pg; 1886 words
pg; 1886 words
Minho fidgeted in his seat, the briefcase on his lap inexplicably getting heavier by the minute. He’d been waiting for more than thirty minutes, yet he didn’t mind at all. He was anxious not about the waiting, but the appointment itself.
“Choi Minho-ssi?” came the receptionist’s call. “Onew will see you now!”
Minho stiffly rose from the couch and tugged at his jacket, a bit embarrassed at having his name called out loud. None of the other people in the waiting area seemed to mind, though. They were all preoccupied with choosing a color that would suit them or a style from the magazines cluttered over the low table. Taking a deep breath, Minho turned away from the other patrons and nervously walked towards the chairs.
“It’s good to see you again, Minho-ssi!”
The smile that welcomed Minho was dazzling, he almost stumbled on his way to the chair. After a bit of fumbling around, he smiled and bowed at Onew, who ushered him to his seat. Minho sat down and face the mirror, eyes fixed on Onew who leaned down near his shoulder.
“ What can I do for you today?” Onew asked, his eyes crinkling at the edges as he smiled. Before Minho could answer, Onew had the barber cloth skillfully draped over Minho’s body, the edges neatly tucked under his neck.
Minho cleared his throat. “I just need a bit of trimming.” He gestured towards the top of his head.
Onew chewed on his lower lip for a while, as if deep in thought, and Minho held his breath. “Okay,” Onew finally said, then wheeled Minho’s seat to the sinks. “Let’s give you a bit of shampooing first, okay?”
As a cloth was draped over his face and as the warm water cascaded over his head, Minho silently scolded himself for going to the barbershop–for the third time this month.
The first time he went in, he just wanted help with removing chewing gum stuck on his head by a very young niece. That time, he got assigned to Onew, who held his laughter all throughout their session before apologizing for being too amused about the incident. Minho should’ve been annoyed, his hair was almost ruined! Yet the way Onew looked adoringly at people’s hair and the way his hands gently caressed every strand as he cut them mesmerized Minho a lot. Of course, it didn’t help that there was something remarkably pleasant about watching Onew in deep concentration as he cut someone’s hair.
After that, Minho found himself longing for Onew’s smile and gentle touches (on his hair). He didn’t want to go back in fear of embarrassing himself, but one day his feet just carried him right at the front steps of the barber shop, right when Onew’s also going in from his break. Surprised, Onew asked if there was something wrong with the haircut he gave and Minho just gave a vague answer about wanting to remove some of the curls at the back of his head. Onew gladly attended to him once more, even giving his hair a bit of brilliantine to keep it soft.
And now, he was back again, it was barely a week since the second. Somehow, Minho wanted to die of embarrassment.
Yet when Onew’s hands slowly cradled the underside of his head to spread the shampoo, Minho forgot about the embarrassment and instead concentrated on the warmth spreading from his scalp to the rest of his body. “You’re very thorough,” he muttered against the drape.
Onew laughed, the tinkling of his voice mixed with the gentle rush of water. “I just like doing everything twice. Hence, I check my cuts twice, blow-dry twice, that sort of stuff. I guess I’m a bit obsessive with that.” He washed Minho’s hair twice and carefully dried it with a soft towel, gently rubbing the side of Minho’s head and helping him sit up again.
“Now, where’s the part that needs trimming?” Onew asked as they settled in front of the mirror again. He studied Minho’s hair for a bit. “You know, it’s going to be too short if we keep cutting it, Minho-ssi.”
Minho didn’t say anything, and Onew merely shrugged and snipped a few locks here and there to his liking. Later on, he styled Minho’s hair with a bit of gel so that some of his hair were in wisps over his crown. “It softens your features and makes you look younger, I think!” Onew said cheerfully as he rubbed his palms together and applied the last of the gel.
“Thanks,” was the only thing Minho was able to say before he was stood up, given a brush to brush himself off stray hair strands, ushered back to the reception to pay, and left. As he went out of the door, he realized how the establishment was so busy, yet Onew had taken the time to attend to him even if he only needed a minor haircut.
Shaking off the fluttery feeling in his stomach, Minho straightened his suit and walked to the subway station, making a promise not to return to that barber shop again.
Yet after two weeks, he was back again, knees shaking from both nervousness and anticipation. The receptionist looked at him weirdly as he wrote his name in the appointment notebook, but didn’t say anything. There weren’t a lot of people in the lobby, probably because it was a weekday, and before Minho could properly sit down, his name was called.
“Choi Minho-ssi? Onew will attend to you now.”
Minho quickly got up and strode towards Onew’s station, where Onew was waiting with a puzzled smile on his face. “Hi again!” he greeted, and Minho just bowed silently and sat on the chair. “What can I do for you today?” came Onew’s question, although he said it slowly, as if unsure.
Minho himself was unsure. His hair was short and hadn’t grown for the last two weeks. He didn’t have any problems with it yet he’s here. He didn’t know what to say. He just wanted to see Onew and watch his hands do magic on his hair. He gripped the arms of the swivel chair and stared at his own reflection in the mirror, wondering what else he could say.
Before he could speak, though, Onew beat him. “Do you, by any chance, hate me?”
Minho’s head whipped up to meet Onew’s eyes. What was that? “W-why would I hate you?” he asked shakily.
Onew shrugged. “I don’t know. I thought you had some problems with the hairstyle I gave you and gave you suggestions on how to style it when you came back. But you came back even after that so it’s either you hate me because you think I ruined your hair or you are infatuated with me.”
Minho instantly blushed and looked away, settling himself on the seat. He could feel Onew’s eyes looking at him through the mirror, the gears in his head turning as he figured out things for himself.
“Oh…” Onew said. Minho wanted the floor of the salon to cave in so he can be swallowed in it, chair and all. He was sure he was blushing and fidgeting, all in all in the most embarrassing position in front of his person of interest.
They were quiet for a while, and Minho wondered if he should just leave. It would be so awkward to look at Onew in the face after this, he surely wouldn’t be able to return. “Onew, I’m…”
“It’s Jinki,” Onew said softly. “My real name is Jinki.”
Minho looked at him through the mirror, confused. “Jinki. I’m sorry. I…”
Onew, or Jinki, shook his head and smiled his usual smile. “You know, we have other services aside from haircuts. We can dye your hair, too.”
“I’m not sure if I’m ready to dye my hair, to be honest,” Minho sheepishly replied.
Yet Jinki had his barber’s cloth ready. “Then, maybe you need a shave?”
Minho studied his face in the mirror then looked at Jinki. “Y-yeah, I think I need one.”
“You know, Jonghyun’s complaining that you monopolize my hour before closing,” Jinki laughingly narrated as he applied shaving cream on Minho’s chin. “I told him you are like our mascot because now girls come into the shop, too. He should stop making you pay for my services, really.”
Minho made a face as he watched Jinki get up to get a razor through the mirror. He caught a glimpse of himself, sporting a newly-dyed hairstyle. Somehow, Jinki had managed to convinced him to dye his hair red-brown for a change and he was glad he agreed to it. Even though he didn’t like it that much, the look Jinki gave him after the dye set in was enough incentive.
“It’s ok, he gives me discounts,” Minho said, voice muffled through the cream. “And I get to have you for home service.”
Jinki laughed and sat on a stool opposite Minho. “Still, he should be lenient towards you, considering we’re dating and all–mmph!”
Minho grabbed Jinki’s arm to bring him closer, taking care not to get nicked by the razor. He pressed his lips against Jinki’s own, smearing a bit of shaving cream on the barber’s face, too. When he let up, Jinki was pouting, a bit of cream on his nose and some smeared on his chin and cheek. The sight made Minho burst out laughing, sputtering bubbles of cream everywhere.
“Stop that!” Jinki said, smiling in spite of himself. “I can’t shave you properly if you are naughty!”
“What?!” Jinki settled on the stool once more.
Minho smiled. “Don’t you do everything twice?”
Jinki stared at him sternly for a moment. Slowly, he looked around. There were no people this late at night and Jonghyun and the receptionist were busy making moves on each other up front. Sighing, Jinki leaned in to wipe the cream off Minho’s lips, then kissing him once more.
“What nice service,” Minho said after the kiss, a victorious smile on his face.
Jinki swatted him with a towel. “Geez, you’re so bold. Where was the shy and reserved Choi Minho I met months ago?”
Minho shrugged. “It was the hair dye. I think they changed something in me,” he seriously said, making Jinki laugh.
“Honestly, stay still now so I can start shaving!” Jinki scolded and proceeded to deftly slide the razor against Minho’s skin, making the other man hiss at the cold.
“Lee Jinki-ssi,” Minho muttered as he watched Jinki purse his lips in concentration.
“Hmm?” Jinki hummed in reply.
“What other services do you offer? I mean…I can’t keep going here for hair dyes and shaving, you know?”
Jinki’s hands didn’t stop working, yet a smile was pulling the corners of his mouth. “Hmm, well…it’s not listed in the poster outside,” he whispered. “But I think I offer massages.”
Minho smiled. “Oh yeah, that would be nice.”
Jinki laughed and tossed him a cloth to wipe his face. “Just so you know, the charge for that is double.”
Minho gave him a challenging look, “I can pay for it. There’s nothing worse than almost going bald just to get your attention.”
Jinki laughed again and someone shouted from outside to stop flirting during work hours.