smelly, yet, energized bodies still too wrapped up in the bliss of victory. And Minho smiles at this as his laughter drowns out in the sea of his overjoyed teammates, feeling a sense of accomplishment dawning over him and Minho thinks he is complete.
Minho likes the air at the top, being the one who controls the game and being the one who dictates what happens. He likes the security of the ending, that no matter what he does and whoever steps in his routine, it is guaranteed. Everything is in his favor and the outcome is crystal clear, thus Minho is happy and he finds himself content with how things presently are.
Though sometimes, Minho thinks everything could have been easier if playing with life was as simple.
When Taemin barged into their room and tells him the victory party is at the newly opened club downtown, Kibum is ecstatic. Because Kibum always liked parties, he likes how the swirling lights and the pounding music bring in life from somewhere within. He enjoys the freedom of doing whatever he wants, because what happens that one night stays and all the secrecy the building holds withers down as the sun makes its presence clear.
Minho doesn’t need to ask Kibum if he wants to come with, because Kibum is already rushing past him through the bathroom of their room and singing at the top of his lungs. Minho laughs at him and tells him he sounds like a dying seal, Kibum simply tells him to shut up.
Minho smiles at this, because it feels right and this is supposedly how effortless everything should be.
He first met Kibum when he was twelve, at a party in their house where Minho’s parents were invited to. Both of them were bored out of their wits and somehow they ended up being together for the rest of the evening where Minho learns that they go to the same school. Minho wonders why he hasn’t seen Kibum around before and Kibum tells him that he needs to have his eyes checked because their size does not justify their usefulness. Minho tells him it’s because he’s too short and Kibum’s height does not reach his eye level. Kibum tells him to shut up.
Numbers exchanged, laughter ensued and a new friendship develops. Minho says goodbye and Kibum waves till their car disappears around the block. Minho thinks this Monday will be the first he’s actually ecstatic to come to school.
They were inseparable since then, going to the same high school and somehow they manage to be classmates for the whole period of three years. Minho believes it’s because Kibum used his parents’ influence though Kibum shrugs him off and tells him he’s too conceited. But Minho catches the slight quirk in Kibum’s lips, as it always appears when he’s lying, and Minho decides not to push it any further. Not that he’s complaining either way so Minho lets the topic go.
Saying that they’re polar opposites would be the major understatement of the year. Because not only is Kibum Minho’s other extreme, but Kibum is also his fill for some of the cracks and holes in him. What Minho doesn’t have, Kibum has, and in some messed up perspective, they complete each other. Kibum tells him he’s fucking cheesy and Minho shrugs as he continues to eat his breakfast.
One time though, Minho comes across the idea that Kibum may mean more to him than what he sees. That Kibum was not just someone to satisfy his curiosity, someone who fulfils his needs and someone an arm’s length from him. Because Minho thinks that maybe, just maybe, the spaces in between his fingers might be perfect if Kibum’s slim fingers were tied with his. And Minho wasn’t surprised of this thought. It actually scares him even more that he likes the idea because at that moment, Minho knew he was certainly fucked up.
There was no room for complication and Minho didn’t like it when things aren’t going to bode well for him. It was like something based on instinct when Minho feels that something doesn’t sit right the moment they entered the club. Kibum tells him not to be a kill joy and pulls him in further the cramped up space, Minho decides to let his worries go and just enjoy the night.
And now he regrets it. He should have just dragged Kibum out of the club and that they should have just headed back to the apartment. Because being in that room with a whining Kibum was better than the setting before his eyes. He didn’t mind it at first, when Kibum’s on the dance floor and sets his moves directly for the kill. He didn’t mind it all, because Minho knew Kibum was just after the chase and the thrill, that when he captures his prey, Kibum instantly loses interest and moves to another target. That’s how Minho finds security that the game was still playing by his rules and that he was still the one in control.
But this situation just wasn’t going along with the pattern. Something was off when Kibum tries to be more aggressive and sneaks in closer to his prey. He never does that, because Minho was positive that Kibum plays the game where his targets come to him, not the other way around. And Minho sees him, the person Kibum wants to pursue was the DJ on the top porch with his headphones around his neck and his mind somewhere else. Kibum manages to get his attention in the end, as Minho quickly finishes two bottles of beer and reasons that he’s too tired when asked why he’s already heading back.
Minho leaves the door of their room unlocked, just like he always does when Kibum’s out partying till God knows what time. It’s more convenient that way. Because Kibum’s doesn’t need to bring his keys and Minho doesn’t need to wake up during the wee hours of the morning to open it for him.
Minho stays awake, yet he doesn’t hear the creaking of the door till six in the morning.
“I think I like him.” Those were the first words Kibum told him the moment he entered their shared room. Minho sits up, his back against the wall as Kibum sits beside him and no words were exchanged. “You saw him, didn’t you? I mean he’s so perfect and manly and perfect and that cute little mole on his chest is just so perfect and he’s just so-” Kibum pauses, trying to find the fitting word as Minho fills in the appropriate adjective. “Short.” Minho manages to blurt out when he found his tongue, not entirely pleased with where their conversation is leading to but he smiles, still finding the strength to stretch his lips.
Minho half expected a slap on his arm or a glare directed at him but Kibum gives him none of those and just kept looking straight ahead with a silly grin on his face. And Minho thinks he heard his heart breaking somewhere in the background as his nails dug in deeper to the base of his palm.
“He even asked me for my number and if I wanted to have dinner with him later.” Kibum smiles as he looks down and shakes his head. “I, well, I should..shouldn’t I?” Kibum faces him, and Minho regrets looking into those eyes. He sees that glimmer at the corner and Minho wanted to say no, just stay here with me, but he doesn’t. He tries to convince himself that this new guy was just another one of Kibum’s flings, thinking this way was easier and it appeals to every fibre of his body. So Minho finds every bit of his being to force up another smile, his hands coming up to rest on Kibum’s thigh and gives it a slight squeeze. “Yeah, I thought so too.”
And with that, the conversation is over. Kibum stands up and headed for the bathroom and Minho lays back on his bed, hoping that the stabbing pain in his gut doesn’t appear again because the clenching in his chest was already too much for him to bear.
But it doesn’t go away. Instead, the pain stubbornly dwells in his body. It starts to live in his chest and thrive through his blood and veins, and Minho thinks the pain has become his new best friend. A new presence that’s irreplaceable, appears only when called for and a distraction for when Minho sees Kibum plaster on a smile that Minho knows it wasn’t for him. It was for Kibum’s fling for already a week, that Minho even questions the title and wonders whether it has become more serious than that. But he pushes those thoughts away because Minho knew, deep inside him, Kibum is his and everything else is just temporary.
The week that follows was stressful for him, if not, deathly excruciating. Because Minho had to live through Kibum’s giggles whenever he whips out his phone and starts to type carelessly on the screen. Or maybe it was because of the late night phone calls that have Kibum smiling under the sheets that Minho can’t help but overhear Kibum’s flirty side of the conversation. But Minho was definitely positive it was because of their own exchanges were kept to a minimum.
It’s not that Minho wanted for it to be that way. It really wasn’t. It’s just that Kibum kept on talking and talking about how in love he is and how he found the perfect man and that Jonghyun was just so wonderful. Minho forces a laugh at him and tells Kibum he’s sickening. Kibum laughs at him and tells him he’s just jealous. Minho doesn’t answer, and Kibum doesn’t notice the tightening of Minho’s fist when he stood up and excused himself for the bathroom.
Every dialogue was the same. And Minho believes he has gotten better at this diversion, a charade in his head of who has the best poker face, a game he has been forcibly playing with himself. So he tries his best to drown in the books of the library, or occupy himself with late night soccer practices just so he can come back to their room when Kibum is already asleep, then makes excuses that he has homework to finish and has to leave early when Kibum is still brushing his teeth.
Taemin and Jinki don’t ask him though, and Minho somehow isn’t surprised that Kibum doesn’t question him at all.
In a soccer game, it’s practically easy for Minho to discern the right time when to kick the ball to the net or pass the ball to his teammates or simply play with what’s in his possession just to stall time. Minho thinks his situation is relatively close to the third case, that he does what he can just to get by. Minho does whatever he needs to live by the pain and ignore all other odds, because there really wasn’t a choice, is there?
It was the third week of October, Minho remembers, when he meets Jonghyun for the first time. And that moment Minho understands why it wasn’t him who was sitting by Kibum’s side. Minho somehow catches the idea why it wasn’t him who has Kibum under his arm and Kibum’s head on his shoulder. Jonghyun was everything Minho was not. Jonghyun was muscular and well built, Minho was hard around the edges but still boyish and lanky. Jonghyun was loud and frank, has a likeable outgoing personality while Minho was silent, observant and doesn’t speak unless spoken to.
Jonghyun was like the sun in Kibum’s eyes, while Minho was like one of the stars that can only watch over Kibum from a far, far distance.
Their times together turn from everyday, to every three days, to once a week and Minho doesn’t complain. It gives him the space he needed from the newly founded ache and the distance to adjust to his new surroundings where there was a Kibum, and there’s a newly added Jonghyun to the equation, and Minho doesn’t know where he was now and where exactly did he fit in.
Or even if he could fit in at all because it’s clear when Kibum cancels all their plans at the last minute just because Jonghyun asked him if he was free. Kibum happily tells him he is and looks at Minho with pleading eyes. Minho still can’t find it in himself to refuse and stand his ground; he has gotten better at keeping his face void of emotion anyway. “He’s more important, huh?” Kibum bites his lip and Minho laughs and tells him it’s okay as he lets Kibum run off carelessly to where Jonghyun is.
Frustration was rising in his system and Minho asks the heavens for a sign what to do. He so badly wanted to just grab Kibum’s shoulders and yell at him Fucking look at me!
But he doesn’t because Minho knows it that he’s just a friend. If he was more than that, Kibum would have looked back or at least turned down Jonghyun from the very start. But Kibum didn’t and Minho was now sure of his place, that he was just Kibum’s stupid cowardly friend. A friend.
Minho laughs at how much he despises that word.
Several weeks pass by and Minho was already used to having Kibum out of his daily routine. In the morning, Minho is already used to waking up at six, leave at seven and continue to sleep idly in his newly found forest at the back of the university gymnasium till it’s time to go to class at nine. At lunch break, Minho is already used to eating with Jinki and Taemin at the cafeteria or at the cafe outside campus till they have to part ways for classes at one. After school hours, Minho is already used to overexerting himself during soccer practices Tuesdays through Thursdays, and Minho enrols in boxing classes Saturdays through Mondays. And when he gets home, Minho is already used to going back to an empty room and an empty life where the coldness consumes him and slowly, Minho allows himself to sleep.
This weekly pattern was working for him, and it was easier to live by. His grades went down a bit but it wasn’t as damaging and Minho thinks studying just opened up a new distraction for him during Friday nights.
He didn’t prepare himself for unexpected incidents, though. One night, Minho just found himself being dragged by Jinki to Chanyeol’s birthday party, his junior whom Minho has found a fondness towards, and Jinki tells him it’s the best time to get drunk and enjoy the girls who were willing to be fucked. Minho laughs at how Jinki blushes after he said the f word but dismisses it quickly and finds himself agreeing. It was the perfect distraction, and all the beer was laid for the taking and Minho lets all his worries go.
And there they were, Jonghyun’s arm slung around Kibum’s shoulder as they stand side by side with bottles of alcohol in their hands. Minho feels himself rooted and his eyes fixed on Kibum’s for three seconds, before Minho looks away and continues across the room as if he saw nothing and as if he didn’t see just how confused Kibum looked when Minho refused to meet his eyes.
The next morning, Minho sees it, after he got out of the shower on a Tuesday and there was a yellow piece of paper that was shaped like a bunny or some sort. Minho later on recognizes it as one of Kibum’s colourful post its and the penmanship was hard not to figure out. I miss you
. was written neatly across the yellow background as Minho shifts his head to Kibum’s side of the room. The bed was poorly done and the sheets were still warm, that Minho figures Kibum was probably out in the living room waiting for him to get dressed.
“Hey.” Kibum starts as soon as Minho steps out of the room and into the kitchen, where he finds the other wearing an apron with a plate of cooked meat in one hand. “I made breakfast.” Kibum smiles, and Minho says nothing as just nods and grabs his bag, already heading for the door to put on his shoes. “Wait, Minho,” Minho stops in his tracks, his shirt being pulled back as Kibum grips the fabric and doesn’t let go.
“Can we, you know, hang out?” Kibum asks, and Minho feels his feet being lifted off the ground. His head already swirling because of how much he missed this, of how much he craved for this and what Kibum was asking him was already answered in his head. But then he remembers everything and that sinking feeling in his stomach was back once again. “Why? Where’s Jonghyun then?”
“Jonghyun said he’s not free till tomorrow so, I think I can be with my best friend for today?”
Kibum looked up and Minho smiles. He smiles for the first time in a long while, but it was till one of those sarcastic ones, the ones that serve as his shield when his inner self was excruciatingly breaking apart. “You’re asking me out because Jonghyun’s busy, huh?” Minho scoffs. Once again, he was the replacement. The second option when the best in the shelf isn’t available for the taking.
“No, it’s not like that.” Kibum hesitates as he clasps his palms together. “You..it’s just, you’ve been..”
“I’ve been what?” Minho bites his cheek. “What, Kibum.”
“I don’t know.” Kibum pauses as he looks into Minho’s eyes. “I think you’ve been avoiding me lately.”
Minho clenches his fists. He can feel himself almost at the point of giving in. But he won’t, because all the work he has put in just to build a steady foundation for himself and a cage to contain his feelings would all go to waste. So he shifts his weight, looking around every point in the room just to distract himself, really. Nothing’s working for him anymore.
“I haven’t even seen you for weeks till now.” Kibum adds. “You, well, I’m wrong, aren’t I?”
They both just stand there unmoved. Minho was hopelessly burning holes through the nearby sofa and Kibum was still looking up at him with hopeful eyes that Minho just hates himself for nodding his head and letting himself be dragged around. “You’re imagining things, Kibum.” He has certainly mastered it all now, still keeping a smiling face while there’s the conflicting feeling in his gut like a war is suppose to break out.
“Yeah, I thought so too.” Kibum beams at him and Minho can feel his defenses shatter to pieces. “What about classes?”
“We can skip them.” Kibum grins, and Minho thinks it’s really been a while since he’s seen this face. “It’s just you and me today. I’m wholly yours for now.”For now
. Minho laughs, and Kibum questions him what’s so funny. Everything is. Every fucking thing is. All of this is just too hilarious that there’s this piecing feeling in his stomach and Minho can’t quite place it, but there’s a burning sensation at the back of his lids and his throat feels scorching dry. Kibum hands him a glass of water, and Minho dismisses him and tells him to take a shower because he smells. Kibum tells him to shut up and asks him if he’s okay because his cheeks are red and his eyes seem hollower than ever. Minho nods. “Go get dressed; I’ll just be waiting here for you.” Kibum tatters along and Minho refuses to add, like I always have
Minho believes that he deserves an award when this game is over, whatever fucking bullshit fate is playing with him. He imagines a human sized trophy displayed at his doorstep, and imprinted at the golden rim of the cup, ‘Loser of the Year’. Minho quirks his lips, suddenly finding the situation all that gratifying, even for anyone.
At the end of the day, Minho throws his sanity away. Because both of them were too drunk to care. Both of them were too drowned to stop and think that maybe, whatever this was and whatever it is they’re doing may damage everything all in all. All those years of being together and all those moments sealed at their memories would just be empty entries of the past. Nothing would remain.
But neither cared, too wrapped up in the bliss of heated bodies when Minho pushed in and Kibum’s mouth falls open, moans suppressed at the back of his lungs and Minho borders between stopping and getting his satisfaction already done for. He considers the first option, but quickly forgets his all because the way how Kibum nips his ears and urges him to go faster makes his head spin and all he sees are Kibum’s panting face and his lids fluttering close.
He doesn’t even worry anymore. God, he doesn’t even remember how fucked up everything must be for the bed to be creaking loud enough that it’s impossible not to way anyone up, for him to be the one invading the most sacred places in Kibum’s body, for him to be the one giving himself a ticket for a whole new world of pain.
It’s pristine land where there’s him and he’s all alone. That much Minho’s sure of. “This night never happened.” Kibum whispers, as he turns his back against Minho, the latter left staring blankly into space and answers back as soon as he found his voice.
“What night?” Minho smiles despite the stabbing feeling in his chest as he stands up and grabs his pants and shirt from the floor, already making his way to the living room. And Minho still hears it, Kibum’s small voice as he steps out the door and the knob clicks in place.
They don’t talk anymore. Minho makes sure of this, and it’s clear Kibum wants the same. It’s like telepathy, when Kibum enters their room; Minho purposely gets out and heads for the kitchen to continue studying there. Or Kibum sets the TV in the sports channel, and then leaves the remote on the table for Minho’s taking. They don’t speak much less stay in the same space and Minho thinks he can live with this.
One day, Jinki asks him what happened. Minho tells him it’s nothing, and Taemin adds Kibum said the exact same thing. Kibum’s right, though. Because Minho knows what happened didn’t mean anything to Kibum, and everything else that came with it was all in Minho’s head.
Days pass by, turning into weeks and before Minho knows it, it’s already been a month since that night. He’s lying in bed, arms behind his bed as he wills himself to get up then Minho hears it. Heavy footsteps barging through the door and now Kibum’s standing at the edge of his bed, hovering over his body and Minho sees the other’s tensed shoulders and clenched jaw as Minho sits up.
They say nothing and Minho doesn’t know why he stays. But he does and Kibum’s fists are tightly curled around a piece of paper. Minho sees the black logo printed on top of it and he looks away, his own fists tightening up and Minho stands up to leave.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Kibum’s voice was silent but tough. It made Minho pause in his tracks and turn around to rest his back against the door.
Minho takes a deep breath, lifts his head up and crosses his arms in front of his chest. “Tell you what
“I don’t know, Minho. I really don’t know.” And now Kibum’s voice was angry and Minho thinks he heard a bit of sarcasm laced with. “But maybe you should have at least told me about this fucking passport of yours this fucking visa and this fucking school in another fucking country saying that they’ve accepted you!”
Kibum hurls the paper at him and Minho watches at it hits his chest and falls to the ground. He smirks. “Why should I?”
“You fucking bastard, I’m still your best friend, that’s fucking why.” Kibum glares at him and Minho feels his anger quickly taking over his body. They haven’t talked and for this past month, they’ve been living like strangers. And now, when Minho has finally found peace, Kibum just walks back into his secluded world and messes with his mind like he fucking owns the place. Minho shakes his head, because he knows Kibum still did.
“Oh, you are?” Minho smiles. “Really?”
“I have no fucking time for this so if you’re going to play this asshole self of yours throughout this conversation, I’ll-”
“What?” Minho challenges him. He doesn’t know where exactly this sudden boost in courage came from but he lets it run through his veins and course unconditionally in his body. “Or you’ll what?”
Kibum pauses. “I..don’t know.”
“Bullshit.” Minho should have just continued out the door, and he should have just brushed Kibum’s hands away because all the walls he built were now crumbling at his feet. It should have been a surprise how Kibum easily slips through the cracks and how Kibum managed to get Minho back in his mercy, no matter how much effort Minho had to go through just to alleviate the pain, even for a little while. “Minho, look at me.” Minho turns his head as he adjusts his shirt, still refusing to look into Kibum’s eyes. It was because he knows that if he did; all his systems of defense would have been gone, instantly vanished by the windows of Kibum’s orbs.
“I know we’re different now and I might be putting Jonghyun first before you but-“ Minho smirks, and his hands instantly come up to unwind Kibum’s grip on his shirt.
be?” Minho feels his lip curl up into somewhat a heartless grin but he finds himself not stopping, not considering what Kibum’s face must be right now, and he continues. “Gee Kibum, do enlighten me on what else is there you do notice. Besides the size of Jonghyun’s nostrils, or how many seconds it take for Jonghyun to exhale or how deep Jonghyun’s eyes were that you could just stare in them forever.” Minho quirks his lips up, suddenly having the want to take his words back but just letting them all out feels so fucking good that Minho just can’t, or rather, doesn’t want to stop.
“Maybe you also notice how you just willingly fucked with your best friend then threw him like another piece of trash when you’re through and when you finally got your fucking release.” Minho cocks his brow up, already feeling the familiar pang in his chest and the tightening around his throat, as if a hand was curling around it that it was almost painful for him to breathe. “You’re really clueless, aren’t you, Kibum?”
“All you see is Jonghyun, all you remember is Jonghyun, all you think about is that Kim fucking Jonghyun and have you, ever
, even stopped to think that maybe, just maybe, Jonghyun isn’t the only fucking being on this entire planet who loves you?!” Minho was half shouting; tears were pooling at the corner of his eyes as he throws his head back and clenches his fist tightly by his sides. No, he won’t cry. Not now, not today. “But I must applaud you for the kind of nerves you have to tell me you’re still my best friend.”
And that did it. Minho hears the tiny mewls and suppressed sounds coming out of Kibum’s mouth as he continues stepping forward until there’s just a foot in between them. Silence was floating in the air and it was hard for Minho to breathe, suffocating almost when a tear fell from Kibum’s eyes and Minho forces himself to look away. “We’re really nothing now, huh?” The quiver in Kibum’s voice was impossible for him to miss and Minho leans his head against the door, his eyes raking over Kibum’s body and next he’s grabbing Kibum’s neck and he’s smashing their lips together.
“We were nothing to begin with.” Minho whispers.
There was nothing violent in the way how Minho presses mouths and threads his fingers around Kibum’s waist. There was no trace of hatred in their exchange when Minho slips in his tongue and Kibum opens his lips for him. Minho kisses him as if he’s breathing Kibum in and Kibum is all he needs to live. Fingers card through his hair and Minho’s pulling him closer, hands slipping down to his neck before Kibum grips his shirt and slightly pulls away.
Finally, Minho stops. That’s all the answer he needs.
“I’m going back to Incheon tomorrow.”
Kibum looks like he’s not at all surprised. Minho thinks it’s better this way. Easier, in fact. “Take care of yourself.”
Minho pauses as he blinks and Kibum reaches out. This time, Minho lets Kibum attach his fingers to his cheeks, his thumb rubbing patterns along Minho’s skin and Minho stares at him, if he’s imprinting the wholeness of Kibum’s face into the back of his mind. Kibum smiles at him, and Minho thinks this is it. He has finally reached the finish line of the race and now he’s breathless and tired. He has lost and he wins nothing.
Minho whispers as he steps back and smiles, still finding the strength to pull up his lips. Even for this last time. “Yeah, thank you.”