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Sweetly Ever After

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Bin could feel Dongmin’s coworkers staring at him as they stood at the entrance of the alley behind the bakery. He swallowed hard and resisted the urge to scratch the side of his neck. Usually he was so proud to wear his uniform, but today he felt — guilty.

“I’m sorry I lied to you,” Bin said. “That first day, I did come in to check out the competition. But I kept coming back because — because of you.”

“What about me?” Dongmin demanded.

Bin swallowed hard. He had nothing to lose. He was pretty sure that no matter what he said today, he’d never see Lee Dongmin again, at least not in any way other than by coincidence. The only thing to do was be honest.

“Because I like you,” he said softly.

Dongmin’s expression turned uncertain, but then he tightened his jaw. “You asked me how to make puff pastry, but clearly you know how.”

Bin felt his face flame. “I — I say stupid things when I’m around handsome men, okay? It just came out of my mouth.”

Dongmin looked skeptical.

“When you talk about baking, your whole face lights up, you know? You look happy, and I totally understand that,” Bin said. “But also you looked so beautiful, and also your pastries are amazing. So I kept coming back. To see you. And eat your amazing pastries.”

Dongmin continued to look skeptical.

“Minhyukie and Sanha scolded me so much for spending money on the competition, and also for ordering Sua’s cake from you. It was delicious, by the way,” Bin said. He took a deep breath. “I’m so sorry I lied to you. I just — I really like you and your pastries, and I couldn’t stay away even though I knew what I was doing was weird and wrong.”

“Liking me and my pastries isn’t weird and wrong,” Dongmin said, and immediately blushed.

“I’m so sorry, for what it’s worth,” Bin said. He sighed. 

“He was sad when you stopped coming in,” Myungjun called from the mouth of the alley, and Dongmin’s blush turned brighter.

“Hyung!” he hissed.

Hope unfurled in Bin’s chest. “Really?”

“He moped,” Jinwoo said, grinning.

“I did not,” Dongmin protested. “But I — I did miss you when you didn’t come in.”

“I was so busy getting Moonbeams ready for opening, and then also Sua’s birthday, and — and I was afraid I’d never get to come back, once we opened, since we’re pretty much on the same hours,” Bin said.

Dongmin said, “I’d have been heartbroken if you never came back in again.”

“Really?”

“I like you too,” Dongmin said. “That’s why — that’s why I was so upset earlier.”

Bin’s heart soared. He took a step closer. “Do you mean it? You’re not just messing with me?”

“Like you messed with me?”

“I wasn’t messing with you,” Bin protested, but the amusement in Dongmin’s eyes was tempered with fondness.

“I know,” Dongmin said, and stepped even closer. 

Bin’s heart started to race. He said, “Am I forgiven?”

“Only if you compensate me for the distress you caused,” Dongmin said.

Bin swallowed hard. “What can I possibly do to satisfy you?”

“Kiss me,” Dongmin said.

Bin leaned in and closed his eyes. Dongmin met him halfway.

The kiss was warm and soft and sweet and far too brief, but then Bin opened his eyes and Dongmin was gazing right at him, and Bin had to kiss him again. Dongmin wrapped his arms around Bin, and Bin could feel both of their hearts beating fast. Kissing Dongmin was better than Bin could ever have imagined. His lips were soft and full and he tasted like confectioner’s sugar and warmth, and Bin totally ignored Myungjun and Jinwoo snickering in the background.

When they parted for air, Dongmin whispered, “Promise you and Moonbeams will fight hard to be the best bakery in the neighborhood.”

“Promise Silver & Sunshine will do the same,” Bin whispered back, and Dongmin nodded.

“Now,” Dongmin said, stepping back, “I think it’s only fair that I get to try some of your pastries, after you tried so many of mine.” 

Bin nodded. Dongmin held his hand out, and Bin took it, and together they headed back into Moonbeams.

Myungjun said, “You know he totally made those pastries specifically for you, the apple tarts and cheesecakes.”

Bin turned to Dongmin. “Really?”

Dongmin blushed so prettily. “Yeah.”

“But you said --”

“I also say stupid things around handsome men.”

“Hyung,” Minhyuk said as they stepped into the front of the shop, “did you kiss and make up?”

His smirk was smug, but Bin just rolled his eyes.

“What do you think I’d like?” Dongmin asked.

Myungjun went up to the counter and asked Sanha for a bear claw and a lemon blueberry muffin for himself and Jinwoo.

Bin said, “How about a sugar cookie?” He pointed.

The sugar cookies were shaped like hearts and decorated with a delicate filigree of frosting.

“Sounds perfect,” Dongmin said, and Bin squeezed his hand. 

To Minhyuk, Dongmin said, “Two sugar cookies, please.”

Minhyuk nodded and picked two, put them in a little paper bag decorated with the Moonbeams logo (a golden moon with a purple cartoon wolf cub and blue beagle puppy howling at it).

Dongmin paid and accepted the cookies, and he took one out of the bag, took a bite. His eyes slipped closed, and Bin couldn’t stop looking at his mouth while he chewed.

“Perfect,” Dongmin said. “Couldn’t have made one better myself.”

He opened his eyes, then held the other cookie out to Bin. 

“Ew,” Sanha said. 

“Shut up,” Bin said easily, and accepted the cookie, took a bite. “It is delicious.”

“Thanks, I made them myself,” Minhyuk said, and Myungjun and Jinwoo laughed.

“By the way, I’m Park Jinwoo,” he said, and bowed to Minhyuk. “I think we’ll be seeing each other a lot from here on out.”

Minhyuk bowed and introduced himself in return, but Bin tuned him out, because he was watching Dongmin enjoy the cookie, his eyes crinkling into a smile.

“This is all very sweet,” Myungjun said, “but we have to get back to our bakery now.”

Jinwoo tugged on Dongmin’s shoulder, and Dongmin let go of Bin’s hand reluctantly.

“See you after work?” Dongmin asked.

Bin nodded. “See you after.”

The three of them left the bakery, and Bin turned to his coworkers.

“Um. Well. Wow.”

“Don’t make out in here. It’s unhygienic,” Minhyuk said, and headed back into the kitchen to make a batch of mini apple tarts.

Sanha said, “Congratulations, hyung. Now we have to crush them.”

Bin headed back behind the counter, considering all the recipes he knew. “We’ll do our best.”


Two months later.

 

“What are you doing here?” Bin asked, as he stood at the door behind the homeless shelter. He was carrying a box of day-old pastries.

“Same as you, I suspect,” Dongmin said. He was also carrying a box of pastries with the Silver & Sunshine logo on it.

The back door opened, and Father Jooheon poked his head out.

“Well, it’s going to be a blessed day today. Moonbeams and Silver & Sunshine are here to grace us with their surplus.” He grinned at them, sweet and beaming, and they handed over the boxes.

“Hope we don’t see you tomorrow,” Bin said, because he always wanted Moonbeams to sell out.

“Same,” Dongmin said, and he grabbed Bin’s hand and squeezed.

“Always grateful, gentlemen,” Father Jooheon called after them as they walked away. 

“Now what?” Dongmin asked.

Bin grinned at him. “Your place or mine?”

“I have no roommates,” Dongmin reminded him.

Bin sped up. “Let’s go.”

Dongmin hurried after him, laughing.

On Dongmin’s doorstep, they greeted each other with after-work kisses that were sweet with sugar, and then they tumbled inside.

“Who’s making dinner?” Dongmin asked between kisses as he worked the buttons on Bin’s chef jacket.

Bin said, “Rock paper scissors later,” and dragged Dongmin to the bedroom.

Several hours later, Jinwoo, Myungjun, Minhyuk, and Sanha showed up at the door with dinner in tow.

“You have a kiss bruise on your neck,” Minhyuk said, looking totally unimpressed. “But I don’t care what you’ve been doing as long as you didn’t do it where we’re going to be sitting.”

“We would never,” Bin said, letting them into the apartment.

“Oh they totally would,” Myungjun said. “Dongminnie’s a prince on the street but a freak in the --”

Jinwoo clamped a hand over his mouth and smiled at Minhyuk. “I’m sure the den and dining table are perfectly free of love germs.”

Dongmin emerged from the bedroom, wearing Bin’s shirt, and Bin’s heart fluttered.

“Sales today were killer, by the way,” Sanha said.

“Yes, ours were,” Dongmin said airily, and the others laughed.

The teams from Moonbeams and Silver & Sunshine sat together around the table and shared one of Minhyuk’s new experimental pizzas, and they talked and laughed, and Bin knew that he and his friends were headed for, well, if not happily ever after, at least sweetly ever after.