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One day in your life. They say that one day in your life could completely change it and Leigh had never really paid mind to that thought before. But since that evening when the bookstore had got held up for the takings of the till, Leigh had seen the world a little differently. Thankfully, Eun had been there to stop the attack and neither of them had been harmed in the process, over the past month or so he’d been working with the police to prosecute the attacker and get back the money that was rightfully his. It had been a long and somewhat stressful process but Leigh was happy to see the justice system run it’s proper course the way that his new friend truly believed in.
He had also felt something trigger in himself, it was a combination of things, from being held at gunpoint and feeling the fear of having such a weapon pointed in his direction to meeting someone who was incredibly bold and brave, someone who made the therianthrope want to be a stronger and bolder person. Someone who had become his friend from that day forward. Honestly, Leigh had a lot of things he could thank Eun for but he knew he didn’t need to tell the dhampir them, from the way they had chatted over the phone and through texts here and there since. Leigh was trying to put himself out there more, make friends and not just immediately dismiss the thoughts in his head or the people who walked into his life.
It was easier said than done, of course, he had met Irene through the book store and struck up a strange arrangement with her and he had managed to work up the courage to attend one of those cooking classes Willow was always raving about where he had met Ha-joon but it still felt like a conscious effort on his part every time. He had to work up his own confidence and tell himself that he was going to be okay and that this was good for him, there were days when he felt like he could do it and there were days where he couldn’t. But it was progress and that was what was really important to the therianthrope.
It was late afternoon in the store and he was doing the last few tasks of his closing up routine, which essentially gave him an excuse to pace up and down the shop floor as many times as he wanted without it looking weird. It was ridiculous, he knew, but ever since he was a kid he had always begged his parents to let him do horse riding lessons. He never got his way back then but now he was older he could afford to do it for himself. So he’d signed himself up to an open lesson today. And now he was freaking out about it. He was trying to tell himself it was all in his head and he would be fine but it just wasn’t one of those days where he could talk himself down so he was debating whether he should cancel or now. He froze when he heard the bell on the door open “Sorry we’re just about to close” he spoke as he turned to face the customer only to be met with the familiar face of Sangeun Moon “Though I’ll make an exception and let you stay a while” he added with a bright smile happy to see the dhampir.
He knew that his departure would only evoke sadness from the people he's befriended here in the eternal city, people like Leigh, who he actually really preferred the company of. But that's the sad truth to his reality, that all of this was just temporary for him. He could feel the ache in his heart whenever he reminded himself he wasn't here to stay. He wanted to know more about the therian who's with him right now, he wanted to know more about his life, how his relationship with his pets are like, what makes him tick, everything. Eun realized then what he's been missing his entire life; friends. He's never had a true friend who would take their time to talk to him about their lives and neither has he done that to anyone either. "Then you should make good use of the chance you were given" he murmured, sparing him an encouraging nod and smile. "Not everyone gets that luxury." He wished his parents were understanding of his situation but perhaps he was just being irresponsible for the things they've planned; it's for the betterment of his future one way or another. His parents would never do anything to jeopardize his future, right?
"Well, things take time. But you're doing better, you acknowledge that yourself. That's progress and for me, that's more than enough. If you keep at it, you'll get better at it and soon it would not feel you down." Leigh was so humble and kind, smart too, he was sad that others couldn't see the same because they didn't bother to give him a glance, much less a chance. But that's okay, he'll take that chance if no one else will. "Thanks… I think I needed that." Leigh telling him that he was worth it too made the dhampir's heart swell in happiness, he was touched. A chuckle escaped him when the therian pointed out the fact that remains true, "Yeah, my brother said the same thing to me too. I give advice pretty well… which sucks because I won't take it." His chuckles fell short as he gazed back at him with a clueless expression, the twinkle in his sleep eyes made it impossible for the therian to miss, "Does that make me a hypocrite?" his tone coming out so soft and tender, like he was trying to contemplate what right for him.
"I'm glad I met you, Leigh. Really." The gaze he sent him held a message, Eun was grateful he found someone he could rely on other than his brother. There were times he wanted to talk and Leigh was always there. "Maybe I should have a sleepover and see if you actually do talk in your sleep" he teased, that was actually possible knowing the dhampir's resilience. He had this proud streak to him when Leigh said perhaps he brought out the confident side of him, "It was already in you. You just didn't realize it." There was definitely a lot to the therian more than what he realized, he wondered if others could pinpoint it too. The way he talked about how horrible he was at cooking and that he needed to brush his skills back up before late made him snicker, he did that too once upon a time, until he realized that he didn't have the time nor the luxury to be playing around the kitchen with his mother.
When asked if he still baked, Eun rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly and giggled shyly, "I'm rusty. That's for sure. But I sometimes do a few things when I was in law school. Can't survive on instant noodles all the time, on the weekends when we finished our work, I get to use the kitchen. A few experimentation here and there but no one blew up so I guess it's fine. I haven't baked since last year though, work piles up and there was simply no time." He did miss it though. He always listened to music and danced a bit while he's in the kitchen. He was happy. "Like I said, you can take mine if you want. We can share. Though I'm afraid I only have one troublemaker here in Evermore but he's a good troublemaker." He recalled the time he would often bribed their attention with muffins, so when Leigh asked, Eun sighed contently and chuckled, "Yeah I did. They were so noisy and since we started training young, I can definitely tell you that watching your sister hit your brother's chest because he wouldn't give her toy back definitely blows. Not quite like the time when Ahri was training and almost broke Hyunsik's arm because he wouldn't tell her who scared her boyfriend off too. Took more than one muffin...like a dozen but she conceded." Their family wasn't all dull, it used to be colorful.
"Then we have something in common, they're not my scene either." Both of them seemed to live quite simple and minimalistic life. What pet would he get? "I think once I meet your chinchillas, I'll end up stealing one of them and that'll be my pet" he jested, oh who knows, maybe that'll happen. "So, what's on my next to do list? Take you out for a sushi dinner, then get past your dog… steal your chinchillas and yes, probably your dog too. Please, we both know they'll love me." That was his narcissist coming out and he was enjoying the time he teased Leigh. "Next weekend? Sounds like a plan." He couldn't wait to meet them, knowing their owner, the pets shouldn't stray too far from how Leighton Kingsman was like. Eun placed a reassuring hold on his hands, shaking it a bit, "Don't worry. I'm right there with you too. Not at how the helmet made my hair look like hell but at least this is for the horses. The things I do for you, Mr Kingsman."
“That’s what I’m trying to do” he answered it slightly hesitantly because sometimes he wondered if he was letting them down by choosing the quieter life with a bookstore rather than trying to run in the financial big leagues, he could have easily been a banker or an accountant, perhaps even a CFO if he was feeling especially brave but none of those jobs ever really appealed to him like the idea of having a place of his own. He made okay money but he did wonder if he was supposed to be more “You’re right, a lot of people don’t have parents at all or their parents don’t care what they do” he pressed his lips together, when he thought about it he was actually really lucky when it came to the people who chose to adopt him when he was young and he hoped to never throw that in their face, even temporarily.
Eun spoke a lot of truths which was nice to hear for someone who tended to doubt himself a lot, it was a habit he had gotten into whilst in high school and while he might get better in other ways, the way he saw himself definitely always felt a little tainted “God I hope so, I see all those people who have all the confidence in the world and never let anything bother them and I just have to ask myself, how?” Eun was closer to one of them than he was to Leigh but he could still see moments of doubt and vulnerability in the other male, especially when the topic of his parents came along, it was clear that the Dhampir wanted to make his parents proud and would do pretty much whatever it took to achieve that feat. He smiled when Eun thanked him for his compliment “So did I” he commented and laughed gently, it was nice to hear nice things, especially when they felt sincere. His question about taking his own advice made Leigh shrug a little “I don’t think so, I think it’s just harder to take advice than people make it out to be, especially when it conflicts interests” it wasn’t as simple as most made it out to be.
He widened his eyes slightly when Eun mentioned the idea of a sleepover, he hadn’t had anyone stay at his house or stayed at someone’s house in a very long time unless you counted his parents sleeping in the spare room when they came to visit. “I’m not sure it would be worth the payoff just to see me mumble a few things while sleeping” he commented as casually as he could but he was evidently blushing at the suggestion. “Maybe you’re right, maybe the world decided I needed a chatty, kind friend to bring me out of my shell” he laughed softly, he enjoyed having Eun for a friend, he was a really good person and he could use more of those people around him. He was sure he had his flaws but Leigh was yet to see something he didn’t like about him, even his slightly inflated ego didn’t bother the kitsune because he was very self-aware of the way he came across.
Leigh smiled softly when Eun admitted he hadn’t had a lot of time to keep up with baking, he knew the feeling of not being able to keep up with something you loved because work was overbearing or you just felt too tired in the evenings to be able to focus on something “Don’t worry I totally resonate with the exhaustion of working life” he laughed softly, everyone wanted something from you and if you let them, they could steal away all the energy you had left. “But hey, we’re making time to get out of the house and have fun, that counts for something right?” it wasn’t a party or a social gathering but it was something they both seemed to be enjoying, at least Leigh was enjoying being around the horses. When Eun offered to share his brother again, Leigh wrinkled his nose “I’m not sure how much patience I have for troublemakers” he teased it because they both knew Leigh was a very patient person “Well aren’t you just the elegant peacekeeper, making the world better one sweet treat at a time” he grinned slightly “Would it be too much to ask to try one sometime?” he really did love blueberry muffins, after all.
It wasn’t really like Leigh to ask people for things which spoke lengths about his trust and comfort with the Dhampir, he really found ways to set the Kitsune at ease which wasn’t easy to do. His jaw fell slack when Eun proudly claimed he was going to steal one of his chinchillas and he shook his head a few times “You can’t do that! We can’t split up the epic duo of Chip and Dale” he gave a mock glare towards the other male, more so when he said he was going to try and steal Minha too “Minha is much harder to win over, she doesn’t really like strangers all that much” he eyed the other male and made an ‘I’m watching you gesture’ in his direction playfully, going out and getting sushi did sound really nice though, he hadn’t had the excuse to go and eat out at a nice place in a while. “I’m almost tempted to retract the invite so you can’t steal my pets but I do really want some sushi” he grinned slightly.
Eun definitely looked adorable with his hair all flattened over his forehead underneath the helmet but Leigh wasn’t sure how he could actually see properly so he stopped him for a moment “Hey wait” he spoke softly and then hesitantly reached up to brush a few strands out of his eyes and tuck them under the helmet. After a moment he dropped his hand and smile “There, now you can defeat the entire world with your forehead alone” he laughed softly as they were led over to their horses and shown a demonstration on how to climb up before being told to give it a guy. Thankfully, Leigh was tall, so putting one foot in the stirrups and they pushing himself over the horses’ back was actually pretty easy for him, though he was a little wobbly as he adjusted to the new sensation.
"Well, you're doing well, Leigh, don't put yourself down, I'm sure life has better things planned out for you" he reassured with a gentle smile, Leigh had got to be the most humblest person he's ever met and yet the therian continues to surprise him every single day with what he's done. It reminded the dhampir that there are people like him in this world, even when it's overrode by questionable forces, there are people who would deliver the light. He felt as if those words hit him closer to home than he's ever admit, he envied Leigh on that part too, to have supportive parents who wouldn't put him down despite anything. He wanted that too. From the looks of things, it doesn't seem like his in-laws would pose any different from his own parents who kept telling him they were doing everything for his own good. But that didn't stop Eun from keeping up that smile, even if it faltered momentarily earlier. "See, being grateful for what we were given is the first step towards realizing that we have so much to scour." Pep talks, he could give. But to accept his own words? That one is hard for him.
When Leigh said he wondered how confident people became confident, he chuckled softly, "Yeah, you always want to know just how some people do things. I'm guessing it's not something you'll find in the studies either because it depends on your own person. It's not a formula, Leigh. Once you're happy with yourself, you'll become confident in your own way, you'll see" Perhaps that's why he always looked carefree to others and while that is close to the truth, the only problem with Eun is that he still had a big room filled with doubts on what he wants, completely confusing it with what others want for him. Leigh told him he wasn't a hypocrite for not accepting his own words and that made him feel so relieved, as if a big burden was then lifted off his shoulders. That's nice to hear. "Oh please, I would pay to hear you mumble incoherently in your sleep. Who knows, your diction may be better than anyone else I've met. Maybe even better than my own brother and believe me, he's good at that, it scared me when I tested him during his high school years."
The idea of a sleepover wasn't too far-fetched, he wondered if it was a norm for them here as it would have been for students back home, "Have you had one before? A sleepover?" he asked curiously, he wondered what Leigh did during his studying years. That was another step of him wanting to know more about the male before him. "Oh yes, and so the world decided to grant you a chatty and kind friend. Who by the way is also equipped with good looks and eloquent skills that would sweep you off the floor" he winked cheekily and even went as far as to deliver a flying kiss. "But the world also gave me a present, who knew I needed some humility in my life, delivered in the form of a tall guy who has a thing for green teas god knows why." The idea of spending more time outside his work sounds tempting and maybe he could revel in that luxury while he's not in Korea, baking with Leigh? Now that took his attention away.
"You may not like troublemakers but they" he nudged and poked him suggestively, "usually have a thing for people who can take care of them" Now where's the lie in that? When he asked if he could try one of his muffins, Eun swore his ears heated up, oh that was unexpected, "Sure. If you give me a kitchen to work with and the ingredients are there, I'm sure I can muster something from the back of my head" he giggled and wondered if he should invite Leigh over to his suite for that. "Come over to my place and I'll serve you exactly that." The look on Leigh's face when he told him he was going to steal his chinchillas was priceless and Eun couldn't stop laughing over it, "Tell me you did not name your chinchillas Chip and Dale, Leigh" he tried his best to look serious but the facade didn't last as long as he thought he would because it only took a few seconds after that for him to fall back into the laughter pit, "Don't be so gloomy when I managed to steal Minha then."
He had a stupid grin plastered on his face when he said he likes sushi better, "So all I have to do is bribe you with sushi, got it." His eyes widened significantly when he brushed his hair covering his peripheral vision, but ended up staring deep into his eyes and grinned bashfully, "Thanks, I know my forehead is a killer. Girls love it" he winked playfully and eyed the saddles because he was analyzing the best way to get up, he hoisted himself up on the horse carefully but almost tripped when his leg was hooked the wrong way though he made it as if nothing bothered him with a straight face, "I'm now ready to go get my princess. Or prince." And one would not expect less than him. "When are you free? For that sushi night?"
It felt really nice to have someone that felt like they were on his side, so when Eun said he was sure life had better things planned he didn’t just shrug it off, he smiled softly at the other male and nodded, perhaps Eun’s optimism was rubbing off on him. He watched Eun as he seemingly got lost in thought for a moment and it made Leigh wonder where his mind went whenever he did that, sometimes it felt like Eun went to another place for a while. “You’re right, it’s so easy to complain about the things we don’t have or how things haven’t worked out and then forget all the good things that have happened” like meeting a new friend who had done so much already to remind him of the brighter things he got to have.
“I guess I’ve just always seen these people around me who can just act like being around people and talking to them isn’t terrifying” or maybe that truly just was him, after all the things he had experienced in his life, maybe he’d just been left damaged by the things he had been through “Somehow even thinking about me and confident in the same sentence sounds foreign” he grinned shyly because he had always been the quieter keep to himself type, even in middle school, he preferred to keep his head down and get things done rather than worry about making other people like him. When Eun said he would pay to hear him talk in his sleep, Leigh let out a loud peal of laughter “That sounds like a waste of your hard-earned money if you ask me” he grinned slightly “But now you’ve made me want to practice reading alone” he teased with a smile because it seemed like Eun was a really big fan of his voice.
“Once, though the person who stayed over wasn’t all that interested in being my friend, they just wanted help with their math homework” he shrugged slightly, pretty much story of his school life, kids were cruel and either wanted to use him for his intelligence or to make fun of him, though that wasn’t something he wanted to talk about all that much. The way Eun talked about himself made Leigh giggle slightly “All of those things I’m sure” though he swore his heart stopped beating for just a moment when Eun teased and blew a kiss in his direction. His face flushed and he averted his gaze for a moment completely caught off guard “I swear you have a personal vendetta against tea” he commented with a slight grumble in his voice as he watched the Dhampir for a few moments “Maybe we balance each other out” he commented in a quiet tone thinking about how different they were and yet how they somehow made that work in their friendship.
He looked back at Eun with a playful gaze when he talked about troublemakers, but it was when he asked to try one of the muffins he made that Leigh really watched for Eun’s reaction and he immediately saw how flustered the other male looked, though his answer actually surprised Leigh as the Therianthrope was expecting him to make some excuse about how he hadn’t baked in a long time or something similar “Okay, we’ll do that then” he spoke it slightly shyly because they kept making these future plans, which he really liked because it gave him things to look forward to but then it also reminded him of how sooner or later Eun was going to have to go home and there would be no more hour-long conversations at the shop or randomly showing up to spend time together. Eun’s laughter was infectious and the way he was laughing about Leigh’s pets was making the Kitsune laugh too “Hey it’s the cutest name for a pair I could think of at the time okay” he wrinkled his nose slightly as he said he was going to steal Minha “You’ll be lucky if she lets you anywhere near me, she doesn’t like sharing all that much” he grinned slightly and shrugged.
He snapped his fingers and made a dramatic sigh when Eun said he just needed to bribe him with sushi though there was still a playful smile on his lips “Damn, I’ve given away my weakness it seems” he had a lot of those honestly so it wasn’t entirely surprising that Eun could find one of them. The stare Eun was giving him while he fixed his hair almost made the Therian want to avert his gaze but there was softness behind that intensity which you could only appreciate from up close “It sure is” he commented with a wry smile as he pulled away so they could get on with their lesson. He wasn’t sure if being up here on Raven’s back made him more or less confident but Eun’s joking around as he rode Tera made him scrunch his nose as he laughed, he really did look like he was ready to dash off into some fairytale “You’re missing the sword and shield” he teased softly his eyes fixed on the other male. When he asked him when he was free to go out for dinner Leigh bit his lip trying to recall his schedule “I could probably do Saturday?” it was a half-day at the book store so he’d have plenty of time to get ready, though he had to admit going out for dinner felt a little date like to him but if Eun was okay with it, so was he.
The instructor led them out into the small area of the paddock where they could practice guiding the horses and looping around the track to get used to riding, Leigh mixed up his movements a few times but for the most time, he was managing the loops okay and fussing Raven as they went around, keeping up to speed so they could trot alongside Eun and Tera and continue their conversation “Do you have anything on your list of things you wanna do someday?” he felt like everyone had one, even if it was just in their head.