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Trying To Behave

By christmasyoongi All Rights Reserved ©

Drama / Romance

1: Prologue

November, 2000

Wednesday, the 8th, 9:15am

New York, USA

Minjae meets Sehyun for the first time in kindergarten.

It’s windy, the day it all starts. The slight New York chill hangs in the air, promising a harsh winter ahead but Minjae doesn’t mind. He loves the cold; loves that he can wear his colourful mittens and hats, and beams especially wide whenever his dad says he looks like a small snowman with how much he likes to bundle himself up as soon as the autumn leaves trade for snowflakes.

He’s sitting in class, swinging his little feet and watches with judgemental disapproval as some of his classmates stumble in, sniffling. He doesn’t understand them at all; he never cried when his parents dropped him off. Not today, not ever. He’s a big boy, he likes to think, which is probably why he doesn’t get along with anyone at school. 

Should he be relieved that no one wants to talk to him for some reason?

He wants friends; it’s not like he likes being alone for playtime, or particularly enjoys sitting alone two months into the school year—his first­—he just doesn’t want to be friends with cry-babies. And they apparently don’t want to be friends with him either, no matter how much their teacher tries to get them to play or sit with Minjae, but whatever.

It’s okay, he thinks. It’s not so bad.

Minjae could use some friends. But not having any isn't that bad at all; not bad enough to warrant all the sympathetic, exasperated looks the adults throw at him all the time.

Something finally changes that day when he’s starting to have one of his loneliness bouts and faintly missing his mom. Only a little.

They’re doing math worksheets and Minjae’s proud of himself for halfway breezing through it, when their teacher clears her throat and prompts their attention to the doorway of the classroom.

There’s a boy standing there, and Minjae eyes him with equal parts fascination and scepticism. He’s pretty sure that’s not one of his classmates because he looks older than them all, face hidden under a huge mop of frizzy, dark hair and gaze firmly planted at his sneakers.

"Come in, darling," Ms Ann says softly when he doesn't make a move to walk inside, even under the curious attention he's suddenly attracted, and takes careful, measured steps towards him. 

(Minjae just thinks she's treating him like a wild animal. Or something.)

She moves, cautious as ever, to take his hand in hers but he abruptly jerks it away and tucks it behind his back.

Minjae raises his eyebrows, then; he’s never seen kids refuse comfort on their first day before. Or what he’s assuming is his first day. Where’s his parents?

He decides the boy must be too grown up for that stuff.

"Alright, then. Whatever you like sweetheart," Ms Ann smiles, but even Minjae can tell it’s a bit forced. 

He doesn’t understand adults. 

"Class," she turns to them again, the same smile plastered on her face. "We’re welcoming a new friend in the class today, so greet him warmly okay? He just moved here from very far away so make sure he fits right in! Tell them your name darling," she adds to the boy who looks up for the first time, no visible nervousness on his face; he has a sleepy, bored look in his eyes, like he'd much rather be doing something else and looks like all of Minjae’s cousins all at once. He’s amazed.

"Sehyun Min," Sehyun says lowly, almost like he’s not sure if he should be saying that, but he looks cool about it.

"Well, Sehyun," Ms Ann smiles again, and Minjae wishes she’d stop being such a grown-up. "I hope you have a wonderful time with us. Let me find you a seat, yes darling? You just joined so late, we already have the seating plan sorted out and I'm-," she trails off distractedly, still whisper-rambling under her breath like anyone particularly cares while she scans the classroom, and then her eyes land on Minjae and light up with what he reads as hope; he hates it.

He's seen that look before.

"Why don’t you go sit with Minjae? I’m sure he’d love the company," Minjae’s never been more insulted in all of his 5 years. "Minjae would you raise your hand?"

The smaller boy tentatively raises a palm into the air through the irritation anyway, oddly nervy when Sehyun looks straight at him, before huffing out something that sounds like a sigh and walking towards him, hands clutching the small backpack on his shoulders.

Minjae isn’t sure if he should say something to the boy as he flops down into the chair next to him. He’s oddly intimidated. Or maybe he’s just shy. And that’s weird because Minjae has never been shy.

He finds his voice ten minutes later after the teacher’s given Sehyun a math worksheet of his own and explained to everyone in what she thinks are hush-hush tones that Sehyun’s just moved here from South Korea and has to repeat a year or two because of his English issues. 

(Minjae doesn’t understand what ‘English issues’ means. He also doesn’t understand why everyone snickers.)

"I’m Minjae," he blurts out, maybe way too quickly because the silence is killing him.

Sehyun looks at him briefly, and Minjae doesn’t know how a 5 year old can look so bored.

"I am Sehyun Min," his semi-belated reply is calculated, like he has to really rack his brains. Minjae doesn’t know what to say back, and he hates it, so he wings it; pretends Sehyun’s words aren’t loaded with an accent.

English issues?

"Your English is really good!"

Sehyun’s eyes widen and the corner of his lips almost quirk up. Almost.

"Thank you."

He goes back to his math at that, and Minjae chews the end of his pencil. He hasn’t had anyone sit with him for this long before since he started school. This is the highlight of his educational career. His life career. 

He doesn’t wanna ruin it.

"You’re very tall for a 5 year old!"

Sehyun’s pencil pauses on his page, a half written three at the edge of it. He looks a little bewildered when he looks back up at Minjae.

"I am. I am 7."

"Oh," Minjae pauses, wonders how he missed this. "I’m 5."

"Okay," Sehyun goes back to his worksheet and the younger boy bites his lip, all room for over-thinking his disaster of a first attempt at conversation flying away when the teacher gives them art sheets and that’s the end of it.

Sehyun’s demeanour physically changes during music lesson, and while he's shy and withdrawn during the first half of the day, he lets loose and plays the piano with a grand kind of enthusiasm that Minjae only imagines he feels during TV time. 

And the older boy’s good; definitely impresses Ms Ann colossally, if the look on her face is something to go by.

Minjae doesn’t understand the sudden burning need for approval that sets his tiny body on fire as he listens to the piano tunes ringing around the room.

Sehyun has to like him. He has to. He’s cool.

When Minjae climbs into the school bus at the end of the day, tired and a little dejected from the long day, his eyes immediately shoot to the back corner of the bus that looks different; the usually empty seat no one wants to sit on ever since one of the third-grade girls vomited on it is occupied, today. Sehyun’s there. Actual Sehyun.

It's a little comical how his bad mood evaporates, immediately.

But Sehyun, though, looks bored and forlorn. Minjae doesn’t like it.

He’s waddling down between the seats and sliding into the space next to the older boy before he knows what he’s doing.

Sehyun looks up at the sudden movement, a bit alarmed but relaxes slightly when Minjae shoots him a toothy grin, expression shifting back into nothing. 

That's not fair. Minjae wants to make him smile.

"Hello! I’m in your class!"

"I know who you are," Sehyun offers, almost cautiously, in that same tone that makes Minjae wonder if he’s scared of something.

"I know who you are, too!" he beams instead of just asking him not be scared, proud when the boy smiles a tiny bit. 

Smile more!

Minjae doesn’t know what else to ask him. Or say to him, for that matter. He doesn’t care why Sehyun moved here from South Korea; Minjae’s only been there once when he was 3 and a half, to visit his grandma. He hated most of it, and doesn’t remember the parts he didn’t. He also doesn't care why he's joined two months into the school year. His mom told him not to snoop after that one incident with his cousin four months ago.

Broken plates. Lots of crying. He doesn't want to go through that, again.

So, he doesn't. He just wings it.

Holds out his hands clad in his favourite hand knitted green mittens, because who doesn't like mittens?

"Do you like?"

Sehyun glances at them, then up at Minjae.

"Your gloves are nice."

Minjae’s smile threatens to split off his face.

No one's ever complimented his things before!

"Do you really think so? I’ll get you some! I have loads! Here," he pokes his tongue out as he grabs Sehyun’s hand in his, ignoring completely how the boy makes a surprised noise and tries to draw it back. Instead, Minjae holds his palm up against the older boy’s to measure their hands. They’re the same size. Almost.

Minjae is so excited.

"I’ll bring some for you tomorrow! We can match!"

Sehyun only looks slightly alarmed when he slowly nods, but in a nice way, like what Minjae’s mom looks like when he makes a great drawing. 

He figures it’s okay.

He doesn’t know what else to say to Sehyun without being too snoopy, so he sits back and glances at the boy the whole ride home, trying to memorize his face. His hair isn’t that frizzy and he has really nice eyes, though they stay trained out of the window the entire time.

When Minjae moves to get off the bus, though, Sehyun does too and the younger boy turns to stare at him so fast his neck hurts.

"Where do you live?" he demands as they shuffle down the aisle together, and there’s Sehyun’s alarmed face again. Minjae wishes he’d smile just as much.

"Um," they're off the bus at that point, standing dumbly in the middle of the road. "I live…there," the older boy squints a little and then carefully points at the door right next to Minjae’s.

Minjae doesn’t know if he’s kidding or not.

"I live there!" he says with growing excitement, pointing at his own door. 

Sehyun looks like he’s given up.

At some point they’ve started shuffling down the road towards their houses, and suddenly it hits Minjae.

"That big truck that came three days ago with all the stuff! That was you!" he accusatorially points a tiny finger at Sehyun, personally offended that he didn’t know about this. 

"Um," Sehyun says, like what Minjae’s said has gone over his existence entirely and opts to hurriedly knocking at his door. The younger boy huffs and pouts at the lack of reaction.

He just wants Sehyun to like him.

His mother comes to the door before Sehyun’s and he beams up at her.

"Mom. Look! I made a friend!" he skips the greetings and animatedly points at Sehyun over their porch fence, who looks like a deer caught in the headlights. Minjae’s mom follows his finger and smiles warmly.

"Hello there. How are you sweetheart?"

Sehyun smiles awkwardly and suddenly rushes in through his half opened door without answering and Minjae smiles.

"He’s so silly," he sighs happily and pushes past his mom, toeing his school shoes off and pretending the baffled look on her face doesn’t exist.

"I need Sehyun to like me," he announces at dinner, loud and sure (and maybe a little pouty) and his parents turn to look up at him from their dinner.

"Who’s that, sweetheart?" his mom asks, sounding just a little on edge and Minjae pouts; why does everyone do that?

"My new friend! The boy next door!" he says a bit petulantly, crossing his arms. "He's in my class. And he has to like me."

"Oh, the Mins? I talked to the father today. Nice people. They’re Korean, too," his dad says with recognition crossing his face and ignores Minjae completely, addressing his mom in Korean instead and Minjae looks between them with a dangerously huge pout. "Moved here from Korea and stuff, like a few weeks ago."

"Ah?" his mom chews at her dinner and smiles a little. "That's lovely, that is."

"He needs to like me," Minjae reminds him, because why is no one listening? "We're friends!"

They are. They so, totally are.

A light bulb goes on in his head, then, when his parents laugh at what he's said for no reason, and bites into his chicken only a little ferociously.

Everyone likes mittens.

And Sehyun needs to like him.

Needs to. So the adults stop being such meanies.

"Mom, I think you should take me to their house."

"It’s 8pm Minnie, you have school tomorrow," her tone is gentle, but has that underlying tone it does when she's already said no before actually saying it. Minjae pouts.

"Just for a little! I have to give Sehyun something. Can we? Pwease, please?" he pouts some more, because it's hardly a bad request, and his mom stares between him and her food a little exasperatedly, sighs. And he knows he's won. 

His dad hides a smile behind his fork and Minjae beams. 

He loves making people smile.

Sehyun’s mom opens the door and Minjae beams up at her, bundled up in his jacket and pretending the cold night air isn't biting at his cheeks.

"Hello! Is Sehyun there?" he politely asks like he’s been taught, hiding his present behind his back. The woman smiles warmly at him, if not a little questioningly, and then at his mom. Minjae patiently waits as she explains his situation, but he’s confused as to why Mother Sehyun doesn’t know they go to the same school.

At some point, they’ve ended up in the living room and his mom and Mother Sehyun have slipped into speaking in Korean entirely. Minjae picks up on snippets that he can understand but he doesn’t particularly care, he just wants to see Sehyun.

And when he finally, finally climbs down the stairs, a solid five and a half minutes after his mother had called for him, Minjae’s heart bursts with happiness. 

He looks cool, even in ratty Batman pyjamas.

"Sehyun-ah come say hi," Mother Sehyun calls out in Korean and Minjae beams, rushing forward before he can.

"Hi! I missed you!"

Sehyun stares between their moms and Minjae and then cracks a small, confused smile.


Minjae beams wider, briefly throwing himself into an animated hug that has Sehyun squeaking.

"I brought you gloves, so we can match! You remember right?"

"Yes. I remember," Sehyun says, and Minjae can tell he’s thinking too hard again. He doesn’t get it, so he pulls back from the hug and thrusts the green mittens he's only worn once, into the older boy’s hands, smiling way too huge for his face.

"Oh, how nice! Sehyun-ah, say thank you to Minjae," Mother Sehyun instructs, smile mirroring Minjae’s and Sehyun bows, eyes a bit wide.

"Thank you, Minjae," he clutches on to the gloves tightly, looks at Minjae’s mom thoughtfully and bows again. "Thank you," he repeats, this time in Korean.

Minjae’s ridiculously proud when his mom thinks Sehyun’s “such a sweetheart”.

He agrees, whole-heartedly.

"Isn’t Sehyun so nice?" Minjae beams up at his mom when she tucks him into bed that night, clutching his favourite teddy bear close to his chest. He had such a great time; Mother Sehyun told Sehyun to show him his room, and it was the coolest thing Minjae’s seen in a long time.

"He is, he’s so nice," his mom hums in agreement, smiling. "We should schedule you two a play date soon or something," she adds thoughtfully, a teasing smile spreading across her face when Minjae almost jumps out of his own body.

"Yes! Yes pwease, yes yes," he bounces in his blanket, bringing out the puppy dog eyes. "I like him very much!"

They seem to work. Or don’t. Minjae can’t tell anymore.

It doesn’t matter, because from then out, it’s like some sort of smooth domino effect has taken over Minjae’s life. One play date leads to two, and then to three and then his parents go to the Mins’ house all the time, and they’re at Minjae’s a fair bit, and the younger boy is ecstatic about it. Sehyun’s still a bit alarmed at stuff Minjae does sometimes, but his mom explains that that is probably the underlying effects of the move from so far away. 

Either way, the older boy talks to Minjae a whole lot more, in class and in general, hesitation slowly wearing off and Korean instinctively taking over when he runs out of English words. Minjae tries to improve his Korean for both their sakes, and they find out they fit. 

Minjae teaches Sehyun English, Sehyun teaches Minjae Korean, and their moms are extremely happy about it all, as far as they know.

Minjae learns a lot about Sehyun over the weeks, more from his mom that heard it from Mother Sehyun than from Sehyun himself. He could recite the facts in his sleep with the amount of times he’s memorised them, desperate for Sehyun’s approval. His mom laughs when he explains why he’s so invested.

"It’s so I can feel closer to Sehyun. We can be better friends if I know things about him!"

Mr Min’s gotten a new job near to where Minjae’s dad works and that’s why they moved all the way from Daegu. That’s also the reason why their dads are good friends now. 

Minjae has no idea where Daegu is, but if that’s where Sehyun’s from, it must be cool.

Sehyun’s English isn’t very good, which is why he had to repeat kindergarten

Minjae insists that Sehyun understands him well enough, until his dad gently explains that Sehyun has a hard time reading English, and has to be taught the basics. At an attempt at being thoughtful, now their play dates consist of reading hour, where Minjae teaches Sehyun how to read from his old preschool books, as if the teacher isn’t doing a great enough job, already. Sehyun looks offended sometimes, but he lets Minjae do it anyway.

In turn, or maybe it's some sort of revenge, Sehyun teaches Minjae how to write in Korean and it’s hard, it’s so hard, but he does it because the older boy always gives him a gummy little smile when he gets something right and he loves it.

The first thing Sehyun ever writes in perfect English is Minjae’s name.

The first thing Minjae writes in perfect Korean is Sehyun’s name.

December, 2000

Sunday, the 31st, 10:22pm

New York, USA

The Mins' New Years party isn't a huge affair, or much of an affair at all; it’s just the six of them, and there’s food and drinks but Minjae’s just grateful to be spending time with his new best friend. Sehyun doesn’t look quite as cautious anymore as he used to a month ago, and the younger boy’s so, so thankful he has someone to play with and talk to during recess and near all the time.

They’re sitting on the couch together, watching cartoons as their parents chat about pointless grown up stuff somewhere in the house. Minjae stares at the TV, and then at Sehyun where he’s settled against the cushions, knee pressed against the younger boy’s. The silence is killing him; he hasn’t said more than five words to Sehyun since he got here.

He needs to say something.

"You’re my best friend," he blurts out the first thing that passes his mind as a conversation idea and goes red when Sehyun looks at him, mildly surprised.

"Okay. And you’re mine," he replies calmly in Korean, half a smile playing on his face, and Minjae feels like some sort of weight has been lifted off his tiny shoulders. 

The burning need for Sehyun’s approval finally fizzles out.

February, 2001

Wednesday, the 21st, 12:04pm

New York, USA

Minjae decides, very resolutely, that he wouldn’t be able to live normally without Sehyun in his life sometime in late February.

It’s an uneventful enough school day. Sehyun and Minjae are willingly stuck in class during recess, because the older boy has an English reading and writing assessment test right after and he’s nervous about it. 

Minjae’s just there to hold his hand through last minute revision, really.

"I can’t do this," he groans, and Minjae squeezes his small hand in his.

"We read this, Sehyun, remember? Last week? You’re gonna do so well," the younger boy puts on a fierce pout, or what he hopes is a fierce pout, and Sehyun’s face breaks into that gummy smile Minjae's started to adore.

"Yeah, yeah I guess," Sehyun flips through the ABCs book again, running a small hand through his hair. Minjae beams at him and leans in to nuzzle his nose against the older boy’s cold cheek; giggles when Sehyun squeaks but breaks into a smile anyway. 

And that’s what leads to the actual mess that follows.

There’s not a lot of people Minjae dislikes, but he really, really dislikes Tom Hatchet.

He’s in their class, 5 and maybe a tiny bit younger than Minjae, but it’s impossible to tell because he’s so tall. He’s even taller than Sehyun, which Minjae thinks should be illegal since aren’t older people supposed to be taller?

And to top it all off, Tom seems to have taken some sort of hatred to Sehyun ever since he'd started, as if he was born just to pick on Min Sehyun. He’s always the first to make fun of the older boy when he stutters in reading or says things wrong, and it’s weird to Minjae; how can anyone hate Sehyun?

Either way, to Minjae, Tom is on another plane of existence.

Apparently, their planes of living collide then, because Tom walks in with his equally annoying friend Teddy at the exact moment Minjae giggles against Sehyun’s skin and looks like he’s discovered gold or a hidden stash of unlimited candy. Or something

Minjae doesn’t particularly like the shit eating grin on his face when he starts charging towards them. Like he's poor and they're lottery tickets.

"Oh my god! Are you two in love?" Tom sounds excited but it’s an evil kind of excitement; even Minjae can tell.

"Go away!" Minjae snaps, tries to at least, and furrows his eyebrows in what he hopes looks like anger as Tom leans into his face, smile widening almost creepily. His eyes are trained on their hands that are still intertwined between them.

"Oh my god, you are in love!" Tom lets out a super condescending cackle and Minjae notices Sehyun’s discomfort before Sehyun does. "How does that feel?"

"I said, go away!’ the smaller boy resorts to whining. ‘Go away, or I’ll tell Miss Ann!"

"You’re such a baby," Tom sniggers, as if Minjae isn’t older than him, but backs off anyway. "Have fun, being in lurveee," he sings, and Teddy lets out a supportive laugh as they go to sit in their seats, making kissy noises that Minjae wrinkles his nose at.

"Gross," he mutters, looking at Sehyun, and his face falls when he sees how uncomfortable the other boy looks. He hates when Sehyun’s bothered. He wants Sehyun to smile all the time. "What’s wrong?"

Sehyun shakes his head and his face immediately shifts into a secretive smile, like he wasn’t just looking like he was taking a really bad poop two seconds ago. Instead, he slides his ABCs book towards himself and manning a pencil, slowly scribbles something in the margin and pushes it to Minjae.

"Read it."

Minjae looks at Sehyun with big eyes and then at the book and his heart swells to the size of the moon when he reads what he’s written.

Thank you for evrything, Song Minjae.

It’s misspelled and it’s messy, but Minjae decides—declares even—that Sehyun isn’t allowed to go anywhere from his life, or he might stop existing.

"Am I in love with Sehyun?" he asks his parents randomly at dinner that night, Tom’s words ringing over and over in his head like they had been all day. "Do you think so?"

His dad snaps his head up to look at him so fast, Minjae almost flinches.

"What did you say?"

"I said," he purses his lips thoughtfully, playing with his sippy cup. He doesn’t understand the idea; also doesn't understand why his father is breathing fire all of a sudden. "Am I in love with Sehyun?"

His dad ignores him entirely at that, as he mostly does, and turns to glare at his mom instead.

"You see?" he snaps in Korean, as if Minjae doesn’t understand. "I told you we should control his Sehyun impulses, and now look!"

Minjae flinches, gripping the table, tiny knuckles going white. He definitely doesn’t understand this; they didn’t tell him anything. 

His mom hurriedly looks between him and his dad and puts a hand on her husband’s shoulder.

"Hey, hey not in front of Minnie," she says, rubbing his dad’s shoulder, and Minjae just wishes they’d speak English so he would feel less left out. "He doesn’t know what he’s saying, he’s just a child. I’ll talk to him tonight, okay? Eat your dinner,"

His dad haughtily takes a spoon of his soup, but turns to glare at Minjae anyway.

"Who the hell put that idea into your head?" his sounds so mad, even in English, and Minjae doesn’t understand what he said wrong.

"Tom Hatcher," his voice comes out small, and he belatedly realises he’s going to cry. He doesn’t. He’s not a crybaby. "I-In my class."

His dad sighs and bypasses him completely, again.

"Hani-yah. Call the school tomorrow," another spoon of soup. More Korean. "I don’t want my son to turn out like that with those weird ideas in his head,"

Turn out like what, Minjae wonders.

"And you," he’s dragged out of his head when his dad addresses him again. "You’re not in love with Sehyun. He’s your friend, okay? Never get that idea in your head,"

Minjae nods quietly, not quite grasping why he’s so upset at the idea of not being in love with Sehyun.

"What’s wrong with being in love with Sehyun?" he asks his mom quietly, when she tucks him in. She pauses where she's putting the blankets around his sides and looks at Minjae, silently. 

He’s so small, bundled up in two blankets and his teddy bear.

"Well?" Minjae demands when she doesn’t answer for half a minute. She opens her mouth, looks like she wants to say something, but then closes it again.

"Minjae-yah," she eventually says, taking Minjae’s hand in both of hers. "This world. It's very bad. It takes happiness and it crushes it in a million pieces. I don’t want to say this to you, but you need to understand that there are some things that just can’t happen, okay?"

Minjae furrows his eyebrows, too much information that he doesn’t like being drilled into his 5 year old brain all at once.

Too many big words.

"But," he hugs his teddy. "The world can’t be that bad! Sehyun’s in it," he beams, and his mom looks like she wants to cry.

"Minjae," she says again, after what feels like five minutes of staring straight into Minjae’s face with an expression he doesn’t understand. "You think you’re in love with Sehyun because he’s your first friend, but what you’re feeling is just brotherly love. What you feel for me and daddy is also something like that. But," she pauses, like she isn’t sure what to say. "There’s a different kind of love that you’ll understand better when you’re older, and you’ll feel for a nice girl when you grow up, and then you’ll get married to her, just like mommy and daddy are."

She smiles softly and Minjae considers it. It sounds simple enough so he shrugs.



"Yes," he nods, settling between the covers and lets her stroke his hair.

He doesn’t understand. It’s simple, he guesses, but he doesn’t understand.

Sehyun passes his English assessment and gives Minjae all the credit, along with a new pair of mittens.

Minjae wonders if his mom is wrong about him being in love with Sehyun.

March, 2001

Friday, the 9th, 8:09pm

New York, USA

Sehyun’s 8th birthday party is just their families and a big cake.

Minjae exclusively gets Sehyun a big toy piano because the older boy loves music; that much is obvious. Sehyun squeals and wraps Minjae into a tight hug when he opens the box, and he returns it with the same amount of enthusiasm.

"Thank you, Minjae-yah," he breathes into his ear and Minjae doesn’t understand why he never wants Sehyun to let go. He eventually has to, though, much to their disappointment it seems, and Minjae doesn’t miss how his dad’s watching them closely. It makes him nervous.

"Let’s set it up!" he yells to dissipate the uneasiness he feels, and when Sehyun mumbles an agreement, he pulls to drag the older boy to his room. "Don’t follow us," he adds over his shoulder as they run up the stairs; doesn’t have the capacity to deal with grown-ups making him feel strange things.

Ten minutes later, they’re perched on Sehyun’s bedroom floor with no clue as to what they’re doing.

"This is so hard," Minjae whines and Sehyun snorts, putting a piece through a hole in the main board, tongue poking out in concentration.

"Stop whining, you’re such a baby," he teases and Minjae huffs in indignation.

"Am not!"

"You’re 5," Sehyun dryly points out but gives him his cute gummy smile right after, and Minjae forgets to feel insulted. He just settles on huffing again and picks up one of the foreign looking pieces.

"I’ll show you how smart I am!" he pouts, swinging the contraption around. "I'm not a baby!" Minjae swings it around some more, eyes narrowing when Sehyun looks at him with amusement and flips the stick-like thing in his fingers.

And accidentally turns it around and hits himself on the cheek.

Sehyun gapes as Minjae stuns at the pain momentarily, before his lip abruptly starts wobbling. The older boy scrambles to his side and pets his hair hurriedly.

"No, don’t cry it’s okay Minnie."

Minjae pouts, rubbing at where it hurts and his eyes tear up. "I hate booboos."

Sehyun’s hand stills in his hair at that, just for a second, before he looks at Minjae with a fierce kind of determination and leans in to kiss his hurt cheek. Just briefly, maybe just even a brush of absolutely nothing. 

But Minjae forgets to cry.

He stares dumbly at Sehyun when the older boy pulls back, pink in the face and Minjae giggles because he looks so silly.

"You kiss booboos better. It was in that book," he sounds flustered, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly but doesn't specify which book. Minjae’s heart swells up and he beams animatedly, before rushing in to kiss Sehyun’s cheek in return.

They both sit there in a stunned sort of silence after, the air thick with something, before Minjae breaks it with the first thing that comes to his head.

"Let’s get married when we’re older."

Sehyun chokes visibly, eyes wide and Minjae tilts his head in wonder.

"What?" he mumbles a little shyly, blush rising to his cheeks but he doesn't sound like there's anything wrong with what's been said.


"Get married!" Minjae repeats and smiles a little, as if it's the easiest thing he's ever said. "Mom said some things can’t happen, and that I'd have to marry a nice girl or something. But," he tilts his head; realises he still doesn't understand. "We're friends and. I like you? So, I’m sure it can’t be that bad. Right?" he looks at the older boy for confirmation, and Sehyun pauses before he shrugs slowly.


"Okay?" he beams.

"Okay," Sehyun huffs out a laugh, and then switches to Korean, ruffling Minjae’s hair. "You’re really something else, Song Minjae,"

Minjae never tells his parents what he said in Sehyun’s room that day. He doesn’t understand what it's about, really, but he’s sure they wouldn’t, either.

But it’s fun, having a secret with Sehyun. 

And when Sehyun looks at him sometimes, like the two of them know something no one else does, it's only a little liberating.

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