goddamn chest hair
A/N: i mean how can you??? not???? just go heart eyes at him all the time
Pairing: Steve Harrington x GN!Reader
Summary: This new development on Steve’s upper body is incredibly attractive and too good to be true. 1.7k words
Warnings: porn no plot tbh, smut, simping (LOSER HAHA. ha. i’m so lonely), kissing, teasing, body worship (?), licking/marking/hickeys, ch*st ha*r🤤, hair grabbing (?), unprotected sex (do not, or else), very mild insecurity
It’s Friday night, so it’s only fair that your boyfriend is underneath you on your bed, humming softly with a kiss-wrecked grin and his hands kindly fondling your bare ass. Naturally, the last time you had this kinda time alone was before the world nearly ended and some gooey, shithead monster totaled your car. Naturally, you were half naked before Steve even had the chance to shut the door. And so naturally, your boyfriend looks good enough to eat underneath you on your bed.
Only, he’s fully clothed, and both of you get a little hot and bothered ‘cause of it. He hasn’t stopped giggling for fifteen minutes—unless you count the split second he choked when you rolled your crotch against his skinny-jeans-boner. Other than that, yeah, he’s fully clothed. In fact, he’s wearing two shirts, which is ridiculous considering it’s Hawkins’ hottest summer yet.
So you dip your fingers beneath his polo and tug him upright, apparently rocketing him into action because he whips both tees onto your floor and wraps his arms around you to scoot you closer. Right up against his chest where you swear to God you feel his steadily ebbing heartbeat against your ribcage. He shivers when you rest one hand on the side of his neck and the other against his chest, sliding your thumb back and forth. And cocking an eyebrow. And looking down. At his full-on chest of rough, dark brown hair.
“Woah there, heartthrob. What’s next, the Magnum P.I. ‘stache?”
“God,” Steve whines, rolling his eyes and pressing his open palm to your bewildered face as he bounces back into your pillow with a thud. “Can you not tease me about this one thing?”
Your face scrunches into a little smile and you hold his wrist to press a wet kiss to the plump and worn skin of his hand.
“‘M not complaining, Harrington.” So he tenses when you lean down, your bright eyes flicking up to his, but he’s too busy running his hands over his face to watch you dip your tongue against the warmth of his lower belly. Barely grazing the tip of his happy trail and sucking at the awfully tender spot, leaving a soft pink bruise next to his belly button.
“I like it,” you whisper against his navel. So busy exploring the soft skin, you forget he’s completely red in the face. Embarrassed and in-love and rapidly discovering the two aren’t so different, after all. Discovering he wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s halfway to sweating himself dry, and you’ve got not a care feeling over each rib and dip and making him irrational with his own bones. He bites back a laugh and runs his fingers over your hair because he loves you.
And each of your wet bites makes him antsy and gives him a solid sense of longing once your mouth picks up. His blunt nails scrunch the hair at the back of your neck and he bucks his hips. You slip your hand up his chest and whisper simple nothings against the buzzing column of his throat.
Then you sit up with this stupidly coquettish charm and make him want to explode.
“Jesus!” Steve wheezes. You settle into his lap and lean down to nip just below his ear, leaving him starry-eyed and officially tethered right here between your thighs.
“Get a grip, Harrington, ‘s only been a couple’a months.”
He groans with his hands firm on your hips, and nevertheless smiling just a tad despite himself. “‘It’s only been a couple’a months,’ says the nympho who totally jumped me the second I walked in. Who’s gonna buy me a week’s worth of turtlenecks?”
He’s manic in all the right ways, and deep down, you both know how cute he looks riled up like this. Feathers ruffled and undeniably proud that his little speech went off without a hitch. You slide your fingerpad over the hickey above his collarbone because, goddamnit, he looks good with traces of you pinched into his skin. He could keep you in a glass jar like a fiery bug with torn wings until you molded over, and you’d be all the better for it.
“No?” he says with that cocky smirk spread across his pretty mug. His tell. That’s his hand. And God, could he still make you fold. Even with a royal flush, you’d fold, just to know you know. He’s a real handsome bluffer.
“You’d look cute in a turtleneck—”
He wants to be so mad. You’ve cursed him. Left yourself over on his body and forced him to remember, remember, remember. But he just can’t. Not when you’re so kissable looking down at him like he’s everything.
So, he sits up and kisses you. Like he’s furious, but the only fever he’s got is the one that shares your name. Keeps him on bedrest and cracks his thermometers and looks so pretty all the goddamn time. He kisses you like if you were standing, all you could do is melt into him and trust. That kind of weight is forever his to grin and bear proudly. His mouth is strong and full of fervor and secrets both shared and whispered. But he could go mute, and you’d still love him all the same.
“Selleck,” you mumble into the wet heat of his mouth, cupping the nape of his neck and tilting your head to get at him. To taste deeper into his mouth since he quit cigarettes for you. Since he let himself be boyish and ambery in the pocket of his cheeks.
“Hmm?” He pulls away, wild and messy and wiping saliva from his bottom lip.
“Ah. Sure,” he mumbles, winking at you with his mouth back against the soft of yours because there’s no sweeter comfort than this. His dream of you doesn’t come close, and he almost wishes you would tease him for thinking chest hair would make him better. Prove he’s older now, responsible and man and worth something. Oh, you’d scold him for that big time between the only praises he’ll actually digest in his life.
He takes you down with him against his body against your gentle mattress, his hands undressing you while your own ruck the jeans to his knees and let him kick the denim away. And you both know, just like this, grinding down with much else but his soft, cotton boxers between could end this much sooner than intended. So when you settle both hands beside his head and move in a sly circle, he huffs out across the corner of your mouth.
His big hands bring you forward-back with his eyes fluttered shut and his mouth only open enough for you to peck his lips. Enough to tilt his jaw wider and let you in. He’s taut against you, pressing harder against your thigh with each aching grind.
“You’re killin’ me, baby,” he mumbles, eyes still shut, hands still grasping down your hips and at your thighs.
“Don’t throw a fit just yet, Selleck.”
“That’s never going away, is it?”
You peck his slack chin and snake your hand back to pump his cock over the boxers. His breath hitches behind his teeth, which is why you don’t take your time slipping him into you and sliding down pretty with your back arched.
He hisses and digs his fingertips into your ass before letting out that first sigh when you lift your hips. And he wonders how he ever forgot that feeling. Good and warm and living up to his every expectation with one stroke. And if he opens his eyes now, he knows he’ll be done for because of course you’ll look beautiful and already so blissfully undone. Because one kiss can do that to you, too.
Which is why you hide your face in the crook of his neck while rolling your hips, gracing his hot skin with careful puffs of air. Until he hears your tentative ‘missed you’ and ‘sweet boy’ and ‘more than anything’ and suddenly he’s crumbling and wrapping his arms tighter around your delicate frame.
A low moan stutters out from his open mouth but he can’t be embarrassed with you breathing terms of endearment into him like life with every slow thrust. Every ‘baby’, ‘handsome’, ‘everything’, is a testament to his ego. You swell him up until he’s sure of himself and so cocky it’s a crime. Until he’s fucking up into you, sweating like mad, your hands barely able to push his hair out of his face because he’s sliding you back and forth like some self-assured stud. Well, your self-assured stud.
You paw at his chest and sit up to ride him, panting with your head back and singing butterscotch-sweet praises with the mouth of a sailor. His lifts his leg against your ass and you reach behind to grab his knee. Your brows knitting, you jolt slightly and slide down, wringing his cock while your tender muscles twitch, thighs just begging to choke his sides.
Steve sighs through his nose with a heady moan when you whine softly and flop beside him on the bed. He’s breathless and heaving and so glad there’s something stopping him from plummeting. Even if he did he’d be so satisfied knowing he’s yours over everything. You open your eyes and wipe the back of your hand at your damp forehead.
“Somebody enjoyed the space,” he simpers, holding the side of your face and pulling you in for a sweet peck. You cup his knuckles and kiss his palm, and he may never catch his breath if you keep it up. But maybe he’d be okay. After all, he’s braved worse than your pout.
“Never again, Selleck.”
- ̗̀ 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐡𝐮𝐬𝐛𝐚𝐧𝐝 ˎˊ-
✏︎ pairing: teacher!vernon x teacher!yn (gn)
✏︎ synopsis: falling for the young and flirty high school history teacher is inevitable especially when he pays for your groceries and calls himself your work husband
✏︎ genre: fluff, romance, comedy
✏︎ warnings: food/drinks, innuendos, insecurities, language, mutual pining (you know that feeling you get when you really like somebody but you can't bring yourself to tell them so all you can do is enjoy the moment that you're spending with them? it's that), skinship, spirit week/rallies should be a warning itself imo, everything that happens in the last chapter
✏︎ wc: 8.8k
✏︎ a/n: the full vernon work husband fic is finally here ahh!! this one is dedicated to those with secret crushes and those who are too shy to confess. I hope this au can give you a bit of comfort, joy, and happiness. please let me know if I missed any warnings! + comments and reviews are always appreciated. I finished editing this A LOT faster than I imagined so pls enjoy my bbs <3
“I need you to go on a double date with me.”
Your friend’s question appears out of nowhere and catches you off-guard. Some of the latte you drink dribbles out of your mouth, runs down your chin, and splatters on your slacks. Your friend quickly leans over the table and takes your cup out of your hand, handing you some napkins. You wipe your chin and dab away at your slacks, groaning at the thought of returning to class and standing in front of your science class with prominently stained pants – cinnamon oat milk flavored if it honestly matters.
“Absolutely not,” you put the soaked napkins on the table and grab a wet wipe from Jeonghan’s stretched hand. He learned to always be prepared when it comes to you – it’s not very often he doesn’t see you with some weird stain on your clothes; after all, you are an Environmental Science teacher.
“Come on, Yn,” he whines while you rub furiously at the stain with the wipe. “I didn’t even tell you when or where the date is going to take place. How could you reject me so quickly?”
“Jeonghan, I really don’t have time right now,” you sigh and drop the wipe next to the wet napkins. He stares at you with pleading eyes, his hands in prayer. “You know how busy I get whenever Spring Break is almost here. We have midterms this week, there’s the spirit rally, and not to mention my errands…” you trail.
“But what if the person I’m meeting is sketchy?” he sulks.
“Then they should be the one afraid because you’re the sketchiest person I know,” you exclaim. “Where did you even meet them in the first place?”
“Tinder,” he takes a sip of his Iced Americano and places the glass cup back down on the beige café table.
“You know what…” you let the thought marinate in your head for a brief moment. “You’re right. They actually might be sketchier than you are.”
He quickly nods his head in agreement. To him, this is a more than good enough reason for you to go on the double date with him.
“But I’m not going on a double date with you. People already get the wrong idea about us.”
In the middle of the same café, Seungkwan thanks the barista at the cash register and walks over to the side of the counter to wait for his coffee. While stuffing his wallet into his back pocket, Seungkwan’s eyes gloss over the several artisanal coffee bean bags and teas on display along the white café walls before his eyes wander to the several people sitting in the café. His head gently bops to the music playing in the background while he people watches. There are a few college students hunched over their laptops and a couple of people near the windows having lunch. Sitting in the corner of the room is a familiar face he’s seen on social media and sometimes in passing when he drops by Vernon’s classroom for lunch.
You seem to be bantering with the guy sitting across from you, but Seungkwan can’t hear anything from where he’s standing. From the looks of it, his friend’s earlier apprehensions about your lunch plans seem to be confirmed. His cellphone vibrates in his hand, and he flips it open to look at the text from the same friend who stayed up worrying last night:
[text from: nonie]
nonie: wyd? i'm bored rn bc yn isn't here
kwan: apparently looking at yn on a date
nonie: should I be concerned?
kwan: yeah you should be bc he's pretty handsome
kwan: should be you tho
nonie: see? I told you it was a date bc they styled their hair differently
kwan: but don’t people normally dress differently for dates?
nonie: but yn always dresses nicely bc they spend too much time deciding what they're going to wear for the day. like they even take into consideration the weather changes throughout the day.
nonie: so nice hair = extra effort
kwan: I’m begging you to go get a life
nonie: bro call me
kwan: i'm picking up my coffee now. byeee
“You see my wallet?” Jeonghan opens his black wallet in front of him like a picture book for you to see. He tips it forward and opens it slightly so you can see the bills stacked neatly against each other. “I will literally pay you to go on this double date with me. If anything, maybe the friend will be hot and Vernon will get jealous and actually ask you out.”
You roll your eyes at him and motion for him to put his wallet away. You can’t believe he came prepared with his monetary bribe. “But Vernon doesn’t seem like the type to get jealous.”
Your phone pings and three consecutive messages wake your screen:
[text from: work husband]
work husband: I miss you. my lunch sucks today :P
work husband: I’m eating in my classroom today bc I’m avoiding Carl
work husband: fucking Carl
Jeonghan’s eyebrow arches while you try your best to avoid replying to Vernon. Not the type to get jealous my ass, Jeonghan thinks while reluctantly putting his wallet away. Telling you to do your hair differently was his idea. So, if his plan worked, Vernon probably sent you messages because he thinks you’re on a date with somebody.
“How about you ask out Vernon yourself?” Jeonghan takes his provided fork to prod at his forgotten slice of cake in the middle of the table. He knocks off the strawberry at the top of the cake and plunges his metal fork into the tip of the cake. The fluffy spongey matcha cake that sandwiches diced strawberries and fresh crème fraiche? A perfect mouthful.
His question doesn't mean anything in particular. Jeonghan usually asks you whatever he thinks, but you’re glad you aren't drinking anything this time. If you did, your latte was absolutely going to end up anywhere but in your mouth. So while Jeonghan enjoys his dessert, you’re faced with another problem:
“How? I don’t even know if he flirts with me because it’s a part of his work husband act or if it’s because he actually likes me.”
“You bring him lunches every day and he pays for your groceries. I’ve tasted your cooking before,” he says in between bites. “There’s no way that man isn’t in love with you.” He places his fork down and reaches over, taking a sip of his Iced Americano to cancel a bit of the cake’s sweetness. He nods in delight. Going to this café for afternoon tea was honestly such a good idea.
“You know I only bring lunches for him because I always end up cooking extra,” you grumble while thinking about whether or not you should answer his texts.
Your phone pings again. Jeonghan props his elbow on the table and lazily rests his cheek against his knuckle. He notices you itching to pick up your phone and sighs to himself. He’s now halfway through his cake while your apple pie sits in front of you, idle and long forgotten. He thinks that maybe if he feeds you some of his cake you would forgive him for eating your slice.
“I’m literally your best friend. Shouldn’t I be the one you’re cooking for?” he huffs.
Your phone is in your hand. You’ve managed to go a few minutes without replying back to Vernon. Jeonghan is secretly proud of you.
He waves his fork in front of your lip to offer you a bite of the cake. When you notice, you open your mouth to accept his offer.
Fuck yes, he thinks after he sees you close your mouth and chew. He immediately reaches over to swap his half-eaten plate for yours.
[text from: work husband]
work husband: oh I signed us up for crowd control for this Friday’s spirit rally because I know you don’t want to participate in the spirit rally games.
work bb: oh thank god. I completely forgot signups were today.
work bb: if I knew I was going to have to attend spirit rallies again I would’ve never become a high school teacher
work husband: but you wouldn’t have met me :c
Jeonghan leaves his seat to walk to your side while you quickly reply back to Vernon. He tries to look over your shoulder while you shrug him off, turning your body toward the window. Jeonghan is positive that there is no way Vernon isn’t in love with you.
“Anyway,” Jeonghan gives up and returns back to his seat. “I already told my date you agreed to the double date. See you this Saturday.”
“What?” you look up at your best friend and he shrugs while picking up the half-eaten slices of cake and pie.
“Our lunch break is almost over. I’m going to go get these wrapped so you can take them with you to work. Can you throw away our trash? I’ll come back for the drinks.”
[text from: work husband]
work husband: I think some students are filming tiktoks outside my room. I’m going to go scare them.
You tell Jeonghan to order you another cake while he’s getting yours boxed at the counter.
chapter two: gymnasium; spirit rally
It honestly did not make sense at all that Friday’s Spirit Week theme would be called “Tie-Dye Friday,” when Tuesday or Thursday are arguably days that better suit the theme. Nevertheless, you’re standing with Vernon at the side of the school gymnasium wearing the sweatshirt he lent you during the few minutes before your second period class started. Your little interaction certainly caught the attention of some students, and it has been the subject of a majority of their conversations. Because when you have two young and hot teachers at your school who seem to be really close friends, word spreads, and ships sail.
The two of you were hired at the same time two years ago, both fresh out of college with a teaching certificate in hand. It is a pretty distinguished school district, a district that receives awards every year for its rigorous pedagogy. In all honesty, you and Vernon landed your jobs by an extreme stroke of luck. This school district? Hiring not one but two new teachers with little to no teaching experience? There were a few positions open because some teachers were retiring. The teacher who was hired before you had to leave the job for personal reasons, and the teacher hired after that one never showed up for training. It kept going on. You were their last option. Putting pride aside, you were just happy someone decided to hire you. But maybe it was the same stroke of luck that brought the two of you together.
You met Vernon during the summer orientation and quickly became friends, realizing that the two of you had to stick together to try to make it through your first year of teaching. Your classrooms are close together, and he would stop by for a quick chat during breaks, coming over to tease you or disrupt your class. You don’t know what he is doing half the time, but he’s a good teacher. His class is relatively easy as long as you do the studying, and the tests are hard enough that you can’t bullshit your way through and expect an A – they’re in essay question formats after all. Despite his easygoing personality and calm demeanor, rumor says that he’s the strictest person when it comes to testing season. (Mafia boss the students call it.)
But here you are, standing next to your crush wearing one of his most cherished sweatshirts while a bunch of high schoolers sit on the bleachers and on the wooden floors. A student walks up to the two of you and asks if they could use the restroom. Vernon nods, and the student leaves. Vernon tells you that when a student directly asks you if they could leave the assembly, he would answer for you. He knows you’re the shyer one between the two of you.
When you have a crush, a big and stinky larger than the sunflowers growing in the garden in front of your classroom type of crush, you cherish any moment spent with them because you never know when the next moment will come.
“Don’t you have to go get your driver’s license changed?” Jeonghan asked you one night while the two of you were eating dinner at your apartment.
You scrunched your eyebrows together deep in thought, “I don’t think it’s expiring soon.”
“Your address doesn’t match the one on your license though,” Jeonghan pointed at your wallet on counter above the sink.
You got up from the couch and walked over to grab your wallet. You were pretty sure you had at least two years until your license expired, but it didn’t hurt to check. You opened your wallet and looked through the transparent slot in which you put your wallet.
“But my address is correct,” you walked back to the living room and pulled out your license for your best friend to see.
The crowd cheers as students are called from each year to participate in the next activity. It’s cacophonous, but you don’t mind. You join their rambunctiousness – laughing and cheering with those around you.
Vernon leans in and gently nudges your left arm, “You look nice.” He compliments loudly enough so only you can hear.
You grin and raise your left arm in front of you to admire the mix of blue, white, and grey. The fabric smells fresh and feels soft against your skin. It was probably treated with the fabric softener he bought the last time the two of you ran errands together. “I’ll return this to you after I wash it,” you promise him.
“Keep it,” his hands automatically reach to adjust the hood on your sweater so it lays nice and even against your back. “It looks good on you,” he murmurs when he stands in front of you while adjusting and pulling the strings in front of your neck so they’re even.
More cheers erupt from the crowd in front of you, but you are too busy trying to keep yourself from blushing to even care about what is happening in front of you. A few students could’ve exited the building without asking, and you still wouldn’t care.
“No, it’s definitely wrong,” he took the license from your hand and tapped his finger on the printed country.
You leaned in to look at the error on your card.
“It should say Simp Nation right here,” he snickers.
You snatched your license from his hand, “I’m kicking you out of my apartment.”
Over the course of the next few minutes, they make the teachers participate in an obstacle course, show a video about Spring Break safety, and have the school band perform. Vernon somehow procured two seats so the two of you could sit instead of stand the whole time. In the middle of talking to your co-worker about grading midterms, you hear the entire student body shouting for the both of you.
You look up to see some participants making their way to the center of the gymnasium for some game they were nominated to participate in. The two of you shake your heads and politely deny their request. They groan in response, but it can’t be helped. Everybody knew that the two of you rarely participated in assemblies, especially when it came to doing anything remotely physical. Although the two of you are the high school’s youngest staff members, the two of you are also some of the most unmotivated and uncompetitive people to ever exist. Everybody already knew that the two of you were going to reject their request, but it never hurt to try. The most the two of you have done during a spirit rally was walk across the gymnasium while holding a banner the students made. There was also that other time the two of you volunteered to participate in the spicy noodle challenge because the two of you were starving, but that was honestly about it.
When the assembly ends the two of you direct the students out of the gymnasium and stay behind to pick up forgotten belongings to bring to the lost and found.
“Let me take those for you,” he takes the sweaters out of your arms for you. “Do you have any lunch plans today?”
“Yeah I do,” you reply. You look at his face to see if he is at all disappointed. His expression remains blank and he purses his lips.
“It’s your loss,” he makes his way to the gym doors while you walk over to stack the chairs the two of you sat in. “My Rubiks Cube club is having a crazy pizza party,” he calls on his way out.
If you count a bunch of students lounging around a history classroom with a bunch of Star Wars and other pop culture memorabilia trying to solve their different types of collectible cubes a party, then this one is a banger. A rager even.
Mr. Chwe sits at his desk, right leg anxiously bouncing up and down while he holds his second slice of pizza in his hand. He thought that he managed to play it cool when you told him you had plans, but in reality, the thought of you having lunch plans for the second time this week is making him mentally scream on top of his imaginary mountain into the empty abyss below.
In the background, Dokyeom screams when he solves another side of his Megaminx and proudly holds it up for his club members to see.
[text from: nonie]
nonie: help me
kwan: see, you wouldn’t be freaking out if you just asked yn on a date
kwan: you’re constantly flirting with them. I don’t see how you never accidentally asked them out
nonie: I have a bunch of times but they never take me seriously
nonie: yn told me they have plans for lunch
nonie: do you think they’re on a date again?
kwan: oh speaking of dates I have a double date this Saturday
nonie: wait keep talking about that so I stop thinking about yn
kwan: when do you not think about yn?
nonie: they’re actually wearing my sweatshirt today. can you believe it?
kwan: my best friend is a SIMP!
kwan: a shy one who won’t properly confess his feelings! but still!! a simp!!!
kwan: one of my friends from work needed someone to tag along because they’re meeting someone they met on Tinder. I only agreed because they said they would cover one of my overtime shifts for me
nonie: oh that’s scary. the tinder part. not the overtime part.
nonie: but the idea of yn going on a date that’s not with me is scarier.
kwan: no wonder you’re a history teacher
nonie: because the humanities is for hot people?
kwan: because you’re a loser
kwan: like I bet you’re actually enjoying the pizza party with your lame rubiks club rn
nonie: oh my god I’m a loser
kwan: a hot one tho!
kwan: wait yn’s classroom is literally under yours. can’t you just go downstairs and check if they’re there?
kwan: did you not do that before you started overthinking?
You adjust your sunhat to shield your face from the brazen afternoon sun. You’re in your gardening overalls, Vernon’s sweatshirt folded neatly and tucked away in your classroom for the time being. It’s finally Spring and you’re tending to the nursery pots in the small garden located outside of your classroom. Around you, your agriculture club works and chats amongst themselves.
Intrusive thoughts are distracting you from what would usually be a lovely day in your garden. Maybe you should’ve told Vernon that you were going to be in the garden with your club today. Vernon probably isn’t overthinking it like how you are, right? But still, was saying you had plans a little too much? Does it sound like you had something important to tend to?
You sigh and stand to stretch your knees. Behind you, your little garden is beautiful, lush, and thriving. The flowers are in bloom and provide shade for the vegetables in the dirt. Everything seems to be thriving and buzzing with life. It makes you happy to see how far the little seedlings have grown.
A student arrives with refreshments that they picked up for everybody. You tell your club to take a break under the shade. It would be a shame if one of them has heatstroke. You take off your gloves and shove them in your side pockets. Your phone pings in the front pocket of your overalls while you make your way into your cool classroom.
[text from: work husband]
work husband: hi love. you took the bus to work today, right?
work husband: let’s pick up some groceries after work and I’ll drop you off at your place
work bb: even when I smell like dirt?
work husband: you’re an envisci teacher. I’d be concerned if you didn’t smell like dirt
work bb: you don’t have anything to do tonight right?
work husband: did you just assume I have no plans on a Friday night
work bb: omg sorry it’s because we always hang after work on Fridays
work husband: no you’re actually right. I have no plans.
work bb: then I’ll cook dinner for us
work husband: I know I’m already work-married to you, but I’m going to marry you one day
work husband: lol
work bb: haha silly
“Teacher Yn,” a couple students approach you while you set your phone face down on your desk.
“Hmm?” you up at them while taking off your sunhat.
“Can we send you a list of ideas we came up for our club education trip? We know we have to fulfill the requirement before the end of the semester, but we wanted to get it out of the way.”
You nod at them, “Sounds fine by me.” You pull up a website on your desktop and show it to your students, “Did you guys include the city garden? It’s pretty close by and it’s pretty this time of year.”
“Did you choose that place so Mr. Chwe can tag along? I heard he likes running there.”
You look at your students in disbelief. How did they even find out things like that?
Just then, someone knocks loudly on your open door. All eyes turn to see Vernon standing at the opening with his gaggle of students behind him, Rubiks Cubes, pizza boxes, and packs of sodas in their hands.
“I brought nerds and pizza.”
One of your students leans in and whispers to you, “Looks like your boyfriend is here.”
You don’t know if you should be happy or if you should consider this to be one of the most horribly timed entrances of all time. You decide you’re going to be happy – it’s Vernon after all.
chapter three: grocery store; dinner
People are definitely staring at the two of you while you grocery shop together. It’s not because the two of you are wearing your tie-dye outfits from earlier today, but because of the fact that Vernon is handsome. At least that’s what you believe. It’s enough to make the other shoppers stare for at least a brief second before they return to their usual routes.
You think your shoes covered in dirt are a direct juxtaposition to his pristine white sneakers. There’s a part of you that will always be insecure whenever you’re in public with your crush, but your hand in his reassures you otherwise.
“Do you think people don’t approach you at grocery stores because I’m next to you?” you ask him while the two of you are hunched over the leafy green section. A handwritten sign states the organic kale is finally on sale.
“Why would you think that?” Vernon curiously asks you. His tone is a bit upset, but he still peruses through a few bundles of kale before choosing the one he like most. He drops it in the plastic bag you opened for him.
“I don’t know,” you shrug while placing the bagged kale into the shopping cart. “You’re handsome and people stare, but nobody is making a move.”
“I don’t care about other people,” he muses. He reaches for the baby carrots on the top shelf and passes the bag to you. “You know I only have eyes for you.”
You push the shopping cart to the fruit section and he follows closely behind you, happy his comment made your ears turn red. He knows you’re embarrassed and is purposely moving onto the fruit section when the two of you still have a few more greens to buy.
But it’s true, he only has eyes on you. Only you don’t seem to realize that he does. He constantly tells you his feelings, but you never seem to take him seriously. He clings onto you and holds your hand in public because he also sees people looking at you. Was it wrong of him to be jealous? Was it wrong to want to hold your hand at all times? Maybe it’s his fault you never do, yet he can only wish for you to take him seriously.
“Hey babe,” Vernon calls to you from the mountain of potatoes in front of him. He sees your figure shoot up like a meerkat standing among pyramids of fruit, looking side-to-side to try to locate the familiar voice. “Right here,” he calls to you again, this time holding a bag of potatoes above his head. He laughs when he sees you cover your face in mortification while you cart your way over to him. You’re cute, he thinks. His little meerkat.
The two of you pose while he takes a picture of the two of you in the black and white monitoring screen above the self-checkout machine. He scans his loyalty card and begins to scan the items in the cart.
“Hey Vern,” you pass him a box of pasta for him to scan.
“Yes, baby?” he winks while taking the box from you.
“Why do you call yourself my work husband even when we’re off work?” you ask him while passing him a bag of bagels.
“You’re right. If we’re off work then that just means I’m your husband,” he takes the bag from your hand and scans it. “Because the adjective describes the fact that we’re at work, but we’re not at work. So just call me husband.”
“Smartass,” you grumble to yourself. He’s constantly embarrassing you, but you somehow like it.
“What is that?” he pokes at the touchscreen. He clearly heard you grumble to yourself.
Checkout. Beep. No Bags. Beep. Credit/Debit. Beep.
“Are you filing for a divorce just because we’re not at work?” he purposely makes his voice louder than usual and brings his phone to the screen to pay for the groceries. “Do I mean nothing to you?” his tone clearly implies he’s poking fun at you, but it’s enough to let the workers around you two eavesdrop.
“Vernon, oh my god,” you quickly shuffle to his left to put the items in the reusable tote bags in the cart behind the two of you. “People are staring.” You pull your hood over your head and he gently pulls it back down, quickly running his fingers through your hair to minimize the mess.
The workers point and giggle at you two before going back to work, telling those in line to move to an open self-checkout machine.
“Just like how I stare at you at work?” he takes the receipt and consecutive coupons from the mouth of the machine and folds it before putting it in his back pocket. He moves the shopping cart behind the two of you and separates the cold items from the fresh and boxed items.
“Babe, I’m going to file for divorce,” you grab the bag of baby carrots and wave it in front of his face. “And I’m taking the children with me.”
“Aww you called me babe.”
You wish you could be as open as Vernon when it comes to flirting, but at the same time, the jokes and the act that the two of you put on around each other often times sound and feel a little too real. Your feelings for him are real, but you struggle to understand whether or not he’s joking with you. You know you could just ask him, but there’s a ninety percent chance he would joke with you and a ten percent chance he would tell you the truth. However, because of how the two of you normalized flirting with each other, you know you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between his truth and his jokes. You’re afraid of telling him the truth, but you’re also afraid of letting go of this false reality the two of you created.
Where is the thin line between flirting romantically and flirting jokingly? How do you find it? How do you cross to the romantic side?
The two of you are currently in you apartment. His shoes are placed in the usually open spot next to yours on the shoe rack, and his car keys are in the ceramic tray next to yours. You are prepping the ingredients for dinner while he sorts the groceries he bought into their rightful places in your tiny kitchen.
“You know my student, Chan, right? The one who I swear is out to get me?” your co-worker asks you nonchalantly while reaching above your head to open your white kitchen cabinet. “Right when I was about to play a video for the class, Chan raises his hand and has the audacity to ask me if I’m ever going to teach them.”
“How did you respond?” you lean over the kitchen counter to shut the microwave door and start the timer. You’re used to his daily post-class lunchtime rants, but he somehow forgot to tell you until he saw the picture of the two at orientation stuck on your refrigerator with a magnetic turtle.
Vernon sighs while looking through the cabinet contents, “I called him lame and told him to watch the damn Crash Course video.”
He gently places his palm on top of your head to shield your head from getting hit when he swings the cabinet door close, a colander in his other hand. He places the colander in the sink behind the two of you and turns back to you. He is interested in what is in the microwave and mimics your position, bending over to stare through the translucent screen. It’s hard to make out what is spinning slowly through the glass so he leans in, accidentally brushing his shoulder against yours for a brief moment. It is brief, but it is enough to make you question what you have done in your past life to deserve this moment.
“Wait,” you turn your head to look at your co-worker beside you, curiously asking, “students actually get annoyed when we show videos in class?”
“I don’t know,” he stands upright and scratches his head, his expression clearly showing that he was dumbfounded that a student would be against watching videos. He leans against the back counter and crosses his arms. He frowns. “I mean, am I ever going to tell them that watching videos stimulates different modes of cognitive learning? Of course not,” he answers his own question. “I’m the cool teacher.”
Spoken like a mantra.
“I’m just defrosting the garlic bread so I can pop it into the oven so you can snack while I cook.” You notice he is looking around your kitchen. You think it’s because he doesn’t have space to exit with the tote bags on the floor and the lack of mobile space in your kitchen. “Did you want to exit? Let me move out of the way so you can go chill or grade in the living room.”
It’s exactly the opposite of what you think.
Vernon loves your place despite how much you hate its small size. To him, your tiny apartment feels like home. You’ve told him several times how much you want to move out. You hate how you don’t have a desk to do your work on. You hate how your bed is literally pushed in the corner of your bedroom against the wall and window. You even hate how there’s no closet in your bedroom so you have to use the hallway closet as your closet.
He wishes you know just how much he loves it when he can hear the soft hum of the in-unit washer and dryer in the background while he lounges on your plush sofa. Because of the size of your apartment, the smell of your baking sometimes lingers for hours. Because of the lack of space, you’re forced to display many of your things for your guests to see instead of tucking them away in some storage bin or cabinet. There are postcards your friends sent from around the world, pictures on the fridge, awards hung on walls, and small trinkets placed all around your apartment. The sticky notes the two of you exchanged during orientation are pinned to your corkboard. Not to mention, the sectional sofa with the chaise you bought with your first paycheck proudly lines your living room. It’s one of the most comfortable things he’s fallen asleep on. Although the apartment may seem suffocating at times, this apartment is you personified.
Of course, it wasn’t like he never offered you to move into his place multiple times in the past. You slapped his arm in response every time he suggested.
Earlier, the two of you decided to power through grading midterm papers for your respective classes so the two of you could freely enjoy Spring Break without any worries. It is now nearing midnight when you blindly reach into the popcorn bowl on the side table beside you only to feel nothing. You are out of movie snacks. Your legs are stretched out on your chaise and Vernon’s head is still in your lap, pointed toward the second movie the two of you are watching that night. You decide to not get up to make more popcorn just in case he is sleeping.
Next to the empty popcorn bowl, your cellphone pings and Vernon stirs.
Damn you, cellphone.
There is another notification sound, and Vernon pushes himself off your lap to sit up. You look over at your phone. It’s fucking Yoon Jeonghan.
[text from: devil’s incarnate]
devil’s incarnate: don’t fowget about ouw double date t-tomowwow (//▽//)
devil’s incarnate: the reservation is at noon at the bistro opposite of the café we went for lunch
headache personified: WHY MUST YOU RUIN EVERYTHING FOR ME
Vernon somehow manages to quietly squeeze himself behind you while you lift yourself to text Jeonghan. When you put your phone down he tugs your body closer to his, his legs stretched out and sandwiching yours. He points to the blanket at the foot of the chaise and he lets go of his arms around you so you can lean forward to grab the blanket.
You open the blanket so it covers both of you and his arms sneak around your stomach, pulling you into his chest. He puts his chin on your shoulder to see the screen in front of you. He emanates warmth like a human-sized hand warmer, like the warm summer sun on your skin the first day you met him.
About halfway into the movie your body naturally turned to lay against his. You’re not watching the movie anymore because he knows you’re tired. It’s not the first time the two of you have cuddled this closely before, but he only hopes you mistake his uncontrollable fast heartbeat as his reaction to the movie.
You’re fiddling with the strings on his clean hoodie and he takes your hand in his and puts it on his chest.
“The plot is really good,” he hopes you can feel his chest vibrate.
You do. You’re on cloud nine.
“You can stay over if you’re not comfortable driving back at this hour,” you suggest to him. Your hand goes back to playing with the aglet on his hoodie string.
“Mmm,” the thought of leaving makes him groan. “I’ll stay until the movie ends.”
In the closet toward the entrance, your dryer hums. The air smells like rose petals and warm vanilla. In his heart he knows the two of you are way past the simple “work spouse” phase. He hugs you tighter and wishes the movie never ends.
[text from: devil’s incarnate]
devil’s incarnate: btw I’m picking you up so you have no way of escaping (o¬‿¬o )
devil’s incarnate: see you soon baby <33 -xoxo
chapter four: bistro; double date
The loud knocking on your front door causes you to jolt awake and fling the blanket covering you onto the living room floor. You can recognize that impatient knock anywhere. However, what you’re afraid of is not the knocking sound, but the person currently knocking.
“Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit,” you repeat while you sit up and look around the living room. You realize it’s Saturday morning. The television is turned off, and you can still see the stacked pile of midterms pushed to the side of your coffee table. Is Vernon still in your apartment?
Your phone is ringing on the side table next to you. You look over your pillow from your bedroom. I don’t remember bringing one from my bedroom. You see the Caller ID. It’s Jeonghan trying to reach you from outside your door.
Then you see it, a light blue sticky note stuck in the empty popcorn bowl next to your phone. It’s his handwriting, tiny and scrawled. He says he took your laundry out of the dryer and took out the trash on his way out. He’s sorry he couldn’t lock the door. There’s a tiny heart next to his initials. He doesn’t tell you when he left.
The note is in your hand when Jeonghan barges into your apartment and shuts the door behind him. He stands in the doorway and stares at you, his hands on his waist. He’s annoyed.
Your apartment is silent. Even leaky faucet decides to rest for a while. You swear you can hear your best friend’s heavy breathing.
“I’m sorry,” you squeak while you stand up to face him, hiding the note behind your back.
“I. Sent. You. So. Many. Texts,” he roughly kicks off his shoes and storms into your living room.
You scream when you realize he is making his way over to you. When he reaches your sofa, the two of you circle around your coffee table.
“I’ve been outside your door knocking like a man trying to win back his ex. Do you know how embarrassing that was for me?” He wants to strangle you at this point, but he can’t because he needs you to go on the double date with him. “And I couldn’t even park in your second parking spot because guess who I saw get into his car in your second parking spot in the morning?”
Does that mean Vernon slept over last night? And Jeonghan now knows about it?
He lunges. You scream again.
Seungkwan sits on Vernon’s barstool and faces the door, ready to read his friend to filth the moment he walks into the door. His legs are crossed and he���s counting the number of cardboard boxes stacked near Vernon’s front door. It’s Saturday morning and Vernon isn’t in his own apartment. He’s a loser who can’t even properly confess his feelings to his crush – where the hell was he last night?
Seungkwan has a double-date to attend in about an hour. For him, lecturing Vernon would take at least 15 minutes and asking for opinions for his outfits would take around 5 minutes. Driving would take at least 10 minutes if it was all green lights. However, if there is a stop light or two-
Vernon calmly unlocks his door and opens the door to see his friend sitting at his counter. It’s totally normal to have Seungkwan invite himself into his apartment – he gave him a spare key for a reason. However, when Vernon is halfway through the doorframe, he realizes he’s wearing his extra set of clothes he sometimes leaves at your place. He is also holding his work bag from yesterday. Seungkwan seems to have already noticed as his legs uncross and his eyes widen at the sight of his friend. Vernon slowly backs out and closes his front door ready to leave and never come back. Start a new life maybe.
“Get your ass back here,” he hears Seungkwan’s menacingly sweet voice from the other side of the door.
He audibly sighs. He has no choice but to open the door.
You’re folding your laundry in the backseat of Jeonghan’s car while he drives the two of you to the double date. You can tell he’s still angry – his sleeves are rolled up. He already undid his collar to let off some steam and pent up anger when you told him you didn’t want to go on the date. You can see the gorilla grip he has on his steering wheel. His arm veins protrude prominently, and you swear you can see them throb. Jeonghan glares at you through his rearview mirror every chance he can get, so you sulk in his backseat and quietly fold your clothes. You probably also lost your aux privileges. For the next week or month maybe.
He purposely makes a hard break at a stop sign when nobody is around, and some of your folded clothes launch themselves to his car floor. You look at your t-shirt crumple to the floor and bite your lower lip. You nod to yourself. You deserve this. You were on a winning streak last night so karma (Jeonghan) has to show up to make sure everything is set at equilibrium. There must be balance to this world.
“Did you shower last night?” Jeonghan softly asks you when he notices you’re a lot quieter than usual. He turns on his right blinker, ready to make a right.
“Of course I did,” you pouted when you realized your favorite pair of socks rolled under the front seat. “I smelled like dirt.”
“So you showered while a man was over?” he snickers. There’s a glimmer in his eye. “Naughty.”
“He was grading in my living room,” you protest while looking out the window. Your clothes are folded and placed back in the laundry basket.
You can tell Jeonghan’s anger is subsiding. He rolls his shoulder backwards and stretches his neck left and right. The gorilla grip is gone. You know he cares for you. That you are certain of.
The two of you are still relatively early when Jeonghan parks. He rolls down his windows and turns of the engine and then his car. He drops his car keys in his cupholder and turns back to look at you. He smiles.
Seungkwan is holding onto the car handle above his seat for dear life.
“So I woke up with Yn in my arms, but their phone was going off like crazy because someone was spam texting them. I reach over to switch their phone to silent because I’m a good husband who cares about Yn getting a good sleep, but I see the same person texting them and calling them. Bro this person was using all the pet names that I use. So, already, in my mind I was like ‘oh my god am I a home wrecker?’ And then I looked at their phone again even though I shouldn’t have been looking through their notifications, but it was just right there and I saw that he said he was going to come over soon because they have a date. So I tidied up a bit and packed my bags and zoomed out of there. Because what if they’re really dating? What if he’s the same guy you saw at the café? Dude my mind was racing so much. But Yn looked so peaceful and serene. I was going to melt then and there and then reality hit me: I may have just been a homewrecker. But it all doesn’t make sense because their lock screen photo is the photo I took of us at the grocery story yesterday. Wouldn’t it make more sense if your lock screen photo was your boyfriend instead? So I was freaking out and I’m still freaking out. My non-existent love life is in shambles bro.”
“Is this car ride over?” Seungkwan’s eyes are closed and his knuckles are turning white. “Am I alive? Is the car in one piece?”
Vernon unbuckles his seatbelt and then Seungkwan’s, “Yeah dude. I parked a few minutes ago. Were you listening to me rant at all?”
“I’m going to step out and take a breather,” Seungkwan nods to himself. It was his fault for making Vernon drive. He knows how fast Vernon can drive, but he didn’t take into consideration that he would be sitting in the passenger seat. Was it worth it in the end to arrive early to a date he wasn’t even going to enjoy?
He opens the car door and stretches his legs. “Do you see that café across the street?” he points at the café he visited earlier this week. “Please stay in there and clear your head. Drink some tea. Coffee will make you even more jittery.”
Seungkwan exits the car and shuts the door. Before he starts walking towards the front entrance, he turns around and points at Vernon who looks like he is on the brink of a mental breakdown, “But stay in there in case I need an escape plan.”
Vernon recognizes this café as the same café printed on the tiny cake roll box you left on his desk earlier this week. The sticky note you attached to the underside of the box is tucked away in his wallet as are some of the other ones you wrote for him in the past. He keeps them all and occasionally switches them depending on his mood.
Did you miss me? the note reads. I’m sorry you had to eat lunch alone. This roll reminded me of you because it’s round like your hair when it’s flat. HA! Did you think I was going to write “sweet?” -yn ;-)
He’s been staring at the chalkboard menu for the past few minutes, his eyes squinted and his head deep in thought. The baristas think he’s having a hard time looking at the menu up above and offer him a physical menu in larger print. It takes a few tries to get his attention, but he bashfully takes the menu from them and moves to the side so the incoming customers can order their drinks and other menu items.
He regrets not asking you out sooner. He’s sulking and mentally beating himself up in a café in which his crush had a date a few days ago. How lame is that? While you’re out enjoying your date and probably having the time of your life, he’s regretting all of the chances he didn’t take in the past. But the angel on his shoulder reassures him – he was still by your side despite not taking the chances in the past. It comforts him a bit. Maybe is all just a big misunderstanding. Maybe you don’t have a boyfriend. Vernon promises himself while walking up to the counter to order his drink: if the universe sends him a sign anytime soon, he is going to take it. No questions asked.
[text from: kwan]
nonie: do you think I should go for a fruit tea today?
kwan: I s2g if you don’t get your ass over here
nonie: how bad can your date be?
nonie: did the food come out already?
kwan: my coworker is meeting yn’s bf
kwan: MY COWORKER IS MEETING YN’S BF FOR OUR DOUBLE DATE
kwan: YN’S BOYFRIEND IS A CHEATER
nonie: YOU FR?
nonie: WHO TF WOULD HAVE THE AUDACITY TO DO THAT TO YN?
kwan: YOU’RE A TEACHER. COME TEACH HIM A LESSON.
nonie: I’M COMING
kwan: not the face tho. it’s a money maker
nonie: WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?
Vernon practically sprints out of the café. Thank you universe!
[text from: devil’s incarnate]
devil’s incarnate: did u grab my wallet?
devil’s incarnate: save me. my date came and I was totally catfished (╬`益´)
devil’s incarnate: and your date is sending me death glares for some reason O.o
headache personified: when we go home we’re signing you up for bumble
headache personified: I’m almost at the front entrance. you want me to act like you’re my bf?
devil’s incarnate: oh we haven’t used that tactic in a long time
headache personified: wait is that you three under the umbrella at the porch?
headache personified: is my date vernon’s seungkwan?
devil’s incarnate: bro how should I know how vernon’s seungkwan looks like
devil’s incarnate: ahh fuck it I’ll just be mean and call my date out for catfishing me.
devil’s incarnate: can you record for me <3 -xoxo
You’re already outside the front entrance when you think about ways to try to avoid Seungkwan while you're inside the bistro. You think if you walk along the bistro’s perimeter instead of heading inside the bistro, you can get a better video angle of Jeonghan without having to show your face to Seungkwan. However, someone gently grabs onto your arm and tugs on it.
You turn around and you're surprised to see Vernon looking back at you. He looks frazzled and out of breath. You wonder if he really goes jogging in the city garden like what your students said.
“Hear me out. I have to tell you something,” he pleads.
Your heart is screaming Omg it’s Vernon! Vernon! but you’re worried Jeonghan might get mad at you if you don’t record him while he’s lecturing the catfish. You can probably email the bistro for a video recording tomorrow. If Jeonghan draws enough attention, you can probably have one of the bistro patrons text you a recording of the interaction.
“I had so many chances to tell you how I really feel, but I keep beating myself up for not telling you my feelings. I really like you. I really do,” he takes both of your hands in his hand. “And I don’t want you to go in and end up with someone who is on a date with another person.”
Fuck Jeonghan’s video. Vernon is actually confessing to you. Yet at the same time, something about his confession doesn’t really make sense. How did he find out about your double date?
“What do you mean you catfished me because you thought I was a catfish? Have you seen me?” you can hear Jeonghan’s shrill voice screeching from where you’re standing. You imagine he’s standing up and gesturing at his own face. “Why would I need to catfish as someone else?” You swear you can also hear Seungkwan laughing.
Vernon also seems to recognize Seungkwan’s laughter. His mouth hangs slightly agape and he looks at you and back at the patio in horror.
In that moment, everything made sense. Seungkwan probably texted Vernon that Jeonghan showed up to the date while believing you were dating Jeonghan. It’s honestly not the first time the confusion happened. You smile and pull him in a hug.
“The person I like thinks my best friend is cheating on me when in reality I was forced to go on a double date. So if anything, you just stopped me from going on a date with Seungkwan before I even went on a date with you,” you laugh into his chest. “Did you really run to try stop me from seeing my best friend cheat on me?”
He hugs you back and you can hear his heart beat slow down. He’s relieved.
“Baby,” he hums into your hair.
“Hmm?” you look up at him.
“Do you still want to call me your work husband at work even if I become your boyfriend?”
You groan in embarrassment while he laughs at you. He separates from you and starts walking backwards with his hand stretched out.
“Let’s go on a date. I heard the café across the street has really good cake rolls.”
He’s waiting for you to come hold his hand.
You can still hear Jeonghan yelling in the background. You think Seungkwan is also yelling with him. Considering the fact that they haven’t been kicked out already, the two of you know they’ll be fine without the two of you.
“The ones that look like your hair when it’s flat?” you catch up to him and interlock your hand with his.
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