This is how we fall
Pairing: Mingyu x reader
Genre: fluff, light angst, fake dating au
Warnings: swearing, mentions of blood, alcohol
A/N: happy belated mingyu day!! this is an updated ver of my fave fic i posted for another fandom, but i think it fits mingyu the most <3
You should know better than to make a deal with a stranger, but the need for a date to Minghao’s party has you desperate. It can’t be too bad though; all you have to do is show Mingyu what you saw in your reading, and he would be your date for one night. Simple enough, right?
The fates were playing with you.
That much you can be sure of—there is absolutely no way you should be seeing yourself in one of your clients' readings, in the same way that you aren't able to see what lies in your own future. And yet, here you are, getting a glimpse at the same hairstyle, the same smooth skin and face shape that you see in the mirror every day. It isn't entirely clear when your client doesn't look at his lover's face directly, but surely those features are enough to conclude that it's you, right?
"I see myself in your future."
"Is that a terrible pickup line or are you serious?"
You vaguely notice that Mingyu is laughing. It makes you realize that neither option was a good one really; a pickup line would imply you're interested in him, while seeing yourself in his future certainly implies a lot more than that. Perhaps you silently pray to the fates that those words didn't make their way to your boss in the other room.
But as the scene progresses, there are some other details that you notice. The kitchen in the background doesn't look familiar at all, nor do you recognize the light fragrance of oranges surrounding you—not a bad scent, though it isn't one you have lying around at home. What his lover is wearing is different from anything you own too, which could only indicate that you were wrong: they have to be someone else.
"Nah," you shrug, quickly trying to brush off your mistake, "I was just kidding."
That earns you a bemused smile as Mingyu raises an eyebrow, entirely unconvinced. "You sure about that?"
With a nod, you quickly pull your hands back to break out of the visions and internally curse yourself for being stupid enough to think that the lover in the visions was you. Just how delusional are you now? Sure, you've always been a head in the clouds type of person, falling in love with the possibility that everywhere you go, the next person you meet might just be the love of your life. Eye contact with the cute dog walker at the park turns into getting lost in their eyes while walking under the stars, and a brush of hands with the hot barista at the local coffee shop turns into holding hands while reciting wedding vows.
And admittedly, Mingyu is good-looking. But this isn't the same—he's a client, and you're working. It was silly to have thought of the possibility of being in his future in the first place, but even more ridiculous to have said it out loud.
You immediately shake off the thoughts when you catch him staring.
"So?" He leans forward, looking at you like he has some big secret to share. "What did you see?"
"Um, your love life will be just fine."
"Yeah." You avoid his gaze, choosing to stare at the small piece of lint on your sleeve instead. "Things will run smoothly with your partner. I could sense your love for them and how committed to them you are. And similarly, how in love with you they are."
This is the part you've always hated the most about the job. Jeonghan may have thought that hiring a "real psychic" was a good idea, but you think otherwise—surely anyone who knows anything about palm reading would immediately be able to tell that you're a fake. A fraud. You're not here to look over the love lines and life lines on your clients' palms when the visions come to you as naturally as breathing: they let you see a few scenes from the client's future, usually scenes involving a lover from what you've gathered over the years. And while it's no surprise that Jeonghan put you on love readings because of this ability, it's not like you can tell clients about the exact scenes you see.
Hence why you resort to vague summaries of the readings that make you feel like an imposter.
"Really?" Mingyu cocks his head, still watching you carefully. "Anything else?"
There were three scenes that you witnessed: holding hands across the table at what looked like a dimly lit restaurant, with tiny scars on his lover's hands. "There might be some dark times in your life or your partner's, but the two of you will be able to support each other." A kiss in what seemed like an open-air market, with the sweet taste of apples on your lips and the warmth of sunshine against your skin. "They'll bring you warmth." Then there was the final scene where you thought you'd seen yourself—slow dancing in the kitchen at midnight with faint music playing in the background and Mingyu's soft whispers reaching his lover's ears. "And your partner will make you believe in love again."
A fairly normal set of scenes compared to some of the things you've seen from other people, although it's a bit strange that they happen to be scenes where he's not looking directly at his lover.
"Hmm, okay." Mingyu nods slowly and then purses his lips, seemingly deep in thought. Maybe it's the dimness in the room, but it's like you can see the gradual change in his demeanour as his smile falters. "That sounds great and all, but I'm single as hell right now."
It takes all your efforts to not let your shock show. "Well, it can be your future partner."
"Sure, I guess." He shrugs, but the gloomy expression never leaves his face.
You open your mouth to give a retort, to defend yourself or to convince him somehow, but nothing comes out. Plenty of skeptical people have sat in that very seat before, but you've never dealt with someone who reacted like this. It almost seems like a prank or a test that Jeonghan is giving you to gauge how well you can react in these types of situations.
"Things didn't really end well with my ex, so I don't know if I'd want to go through all of that again." He grimaces. "But I'm kind of curious as to know how you came up with that."
"Well, what did you expect?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe something more realistic? Like telling me why my past relationship failed and if I'm destined to have bad luck with them."
Destined to have bad luck with them? Now that's a first. Many clients have argued with you before that any bad readings would never come true, but you're surprised to hear that it's the other way around with Mingyu. Just what has he gone through to make him doubt a good reading? You almost want to convince him, to have this reading be what helps him out of this turmoil that he's going through.
"I can show you, if you want." The words are out of your mouth before you can process them, and it isn't until you see the stupefied expression on his face that you realize just what you said.
"I can show you what I saw in the reading," you repeat, figuring it's too late now to back out. Show him? Are you out of your mind? At least the worst that can happen is it'd make you look stupid; there is no way he'd accept—
"Oh. Um, yeah." Mingyu's shock gradually disappears and turns into something else that you can't quite pinpoint, but you might say that it almost looks like hope. "Okay, sure. How would that work?"
"I can show you the locations that I saw and, um, the—" You pause because how are you supposed to word this? "The events that happen in them."
This should be when he says you're joking, that he's not going to fall for some scam. But against all odds, he nods, and a smile gradually appears. "Is this a part of what's included in the reading, or do I have to pay extra?"
You're about to open your mouth and tell him that it's included—to essentially own up to your own mistake of offering in the first place—but something else comes to mind.
There is the party coming up. You've been complaining to Jeonghan all day about your lack of a date for Minghao's party, since receiving the invite and figuring out just who would be there. And while normally you wouldn't care about whether you had a date or not, this would be the first time that you're reconnecting with your old college crowd since graduating and leaving certain people behind.
"It's not included, but you don't have to pay; I'd gladly accept a favour instead. There's this party that I'm going to, and I need a date—not even like a real date. You could just be my fake date and—" You force yourself to stop when he doesn't react and simply blinks at you. "Never mind, forget I ever said anything. I'll just ask Jeonghan to be my date—"
"Y/N, you know I can't go to that thing," Jeonghan voice comes floating in from the other room. "I have a business to run."
Mingyu's face brightens, eyes twinkling in amusement, and you have to resist the urge to sink into the ground. "Okay, so a party? Sure, I can go to this party with you if that's what you want."
You want to stop this thing in its tracks. Your joke of an offer coupled with the mention of the party to a complete strange surely would be a recipe for disaster, and besides, why would he would even care to know what you saw in the reading? Why would he believe you if you do show him the scenes? But you can't bring yourself to say any of that. At the prospect of being handed a solution to your dateless party problem, you decide to bite your tongue and go ahead with it. Showing him a few locations that you saw in your reading would be nothing compared to being alone with certain people from your past.
"Okay, deal. Let's do it."
A few minutes later, he's leaving the shop with a little wave, and a new contact has been saved into your phone.
"You good?" Jeonghan raises an eyebrow, stepping out of the back room as he gives you a look that says he heard everything. His glasses are halfway down his face and hair ruffled like he tugged on the strands in frustration way too many times, which isn't surprising when the shop is on the verge of needing to be shut down. "Were you serious about asking me to be your date?"
"No, you must've heard wrong." You quickly shake your head, plastering on a smile. "And I'm great. Wonderful. Amazing." You're definitely not. "Everything is fine." It definitely isn't.
The only reaction you get is a teasing grin. "Well," Jeonghan pats you on the shoulder, "let me know how it goes. Maybe you really did see yourself in his future."
It was at this moment you knew you fucked up.
"You look like you just lost your job," Soonyoung says right when you step into the apartment that night.
You shoot him a glare. "Unprovoked?"
He's slouched in yet another strange position on the couch, eyeing you with the concern that should probably be going towards fixing his posture, and his phone screen in hand is flashing with probably some show he's been bingeing despite the TV being only a few feet away.
A typical night at your residence, really.
"Should I leave?" he asks, sitting up straighter.
You kick your shoes off, too worn out to think of a smart retort tonight. Then you slump onto the couch beside him. "Is it that obvious?"
"Uh huh. You want to talk about it?"
With a sigh, you start from the beginning. Mingyu had been friendly when he walked in that evening, all charming smiles and lingering stares. There wasn't anything particularly interesting about him, though you may have thought he was good-looking and may have been a tiny bit glad that he made a last-minute decision to switch from the career reading to the love reading.
You tell Soonyoung about the readings, dragging on the details until he's waving you on impatiently. And then comes the end—the deal you made where you'd show Mingyu what you saw in the reading in exchange for having him be your date to Minghao's party.
"Why the hell would you do that?" Soonyoung narrows his eyes, stare seeming to bore into your skull. "He was hot, wasn't he?"
"I knew it." Then he put his hands on your shoulders and shakes you a little. "Y/N," he looks you dead in the eye, "you need to stop being so nice to people you find hot. Well, except for me; I'm an exception."
You scoff. "It's not that. I need a date for this party, okay? You know he's going to be there so there's no way I'm showing up alone."
"Forget the party," he gives a dismissing wave, "how are you going to show him everything? The guy seems like someone who doesn't believe in this kind of stuff."
"Yeah," you mutter, "maybe he knows I'm a fraud and is secretly filming all this for his YouTube channel. Can you imagine the title? Delusional psychic makes up romantic scenes."
If Mingyu really did think you were a fraud, he wouldn't be wrong. After all, you only learned about the different palm lines as a cover for the real abilities you used for these readings. Maybe it isn't such a bad idea to switch over to regular readings now though; if only you'd been blessed with Jeonghan's bullshitting skills instead of this ability that's starting to feel more like a curse.
"No, Y/N. Who does he think he is?" Soonyoung abruptly gets up from the couch, hands balled into fists instead of laughing at your joke like you thought he would. "No one forced him to go to you. And we all know that fortune telling is a big sham; surely he should know to take everything with a grain of salt."
You nod, but then you think back to the reading. "Well, I did think that I could be wrong. The reading was... well, it was weird. I couldn't see his lover's face, like, it either went by really fast or he wasn't looking at them at all."
"Those scenes don't necessarily have to be with the ex he mentioned, right? You have no control over what point of someone's life you see."
Soonyoung is right. You can't control the time frame of someone's life you witness, so it's plausible that the love interest is someone else entirely. Perhaps from a future relationship, or maybe Mingyu and his ex if they get back together one day.
Or maybe the visions are wrong. Just because they haven't been wrong before doesn't mean it can't happen.
"Or," Soonyoung flops back onto the couch excitedly, "do you think it's because he has bad eyesight?" He leans in until his face is mere centimeters away from yours, pretending to examine you through squinted eyes. "Maybe he never sees his lover's face that clearly anyway."
"There's a big difference between having bad eyesight and simply not looking at something, you know."
"Then do you want to use me as practice?" He holds out his hand, placing it on your knee with his palm up. "You can check if futures can change or if eyesight really does affect the readings."
You give him one last skeptical glance before going along with it. Then you press two thumbs at the edges of his palm with your eyes closed and wait for the visions to arrive.
It's been years since you've glanced into his future, but still you immediately recognize the images. There's Soonyoung laughing while on a picnic with Wonwoo in the same sunny field, Wonwoo playing the guitar in your current apartment, and a final close up of the ring on Soonyoung's slender finger. You wonder if he still remembers this last one; you're at the age where all of your friends are getting engaged left and right, and you're half expecting a wedding invitation any day now.
But just before you can pull your hands back and ask him if the first two events have already happened, the vision changes. A new scene takes shape this time and it confuses you at first because the view starts off with an unfamiliar ceiling. Then as Soonyoung glances down, Wonwoo's face comes into view and—
"What the hell?" You immediately jerk back, scrambling to break out of the vision. "Please don't get me to do your reading ever again."
Soonyoung gives you a confused glance. "Why, what did you see? Did it change?"
"Let me just say that I really don't need to see the things that you and Wonwoo do."
"You—you saw what?"
"I heard it too." You bury your face in your hands, trying to wipe the memory away. "The visions really just had to give me first person seats to a show I never wanted to see."
Soonyoung chokes on his spit.
If Mingyu forgot about this agreement entirely once he left the shop, it wouldn't surprise you. You'd just take it as one of those situations where friends tell each other to hang out but never end up making plans, so why would this be any different?
What surprises you is that he does text you a few days later.
So through your text conversation, you tell him all about the first scene you saw—the restaurant with the hand holding across the table. A dinner date, essentially. It's a good thing that this is the easiest scene to reenact; maybe after this he'd decide that he's had enough of this fake fortune telling stunt while still upholding his end of the agreement.
But despite how simple the scene is, the thought of doing this makes you all kinds of nervous. Your stomach twists at the thought of spending a whole night on the receiving end of Mingyu's intense stare, especially when this would be so different from your interactions with him while working that day. At least at work you knew what you were doing. This on the other hand, is completely out of your range of knowledge. Like, what do people talk about during these kinds of events? What if whatever you're eating gets really messy? What if—
"Wait, where are you going today? Soonyoung didn't tell me about this." Wonwoo glances over at his boyfriend in confusion before turning back to you. "And what did you agree to do?"
"Um," you say slowly, glancing between the two perched on the couch. "I made a deal to show a client what I saw in his reading."
"But why?" Wonwoo puts his hand on your knee, leaning over with concern written on his face. "You haven't done anything like this before for your other customers, have you?"
"No way. I probably wouldn't be doing this if he hadn't agreed to be my date for Minghao's party."
Maybe it was weird to have agreed to this—the look on Wonwoo's face said as much. After all, Mingyu is a stranger, and you don't know anything about him other than the flashes of his life you witnessed through the reading. But won't it simply feel like an awkward first date? All you have to do is take him to a restaurant that resembles the one you saw and hold hands across the table. It can't be too challenging when there is no need to do much talking nor get to know each other.
"Oh. Because of..." Wonwoo trails off, giving you a feeble smile. "Right."
"Well, don't mention him," Soonyoung elbows him in the ribs.
Wonwoo waves his boyfriend off. "I'm not sure how you're going to make this client believe you, but your time with him today doesn't have to be a bad thing."
"But babe, you didn't see how upset Y/N was that night after agreeing to this." The dramatic pout on Soonyoung's face has you rolling your eyes. Then he turns to you. "He might be hot, but he could still be an asshole. This guy seems like bad news. What if you get kidnapped? What if you go missing? Who's going to help pay the rent then? And—"
"Don't act like you're not waiting for me to move out so that Wonwoo can move in," you reach over to flick him on the forehead. "Thanks for your concern but I think I'll be just fine."
"At least share your location with us, okay? If you need an emergency phone call to get you out of there, I have my scream perfected."
"Unfortunately, I am very aware of that." You definitely don't want to think about the last time Soonyoung called to pull you out of a group meeting back in college and nearly damaged the hearing of your entire group. "Okay, I'm really going to go now."
"Oh and," a hand wraps around your wrist just as you stand, "don't fall for him."
"Shut up, it's literally one meeting."
One meeting won't be a big deal. It'd be a nice dinner date with some innocent hand holding, and then you probably wouldn't have to see Mingyu again until the party. Nothing can't go wrong when you'd be in public the whole time anyway.
Soonyoung shouts something that sounds like, "At least wear something nicer!" but you're already out the door.
"Oh, you actually came." Mingyu comments, face instantly lighting up when he spots you. "I almost thought you decided to back out."
"Me? Never." You try for a smile, but you know he's referring to your tardiness.
It'd be easy to blame your annoying roommate for holding you up today, but embarrassingly enough, it wasn't because of him. Your shortcut through the park's uneven grounds was the culprit, causing your massive tumble which ultimately led to being much too late for this date. It's times like this when you wish your ability would let you see more useful things than random points in other people's futures.
Upon arriving at the restaurant though, you realize that something else you wish you'd seen is how your choice of restaurant is nothing like what you expected. You picked the place after scavenging through the depths of Google Maps, digging up pictures left and right from various reviews, and the single review of this place was the only one that seemed to match the one in your visions. In the photo, the restaurant was just as dim, and looked like a casual place. But now, in front of you, is a restaurant that looks nothing like the one in the photo.
In front of you is something much fancier—small chandeliers hang above every table and elegant decorations line the walls. There is no doubt that it must've gone through a major upgrade since the local reviewer posted those pictures from five years ago. Now not only was your attempt at finding the restaurant in your visions futile, but this place also makes you wish you chose a different occupation entirely. Preferably one that pays more than the meager amount your readings are worth.
"Well, this is an interesting choice," Mingyu comments, eyeing the walls. "Seems like a nice place."
You debate pulling him right out of there. "Um, actually, it's not—"
"Hi, do you have a reservation?" the hostess asks, looking between the two of you. And before you can even answer, there are two menus in her hands and she's leading you to your table. Great. Perhaps you'd just have to take off one of your rings and fake a proposal for the sake of a free meal if it turns out to be too expensive. You heard that it worked for a friend of a friend once upon a time.
Once seated, you nearly do a double take. There is no dim lighting obscuring Mingyu's handsome face this time, and under the glow of the chandelier, you can finally see his smooth skin, plush lips, and large eyes that seem to twinkle when he glances at you for whatever reason. If you thought he was good looking before, you have to admit that he looks even better today.
You turn to the menu instead, studying it intensely despite having immediately picked out the cheapest option. Five minutes go by. The waitress comes by to take your orders. Another five minutes. Are first dates always this awkward? It's been years since you've gone out with anyone, but if this were the reality of the dating scene, maybe third-wheeling your friends for the rest of your life wouldn't be such a bad idea.
Mingyu clears his throat. "Should we start with the basics?"
"A story to tell people at the party if they ask about us." He swirls his drink around, eyes flickering to yours occasionally. "We need to be on the same page with our answers to make it convincing."
Right, he's going to be your fake boyfriend for the party. You haven't thought that far yet when you've had the scenes to worry about, but he's not wrong. "Oh. Um, okay. So how did we meet? It wouldn't be through mutual friends because most of them would be there. Maybe a dating app?"
"Hmm," he hums, looking over everything on the table as he thinks. "We met at your shop when I got a reading done. Then you showed me how everything happens."
"We're just going with the truth?" You're slightly doubtful of whether this story would be believable, yet the same time you're relieved you wouldn't have to be lying. Soonyoung has always said you were a terrible liar. "I guess that works. So then how did we fall for each other?"
Mingyu presses his lips together and thinks for a while. "Through reenactments of the things you saw in the reading." As if for emphasis, he moves his drink out of the way before putting his hand on the table between the two of you, and then beckons for you to do the same.
"Oh. This is what you mean by reenact it."
Of course you knew this might be what he wanted, and you came here fully prepared to reenact this with him. But because of your fall at the park earlier, now the fresh scrapes on your palms are telling you to stop in your tracks. You shouldn't be touching anything and sure as hell don't want him to see the state of your battered hands.
You opt for a shrug, feigning nonchalance. "Um, yeah it was just hand holding. You know, we don't have to actually—"
"Come on, Y/N." He puts on a pout and the longer he stares at you, the more his eyes somehow start to have the effect of puppy eyes. "Just humour me?"
So you give in, reluctantly. You reach out a hand and rest it on his with your palm up to show him exactly why you don't want to do this.
Mingyu's eyes widen at you before he's holding your hand up to examine it closely. "Oh shit. What happened? Did you fall on your way here? Is that why you were late?"
You nod a little.
"Hey, you should've said something. I'll go ask for some bandages, okay?"
"No, it's fine—" you start, but he only shoots you a smile before leaving his seat.
Looking down, you can see that your palms already appear to be much better than earlier—the red splotches are mainly dry now, and the dirt has been wiped off. Thankfully, Mingyu didn't see the worst of it, but that does little to stop the embarrassment in its tracks. You only hope that the heat at your cheeks fades when he comes back a few minutes later waving a handful of bandages around.
You think that it would end there, but it doesn't. Mingyu insists on putting these bandages on your wounds. His fingers are light where they graze your skin as he carefully places them on your scrapes, and it's such a nice gesture that you're suddenly taken aback. This is supposed to be a quick dinner, and he's supposed to hate you for the bad reading. But now you question if any of that is true when he continues to act so kind and friendly.
"This is not how it's supposed to go." You frown, trying not to stare at his face as he works on the bandages in total concentration. "Not at all."
Because your hands may be in his across the table as you wait for your food to come, but he's only holding them to bandage your wounds. And while this restaurant does seem romantic, it's nowhere near the look of the one in your visions.
Mingyu's eyes fill with amusement when he looks up. "Holding hands across the table as we wait for our food, right? Isn't this close enough?"
"You're bandaging me. This isn't remotely romantic."
"Love isn't always supposed to be romantic, Y/N," he says dramatically, rolling his eyes. "Haven't your readings shown you the small things that people do for each other?"
You wonder just what kind of readings he thinks you do. "Um. I guess."
He does have a point. Maybe this moment, no matter how embarrassing or ridiculous it seems, is better than having to sit through faking or pretending everything. It may force you to be vulnerable, but each gentle brush of Mingyu's fingers and each press of a bandage against your palms hint at a vulnerable side of him too.
You study him, wanting to figure out just what kind of person he is. Why is he being so kind when the two of you are practically strangers? When this meetup should be a quick meal at a casual food place, involving no more physical contact than two seconds of hand holding? Well, perhaps five seconds. But now, it seems like the two of you have gone beyond your original plans of fake pleasantries.
"All done." He lightly presses the last bandage onto your palm, and you're grateful for the arrival of your food as an excuse to pull your hand back.
"So, um," you rack your brain for literally anything to say, "why did you come in for a reading that day?"
"There was a career decision that I was stuck on," Mingyu picks at his food then looks up with a twinkle in his eyes. "I don't believe in this whole fortune telling thing, but I needed some advice on what to do. Figured that maybe while you were telling me to look deep inside myself and to follow my heart or whatever, I'd suddenly get an epiphany about what to do."
"And did you?"
"Even without the reading? The boss would've done a good job on it." That part is true; you may be the real psychic of the two of you, but you can't deny how good Jeonghan's readings are. Heck, you'd rather choose to believe his words over what you see in your own visions.
A nod. "Just going there gave me what I needed. I decided it would be good to start fresh, to try something new." He pauses to take a sip of water, but then his eyes snap to yours. "Wait, hold on. Did you say he's your boss? You were going to ask your boss to be your date? For the party?"
"Oh, Jeonghan?" You want to laugh at the incredulous expression on his face. "Nah, he's not exactly my boss. We met in college as classmates."
Your previous thoughts about not needing to talk completely disappear as you tell him about how this little psychic shop started. It had been Jeonghan's idea, a backup plan for a backup plan essentially. He'd always joked about starting a business if nothing else worked out after graduation, and the opportunity came around sooner than expected.
"Damn, I wish my boss was chill like that. Mine really makes everyone stay back to finish the projects that he deems urgent when they aren't."
"You mean you're not in school?" You have to wipe the shock from your face. "I would've thought that you were some frat boy in college."
Mingyu stares at you blankly, blinking a couple of times. "You know, I'm not sure if that was a compliment or insult." He frowns. "Well, I guess it's good that my job hasn't aged me too much yet. But frat boy? Really?"
"Hey, maybe that should be our cover instead," you tease. "Frat boy Mingyu who I met at a party in college years ago but only recently reconnected with."
He rolls his eyes at you, suddenly starting to chew so aggressively that you have to laugh at his expression.
The rest of the night goes by similarly, allowing you to forget all your worries about awkward first dates. Mingyu is a good conversationalist and surprisingly funny to, and when he drops his fork and later bumps his head on the chandelier is so endearing that you find yourself smiling every time you look at him.
As the two of you walk back to the shop afterwards, your time together leaves you thinking about how he's not the person you thought he would be. Maybe you should know that already based on the glimpse into his future because the warmth that you'd seen from those scenes alone could've been an indicator.
"There are two more things you saw, right?" Mingyu turns to you, sparkles in his eyes from the reflection of streetlights right outside the shop. "Are you free next weekend too?"
"Wait." You're almost sure you heard wrong. "You—you want to see the rest of them? The scenes I saw?"
"Yeah, of course," he says like it's obvious, seemingly unable to understand the surprise that must be on your face.
This is a possibility that you never considered at all. You don't get why he would want to see you or spend time with you again, or how showing him what you saw in the visions would possibly convince him that they're real. "Oh, um. I didn't think you would be interested."
"Why not? We still need to figure out more of our cover story for this party too." He gives a shrug and then raises a hand up in a wave. "See you next week?"
"Yeah, okay," you manage to say. "Next week."
The rest of the way home is filled with Mingyu's words echoing through your mind.
When you open the door to your apartment, Soonyoung drops his phone mid-scroll, giving you a onceover that makes his eyes as big as saucers. Then he's running over to you.
Right, you completely forgot about your state of being until this reminder.
"What the fuck happened to you? Did the Mingyu guy do all of this?" He stops you in the middle of the hallway, hands on your shoulders to spin you around as he glances over every inch of the mess of blood and dirt on your clothing. You understand what it would look like from the outside—the result of your fall must be fueling his thoughts about Mingyu being a bad guy. Maybe it looks like you bravely jumped out of a moving car and managed to crawl back home.
"See? I told you he was bad news," he huffs and then guides you into the kitchen where he sits you down on a chair. "What happened? Did he pull something weird? Should we be calling the police?"
You feel a laugh on the verge of escaping your throat, but you bite it back. Soonyoung's questions are so absurd that you almost want to keep quiet and make him frustrated by his overwhelming curiosity. That'd certainly be one way of annoying him the way he always annoys you.
"No, nothing like that," you say instead, shaking your head. "I tripped and fell while walking through the park." Then you hold up your palms to show him the small bandages where they're peeling at the corners. "He helped bandage me at the restaurant."
Soonyoung nods slowly, but judging by his narrowed eyes, he's entirely unconviced. "Okay, but you look like you got into a fight with him or something. And why would you go through the park?"
"You're the one who made me late, okay? I had to take the shortcut." You go to push him then instantly regret it when the contact makes your palms throb. "Anyway, Mingyu was really nice. Though the, um, reenactment didn't really go as planned."
Then you begin to update him on everything that happened during your date, starting from the restaurant and how it didn't match the visions, to your fall and the bandages. But as you go over all of the moments, you realize there are a few things you intentionally leave out, like the tiny crinkles that appeared at the corners of Mingyu's eyes whenever he smiled. His soft hands that bandaged you so tenderly. Maybe he was right that love is all about the small gestures—even though you initially thought the moment paled in comparison to the one in the reading, the more you replay the day over in your mind, the more you realize that it was indeed romantic in its own way.
"And? Is that it?" Soonyoung gestures wildly. "You won't have to see him until the party, right?"
You can feel the smile on your face fade. "Um, actually. He wants to meet again for the next scene that I saw."
"Don't tell me that's the kiss scene?"
"Yeah... the kiss."
"Well, good luck with that one." Soonyoung's smirk only grows at your reaction. He gives you a pat on the back, but it feels just as insincere as his words. "Try not to fall for him."
As your roommate leaves the room, you can only sigh. This is exactly why you left out those details about this date—Soonyoung would be making fun of you forever. Yes, that has to be the reason. It definitely wasn't because you considered those moments special.
All week, you try to come up with a plan to avoid showing Mingyu the next scene from the visions. You think about making up a more PG-rated scenario since there is no way he would know if what you're showing is real or not, but how can you lie about it when he'll experience the real thing in his future? Besides, Soonyoung tells you the scenarios you come up with are lame.
So your choices for this scene are really limited—either you would have to share a kiss with him in public or watch as his face contorts with disgust at the thought of having to kiss you. Or perhaps you would be dealing with the awkwardness of dead silence between you once he turns down the kiss. Either way, today is not looking good for you.
On top of that, the location for this scene gives you even more trouble than the first one did. You hadn't exactly gathered much information from it; without being able to use your sense of sight, you only know there was kissing, the smell of the outdoors, and light chatter in the background. A park might seem too public, too open of a space to be doing this, and a forest trail might be too isolated and not sunny enough compared to the sun you'd felt on your skin.
In the end, you decide on the market. A cute date at the market seemed like it could be the perfect balance, and today it bustles with the afternoon crowd of couples on their date and the elderly running their errands. When you look at Mingyu, your hypothesis is confirmed—beside you, he watches the rows of vendor carts and tents with amazement in his eyes.
"You've never been here before?"
Mingyu shakes his head. "Nah. I've been meaning to, but just haven't had the chance to yet." Then he turns to you with a teasing smile. "You chose the perfect spot. It's like you actually read my mind."
"I can assure you I'm not psychic like that," you mutter, stunned for a second. "Let's take our time exploring and see everything today."
So the two of you slowly walk through each aisle and you watch him marvel at different items from each of the stalls you stop at. It's merely an excuse, though. You're stalling. You still haven't told him about what is supposed to happen in the second scene, and you've been carefully dancing around the topic each time he asked. How are you supposed to blatantly say that the two of you are supposed to kiss? All you can do is hope that the wonders of the market would distract him enough so that he forgets why you're here at all.
"So how long have we known each other?" Mingyu turns to ask as the two of you walk to the next stall. "And what kind of party is it? Don't tell me I unknowingly signed up to go to a wedding with you."
"It's not that much better actually—it's an engagement party."
He stops dead in his tracks. You laugh.
"A year minimum," you continue like he's not giving you a deadpan stare. "Maybe two? We should be pretty serious about... each other."
"Do you think I could watch over the shop for you while you take your boss to be your date?" He pauses, looking at you with hopeful eyes that immediately dim when you shake your head. "What have I gotten myself into?" Then he's walking to the next stall with dramatically loud steps, though you manage to catch the smile he tries to hide.
The rest of your cover story slowly comes together over the course of the date—he asked you out, some of the places you frequent are last week's restaurant and today's market, and you sometimes spend the weekend at his place which is why Soonyoung and Wonwoo haven't met him yet.
After exploring the majority of the stalls a while later, Mingyu finally turns to you.
"Hey, let's head over there." He nods at the field behind the market, shooting you a grin when he takes your hand in his.
You hope he doesn't hear the startled sound that escapes from the back of your throat.
Tucked away behind the row of vendors at the very edge of the market is a field with a few empty picnic tables. And while you aren't sure if this is how the kiss happens in the vision, you get the feeling that maybe he knows. The bit of privacy behind the stalls and the way the noises of the market gradually fade into the background as you approach the table tell you as much—if you were looking for an opportunity to reenact the scene today, it would be here and now.
You climb onto the table, letting your legs dangle off the bench while Mingyu follows suit beside you.
"You haven't said anything about why we're here today." He eyes you up and down with amusement playing on his lips. "Why? Is it something bad?" The teasing tilt in his voice paired with a slight eyebrow raise is enough to have your cheeks quickly burning up.
Then the embarrassment kicks in. You know that there is no avoiding it when the two of you are already at the location of the second scene in your vision, and now it's just a matter of telling him. But no matter how you try to phrase it in his head, what could possibly be a good way of telling your client that you're supposed to kiss him? That's what Mingyu is, right? A client that wanted to see and experience the things in your reading of his future.
"Um. It's... a hug," you say hesitantly, testing the way it sounds in your mouth. Picturing the way his face would fall at the word 'kiss' is enough to scare you into changing your mind at the last second. "A hug is supposed to happen here."
As if he knows you're not telling the truth, Mingyu cocks his head. "Oh yeah? Here of all places?" Maybe it really was a bad idea to lie; you should've believed Soonyoung when he said you can't tell a lie to save your life.
"Yeah." You try to swallow the lump in your throat. "I'm not sure why it's here either."
If he does detect your lie though, he doesn't say anything about it. Instead, his expression morphs into something softer. "Love can be found everywhere, Y/N. Even in a hug at the market if you want it to." Then he gets up and holds his arms open, eyes twinkling with the question of whether you want this.
And do you want this? It might be too soon to be doing this when you barely know each other, but it's also too soon for your heart to be speeding up the way it does, for you to feel a small burst of butterflies in your stomach every time he so much as stares at you for a moment too long, and for this cover story and the reenactments to feel more tangible than the abstract concepts they are meant to be.
But despite all that, you find yourself getting up from the table and carefully stepping into Mingyu's arms. You slowly relax in the warmth of his embrace and let the faint scent of his cologne envelop you, and though it's a tender, loose hug, you can feel the steady beating of his heart and the rises and falls of his every breath.
"Is this how it happens?" he whispers, the rumble of his voice vibrating through his chest.
You can't respond. You don't know how to, nor do you know why he's even the slightest bit willing to act out a scene from a stupid reading that he probably deems a scam anyway. So the obvious answer would be to say yes and call it a day.
The answer is at the tip of your tongue. But as you open your mouth to respond, something stops you from continuing the lie. "No, not quite."
It's the same feeling that tells you to cup his cheek and bring him closer to you, and it makes you lean forward, just until you can see his smooth sun-kissed skin and the small mole at the tip of his nose. And then you're slowly squeezing your eyes shut and bringing your lips to his—kissing him, like how it happens in the reading.
Mingyu's surprise is evident in the way he freezes momentarily, and the rational part of your mind would think that this is it. This is your big mistake and now he's going to back away and—
He kisses you back.
He pulls you even closer and you expect it to feel like the delicate kiss in the reading, but it's completely different in that he kisses you like he wants this. Like he wants you. Those supple lips glide across yours, consuming you, making you feel like you're sinking into the depths of his touch and his body. And all you can do is hang on, grasping weakly at his collar as every essence of your being is filled with want for a person you shouldn't want.
Mingyu breaks the kiss just as you start to think this might be too intense to be done in public.
He catches his breath and then gives you a shy smile, not quite meeting your eyes. "Oh, so that's how it happens?"
Your head is still spinning, but when you look at Mingyu, it's like he's glowing. The way the sun glistens on his skin and lights up his face makes him so beautiful that you almost forget to breathe. If the kiss hadn't felt so real, you might've been thinking that this moment, and Mingyu himself, are straight out of a dream.
You can answer him easily now. "Yeah, it is."
When he takes your hand a moment later, all the thoughts about cover stories and readings and Minghao's party disappear from your mind, leaving only the warmth of him beside you and the memory of his lips on yours.
However, reality hits you very soon. There, by one of the nearby stalls, is someone who looks like Mingyu's lover in the visions. They have the same hairstyle as you, the same smooth skin, and even the same face shape. Without directly glancing at their face, you can assume that you are looking at yourself.
But even though they don't turn your way as the two of you walk by, simply seeing them has your heart sinking. It sinks at the thought that the kiss might be nothing more than a figment of your imagination or of a world where you're both pretending that you really are the lover from the visions. That Mingyu's eagerness to kiss you, to want you, wasn't actually meant for you at all, but rather for someone he hasn't met yet.
And you don't get it. You don't understand why you're disappointed by this when it isn't even real. It shouldn't ever be real. Regardless of whether it was a good kiss, of whether it felt wonderful and realistic and enticing, you should know that it wouldn't mean anything.
Because you're not the lover from the reading.
Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise to you at this point, but Mingyu agrees to reenact the third and final scene of the vision. You were sure that he would say no, that he definitely wouldn't appreciate having a stranger barge into his home for this one. So to have him actually agree to it has you thinking that maybe if you tell him you're going skydiving he'd agree to that too.
This time it's not as difficult to tell him what happens in the scene—it's just slow dancing, which should be easy to reenact at least compared to the kiss at the market. All you have to do is rest your hands on his shoulders and then step side to side to the beat of the music. How hard can it be?
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Soonyoung peers at you from the doorway of the bathroom. "You barely managed to escape from this guy during your first meeting, and now you're walking right into his home." He comes closer to where you're checking your outfit in front of the mirror, and says in a loud whisper, "where you'll be alone with him."
Right, that is the part you're trying not to think about.
"You sure you can handle it? After," he gestures in the air, "what happened at the market and all."
Internally, you grumble. Externally, you ignore him.
"I know you're picturing that steamy kiss." He rolls his eyes, which you can all too clearly through the mirror. "But anyway, if you're sure about going to his place tonight, just remember to be safe, yeah? Share your location just in case. Hold your head if you're about to jump out of another moving car."
"Don't you have a boyfriend you should be bothering instead?"
That earns you an enthusiastic nod. "He should be coming soon. So take your time on your date tonight."
You finally get some peace and quiet when you step out, once again leaving your roommate mid-sentence about how you picked another terrible outfit.
You're the first to arrive at the restaurant, though it isn't long before you spot Mingyu coming from a block away—he's late for your date and clearly running to make up for it by the way he dodges other people on the street, nearly knocking them over. He gives a big wave when he sees you.
"Sorry for being so late," he pants as he bends over to catch his breath. "Thank you for waiting."
"Guess that makes us even. Although I hope you didn't trip on your way here."
That puts an instant grin on his face. "Nah, I just had to clean up the apartment a little. Well, actually," he pauses, the grin fading, "a lot. Can't have it be a mess for when you come over tonight."
"Oh, right." You still don't know why he would agree to all this, especially if it takes that much work.
The dinner goes well. It's one of the few moments of peace, considering your first meal together was ruined by the remnants of your nasty fall, and the market date was interrupted by an abrupt awakening. Despite the mishaps, you don't exactly see these events as losses when your memories are brimming with Mingyu's gentle touch when he bandaged your hands, and the warmth of his lips fitting so perfectly with your own.
And tonight? You know that there will be another moment for you to commit to memory forever.
When you arrive at your destination, you finally understand why he was late for your dinner. The place is spotless; unlit candles fill the room, a bottle of wine with empty glasses are on the counter. There are flowers in a beautiful vase on the table. It's like he spent all day running around just to set up for this moment.
"It's presentable, right?" Mingyu cracks a smile, slipping off his shoes and sliding his jacket onto the rack, followed by taking your coat as well. "Not sure how it's supposed to happen, but I figured I should at least try to make it—well, as romantic as possible."
"Wow, you didn't have to do all this," you manage to get out. You're still standing right in your spot as he goes over to light the candles, in shock and confusion over why he would possibly do such a thing.
He turns back to give you a small shrug. "I wanted you to have a good time."
When he finishes lighting the candles, he puts on some music by selecting it on his phone, seemingly having put together a whole playlist for the occasion. And if you didn't know any better, it would be so easy to believe that he simply put together a romantic date night at his place for the two of you. That he did all this because you're someone special to him. That this means something.
Well, if he can pretend for a night then maybe you can too.
You shake the thoughts from your mind and replace them with a smile as a song you don't recognize starts softly in the background. Mingyu heads to the table, beckoning you to follow, and then pours two glasses of wine.
"You know, I'm really glad I went to you that day." He takes a sip of his wine and then swirls it when he puts it down. "For the reading. I'm glad I met you. And um, I should thank you for showing me all of this."
"Shut up," you scoff, rolling your eyes. "Don't lie. You still don't believe in any of this fortune telling stuff, right?"
Mingyu bursts into laughter. "Okay, you're right. I don't. I just wanted to see some acts of love after going through a breakup, to kind of feel like there could still be hope for me. Honestly though, when you offered to show me what happens, I thought you would make up random scenarios just to date me or something." He waves dismissively at the frown on your face. "But it doesn't matter to me. Real or not, I like spending time with you, and... well, maybe you've convinced me."
"I convinced you that the reading was real?"
You're met with a shrug as he takes another sip of his wine, and in that brief silence you ponder about what he's referring to. There is no way he believes in fortune telling, so what else is there to convince him of?
But then something else pops into your mind.
"Can I ask you something?" You take a deep breath, letting out a sharp exhale when Mingyu nods. "What happened with your ex?"
It's clear that he hesitates with the way he swirls his glass, pressing his lips together and avoiding your gaze.
"Never mind. We don't have to—"
"It's okay. It was a long time ago and I'm over it." His eyes meet yours before flickering away. "Actually, I think I knew it was over long before it was really over. But I kept hoping that things could be fixed. I was stupid and kept trying."
"Hey, no, that's not stupid." You reach over and take his hand. "You were willing to put in the effort to save your relationship, and that shows you care."
But he merely shrugs. "Seems like a waste when they were busy cheating on me."
"That's not your fault, and it's not a waste. The love that you show the world is never a waste." There's a flood of emotions running through you, you belatedly realize—you're clutching the glass so tightly in your free hand that you begin to fear it might crack. It's directed at Mingyu's ex, at the thought that someone would hurt him like that when he's done nothing but fight for their relationship.
"It's kind of ironic now that I think about it," he continues. "Right before I found out they were cheating, I went to a psychic and got a reading done on the relationship. Apparently the reading said everything would be fine, and I just stupidly believed it."
"Mingyu... is that why you don't believe in this stuff anymore?"
"I wish I didn't either." You swallow the lump in your throat, letting go of the glass. It's not only the mention of his ex that's making you feel this way, but also the lover from the visions. You want to hate them, to curse at them and at your fate for ripping away what could be a beautiful relationship before it's even within your reach.
But it all makes you want to try harder to prove it to Mingyu. That he's worth more than what his ex had made it seem, and that he doesn't need to be closed off to the idea of love because someone in the future is going to walk into his life and show him exactly that.
"Why?" He squeezes your hand lightly. "What makes you say that?"
"It's also because of an ex."
It was Junhui. Or rather, what you saw in his future. Two years after the start of your relationship and four after the start of your friendship, you'd trusted him enough to tell him about this little fortune telling party trick, and he'd trusted you to take a look at his future. Maybe that's where things went wrong.
Looking back, you aren't surprised that you saw someone else in his future. They appeared so happy together, he made her laugh, and she seemed to fit in all the ways you didn't. But there was no point in waiting for fate to inevitably bring them together while pulling the two of you apart, so you ran—you didn't want to stick around to find out what would happen.
"Wow." Mingyu blinks at you, seemingly unable to speak after your story. "Do you know if they ever met or got together? Your ex and the person you saw in his future."
You shake your head. "Haven't heard anything about him since we broke up."
"And he's the one who's going to be at this party?"
"Yeah. He's one of Minghao's close friends."
"I'm sorry that happened to you," Mingyu drops his gaze as he gently traces circles into your palm with his thumb. "I see why you don't want to believe in that stuff now. Actually, it's kind of funny how it was this fortune telling thing that screwed both of us over."
"Right? I should get Jeonghan to close the shop and we could open a boba store instead or something." You roll your eyes, chuckling at the thought. "Probably makes better money than this ever will."
"That's not a bad idea." Then he sets his glass down and stands, coming to your side to pull you into a hug. "But Y/N, don't beat yourself up for what happened, okay? You didn't know what you would see, and you have no control over it."
"Besides, I'll be such a good date that you won't even notice him the entire night." Mingyu releases you and steps back, smile turning shy as he holds out a hand. "Shall we?"
"I have to warn you that I'm not great at dancing," you mutter, taking his hand anyway and letting him guide you towards the space in the living room. "Don't hold me accountable for any injuries you might sustain."
When you put your hands on his shoulders, you can feel yourself tense up—your body is awkward, and your arms are too stiff as if not wanting to rest your weight on him. But when you hear a bubble of laughter and see the way Mingyu looks at you so fondly, you feel the same pull as you'd felt at the market. The pull that makes you want to relax and sink into the warmth of his body.
His touch is gentle when he places his hands on your waist, all too carefully and delicately. It makes you wonder if it's even possible that those are the same hands that his ex had willingly let go of, and if those light steps that he takes when swaying to the music are the same footsteps that will walk into the life of the lover in the visions. You wonder if this Mingyu, glancing back at you so tenderly, is the same as the one that will forget about you as soon as this moment is over.
But most of all, you wonder if the you that had originally agreed to do this is the same as the you whose heart beats faster and faster when he meets your gaze now. If the you who only wanted a date, any date for the party, could possibly be the same as the you who now finds yourself wanting to lean into his touch, wanting him to want you.
"You okay?" he murmurs, pulling you out of your thoughts.
Mingyu breaks into a soft smile. "You know, I've always wondered what you keep thinking about. When you get lost in that world in your head, what do you see? What do you dream about?"
"It's different every time." You try to ignore the way your palms feel all too hot against his shoulders. "But these days... it's you."
You don't tell him that it's also getting to know him, falling for him, and imagining how you should be the one doing all those things with him like in the reading. It's picturing a love that flourishes ever so slowly, one that silently rests between the two of you, growing steadily until a day when it becomes the only thing you notice.
And though you leave all that out, your answer seems to be enough for him.
"Yeah," you say softly. "Whatever happened in the past—I really hope it doesn't keep you from experiencing the kind of relationship you deserve. You're not hard to love, Mingyu." Just a brief moment of hesitation before you admit, "Not at all."
Your words feed the twinkle of hope in his eyes as well as the one that seems to have been blossoming in your own heart for a while now. Maybe you can finally admit it; this would be the last time you see him, so maybe it wouldn't matter what happens tonight.
The thoughts swarming your mind are soon forgotten though. Mingyu pulls back slightly to gaze at you with a bright grin that sends your heart back into the frenzy it never recovered from. And a moment later, when his lips are on yours, the dancing, the music, and the entire scene are long forgotten in the background.
This time you let yourself believe that it's real.
You fall deeper into the world where you're the lover from the visions, a world that contains just the two of you. And this time you aren't afraid to kiss him back like you want him because you do. You pull him close until your bodies are inseparable, and you allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the heat of his mouth and the burns of his touch. You let yourself want, as your back hits the wall and you're trapped between it and the weight of Mingyu's body pressing against you, and you let yourself take, let your hands trace over the defined lines of his muscles, the smoothness of his skin, and the softness of his hair.
You kiss until you're breathless, until your knees are weak and you're sinking once again. Until his little breaths come out in fuller moans, and hands are wandering into dangerous territory.
"Is this how it happens?" Mingyu whispers, gaze dropping as he leans in to press his forehead against yours. "Is this how we fall for each other?"
No, you immediately think, not at all. The apartment is dim with only the small lamps at the sides of the room and the candles lining the table as the only source of light. The music, despite being slow and romantic, feels much too loud for some reason. It feels forced. And the way you manage to step on his toes on all the wrong beats surely can't be the right path to falling in love.
But maybe you're not afraid to admit it anymore.
"Yeah," you say instead, "it is."
Mingyu eyes snap to yours, and what you find in them makes you want to repeat your answer again and again. You're not sure why he would be hoping for this answer or why he would be satisfied if his own creation were to match perfectly with the one that you'd seen. Even more uncertain is why he would choose that particular set of words to say. But none of it matters when his lips are back on yours, writing an answer of their own.
And for one night, you let yourself be Mingyu's lover from the visions.
One thing becomes painfully clear after that—you cannot be seeing Mingyu ever again. Not even for one last party date.
On the surface, you know that your job is done. You showed him all of the moments that are supposed to happen in his future, and you upheld your end of the deal. But the truth is that every time you were with him, it became difficult to remember that you're not the lover from the reading, and every time you talked to him, you found yourself wanting more and more to be that person.
Your plan to avoid him doesn't go as expected though, for he keeps texting you. He sounds normal, continuing to send memes and share posts like he's been doing for the past while. And when he asks you for a movie date the following weekend, he acts as if the past three meetups were exactly that—dates. It's like it never occurred to him that you were there only to show him how everything happens, and not to actually date him. Though now, you're no longer sure if that's true.
So you say you're busy, you limit your texts to once per day, and you don't pick up when he calls. You follow the textbook formula for ghosting for days to the point where Soonyoung hides your buzzing phone under the couch cushion while spewing threats about throwing it out the window, and even Jeonghan's sighing at you tiredly, telling you to call Mingyu back.
You give in eventually. You call him back and schedule a meetup, and now you find yourself sitting at a cafe with him across from you.
"Hey, thanks for agreeing to meet with me. This won't take long." There is no smile on his face this time, and you realize that it might really be the first time seeing him like this—eyes devoid of emotion, face a neutral mask. It reminds you of the first time you met him at the shop, when he was spiraling into a hopeless void, but perhaps even worse.
You nod slightly in acknowledgement, trying to hide the way your heart sinks at his words. They are something you should be relieved to hear, but you know you're still clinging onto the inkling of hope that you can go back to pretending the two of you mean something to each other.
"Have you been doing okay?"
"Just busy," you repeat the same kind of boring answers from your texts. "You?"
"Yeah," Mingyu says slowly, dragging out the word. Then he takes a deep breath. "Are you avoiding me?"
Yes. "I didn't really see any reason we should stay in touch." A partial lie. It barely makes it out of your mouth.
"Are you for real? Y/N, where is this coming from?"
"I did what I said I'd do." The mask on your face was threatening to crack, especially after seeing the flash of pain in his eyes. "I showed you all of the scenes I saw in the reading. What more is there?"
"I—well, yeah." He frowns. "That might be what we initially agreed, but you can't deny that we had something special. There is no way you didn't feel anything when we were together."
You merely shrug and try your best to harden your eyes instead of giving in to the tears that threaten to spill. Because how can you tell him the truth? How can you give him hope just to crush it with the reality of your doomed fate?
"So—so what, all of it was just pretend? The things you said—you lied, didn't you? When you said I'm not hard to love..." He looks away, biting his lip. "I should've known."
"Hey, no. Everything I said was true, but this has nothing to do with that."
"Did you want to do this at all or were you doing it out of pity? Did you hate every moment of it?"
"Mingyu, stop. Okay, you're right. Let's say I did feel something and that I do like you. But does any of it matter? You're forgetting that I'm not the one in your future. You might not believe in this stuff, but my readings have never been wrong before." You can't do it anymore; it's too hard hiding it. Everything comes tumbling out all at once when he looks so broken. "You're going to meet them someday, and you're going to love them. Whoever they are. It just won't be me."
His jaw goes slack, mouth opening but nothing coming out. It's as if he finally realizes the truth that both of you had forgotten along the way.
"Oh and also," you say, clenching your fists at this final difficult lie you have to tell. "You don't have to hold your end of the agreement. I'm not going to the party anymore."
You know that what you said today would definitely change things since people tend to be averse to anything that goes against what they believe to be their fate. So when you get up from the table and leave, you know that Mingyu won't be chasing after you.
Mingyu stops texting you.
It should be a good thing; now you would both return to your normal lives and pretend like this entire thing never happened. But even though you know all this, there is still something weighing you down. It weighs down each step you take, becoming a salient presence that you can't seem to wrap your mind around.
And despite knowing that your relationship with him was only temporary, that you would be no more than a filler until the person in his future arrives, you still look over at your phone in the hopes that maybe the notification would be from Mingyu. You can't help but want him to still want you.
"You're in your head again, you know," Soonyoung jabs you in the arm, dragging you away from the thoughts and back to where you're seated in your living room. "Can't you think more quietly?"
"Can't you shut up for once?"
"See? I told you he was an asshole!" He flicks a piece of popcorn over at you, hitting you perfectly on the head. "I told you that he was all kinds of bad news. Didn't I say you were too nice for your own good? I knew something like this would happen."
"You said," you roll your eyes at him, throwing the piece of popcorn back, "that he might try to kidnap me. And to stop being so nice to hot people—no, I'm not making an exception for you."
"He really said that last part?" Wonwoo asks incredulously.
You nod. Soonyoung shakes his head.
Wonwoo clicks his tongue at his boyfriend and sighs with disbelief. "So about this fate thing. I know you believe you're not the one in Mingyu's future, but do you think a relationship with him is something worth pursuing regardless?"
"Why would it be worth pursuing if I know it'll just end?"
"Well, how do you know that for sure?" Wonwoo puts a hand on your shoulder and pats you comfortingly. He shakes his head a little. "Y/N, maybe you weren't meant to see his partner's face. Look at the rest of us—we don't have your abilities and we all go through it blindly. I started dating Soonyoung because I liked him, and not because I knew that he was the one who would be appearing in my future."
"But—" you start, and then stop. It takes a few replays of his words to let their meaning sink into your head.
"Hey," he continues, "if you think this is something worth going for—and by the way you've been moping around, it sure seems that way—then you should talk to him. See what he thinks."
Maybe Wonwoo is right, and part of you really wants to believe him, but you can't help but think that you should be using the information you have to your advantage. Surely, your ability has to be a blessing at some point, right? Isn't it a good thing to have put an end to your relationship with Mingyu now so that it wouldn't hurt even more later?
"You never know what could happen in the future." It's as if Wonwoo can hear your thoughts. "Maybe the future can change, or maybe the person in the reading really is you. There may be other people who can fit what you saw but that doesn't discount the possibility that it might be you."
"Yeah, yeah. All this talk is nice but that doesn't mean that Mingyu isn't just an asshole who's playing with you," Soonyoung stuffs a handful of popcorn in his boyfriend's mouth and turns to you with a serious look. "You need to think this through, okay? Do you really like him or do you just like the attention he gives you?"
"Y/N can't possibly fall for someone that easily, right?" comes out muffled from where Wonwoo is still trying to chew through the popcorn. He raises a brow at you.
"You'd be surprised." Soonyoung rolls his eyes then turns back to you. "Do you really like him or do you just like kissing him?"
You feel the full force of their scrutiny when Wonwoo also peers closely at you, searching your face for answers. Maybe the heat on your cheeks is enough to provide one.
"Do you really like him, or do you just enjoy fixing broken people?"
"Do you really like him or is he just hot?"
Wonwoo snorts. "By that standard, I'm quite surprised that Y/N never had a crush on you."
"They did—" Soonyoung quickly stops himself, but it's too late. Wonwoo's judging eyes are already on you, making you slowly sink into the couch and hoping you can disappear.
Not going to the party was a lie that you told Mingyu—an excuse so that you would have no reason to ever see him again. However, the problem is that scrapping the agreement hasn't only left you with a broken heart, but it also brought you back to square one: you still do not have a plus one for Minghao's party.
Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad though, or at least that's what you tell yourself.
From the outside, Minghao's house looks massive. He has fancy lights installed at every corner, lighting up the exterior walls every couple of feet, and giant windows through which you can already see people mingling about. Wonwoo pulls into the driveway slowly and turns back to give you a worried glance just before the three of you step out.
The interior of the house is just as impressive. A chandelier hangs in the front foyer, and symmetric spiral staircases spread off to either side. Minghao stands near the front, a drink in hand, and his shy smile is plastered all over his face as he greets everyone that walks in. He greets you with a hug.
"Congrats on your engagement," you say, taking in his new look while trying not to glance around the room. His hair is a bit longer than what he had back in college, and you don't recall ever seeing him wear anything remotely formal back then.
"Y/N, how long has it been?"
"Considering the last time I saw you was when you were single?" you laugh. "Yeah, it's been a while."
"It's good to see you again," Minghao grins and then goes to peer behind you. "Oh, is your boyfriend here too?"
"Um, he wasn't feeling very well so..." A lame excuse but it's the best you could come up with at the moment. "He couldn't make it."
"That's okay," Minghao's face falls for the briefest second before it lights up again. "Oh, you even brought the Soonyoung? What a rare sight." And then he goes off to wrap Soonyoung and Wonwoo in a big hug before dragging them off into the living room. At least he wouldn't be the one questioning you about your non-existent fake boyfriend tonight, though Minghao isn't who you should be worrying about.
You follow along, sticking to the walls in the hopes you'd be just as invisible as wallpaper. Even without seeing Junhui here, this is what you fear the most—being amongst your college crowd would bring back feelings you haven't touched in years. Feelings that you're not sure you want to ever unpack. But soon it gets a little easier when Minghao pulls you with him to greet everyone around the room, and so you catch up with Vernon and Seungkwan, and then later, you say hi to Chan and Jihoon.
It isn't until you reach the kitchen when you finally spot him. Junhui has his back turned to you, helping with preparations, and beside him, Seokmin greets you silently with a nod as your eyes meet. You smile at him, thankful that he's not alerting everyone of your presence especially when you know just how loud he can be.
Just before you turn to leave and make your escape, you see her. From far away, she's another face in the crowd, though you can feel a spark of familiarity as if you've seen her somewhere before. Perhaps in one of the readings that you've done over the years for clients? You've read somewhere that the brain never forgets faces, after all.
She greets you and then heads over to the kitchen.
"Hey, Junhui, right? It's so nice to finally meet you," she says, holding out a hand. Her voice seems just as familiar as her face, and now you're sure you've seen her before. "I'm Minghao's cousin."
When Junhui takes her hand, she smiles. It's a full smile that reveals her teeth, and her eyes disappear, and—
The drink you're holding falls to the floor.
It all rushes back to you. The reason why she's so familiar is because you've seen her in the scenes of the fateful reading you did years ago. You've seen her on an amusement park ride, with one hand in the air and the other in Junhui's. On a dancefloor at a wedding—that you now assume to be Minghao's—with arms wrapped around him and later, lips against his. And then there was this very moment where their handshake was interrupted by a glass of wine hitting the floor.
This is the moment they would meet. The one that you've been running from all those years ago, the one that would start everything between them.
This is how it happens.
"Are you okay?" She comes rushing to your side without missing a beat, paper towels in her hands. "Be careful of the glass."
You're frozen on the spot, unable to feel bad about dropping the glass and unable to help clean it up. Unable to feel anything except for the one thought that flashes through your mind: you have to get out of there as fast as you can.
Everything is a blur after that. Somehow your feet get moving, slowly at first and then quickly after that, and you hear your name being called a few times as you head to the door, but you don't stop until you're outside and halfway down the steps.
Outside it's quieter and the air is cooler, and it's enough to slow down the thoughts running through your head. You end up sitting on the steps and leaning against the cold metal of the railing in the hopes that it might numb your feelings.
"Y/N? You okay?" a voice mumbles above your ear. It's familiar for a different reason this time, and you look up to see the person you least expected but wanted the most. Mingyu steps out of the house and closes the door behind him, glancing at you with an unreadable expression. You hadn't seen him inside, but he must've arrived sometime after you—too late to be your date, and too early to miss your embarrassing moment.
"Mingyu? Why are you here? I told you I wasn't going to the party."
"I hate to break it to you, but it wasn't exactly a believable lie." He gives a weak smile then sits down beside you on the steps. "I wanted to make sure you'd be okay."
"I really should've stayed home. I knew this would be a bad idea but—" You quickly turn away to get rid of the tear that slips out.
"Hey, Y/N. Talk to me. What's wrong?" Mingyu takes off his jacket and wraps it around you, and then gently moves you until you're leaning against him, buried in the crook of his shoulder. "Was she who you saw in his future?"
"Yeah, but it's—it's not just that. This was the moment that I saw in his reading. This is how they meet."
He tenses slightly. "This was in your reading? That's tough. Y/N, I don't even know what to say. I'm sorry, I should've gotten here earlier to be here with you from the start like we planned."
"It's okay, it's not your fault. But Mingyu, what have I done? I broke up with him thinking that he would leave me for her one day, so I didn't want to find out if and when they would meet." You have to swallow the sob in your throat. "I've always held onto the hope that it would be wrong. But now, I got to witness it anyway, right in front of me."
"Do you regret your decision?"
"No." You shake your head. "Well, I don't know. I'm over him but I just—I hate it so much. I hate feeling like I'm helpless and unable to do anything about fate."
A silence stretches out between the two of you with only the music from the house and the distant rumble of cars filling the night. It hasn't been long since he sat down beside you, but the warmth of his arms around you and the rising and falling of his chest are enough to slowly wipe away the worries from earlier.
"Look, I thought about what you said," Mingyu breaks the silence, pulling away to meet your eyes instead, "and I don't think it changes anything."
You immediately know what he's referring to. "How does it not?"
He takes a deep breath. "You want to know why I don't believe in fortune telling? This is exactly why. I don't like the idea that we are locked into our fates, or that certain things will or won't happen no matter what choices we make."
"What about when you really meet them one day? And inevitably fall for them?"
"I get why you would be afraid of that, Y/N, I really do. But none of that matters. When I say I want to be with you, this is my choice. It doesn't matter who it is that you saw in your reading; I want to choose you and love you on purpose. Not by accident, and not by fate."
You know he's right and Wonwoo was too. This entire time, you've been trying to run away from a fate that you can't escape, and what you saw today only proves that.
But maybe now, it's time to stop running.
"Do you really think that we can change things?"
"We can do anything we want to do." Mingyu nods firmly. Then he takes your hand, squeezing you gently. "But first, let's get out of here?"
"Yeah." You smile for the first time that night and let him lead the way.
A small diner at the corner of the street near your place is what the two of you decide on. When you enter, the first thing you notice is how much it reminds you of the "before" images of that nice restaurant. Half of the diner is dark with the overhead lights flickering once in a while in an attempt to turn on, while the other half is cast in an unpleasant fluorescent light. There are pieces of garbage on the floor that an employee sweeps up as she greets you. In short, the state of it almost makes you want to walk right out.
But instead, you order your food. You sit down at a table towards the darker half of the room as you wait.
Mingyu clears his throat. "You know," he starts, a shy smile on his face, "I can read your palm too."
"What?" That isn't remotely close to anything you might expect him to say. You give him a questioning look as you put your hand on the table, palm up. "Um, sure. Go for it."
He takes your hand and then gently runs his fingers over the lines on your palm, tracing them as he closes his eyes and pretends to envision something the way you do. Soon, your confusion fades into amusement at the effort that he's putting into this. Each of his feather-like touches causes your heart to speed up a little, and you have to try to will your palms not to start sweating because that would not be attractive at all.
"So? What do you see?"
"Shh," he whispers with his eyes firmly shut. "The spirit is still talking."
You use the chance to really glance at him. Not much has changed since the last time you'd seen him, but somehow he looks even better now—perhaps healthier or more radiant, like he's completely healed from the remnants of a broken heart plaguing him before. Maybe even happier. You wonder if what Soonyoung said about you healing broken people is true.
"I saw a lot of things," Mingyu finally says as he opens his eyes, and his lips automatically curl into a smirk when he catches you staring. "First, I saw myself in your future."
"Yeah? What were we doing?"
"We went on a picnic and ended up getting chased by bees," he chuckles. "Then we went to a bookstore but ended up making out between the shelves, but we got kicked out by a tired employee who looked like it wasn't his first time kicking people out for doing that."
You stifle a laugh. "Why does it seem like our dates are always being interrupted?"
"Hmm, there was one where we had some peace, actually. It was when we were skating, and I fell right on my butt. Then you asked if it hurt when I fell for you—well, you tried to say it as a pickup line, but you messed it up." Mingyu pauses for a second, biting his lip like he's almost hesitant. "Instead, you ended up asking me if I've fallen for you."
"And? What did you say?" Your heart speeds up tenfold.
"I said yes, Y/N. I've fallen for you. I think you already knew it by the time I said it, but you just smiled. Then you suddenly fell too, and we laughed about it."
The way he says it with all the confidence in the world tells you that maybe it's okay for you to admit it too, that there's no need to be afraid to confront your feelings like you'd always done before. Now the insecurities that had been plaguing you suddenly fade away, leaving only one thing clear in your head: there would be no more running.
You break into a smile. "Then I said I fell for you too, right?"
"Yeah, you did." It takes a moment for the initial shock on his face to disappear, and when it does, he's smiling so widely that small crinkles appear near his eyes. "And if you want, I can show you how each of these scenes are supposed to happen."
"Okay, sure. Show me."
Mingyu lets out a loud exhale. "That's a relief. For a second I thought you were going to complain about everything the way I did with your reading."
"Hey—see? I'm nicer than you are." You shoot him a glare. "Who even does that?"
"Yeah, I'll admit that wasn't the greatest impression. Maybe we can start over?"
"Well," you pretend to think about it but can't help the smile creeping onto your face. "This is kind of a shitty place for a first date."
"Maybe our first date will be that picnic I saw in my reading then. But without the bees, yeah?"
"Oh yeah, have your wounds healed? They didn't leave any scars, did they?" He lifts your hand to examine it carefully before taking your other hand as well, turning both of them over to look for the evidence of your wounds from the fall. Then he simply holds them.
And suddenly, it clicks into place. The small scars you'd seen on the hands in the vision, the dimness of the diner, and the blurred face of the lover. Everything seems to line up so perfectly that it has your head spinning for a moment with deja vu. Had it really been you in the vision?Was the lover not someone with your hairstyle, nor Mingyu's ex, but actually you yourself? And wasn't this moment at the diner—with your hands and the tiny, healing scars on them enveloped by Mingyu's—the first scene in the vision? Maybe this is how it happens. You really hope that this is how it happens.
You don't know whether you should tell him or not, but when you look up and see the small smile dancing on his lips and the sparkle in his eyes, you get the feeling that Mingyu already knows. And whether he's purposely trying to recreate the scene or whether he merely lets it occur, the gesture ignites a sort of warmth in your heart. It fuels the seed of hope that maybe, just maybe, you won't have to say goodbye one day.
It takes a couple of weeks for life to settle down after that. Between working your regular hours at the shop and then coming home to Soonyoung and Wonwoo's invasive questions, you also have to deal with the aftermath of Minghao's party. Which, surprisingly enough, is not as scary as you once might've thought.
Junhui is actually the one who reaches out to you first. He sends a text asking if you're okay after what happened, and you nearly jump at seeing the name flashing across your screen; admittedly, you never did end up deleting his contact info. And with a bit of encouragement from Mingyu, you end up not only texting back but also meeting him for a chat about everything that's happened since college.
He's grown up since you'd last seen him, but otherwise, he's still the same Junhui: quiet, smiley, and laughs easily at the things you say. Most of all, he doesn't resent you for what you did and rather understands. You're not sure if he says this because he's finally met who he's meant to be with, or whether he remembers the scenes at all, but you don't bring it up. You want to save him from going into this new relationship with any expectations, whether that be the failure or the success of it—something you only learned recently. Regardless of what happens, you hope he can be as happy with her as he was in all the scenes of his reading.
The weekend after that, the picnic date that Mingyu jokingly mentioned in his reading finally happens. Well, it's not exactly a picnic date since he switches it up at the last minute and the two of you end up going apple picking instead.
It's a beautiful day—the sun is shining brightly with no clouds to be seen—and it gives you a sense of relief when the past while has been so hectic. Mingyu picks you up at your apartment, and you rush out while ignoring your roommate's terrible advice and continuous questions about what you'd be doing and where you'd be going. Although even after you go downstairs, you're almost sure you can see Soonyoung peering from your seventh-floor balcony; knowing him, he's probably got binoculars out too to watch your every move.
"So what happened to the picnic date that you saw?"
Mingyu shrugs without missing a beat. "The reading changed, and I just went with what I saw."
"Oh, did it?" You give him a questioning look, but he only smiles back at you and doesn't give away any more information.
The drive to the orchard is slow with the busy traffic of the city around you, and you enjoy your time relaxing in your seat and listening to Mingyu talk about his week. He tells you about his new job and moving to new place and says that Seungcheol is a much better manager than his previous. And when he asks about meeting Soonyoung, you're ready to spill all the details about all of your roommate's silly antics—from avoiding baking because he didn't know to use oven mitts when taking things out of the oven, to setting an eight-hour timer every night in place of an alarm. There was also a time when Wonwoo had unknowingly poured salt into Soonyoung's coffee instead of sugar, and being the considerate boyfriend he is, Soonyoung drank it without so much as a grimace.
They are stories that have gotten old to you, yet Mingyu laughs like they're the funniest thing. The way he turns to you at each red light to simply look at you with a smile is enough to have your heart speeding up and your palms sweating. He takes you in like he's committing each moment to memory. Well, at least until the cars behind you start to honk impatiently when the light turns green.
It turns out that Mingyu does that a lot. During your time at the orchard, you could be saying something as you reach up to grab the apples, and he would just be staring at you as he listens intently.
A nonchalant shrug. "Just appreciating the view."
"So tell me," you say, glancing at him up and down, "what's supposed to happen here? What did you see?"
"Hmm, we picked two bushels of apples."
"Yeah," he confirms enthusiastically. "And they got quite heavy to carry."
"Were you expecting something more? Hmm?" A small smirk rests on his lips when he leans in a little closer. He's so close that you have your lips parted and eyes nearly shut, anticipating the feel of his soft lips on yours. But instead, he pulls back with an apple in his hand. "Found a good one right behind your head over there."
You roll your eyes, turning to leave so he doesn't see the embarrassment on your cheeks.
"Hey, I'm kidding. But if you want me to kiss me, you should just say so." He stops you from leaving, and this time he traps you in place with hands on the branches on either side of you. "I'm all yours, Y/N."
Then he finally closes the distance. You expect it to be like the last time, for hands to wander and for lips to consume you, but this time his lips are barely there. It's almost achingly slow the way he kisses you so tenderly, lighter than you thought possible, like a gentle breath against yours with the taste of apples lingering between you. His hands reach up to caress your jaw as if any more pressure would break this fragile moment, and then your senses are overwhelmed by sweetness. The sweetness of apples, the sweetness of Mingyu's lips and the warmth of his mouth, and the sweetness of the sun against your skin and breeze in your hair and voices floating over from a world away.
When you pull apart and open your eyes again, something about this suddenly triggers a memory. You thought the second scene of Mingyu's reading would take place at the market because the faint taste of apples in it reminded you of the cider at the market. But maybe the answer isn't the market at all, and rather an orchard. And maybe it is this particular moment.
Your heart races a little faster at the thought that it really could be it. You really could be Mingyu's lover from the visions.
"Oh, watch out." He steps aside, pulling you with him to avoid a bee flying by.
"Hey—I thought you said no bees?"
That gets you a laugh as Mingyu takes your hand and tugs you along. "Maybe it's good that it interrupted us."
And you simply smile, brushing off your thoughts and letting yourself enjoy the moment.
"I know you said he's hot, but I didn't expect him to actually," Soonyoung gestures, "be hot."
You turn away from the rink to shoot him a glare. "I am offended."
Initially, you thought Mingyu's idea for turning your skating date into a double date would go terribly. How were you supposed to let him meet the two friends who thought he was a creep? Especially Soonyoung—you were sure he'd make some crude comments that might entirely sabotage your budding relationship. But to your surprise, a charming smile and an offer to help lace up their skates is all it took for Mingyu to have them wrapped around his finger.
Pretty privilege, that's exactly what it is.
"Hey! I wasn't sure if you were serious or if you only found him hot because he gave you attention—" The rest of Soonyoung's words get cut off as he goes to dodge your punch. "Anyway, you're treating him well, right? Are you nicer to him than you are to me? Don't hurt him, okay? Don't break his heart."
"I can't believe you," you snort. "Whose side are you on?"
"I'm saying all of this for your sake, Y/N. We can't have you moping around like you did for the past few weeks."
You turn back to the ice and pretend you didn't hear him at all. Should you be laughing or crying in this situation? While you're glad your friends are getting along with Mingyu, it's all too ironic how a pretty face is all it takes for Soonyoung to go back on his words about not being so nice to hot people.
After Mingyu and Wonwoo finish up their laps around the rink, Mingyu comes back to drag you with him this time. You go, albeit reluctantly. The feeling of falling at the park was still too fresh in your mind, and so you skate with one hand in his while the other is grasping at anything to avoid a hard collision with the ice.
"You're not going to fall." Mingyu raises an eyebrow at you, eyes brimming with amusement. "I was only joking about that."
You glance at him warily. "You said that you would."
"Maybe, but only for you."
He smiles, and despite the anxiety that courses through your veins, you find yourself smiling too. Every step you take with Mingyu squeezing your hand reassuringly, you're able to relax like you're basking in the warmth that radiates off of his happiness, and slowly but steadily, the two of you make it safely around the rink without falling.
By the time you stop to take a break, Soonyoung and Wonwoo are nowhere to be seen. You scan the rink, trying to find the familiar faces amongst the larger afternoon crowd now, but your search is unsuccessful. What you find instead, strangely enough, is that people are suddenly gathering around on the opposite side. The rink seems to quiet down with a silence now lingering in the air as if everyone is waiting with bated breath, and in your curiosity, you pull Mingyu over with you to join the crowd.
And that's when you see it: Wonwoo on one knee, Soonyoung covering his mouth in shock, and a ring resting in the box in Wonwoo's hands. The same thin, silver ring that you've familiarized yourself with from seeing it in Soonyoung's future. This must be the exactmoment you saw.
Soonyoung smiles brightly when he gives his answer that you're a little too far to hear, though you don't doubt it's a good one judging by the looks on their faces. The crowd erupts into applause and then Wonwoo is tackled to the ice by Soonyoung enveloping him, and two of them are lost in their own world, too busy to notice anything or anyone else.
"And this is how they fall for each other," Mingyu murmurs into your ear. "Guess my reading was wrong—it wasn't us. It's them."
Once the crowd dissipates, the two of you wait for the newly engaged couple by the bench. Soonyoung flashes the ring on his finger before heading to the snack bar, and while later, Wonwoo joins you with an endearing grin on his face.
"Wow, congrats!" You pull him into a hug as soon as he steps off the ice. "But why didn't you tell us? We could've helped you prepare for it, or we could've taken pictures or something."
"That was..." He lets out a loud exhale. "It wasn't supposed to happen like this. I was going to do it over dinner—I had one of those private rooms booked out at the restaurant and all. But the ring fell out of my pocket when I fell on the ice, and well. It landed right in front of him. So," he gives a wry smile, "I didn't really have a choice."
Mingyu pats him on the back reassuringly. "Hey, it's about the simple things. Love doesn't always have to be romantic."
You remember him saying these exact words from your first date at the restaurant but hearing them again now makes you wonder if you had it wrong this entire time. Maybe you've been focusing so much on making your reenactments romantic to match the scenes in the visions that you never realized the scenes are meant to happen anywhere. They're meant to happen in between the normalness of everyday life. They're simple acts of love, just as Mingyu always says.
Later when the four of you are sufficiently warmed up with hot drinks and laughter is in the air, you think you have it figured out. Each of these moments can easily be something that you witness in a reading, but maybe the point isn't to go out searching for them or to run away from them. Maybe it's to make choices that will create a future that you want—on purpose, and not by fate.
"What do you think, Y/N?" Mingyu pulls you out of your thoughts, gently wrapping an arm around your waist.
"You can come over tonight," he suggests. "Since Soonyoung will be out all night anyway."
"Wait, are you sure? I don't want to intrude or—"
"Yeah, it's fine. Besides, you haven't seen my new place yet."
Your heart gives a loud thud at the thought of being alone with him again, all too reminded of what happened the last time. But you swallow the nerves away, put on a smile, and agree.
The two of you leave the couple to go to their fancy dinner as fiancés, and afterwards, you find your hand in Mingyu's as you head back to his place.
Right when you step into his apartment, you get the strangest thought that you're relievedto see nothing is set up. There are no fancy candles lining the room this time, no vase of beautiful flowers on the table, and no strings of sparkling lights hanging from above. Mingyu's place looks entirely normal, albeit slightly messier than before since it's clear he hasn't fully unpacked yet.
"Don't judge," he says, quickly going to collect the few pieces of clothing left in the living room while avoiding your gaze. "I just moved in recently."
It's a smaller space than his previous apartment, but much nicer—newer looking and without any cracks at the seams like there were in his previous. As if this were a fresh start for a fully healed heart, one that was ready to love again.
Mingyu cooks a nice dinner and as you try to help out in the kitchen, you start to think that you could really get used to this. Watching him add all the different ingredients and seeing the gears turn in his head, and then when you're seated at the table, feeling the smile lingering on your mouth until the last bite of the first proper meal you've had in a while. You think that maybe this is it.
And a while later, you're settled on the couch to watch a movie though it quickly fades into the background when the warmth of his body is pressed against yours. His lips are soft, mouth sweet from the wine, and all around you is the faint smell of oranges from his bodywash and a hint of citrusy detergent from his clothes clinging to your skin.
It has to be past midnight when the movie comes to an end, with the credits slowly fading out. Mingyu gets up to refill your glass of water and you follow him into the kitchen grab a snack when suddenly a blast of music comes from the other side of the wall. It's noticeably loud at first but is soon turned down into a quiet melody in the background.
Mingyu frowns, pausing to listen to the song. "These walls sure are thin, huh. It's generally been pretty quiet around here until now."
"You could probably Shazam their entire playlist like this," you joke. Or, well, maybe it's not so much of a joke when you feel like looking it up yourself because there is something familiar about the song. You can't quite place it, but it's so familiar that it almost bothers you like an itch you can't scratch.
The corner of his lip twitches. "It's okay, maybe they also have something to celebrate."
You're still thinking about why the song sounds so familiar when Mingyu gently takes your hands and guides them to the back of his neck, and then wraps his arms around your waist to pull you in. And when you look up, everything clicks. The familiar walls and familiar music, the snacks on the counter, the light scent of oranges from the bodywash, and even the clothes that you're wearing—Mingyu's clothes. This is the final scene you saw in your vision. This is how dancing in the kitchen at midnight is supposed to turn out.
"You're not going to step on my toes again, are you?" Mingyu's eyes twinkle with amusement as he slowly starts to move with the music, dragging you with him.
The two of you step and you sway, and it's not quite to the beat of the song. You do end up stepping on him, your knees bump a few times and your foreheads nearly do too. It's every bit as awkward as the first time you did this, and even more so without the blanket of darkness or the pretense of romance.
And yet, you hear the endless bubbles of laughter coming out of your mouth. You see the sparkles in Mingyu's eyes, the bright smiles like he can't contain his happiness. You feel it in the way you dance together at a rhythm that belongs to no one else but the two of you.
You know it when he leans in, breath but a whisper at your ear as he says, "Thank you for making me believe in love again."
Now you don't have to look into his future to know that all the scenes you'd seen were about you. Now you can picture it—Mingyu looking up from your laced hands on the table and seeing your smile, face no longer out of focus. Pulling away from your kiss in the orchard has you seeing your own gaze, surprised but content. And then there is this very moment when you see yourself in Mingyu's eyes and you just know.
This is how you fall in love.