It takes a few accidents -- unintentional jostling more than anything, nothing permanent -- for Minseok to learn to treat the frayed backpack more gently than his previous ones. He even goes so far as to hold the bag in his lap whenever possible rather than risk setting it on the ground and surrendering it to the mercy of stray feet and unnoticed puddles. It's not always a feasible solution: this time around involved a two hour long round trip to Incheon and back, the three books he bought there on the history of architecture weighing down so heavily on his legs that they'd gone numb after the first twenty minutes. But Junmyeon is always grateful by the time they make it home, no worse for wear.
"Thanks," Junmyeon tells him as they sit in Minseok's room, nibbling delicately on the chips they managed to scavenge from the kitchen cupboards. He's barely a centimeter or two taller than Minseok, but the way he slouches on the floor with his skinny legs drawn up to his chest makes him look so much smaller, as compact as the grey backpack he's sitting next to protectively.
Minseok reaches past him, swiping a chip for himself as he flips the page of his book with his other hand. "It was nothing," he answers, pausing for a moment before adding, "and I told you before, call me hyung."
He doesn't have to turn his head to know Junmyeon is rolling his eyes, lips puckered into a pout. Before Junmyeon can say anything, Minseok makes sure to clarify himself. "That wasn't a wish, by the way. Doesn't count."
"Then it doesn't happen," Junmyeon replies, wiping his hands off on the pair of jeans hanging loosely off his hips. He crawls onto Minseok's bed and slumps facedown onto Minseok's favorite comforter, completely ignoring the way Minseok tsks with a cluck of his tongue. They both know Minseok would end up vacuuming crumbs off his bed whether or not Junmyeon happened to add to the mess.
It's only been recently that Junmyeon would be so neglectful of his -- well, more Minseok's than his -- backpack, abandoning it for softer, more spacious pastures and their downy pillows. He still curls up into a tiny ball like he's not used to having so much space to stretch out in, nestling or burrowing himself into both the comforter and the fresh sheets underneath like the temperature outside isn't reaching record highs.
It's the tiny, almost pitiful sight of the guy that keeps Minseok from yanking the blankets out from underneath Junmyeon and pulling him to the floor.
"Want anything in particular for dinner?" Minseok makes sure to ask before Junmyeon can doze off.
His only reply is muffled by fabric and slurred by sleep. Junmyeon grunts a little, but Minseok is pretty sure it isn't for him. Not that he has any problem with being left unanswered. He closes his book and turns down the lights, shutting the door so softly that it doesn't make a sound as he leaves his bedroom.
The backpack stays by the bed, where Junmyeon can easily reach it when he wakes up. Junmyeon can thank him for that later too.
They end up eating out. Junmyeon barely goes out to explore on his own and he definitely hasn't been around long enough to know too many eateries, while Minseok tends to haunt the same familiar coffeeshops and Chinese restaurants, but simple jajangmyeon is good enough to satisfy both their stomachs.
Minseok watches Junmyeon slurp the noodles, popping sauce-covered slices of pork and vegetable into his mouth with every other bite. Sitting across from each other in the tiny, vinyl-covered booth and underneath the restaurant's warm lighting reminds him of the rare weekends he'd go out with his little sister back home. He plucks a thick piece of meat from his own bowl and gently drops it on top of Junmyeon's gradually shrinking pile of food.
"Are you sure there's nothing you want?"
If Minseok didn't know any better, he would've assumed his new roommate was trying to trick him. There's no mischief on Junmyeon's face though, just gentle eyes that watch each move Minseok makes, just sincere curiosity dripping from each word.
It's a question Junmyeon asks him almost every day, ever since Minseok had tripped after tangling his feet in the straps of that stupid backpack. It's the first thing out of Junmyeon's mouth after he wakes up, stumbling into the kitchen after Minseok, as well as the last thing he brings up each night before curling up into Minseok's spare futon. The repetition should be annoying, but Minseok figures he'd be anxious as well if he were in Junmyeon's position.
"I'm sure, Junmyeon," he says, almost tempted to ruffle Junmyeon's blond hair. It's grown longer in the time since they met, hangs messily into his eyes sometimes like he's just another sloppy teenager.
Junmyeon sighs deeply before returning his full attention to his bowl. Honestly, Minseok wasn't sure what he was expecting after days of the same response to the same answer.
"Besides," Minseok continues, keeping his eyes on Junmyeon's face even when he's denied actual eye contact, "the sooner I use up my wishes, the sooner you have to leave right? I know that I wake up too early and I'm a bit more strict about keeping the place clean--" Junmyeon snorts, almost choking on a noodle, "--compared to you. But there's no way I'm not that bad of a roommate."
"You're not my roommate, you're my..." Junmyeon trails off, his face scrunching up. Whether it's because he's struggling to find the right word or because he's reluctant to say the one he actually has, Minseok honestly wouldn't know. "You're my ma--"
"Friend," Minseok interrupts, "and I'm pretty sure I'm also not terrible at that either."
He pretends he doesn't notice the flush on Junmyeon's face, the tiny pleased smile that he has to school back into a neutral expression.
Junmyeon decides to walk beside him when they leave the restaurant that night, rather than have Minseok lugging him around on his back. It wouldn't have been a problem either way -- wearing a slightly heavier backpack is far from the trial Junmyeon makes it out to be -- and the weather is clear and cloudless. Perfect for a peaceful, slow-paced walk as their stomachs settle.
The peace only lasts as long as it takes to get back to the flat.
Minseok's front door is slightly open, light spilling out into the hallway. On the positive side, at least it's not irrepairably busted; upon closer inspection, only the electronic lock has been damaged. Fried, actually, from what Minseok can make out.
"It's still warm," Junmyeon notes as he presses his finger down on it and slides it down along the side of the keypad. He pulls it back and wraps his fingers around one of the straps of Minseok's backpack, the cold from his skin spreading to Minseok's nearby ribs despite the clothing in-between them. "You think whoever did it is still inside?"
Minseok peeks his head in before he answers in the negative, taking note of the mess right behind the door. His shoes have been pulled from their neat rows in the cabinet, strewn about messily. There's are open drawers and wrinkled fabric everywhere he looks, but no other signs of life.
"Pretty sure he'd have no reason to stick around considering he wouldn't have found anything valuable," he tells Junmyeon in what he hopes is a reassuring manner.
He's telling the truth though -- the most valuable things in that apartment were probably his fridge and the bookshelf of ridiculously expensive textbooks required for his graduate classes. Any money is safely tucked away in a bank or in his mother's tightly-clenched fist, and even his laptop is a fossil like Junmyeon compared to whatever kids like his sister are using nowadays.
"I can do something," Junmyeon tells him urgently before they step further into the apartment beyond the first few steps past the door, "just say the word, and I will."
Minseok is almost tempted. I wish the intruder was caught so I could punch him in the face or something just as easy. He knows Junmyeon is completely capable of making it happen, having seen the other's small displays of magic since they started living together. Junmyeon's newly acquired laundry drying much faster, the wifi connection speeding up to impossible rates once Junmyeon discovers the world of free online anime streaming. It'd be so simple.
But he refuses to let the intruder take anything else from him.
"I'm good," Minseok says calmly, "no point in wasting my first wish."
He doesn't check to see how Junmyeon reacts, whether it's exasperation at his own stubbornness or something else. Instead, he reaches for the old kendo sword he keeps in the closet near the front door and holds it in front of him as he slowly advances. He doesn't even notice Junmyeon has retreated into the smaller pocket of the backpack until he's halfway done scoping his apartment out and he hears knocking on the still open front door.
"Not it," he hears Junmyeon's voice say from inside the backpack, the zipper open just enough that if Minseok squinted he'd be able to see the cramped quarters in which Junmyeon had been trapped for years before they met.
Minseok rolls his eyes, keeping the sword in hand as he returns to the door and trying his best to not look like he was just ready to knock a stranger unconscious with it.
The person who greets him on the other side is a slightly taller, not-so familiar face. Familiar enough that Minseok could place him and those cheekbones around the apartment complex, but not so much that he can actually remember the guy's name from the bimonthly tenant meetings. He almost wishes Junmyeon was out and about. Despite his age, his memory's proven better than Minseok's and he's become rather friendly with the neighbors.
"Hey, sorry to disturb you," the guy says, the corner of his lips still curling up despite his concerned expression. His eyes flicker down to the sword briefly, but even after he brings them up, he doesn't bring it up. "I heard a racket and your door was open? Everything okay?"
Minseok nods, stepping out and closing the door behind him. "Yeah. Breaking and entering, but so far nothing's missing." It doesn't seem to do much to assauge the guy's worries though, if his furrowed brows are any indicator. "Thanks for checking on me though...?"
"Jongdae. Kim Jongdae. I live four doors down." He points at said door, the bronze 21 glinting underneath the hallway lights. Minseok doesn't remember when the last owners had moved out, when this one moved in.
Speaking of things he doesn't remember: Kim Jongdae. It doesn't ring a bell, if Minseok is perfectly honest, but then he feels frantic rustling in his backpack and thinks maybe he's wrong on that front.
"Thanks, Jongdae sshi," he says, backing away so that Junmyeon's backpack is safely trapped between his back and his apartment door, "I'll be sure to call the super about this. I do appreciate you checking up on me though."
Jongdae nods innocently enough before heading back to his own apartment. After he keys in his passcode and has his hand on the door handle, instead of entering, he turns back to look at where Minseok is still leaning against his own door.
"You take care, hyung," he says kindly. Minseok's shoulders start to untense, until he sees Jongdae's fingers reflexively tighten around the door handle, sees Jongdae's eyes flicker down to the backpack before returning to Minseok's face. "You and your roommate."
Jongdae enters his apartment, the sound of the door shutting echoing in the otherwise empty hallway. There are goosebumps on Minseok's arms.
"Junmyeon," he says quietly, hearing the zipper of his backpack undo itself. At least Junmyeon knows better than to stick his now smaller head out to peek, exposing himself. "I think he knows something." It comes out before he can stop himself. "I wish I knew what he wanted."
He barely registers Junmyeon's quiet response. The almost silent "Your wish is my command."
Immediately, a voice much louder than either of theirs starts speaking in his head. New and unfamiliar, but fresh in his memory. Mine, it whispers to itself more than Minseok, I finally found him. Junmyeon hyung. I won't mess up this time. A mental image of the gray, ragged backpack he's wearing floats by, followed by the image of a Junmyeon with short black hair and a more childish face, and he can feel the Jongdae's desperate longing for both sinking down into his bones.