Title: the pros and cons to convenience store ramyun
Word Count: ~3,000 words
Summary: That boy at the convenience store has a lot of audacity to insult their ramyun choices.
Author's Note: Thank you 8gfat for the prompts! I hope you enjoy :)
Jongin stumbles out of bed to the shower around fifteen minutes later, after the alarm has already gone off three more times. The warm water does nothing to wake him up, and he wheels his bike out to the road still half asleep and wishing he could get back into bed and sleep for another, say, three days. He already knows the route by heart, and besides, no one else is awake yet.
Despite the monotony of the job, Jongin usually enjoys biking through the neighborhood once he gets past his disgruntled hibernating polar bear state. It calms him, the simple routine and the quietness of the streets under the stars before the sun comes up and the houses awaken. Auntie Park who lives on the corner bakes him cookies once a month as a form of gratitude even though she knows he gets paid for it, and the neighbors like to smile at him and tell his mother what a “nice, handsome young man” he is. It gives him a sense of comfort and familiarity that contrasts with all the changes that seem to be happening to him and everyone around him as the end of their last year of high school looms closer and closer.
There’s a piece of paper on the doormat a few houses down from Auntie Park. Jongin doesn’t think twice about it and sticks it in their mail slot, thinking it was just a stray piece of mail. He leaves four bottles of milk in its place and the newspaper tucked between them.
The bike ride home stretches out, his reluctance to begin the day holding him back. The lights have come on in a few houses, and his parents are awake by the time he gets home. His mom greets him with a kiss on the cheek, and his dad grunts, eyes drooping even as he drinks his coffee. Jongin retreats to his room to steal a few more moments before he has to put on his uniform again and go to school. Milk and newspapers exist in almost a different world, and in this world the morning has only just begun.
The boy who lives three doors down from Auntie Park opens the door to pick up the day’s milk. He grins when he sees the note gone, but it dissolves into a pout when he opens the mailbox and finds it sitting in there. Tomorrow, he tells himself. Tomorrow.
The moment Jongin steps through the doors of the school, an arm slings over his shoulder and pulls him close. He tries halfheartedly to shrug it off, but the arm isn’t going anywhere.
“So. This afternoon?” Taemin asks, steering him along towards their classroom. Their position should be uncomfortable because Jongin’s a few centimeters taller, but his best friend doesn’t seem to mind.
Jongin hums noncommittally. “Depends on our homework tonight.”
“Come on, you have plenty of time to do homework, but we don’t have that much time before the talent show,” he whines. “This could be our last time dancing together.”
“I thought we were going to be together and dancing until we’re a hundred years old and our bones creak?” Jongin says, amused. It’s true though; their time is winding down, and he and Taemin probably aren’t going to university together. Taemin’s a free spirit, currently planning to major in dance but knowing him, who knows what will happen down the road? Jongin is thinking about literature, maybe. He’s not really sure yet, and thinking about it makes his head hurt. His parents haven’t pressed him about it yet even though he knows they would like it if he went into business.
Taemin laughs and finally lets go of him, their classroom two feet ahead. “We will! But we have to make the most of our youth right now so we have less regrets when that time comes.”
“Okay, okay,” Jongin chuckles. “I’ll come, now get your youthful butt into your seat and stop bothering me.”
The teacher walks in before Taemin can speak again, but Jongin gets a text two seconds later claiming “it’s my job to bother you jonginnie! and u know my ass is great ;)” to which he just shoots Taemin a look. Luckily, they stifle their laughter before the teacher catches them, and Jongin’s good mood lasts through the end of the day.
The next morning, there’s another piece of paper on that same doorstep, but this time it has “For: Milkboy” printed in neat Hangul on the outside. He picks it up and opens it this time to find a short quote, “Life is too short to do things you don’t love doing,” along with a smiley face as a signature.
Jongin is intrigued. Auntie Park may make him cookies, but he’s never gotten a note like this before. Most people around the neighborhood appreciate what he does, of course, but few make an effort to connect with him. He pats his pockets for something to write with but can’t find, so he takes the note with him.
The boy checks the mailbox again the instant he doesn’t see the note, but it isn’t in there. Either a dog ate it, or the milkboy took it with him. He hopes that it’s the latter and grins, mind racing with ideas for tomorrow’s note.
Jongin makes sure he has a pen before he leaves the next morning. He finds a new note, this time with a cute sketch of a kitten and milk, again signed with a smiley. He attempts to draw a puppy on the other side, and it turns out a little weird but he thinks the message got across.
This day’s note brought a reply, and a smile spreads across his face. The boy squints a bit at the drawing, not sure if it’s a bear or a squirrel or a dog. Or something? It’s kind of cute, whatever it is.
Taemin drags him to the convenience store after dance practice one day, claiming that his stomach needed food immediately or else he’d drop dead. He coerces Jongin into paying by promising to buy him chicken later, and they settle down with their ramyun at the front window. Jongin notices out of the corner of his eye another guy around their age sipping a carton of Yakult, an empty bowl sitting in front of him.
“You know, the other brands are better,” a voice speaks from next to them. Taemin has started decimating his bowl of ramen while Jongin is eating at a slightly more human speed, and they both pause for a moment to stare at the young man next to them. He looks at them with a bright smile, head tilted slightly and eyes amused.
“Are you insulting my ramyun choices? You don’t even know me,” Taemin says through a mouthful of ramyun. Jongin wrinkles his nose at his friend’s lack of any sort of manners and gives their company an apologetic look.
The man laughs. “You clearly have not had a good sample of this place’s ramyun supply. Trust me, there is better, like this.” He taps his own bowl enthusiastically and rubs his stomach exaggeratedly.
Jongin raises an eyebrow. “That good? We’ve been eating this ramyun for years.”
“I assure you. I’ve got to get going, but just keep in mind. There is more to life than one ramyun brand,” he says before hopping off the stool. The bell on the door jingles behind him as he leaves like a reminder of his presence and his words.
Taemin sniffs. “Well he was weird. I still like this ramyun, and my stomach agrees. I don’t think it’s going to agree with something new, right?”
There’s no note the next day, and Jongin feels oddly disappointed. He wonders if something happened to the people who live inside but shakes the thought away. It wasn’t important anyway; they probably forgot or got tired of this. Jongin puts the milk down and the newspaper in between, just as he always does.
Later that week, Jongin misses a step in their choreography for the third time in a row. He’s never messed up at that part before but the past few days have been a mess. Taemin pauses the music and forces him to sit down.
“Jongin,” he says, voice oddly serious. “Are you dating?”
He almost spits out the water he was drinking. “What? No? What gave you that idea?”
“You’ve been really distracted lately, and you seem weirdly happy, even in the morning. I thought there might be someone you’re seeing,” Taemin explains.
Jongin rolls his eyes. “There’s no one. I promise you that you’d be the first to know if I was dating anyone.”
Taemin squints, obviously not believing him. “Whatever you say, let me meet him sometime.”
Arguing with him would be pointless, so Jongin ignores him, standing up again to continue practicing.
Jongin runs into that boy in the convenience store again. He smiles brightly at him on his way out but does not stop to chat this time. After last time he’d expected some sort of snark or criticisms of his food choices, but it looked like he was in a hurry.
The next day’s milk run lifts his mood; there is a note on the doorstep along with a bar of chocolate. Today’s note contains a reminder to bundle up and stay warm in the dropping temperatures complete with another drawing of a cat, this time in a striped scarf.
Jongin keeps a collection of the notes he’s received in a box that he stashes in his closet. The notes aren’t constant but he feels strange carrying out what feels like some sort of secret relationship. It also seems peculiarly similar to an Internet relationship considering they’ve never met. He doesn’t even know if it’s a girl or a guy, and for all he knows it’s an old man. Sometimes Jongin thinks he should just ring the doorbell and finally meet this mystery gift giver but always stops himself, not ready to lose the excitement that he gets from anticipating a new note and gift each day.
Bundled up in a thick scarf and an honestly ugly beanie that Taemin had bought him for Christmas the year before, Jongin visits the grocery store to pick up some things for his mom. He crashes into someone in his rush to get out of the cold, knocking all of the person’s bags to the ground, but grabs his arm before he falls. Jongin looks up to see the ramyun boy from the convenience store, eyes bright as ever but lips curled into a frown as he stares at his strewn groceries.
“I’m so sorry,” Jongin rushes out, stooping to the ground to collect the boy’s purchases back into their bags.
“You know, I’m starting to think this isn’t a coincidence anymore. Are you stalking me?” The boy grins teasingly, apparently over the collision already.
Jongin shakes his head vigorously, eyes wide in surprise at the comment. “I promise you I’m not –“
The boy laughs. “Calm down, it was a joke. I might as well as introduce myself if we’re going to keep running into each other. I’m Jongdae.”
“Jongin.” He shakes the hand that Jongdae extends to him, returning his grin tentatively. Jongdae is notably shorter than him and skinny, the sweater he’s wearing a few sizes too big and hanging off his frame.
Jongdae pulls his sleeves over his hands, shivering a little in the chilly breeze. “Want to buy me coffee for almost breaking my tailbone?”
His mom can wait a bit on those groceries. Jongin nods and lets Jongdae lead him to a small coffee shop on the next block. The cashier greets him enthusiastically with an almost maniac smile. Jongdae insists he try some obscure drink, so Jongin lets him order for him and pays for their drinks. They settle at a small table near the back, two cups of steaming hot coffee between them while their knees knock together under the table. Jongdae doesn’t pull his legs back and traps one of Jongin’s between his own instead. This is a bit intimate for their third encounter and first not-date (Jongin stops to think for a second, but this isn’t a date – they just met); he guesses that’s just Jongdae.
“So how is it?” Jongdae asks, leaning closer with his elbows on the table.
Jongin inhales the scent of the coffee before taking a small sip. It scalds his tongue but is just the right amount of sweet, not sweet enough to cringe but not bitter enough to grimace. He closes his eyes to absorb the taste and takes another sip.
Jongdae looks triumphant when he opens his eyes. “I can tell from your face that you like it. I always judge these things well. Also, Chanyeol makes excellent coffee despite how dumb he is.”
“I heard that!” the cashier, Chanyeol, calls from behind the counter. Jongdae sticks out his tongue childishly even though he can’t see him and grins at Jongin conspiratorially.
It’s hard to tell whether Jongdae is flirting or just aggressively friendly, or maybe a bit of both. He teases Jongin and doesn’t hesitate to touch him, a finger tapping on his hand as he talks and Jongin’s thigh still sandwiched between his.
He lets Jongdae ramble, answering his questions when he asks and laughing at his stories, many of them involving Chanyeol and two of his other friends, Kyungsoo and Baekhyun, and the shenanigans they get up to. Kyungsoo’s just the unfortunate guy who was coerced into the friendship while the rest of them wreak havoc wherever they go.
“Wait what time is it? I need to be at practice at ten,” Jongdae says, checking his phone for the time. “Here, give me your number and I’ll text you later.” Jongin enters his number into a new contact on his phone, and then Jongdae is out the door, chimes jingling behind him. He gets a text a few minutes later and smiles as he saves the number.
Chanyeol winks and waggles his eyebrows when Jongin leaves. He gives him a confused smile and returns to the grocery store, finally going to buy what his mom wanted an hour ago.
The cat on the next day’s note reminds him oddly of Jongdae and his curled kitty cat smile. Jongdae had sent him a cute selca the night they ran into each other at the grocery store, and Jongin saved it as his contact picture. All that’s really missing is ears and a tail to make him an adorable cat.
Jongdae asks him out to lunch a few weeks later after texts filled with cute emojis and random tidbits of his life each day. It’s a ten minute bike ride from Jongin’s house, but Jongdae is already there when he arrives. Jongdae’s friend works as a waiter there and smiles knowingly at both of them before escorting them to a table.
Jongin allows Jongdae to control the conversation again, even as he repeats some stories that he’d told him already over KKT. This time he tells anecdotes about Lu Han, the waiter who works at the restaurant, and his brief romance with Kyungsoo before Baekhyun was overly obnoxious in his jealousy and goaded Kyungsoo into punching him. Which then led Kyungsoo breaking up with Lu Han and some intense making out with Baekhyun.
“But enough about Lu Han, he’s dumb. What about you?” Jongdae asks, cutting off his constant stream of stories.
“Uh. I got a cute mug with puppies on it from one of my customers that I deliver milk to. Taemin’s annoying as usual, but our dance is going well,” Jongin replies. He feels weird talking about his mysterious gift giver, but it’s not really a big deal. He just gets nice notes and presents sometimes while he’s delivering milk to the neighborhood. Someone’s appreciating his work.
Jongdae watches him as he talks, ever-present smile on his face. “You’re cute,” he says, patting Jongin’s hand.
“Is this a date?” Jongin blurts out, then flushes and buries his face in his hands.
“If you want it to be.” Jongdae pulls his hands off his cheeks and links their fingers together, gently kissing the backs of his hands. Jongin’s heart skips a beat and blushes even more, shyly nodding. “My cute Jonginnie,” he says affectionately.
“If this is a date, will you follow through and walk me home?” Jongdae asks when they’ve left the restaurant, hand on the crook of Jongin’s elbow.
Jongin unchains his bike from the rack and walks alongside Jongdae toward his house. It’s in the same direction as his own and actually really close. Jongdae leads him onto a very familiar street and stops in front of the most familiar house.
“It was you this whole time?” Jongin says incredulously. “All those gifts and notes?”
“I decided it was time I made my interests in the very cute milk boy clear.” Jongdae smiles and moves directly in front of Jongin.
Jongin is still stuck in disbelief connecting Jongdae to the house that he delivered milk to every morning and had received gifts from most days in the past two months.
“Stop staring at me and kiss me already,” Jongdae says, pulling Jongin down to press their lips together.
It stays chaste for a few moments, and then Jongdae nips on his bottom lip, slipping his tongue into his mouth. Jongin responds enthusiastically with his hands settling on Jongdae’s slight waist.
“You’re cuter than those cats you kept drawing,” Jongin mutters when they separate briefly. Jongdae just laughs and kisses him again.
Jongdae pushes Jongin down onto his bed, pulling his shirt over his head and tugging at Jongin to do the same. Today had been their three month anniversary, and Jongin had brought him a box of milk bottles and notes for every day since their relationship began. Jongdae had wanted to cry, but he decided he wanted Jongin more.
Their pants are already off, and Jongdae pulls down their boxers to swing a leg over Jongin’s body and straddle him. They both groan when their erections brush together. Jongin grips their cocks together as Jongdae reaches for the lube on the nightstand.
He slicks up his fingers quickly and reaches behind to stretch himself open. Jongin continues to pump them, and the combined sensation makes Jongdae moan loudly. Too impatient for more than two fingers, he bats Jongin’s hand away, rolls down a condom, and sinks down on Jongin’s cock.
“Fuck, Jongdae, you’re so tight,” Jongin groans, hands gripping his hips tightly. Jongdae responds by raising himself up until only the tip is in and slamming down, moaning wantonly. He leans down to kiss him sloppily with too much tongue, and when Jongin reaches for his cock, he stops him.
“I want to come just from your cock inside of me, filling me up perfectly,” Jongdae whispers into his ear, and Jongin gasps as he deliberately tightens around him.
It doesn’t take much longer for Jongin to come, and Jongdae fucks himself down onto his cock a few more times before he comes too, spilling on Jongin’s stomach. He collapses on top of Jongin and presses his face into his neck.
“I love you,” Jongin mumbles into his hair.
“Love you too.” Jongdae yawns and drifts off to sleep with Jongin’s arms wrapped around his waist.
“I thought you would have better taste than men who insult other men’s ramyun choices,” Taemin says, looking at them across the table doubtfully.
“No, your ramyun just sucks,” Jongin replies. Jongdae snickers and leans his head on Jongin’s shoulder. He had successfully converted Jongin to his ramyun brand over the time they’d been together.
“Are you kidding me? You’re supposed to take my side! What kind of best friend are you?” Jongin ignores him as he rails on, happily holding Jongdae’s hand under the table and drinking the same coffee that Jongdae had gotten him on their first not-date (it was a date; they decided).