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flame contagious

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It’s supposed to be a one-time thing.

Minho lies beside him in the bed, with an arm looped around his waist, as Jisung lets the video on his phone meld with the background noise. He is hyper-aware of Minho’s presence, the way his calf gently brushes against his and how strands of Minho’s hair tickle his neck. But Minho himself seems to be somewhere distant—his eyes glued to the screen, but unfocused. Their limbs weaved together, but it feels off somehow.

Like Minho would rather be anywhere but here: lying next to him, watching videos with him, existing with him.

There’s a void of loneliness in the pit of Jisung’s stomach that seeks an antidote because although Minho is physically within reach, Jisung doesn’t feel like he’s really present. Videos, recorded laughter, faded background EDM fusing with the hum of the air conditioner, none of it does anything but intensify the unsettling weight fastened to his chest. So when their video ends—the screen of his phone darkened and reflections staring back at them—Jisung places his phone next to the pillow and exhales.

Jisung turns onto his side and faces the wall. A warmth blooms in the cavity of his chest as Minho draws him in closer instinctively. It doesn’t make his chest swell with fondness or relief. Instead, it burns the shell of his heart, a red-hot and scorching pain that Jisung tries to shove down until it ceases to exist.

Minho’s hand travels under his shirt. Jisung’s breath stutters.

“Why’d you stop it,” Minho mumbles into his neck. “I was enjoying it.”

“Liar,” Jisung mutters back. “You couldn’t give less of a shit if you tried.”

Minho just chuckles, and that is the only answer Jisung needs.

Minho pulls him in closer until there’s no breathing space between their bodies. His fingers gently flit over Jisung’s skin, and it’s normal for them. It’s usual for them to be touchy-feely like this, to not know where their bodies start and end, but right now isn’t usual. It exacerbates the growing ache in his chest, and Jisung is losing his fucking mind. He wants something. He’s not allowed to have it.

Jisung shifts so he’s now facing Minho; the scarce light emanating from the lamp highlights the bridge of Minho's nose and his cheekbones golden. His eyes are half-open, but they still peer into Jisung intensely. Jisung's heart pulses against his chest, an erratic beat that floods his ears when he realizes how close in proximity their faces are. Their noses are almost touching. He breathes in air from Minho's lungs.

"How was today?" Minho eventually asks in a whisper.

Jisung furrows his brows. Minho was with him for half of the day, the other half of his day spent in the studio with Chan and Changbin, wads of notebook paper covered in graphite dust littered around their chairs. It's the same old repetitive bullshit until Jisung returns home and seeks the comfort of his bed. He wakes up the next day. Does it again. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Minho knows that.

"Why do you ask?"

"Just wanna hear you talk," Minho mumbles. Jisung is about to shoot back a remark like, you just can’t get enough of me, can you? But because Minho never says the entire truth in one go, he continues. "You seem like you have something on your mind."

"I don't," Jisung argues, a lie. "I'm just tired."

Minho nods with his cheek pressed against the pillow. At first, it's left at that. But it's unnerving how Minho can read the expression on his face and know that Jisung is lying. Like he can catalogue Jisung’s feelings based on miniscule details. Minho had mentioned it once in passing, such a fleeting remark that Jisung didn't even notice the implications—how much attention Minho pays to him. Small things, small details. Things Jisung doesn’t even recognize in himself.

They remain silent. And then Minho’s hand is lightly pressed against the back of his head—like it always is when they’re laying together in bed.

Or maybe it’s a subconscious thing, because the only time Minho touches Jisung like this is when he’s falling asleep. Still, loneliness gnaws at his heart with neglected hunger. The air around him grows heavy as he sinks into a daze.

Neither of them seem grounded tonight. Like they’re floating in liminal space and not really existing. And with every second that passes, Jisung loses more of his fucking sanity. They’re always, always like this, but Jisung can’t help when his gaze flickers down onto Minho’s petal lips.

He quickly brings his eyes back up and blinks to refocus. There’s a dark but teasing glint in Minho’s eyes. Minho’s thumb begins to massage into his scalp, a rivulet of razor-edged shivers shooting down his spine. Jisung brings himself to glance at the wall on the other side of the room, but when he looks back, Minho is still staring at him.

“Stop doing that,” Jisung complains, blowing a puff of air into Minho’s face.

Minho scrunches his nose. “Doing what?”

Jisung huffs again. The warmth of Minho’s hand becomes unbearable against his skin. “You know what I mean,” he says and hopes that Minho doesn’t notice how his voice cracks in the middle of his sentence. “Stop… this.” He waves a hand between the two of them. It’s too much and too little; he wants to ask Minho what the hell he’s trying to accomplish by doing what he’s doing. If Minho even notices what he’s doing.

“Okay,” Minho relents. Then he’s speaking again. “Hey, uh, can I…?”

“Can you...?” asks Jisung.

“Just,” Minho breathes out. He leans in a little, his hair rubbing against the fabric of the pillow case. Like he understands exactly what Jisung wants. “I thought… just… tell me if this is weird.”

Static rings in his ears. Jisung, however, has no fucking clue on what’s happening—mostly because he doesn’t want to jump to conclusions—until Minho’s lips are pressed against his, gentle as a feather. Jisung lets Minho lead the kiss, Minho’s tongue licking into his mouth, fingers threading through the short hairs against the nape of his neck. Minho pulls back once before kissing him again, quick and sweet, the taste heavy on Jisung’s tongue.

“Was that weird?” Minho asks afterward, his lips wet and glossy.

“Kind of.” Jisung nods. “Not weird,” he is quick to correct. “Just… I don’t know. Unexpected.” Though, unexpected doesn't exactly fit either.

“Okay,” Minho drawls, unsure, before pulling away. But Jisung reaches out for him again, not ready to give it up. He’s thankful that the rest of the members are out for dinner. His hand slides around Minho’s waist and pulls him close again. Minho makes a small noise of surprise in the back of his throat, but his lips part as he eases into the kiss. Jisung’s hand finds itself in Minho’s hair, his fingers curling in loosely.

Everything passes in a blur until Jisung is being pinned down, his back against the mattress, Minho on top as he continues to kiss him senseless. What he doesn’t expect is for Minho to grind down on him.

The friction forces a breathy moan out of Jisung. His cock twitches under his sweatpants and he shudders, trembling violently as Minho’s bulge rubs against his. He grabs another fistful of Minho’s hair, a wave of voltaic arousal laving around the edges of his brain.

It’s too much to handle at once: Minho’s lips against his, one of his hands cupping Jisung’s face, the other latched around his wrist. But Minho’s hands never stay in one place, roaming over his body—the one wrapped around his arm now slipping under the fabric of his shirt. Their clothed dicks continue to brush against each other, their bodies enveloped by the frigid air of Jisung’s bedroom, and he gasps. His bones liquefy into flames, and it helps to shrink the void a little bit.

But only a little.

“Jisung,” Minho says when he breaks the kiss. He glances down and asks with jagged breathing: “Do you want me to…?”

“To what?” Jisung asks weakly.

“I dunno,” Minho mumbles, nearly inaudible. He’s still hovering above him. “You just seemed stressed, so maybe…” He winces. “Whatever. Forget it.”

Minho is already turning away from Jisung, back to where he was lying in the close quarters of his bed, both of them half-hard and breathless. They’re not going to just leave it like that, are they?

“You can’t just ask me something and not finish the question,” Jisung whines, trying his best not to let Minho escape from his grasp. “What is it?”

“It’s just…” Minho starts. “You seem… off. So if you wanna—I don’t know—some help, then I’m here. But if you don’t then forget I asked.”

He has never heard Minho stutter through anything like this, but there’s no mistaking what he’s trying to say. For Jisung’s sake, all because Minho can read his desolation and stress signals like cue cards, and this is a solution to that problem. But this is Minho who’s asking—his best fucking friend or whatever other label Jisung can conjure that sounds an awful lot like soulmate.

It hits him again. Minho is the one who’s offering.

And it’s ironic then, when Jisung considers the source of his problems. Yet—

“You sure?” Jisung asks, knowing that Minho will say things sometimes just for the sake of it. But with the help of the shrouded light in the room, he can see a dusting of pink over the tip of his ears. It’s not a joke. “I mean, if it’s not a problem, then I guess,” he says with feigned nonchalance.

“Yeah,” says Minho, voice gravelly. “Not a big deal.”

Not a big deal. Jisung doesn’t need to hear it to know it’s not a big deal to Minho. Each word singes a new hole into his heart.

But Minho is still the one offering, and neither of them have the luxury of meeting new people and dating in hopes of maintaining a long-term relationship. Damn, even hookups are mentally draining: sneaking around the watchful eye of managers, making himself appear unnoticeable to fans, finding slivers of free time between schedules.

It’s easier to fuck around like this. To release unwanted tension with someone who has the same timetable and the absence of curious, lurking eyes.

And for Minho—Jisung is certain—that’s all it is. Minho probably thinks it’s the same for Jisung too. He can understand.

“Right. It’s not,” Jisung mutters. “You sure though?”

“I’m sure,” Minho replies, his eyes swirling with a heedful look. “I was the one who asked, so…”

Jisung knows this is a bad idea, but then Minho’s lips are back on his, and all his reservations are diffused. Minho's lips start trailing hot and wet paths down the column of his neck, sucking into Jisung’s skin but not with the force to bruise. His hands run down the sides of Jisung's body, and his wandering fingers flood his insides with heady vermillion embers. Words dissolve on his tongue, with only weak gasps and moans tumbling from his swollen lips.

Minho's fingers play with the waistband of his pants, pulling on the elastic band.

“Can I...?" Minho whispers, peering up at Jisung with shining eyes. "You can say no if it’s too much—"

“You can," Jisung rushes out, the pace of his heartbeat revving up. "Fuck just, please."

Jisung lifts his hips so Minho can yank his pants off. They land in a pile behind him, and Jisung lets out another groan as Minho pulls his hardened cock out of his boxers. Then, Minho's hands are cupping his ass as he shifts Jisung over on the bed. And god, does he only grow more desperate and needy when Minho does nothing but pepper shadows of kisses down his abdomen.

Jisung grunts. “They’ll be back soon,” he says, interrupting himself with a whimper when Minho wraps his nimble fingers around his dick. “So hurry the fuck up.”

“They take fucking forever to even order something,” Minho scoffs. He takes his precious time pumping him and spreading precum over Jisung's tip. “We’ll be fine.”

“Hyung, just—” Jisung is immediately cut off when Minho wraps his lips around his cock. He's gotten enough blowjobs in the past to know what it’s supposed to feel like—when he's snuck people into the dorms when he knows everyone else is away—but none of those short-lived faces can compare to Minho.

Because fuck.

Minho drags his tongue up Jisung’s length, making his dick glisten with spit. His lips are warm as he takes Jisung in and works him in his mouth. He swirls his tongue around Jisung’s dick and sucks at the head. In the back of his mind, he wonders how many times Minho had to have done this to be so fucking good at it. How many people must have come before him for a quick release.

Before he can dwell on it, Minho is taking Jisung deeper, a hand coiling around the base of his cock where his mouth can't reach.

“Fuck, Min—” Jisung chokes out, Minho’s name splitting into sharp fragments as it leaves his lips. "I'm gonna fucking—"

Jisung shuts up when his dick hits the back of Minho's throat. He weaves his hands into Minho's hair and tugs gently at the strands. There are muffled mewls coming from Minho, and it's hell. All Jisung wants is to crane his head up a little and see how Minho’s body bends while Jisung's dick is in his mouth. How his back curves while he’s sucking Jisung off.

When he does, Minho is gazing back at him through his lashes, lust brimming in his irises. There is a pale pink blush scattered across Minho's cheeks and collarbones that makes him glow, even in the dismal light of his room.

Jisung regrets looking. He squeezes his eyes shut.

It only takes a few pathetic minutes before he comes down Minho’s throat, his lips molded into the shape of Minho's name, a slew of curses following it. His entire body shakes, and he is pulling at Minho's hair with clenched fists, trying to ground himself by focusing on how the sheets beneath him scratch at the surface of his skin.

Despite his efforts, he turns into a thick curl of smoke, gradually fading out of existence.

“Fuck,” Jisung pants, barely managing to catch his breath. “What the fuck was that?”

Minho straightens his spine and wipes the back of his hand against his lips. “Good?” he asks, looking extremely content with himself.

“I—” Jisung doesn’t really have the words to answer properly, but he wants Minho to feel the same loss of control over himself as he had, even if it was over a goddamn blowjob. So he pushes himself upright, his fingertips flitting down Minho's arm and arousal undulating at the thought of getting Minho off. “Yeah... it was good. But let me do the same for you.”

Minho's hand blocks his before it can move any further down. "No," he states, his tone guarded with blades and wires.

Jisung frowns. "Why?"

"They'll be back soon," Minho says, repeating his words from earlier. He doesn’t even glance at the time and lugs himself off of the mattress. From this angle, Jisung can make out the outline of Minho's dick, half-hard in his sweats. "Probably don't want them to walk in on us."

"You just said that they won't be back for a while."

"We should still be careful," Minho reasons, scratching at the back of his neck. "Who knows when they'll actually be back?"

Ten minutes ago, Minho had been the epitome of enthusiasm, indifferent about the fact that they live with six other guys. Then he fluttered his eyelashes with Jisung’s dick in his mouth, made Jisung come, and now he decides he's going to be careful?

The pit of his stomach burns.

Jisung sits back as he watches Minho walk out of his room, Minho’s hair sticking up wildly while his lips are puffy and red. Moments later, he hears the rush of the shower reverberate through the dorm, the steam from the bathroom seeping into his room. He doesn't have to see or hear anything to know what Minho's up to.

Minho comes back to his room with freshly-washed hair and a new change of clothes. He buries himself back in Jisung's covers.

"I'm sleepy," Minho mumbles into the pillow. His voice still carries a hoarseness from earlier. "Goodnight."

It's still too early in the night for Jisung to sleep. That doesn't stop him from uttering a "goodnight" back.

Neither of them speak afterward. Minho falls asleep with his back to Jisung.

But Jisung lies awake. He spends the rest of the night driving the feeling of Minho’s lips—pressed against his mouth or wrapped around his cock—down, down, down.

 

 

 

Even though Jisung wakes up in his own bed, his blankets drape over him in an unfamiliar way. Everything feels grimy as he enters full consciousness. His mouth tastes like bitter-morning, his skin is coated in a layer of sweat, and he's still donning the clothes from last night, cotton fabric tangled around his torso. His pants remain in a heap on the other side of the room.

Sunlight streams in through the window, a shade of tourmaline that’s perforated by the shutters. Jisung drags the pillow out from under his head and smothers himself with it. He lets out a groan.

It says something when this is a new low for him.

In the narrow expanse of his twin-sized mattress and gray sheets, he realizes that he is in bed alone, but it’s an unsurprising fact. Minho always rises earlier than him, almost never waking Jisung up unless they have schedules that day. It’s just the considerate thing to do.

So the last thing that should be on his mind is how he wishes Minho would've nudged him awake, just to quell some of the apprehension that permeated the air last night. The apprehension that, now that Jisung is fully awake, he realizes he hasn't been able to sleep off.

But his train of thought begins to spiral down a volatile path. Suddenly, he’s thinking about how Minho—last night in repose—turned around, circled an arm around his waist, and hitched a leg over his thigh. That memory makes his heart fold in on itself.

It’s too fucking early for this, Jisung tells himself as he tries to white-out every last thought. Though, the ink bleeds through his efforts and he’s left just… thinking.

He shakes his head. He peels himself off the bed, not bothering to change out of his clothes. He does, however, attempt to flatten the creases to make himself look more presentable, but it's futile in the end. So in his wrinkled navy t-shirt and boxers, he strolls into the kitchen for sustenance, the wood planks cool under the soles of his feet.

It’s also unsurprising when Minho is already there.

“Good morning,” says Minho, bursting with energy as he shuffles around with plates in his hands. He pauses to slide his eyes down Jisung. “You look like shit.”

He never expected anything less than blunt from Minho.

But Jisung only blinks, reaction-time lagging. By the time he’s ready to fire back a response, he takes one good look at Minho, who just looks… normal. He looks like how he usually looks—which is to say, really good—and he doesn’t resemble the mess that Jisung is right now.

“Well, anyway, I made food,” Minho says after a moment of silence.

Jisung looks down at the plate of pancakes on the table. Sits down, pierces his fork in, and takes a bite without thinking twice. Immediately, he wrinkles his nose. “Why the fuck are these pancakes salty?”

“‘Cause they’re not pancakes,” Minho scoffs indignantly. “They’re like savory crepes or something.”

Jisung spears the prongs of his fork into the pancake. Or extremely thick crepe—he isn’t so sure anymore. “Aren’t crepes supposed to be like… thin?”

“Give me a break,” Minho groans. “It was my first attempt.”

“Not the cooking expert anymore, are you?” Jisung teases weakly. “Maybe I should give you a masterclass.”

“Yeah, because watching one episode of a cooking show makes you the expert,” Minho says with a click of his tongue. “I’d like to see you try.”

“You just watch me.”

“You’d be more likely to burn the entire building down.”

“Fuck off,” Jisung bluffs. “I would not.”

Minho snorts. “Don’t come crying to me when we have no place to live.”

“Park Jinyoung would pay for it.”

“Sure he would,” Minho drawls, shaking his head in slight disbelief. “At the expense of your paycheck.”

Jisung rolls his eyes. He takes another bite—the taste is there, in all honesty. Only the texture is questionable. Then, as if everything is normal, he finds himself asking: “Wanna go get coffee?”

“Yeah,” Minho replies in an instant. Warmth bubbles in his chest even though the answer is expected. “Give me ten minutes and we’ll go.”

True to his word, they’re out of the dorm in ten minutes, with Jisung cleaned up and Minho out of his house clothes. They order two iced coffees and two red bean pastries (to make up for his failed crepes, is Minho’s reasoning) and eat in a secluded corner of the cafe.

There’s absolutely no acknowledgement from Minho about last night. And Jisung isn’t going to bring it up either.

They’re teasing each other, laughing as they always do.

So it doesn’t matter if they don’t talk about it—or never talk about it, actually. He knows they’re somewhere on the same wavelength; it’s just something that happened, something to relieve stress. Something to make Jisung feel a little less empty and perhaps something Minho finds to be lighthearted fun, but everything will be okay. As long as it never happens again.

 

 

 

Jisung is mistaken, of course, because it happens again.

They're in the early stages of comeback preparations: recording demos, starting on choreography, finalizing the styling and concept.

While Minho spends most of his day in the studio with their resident choreographer, Jisung is crammed into the studio with Chan and Changbin. The deafening notes and chords of tens and hundreds of songs fill his ears like sheets of gauze. By the end of the night, Jisung can barely hear himself think.

So Chan forces him to leave early when he catches Jisung drifting off into sleep because "you're not gonna get anything done like this,” despite his protests to stay. Jisung complies, only because he's too tired to argue about the state of his wakefulness, and there's always the promise of a productive tomorrow. He shoves all of his things—papers, pens, notebook—into his bag and steps out of the building, the city's smoke-steeped air washing over him in waves.

His phone buzzes.

It's Minho. A text: come back. everyone's gone.

Jisung texts him back—already on my way—a pang materializing in his chest when he hits send. It's a constant battle between wanting to work until he's running on empty versus wanting to do nothing but exist. But this entire week has gone by without Jisung really crossing paths with Minho, even though they live together, except for the measly hours of quiet they get in the depth of night.

He (kind of) misses Minho.

He makes his way home, relishing in the muted warmth of spring. There's a sudden outpour of energy in his body then; he's impatient to spend some time with Minho before it's stolen from them once again. Unintentionally, Jisung makes it to the dorm in less than ten minutes.

Jisung shoves the key into the keyhole and flings the door open. The entire place is vast darkness, his eyes only registering black and gray patches, except for the sliver of light coming from his room.

When he walks in, Minho is draped across his bed, taking free reign over his blankets.

Jisung tsks. "Get out.”

"You don't mean that,” Minho singsongs, scrolling through his phone, absentminded.

Jisung sighs because he doesn't. He throws his bag and jacket off to the side and pulls his shirt over his head, changing into something more comfortable. Minho rolls over so Jisung can crawl in next to him. An arm snakes around his waist. Minho pulls Jisung in close.

He turns around to face Minho. “Where is everyone?”

Minho hums. “Went out to eat after practice. And Chan-hyung and Changbin are still at the studio, I’m guessing.”

“Didn’t join them?”

“Nope,” Minho says, his eyes closed in respite. “Didn’t feel like it.”

“Why not?” Jisung chuckles, because it’s odd when Minho rarely passes on a chance to go out. “What happened to you?”

Minho just looks at him through half-lidded eyes. His fingers creep up and skim Jisung’s jawline.

“Because,” Minho whispers, his words a warm breeze against Jisung’s nose. “Wanted to do something else.”

And it's like this again.

Jisung doesn't even know how it happens, but there's a look in Minho's eyes that's foreign. Yet, familiarity runs hot through his veins and he’s brought back to a week ago, when Minho gazed at him like this right before he kissed him. With a surge of bravery, Jisung guides Minho’s thumb into his mouth. Sucks on it for a second, lowering his chin so his eyes catch the light and gleam under the orange hue of tungsten lights.

He hears Minho’s breath hitch. His eyes are glued to Jisung’s lips.

It’s Jisung who pulls Minho’s finger out of his mouth and draws Minho in closer and closer with a hand on the back of his neck. It’s Jisung who connects their lips without hesitation. It’s Jisung who tilts his head just a little so the angle is right and lets Minho nip at his bottom lip.

But it’s Minho whose hand cups Jisung’s face, then wanders his fingers lower and lower like the first time. It’s Minho who trails his lips down Jisung’s neck, teeth grazing his skin as he tugs at the hem of Jisung’s shirt. Who forces Jisung to flip onto his back and drags his blunt nails over Jisung’s stomach.

Minho digs the heel of his hand into Jisung’s crotch, and he grows hot under the touch. His body shudders at the sight of Minho, who looks like pure ecstasy. Fucking gorgeous, with his eyes dark, lips bitten pink, hair disheveled. And Jisung is filled with unbridled lust, his rationality reduced to the space in between his legs, impatient for Minho’s hands, mouth, anything, to touch him.

“Jisung?” asks Minho, hand hovering over his waistband.

“Yeah, please,” Jisung is able to exhale, already falling apart even though Minho hasn’t done anything. “God.”

With haste, Minho tugs down the zipper of his jeans and pulls them off, along with his boxers. Everything is tossed onto the floor. He’s in full display like this—his cock hard on his stomach as Minho positions himself in between Jisung’s thighs. Jisung waits for what feels like an eternity for Minho to dip down and push him past his lips.

He’s still waiting.

Jisung is usually more patient than this, but that's when his legs aren’t spread in front of Minho, when he isn’t leaking onto his bare skin, and when Minho isn't digging his fingernails into the flesh of Jisung's thighs. He sucks in a sharp breath, and his irrationality multiplies.

“You’re being so fucking slow,” Jisung huffs shamelessly. “If you’re gonna do something, then do it.”

Minho doesn’t entertain a verbal response. His irritation melts away with the fire that replaces his bloodstream when Minho spits into his palm and wraps his fingers around his cock. Jisung clenches his teeth as Minho begins to stroke him with warm and steady hands, and he can only speak in loud and drawn-out moans. He craves more, please, more.

And fuck, if this is his reaction when Minho barely touches him, he can only wonder what it would be like if Minho fingered him open. What it would feel like if Minho stretched him open, and kissed his lips until they were numb and red, and then fucked him. Or—or Jisung could be the one to make Minho feel like he’s floating on a cloud of lecherous smoke. He could brush his fingers against Minho’s prostate, thrust into him, and hear the music of Minho’s pretty mewls.

“Oh, fuck,” Jisung whines, clawing at the sheets as Minho continues to fuck him with his hand.

“You’re so damn talkative,” Minho sneers, but Jisung catches a glimpse of his eyes, glassy and filmed over with moon water. And Jisung chases the feeling of the loose fist Minho has created with his fingers, wanting nothing but to be shoved across the brink. Minho tightens his grip then, creating perpetual friction between their skin.

“I swear to—” Jisung tries to say, but his hips jerk involuntarily and his muscles clench. “Fuck, Minho.”

With his breathing rapid and shallow, Jisung spills all over Minho’s hand, the whisper of Minho's name and his own heartbeat thrumming in his ears. Post-orgasm Jisung is a little delirious and far too gone. Minutes elapse as Jisung watches Minho sit in front of him—cum all over his palm—with his chest rising and falling erratically until he’s forged a steady rhythm.

Minho eventually pries himself off of Jisung to grab the box of tissues to wipe his hand clean, and the loss of warmth is enough to make Jisung whine.

In the vacuum chamber of Jisung’s room, it’s silent. Slowly, his eyes fall down to the obvious bulge in Minho’s sweatpants.

“Let me help,” Jisung says, shattering the silence while Minho is discarding the tissues into the trash can.

Minho turns around to stare at him blankly, before his gaze follows to where Jisung is looking. His cheeks rise scarlet, but he shakes his head. “Don’t worry about it.”

Jisung tries to stutter out that it doesn’t bother him—he can be of help too—but before he can, Minho is leaving again. The shower turns on minutes later.

He doesn’t understand what the fuck Minho is accomplishing from this. Jisung comes with Minho’s name tattooed on his lips and then—

The shower shuts off, and Minho returns, as if nothing ever happened. But Minho is still wearing the same clothes from earlier, his skin shining with a tinge of red, and strands of his hair sticking to his forehead.

Jisung’s mouth runs dry. So Minho got himself off in the bathroom. That’s great.

“Move over,” Minho tells him as he slides into Jisung’s bed, Jisung still frozen in his spot.

“Go sleep in your own room,” Jisung retorts after he blinks himself back to the present, but he pushes himself against the wall anyway.

“You keep saying shit like that, but I know you want me here,” Minho remarks, his lips curled into a smirk. “Acting like you don’t is getting really old.”

Jisung frowns petulantly as Minho crawls under the covers. To be honest, the biting remarks are just for show. At the end of the day, Jisung wants nothing but to spend some time with Minho. Jisung wants him here.

And here Minho is, with his body fitted against Jisung’s. His hands are against Jisung’s skin, but they’re lukewarm and not magnetized with flames. Wisps of Minho’s breath graze the back of Jisung’s neck, and it’s tranquility at its core.

 

 

 

Weeks pass before they have the dorm to themselves again.

It’s already the third fucking time they’ve done this. Minho invades Jisung’s room. They lie around—doing nothing but soaking in each other’s presence—and then Minho’s lips find their way to his. Or the other way around, Jisung doesn’t know. And Minho's mouth drags down his neck and maps Jisung’s body, his eyes a dark sea of boundless lust.

Then, Jisung finds himself on his back, Minho suspended over him and sitting between his thighs. His hand draws Jisung’s cock out of his boxers and his soft mouth takes him in. Jisung tries to suppress his moans, knowing that they’re acting on limited time and someone could come back at any second. He yanks hard on Minho’s hair instead, faint gasps leaving Minho’s lips between pulls.

When Jisung comes, it’s into Minho's mouth with the back of his hand pressed against his own, his body arching off of the mattress. Relief soars through him in an instant. Their jagged breathing floods the room, but stabilizes after a few minutes, and Minho leans back down to press some lazy, wet kisses along the edge of his jawline.

Jisung wraps his fingers around Minho’s wrist and offers to return the favor.

He expects it when Minho says no and leaves the room, but his heart still drops to his stomach.

Then, the shower is running.

Minho returns to Jisung’s room with his hair a little fucked and flushed cheeks, and he falls asleep in Jisung’s arms.

Jisung remains cognizant. When Jeongin is back from his vocal lessons, Jisung points at the sleeping Minho in his arms, hushing Jeongin so he doesn’t wake him up.

Hours later, Jisung finally drifts off into sleep.

The third time creates a cycle.

But it’s the fifth time that solidifies a routine.

Whenever they’re the only ones in the dorm—which happens more often these days when Minho weaves time between their schedules—Minho will kiss him until he’s dizzy, and then his hand will get him off. On the rare occasion that neither of them are bound to responsibility the next day, Minho will suck him until his body is dry, Jisung’s breathing labored as he rides out his orgasm.

After he comes, Jisung always asks to return the favor. Minho always declines and not so discreetly jerks off in the bathroom. However, Minho returns and shoves himself back into Jisung’s bed some time later, and they fall asleep with their limbs tangled together.

It doesn’t matter what they do, but in the end, Minho never lets Jisung get him off. To Jisung, it doesn’t make any sense why. But if it’s what Minho wants, Jisung won’t push it too much.

Besides, they’re only doing this because it’s easier to fuck around like this—with someone they’re comfortable with, someone who works on the same clock as they do.

It’s just something to make Jisung feel less empty when the moon is sewn into the sky’s highest point and something Minho does to pass the time. Because it’s fun, an easy way to release stress without any problems.

Really, there are no problems at all.

 

 

 

Jisung first meets Lee Minho in a cramped conference room, one that the company refuses to repair because nobody uses it except for trainees. Which apparently, Jisung later learns, trainees are not a priority for JYP. They are left to their own devices until someone is yelling at them to be better, work harder, learn faster.

It’s hypocrisy at its finest.

Regardless, the first time he meets Minho is in a dated, windowless conference room.

Jisung scans the room. He’s friends with some of the boys, acquainted with some of the others. There’s Bang Chan, who is the eldest out of everyone and the one Jisung goes to for guidance. Seo Changbin, a rapper. Yang Jeongin, the youngest singer. Kim Seungmin, another singer. And then—

There’s an unfamiliar face amongst the group of boys. The boy had introduced himself ten minutes earlier as Lee Minho, a new trainee and a dancer, but Jisung didn’t catch any more than that because his ears submerged with white noise the minute Minho slinks back down in his seat. He is completely zoned out by the time Chan starts saying something about trainee groups and survival shows and possible debut, and Jisung knows he needs to pay attention. After all, this is his future and career they’re discussing.

But he can’t help it when he spends the next hour carelessly staring at Minho.

Technically, he doesn’t have a first impression of Minho because his mind goes haywire and short-circuits. But what he considers his first impression is this: Lee Minho is really handsome.

Like really handsome.

Minho has a certain attentiveness etched into his features as he listens to Chan, with his lips slightly pursed and eyes somewhat narrowed, and Jisung thinks Minho has found himself in the wrong place. Someone with Minho’s face should be modeling, printed on giant billboards. He should have his face plastered on the side of a bus as he advertises beer or skincare or soju, not sitting in a dingy conference room in the JYP building with seven other boys.

Then, Minho is smiling at something Chan has said.

And Jisung’s breath catches in his throat, his chest pressed down like a pedal.

He traces his eyes along the curves of Minho’s mouth, soft and warm and enticing. Minho’s smile is something he’s only seen on actors when they finally reunite with their true love at the end of a drama. But Jisung is certain he’s not hallucinating; this is just Minho’s natural smile. It’s pretty.

He doesn’t exchange a word with Minho that day. Jisung isn’t even sure that Minho knows of his existence.

But it’s later that night, when Jisung’s second impression of Lee Minho sinks in.

He doesn’t like Minho at all.

Debuting is a competition, and he had been there when Chan was talking about their chances to debut. Minho had also been there. Therefore, Jisung irrationally concludes that Minho is competition.

In the next few days, he passes by Minho in the hallways several times. Jisung keeps his head down so they never acknowledge each other, but Minho is already on friendly levels with just about everybody else. He steals Changbin away for lunch, forcing Jisung to eat with another group of trainees lest he eat alone. Teaches Felix the intricacies of Korean, when that was something Jisung had been (half-heartedly) helping him with.

So this Lee Minho person. Beautiful, handsome, amiable Minho, is not only here to be his competition, but he’s also here to be Jisung’s replacement. Not to mention that they fill completely different roles—with Jisung being a rapper, and Minho being a dancer—but he’s still vying for Jisung’s spot. Everything is absolutely amazing.

A week later, Jisung is practicing for trainee evaluations that are coming up in a few days. The back of his shirt clings to his damp and sweat-saturated skin, and his hair is matted down by perspiration. The room is humid, unpleasant to stay in, but he’s unable to leave until he has every last note burned into his vocal chords and every last dance move engraved into the fibers of his muscles.

Then, he hears a knock on the practice room’s door.

Jisung groans. It’s probably Chan or Changbin checking up on him, bringing him something to eat or drink. But that means he has to haul his ass to the door. So he does, but not without shouting a complaint at Chan. Which it most definitely is Chan, even if the frosted glass panel blurs the figure on the other side.

He flings the door open.

Jisung freezes, stock-still.

“Hey, uh—” Minho starts, his eyes widening when he sees Jisung. Like he had been expecting someone else. “I just—”

Without thinking, Jisung slams the door in his face.

He winces when it registers in his clouded brain because, way to go, Jisung. You are a fucking dumbass. You really just slammed the door in Minho’s face, didn’t you? A minute later, he re-opens the door. Minho is still standing there, but the past hesitance on his face is replaced with sheer confusion.

“I wanted to ask,” Minho starts again cautiously, his voice surprisingly airy and soft. “If you were willing to share the room for an hour? If it’s not a problem—I mean—but the rest of the rooms are locked.”

Jisung peeks his head out of the door frame. Sure enough, the rest of the practice rooms along the length of the hall are darkened, locked for the night because there’s not many people left in the building. Asking Jisung to share this room was likely Minho’s only option.

“Sure,” says Jisung, stepping out of the way so Minho can enter.

Minho nods and walks past Jisung, plugging his headphone jack into his phone.

“Sorry, by the way,” Jisung belatedly mutters as an apology. “I didn’t mean to do that.”

Minho’s confusion visibly turns into smugness, when a grin overtakes his face. It’s wider than the one he had seen in the conference room, and the edges of his eyes crinkle, until they’re shaped into crescents. Jisung ignores how his heart flutters when the smile is directed at him. Nobody else. Him.

“So you don’t greet everyone by slamming a door in their face? Just me?” asks Minho. He huffs out a laugh. “No wonder.”

Jisung is unable to avert his gaze from Minho’s lips, but a crease forms between his brows. “What does that mean?”

Minho shrugs. The smile has toned down a bit, but it hasn’t left his face. “It means whatever you want it to mean.”

Jisung just narrows his eyes at him, who remains unbothered as he strolls towards the other corner of the room, shoving earbuds into his ears and queuing music on his phone.

“I’m Jisung, by the way,” he blurts before Minho can wander off too far, even if they’re confined in the same space. He doesn’t know what possessed him, or where the words came from, but then Minho is turning around and unplugging his earphones. Under Minho’s gaze, Jisung rubs the back of his neck awkwardly.

“Yeah, I know,” Minho responds easily. It takes a moment to strike him that Minho apparently does know who he is. When it eventually does, his heart jumps, alight for a split second in his chest. “I’m Minho. Nice to meet you, Jisung-ssi.”

Jisung cringes slightly at the stiff formality in Minho’s words. “Nice to meet you too,” he parrots.

In that moment, the dislike Jisung carries for Minho unravels and is reshaped into intrigue.

He wants to know more about Lee Minho, the boy with callous words on his tongue but the prettiest smile on his lips.

 

 

 

Jisung has lost count of how many times they’ve fucked around like this.

It always happens in Jisung’s room, where Minho traces his lust-drenched fingertips down the line of his jaw until they reach the waistband of his pants. Minho whispers a string of words that is eerily similar to a Can I?, and Jisung nods because the answer is always yes. After, Minho listens to Jisung gasp for air, each gust of oxygen that enters his lungs fueling the fire in his ribcage that has burned for an eternity.

There are days that pass where they don’t do anything at all. But Jisung knows that in a couple of days, they’ll fall back into their newly constructed habits, and when they do, he will know nothing but the taste of Minho’s lips as they touch his. It kind of tastes like the green tea he drinks during dinner in place of coffee. Tastes like an all-consuming sweetness, adhering to the surface of his tongue long after Minho has pulled away.

Sometimes, it tastes like nothing at all.

He doesn’t know if he tastes regret.

And then comes the time when Jisung asks if Minho wants to switch places. Otherwise, what would be the point of this entire thing?

Jisung gets a little carried away at times by the thought of making Minho feel good, like how Minho would move under him, with his graceful dancer hips and lean muscle, and how Minho’s body would shudder by the work of Jisung’s fingers. But it becomes more difficult to ask each time Minho answers with a cold, hard no.

On occasion, he watches as Minho gnaws at his bottom lip in thought, but the answer remains the same.

It’s jarring every time, but Jisung pretends as though Minho’s refusal doesn’t carve a new crack into the walls of his heart. At the same time, the lullaby of Minho’s breathing against his hair when he returns to Jisung’s room for the night helps him fall asleep.

Jisung wakes up the next morning, the smell of the breakfast that Minho has made for everyone wafting through the dorm. Throughout the rest of the day, there resides a permanent ache in his chest, one that feels as though his ribs are bruised from laughing at all of Minho’s jokes.

The other ache stemming from—

It doesn’t matter, because then Minho is dragging Jisung into his own room, and he can’t really remember anything else.

 

 

 

“I got this for you,” Minho says, lifting the coffee cup in this hand. “It was buy one, get one free.”

Jisung pinches his brows together. He is sitting alone in the practice room—the only place of solace he has these days—pretending like he was doing more than just sitting alone in the practice room. In comes Minho, at nine in the fucking morning, with two cups of coffee from the Starbucks that Jisung knows is a ten minute walk from the dorm. Over twenty minutes if his final destination is the JYP building.

So Minho went out of his way for overpriced drinks at Starbucks instead of drinking the watered down excuse of coffee they have in the cafeteria. It isn’t all that strange; Jisung appreciates the caffeine. But when he puts into consideration the fact that he barely knows anything about Minho, other than his name, age, and how he got into JYP, then it is.

Strange.

“Thank you…?” Jisung says as he takes the cup out of Minho’s grip.

Minho settles down beside him in the corner of the room, back curved against the drywall. It’s just something they do now, it seems, after the first practice room incident. Minho will barge into the room whenever Jisung is in there alone at the crack of dawn (he practically lives in this place now.) He will wave hello to Jisung, but he doesn’t say anything else. Just plugs earbuds into his ears and marks dance moves in the corner.

But there are times where it’s like this, and they sit in suspended silence.

The only sound that cuts through is the rattling of the ice against the cup. Or the slurp of a straw. The taps of his foot against the floor in a variable beat.

Jisung doesn’t know how to start a conversation with Minho. Besides spending hours in each other’s vicinity, they’ve never actually talked before. They will acknowledge one another if they cross paths in the building, and every now and then, Minho will ask how Jisung’s doing, what song he’s working on. Those topics will spark some small talk for ten measly minutes.

Other than that, they’ve never actually talked.

At least, not in the way that Jisung would like to talk to Minho.

Mostly because he’s slightly, and only slightly, intimidated by Lee Minho. Minho is all good looks, fluid dancing, and wit. There is a tiny—the absolute tiniest—burn of envy in his stomach because Minho seems to be friends with everyone. Literally everyone, even the steely front-desk receptionist and the repairman, except for Jisung.

(He would rather eat a bowl of sand than admit that though.)

Jisung swallows his pride.

“You didn’t have to bring me anything,” he says, breaking the silence.

Minho shrugs. “It'd be a waste not to. There was a deal anyway.”

“Was there now?”

The Starbucks that Minho went to is notorious for being expensive, and none of them dare go there unless they have extra cash to spare. Other than the scary vocal instructor and fickle debut plans, it’s not like the trainees have anything better to gossip about. As a result, things like coupons at the convenience store and deals on coffee get treated like bold-fonted, breaking news. If the prices at Starbucks suddenly plummeted, Jisung would know.

“You wouldn't believe how much they charge for this shit.” Minho says, finally surrendering information as he takes a sip. “It’s like they’re trying to run me out of my money.”

“You still chose to buy it though,” Jisung says, bringing the straw to his lips. It’s been so long since he’s had coffee that doesn’t taste like burnt water, even if the next best thing is Starbucks. “And now that they have your money, the cycle is just gonna keep going.”

“Yeah,” Minho sighs, placing his cup on the floor. “I guess I didn’t think that one through.”

Jisung rolls his eyes. “Sounds like a you problem.”

“You’re a little shit,” Minho scoffs. “I bought you your coffee, and this is how you wanna talk to me.”

Jisung arches a brow. “Thought it was buy one, get one free, hyung.”

“Oh my god,” Minho chuckles with mock-bitterness. The tips of his ears turn pink. “I wish you’d shut the fuck up.”

Jisung can’t help but tease a little. He has never seen Minho completely break out of his chilling demeanor while Jisung is around. Until now, that is. “No, you just like me that much, don’t you?” he coos, but the words leaving his mouth don’t carry any weight. “Enough to buy your favorite dongsaeng coffee.”

Minho raises a brow. “Who said you were my favorite?”

“I did,” Jisung states simply. “My opinion matters, you know.”

“Sure it does,” Minho utters as he snatches Jisung’s cup from his grasp.

“Hey! That’s mine, you asshole,” Jisung yelps as Minho takes a generous sip of his drink.

Minho drops the half-filled cup back in Jisung’s hands. “I’m never doing anything nice for you ever again.”

Jisung nods, smug. “Okay.”

“You can rot in here forever for all I care.”

“Okay,” Jisung repeats. “What do you think I was doing before you were here?”

Minho doesn’t say anything. Rather, he squints at Jisung menacingly.

Jisung narrows his eyes back.

Now, they’re having some sort of staring contest, but Jisung makes the unfortunate mistake of forgetting to unfocus his eyes. He can feel his cheeks heating up bright crimson as he continues to hold his stare. If he has to look into Minho’s eyes any longer, he will surely go crazy at the crystalline glimmer in Minho’s eyes, so he forces himself to look away and erupts into a flurry of giggles.

Not long after, Minho cracks and begins to laugh along with him, his eyes folded into half-moons. The cadence of Minho’s laughter and the way his face brightens tenfold, Jisung is acutely aware when his heart does a pirouette because of how pretty and nice and... pretty everything about Minho is.

“Sorry, hyung,” says Jisung through slowing gasps of laughter. “You’re the best. Thanks for this.”

“You don’t mean that,” Minho says, seeing right through his honeyed words. “I know you’re just trying to scam me out of my money again.”

Jisung cups his face with one of his hands, jutting out his bottom lip in a pout. “Does this look like the face of a scammer?”

Minho observes him. Seriously. Observes him like Jisung has invisible words written on his forehead, but to Minho, it's penned in black, chisel tip marker. Jisung shivers. Then, Minho tears his eyes away and just scoffs.

Having this one conversation with Minho is easy. It’s a conversation over absolutely nothing of importance, but by the end of it, Jisung feels as though he has known Minho for longer than a month. Like he’s known Minho for his entire life, when in reality, this is just the beginning.

There is so much more to Minho he has yet to know. So many more layers that Jisung has yet to uncover.

The thought of doing so is terrifying, but he wants to. He has never wanted anything more.

 

 

 

It’s been a long fucking day.

He has spent fourteen hours out of the twenty-four today writing lyric after lyric inside of a dark, unlit studio. Nothing is right, though. Everything sounds like he could have written when he was fifteen and still searching up synonyms for sad. He calls it quits when his brain is a mass of fog, crumples up a notebook’s worth of loose-leaf paper, and leaves the room.

Jisung sighs. This would’ve never happened if he didn’t have the genius idea of adding another track onto their comeback album right before the song deadline. It would’ve never happened if he didn’t bring it up incidentally to Changbin, who brought it up to Chan, and then they’re both acting like this song has the potential to be the most innovative thing since the invention of sliced bread or the assembly line.

But it’s not. The words sound sad, dull, and ashen, like he cried all over the paper and traced the shape of his tears with a shaky hand.

He just wants to go home. Binge-watch an anime. Sleep until the week passes. Spend some time with Minho. Forget about his lofty list of responsibilities. Cook a package of ramen. Spend some more time with Minho. Move into a village hut. Spend the rest of his miserable, reclusive life with Minho.

He draws his phone out of his back pocket and checks the time. The numbers shine directly at him, but he’s sidetracked by the text Minho sent him, dated back to an hour ago.

 

linoring~
i’m in the practice room
the small one by the vending machines upstairs

 

Jisung wishes he would have checked his phone an hour earlier instead of trying to squeeze words out of his dry sponge of a brain and receiving nothing. Still, he supposes it better late than never, so he hurries down the hallway and up the stairs until his lungs are begging for air.

He glances down the hallway where the vending machine stands.

The lights are still on.

Jisung creaks the door open. Minho is sitting at the electric piano, pressing chords and scales down into the keys. No sound chimes from the piano’s speakers because it’s unplugged, but Minho is so engaged in faux piano playing that he doesn’t even notice Jisung entering. There’s a slight grin on Minho’s face, like he is incredibly amused at both himself and the art of silent piano playing.

“Hey Beethoven,” says Jisung, shaking Minho out of his trance. “What are you doing?”

Minho flinches, turning to Jisung with a forced scowl on his face.

“I took offense to that, by the way,” Minho says as he scoots the piano bench back. “I’m hotter than Beethoven.”

Jisung drops his bag onto the floor. He sits down in Minho’s lap. “You are,” he says in agreement.

Maybe that wasn’t the answer Minho had been expecting because he scrunches his nose in disgust.

It’s quiet. They just stare at each other for a moment. Minho’s hand finds its way onto Jisung’s thigh, and Jisung keeps his eyes steady on Minho as his fingers slide up, plumes of goosebumps rising on Jisung’s skin. He wraps his fingers around Minho’s wrist, and the expression that follows is one Jisung has never been witness to. It’s clouded with complication, even if a smile tugs at the corners of Minho’s mouth.

It’s too much to deliberate tonight, so Jisung shuts up any hesitation by kissing Minho. Tilts his head down, curls his hand around the back of Minho’s neck, and meets Minho with a kiss. As Jisung kisses Minho, one of Minho’s hand grips Jisung’s inner thigh hard. A whimper escapes as Minho's fingers continue to dig into his thighs, even when there’s a layer of denim between their skin.

But it's not enough. Jisung tangles his fingers into Minho’s hair. The piano bench is small and narrow; it barely has any space for their roaming hands.

“Stand up,” Jisung whispers against Minho’s parted lips. He slides off the bench with struggle, his bones gradually melting into molasses. He pulls Minho up by the hands, rough and calloused at the edges, but they fit with Jisung’s perfectly.

And then Jisung’s back hits the door. Minho’s lips latch onto his neck. There’s hunger in how Minho sucks on his skin, increased pressure in the most sensitive spots. It stings like this is the first and last time they’ll ever do this.

“You’re gonna leave a mark, you fucking monster,” Jisung mutters, his chest light. “We still have practice tomorrow morning.”

Minho doesn’t completely pull away, his lips ghosting across Jisung’s collarbone instead. He leaves a trail of light kisses that won't draw attention from the others tomorrow. And they’re in a goddamn practice room, confined and used solely for vocal training, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what Minho does—whether it’s a hot, open-mouthed kiss, or a light peck—because it ignites him all the same.

Fuck—Minho—” Jisung moans. His voice comes out breathier than he anticipated, the sound leaving an aftertaste that causes Minho to grin into his neck.

God. You talk so fucking much,” Minho rasps between kisses.

“It’s part of my charm,” Jisung says. “I know you like it.”

Minho hums. The kisses have become gentle presses of lips on skin. “The room’s supposed to be soundproof, but I don’t think that’s gonna save your ass.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Jisung hisses and tugs at the bottom of Minho’s shirt, drawing him in even closer. “You gonna do something or not, baby?”

He doesn’t even mean to say the pet name; it just slips out. He can’t take it back, as hard as he tries to with the staggered breathing that drowns the small space between them. Can’t collect the syllables and letters and shove them into his pocket like they never existed. But Jisung can see when it hits Minho’s ears because he freezes, still as concrete. His hands remain locked around Jisung’s waist but his body begins to pull away.

And Jisung knows. He knows he just fucked up.

He fucked up.

Because this is only supposed to be fun. Nothing else. There are unwritten rules that come with things like this. He isn’t sure that he knows what all the rules are, but if there’s one thing he is certain of, he just broke one of them.

Minho blinks at him. His eyelashes look like they’re long enough to brush against his cheekbones. He doesn’t say anything.

And Jisung just fucked up. He fucked everything up with one word.

One.

Except, if Jisung truly fucked up, then Minho wouldn’t be leaning back in for a kiss. His body wouldn’t be flush against Jisung’s again.

And this time, the kiss is more eager than any of the others. Greedy. They’re drinking each other down until they’re well beyond normal intoxication.

That’s all they do for what feels like a lifetime—kiss. Minho’s hands settle around his face, thumb grazing his cheek. They’re not kissing only for Minho to trail blazes with kisses down his neck. They’re not kissing only for Minho to fumble with the fly of Jisung’s pants so he can get him off. They’re just... kissing. It isn’t a means to an end, and warmth fills Jisung until his knees are weak at how Minho kisses him, body threatening to disintegrate into a pile of ashes while he’s in Minho’s embrace.

Then, there’s a dampened thud that resounds from outside of the door. Immediately, they break apart.

Someone is here.

“Did you check if anyone was still here?” Minho asks, voicing the exact thing Jisung had been thinking.

Jisung is careless. He didn’t double-check if any of the rooms downstairs were still occupied. Plus, the door to this room has a clear, glass insert, and anyone who walked past could see exactly what they were up to.

But Minho had texted him, and Jisung’s senses flew down the staircase and out the window as he was speed-walking (running) towards the practice room (Minho). The rationale he lost transformed into a swarm of pestilent butterflies that flapped their wings in Jisung’s chest until he felt like he was gliding atop air.

Delicate wings are crushed into fine powder under his reckless fingertips.

“I didn’t,” he mutters under his breath.

Minho steps back. Cautious, wary steps. “Then we probably shouldn’t do this here,” he says in a leery whisper. “But later.”

This is the first time either of them have acknowledged that whatever this is, will happen again.

“Yeah. Later.” Jisung nods, an unsettling feeling finding a home at the bottom of his stomach.

 

 

 

When later arrives, their routine changes.

They don’t kiss anymore.

Jisung expects Minho’s lips to land on his when he cants his head forward, but they always land on his jaw or neck instead. He tries to chase after Minho’s lips when their faces are hovering over each other and he feels Minho’s breath mingling with his own and sometimes they’re so close that it feels like they’re about to—

But it doesn’t happen.

It never does.

It just… stops.

 

 

 

Here’s the thing.

Minho knows almost everything about him. He can detect changes in Jisung’s emotions based on the tone of his voice or the twitch of his lips. He knows exactly how to cheer Jisung up when he gets into one of his moods.

Minho… just makes everything okay. Minho makes everything better.

But there is one thing Jisung has kept hidden for the past three years. He has mastered the act of suppression, to the point where he had once convinced himself that Minho meant nothing more than any of the other trainees, and when they debuted, he meant nothing more than the other members.

It started off as a malleable, surface-level dent, but as the years pass, Jisung has dug a hole in his heart in the shape and size of Lee Minho. And for so long, Jisung thought he had cemented it shut until the empty space became a conglomeration of feelings and memories he couldn’t quite reach.

But who is he trying to convince? This is Minho he’s talking about. Minho, who knows how to love by extending an olive branch in the form of “I ordered an extra coffee by accident” or “these bags of chips were on sale.” Minho, who knows how to love with back massages and extra warm hands when Jisung winces more than usual during dance practices. Minho, who knows how to love by sneaking into his bed late at night when Jisung needs someone to hold onto.

This is Minho, who pretends he doesn’t know how to give love. But he does—he’s the most loving person Jisung has ever known. He knows how to give love with all he has, holding his candy-shelled heart in his hands, but he can’t receive it without turning into a blushing and bashful mess.

So Jisung likes to tease him a little. He likes to say “I love you, hyung,” cramming the words in at the most unexpected moments. It is successful in accomplishing his goal—flustering Minho—but Minho quickly learns what it takes to rattle Jisung in return until he’s incoherent.

During the holiday break, Jisung finds himself inside of Minho’s family home. He meets Minho’s parents, and they treat Jisung like he’s their second son. He is introduced to all of Minho’s cats, even takes his allergy medicine for the first time since he was in elementary school, because they are the light of Minho’s life.

Minho attempts to coax the cats out of their carriers by puckering his lips and making obnoxious kissy sounds. “This is Dori,” he tells Jisung, pointing to a tiny gray tabby that pads out of the carrier with a pink ribbon tied around his neck. “I think I’ve sent you pictures of him before.”

There is no think about it. Minho has sent him hundreds, if not thousands of pictures of all his cats, and Jisung has them all saved in an album named the loves of my life ♡. He even has a picture of Soonie set as his phone’s home screen, one where he’s wearing funky glasses and it looks like he’s frowning. Minho knows this too.

“Rub your fingers together and let him sniff them,” Minho informs him as Dori walks directly in Jisung’s direction. “He won’t hurt you; he’s a little shy around strangers, but he’ll warm up once he gets to know you.”

Jisung follows Minho’s directions. Dori warms up to him right away, and Jisung strokes the top of his head. Then, Dori is crawling into Jisung’s lap and lying down.

Beside him, Minho’s eyes are a mosaic of stars and lights.

“Huh,” Minho marvels. “I’ve never seen him be like that with strangers; he must really like you. Maybe he recognized you from our pictures.”

Because Minho has a collection of thousands of pictures with Jisung on his phone, a gallery’s worth from whenever they go out together. He apparently shows those photos to his cat, and Jisung has never been more endeared in his life.

And it’s then when Jisung realizes how inexplicably intertwined Minho has become in every aspect of his life. Minho is the first person he thinks of when he wakes up, his last thought before he falls asleep. The person who shares the exact same opalescent dream as he does, the person who laughs at the same brainless bullshit as he does. The person that he spends most of his days attached to the hip with, so he should be sick of Minho by now. But he isn't; there’s always something new to be discovered between them.

The person who makes him feel complete. The person who has become his second home.

And there it is.

The source of his fucking problems.

Jisung can pin the blame—for the loneliness and the void in his stomach—on his career. How he never has time to meet new people because he’s either working or trying to catch up on sleep.

But then, he’s lying under Minho, and it fills the void a little bit. Except, he’s been in love with Minho for three damn years now. Every time the true weight of their actions sinks in after he comes, the void creeps back—as a wider, more defined gap—when he realizes he will never have Minho as more than just his best friend.

To Minho, the two of them fucking around together is just something that happens. But to Jisung, it means everything. Inside the four walls of his bedroom, Minho causes him to come apart. He unstitches the seams Jisung had meticulously placed until he has no dignity remaining. Jisung is caged in a blur of euphoria, his heart ripped out of his chest and love on full display.

The thing is, when it comes to Minho, he doesn’t stand a chance.

He never has.

And when Jisung puts it like that, the irony of it all comes crashing down.

 

 

 

Minho was supposed to bring him lunch.

But the second Minho steps inside of the studio, the lock is turned, the lights are dimmed, and Jisung is crawling into his lap. Food forgotten, Jisung brings his lips down to Minho’s neck and covers every inch of his skin with wet, sloppy kisses. He grinds down—hands steadying his hips—into Minho’s groin on the couch in the back of the room.

It all happens so fast. Becomes difficult for him to breathe, his heart pounding against his ribcage as his hips move in tandem with Minho’s. He's trembling as he feels Minho growing hard under him, hot coils of arousal tightening in his stomach. Minho moans faintly into his ear, and the sound causes Jisung to secure his grip around him like an anchor.

They don’t kiss.

“Let me,” says Minho, adjusting their positions so he can undo the button on Jisung’s pants. In the lowlight of the room, he tugs his cock out of his boxers and smears precum up and down his length. Jisung reaches for Minho again, looping his arms around his neck. They lock eyes, and a loud gasp falls from Minho’s mouth as he looks at Jisung—his pupils blown wide—and their faces gravitate until their foreheads press against each other.

They still don't kiss.

Jisung’s mouth has forgotten its way of words when Minho’s hands are jerking him off. There is no sound, except for the quiet gasps cascading from his lips in between moans of ecstasy.

A part of him wants to stop because it’s so fucking self-destructive to have Minho close like this, while the rest of him doesn’t give a shit anymore. But he can’t look at Minho. So, he closes his eyes. Focuses entirely on the pleasure coursing through him and keeps it clasped to his chest.

Fuck, Jisung,” Minho rasps, his hand quickening its pace around Jisung’s dick. “You are so—”

He is so… what? Jisung wants to ask Minho what he was about to say, but before he can, his hips stutter and he releases over Minho’s hand, some of his cum soiling the fabric of Minho’s shirt.

Jisung leans back. Minho’s composure is completely broken, and he looks absolutely wrecked—rosy cheeks, skin carrying a sheen of sweat, eyes half-open. Jisung aches to kiss him. Aches to press their lips together and run away from all of his problems while simultaneously resolving them.

But he doesn’t. He hauls himself off of Minho, pulls his boxers back up, and asks like always:

“Can I?”

“No, it’s fine,” mutters Minho, barely audible, but the syllables of each word are sharpened, a dagger that pierces through Jisung’s skin.

His eyes drop onto Minho’s crotch. There’s a wet spot in the front of his sweatpants. Jisung widens his eyes slightly, because Minho just came in his pants.

He blinks.

Minho just came in his pants.

From the corner of his eye, a grimace crosses Minho’s face.

“That’s hot,” Jisung croaks because he doesn’t know what else to say. He tacks on a snicker.

Minho chuckles with a startling lack of amusement. “I have an extra change of clothes in my dance bag, but it’s downstairs.” A pause. “Can you get it for me?”

Jisung nods. He puts his pants back on and finds Minho’s bag sitting on an office chair in the conference room downstairs. He returns with the clothes—Minho mumbling a thanks—and they don’t exchange another word.

 

 

 

The room is silent, save for the scribbling of gel pens over paper. The last couple of songs were finalized for their comeback album a week prior. This is a brainstorming session with Changbin for songs on a later album. Because it never ends, this constant flow of work.

Changbin writes a line of words.

Jisung draws curlicues in the margins.

Changbin writes another line of words.

Jisung doodles an eye in the top left corner of the page.

He doesn’t notice when Changbin stops writing and directs his attention towards him. Eventually, it’s the clatter of the pen on the table that stuns him out of his daydream.

“Han Jisung.”

Jisung’s spine straightens on reflex. He turns to look at Changbin with his eyes shocked open. “Yeah?”

Changbin just stares at him for a moment with his arms crossed over his chest and his lips downturned into a disapproving frown. Then, his expression softens, Jisung’s back rounding in the same breath.

“What’s wrong?” Changbin asks, a film of genuine concern over his face.

Jisung furrows his brows. Sure, his ideas normally flow faster than this, and he’s usually finished an hour before Changbin is. Right now, it’s the other way around, but everyone experiences some sort of writer’s block. “What makes you think something’s wrong?”

Changbin lowers his gaze onto his paper—covered edge to edge in horrendous doodles—and cocks an eyebrow.

That’s fair, Jisung thinks.

“How are you?” Changbin asks out of seemingly nowhere.

Jisung glances around, perplexed, before saying: “Good…?”

Changbin hums. “How’s Minho-hyung?”

The questioning makes sense now.

“I don’t know,” Jisung grits through his teeth, an instant surge of annoyance rising through him. “Go ask him.”

“Really?” Changbin asks incredulously. “I thought you’d know, because, I don’t know. You both kind of seem off these days.”

Jisung rolls his eyes until a vignette forms in his visual field. Then he exhales, his chest falling with irritation. “Look,” he starts. “I love you, but you need to stop being so damn nosy all the time.”

Changbin clicks his tongue. “Just because you preempt it with ‘I love you’ doesn’t mean you’re not being a brat right now.”

“Okay,” Jisung says, mollifying his attitude. “What’s the point of this conversation?”

“Okay,” Changbin echoes. And then, he says forthright: “What’s happening with you and Minho?”

Jisung knows Changbin meant it as something lighthearted question—or, as lighthearted as the question can be.

Except, he doesn’t have an answer because he doesn’t know what’s happening either. He fucks around with Minho whenever they have time, and it really is just that. Fucking around. The only kicker here is that he is hopelessly in love with Minho, and there is no way Minho sees him as more than a friend.

Yes, there is a twinkle in Minho’s eyes when he looks at Jisung, but only sometimes. And during those times, Jisung grows in optimism and runs along the stream of steady hope.

But Minho’s eyes sparkle the same way when they watch a movie together and the ending is satisfying, instead of being slapped together at the last minute. They sparkle when he finally perfects the cook on his steak to a medium-rare. They sparkle when they’re all in rehearsal, and the eight of them dance as a cohesive unit.

Because that’s just how Minho’s eyes are—dark, boundless, loving.

It has nothing to do with Jisung.

“Nothing,” Jisung mumbles, taking the paper into his hands. He clenches and unfurls his fist, crumpling the sheet of paper like a dead, wilted leaf.

“Doesn’t seem like nothing,” Changbin says with a scoff.

“Like you would know.”

“It’s just.” Changbin stops to deeply inhale. “You two have this—I don’t know—ethernet connection in a land of shitty wifi. So whenever it’s not like that, it’s just…”

Jisung doesn’t say anything. Just frowns at Changbin’s stupid analogy.

“I don’t even know.” Changbin sighs. “But anyone watching can just tell because one second, you two are in sync, and you’re writing lyrics like you’re fucking Shakespeare on steroids, and everything’s great. But the next, you’re moping around and drawing shitty eyes on your papers.”

A beat passes. Jisung still says nothing, waiting for Changbin to continue.

“You’re really obvious, you know?” Changbin starts again when Jisung doesn’t respond. “I mean, about how you feel towards him.”

“Am I.” Jisung says in monotone, even though his heart rate spikes to the sky.

He doesn’t mean it as a question, but Changbin takes what he says as such.

“You are.” Changbin nods, reaching for the pen that has rolled across the table. He clicks it a couple times. “I mean, you just soften around him. Which is kind of hard, ‘cause he’s just… how do I put it… You just have to keep your guard up around him because you don’t know what he’s gonna do next. But you don’t do that. And I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing; it’s just different for you. Both of you.”

Jisung remembers how as a trainee still getting to know Minho, his guard was up as well, reinforced with millions of bolts and screws. A week after their first semi-real conversation over coffee, however, most of his walls had been demolished into obscurity.

But some walls were still standing, because one night, Minho crawled into his bed unprompted and it scared the shit out of him. Trainees (people in general) didn’t usually invade his personal space like that. Although, when he glanced at Minho—shapeless shadows adorning his face from the angle of the light—there was nothing in his expression except for apathy and a hint of contentment.

Minho was just there, lying in Jisung’s bed without a care in the world. Then, he was there, wrapped up in Jisung’s life. And now, Jisung can’t really remember his life before Minho, even when he had lived most of his life without him.

He can’t remember how it feels to not love Minho: as a fellow trainee, a friend, and this.

He just can’t.

Jisung feels the heat on his face rise. “Stop psychoanalyzing me.”

Changbin shrugs. “I’m just telling you how I see it.”

“Stop telling me then,” Jisung shoots back. Or stop seeing it. There’s nothing to see here. Just him pining over Minho like a motherfucker. Nothing new.

“There’s nothing wrong with having feelings,” Changbin assures him. “It’s just hard, with both of you being in…” He gestures around the room. “...a place like this.”

“I know there’s nothing wrong with it,” Jisung replies earnestly. “But there’s nothing I can do about it so… don’t worry about me. I’m fine. I’m dealing with it.”

There’s not much he can do about his feelings at his point. What is he supposed to do when his heart goes into overdrive whenever Minho flashes a smile his way or laughs? When they don’t do anything for a day, and Jisung misses his touches and caresses and kisses so much that it physically hurts?

What is he supposed to do then?

“I know,” Changbin sighs, his tone docile. “But I—”

“I’m dealing with it,” Jisung repeats in a hushed whisper, trying to convince himself more than anyone else that those four words are true.

Next to him, Changbin nods in understanding.

 

 

 

When it’s announced that Minho would be debuting with him, Jisung jumps for joy.

He immediately sprints towards Minho, who’s standing on a platform, and hooks his arm around his neck. The other boys are all running behind him, crowding Minho into a group hug. There is a crowd of people in front of them, an echoing chorus of lively shouts and cheers. A row of blinding spotlights beat down on their exhausted bodies.

But Jisung doesn’t register anybody else except for Minho. This was his dream—their dream—and despite the fact that they almost had it ripped from their unsuspecting hands, they fucking accomplished it.

Though, there’s an entire checklist of things he still has yet to accomplish. But he doesn’t have to do it alone; Minho will be there, by his side, fingers linked together in a basketweave.

He blocks out his surroundings. The deafening roar turns into noiseless static as he presses a quick kiss to Minho’s cheek and yells out of elation.

Although they’re still standing on stage and surrounded by an ocean of sweaty bodies, Minho glances in his direction for just a moment and offers him a small smile.

Jisung mirrors the smile, a private, quiet grin as his heart cartwheels. Something meant for Minho—and only Minho.

Minho just nods once, the smile on his face widening the slightest bit before he returns to revel in the attention of the others.

Jisung knows, without a doubt.

He wants this feeling to be forever.

 

 

 

It starts off as it usually does.

They have the dorm to themselves. Minho lies next to him. He presses kisses on Jisung’s neck—fire against his skin—but never leaves a mark. He slips his hand under his waistband and it has Jisung uttering his name like a secret plea.

And then Minho’s hand stops.

Jisung lifts his head off of the pillow to look at him. “What are you doing?”

Minho looks at him through hazy eyes. “Do you want to…?”

He doesn’t want to make any assumptions, but his heartbeat still floods his ears until it’s the only thing he can hear. “Do I want to what?” Jisung asks slowly.

Minho worries at his bottom lip, taking a deep breath before saying: “Fuck me.” It comes out in an exhale, and Jisung can barely hear it past the rushing sound in his ears, infinite electric raindrops cutting through his skin and drenching him with bone-deep affection.

Then there’s silence. The kind of silence he’s never heard while being in Minho’s presence. This is the silence of waiting, of wanting, but not knowing what to do. He just stares at Minho, who is sitting still in front of him, and the words keep churning in Jisung’s brain. He knows if he fucks Minho right now, he will never recover from it. He will never rid himself of the feelings he’s been expending all of his energy trying to suppress.

“Oh,” Jisung finally says hoarsely like he hasn’t spoken in days. “If that’s what you want.”

“It is,” Minho whispers. “What about you?”

Jisung hums, an affirmative, because he doesn’t trust himself to speak.

Minho moves, sliding up next to Jisung. Jisung reaches for the bottom of Minho’s shirt with hesitant hands, before Minho wraps his fingers around Jisung’s wrist and brings their hands up to pull the shirt over his head. It strikes him that he has never seen Minho without a shirt on whenever they do anything like this, so he roves his eyes down his torso until their gazes meet once again.

Minho drops his gaze first.

There’s no more thinking after that. Jisung tosses his own shirt aside, hands moving to the zipper on Minho’s pants. Minho pushes his hand aside gently, unzipping his own pants and throwing them off to the side. Jisung guides Minho down onto the mattress and brings his lips to his collarbone. Strays kisses across his body, hands gliding down his arms, and then he slides his palms under Minho’s ass so he can pull the boxers off.

“Are you sure?” Jisung asks when they’re both stripped of clothes in his bedroom. It’s strangely intimate. The blinds are shut, curtains drawn, but pinpricks of sunset slip through the cracks. Light scatters over Minho’s skin, illuminating his complexion with flecks of gold. He is so fucking beautiful.

Minho grabs onto his shoulders and positions Jisung between his thighs with absolute certainty. “I am.”

Jisung lets the words sink into his mind for a moment before nodding. He pries his body off of Minho and scrambles over to the drawers. There’s a bottle of half-empty lube and an unopened box of condoms, for if and when he was ever going to go out in the dark and fuck around with someone else. He never used it (and probably was never going to) though because... Minho.

Minho.

He turns back around with the items in his hands. On his bed lies Minho, completely exposed, smooth skin and muscle and lidded eyes. Cock full and hard between his legs, chest heaving with hollow breaths, and locks of hair falling into his eyes. Jisung is beyond saving.

He gulps audibly.

“Han Jisung,” Minho grits, voice raspy and more desperate than Jisung’s ever heard. “The hell is taking you so long.”

His heartbeat thunders in his chest. He doesn’t bother answering the question. “Your voice is fucking sexy, hyung,” he snickers instead.

“I swear to god,” Minho scoffs impatiently, the awkward tension between them crumbling. “Get over here.”

“Okay, okay,” says Jisung as he ambles back to the bed. He drops everything onto an empty strip of the bed and clambers back on top of Minho, dusting faint kisses down his torso. Then he takes the lube and squeezes it onto his hand, warming it in between his fingers.

“Ready?” Jisung mutters into the shell of Minho’s ear. He doesn’t get an answer other than a low grunt. He circles a finger around Minho’s entrance and presses in steadily, gently, listening to Minho mewl from under him. He keeps his movements slow and deliberate at first, easing himself into the feeling, even if it’s just a single finger.

“Jisung,” Minho says. “Fuck, you’re killing me.”

“Good or bad?”

“Both,” Minho replies straightforwardly, breaths faltering. “Put in another.”

Jisung pushes the second finger in, and Minho hisses, muscles tensing. It feels good, he realizes distantly, to be able to make Minho feel like this when he hadn’t been given the chance before. But it’s a lot at once. Jisung crooks his fingers a little and presses it against his walls. Minho gasps, arching up from the bed, hips buckling, and nails digging into Jisung’s bare arms.

“You’re fucking tight,” Jisung points out quietly. “How long since you’ve…?” he asks, words tripping from his lips and tapering off at the end with regret.

He probably shouldn’t have asked. It doesn’t matter if Minho’s hooking up with someone on the side while he fucks around with Jisung. It doesn’t matter if someone else has seen Minho the way he does, if someone has felt his fingertips of warm silk and velvet grazing skin. Doesn’t matter if someone else has had Minho’s lips against theirs.

It. Does. Not. Fucking. Matter.

(Curiosity is branded into his mind anyway.)

Minho scoffs. “What do you think?” is all he answers with. “Fuck, put in a third.”

Jisung hums, fitting the third finger in. It takes a bit of pressure to slide inside, but Minho squirms with the touch. Slides it back and forth a little bit, pushes into his prostate. Minho writhes around, his fingers trying to find purchase in the sheets.

“Holy shit, Jisung,” Minho stammers. “I’m ready.”

Jisung slides his fingers out, not wanting to make Minho come before they really do anything. He grabs the condom, rolls it on, and applies more lube. Then he’s lining himself up with Minho’s entrance, and he pauses, watching Minho’s face attentively for any sign of discomfort.

“You sure?” he finds himself asking again, because he needs to know that Minho’s okay with this. Jisung can’t fuck him and have Minho regret it even if it doesn’t mean anything to him.

“Please,” Minho pleads, and it’s enough for Jisung to push in slowly, tentatively. Minho’s breath hitches, his jaw working silently. Jisung feels himself flush at the sensation. It’s odd, foreign, yet his skin continues to deepen in shades of red at the thought of being the one making Minho this nervous.

Fuck,” Jisung hisses as he begins to thrust into Minho, the ache in his stomach filled with the heat of a million, biting azure flames. Minho wraps a leg over Jisung’s waist, pulling him closer so it’s skin on more skin. He continues to build up a rhythm, one that’s painstakingly slow, but he knows he’s not going to last long if he goes any faster than this.

Minho curves his body up into Jisung, shuddering underneath him and letting out small, desperate noises from the back of his throat. Jisung loses himself in the feeling. There’s a steady rhythm now, his dick brushing across Minho’s prostate whenever he pushes in. And then it’s just the sound of their skin and uneven breathing and winded mantras of each other’s name.

“Jisung—” Minho gasps, clenching around him. “Jisungie—fuck.

The sun has set by now, and the room is dark and endless and blurry. He reaches for Minho’s cock, trying to pump him while he fucks into him. Except, his entire body trembles as he continues to feel the even heat of Minho around him, his eyes covered in the mist of euphoria.

But when his eyes defog, Minho’s eyes shine back at him, even in darkness. Jisung’s heart skips down an entire street, and he forces himself to slow down the pace of his thrusts. Pressure builds in his stomach, and he feels himself about to come, but he circles around the orgasm because he wants this to last. It’s fucking selfish, wanting to make Minho feel good while pretending that this means something when it doesn’t.

“Pretty,” Jisung thinks he hears leaving Minho’s lips in a passing whisper. Their gazes remain locked on one another.

Jisung traces his eyes down Minho’s face. Minho’s lips are coated in spit—glossy and gnawed red—and Jisung just wants to dip down and capture them in a kiss. But he doesn’t, because they already did away with the kisses weeks ago.

And if he tried to kiss Minho now, during sex, that would be the end for him. He is so in love, and Minho is going to know how in love he is if they kiss while they’re having sex, and he’s not going to be able to deny his feelings, and it’s going to ruin their dynamic, and their entire friendship becomes a balancing act after that.

So he brings his hand up to Minho’s jaw, framing his face and brushing stray hairs out of his eyes. In some way, that’s an even greater mistake, because Minho’s eyes have nothing obscuring them, and they look at him with so much of something, but Jisung doesn’t know what something is. His resolve is weakening, but then it feels like Minho’s about to kiss him, lifting his head up slightly, eyes darting down to Jisung’s lips, and—

Jisung turns his head before Minho’s lips can meet his. His hips snap, and Minho is coming all over his stomach and Jisung’s hand. Then he’s spilling into his own condom, barely able to keep himself propped up.

He pulls out, rolls off of Minho, and removes his condom. Thoroughly exhausted, he leaves to grab a towel from the bathroom, and comes back to wipe the mess off of Minho’s skin. Minho looks completely spent, but still impossibly radiant.

Jisung rubs his eyes with the back of his hand. He climbs back into his bed, over Minho, neither of them wearing any clothes except for the thin material of their boxers. They don’t say a word to each other. They don’t talk about what the fuck they just did or what it meant. Not even a joke or a chuckle. Nothing.

In the quiet of nightfall, Jisung curls into a tight ball, and Minho loops his arm around his midsection. Their breathing is syncopated, their movements are syncopated, maybe even their heartbeats are—

And it’s like how it’s always been: the first time they ever slept in the same bed together, and the second time, and every time after that. Minho is just there, holding him, waking up early, and waiting for Jisung on the other side of daybreak. He exists in every corner of his life, knows Jisung’s cues like the back of his hand, and everything just makes more sense.

 

 

 

Their routine changes again.

It’s no longer just Minho giving him a quick handjob or blowjob whenever they have time. Because Minho is sending texts to the group chat like ‘a water pipe burst in the apartment downstairs. don’t come back for an hour!!’ and Jisung is on the bed as Minho thrusts into him, inhaling his presence through the suspended mist of his mint cologne. Or the other way around, and Minho has his name on every exhale between his lips.

They come, clean up, and climb into bed together before everybody returns.

They don’t talk about it.

Wrapped in the comfort of his arms—Minho’s fingers drumming on his bare skin to the same rhythm as his turbulent heartbeat—the space in the pit of Jisung’s stomach only grows.

 

 

 

The night after their debut showcase, Jisung is still racing up a mountain of adrenaline, even after the rainbow confetti had been swept from the stage floor and his makeup washed from his face.

There’s one question weighing on his mind though.

“Did you think you were gonna debut?” he asks Minho, who turns to him—hair rustling against the pillow—and laughs.

Minho fucking laughs. A boisterous, vibrant laugh, like what Jisung said was the funniest joke in the world. Or the most idiotic thing, he can’t even tell.

“You’re so fucking funny,” he says through huffs of laughter. Jisung lies beside him, body frozen in a concoction of shock and annoyance and embarrassment because he just wanted to have a sincere conversation with Minho for once in his life. But when he does, Minho laughs at him.

Eventually, Minho’s laughter slows to a stop. “Ah, that’s a good one.”

“What’s so funny?”

“The question,” says Minho.

“It was a serious question,” Jisung insists, his voice rising in pitch and exasperation.

“Okay,” Minho just says. “And that was my serious answer.”

Jisung swats him on the arm, lips curved into a frown. “Fuck off. You were not being serious.”

Minho’s demeanor is flipped by a switch, and his lips are ironed into a thin line as he thinks.

Then, he sighs. “Do you actually want the answer to that?”

He nods.

“Then yeah,” Minho starts. Jisung doesn’t know how to react to his honesty. “Of course I thought I was going to debut. I mean, I don’t think anyone signs a trainee contract and then thinks that they’re doomed to fail or whatever.”

Jisung hums.

“Everyone wants to give up at some point,” Minho continues, words punctuated by the crack of his knuckles or the sputter of a car engine outside. “But it’s like, even if you want to give up, you can’t. Everyone still believes it’s gonna work out in the end. And for some people, it does. And if it does, there’s no point in thinking about what could’ve been. You just have to look forward to what’s coming in the future.”

Jisung turns onto his side and studies Minho for a minute. His hair is static around the edges, his eyes reflect copper dots of light and shimmer. Maybe it’s because it’s late, and Jisung’s brain is fuzzy and weathered, but Minho’s words sound like they’re backed by some kind of experience. Unlike Jisung, who merely designs scenarios in his head until he can fall asleep.

“Huh,” Jisung chuckles in slight wonder. “You’re better at words than you let on.”

Minho says nothing, only narrowing his eyes and ramming his foot into the side of Jisung’s calf.

 

 

 

Jisung thinks that things are okay. They fall into their new routine, fuck on off days, and despite the burgeoning gap that has contaminated the rest of the body, things are relatively okay.

And they’re in bed together, curled together in what feels like an impassable darkness. Then Jisung climaxes, a shadow of Minho’s face imprinted in the backs of his eyelids as he does. There are reverent whispers of holy shit—fuck, Minho spilling from his lips. Nothing changes.

He expects Minho to return after cleaning him up. He also expects to wake up to drops of syrup in sunlight scattered across his floorboards, the specks of optimism that reminds him, at least you have Minho like this rather than not having him at all. But neither of those things happen.

“Where are you going?” Jisung asks, voice small, elbows propping him up on the mattress after they cleaned up.

“To my room,” Minho says, like it isn’t fucking weird that he’s just leaving after months of not doing so. It’s funny; Minho leaving is only a door away, and Jisung has the ability to walk to that door, twist the knob, and rest in the serenity of Minho’s room. He can relax in Minho’s bed, letting the curtain that hangs from the railing of the bed be the barrier between real life and refuge.

But Minho doesn’t want him there.

Still, Jisung knits his brows together and asks: “Why?”

He’s met with a response of silence, but a look crosses over Minho’s face. One of anguish and guilt and regret that stains the walls of Jisung’s lungs and squeezes the remaining air out.

Until Minho shrugs, cutting through the quiet with words that sting just the same. “‘Cause it’s my room…?”

So all of a sudden, it’s not okay. It’s just over.

Though, Jisung doesn’t think that over quite encapsulates the situation. The same shit still happens: they get into bed and they have sex.

But the last part—when Minho is supposed to crawl under the covers with him, fit their bodies together, and inevitably fall asleep—doesn’t happen anymore.

And to Jisung, that’s as over as it can be. Minho doesn’t want anything to do with him. He probably puzzled the pieces together; he basically knows everything about Jisung and it was about time he would know about his feelings too. Now, it’s uncomfortable to be in the same room as Jisung for longer than he has to. An odd sort of companionship that doesn’t last.

Comeback promotions start. Minho’s hair is bleached golden blonde, and he’s sunlight in motion. Jisung spends an unnecessary amount of time observing him around the dorm and broadcasting station—noticing how he seemingly dodges anywhere Jisung has left a sliver of his presence, listening to the lilt of his laughter from a hallway away. Watching as the sugar floss that laced their fingers together turns into cold gossamer webs.

Sometimes, they’ll still fuck around.

Minho never stays for longer than he has to.

That becomes their new routine.

 

jisung
hey
can i sleep in your room tonight

changbin
What’s wrong with your room

jisung
idk
jeongin’s sleeping
don’t wanna bother him

changbin
Wb Minho-hyung?

jisung
ha
about that .

changbin
Oh
Do you wanna talk about it maybe?

jisung
maybe
idk

changbin
I left the door open for you
Come by whenever

 

The door to Changbin’s room is cracked open slightly, and Jisung slips in. There’s a lamp plugged into an outlet that emits a cast of white light. The other two beds are empty, sheets and blankets rumpled on top of the mattresses.

“Where is everyone?” Jisung asks softly, shutting the door behind him.

“I don't know. Still at the company, probably,” Changbin responds, lifting his head and scooting over, patting the empty space for Jisung to crawl into. It isn’t quite big enough, but he fits.

Jisung lies on his back and stares at the ceiling until it comes alive, spirals of static and grain appearing across a cover of darkness.

He doesn’t even remember that Changbin’s beside him until the other lets out a cough.

“Do you wanna talk about it?”

It would probably make him feel lighter if he talked, but the moment Minho passes through his mind, his heart clenches at the thought, chest seizing and mind racing as his eyes burn with phantom tears.

“I fucked up,” Jisung whispers and hopes it fades somewhere into the night.

Changbin stays silent, but he reaches an arm across him, pulling them closer together. They lay like that for several long minutes, the only sound between them being the steady rise and fall of their chests.

“I fucked up,” he repeats. He chokes on his words, tears stinging at the back of his eyes in reminder. "I—He doesn't even want to..."

Changbin offers him some consolatory pats on the back. "It's okay," he mutters. "It's okay."

It's not okay. "Yeah..." Jisung wills himself not to let a single tear fall. "It will be. I just... we've been fucking around and..."

And Changbin continues to trace patterns into his skin to calm him, like that fact wasn't in the least bit surprising. And it probably wasn't—to anyone observing them—when they were always attached to each other physically. But instead of it just being back hugs, and arms around the shoulder, and cuddles at night, it became sitting in each other's lap, and pressing kisses on every inch of skin, and hot breaths fanning over the tips of their noses.

It’s just not surprising that Jisung would end up in this situation. He doesn’t know how to feel about that.

"We've been fucking around and...” Jisung continues, squeezing his eyes shut and quieting his voice so it doesn’t trickle through the dorm. “I don’t think even think he wants to be fucking friends with me anymore.”

“Don’t say that,” Changbin chastises lightly. “I don’t think there will ever come a day when hyung doesn’t want to be friends with you.”

Jisung bites his lip hard enough to draw blood. “Then why…” his voice dwindles. “I should’ve never…”

There’s no use in thinking about what he should’ve done. It’s already done. The months of whatever the fuck they were doing are done. It’s over. He just has to move on and hope that one day, the space will be filled by something more lasting than a fling.

Because that’s all it was.

A fucking fling.

It’s his fault for even… thinking that it could be something more.

“I fucked up,” Jisung says for the third time.

“You didn’t fuck up.”

“He doesn’t want to be friends with me anymore,” Jisung echoes.

“Stop assuming that he doesn’t want to be friends with you,” Changbin mutters. “You should talk to him.”

Jisung nods, head against the pillow, to appease Changbin. He’s too tired to consider it as a viable option.

It’s silent.

“I love him,” Jisung murmurs, testing how the words taste on his tongue.

“I know.”

Silence again.

“This fucking sucks.”

“I know.” Changbin shifts his position. “But Jisung, I swear to god, just talk to him. He probably doesn’t even realize what he’s doing.”

The funny part, Jisung thinks to himself, is that neither of them know what they’re doing. It was just like months ago, when Minho pressed his palm on the back of Jisung’s head, looked at him with that look, the look that Jisung still can’t decipher (Minho probably doesn’t notice how his eyes are, how they make Jisung feel.) How Minho kissed him that night, because he knew Jisung wasn’t feeling well, thinking it would help, and then he pressed Jisung down onto the bed, his fingers drifting down his abdomen, and swallowed him down, his pretty mouth around his cock.

And that night, Minho was teeming with lust, the look in his eyes inebriating, and Jisung was already too far gone without knowing the feeling of Minho’s touch. Then, he offered to do the same—to make Minho feel good—and was shut down immediately.

Minho got himself off in the bathroom, acted like nothing happened, slid into bed with Jisung, and burned a new, bottomless chasm into his heart.

And that was supposed to be it.

The sneaking around the company building, lining up schedules to find time, waking up early and sleeping even later—none of that was supposed to happen.

The first time was supposed to be it.

Jisung doesn’t say anything else. He stays awake even when Changbin drifts off into sleep, his arms draped across Jisung’s body.

It’s not the same.

 

 

 

Weeks seem to pass without him talking to Minho outside of the times they absolutely have to.

It’s by the end of promotions—when they are free from the rush of stages and fansigns—that he finally, really sees Minho again.

The dorm is devoid of people. Everyone either went out to eat or to shop around. Other than him, only Jeongin and Minho stayed in the dorm. But Jeongin took one look at the two of them—Minho in the kitchen while Jisung was in the living room—and scoffed, whispering something to Minho before leaving for somewhere.

So, that’s just his luck.

Jisung sits on the couch, the cushion stiff against his body. The view from the window is a sea of pale blue, a canopy of weightless clouds of cotton hanging in the sky, jubilant and taunting him in his misery. He pretends to focus on the game on his phone—graphics smearing into indistinguishable colors—as he listens to Minho boil water in the kettle.

Other than the bubbling of the water, it’s silent.

Jisung plants his feet on the ground, and strolls over to the kitchen, careful not to make too much noise in case it disrupts the contrived calmness surrounding them. When he steps into the kitchen, Minho doesn’t spare him a glance, focusing intently on the electric kettle.

“Hey,” Jisung says, his voice cutting through the hiss of the kettle.

Minho gives him a quick glance. Then: “Hi.”

“We haven’t done anything together lately,” Jisung starts cautiously, setting his hand down onto the granite of the countertop, cool against his fingertips. “We should get dinner soon or something.”

“Yeah,” Minho responds, indifferent. “Been busy. But we should.”

“There’s that new Japanese restaurant a couple streets down.”

Minho hums. “Sounds good.”

The conversation ends there. Jisung nearly rolls his eyes. The kettle’s lever has clicked, tendrils of steam seeping into the air. Minho obviously isn’t going to address anything between them, so Jisung’s mouth, stumbling in front of his brain, blurts: “I’m sorry.”

Minho whips his head to look at Jisung, brows drawn together. “For what?”

Jisung looks at him incredulously. “For—I don’t know—the past couple of months. I made it weird or whatever, and I shouldn’t have done that so I just… I’m sorry.”

“I—”

He doesn’t let Minho say anything, mouth running much faster than he can catch. “But we should just forget about it, okay? Like you said, we should look towards the future, not the past, right?”

Jisung finally pauses, his rambling coming to a halt. There are ladders between Minho’s brows when he finishes speaking. “Okay,” he breathes, sounding defeated. He doesn’t meet Jisung in the eye. “If that’s what you want, we will.” His voice dwindles down to a near-silent whisper. “But you didn’t—it’s not your fault? I don’t know why you feel the need to apologize?”

“I mean,” Jisung continues. “It’s just—we were friends first. And whatever we were doing, it shouldn’t come between our friendship. Like, I know I was easy for you, but it really shouldn’t come between us being friends.”

Minho’s eyes look up a little, but they’re still far away. Distant. “What?”

“And you know, it’s not just us. Like our friendship affects everyone else too, so we shouldn’t let this entire thing come between the group.”

“Stop,” Minho cuts him off. “What? What are you talking about?”

At Minho’s lack of acknowledgement, aggravation begins to bubble in his stomach. “What do you mean what?” The inflection is accusatory. “Did you forget the last couple of months or some shit?”

“That’s not what I’m talking about,” Minho says calmly, his voice a stark contrast from Jisung’s turbulence. “I’m talking about what you said before. You shouldn’t call yourself that.”

“Call myself what?”

Easy,” Minho says. “Don’t call yourself that.”

For a second, he freezes.

“How else am I supposed to put it?”

“Not like that,” is Minho’s only response.

Jisung rolls his eyes, indignation rising through his blood. His jaw clicks. “Easy, convenient, quick—do any of those work better for you?”

“Oh my god,” Minho huffs. “I’m being serious right now.”

“And I’m not?” Jisung asks, brows furrowed. He doesn’t understand what Minho accomplishes from this. “If it—I—wasn’t fucking easy for you, then what else could it have been?”

“I don’t know,” Minho replies, fingers tapping on the surface of the counter. Suddenly, he snaps, Jisung flinching at the abrasiveness in his tone. “But don’t think of yourself as easy. This was never because you were an easy fuck or whatever other words you’re trying to put into my mouth right now.”

“That’s bullshit,” Jisung spits back, his voice cracking slightly. “Did you start it because you wanted me to humiliate myself or what? Because that’s what it seemed like to me.”

Humiliate yourself?” Minho repeats. “I’m gonna be honest and say that I have no fucking idea what you’re talking about right now.”

Jisung frowns. “Stop playing dumb.”

“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Minho says, voice even but faltering at the seams. “You’re just accusing me of shit now.”

He doesn’t want Minho to say anything; they just need to be how they were. Before the kissing, the sex, the avoidance. Before all of it. “Then tell me, what was the fucking point of this. We’re supposed to be friends, and everything was still fine during those first few months, but then you just started avoiding me—like—did you think I wouldn’t notice or something?”

The air goes cold.

Minho almost shrinks in on himself. His voice fades to a mumble. “I’m sorry. I should be the one apologizing.”

The roar of blood in his ears rises to a crescendo. “What did I do?”

Minho turns back to the water, eyes locked on the steel of the kettle. “You didn’t do anything.”

“Then why?”

A beat.

“Jisung,” Minho exhales. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Yes, it fucking does,” Jisung bites back. He should just let this go, but he can’t. “You can’t just ignore me for a month and then say that it doesn’t matter. I deserve to know.”

Minho turns his back to Jisung. He walks to where Minho’s standing, so they’re facing each other once more, when he notices a stray tear running down his cheek. Jisung’s demeanor softens in an instant.

“Hyung—I’m s—”

“No,” Minho interjects. “Don’t apologize. It’s not your fault.”

But it is his fault. It’s his fault, or else they wouldn’t be here right now. Jisung takes one timid step forward, raises his hands, and wipes away the tears with his thumb. His other hand cups Minho’s jaw. He hasn’t seen Minho cry in years. “Hyung,” he whispers. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

“No,” Minho mumbles. “It’s fine.”

“I’m serious,” Jisung insists. “Talk to me.”

“No.”

“Hyung—”

“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Minho hisses, tearing Jisung’s hand away from his face.

“Just tell me what I can do to make it better,” Jisung persists.

“That’s the fucking thing, Jisung,” Minho fires back. “There’s nothing you can do to make it better.”

“Then why?”

“Oh my god,” Minho eventually snaps, his eyes glassy with held-back tears. “What do you even want me to say?”

“Just—”

“Did you—” Minho seethes, desperation in his expression. Jisung takes a step back. “Did you want me to tell you that I’m fucking in love with you or something? And it was fine in the beginning because, you know, but then I just made everything worse for myself by asking you to...” Jisung watches as his chest rises and falls sporadically, clawing for air. “I’m sorry. I just needed some time, okay? But I really am sorry. It wasn’t ever your fault.”

And then Minho is swiveling around on his heels before the words even register in his brain, fumbling with something in the kitchen drawers.

Outside, a car horn blares.

“You’re… what?” Jisung stammers.

Minho doesn’t respond. He keeps looking through the drawer. The silverware rattles inside.

“Hyung, what’d you just say?” says Jisung, his voice cracking despite how hard he’s trying to stay anchored.

Minho finally turns back to face him, his eyes rimmed red. “I don’t wanna talk about it.”

“No, what did you say?”

“Jisung.” Minho inhales and shakes his head. “I said I don’t wanna talk about it. Please just go.”

“No, I—” Jisung chases after him, but his feet feel as though they’re coated in a layer of lead. He turns Minho to face him, but Minho still has his gaze dropped. “You didn’t know?”

“Know what?”

Jisung peers at Minho before bringing their lips together, just a quick press of the lips before he pulls back.

Minho stares at him blankly and blinks slowly. “If this is some kind of sick joke, Han Jisung, it’s really not funny.”

“It’s not a joke,” Jisung chuckles, wiping away the dried tears on Minho’s skin. “I love you too. Like an embarrassing amount and everyone knows about it. Except you, I guess. How the fuck did you not know about that?”

Minho blinks a couple of times, the glimmer in his eyes returning, multiplying. There’s a soft smile breaking through the resolute barrier—the one that had him falling head first. His hair is dyed dark again, the strands falling gently over his forehead and into his eyes. He looks at Jisung like he is where one dream goes to die but where another shoots back to life.

“Probably too caught up in my own feelings,” Minho eventually whispers.

“Me too,” Jisung chuckles and pulls him closer. He lifts a hand, places it on Minho’s jaw, and just kisses him. For a moment, all things stop. Just kisses him—gentle, warm, slow, sweet—because there’s no ticking time bomb that they're trying to work against. Just kisses him, Minho melting into his touch with his arms circling around Jisung’s waist as they pull each other closer.

He pulls back only to break for air, before he presses another kiss on the corner of Minho’s lips, on the tip of his nose, on the tiny mole on the side of his nose. He kisses him again, a little longer this time, memorizing the taste of Minho’s lips and the shape of his mouth.

Minho lets out a shuddery breath when Jisung finally pulls away. He’s all puffy eyes from earlier, puffy lips from now.

“Since when?” asks Jisung.

“I don’t know,” Minho says in a murmur, looking at the floor. “Probably since you slammed that door in my face.”

“Hyung—” he drawls, burying his face in Minho’s shoulders from the rejogging of his memory. “Only you would fucking fall in love with someone after that.”

“Not just someone,” Minho corrects. Jisung almost doesn’t hear the “you.”

 

 

 

The first time Minho ever falls asleep in his bed, they’re still trainees. He has only known Minho for a month and a half, but Minho had walked into his room, eyes heavy with fatigue.

He told Jisung to move over.

He scrambled into the empty space while Jisung was pushed against the wall, wanting to put as much distance between them as possible.

Minho fell asleep within minutes.

And that was it.

Jisung doesn’t shy away from physical affection. He practically begs for hugs and meaningless pecks from the other trainees. But for some reason, he freezes when Minho rolls over and hooks his arm around his waist. His skin warms, the effect of another person blanketing him and his caving chest. But not even a minute later, his uncertainty washes away as he tucks his face into the crook of Minho’s neck and nuzzles his cheek against his skin.

He doesn’t know what the feeling that’s growing in the bottom of stomach is. He can’t yet see the thin vines of affection tangling around his heart.

All he knows is this: he could get used to it.

 

 

 

Jisung wakes to a weight pressed against his chest and a hand running through his hair.

“Good morning,” Minho murmurs as he drifts into consciousness.

“Morning,” Jisung echoes, eyes blinking to adjust to the light. Then, he realizes—

Minho is still here.

Minho is still here, even after they came back to his room, palms sliding across warm skin as their lips met and parted. He’s here, after Jisung pulled him onto the bed, hands reaching under his shirt to grip at smooth muscle, nails digging into flesh. He’s here, after both of them pretended to be asleep when everyone started trickling back in.

But he’s always up before Jisung is, leaving him an empty room whenever he wakes up because Jeongin also rises earlier than him.

But Minho is still here.

“Why aren’t you up?” Jisung asks, fluttering his eyes shut as Minho combs through his hair.

“I am,” Minho says, pointing to his (very awake) face. He’s wearing clothes, his hair is freshly washed. He has already gotten ready for the day. Yet, he’s still here.

Jisung pouts. “You know what I mean.”

Minho doesn’t answer with anything except for a hum, dipping down to press a kiss to the corner of Jisung’s mouth. Before he can pull away, Jisung puts a hand on the back of his neck, bringing their lips together. Neither of them care about his morning breath, with Jisung deepening the kiss and tangling his fingers in Minho’s hair.

They pull apart. Jisung sighs against Minho’s forehead.

“You’re still here.”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I don’t know,” Jisung says, a grin sneaking up on his face. “But you’re here.”

“I am,” Minho says with a snicker, playing with the strands of hair that are sticking up. “But you have to get up now.”

“Don’t wanna,” Jisung whines.

“Company doesn’t care if you don’t want to,” Minho chuckles, crawling out of bed. “Anyway I’m already late to my vocal lesson, but I’ll see you later?”

Jisung nods, eyes locked on Minho’s. Late morning sun cloaks the room, drenching Minho’s figure in gold. Minho nods back, giving him one more kiss before he leaves for the day.

And Jisung thinks... he thinks he could get used to this too.