Truck Stop

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Chapter VI.

Rooming with Yong-sun was, well, kind of weird. But not unpleasant. Yong-sun was a perfect roommate, always remembering to feed Bambam and cleaning up after himself. He was never loud after eleven and promised to never let Jupiter in without a leash and a muzzle. Lincoln wasn’t sure if he was joking. He cleaned the entire apartment when Lincoln left to visit his mom on Sunday, even though Lincoln had told him not to bother. All in all, Yong-sun was great. It was just weird because Yong-sun was a little too perfect.

“You really don’t have to make me breakfast,” Lincoln said when he walked into the kitchen and noticed two bowls on the table, Yong-sun waiting expectantly.

“You won’t eat if I don’t,” Yong-sun said matter-of-factly, making Lincoln wonder who was the older one here. “Hurry and eat before your lecture.”

He muttered something in Korean under his breath, probably an insult directed towards Lincoln. It hasn’t even been a week and already Yong-sun had slotted comfortably into his life like he had been a part of it from the beginning.

“Tsuyoshi-hyung offers to treat us to samgyeopsal,” Yong-sun commented. Lincoln looked up from his bowl of noodles and stared in confusion. When Yong-sun didn’t clarify, he decided he’d look it up later and instead focused on trying to eat with chopsticks.

Yong-sun giggled at his miserably failed attempts. “That is not how you eat!”

“I don’t know how to use chopsticks!” Lincoln sighed, throwing his hands up in frustration. He opted for a fork instead, biting into a slice of hard boiled egg. He tried the noodles and found he liked it, spicy and flavorful, unlike any of the instant noodles he had before.

“Tom yum is the one I like best,” Yong-sun said, making a face when he struggled to pronounce the English words correctly. Lincoln really appreciated him for trying. He watched as Yong-sun pointed to the shiny silver packages still sitting empty on the kitchen counter, the word “MAMA” printed on in bright red. “In Korea, they are less than eight hundred won per package.”

“Um,” Lincoln said, swallowing a mouthful of noodles. “Is that a lot?”

Yong-sun frowned. “About… Sixty-nine cents?”

Lincoln nodded with an “oh, okay” and they continued eating in silence. Yong-sun insisted on washing the dishes, so Lincoln just thanked him for breakfast and left to get ready for school. He glanced at the clock in the hall, cursing when he realized it was already almost half past eight. He hurriedly got dressed, tugging a maroon hoodie over his white t-shirt and lacing up his secondhand Timberlands.

“Are you leaving now?” Yong-sun appeared in typical dancer attire, tank top sliding off his shoulders, gray sweatpants, and a black beanie pushed over his hair. He looked sort of ridiculous in half autumn appropriate clothing and half summer attire.

“Put on a jacket,” Lincoln reminded him. Yong-sun rolled his eyes, making a face before snatching Lincoln’s letterman jacket from high school off the coat rack and shrugging it on. “And yeah, I’m going now. You leaving too?”

“Dance practice,” Yong-sun confirmed with a nod of his head. He followed Lincoln out into the hall and waited while he locked up the apartment before they went down the stairs together. “Are you working today?”

“I work everyday except Sundays,” Lincoln said, holding the door open for a lady struggling with groceries, ducking outside afterwards and squinting into the bright daylight. “I’ll see you later?”

“I will come to see you,” Yong-sun promised. “I’ll bring Jupiter too. Bye, Link!”

“Bye, Yong-sun,” Lincoln waved before heading in the opposite direction towards the university. It was fun there, but he wondered if it was more fun attending an arts college, where everyone got you even if they didn’t necessarily share the same hobbies. Sometimes, he wished he was still back in California playing football, though he usually remembered pretty quickly of how badly that had ended. At least there, it was easier to pretend like he belonged.

Shaking his head, he quickly started walking at a brisk pace. He didn’t really have time to be emotional, midterms were coming up. If he could work fast enough, he could wait until nightfall to let his stupid emotions catch up to him.

When Lincoln finally set foot on campus, he was immediately greeted by the sight of a large group of girls in a designated area. He usually avoided crowds, and he wasn’t about to break that routine. Especially since they were screaming, acrylic nails out like claws. There were even a couple of guys losing their shit, though Lincoln didn’t know what was going on. He decided not to find out, instead turning away and heading to his building just in time for his lecture.

“Lincoln! Link!”

Someone was yelling his name. He really hated crossing campus, and had been walking really quickly to avoid social interaction since he didn’t remember to have coffee this morning. His lecture had dragged out past the one-hour mark and he didn’t have much time before his next one. Lincoln stopped anyway, turning around to see Jupiter hollering his head off while sprinting towards him.

His hair was the same vivid purple, sticking up wildly like he just rolled out of bed. He was dressed in black jeans and an extremely distressed denim jacket. His t-shirt displayed a headless teddy bear holding a knife, button eyes on the drawn floor surrounded by stuffing, which made Lincoln wonder if he created it himself. It seemed like a very Jupiter design.

“Um, hey,” Lincoln greeted him awkwardly as Jupiter finally caught up. He didn’t even seem out of breath as he stood before Lincoln, smiling his bright, rectangular grin like his life depended on it. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to see Jackson!” Jupiter exclaimed, spinning in a tight circle with his arms spread. “But I got lost. He’s in the Economics building, maybe.”

“Yeah, that’s like… On the other side of campus,” Lincoln replied, adjusting the straps of his bag before giving up and tossing it to the ground.

“I told you I’m lost,” Jupiter pouted. “Honestly, your school is so big! I should run laps around your campus, but I think security would get mad. They know me pretty well, though, so maybe not.”

“You visit enough that security knows who you are?” Honestly, Lincoln wasn’t even sure why he was surprised. Despite having his own school, Jupiter seemed to like the university better, considering how much he talked about it on Saturday during his and Yong-sun’s little get-together. “How is Jackson, anyway?”

He hadn’t seen Jackson since The Incident, where as soon as he recovered, Jackson had fled the apartment. He felt kinda bad for him, but he didn’t really know how to bring it up to Yong-sun, who clearly wanted to give Jackson some space. God bless Yong-sun’s parents for raising such a polite boy.

“He’s fine, just super embarrassed,” Jupiter assured him, bouncing on his toes. “Where are you right now?”

“Social sciences building,” Lincoln answered. “You’re looking for Howard Jordan, that way.”

He pointed and Jupiter craned his head as if he could actually see the building from where he was standing. He watched as the purple-haired boy made a face and sat down in the middle of the path, examining a pebble.

“Way too fucking far,” Jupiter complained.

“Guess it sucks our school’s big, then,” Lincoln teased, pushing over the younger male. Jupiter collapsed dramatically on his side, gasping for breath. Lincoln just rolled his eyes and kicked at his ankle.

“Thou hath wounded me,” Jupiter said, looking skyward like he was dying. Lincoln laughed at him.

“Thou art a fucking idiot,” Lincoln replied easily. Jupiter swiftly leapt to his feet, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. Instead of replying, his eyes lit up as he noticed the nearby tree. Instantly, he was scrambling up the trunk like a chipmunk and soon enough, he was perched on one of the lower branches. Lincoln shook his head, solely bemused at Jupiter’s sheer rambunctiousness.

“Hey, you’re like my height now,” Lincoln smiled playfully, tilting his head.

Jupiter stuck out his tongue. “Shut up, you slut. It’s not my fault I’m Asian and we’re all puny.”

“Hajime and Tsuyoshi are pretty tall,” Lincoln pointed out smugly, choosing to ignore the insult. Jupiter snorted and dropped down from the tree, landing semi-gracefully on the ground. He bounded up to Lincoln like an excited puppy.

“They’re Japanese, the Japanese are always full of surprises. Have you seen anime? And plus, Hajime always drank his milk as a child.”

“And you didn’t?”

“Nope, but I hope you did.” Suddenly, Jupiter launched himself into Lincoln’s back before Lincoln had time to be confused, latching onto him like a koala. Immediately, Lincoln’s hands come up to grab Jupiter’s legs, staggering under the weight.

“Jesus, you’re heavy,” Lincoln groaned, finally managing to regain his balance.

“And you’re stronger than you look,” Jupiter mused, uncaring of the fact that Lincoln was dying slowly. “Did you play football? Wide receiver?”

“Quarterback,” Lincoln corrected. Jupiter tugged at his bleached strands of hair before leaping off Lincoln’s back, sending the older student flying. Lincoln sat up and scowled, dusting his clothes off. When he looked up, Jupiter was snooping around in his backpack.

“Criminology, Link? That’s awesome. You should become an analyst for the CIA. You were really smart back in high school, I’m sure that hasn’t changed,” Jupiter rambled, rummaging through the contents of his bag. He pulled out a brown paper lunch bag that Lincoln didn’t remember putting in there. “Oh, Yong-sun made you lunch!”

“What, really?” Lincoln grabbed the paper bag and peered inside. “Is this sushi?”

Jupiter looked inside too, reaching in and pulling out a plastic container. “Not exactly, more like derived from sushi? But it’s still different. It’s called kimbap. I’m pretty sure these were made with spicy tuna and cucumbers.”

“That’s awesome, I need to thank him,” Lincoln grinned, putting it back in his bag. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and fired off a quick text to Yong-sun. “By text kinda sucks, but I’ll thank him again later today.”

“You have his number?” Jupiter asked, voice sounding petulant and childish.

“Yeah, of course,” Lincoln blinked. “Xavier’s and Jackson’s too.”

“You don’t have my number,” Jupiter whined. Lincoln just wordlessly handed him his phone, cutting off any complaints ready to spill from the younger’s lips. Jupiter beamed and rapidly typed in his number.

“Wait,” Jupiter said when Lincoln tried retrieving his phone. “I need to take a selca. Er, a selfie. One sec.”

He quickly snapped a picture of himself, deeming it appropriate and saving it as his contact photo. Handing Lincoln’s phone back to its owner, he pulled out his own phone and tapped on the screen. Lincoln’s phone chimed with a text.

“I texted myself so I’d have your number,” Jupiter explained, putting his phone away. “I’m gonna go see Jackson now! I’m already late, he’s probably mad. If I don’t show up to the cafe, assume I’m dead. Bye, Link!”

He dashed off, and soon Lincoln was by himself, staring after Jupiter in amusement. He picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder, turning on his phone to clear away the message notification. Jupiter had saved his contact name as Your Zelda <3. It made Lincoln laugh.

He didn’t bother changing it.

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