Pairing: Xero x Hansol
Warnings: Mentions of abuse, angst and comfort
Summary: When Jiho assigned to teach Hansol, he didn’t think he would learn as well. And he surely never imagined that a simple act like that could change his life that much.
Word Count: ~3,200 words
Notes: I started writing this a simply love story, but then it got deeper than I thought it would. I know how hard gay acceptance is, and I surely didn’t manage to write as much as I wanted, to express myself as I wanted, but I tried.
At first, Jiho could feel that something was wrong. Maybe it was the way he used to flinch whenever he touched his shoulder in a friendly way, or maybe it was the way he would always lower his gaze, as if he didn’t want Jiho to see that he was looking at him. Perhaps it was the dark bruises that sometimes adorned his white porcelain skin.
As an older student, Jiho had been designated to help Hansol in his studies, since his grades weren’t good. It was an odd thing, Jiho thought as he looked over Hansol’s notebook, because he seemed to try really hard to understand the topics his teacher would teach him. His calligraphy was delicate and pretty, and even though he didn’t seem to pay attention to the classes, he used to do all the homeworks. Hansol’s teacher truly believed the boy was a good student, that was the only reason why he asked Jiho to help him.
In the first weeks, they wouldn’t exchange more than a few words, and everything they talked was about Hansol’s doubts. But then, after Jiho’s cell phone rang and Hansol noticed it was his favorite song playing, they started to share shy, innocent conversations. The whispered tone soon became excited voices who would often laugh and talk about their favorite artists, until the day the librarian told them they were too loud and they should go study somewhere else.
It was Hansol who said that it was safer to study in his own room, and Jiho couldn’t understand why, but he assumed it was because he didn’t like the school. In fact, Hansol avoided to be seen with Jiho, and even when they crossed their paths in the corridors, he would only politely nod with his head, barely looking at him.
Truth be told, Jiho didn’t mind going to Hansol’s house. He lived only with his mother, and she worked full day so he could be alone with Hansol during all the afternoon. They would study for a few hours and then they would see dance videos for the remaining time. Jiho could see how the shy, quiet Hansol had become a very talkative boy, whose laughter was quite loud and funny.
However, even after Jiho had been helping him for almost a year, Hansol still wouldn’t talk to him whilst being in school. One day, Jiho asked him the reason why he did that, and he simply said that Jiho’s friends wouldn’t like seeing him talking to the younger boys in their school. But Jiho couldn’t accept that explanation because it didn’t make sense, since Jiho practically didn’t have friends at school, he was always too busy with the projects and tutoring the students that needed help.
That’s why Jiho decided to ask Hansol’s teacher his locker number, so he could forcefully talk to Hansol at school and make him realize that there was no problem with them being friends in another place besides his home. Since Hansol’s grades had increased a bit because of Jiho, the teacher had no problem in sharing with him the information, and in their break Jiho decided to go there. Hansol’s locker was on the 4th floor, as it was usual for the younger students, what explained why JIho barely saw him in the corridors.
Maybe Jiho was too innocent, or maybe he just didn’t want to believe in what he was seeing, but the first thing he thought when he saw Hansol surrounded by boys was that they were his friends. He didn’t even notice the way Hansol was looking at the floor, as he was leaning on the locker and keeping his head down.
“Hansol!” Jiho said, making him raise his eyes, and the boys gazed at him as well. “I asked your teac–”
“Is that your friend, Hansol? I thought you didn’t have any friend.” One of them spoke, analyzing Jiho and smirking. Jiho, of course, had no idea of what was happening, neither why Hansol wouldn’t talk anything.
“Not exactly, I am–”
“Wow” The boy spoke again, laughing. “Seems like little Hansol got himself a new boyfriend.” He mocked, and then motioned to the boys for them to go away. Before he left, he cast Hansol a warning look, making him not forget who he was. Hansol let his back slide down the wall, sitting on the floor and staring at his knees. Jiho knelt in front of him, glancing at him.
“Hansol, are you okay? Who were those boys?” Jiho asked carefully, seeing how he still avoided looking at his eyes, and when he did, he got up, throwing his backpack on his shoulders.
“Don’t talk to me in school.” Hansol answered in a cold voice, before starting to walk. “See you at home.” He muttered, because he wouldn’t lose Jiho. Not Jiho, his own friend, the only person that cared about him and liked him.
Jiho had thought they would be acting awkwardly during that afternoon, but Hansol was visibly doing his best to not let what happened before affect their relationship. They even danced a little, and when Hansol’s shirt lifted a little when he jumped, Jiho saw a few dark bruises adorning his abdomen. Instantly he moved his eyes away, knowing how hard Hansol was trying to not let his private life disturb these moments, and he decided not to ask about it.
Being the innocent person Jiho was, he honestly thought Hansol had hurt himself during a dancing practice or something like that. He tried to feed that speculation, so he wouldn’t worry over nothing. And it was working, until the day he had to go to the 4th’s floor to see one of his students, and it happened that he had to pass by Hansol’s locker. He wasn’t looking for his friend, and he wouldn’t even notice he was close to his locker, but there was no way he wouldn’t see that word written in spray, so big that it was impossible to go unnoticed.
Everything made sense in that same second and Jiho felt as if his head was spinning. Hansol hadn’t fallen and hurt himself. No, someone had made those marks on his body, someone had made him cry, someone had made him become the scared and quiet little thing he used to be. Thinking about the time when he met Hansol and the boys said something about him being his boyfriend, Jiho finally understood. Hansol didn’t want to be seen with Jiho in school because people would think they were in a relationship and that was enough for him to be harassed.
And all JIho could think right now was, how he didn’t notice it before? He was really that stupid for not see the way Hansol flinched at every touch, the way he was really reserved and silent, the way he avoided looking at people’s eyes? Being bullied was probably the reason why he didn’t take good grades, even when he was a good student, and Jiho couldn’t help but feel guilty.
But now he could sense that something was wrong, because the paint on his locker was fresh, and the class had just ended, and he knew that Hansol would be vulnerable. It pained him the fact that he didn’t know where Hansol was, and if he was alright, but he assumed he should be outside the college, so the teachers wouldn’t be able to see it happening. Jiho climbed down the stairs, practically running, the student he had to meet was long forgotten and the only thing that mattered was Hansol, the boy with a gentle smile and a kind heart, who didn’t deserve to suffer and feel afraid. Hansol, the boy who liked to dance and who had laughed in a funny way, who was really sensitive and cute, the one who had silently conquered Jiho’s heart and mind.
When he finally exited the school, running to the yard where the boys would usually fight, he realized how he wished that was just a bad dream. The boys were around him, and Jiho saw when one of them kicked Hansol’s body when he tried to move away. They were really careful not to leave a mark because they knew how strict the school was when the topic was bullying, and they avoided Hansol’s face. For all his life, Jiho was also a quiet person, and he would never get into fights, but he couldn’t just keep standing whilst watching Hansol getting hurt.
“Yah!” Jiho screamed, moving closer and seeing how all of them raised their look, even Hansol who was laying on the floor. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“You’re Hansol’s boyfriend, aren’t you?” It was the boy’s answer, the same boy who had talked to him in that other occasion. Jiho opened his mouth to answer, and he was ready to say he was only his friend, but then a thought occurred to him.
“I am.” He said, making the boy arch his eyebrow. “Does that concerns you?” Jiho added, getting closer and closer to them, looking at the boy’s eyes. “All of you, does it make any difference if Hansol kisses me or a girl?”
Jiho knew he had an advantage because the last year’s students wore a different uniform, and all the younger students knew that they had to respect the elders. And Jiho was a tutor, what meant that he had a good relationship with the teachers.
“I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make any difference, mmm?” He continued speaking, glancing at them. “Unless you want to be expelled from school, of course, otherwise I would bother with teachers knowing what’s going on.”
Actually, Jiho didn’t know if that was going to work. Some teachers used to talk about the boys who paid no mind about being expelled, but Jiho could see by their clothes, the way their hair was carefully brushed, the way their backpack was new and expensive, that they cared about school. Even if they didn’t, their mothers did, and that was enough to make them fear being expelled. And just by the fact that they were too quiet, as if they were carefully analyzing whether they should be afraid of Jiho’s actions, made Jiho conclude that yeah, they did care about school.
“I don’t want to see any of you around my boyfriend, is that clear?” Jiho growled, trying to sound threatening, and he was really glad that worked because he saw them nodding with their head. “And if I were you, I would clean Hansol’s locker, otherwise teachers would get suspicious.”
“Yes, sunbae.” He said, lowering his head, and that actually made Jiho laugh.
“You think you’re pretty cool, harassing the students like that. But if you ever get close to Hansol or try to hurt any of the students, I won’t think twice before telling the teachers. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sunbae” The boy said again, and Jiho motion for them to leave. As soon as they left, he breathed out, because he was actually a bit scared it wouldn’t work. He knelt on the floor, pulling Hansol closer and seeing how he clinged to him almost immediately. He also noticed how he was breathing fast and that his clothes were a bit dirty.
“Take me home” Hansol whispered, still trembling a bit. Jiho could see how afraid he was, and he felt really bad for not discovering it before. “Jiho.” He cried out, in a weak, broken voice, and it pained him so much to see him like that.
“Shhh it’s okay now. I’ve got you.”
It was pretty obvious that Hansol was embarrassed when they get to his home, when Jiho made sure to take care of his bruises, and to keep him warm and make him feel safe. He knew they needed to talk about it, even though he didn’t want to, and Hansol was sitting on his bed, hugging his knees and barely looking at Jiho.
“Thank you for helping me.” Hansol finally said, his voice was nothing but a whisper. “I know I’m being egoist, and people will know start talking about you being gay because you said you were my boyfriend, but… I’m really thankful.”
“I don’t care about what people might say, Hansol. What they did to you wasn’t right. You didn’t deserve that.” He answered, and when he saw how quiet Hansol became, he knew there was something on his mind. “How long it’s been?”
“Since when I first got here.” Hansol muttered, avoiding his eyes. “I’ve always been so quiet around people and they started talking about the way I dressed, about the way I dance, the way I talk, and they labeled me as a faggot.”
“Hansol, look at me.” Jiho spoke, and he could see that Hansol had tears in his eyes when he rose his gaze. “It wasn’t your fault, okay?”
“It was. If I wasn’t like this, if I liked girls, if–”
It just hurt so much, to hear him speaking like that. Jiho knew that Hansol must be hearing that during all his life, and he hated to see it.
Hansol was a reflect of what Jiho had been once.
“I remember when they sprayed graffiti on my locker, like yours.” Jiho suddenly spoke, making him look at him in confusion. “I remember being afraid all the time, and trying to hide who I was. I remember when my teacher noticed how I had changed and he discovered what was going on, and I was finally free. I decided to teach boys because I wanted to help them, Hansol. So they wouldn’t become what I was once.”
“You… you like… boys?” Hansol mumbled, and it was cute how he was shocked by that. Jiho laughed softly, brushing the hair from his face.
“Yeah, I do. And it isn’t wrong, okay?” He said, seeing how Hansol couldn’t hold his tears back, and he pulled him into a hug, allowing him to sob on his chest. Jiho rubbed his back soothingly, holding him tight. “Shhh I know, I know. I’ve got you.”
“It hurts” He sobbed, pulling Jiho’s jacket and crying hard. “I… I didn’t ask to be born like this…”
“I know.” Jiho whispered, sighing. “You are so young… It gets better with time, I promise.”
Jiho knew that their lives were distinct from straight people, and it was harder, but he also knew that it would get better if they accepted themselves. He knew very well the doubts Hansol had, the feelings he was fighting with, the pain he had been through. It was really unfair that it had to be that way, that they needed to be treated different and judged just because of who they liked. The world was cruel, but they needed to learn how to live without being drowned by the people’s comments.
After a long time, Hansol seemed to calm down, and he pulled away; his eyes were puffy from crying and the tears were still fresh on his cheeks. Nevertheless, he looked a little better, as if he had taken a weight off his shoulders. Jiho smiled, wiping the tears and caressing his face.
“You don’t have to be so alone, Hansol. You can share the burden with me.” He said, smiling. “If you want to, of course. I really like you.” He added, a faint blush was adorning his cheeks and he could see Hansol was just like him.
“I… I like you too.” Hansol muttered in answer, and he finally looked at Jiho’s eyes. He could feel as if he truly understood him, and he did realize how much he liked him. He was the first person who cared about him (besides his mother), who was nice with him, who helped him in school and who talked to him for hours. Even if Jiho was a few years older than him (four years, to be precise), Hansol really liked him. He knew by the way his heart fluttered when Jiho claimed himself as his boyfriend, that something would change.
And Jiho couldn’t help but smile softly as he held Hansol’s little hands, caressing his slender fingers and leaning on him, gently pressing his lips to his, feeling the taste of strawberry in his mouth. They shared a curious, innocent kiss, simply exploring each other’s lips, and Hansol squeezed Jiho’s hand as he deepened the kiss. When they broke the kiss, Hansol was blushing and really embarrassed. However, Jiho laughed low, trying to soften the atmosphere.
“It was… my first kiss.” Hansol whispered, making Jiho smile. “I’m glad it was with you.”
“I’m glad too, Hansol. I’m glad I got to meet you.”
Hansol had this thing with pouting and looking at Jiho with big puppy eyes, every time he didn’t want to do something. Sometimes it worked, but this time he wouldn’t manage to get rid of what he had to do.
“Baby, it’s going to be okay.” Jiho said, kissing his face. Hansol’s mother nodded, tying Hansol’s tie.
“But Jiho won’t be there! I don’t want to go.” He whined, making both of them laugh.
“You don’t have to be afraid, Hansollie. Bjoo will be there with you, remember?” His mom spoke, and at least Hansol smirked a little after that. He had made some friends on school and even though there were some people who would make comments about him and Jiho, most of them were really kind to him. Jiho had just graduated from school and Hansol was in the second year, but this time he wasn’t alone, not anymore.
“And if anything happens, I’ll go there and kick some asses to save my pretty babe” Jiho added, and Hansol laughed.
“Alright, alright. Are you going to study with me today Jiho?”
“Of course I will! I’m your tutor after all” Jiho spoke, holding Hansol’s hand.
It had been one year since everything happened, and Jiho can surely see the difference. The shy, reserved boy was still there, and sometimes he appeared, sometimes Hansol still shed some tears and curls in fear, but most of the time he’s just Hansol, the person JIho has fallen in love.
And after they both accepted themselves, accepted that there was nothing wrong with being who they were, with whom they loved, they did change. The guilt that used to disturb their sleep, the fear and doubts that would always disrupt their thoughts, they were all buried deep inside now. Of course it still hurt, it still pained them the fact that they couldn’t be themselves like everyone was, that they couldn’t behave in public like a straight couple would, but it didn’t really matter, not when they could assume to each other that they were like this, and that there was nothing wrong with it.
When Jiho assigned to teach Hansol, he didn’t think he would learn as well. And he surely never imagined that a simple act like that could change his life so much,
They were who they were, and there was really nothing, nothing, wrong with it.
And they were so, so happy with it. That’s what mattered, right?
The smile on their lips only confirmed that.