// He was God. He wrote with such beautiful, spindling words, they lured anyone to their own death if it was deemed. And every letter of every book he ever wrote were those of Spring - beautiful, and clean, and pure, and fresh. But he was cold like ice, and his eyes were harsh with all the ugly words he could never write. And she - well, she was his Ending.
As it had turned out, Y/N actually kept her end of the deal. She came back to the coffee shop every day - albeit very, very late; sometimes at midnight - but she’d come to sit in front of Jihoon, and enjoy the food he cooked for her. He quietly listened as she talked, and every night Jihoon went back home, he had two or three new pages to add to his book.
Of course, he hadn’t told her what he was writing - he hadn’t even told her he’d written before - but, then again, she never asked. Or, rather, she did, but chose not to again. Jihoon still thought back to that first day he had lashed out on her. He’d constantly told himself that the past was the past, but, as an author, Jihoon knew better.
Today, he made bibimbap, a small dish of rice mixed with vegetables. It was simple, and Jihoon was thankful he could finally cook something easy for her. He’d actually taken to making dishes and meals from South Korea - in a way, it was the only sign of affection he showed, and no matter how many times Jihoon had cooked for Y/N, he still couldn’t get over the pounding in his chest, and lump in his throat when he’d nervously hand the tupperware over.
But, of course, Jihoon never admitted to himself that he liked Y/N. Because he didn’t. It was a fact, dammit.
Tonight, Jihoon felt in no mood to write, surprisingly. Even with the bubbling excitement in the pit of his stomach at the thought of seeing Y/N again, he didn’t feel any actual words on his fingertips. And, for once, he was okay with that.
Because sometimes, Jihoon couldn’t write. And it wasn’t necessarily the same feeling when sentences couldn’t form themselves on his tongue and he was breathing heavily with anger and anxiety. But it was more like the sentences were there. Somewhere deep in his head, floating - waiting - to be formed. Except, just not quite yet.
“More coffee?” Jihoon looked up from where he’d been twirling his pen in his hands, and found Jeonghan standing there, hair brushed back neatly, and apron around his waist. Jihoon could already see his fingers twitching forward to grab his mug.
“Where’s Chan?” He asked instead, ignoring the offer, and Jeonghan scoffed, pulling back with a smirk. He crossed his arms over his chest.
“Really? First Y/N, and now Chan? Are you ever going to let me serve you, Lee?” Jihoon said nothing, quiet as he sat back in his seat. Finally, Jeonghan rolled his eyes, puffing out a breath as he blew a strand of hair away from his face. “I let him leave early. He looked a little sick. Now, do you want more coffee, or not?” Jihoon raised an eyebrow at him, and, slowly, pushed the mug forward. With a grin, Jeonghan took it, and skipped away.
He huffed. It wasn’t necessarily that Jihoon didn’t trust Jeonghan, he just… well, he just didn’t trust him. He’d seen the way he teased Seungcheol, the manager, before trotting off to flirt with Jisoo. Not to mention he was also a little friendly with the customers. But then again, it was none of Jihoon’s business. As long as that angel-faced boy didn’t drag him into it, Jihoon was fine with whatever the devil in disguise actually did.
“What’s on the menu tonight, chef?” Jihoon suddenly startled back to reality when he heard that familiar voice he’d actually grown to find not so obnoxious. He softly smiled at Y/N as she situated herself in her seat in front of him. Reaching into his bag, he pulled out the tupperware, and shyly handed it to her over the table.
“Bibimbap. It’s rice, and vegetables. Very simple.” She laughed, pulling utensils out of her own bag, and Jihoon couldn’t help but smile at the thought of Y/N rushing out the door, grabbing a fork and spoon before she rushed off to her classes, most probably already late.
“It’ll taste good, I’m sure.” She complimented, already opening the tupperware. “You never fail to disappoint, Jihoon.” He breathed a laugh to himself, settling back in his seat as he dug his hands deep in his pockets. He was just cold. Definitely not shy at all.
“I see your girlfriend’s come back to visit you.” Jeonghan announced as he approached their booth. “Again.” He murmured under his breath as he placed the mug of coffee on the table. Jihoon blushed.
“She’s not my girlfriend!” He quickly defended, and when he looked to her for help, Y/N simply blushed, going back to eating her dish. Jeonghan laughed to himself, pushing his hair behind his ear.
“Of course not.” He mumbled with a smile. “But it sure looks like it. Piece of advice, Lee: Catch her before it’s too late.” Jihoon blushed harder, cursing under his breath, and Jeonghan just laughed again, politely smiling at Y/N before he walked off - probably to read a magazine or call his boyfriend, Seungcheol, behind the counter again.
There was a silence between the both of them for a long moment, and while Jihoon thought it was the most awkward atmosphere he’d ever experienced, Y/N didn’t seem to think so as she continued to eat her bibimbap. Jihoon cleared his throat.
“How were your lessons?” This had become a routine now. Because, over the course of three days that Y/N had kept coming back, Jihoon had taken it upon himself to ask about her lessons. She’d talk about them, release any stress or anger she felt, and would go back to eating. And as Jihoon smiled at her while she wasn’t looking, he’d go back to writing, a comfortable silence between the both of them.
But today was different.
Because today, Jihoon didn’t want to write. Today, he wanted to talk to her. He wanted to talk her, and get to know her better. He wanted to know his muse.
“It was okay.” Y/N replied. That was always her first statement after he’d ask everyday. After that came the humming. And, of course, she hummed. “I entered another contest since I didn’t win my last one.” Jihoon remembered that. The second day Y/N came back, she seemed quieter - sadder - and he knew something was wrong. “The preliminary round is in six days. I think I want to play Muzio Clementi’s Sonatina Op. 36, No.1 Andante.” Jihoon laughed.
“You know I have no idea what that is, right?” She shyly smiled, taking another mouthful of the rice as she seemed to think for a second.
“To me, the song feels like sneaking around. You know, the quiet nervousness of going around other people’s backs, and the unsteady pumping of your heart when you think you’re going to get caught.” She paused. “I think I can relate to that, somehow.” Jihoon raised an eyebrow, leaning forward as he rested his chin in the palm on his hand, his elbow on the table.
“Oh, really?” He mused, smiling to himself. “And, how so?” She seemed to grin almost shyly, ducking her head as she brushed her hair behind her ear.
“You know… going behind my roommates’ backs to come see you. I’ve been telling them that I’m practicing later than usual at the school now for days.” Jihoon chuckled, almost content at her answer as she blushed, now picking at her food.
“So, then, I’m your little secret?” Y/N suddenly perked up, sitting straight with wide eyes as she shook her head, face red.
“N-No!” She stuttered. “That’s-that’s not what I meant…” Jihoon laughed, leaning back in his seat as he shook his head, running his hand over his face.
“I was kidding!” She huffed, taking another spoonful of the rice. After thoroughly chewing and swallowing, she raised an eyebrow, leaning forward.
“What about you, huh? Where are your papers? And your writing?” And now it was Jihoon who blushed, shyly looking at the table as he shook his head.
“I… didn’t really feel up to it. Words aren’t coming as easy today as they usually do.” Lies. He scolded himself in his head. He knew perfectly well that words were starting to clear themselves up now that Y/N was here, but he didn’t want to write. He didn’t want to do anything at all except talk to her. She laughed, shaking her head.
“What are you writing anyway?” She looked up to meet Jihoon’s eyes, and his breath hitched in his throat. “Or, are you going to yell at me like you did the first time I asked you?” His cheeks were burning incredibly hot, and Jihoon shamefully looked away from her face, scratching the back of his neck.
“Hey,” He began quietly. “I… I’m sorry about that. It was totally uncalled for, and I was being a jerk. I can be sometimes without realizing it.” She chuckled to herself, staring at her food as she picked at it.
“Yeah, you’re telling me.” She murmured quietly, and, for a moment, Jihoon saw the disappointment in her. He saw her dwindling thoughts, her negative opinions on his life, and Jihoon hated it. He hated it with everything he had inside him. The last thing he wanted was for Y/N to be disappointed in him. Never, in his entire life, had he ever felt a need as big as the one right now to not disappoint her.
Shyly, Jihoon reached across the table. And he took Y/N’s hand which had previously been resting on the surface of it. Her skin was cold, and her fingers worn - probably from all the piano lessons she had. And even though Jihoon was positive his entire face and neck was pink from blushing, he didn’t want to let go. He ran his thumb over her knuckles, and Y/N looked at him, a blush spreading across her own cheeks.
“If I tell you something, will you promise to keep it a secret?” He asked. And even though there was no one in the shop except Jeonghan and the two of them, he felt the need to whisper. This was something he’d never told anyone. He’d never even told his own family. She was quiet for a second, the only sound coming from Jeonghan who was laughing on the phone, talking to someone. Seungcheol, no doubt.
“Okay.” She replied, just as quiet, and Jihoon was thankful. Because, for some reason, that hushed whisper that came from her lips meant so much to him. They were both leaning closer, only a few inches between the both of them, and Jihoon could smell the scent of bibimbap, mint gum, and floral perfume on her. And he loved it.
“Have you… Have you ever read the book Winter’s Frostbite?” She grinned, nodding as she snorted. There seemed to be an almost baffled expression on her face.
“Yeah, of course.” Her voice was no longer hushed, and she leaned back in her seat - something Jihoon found almost heartbreaking. “Who hasn’t read that book? It’s basically been the rave for the past four months.” Jihoon licked his lips, and he took a deep breath. Was he really okay with telling Y/N the only secret he’d never told anyone else?
Of course he was.
Because he looked at Y/N, and suddenly all the words came rushing back - new and old. Because she was always there for him with a smile and a cup of coffee. Because no matter how many times he’d yelled at her and been rude, she’d always come back. Because she was Y/N. And that was something completely and utterly better than anything else.
“I wrote it.” The words were less than a whisper, but she’d heard all the same. Y/N dropped her utensil, eyes wide as he mouth fell open in a small O shape.
“You… wrote Winter’s Frostbite?” He pressed his lips together, hands in his lap as he nodded. And Y/N was silent for a long time - almost an eternity, it seemed - until she’d spoken again. “Are you lying to me?” Jihoon immediately looked up to meet her eyes. “Please tell me you’re not. Because that would be the cruelest thing you’ve done yet, Jihoon. I… I believe you. And I trust you. So just tell me you’re not lying to me, because that book saved my life.” Jihoon ran his tongue over his bottom lip, and he looked at Y/N for a long time. Her eyes were sad - pleading.
“I’m not lying to you.” She let out a shaky breath, and Jihoon was suddenly curious as to why it meant so much to her. She said the book had saved her life, but it couldn’t possibly be that drastic, could it? He decided to save the question for another time. “I’m writing another book.” He announced. “With all the attention Winter’s Frostbite got, I feel like I’m somehow obligated to write something else. But… but the words won’t come to me anymore. I don’t know sentences from paragraphs, and every time I write, I feel like the words are choking me - suffocating me. It’s like everyone wants me to write, but I just don’t know how.”
“Can’t you just pick up a pen, and write? I mean, it’s not that hard, is it? It’s just some words…” Jihoon sighed, shaking his head as he ran his hand over his face. He slumped in his seat.
“But it’s not just words. It’s not just picking letters and putting them together. It’s finding the right letters and words. It’s finding meaning and definition behind each sentence. It’s finding the beauty behind it all. Writing… is not easy. You have to find the right words to make the reader feel something. Because that’s what’s most important. Feeling something behind the printed letters. And it sucks, because I just can’t feel anything. I can’t feel the words on my fingers, and I can’t feel them on the paper either. I can’t feel the anger, and the pain, and the joy. I can’t feel anything.” He paused. “And… that’s why you’re my muse. Because I can suddenly feel things around you. It’s like all the letters come rushing back like a tidal wave, and I can suddenly see the words and feel them for myself.” He huffed, pushing his hair back. “It’s… It’s not just words.”