When Jisung is between the cameras and his group members, he rarely has control over the nonsense that leaves his mouth. He responds naturally, bolstered by their presence; in so many ways, they make him unafraid to be himself.
Sometimes, that gets him into trouble.
“I’m the worst at it,” Chan says into the Talker camera, which rests on a nebulous tower of takeaway containers from hours previous. Jisung falls into the seat next to him, resting his head on Chan’s shoulder. He doesn’t have to wait more than a moment for Chan to wrap that arm around his shoulders instead.
“Impossible,” Jisung says on instinct. “Channie is good at everything.” He doesn’t know what the topic at hand is, but it’s a good bet that Chan is good at everything, and he’s being hugged, so Jisung feels generous.
Chan laughs, his shoulder shaking beneath Jisung’s head. “I can only take compliments like that,” he says for the camera, contextualizing the conversation for Jisung. “A little more sincerity and I’d be helpless. Ah! Gives me shivers just thinking about it.”
Jisung sits up and leans further into Chan’s space, rubbing Chan’s arms for him like he’s really shivering. “I mean it, hyung.” Jisung gives Chan the soft little animal look everyone always teases him for. “You’re so handsome, such a good leader, you can lift so many heavy things at the same time—”
With barely any effort, Jisung scares Chan out of his seat. He runs away before he can hear anything else, so Jisung turns his attention to the camera, smirking a little. “The fastest way to get Chan-hyung out of a room,” he explains, settling into a better position and fixing his hair in the lens.
“Won’t work on me, though.” Minho sits in the spot Chan vacated as Jisung continues speaking, but Jisung is still focused on the part of his hair that won’t stay the way he wants it. “I’m unshakable, baby.” Jisung finally settles his hair and grins at the camera. “Try and fluster me all you want! Stay can try any time.” Putting on his soft, high aegyo voice, Jisung frames his face with his hands. “Hannie is so handsome, like a tiger or a lion, or…”
“Gerbil,” Minho says in a helpful tone.
Jisung turns to glare at him, but Minho looks up with total innocence. “Mouse?” The hint of mischief breaks through Minho’s gaze. “Hedgehog?”
Turning to grab the throw pillow from the other side of him, Jisung smacks Minho in the shoulder with it. “Jagiya, jagiya, is this what our love has come to?” Minho whines as he throws his arms up to protect his face and hair. Jisung keeps smacking him until he notices the blinking red light that indicates the camera battery is low.
It’s a good place to cut while he’s still beating Minho up, so Jisung doesn’t bother saying goodbye. He powers down the camera and finds the right staff member to hand it off to, then flops down to lay in Minho’s lap, grabbing Minho’s hand so he can mess around with it until Jisung gets more attention than the phone in his other hand.
“You were funny,” Minho says, not looking away from his phone. He doesn’t like when he gives a compliment and it sounds like one unless he’s gearing up for something worse.
Jisung laces their fingers together and rests them on his chest, the back of Minho’s hand pressed against his sternum. “I’m always funny. Why point it out now?”
“Really funny,” says Minho, finally putting down the phone in favor of fitting his hand comfortably around Jisung’s throat. He just rests it there, loose and deceptively easy to escape. “Han Jisungie, our shy quokka. You’re not as bad as Chan-hyung, but then, who’s as bad?” Minho squeezes his hand. “Cute. Stay will think so, too.”
Making a face, Jisung reaches up and pokes Minho’s cheek with his free hand. “You think you can embarrass me?” He laughs, feigning disbelief. “Wouldn’t you have done so a long time ago? I’m chill.” He pronounces the last word in over-exaggerated English, tilting his chin back in a way that makes him feel the weight of Minho’s hand on his throat a bit. It’s only for a fleeting moment, though. Gone so soon Jisung can pretend it never happened. “So cool.”
He watches Minho thoroughly examine his face from above, then shake his head. “I’d crack you.”
Minho mimes cracking open a large block of ice with an ice pick in a way that’s just vaguely realistic enough to be unsettling. “Like that.”
It makes Jisung cackle, head thrown back. Still, he has to defend himself. “You can try,” Jisung dares.
“Alright.” Minho grabs his phone. “Bet? If I fluster or embarrass you, you’ll buy me something to eat. Outside, not delivery.”
Jisung groans. The last stipulation is worse than how much his wallet’s going to hurt, because Minho’s right. He’s too shy for this. If he were speaking with almost anyone else, Jisung would give up the game right now, but this is Minho, and something about playing with Minho makes him clingy. “Fine. If I don’t react, though, you have to cook for me, and we stay in all night.”
There’s a beat of silence as they both try and think of any loopholes or stipulations in their bet. Minho speaks first, turning his phone around to show that he’s been writing down the terms. He’s also written something beneath the two parts of the bet itself, which he says aloud as he shows Jisung his phone: “Hannie can end things whenever he wants. All he has to do is tell Stay he takes back what he said, he really is a shy person.”
That makes the knot in his stomach much smaller. “Yeah. That’s good. It’s a deal.”
“Done.” Minho picks up Jisung’s hand and presses it to his own cheek.
For a moment, Jisung holds his breath, but he can’t help laughing at how cold Minho’s face is. Jisung unlaces their fingers so he can press the warm back of his whole hand to the side of Minho’s face, knuckles brushing his earlobe.
“I’m not your heater,” Jisung complains.
Minho closes his eyes. “Shhh.”
Jisung rolls his eyes, but he doesn’t move his hand.
The next few days are the most tense Jisung has felt since he was a trainee. He has about half a day of peace before Minho startles him so badly that they have to explain the bet to Hyunjin and Seungmin so he doesn’t seem like a lunatic. By the end of that same day, there are side bets taking place on who will rack up the most wins. Jisung refuses to listen, knowing that bets for or against him will only increase the likelihood of his failure, but he certainly feels watched.
It would be easier to handle if Minho just tried something already, so he’d know what to expect. Jisung is sure that’s why Minho’s holding off, but he still whines when Minho crawls into his bed for a movie after five days of nothing.
“You wanna lose that bad?” Minho asks as he adjusts the blanket over his legs and throws one of them over Jisung’s.
“Fuck you.” He punctuates the words by pinching Minho’s side.
Minho laughs in his ear. “The anticipation will only make everything sweeter.”
“For you, maybe.”
All of a sudden, Minho’s face looms over his own, back-lit by the screen of Jisung’s laptop. His skin is so clear. Every time Jisung thinks he’s maybe gotten used to Minho being the most beautiful person on the planet, he’ll turn around and Jisung will feel like he has to catch his breath just from looking at Minho’s beauty mark or counting his eyelashes.
He has a wildly different number each time. Maybe Jisung is bad at counting, but he hasn’t given up yet.
“Isn’t that good?” Minho is almost smiling, one of his most dangerous expressions. His voice is very soft. “Don’t you like to make me happy?”
Jisung almost doesn’t catch it. This is so close to what Minho always does that Jisung might have missed it, if not for the way he watches Jisung’s face, like he’s looking for something. It’s small, but he knows Minho too well, has seen too many of his microexpressions.
Jisung laughs and pushes at Minho’s shoulder, glad there’s no way for Minho to tell how fast his heart is beating. That’s not anything out of the norm, anyway; as comfortable as Minho makes him feel, there are a million things he does each day that make Jisung’s pulse race. Can that even be considered flustered?
Rather than getting upset, Minho snuggles into Jisung’s shoulder. “That was a warm-up, jagi.” He walks his fingers across Jisung’s chest absent-mindedly, poking a nipple just to make him squawk. “Aren’t I sweet? I’ll even let you pick a night for dinner.”
Jisung runs through their schedules in his mind. “Thursday?” he asks.
“You tell me,” Minho replies, a familiar refrain from a decisive person to one who often needs reassurance. It’s so familiar that Jisung rolls his eyes.
“Sunday.” This time, he makes his tone more concrete.
“It’s a date. Now what are we watching? If it’s another one of Seungmin’s dramas, I’m putting my airpods in.”
“Go ahead,” says Jisung, knowing he won’t. Minho only kicks him under the blanket when he hears the soft piano music start up.
When Jisung lets himself into the other dorm on Sunday night, it’s amazingly quiet. He follows the scent of food into the kitchen and finds Minho setting down two bowls near the stove. “Go sit,” Minho says before Jisung can even get a word out. “It’s basically ready.”
“What’s ready?” Jisung calls, heading for the table. One of the best things about hanging out with Minho is that he never has to think about what to do next. If he’s not sure, there’s a good bet that Minho will tell him what to do, and if Jisung disagrees, Minho’s feelings are rarely hurt.
“Ah, it smells so good.” Jisung takes a few selfies while he waits, though only a couple of them turn out acceptable enough that he can post them. At some point, Minho briefly appears with sigumchi namul, kimchi, and pink salt for the table, blocking Jisung’s light and making a very obvious shadow in one of the photos. Still, he disappears without further trouble, so Jisung will call it a win.
Actually, the shadow gives Jisung an idea. He opens Bubble.
Do you want to play a game with me, y/n?
The yeses that instantly pour in make his stomach swoop. It’s exhilarating that so many people are happy to see what he says, and for the chance to be seen in return.
Okay, here goes.
I’ll post a picture for you...
He pauses to let the anticipation grow a little. These things always feel awkward and silly to do, but the great thing about Bubble is that Stay will never see the way he grimaces at his phone. They’re just happy to see him.
Then I’ll leave for a while, and you can guess where I am and what I’m doing.
I’ll tell you only if you get it right!
Are you ready?
Jisung posts the selfie with Minho’s shadow in it and stuffs his phone into his pocket. It’s not the best one he’s ever taken, and he doesn’t want to look at it anymore, but it’ll be fun for Stay.
He doesn’t have to wait long for Minho to return with their soup, cans of sparkling water precariously shoved into the crook of his elbow. He still manages to set everything on the table smoothly. Jisung laughs. “I could’ve helped you with that,” he says as Minho sits down next to him, playfully kicking his foot under the table.
“Could have,” Minho agrees. Jisung kicks him again, but Minho only laughs.
“Everyone busy today? It’s too quiet in here.” Minho salts his soup as Jisung talks, then makes a silent offer to do Jisung’s as well. He pushes the bowl in Minho’s direction.
“Yongbokkie’s doing Chan’s Room tonight, so he’s napping. I told Jeongin-ah and Seungminnie to find their own dinner.”
Jisung laughs. “Why?”
Resting his chin in his palm, Minho props his elbow on the table between them and blinks ever-so-innocently at Jisung. “Because I’m cooking for Han Jisung, not them.”
Glad that it takes a lot of blushing for his face to be noticeably red, Jisung nevertheless feels weird about how hot his face gets at those words. Minho says this kind of nonsense constantly. Still, he punches Minho’s shoulder right as he takes a bite. The glare he receives for nearly making Minho choke on hot soup is too good not to laugh at.
“I don’t think you should be able to try anything on me while we’re in the middle of a forfeit,” Jisung says, hearing the trace of a whine in his voice and deciding to ignore it. “It’s not fair.”
Minho laughs at that in full force, the kind that makes his mouth look awkward and turns his ethereal, handsome features into something more human. “I wasn’t trying anything, but keep talking. What else gets under your skin? If it’s something so little as that…” Minho’s eyes gleam. “I’ll eat well soon enough.”
“Nothing else,” Jisung lies. “I’m stone cold.”
The rest of the night passes much more normally. Despite receiving no actual agreement on this addendum to the bet, Jisung can tell that Minho isn’t interested in playing that kind of game. He’s able to relax and enjoy himself through the remainder of the evening, luxuriating in the warm smell that still permeates the dorm and laughing at every expression Minho makes when he turns on another drama.
At some point in their marathon, Felix appears with his hair still rumpled and lays across both their laps, asking how Minho’s “day of soup” turned out.
“It was perfect,” Jisung admits. “Especially now that it’s a little colder out.”
“It makes everything feel cozy, right?” Felix asks around a yawn.
Jisung pokes his nose. “Just like Felix.”
Minho finds this hilarious, head thrown back as he cackles. Jisung knows he’s funny, but there are times when Minho’s laugh makes him feel like the funniest person in the world, often over a joke he would otherwise find mediocre.
Minho reaches out to tickle Felix’s tummy, making him squirm. “Should we make baby chicken stew next?” Minho asks. “Yongbokkie can be the special ingredient.”
Jisung leaves them to their playfighting to get a glass of water. He’s gotten so used to the sound that it completes the day, making everything feel even more like home. As he’s about to pass the fridge on the way back out, Jisung suddenly stops, a mix of fondness and curiosity prompting him to open it and check what’s inside.
Sure enough, the leftover stew is stacked neatly in the fridge in proportional containers. Jisung can’t help a smile. He’s sure that Minho won’t bother saying anything, but he doubts they’ll last two days given the appetites of his three roommates.
In moments like this, it’s very easy for him to forget that Minho can be dangerous.
Jisung is messing with a topline he started working on last night when he feels a heavy weight on his back. A moment later, cold fingertips take his earbuds out.
“Han Jisung,” Minho says, practically kissing his ear with how close he leans.
He waits, but Minho doesn’t say anything else, toying with a strap on the back of Jisung’s cropped jacket in silence. “That’s my name,” Jisung says with a huff of laughter. “You need to stop working out.”
“You don’t like my abs?”
Jisung elbows him. “Not when they’re suffocating me to death!”
“So you do like them,” Minho says, breath fanning across the nape of Jisung’s neck. “You think they’re sexy.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.” Jisung has to clear his throat, his voice uncomfortably high for a moment. He can’t let Minho think he’s winning just because his throat is a bit dry.
“But jagiya,” Minho pleads, voice soft and sweet, “I worked so hard to have abs for you, and you haven’t even thanked me.”
There’s a brief moment where Jisung thinks Minho is going to kiss his nape. He feels the ghostly sensation of what could be a kiss, at a certain angle, maybe? It raises the hair on the back of his neck, but it disappears when Seungmin crouches in front of them, smiling, the Talker camera recording their every move.
“This is Hannie’s new workout,” Seungmin narrates from behind the camera.
“It’s been working so well for our maknae,” Jisung replies, throwing himself into the familiarity of backstage banter with gusto. “If I want abs like Innie’s, suffering is guaranteed.”
He feels the weight of Minho patting his head a few times. “It’s okay, Jisung-ah. You don’t have to be embarrassed.” His tone changes subtly, becoming stronger, gaining a bit more definition. “He just likes it when I’m on top.”
“What?” Spluttering, Jisung tries to shove Minho off him, but he’s too heavy. He whines wordlessly, more prone to yelling when everyone’s together like this, and feels Minho’s shoulders shake as he laughs in Jisung’s ear. “No I don’t!”
“Then get me off you.”
Minho hums. “Guess you just don’t want it enough.”
Jisung lays his head down in his arms so he won’t have to look at the camera anymore. He hopes it didn’t pick up on how hard he’s blushing, but the makeup should have hidden it from view.
“His improvement is slow,” chimes Seungmin, understanding Jisung’s body language as a universal gesture meaning ‘leave me to die’ and getting to his feet. Jisung recognizes the clatter of his shoes against the floor. “With the assistance of gracious hyungs, he may get abs by 2024.”
There’s a long moment before Minho speaks. “Are you flustered, little quokka?”
“I hate you,” Jisung mumbles into his arms.
A warm kiss lands on the right side of his neck, lingering there long enough to make Jisung’s stomach swoop. “You owe me a date,” Minho says, mouth definitely pressed against the shell of Jisung’s ear. He laughs a little under his breath, still tucked into the side of Jisung’s neck, then rolls away altogether.
Jisung doesn’t lift his head again until Felix forces him to get up and stretch.
It’s all downhill from there.
Despite employing every trick he can think of to not have a visible or noticeable reaction to Minho’s teasing, both his wallet and his soul are taking a beating. The worst part for Jisung is that the things Minho does to fluster him aren’t things that normally would make him blush or react, but his hyper-awareness of the game makes it too easy to read into things, to see normal stuff Minho always does as flirting. The delight Minho finds in asking if Jisung has always been so affected and only gotten worse at hiding it is starting to make him queasy.
He tries new things as well, things that make Jisung’s heart stutter in his chest. Once, when Jisung had been getting ready to go to the studio, he’d had a little trouble putting in his earrings. It happens, and if Minho happens to be there when it does, he usually ignores Jisung in favor of napping or using his phone. This time, he’d come to ask if Jisung needed help. When Jisung had said yes, Minho had proceeded to put in his earring for him in the slowest, most sensuous way possible, sliding his hand down to Jisung’s neck when he was finished and resting it there with a smile.
“Pretty,” he’d said, other hand reaching up to play with the dangling earring. When Jisung’s mouth had fallen open and his skin had heated, Minho’s thumb had been on his cheek, so there was no denying it. He took Minho for sashimi the following night, and while they always had fun on these little dates, Jisung can’t help feeling like he’s got a score to settle.
Maybe that’s why Jisung jumps when Felix hugs him from behind. “Don’t worry,” Felix says over his shoulder, “it’s just me.”
Jisung laughs. “Am I that obvious?”
Felix pulls back and rubs Jisung’s shoulders, trying to work his magic and massage a little tension out of them. “It’s okay to be jumpy,” Felix reassures. “I just hope you’re having fun.”
The question-that-isn’t-a-question rings in Jisung’s ears, but he doesn’t have the time to think it over before they perform. “Of course,” he answers, turning over his shoulder to smile. “It’s Lino-hyung.”
“What?” says Hyunjin, appearing from around the corner with wide eyes. “Where?”
Jisung can’t help laughing. “Why, what did you do?”
“Nothing.” Hyunjin’s answer is much too fast. “Felix,” he says, drawing out the syllables with a pleading tone, “I’ll buy you a drink if you come with me. You too, I guess,” he adds in Jisung’s direction, cracking a smile despite his teasing.
It’s tempting, but Jisung shakes his head. Felix’s questions have made him a bit queasy, though he can’t put his finger on why, and he’d rather try and hide it than make Felix feel bad. “I’m not putting myself in the warpath just for a soda!”
“Good point,” says Felix, patting Jisung’s shoulders before tugging Hyunjin in the direction of the vending machine.
Jisung has a moment of peace to check his phone before he hears a sharp cry from behind him and is pulled into a back hug by someone new. It only takes a moment to register who it is; he identifies Minho by scent before Changbin whines, “Minho-hyung!”
“Keep your hands to yourself,” Minho says, sounding like he doesn’t care if Changbin whines all night. He links his hands where they press on Jisung’s ribs, a warm weight that should be suffocating, too tight, but somehow never is.
It’s instinct to lean back into those arms. Maybe this time it’s bravery, too. Minho hasn’t started anything yet. He has time to prepare.
“Sorry, Changbinnie-hyung.” Jisung makes hearts with his fingers. Changbin comes up to Jisung with a deeply wronged expression, showing off the barest hint of red on his skin.
“Your hyung twisted my arm,” he whines.
Jisung barks out a laugh, his hands tingling all of a sudden. “My hyung? He’s your hyung, too!”
“Hannie,” Changbin whines, ignoring this entirely and holding his arm up between them. “Hannie Hannie Hannie, will you kiss it better?”
Jisung pushes him away, leaning back into Minho’s strength to get enough leverage. Changbin stumbles back with a laugh before running off to bother Seungmin, who once again has the talker camera, this time pointing at a hiding Jeongin.
“What was he doing?” Jisung asks once they’re relatively alone.
Minho rests his cheek on Jisung’s shoulder. “Trying to spank you.”
“So now you’re the butt protector?”
“Just protecting what’s mine.”
Jisung rolls his eyes, ignoring the swoop in his stomach in favor of laughing it off. “Do you think if you say my butt is yours enough times, I’ll mess up and agree with you?”
“Something like that.” Minho slides his hand up over Jisung’s chest, slow and deliberate. At first, Jisung doesn’t question it, but when Minho presses two fingers to the pulse point on his neck, he immediately tries to wriggle away—more out of ticklishness than anything else.
Minho laughs, his grip unbreakable. “Han Jisung,” he croons, “your heart is racing. Do you like me so much? If you want me to protect your butt more often, all you have to do is ask nicely.”
“I hate you, actually,” Jisung says as he tries harder than ever to duck out of Minho’s grip.
“That’s not what your heart tells me,” says Minho’s sweet voice. He pats Jisung’s chest, right over his traitorous heart, and lets go at last.
“Bulgogi tomorrow night?”
Jisung flops face down onto the couch before giving a thumb’s up. He doesn’t want to see Minho’s smug face for at least twenty minutes.
Jisung only manages one more win in the following week, and he’s pretty sure Minho threw that one. There’s no way he thought that lifting Jisung off the couch and sitting under him so it was easy to play with his butt counts as flustering. Despite reacting surprisingly strongly to Minho’s normal behavior, that particular act is so familiar, Jisung hadn’t even bothered to look up from his phone. He suspects that Minho just wanted to invite him over for sangyeopsal—which had been more than fine with Jisung, despite Jeongin, Seungmin, and even Felix making pointed comments throughout the meal. Five of them together for a meal was much too rare not to enjoy it while it lasts.
Sadly, Minho’s mercy is short-lived. He has a knack for catching Jisung off guard, which worries him a little. He’s always thought he knew Minho better than anyone in the world, and maybe that’s true, but Minho knows Jisung even better. Well enough to unravel Jisung no matter how prepared he tries to be.
Though he hasn’t done one in months, Jisung ends up on VLIVE just to give himself some peace. There’s no way Minho will come barging in to flirt with him in real time in front of Stay.
Jisung isn’t technically proven wrong when Minho calls him twenty minutes in.
“It’s Lino-hyung,” he tells Stay. The enthusiastic reaction is so instantaneous it makes Jisung laugh. “Should I answer?”
He knows they’ll say yes, so he only lets the phone ring once more before picking it up.
“Were you going to ignore my call?” Minho asks the instant it connects.
Jisung looks up at the camera with wide eyes, huffing a laugh out of nervous reflex. “No, of course not.”
“Then why did you ask if you should answer?”
“Are you watching right now?” Jisung ducks his head a little. “I’m gonna put you on speaker.”
Minho waits until he knows he can be heard by Stay, then asks, “How could I miss Han Jisungie’s epic return to VLIVE?”
Jisung hides his face for a moment, but forces himself not to, since he knows Stay won’t like it. “I know it’s been too long. Since you’ve been watching, you already saw me apologize!”
“Hm. Does Stay forgive you?”
He watches the replies pour in, overall offering forgiveness with a few sour notes mixed in. “I think so,” he says after a moment, which prompts a flood of positivity that makes Jisung laugh, suddenly a little overwhelmed.
“Good.” Minho sounds genuinely pleased. “Have you eaten?”
“I want soondae. Wanna come?”
“Now?” Jisung does another one of those awkward laughs, resisting the urge to hide his face in the neck of his shirt. “Um, a little busy.”
He hesitates, but Jisung hasn’t left his room all day. Soondae with Minho sounds nice. “Can we bring it back here?”
“No, Hannie.” The hairs on the back of Jisung’s neck stand up; Minho sounds too pleased with himself. “We’re going out.”
“But I miss your sweet little face,” Minho says, still enjoying himself way too much. Jisung has to look away from VLIVE, staring into the distance above the camera and hoping it’s not obvious. Stay are reacting too quickly. He wants to hide. Why is Minho doing this now?
“You’re looking at it now!” Jisung says, framing his face with his hands. Stay don’t have to know his aegyo is mostly to cover the way his voice wants to crack over the words. “And you can look more later.”
“Jagiya please,” Minho whines. How does he manage to make his whining sound so threatening? “I want you to go.”
“I’m breaking up with you,” Jisung says, trying to play off this entire situation as one of their ongoing jokes. “No more soondae with Sungie unless we stay inside. Stay! See? It even has my favorite word in it.”
“Is it because I didn’t protect your butt well enough?”
Jisung flushes. He’s not immune to searching the internet for compilations, translating YouTube comments when he can’t sleep. He knows what people say about Minho and his ownership of Jisung’s ass. The fact that Minho is blatantly encouraging them, where he can see Stay’s reaction in real time, makes his skin feel hot and tight, uncomfortably seen and unable to escape.
Fumbling for his phone, Jisung says, “Definitely not!” way too loudly even for his own ears, then promptly hangs up on Minho. He recovers quickly, though his ears burn for the remainder of the VLIVE, and he doesn’t answer any of the questions about Minho with more than a dismissal.
It’s only when he’s done that Jisung checks his phone.
soondae date!!!! 😼😽 1 hour. i’ll come to you~
Jisung spends almost the entire hour getting ready, agonizing over his clothes because it’s easier than agonizing over Minho. He knows he could end their stupid bet any time—he doesn’t even need to make it obvious, just letting something slip on Bubble would do—but Jisung hates how weak it makes him feel, to back out on something just because he’s losing.
Besides, Jisung trusts Minho not to take things too far.
It’s normally easier for Jisung when they’re out of the house already. Once he’s propelled himself into motion, once he has Minho at his side, Jisung’s confidence is bolstered, like a little bit of Minho’s calm transfers to him the longer they’re together.
Jisung is actually feeling good when they nestle at a table near the window, the sunset drenching Minho’s face in orangey gold. He fucks around on his phone until Minho is done ordering, preferring not to accidentally make eye contact—it tends to make him freeze and shut down in this kind of setting, which would make it awkward for everyone.
He only notices how hard he’s bouncing his leg under the table when Minho taps it with his own, slowly pressing down until Jisung has no choice but to keep still beneath his weight.
“Sorry,” he says with a huff of laughter. Minho rests his chin in one hand, elbow against the table, all of his focus on Jisung. When they were trainees, it took him ages to get used to being thoroughly observed by Lee Minho—especially because he didn’t seem to look that way at the others. Now, Jisung just feels warm.
“Don’t apologize,” Minho says, flexing his toes enough to press down on Jisung’s. “I don’t mind.”
Don’t mind what? Jisung wants to ask, but he’s afraid he won’t like the answer. Knowing Minho, he probably just means that he doesn’t mind Jisung’s anxiety, or that he doesn’t mind keeping Jisung still, but these past few weeks have messed with his head. Rather than leaving it alone, Jisung imagines a scenario in which Minho’s answer is keeping you from embarrassing us both and has to look away just to catch his breath.
“Jisungie.” Minho’s voice is soft, but it still cuts through the noise of the other diners. Jisung wonders if his ears have adapted to listen for it by now. “You good?”
Minho covers Jisung’s other foot with his, too. A hot rush of embarrassment floods Jisung’s chest, pooling in the pit of his stomach, acidic and sour. This isn’t how being with Minho is supposed to feel. “Yeah,” he says, yanking his feet out from under Minho’s and forcing himself not to bounce them. “So good.” Jisung can barely swallow past the lump in his throat.
Their food arrives before Minho can respond. As he serves Jisung and then himself, it’s clear that Minho isn’t going to ask what’s going on, but his shoulders are tight, now. He’s holding himself too stiffly.
Jisung sighs and sinks into his chair, squeezing his eyes shut. This is stupid.
“Sorry,” he says.
“For what?” No tapping on his foot this time, but Minho manages the same light, airy manner he started the day with.
“Being weird.” Jisung takes a deep breath, then taps the top of Minho’s foot beneath the table. “You don’t have to let me off easy. Well, you do, but only because I already said you can’t attack while we’re in the middle of a forfeit.”
Minho laughs, his eyes brightening immediately. Jisung has always admired that ability in him; Minho really tries not to linger on the bad things. “I didn’t agree to that,” he reminds Jisung, who can’t argue his case with the amount of food currently in his mouth. “But if you like it when I flirt with you, I can keep going.”
Jisung takes an endless amount of time to chew, but it still isn’t long enough. Minho reaches across the table and pokes his cheek. “I’ll let it slide if we go for ice cream after this,” he says.
Now that Minho is back to normal, Jisung has no interest in refusing his mercy again. He’s already out, already messed things up, already been forgiven.
“Cheater.” Jisung tries to sound accusatory, but it’s hard when he’s smiling like this.
They argue over whether or not taking advantage of forfeits counts as cheating for the rest of dinner, somehow managing to bicker right up until Minho takes a swipe of his matcha ice cream and deposits it on Jisung’s nose. The two of them burst into helpless giggles in the middle of the sidewalk, laughing because looking at each other only makes them want to laugh harder. Jisung’s ribs hurt by the end.
“Do you want me to lick it off for you?” Minho asks as they start walking again, his mouth still twitching toward a smile.
“Ah!” Jisung almost drops his ice cream. “You’re the worst person I know.”
“My favorite words,” Minho says, lifting his hands to frame his face in a tulip pose. “Jisungie, I love you too!”
Their schedules are too packed for the next few days to do anything but crash when they come home, so when they have a day off, Jisung invites himself to Minho’s bedroom for a horror movie night. Maybe not the smartest idea given the bet, but he’d never avoid Minho altogether. That would drive him even crazier.
The first movie has barely started when Minho sighs, laying his cheek on top of Jisung’s head. “I told them not to,” he says in resignation, as though the characters can hear what they’ve been saying. They ran out of quality movies among those they can access some time ago, but it doesn’t matter if the movie is bad; Minho might actually be happier when he gets to heckle the bad ones. His voice is so quiet Jisung would strain to hear him if he wasn’t sitting between Minho’s legs, head leaned back against his chest.
“You sound like the guy in Scream,” Jisung points out. “You don’t know they’ll die.”
Although they haven’t kissed yet, it’s obvious that’s where the scene is heading, which means they probably are going to die. It’s early in the movie, so—yes, there’s the kissing. They’re definitely going to die. Jisung lifts a kernel of popcorn above his head and waits for the faint, telltale brush of Minho’s lips against his fingertips before allowing himself a bite.
Just as the woman on screen strips her shirt off, Jisung’s vision goes dark. “Ah!”
“They’re fucking now,” Minho explains, one hand covering Jisung’s eyes. His voice is right on the knife’s edge between sweet and dangerous. “Aren’t you too shy for such things?”
Jisung throws popcorn in the direction of Minho’s voice, but Minho doesn’t lower his hand. Instead, his free hand pinches Jisung’s side. “Throw popcorn in your own bed!”
“Can’t,” Jisung says with a smile. “We’re in yours.”
A few moments later, Jisung feels the texture of a piece of popcorn against his lips. He opens his mouth and lets Minho feed him, chewing each piece he threw. It’s not exactly a punishment.
When he’s done making Jisung eat his actions, Minho leans forward, breath fanning the side of Jisung’s face. “Since you’re so easily flustered, I can describe it for you instead. Just to be safe.” The tip of Minho’s nose brushes his ear.
Jisung knows exactly what this is, and why Minho’s hand is over his eyes, but he’s got plenty of warning this time. If he can keep from blushing too hard, he’s warm enough already that Minho might not be able to tell the difference. “Go ahead,” Jisung says, more confident than he feels.
Minho laughs. “You didn’t miss that much. His mouth is on her nipples; they seem sensitive. Can you hear her?”
He was focused on Minho’s voice, but once pointed out, Jisung tunes back in on the sound coming from the laptop. Without being able to see, it doesn’t really sound like anyone he can picture in his mind, just the high, soft sounds of someone who really likes whatever is happening. Really likes it. Jisung’s suddenly much too aware of his own nipples, which feel tight against the fabric of his shirt when he shifts a little, despite the heat of the room.
“Jisung-ah,” Minho croons. “I asked you something.”
“Yeah,” he hurries to answer, voice cracking around the word. “Yeah, I - I hear.” There’s a lot of this stuff in the horror movies they’ve seen lately, but it’s never made Jisung feel this weird, the back of his neck tingling, his fingers curling against Minho’s thighs, palms inexplicably itchy. Did their bet make him shyer?
It doesn’t matter. Minho is making him dinner tomorrow, no matter what. Jisung forces his hands to lie flat, though they quickly soak up Minho’s warmth even through his sweatpants and start to sweat. They’re thick enough that Minho shouldn’t notice.
“They’re under the sheets now.” Minho’s voice is light and airy, less interested than when he narrates the cat videos he shows Jisung all the time. The only sign that he’s invested in the outcome of this little game is the way his thighs tighten slightly around Jisung’s, not really trapping him, just… threatening to, maybe. “What do you think they’re doing?”
“I know what they’re doing,” Jisung snaps, hating how weak his voice sounds. Minho hasn’t called him on being flustered yet, but if he can’t get it together, it’s only a matter of time.
Minho leans forward, so close to kissing the tender space behind Jisung’s ear that his mouth brushes Jisung’s skin when he speaks. “And what is that?”
Jisung clears his throat. “Uh. Fucking?”
“You’re good at this.” Without his sight, Jisung jumps when Minho’s free hand lands on his knee, relieved that the motion somewhat disguises the shudder that ran up his spine when Minho spoke. “Don’t get scared before anyone’s died, Hannie.” The chiding tone in his voice is softened in comparison to the way he sounds when Jisung messes up at dance practice, but that doesn’t make it any better, somehow.
Minho shifts his hand just above Jisung’s knee, curled gently around his inner thigh, but not so high as to be indecent. Pushing, maybe. Jisung’s ears burn. “What are you jumping for?”
“Maybe you jumped,” Jisung fumbles, his words feeling mushy in his mouth, soft around the edges. He can’t help thinking that his vocal coach would be disappointed. “Maybe you jumped and I just went with you.”
Minho’s hand tightens on his thigh, grip firm, but before he can say anything else, the music coming from the laptop shifts, followed by a scream and the theatrical sound of a knife swinging through the air. Jisung takes a huge breath when Minho uncovers his eyes, leaning back from Jisung to laugh at the cheesy movie, chest shaking against Jisung’s back.
The screen is covered in blood, but that’s not why Jisung is frozen in abject terror. His heart is pounding in his chest, blood rushing in his ears, face and neck flushed hot. A pleasurable twist curls into something dangerous at the humiliation that washes over him, but he doesn’t have time to examine that, because he’s hard. In Minho’s bed. With Minho one laugh away from looking down and seeing him, seeing that his teasing worked better than intended, seeing how stupid Jisung really is, how inexperienced, how easy—
Jisung scrambles off the bed in a flurry of movement, nearly throwing the laptop off the edge in his haste. He catches it, but he still has one foot on the bed, and would have lost his balance entirely if Minho didn’t reach out and catch him by the waist. “Woah!” Minho says, tone changing to something tender. “Are you scared? It’s okay. I’m right here.”
That’s the problem. It would be easier to be dead. Jisung wishes desperately to go back in time and prevent his own birth, just so that this experience would be impossible for everyone involved. He squeezes his stinging eyes shut.
“No,” Jisung forces past the lump in his throat. “No, I just—I forgot something. Like. That I have to do. Sorry. I’m gonna—” He doesn’t bother finishing the sentence, unable to think of anything to say, his chest narrowing, the world growing smaller by the moment.
He can’t be here. He can’t do this. He can’t do any of it.
Jisung practically runs back to his room. Someone must see him, because there’s a tentative knock on the door not long after he locks himself in, but Jisung ignores it, staring up at the ceiling in silence with a boner that refuses to go down.
At three in the morning, Jisung gets the courage to pull up Bubble.
I can’t sleep.
You can’t sleep either? It’s okay, let’s not sleep together.
We can talk instead, just as long as it’s not about me...
Why not? hahahahaha no, nothing serious, just a little shy, let’s talk about you instead~
Oh? Your heart fluttered because of me? Now I’m shy again!!
Try to sleep well~
I’ll try and sleep before the sun sets, okay?
you win!! screenshot to prove it~
When Jisung’s thoughts circle the drain too much, he tries to channel them into music. Most of it never ends up anywhere, or at least won’t make it off of Chan’s computer, but it’s soothing to find his place in the routine, to slot himself between drops and toplines, playing with words and twisting them in knots until they’re clean again. Sometimes it feels like he can clear a piece of himself and free it up that way.
Not with this.
It doesn’t matter if he holes up in his room or sneaks to the studio when he knows Changbin and Chan are asleep, the looping spirals only get worse. Minho texts him occasionally like everything’s fine, and since it’s texting, Jisung can respond in kind. He jumps every time the phone makes a sound, but it never rings, no matter how long it takes him to reply. Such a small thing for the massive twist of guilt in the pit of his stomach.
He’s never known how to stop being weird. When he was younger, Jisung often wore that as a badge of honor—he was pretty and talented and other people were jealous of that, of course. How could they not be? It wasn’t until Stray Kids became a proper group that he felt that first stab of insecurity, a pinprick that grew into a pit at the center of his person.
When he’s honest with himself, Jisung can admit that it wasn’t just when Chan chose the rest of the group: it was the day he met Minho.
On camera, in front of everyone, he loves to tell that story. It embarrasses him, but it makes Minho laugh, and one of the best feelings in the world is making Minho laugh, especially when he gets a little shy with it. Jisung would never change anything about it, not one single detail, but he knows, deep down, that being knocked from the center of his own universe shifted his obsessive nature inward. He hasn’t been able to stop picking himself apart since.
Every time he texts Minho—something that’s always been easy, surprisingly so, given how little he enjoys texting on a general level—Jisung reads the message five times before bringing himself to send it. Does he sound weird? Can Minho tell by the way he wrote out what he ate this morning that he’s acting off? Reading between the lines, it feels like every message he writes says the same thing: I think about you holding me down like that girl in the movie ten times a day.
Is that normal? It should be, given Minho’s - Minhoness. The thought of other people thinking about it as much as Jisung does makes him sick.
A notification breaks Jisung’s thoughts, Princess Mononoke replaced by Minho’s FaceTime request. Instantly, Jisung flushes. Fuck.
He answers, of course, because he’s stupid and he hasn’t seen Minho’s face in two and a half days. The angle is horrible, but he doesn’t want to sit up or move, frozen in his pliant state by the panic crawling through his body as Minho’s blurry face clears into definition and the call connects.
“Han Jisungie,” Minho greets, smiling the same easy smile he always does. The sight of that expression softens Jisung’s muscles like letting the air out of a balloon. “Does your bed have an impression of your butt in it?”
It’s such a Minho question it breaks the last of his tension away, making him laugh with a tone of disbelief. “If that was possible, I think it would’ve happened way earlier. Like, way earlier.”
“I’ll check tomorrow. Did you eat?”
Jisung opens his mouth to answer when a loud meowing sounds from the phone speaker. Grinning, he reaches up to wave his fingers at the screen and coos. “Where is my baby? Did he hear my voice? Dori Dori Dori, do you miss me?”
Minho looks to the left with a frown. “How did you hear him? You were in the kitchen a second ago.”
“We’re soulmates,” Jisung jokes. “He always knows it’s me.”
Dark eyes snap back to face the camera, so intense Jisung just barely stops himself from gasping. “I thought I was your soulmate,” Minho says, serious-but-not-serious in that confusing way of his.
He really hasn’t treated Jisung any differently. Was all of that panic for nothing? It feels so stupid now, looking at Minho’s face and thinking of how much he misses it. How much Jisung misses him. Things are easier with Minho next to him. How could he have forgotten?
“Jagiya, there’s enough for me for both of you,” Jisung teases. “Are you jealous?”
Minho lifts Dori into his lap and angles the phone down so that he can headbutt it and mrow again. “Your affair won’t go unpunished,” Minho says in that soft voice he mostly reserves for his cats.
“Hyung won’t really punish you,” Jisung reassures Dori as he pets his fingers over the screen. He knows Dori won’t understand, but Jisung can’t help it. Dori is too cute. “He loves us.”
“Mm, I can’t help it.” Minho’s fingers come into view as he pets Dori a bit. “You’re too cute.”
Jisung knows he’s talking to Dori, but he still flushes. He must look like a mess right now. He hasn’t washed his hair since the day before yesterday. The angle of the camera is shit thanks to the neck mount, and he hasn’t looked in a mirror since he brushed his teeth this morning. “Speaking of cute, I better get dressed.”
“You’re leaving the house?”
“Studio,” Jisung says. He wasn’t planning on going, but it sounds like a good idea now that he’s said it out loud, so Jisung gets up and heads toward the closet.
“Fine.” Minho tilts the camera back up to show his face, but he’s still looking down at Dori, petting him just off screen. “You hear that, Dori? He loves being an idol more than you, anyway, stop looking for him like that.”
“I don’t!” Jisung wails in mock horror. Maybe he should try and pair something with the new earrings he bought last week. He thumbs through his closet, looking for the right vibe, mentally running through which pants are clean in his head and trying to plan accordingly.
There’s a clattering sound from the speakers. “Too late!” Before Jisung can sneak one last look at Minho, the call has ended. Minho loves to hang up on him, so he lets it go without thinking too hard, taking off the neck mount and getting down to the serious business of choosing what to wear.
It was stupid of him to think that anything would change between Minho and himself after just one mistake. Minho’s really not that kind of person, and even if he was, Jisung wouldn’t let him be. He wouldn’t be able to stand it.
Jisung can’t take much more of this.
It’s been a week since Minho got back from vacation, and it feels like there are ants crawling under Jisung’s skin. The changes have been so subtle that Jisung convinced himself he was imagining them for the first couple of days, but going over their interactions again and again until his brain is mushy and useless, Minho has definitely not gone back to normal.
He puts on a good show, especially for the others or in front of the cameras. Part of why Jisung takes a few days to catch on is that nothing shifts so fundamentally that it should be jarring. A war rages in his mind: is he so petty as to get upset when he gets cold and Minho goes to get one of his hoodies for Jisung to wear instead of holding onto him, encircling him until he’s perfectly content? Is he so sensitive that just a little less attention is enough to make Jisung skip meals and sleep later than he means to? Is he really so needy that Minho concentrating on his book instead of checking to see if Jisung is crying when the scarecrow prince is turned human again by Sophie’s kiss is enough to make him cry even more in the shower?
They’ve drawn closer and closer since the day they met, when overwhelming jealousy gave way to endless fascination so quickly Jisung had been dizzy with it. At some point between now and then, Minho had taken over for the earth’s core as the center of gravity in Jisung’s life; even a small shift in the opposite direction feels like he’s been thrown through the atmosphere, hurtling through the endless vacuum of space with nothing to cling to.
But what is Jisung supposed to say? I wish you’d touch me like you used to, hyung? He’d rather die.
Besides, it’s his fault things are weird in the first place. His dick’s fault, really, that little traitor. He’s known for a long time that Minho is the ideal he’d hold any future partner to—if he ever got the courage to date, which is a pretty big if—but the choice not to consider Minho as an option was a deliberate one.
He wants it too much. He’s always wanted it too much. Jisung wants Minho with such intensity that it would swallow him up if he let it, and he can’t. He has too much he has to protect.
So Jisung will swallow down all his bitterness when Minho doesn’t throw his leg over Jisung’s lap as he reads, when he stays in his room to play mobile games rather than coming over and letting Jisung lay on him for a while. Because it’s Minho, and because even a lesser, broken version of their relationship that drives him crazy is better than no Minho at all.
“Han.” A finger pokes his thigh, but Jisung doesn’t move the pillow off his face. “Han Jisung.” Poke. “Jisung-ah.” Poke. “Little quokka, are you asleep?”
Feeling the absence of the familiar “jagiya” he’s grown so used to in that tone of Minho’s, Jisung takes the pillow off his face and hugs it, glaring up at Minho instead. He’s almost done with the book he started last week, propped against the headboard with one leg folded near his chest, the other stretched out along Jisung’s side but not quite touching. The half-centimeter of distance starts a phantom itch at the center of Jisung’s palm.
“Not now,” Jisung replies, closing his left eye and leaving the right open to squint in suspicion at Minho. Normal, normal, normal, his brain supplies on loop, a constant reminder not to give in to the anxiety clawing at the inside of his skull.
After a searching look, Minho adjusts so that he’s laying down alongside Jisung, their arms brushing thanks to the size of the bed. He folds his arms comfortably over his chest. Silence engulfs the room, practically ringing in Jisung’s ears.
“Did you want something?” Jisung asks. His eyes burn when he feels Minho’s shoulder shrug where it brushes his own. This is so stupid.
It’s stupid, and Jisung is sick of it. “Are you mad at me?” he blurts out, heart racing as adrenaline rushes through him all of the sudden.
“No.” Minho elbows him, but it’s with a light touch. “I’d tell you, stupid.”
“Even if it was gonna embarrass me?”
“That’s never stopped me before.”
Jisung can’t help a huff of laughter. “We’ve never fought before.”
Minho shifts so that he can prop himself up on his elbow, staring imperiously down at Jisung. “Are we fighting now?”
“Yes? But usually there’s more yelling,” Jisung admits. “Should I yell?”
“What are you yelling about?”
Jisung takes the pillow he’s been hugging and smacks Minho into laying back down, both of them laughing as some of the tension breaks. “We’re fighting, dumbass.”
“You’re fighting. I’m talking.”
“No, you’re bothering me.”
“Better fight your way out of it.” Normally, that sort of comment would be backed up with a physical threat: Minho would overpower him and pin him down until he surrendered. When the threat remains verbal, the brief moment of levity sours, Jisung’s mouth filling with the acrid taste of his own disappointment.
Jisung sits up so that the warmth of Minho breathing and moving next to him won’t be as distracting. “You’ve been weird,” he accuses, relieved that Minho can’t see his expression from here.
The usual irreverence Minho displays is grating on him at this point. Can he not take this seriously? Jisung stands up from the bed altogether, walking around to pace at the foot of the bed, wringing his hands again and again. In his peripheral vision, Minho sits up to watch him and crosses his legs.
“Asshole,” Jisung spits out. He faces the bed with determination. “Were you gonna wait forever to tell me what I fucked up? Just tell me!” Eyes darting to the closed door, Jisung softens his tone. He really doesn’t want any of the others walking in on this fight, as often as they’ve been privy to in-fighting in the past. There’s something about Jisung’s stupid boner being the main issue that makes him want to crawl under the bed and die.
“I thought I knew, but I don’t know if that’s it, and if I don’t know, then I can’t fix it.” Jisung takes a deep breath. “I don’t just wanna let it go.” The words almost surprise him, but he means it. As little as he enjoys interrogating issues in his life overall, things with Minho are different. They’re important.
Minho opens his mouth, then closes it and scoots forward until he can sit directly in front of Jisung at the foot of the bed, palms flat against the blankets beneath him. “You didn’t do anything,” Minho says, an odd gleam in his eyes. “I did. I’ve been trying not to freak you out again.”
A wave of embarrassment overwhelms Jisung, followed by the crushing weight of shame. It really was his fault the whole time. “I’m sorry—”
“For what?” Minho shrugs. “You didn’t do anything. Can we move on now?”
That should be enough to satisfy Jisung, but it rings hollow, the words falling just a little too flat for his comfort. Minho’s tone isn’t as easy as he’d like it to be, and Jisung knows him too well not to notice.
“You’ve never done that before,” Jisung says slowly. “How come I’m someone you have to be so careful with all of a sudden?”
“You want me to be rough with you?”
It’s stupid, it’s so stupid, but just those words in that tone of voice are enough to make Jisung fight a shiver. Fortunately, they’re not enough to distract him from his goal. “I want you to be yourself.” Embarrassingly, his voice wobbles on the last word, eyes stinging. Jisung tilts his head back in an effort to stop himself from crying. “Whatever you want. When it’s you and me, I just want you to—ugh. I want you to just. Be. Like, whatever that means for you. And if you tell me that means you don’t want to touch me as much, because I - I—”
Here, Jisung falters, too ashamed to admit the last part of that sentence. He blinks away enough tears to lower his head and finds that Minho is standing, now, close enough for the scent of his cinnamon toothpaste to wash over Jisung’s face.
“Whatever I want,” Minho repeats, voice soft and high.
It’s not a question, but Jisung answers like it is. “Yeah.”
Don’t make me say it, Jisung wordlessly pleas, his mouth suddenly full of cotton. Minho tilts his head just a little to one side, waiting. When Jisung can’t make his mouth move at all, Minho steps forward, forcing Jisung to step back. He repeats the motion a few more times, right up until Jisung’s butt hits the hard edge of his desk.
Minho’s eyes look like something out of an animated movie, shining with an unfamiliar hunger. “What do you think you did, Han Jisung?”
He grips the desk with sweaty palms, trying to breathe normally. He’ll never figure out a way to extricate himself from this conversation if he’s not getting enough oxygen. Jisung watches Minho’s eyes gleam just a little too long, swallowing hard, throat aching with the urge to answer as it wars with the fear of changing things for the worse. Even when he squeezes his eyes shut, Minho’s scent lingers, the warmth of his body drawing Jisung forward into that gravity whether he wants it or not.
“I liked it too much,” he whispers.
Jisung startles when a hand curves pleasantly around his neck, Minho’s thumb resting just over his adam’s apple. He relaxes into that hold by increments, only able to open his eyes once his shoulders have drooped entirely, lashes fluttering as a strange limbo settles over him.
The hunger in Minho’s eyes has intensified tenfold. When Jisung looks him in the eye, Minho smiles, the soft expression at odds with the danger in his gaze. “Good boy,” he says, pressing down a little on Jisung’s throat and kissing him before Jisung can draw a full breath.
Minho kisses with a calm determination that immediately overwhelms him, mouth slotting into place and stealing Jisung’s first kiss before he realizes what’s happening. Clumsy and unsure, Jisung clings to Minho’s shoulders, gasping for air when Minho’s hands wrap around either side of his waist. He’s always been ticklish, but this touch is firm enough to fizzle through his whole body, solid enough to make him forget to mourn that hand around his neck as Minho presses him back against the desk.
Taking advantage of Jisung’s open mouth, Minho’s tongue slides inside, quickly familiarizing himself and taking over for Jisung’s inexperience. When Minho sucks on his tongue, Jisung can’t help an embarrassing moan, pulling away to gulp down air like a drowning man breaking the water’s surface.
“Ha - haaaaaaa.” Jisung barely gets half a word out before Minho latches onto his neck, teeth small and sharp in the skin just under his jaw. It hurts for a moment, but when Minho runs his tongue over the marks and sucks sharply, Jisung makes a high noise in the back of his throat that flushes his whole face red. He tries to focus enough to answer the question, but it takes a few tries, mouth clumsy around his words as he asks, “Since when did you want that?”
Minho pulls away, eyes fixed roughly on the spot he just bruised. “Always thought your neck was pretty,” he admits. “If I marked it up? Even prettier.”
Jisung chokes at the deliberate misinterpretation of his question, unable to stop himself from covering his face, but Minho doesn’t let him get away with it. Strong hands encircle his wrists and drag them behind his back, holding them so tightly Jisung wonders if he’ll have bruises there too.
Minho’s tone shifts to something serious. “Don’t hide,” he demands. “I want to see you when you talk to me.”
Though his hands are small, Minho manages to grip Jisung’s wrists tightly enough together that he can hold them in one hand, lifting the other to brush his thumb over Jisung’s cheek. “Because I think you’ll cry,” Minho says, “and I’ve been thinking of that since the day I got back to that fucking show.”
Before Jisung can formulate a response to that or even process what he’s heard, Minho kisses him again, fierce and all-encompassing as the wet slide of his tongue drives Jisung insane. His brain misfires a couple of times before putting the words it just heard together in a way that makes sense.
Since the elimination show?
That can’t be true. It just can’t be. There’s no way someone like Minho could have thought about Jisung for so long, even less chance that he wouldn’t do anything about it. But as the denial runs through Jisung’s mind, he knows that’s not entirely true; Minho excels at doing what he wants to without anyone noticing he wants it. If he’s wanted this so long, then every time Minho pulled Jisung into his arms, every time he flirted, every time he took Jisung on a date, all of it was an open door. An invitation Jisung had been unable to see through the clouds and cobwebs in his mind.
Guilt curdles the buzzing heat in his stomach. Jisung tries to pull out of Minho’s grip, but it tightens until it hurts, his hands tingling as his circulation is limited. When he tries to pull away and speak, Minho snags Jisung’s bottom lip between his teeth, until the bite of pain forces a breathy sound from his throat. After that, it’s Minho who pulls away, and Jisung who follows, wanting the soothing sensation of his kiss even if it hurts.
“Stop thinking.” Minho’s voice is soft, but the tone itself is unyielding. A command rather than a suggestion.
Ducking his head without warning, Minho nips sharply at his jaw again. “Don’t. I don’t want to hear it.”
“How do you know what I was gonna say?”
“Don’t apologize to me.” Damn. Minho really does know him. Jisung has no way of escaping, so he slides backward onto the desk, hoping he doesn’t knock anything off. It does what he intended—giving him enough space to properly gauge Minho’s expression—but it also makes it easy for Minho to push between his legs until Jisung’s thighs are hugging his hips.
Jisung swallows. He’s not sure this was a good idea. “Fine. Just—I’m paying more attention now, okay? That’s it.”
“Good.” Abruptly, Minho lets go of his wrists in favor of hooking his hands under Jisung’s thighs and pulling him closer, until they’re pressed so tightly together that it’s impossible not to notice how hard Minho is under his joggers. Jisung yelps, startled, suddenly flushed with so much want it’s hard to breathe. “It’s easier to get you alone if you’re helping.”
Slowly but surely, the anxiety he’s felt all week is beginning to ebb in the face of Minho’s obvious desire. Jisung can’t help a little puff of laughter, almost silent as it lightens the air between them. “You already get me alone, like, every other day.”
“Like I said,” Minho breathes. Jisung would make fun of him for that, but they’re kissing again, and the pins and needles in his hands are ebbing enough that he wants to touch. The first thing he does is scramble to get his hands under Minho’s shirt, hooking his legs around Minho’s strong thighs and pulling him as close as possible. Jisung barely has his hands on that smooth skin before Minho pulls away, coaxing a surprisingly whiny sound from him that has Jisung opening his eyes, ears burning in humiliation.
Minho smiles and reaches one hand behind his back to strip his shirt off.
When they lived in the same dorm, Jisung got reasonably used to seeing Minho in various states of undress, but it’s been months since he saw anything outside of green rooms, so he thinks he can be forgiven for the way his mouth waters. He goes to slide his hand down Minho’s pecs when hands catch him at the wrists again, adjusting until they fit over the red marks Minho left before, every finger lined up perfectly.
A low, pleased hum leaves Minho as he inspects is handiwork. “That’ll be hard to hide,” he coos, squeezing until Jisung makes a soft sound, which only makes Minho smile harder. He slides his fingers under Jisung’s shirt and slides it over his head, tossing it to the floor before pressing Jisung’s hands against the edge of the desk on either side of his legs, curling his fingers underneath. “Stay,” he says, almost off-hand, like you’d tell a dog. It gets significantly harder for Jisung to breathe.
He expects Minho to do something when he’s put Jisung in place, but he only stands there, watching Jisung worry his bottom lip between his teeth. It feels like hours before Minho laughs, though it’s probably less than a minute. He reaches up and runs his hand through Jisung’s hair, pushing it back off his forehead and baring his face. “There you are,” Minho says, trailing his fingertips down Jisung’s face, one finger gently tracing the bridge of his nose before his thumb finds Jisung’s mouth.
“Open.” Minho doesn’t have to finish the word before Jisung is opening his mouth, eyes fluttering shut as the salt of Minho’s skin hits his tongue. He doesn’t know what this is doing for Minho, really, but he wants it to do something, so he sucks carefully, then harder, like Minho is his first americano of the day. It feels like it shouldn’t be possible for this to make him feel so much, but when he swallows around Minho’s thumb, Jisung feels his cock leak precome into his already sticky underwear, pulsing with need at the way Minho’s blunt nail just barely scratches the very back of the roof of his mouth.
His legs had loosened around Minho’s body, but they tighten instinctively around Minho’s hips when he presses down on Jisung’s tongue, wanting him closer, hips rocking forward a little. Minho pulls his thumb out, eyes fixed on Jisung’s mouth with intensity as Minho ignores the forlorn sound he makes in favor of dragging that thumb down Jisung’s chin, leaving a spit-slick trail that leads past the column of his throat until it hits his chest.
When it brushes Jisung’s nipple, he makes a sharp sound, twisting away from the sensation. Minho laughs a little, high and breathless. “Sensitive?” he asks.
Embarrassed, Jisung leans forward and bites down on his shoulder.
Minho wrenches him back with a hand in his hair. Jisung expects it to hurt, but all it really does is make his scalp tingle, a low, instinctive moan leaving him breathless when Minho bares his throat. “Behave.”
“You didn’t say I couldn’t,” Jisung replies, mutinous and so hard he can barely keep his eyes open.
Unexpectedly, that makes Minho laugh. “You’re right,” Minho agrees. “Can’t be good on your own?”
Hands trembling with the urge to pull Minho closer and finally get some friction on his dick, Jisung resists, still frustrated with Minho for not taking what he wanted a while sooner. Why didn’t he know that Jisung wasn’t going to make a move? He knows Jisung so well, yet that completely slipped Minho’s mind?
“Maybe not,” he says, still sullen.
All of a sudden, Minho is gone, stepping back to sit at the foot of the bed again. He leans back on both hands, eyes locked with Jisung’s. “You’re lying.”
Jisung splutters, cold now that the warmth of Minho’s body is so far away. “Huh?”
“I said you’re lying.” Despite his smile, Minho’s tone is cool and dangerous. “Don’t make me say it a third time.”
He has no clue what he’s doing. Jisung’s sure his confusion shows on his face, because Minho’s eyes get a little less sharp, his head tilting again, like Jisung is an interesting specimen under a microscope. Or maybe like he’s an ant under a magnifying glass, burning hotter and hotter with nothing more than the touch of Minho’s gaze.
“Come here and show me how good you can be,” Minho demands. He doesn’t say anything else as the silence between them grows, watching with interest, practically daring Jisung not to do it. It’s a game, Jisung realizes, flushing with heat under the scrutiny. The longer Jisung refuses to listen, the more uncomfortable he becomes, shifting his weight uneasily and swinging his legs under the desk.
Minho isn’t going to make him do anything. He doesn’t have to. He knows that Jisung will do what he wants, that he’ll be the first one to fold. Jisung has to close his eyes against that knowledge, inhaling sharply, his ribs tight around his pounding heart.
Slowly, he settles his toes on the ground, then inches forward using them as leverage until he can plant his feet enough to stand. Jisung doesn’t need to open his eyes to know where he’s going, so he doesn’t, not until the last second, when his thigh bumps into Minho’s knee. He looks at Minho’s smug smile and forgets to breathe.
Jisung drops to his knees between Minho’s casually parted thighs.
The way Minho runs his fingers through Jisung’s hair reminds him of the way Minho pets his cats. Not the stray ones they find on the street when they’re out together—though Minho treats them with gentle consideration and sweetness—but the way he pets Soonie, Doongie, and Dori, with a stronger hand, certain of their affections.
“Handsome little liar,” says Minho, all sweetness, his eyes curved into pleased crescents. “I expected you to sit in my lap.”
Even worse than the burn of humiliation is the molten heat rising in the pit of Jisung’s stomach as he realizes he overplayed his hand. He presses his palms to Minho’s thighs and moves to stand, but Minho exerts pressure on the top of his head to keep him in place. “Don’t,” he says softly. “I want to see what else Han Jisung wants to do to me.” Minho runs his fingers down to scratch at the nape of Jisung’s neck, gently petting him and ignoring the way Jisung’s fingers are starting to dig into his thighs. “What were you thinking about, exactly?”
The silence between them is thick and heavy. “Were you thinking at all?” Minho asks when Jisung won’t answer.
Slowly, mortifyingly, Jisung shakes his head. He’s weeping precome so badly into his underwear that he’s probably stained them right through to his shorts.
“Lucky you’re cute,” Minho says as wraps his hands around Jisung’s biceps and tugs until he’s in Minho’s lap, with no way to hide how wet he is now that he’s pressed against Minho’s stomach. Jisung wants to shy away, but Minho captures Jisung’s face between his palms and studies his features like it’s the first time Minho has ever seen them, like he’s committing them to memory anew. “And that I’m the only one taking advantage of you.”
Jisung loses all sense of reason when Minho kisses him again, messy and wet, mouth so demanding Jisung quickly grows light-headed. Minho’s hands slide around Jisung’s waist and down to curve around his ass, and Jisung is surprised by how good the familiar sensation feels when in a different context, making a soft noise into Minho’s mouth and rocking back into that firm hold.
“Fuck,” Minho gasps. He lowers himself back onto the bed without jarring Jisung too harshly, grinding sharply upward and smiling against Jisung’s mouth when he groans at the friction, pleasure beginning to edge toward painful as friction of his clothes against his dick grows more uncomfortable. He chases Minho’s hips anyway, mouth slack as Minho sinks his teeth into Jisung’s lip again, unable to help a tiny, “Ah, ah, ah,” when he refuses to let go.
The next thing he knows Jisung is on his back, restless and trembling as Minho’s fingers tug his shorts and underwear off at the same time. Jisung makes a sharp, embarrassed sound, but Minho doesn’t seem to mind. He almost encourages it, biting down on Jisung’s inner thigh as he crawls between Jisung’s legs, squeezing Jisung’s thigh when he turns his head to muffle a moan into the pillow. Minho’s next bite is a little higher, a little harder, overlapping with the fresh impressions his teeth have made in Jisung’s skin before he sucks hard enough for the sharp sting to turn into a slowly throbbing ache that travels directly to Jisung’s dick where it bobs against his stomach.
As Minho bruises up his inner thighs, Jisung has to lift the pillow out from under his head and cover his face so that the others won’t hear him sob through the wall and think they need an intervention. He only suffocates himself for a few moments before there’s a sharp tug from below and the pillow is cruelly stripped away, leaving him gasping for air, head lifted so he can look down at Minho in confusion.
“I told you not to hide,” Minho reminds him.
Jisung can’t argue, so he throws his head back onto the bed and barely manages to bite down on his knuckles when Minho grabs the base of his cock and laps up the rivulet of precome oozing down the shaft. “Hands on the bed, Hannie.” Minho’s voice is almost melodic, but there’s a razor sharp edge to it, too, something that demands Jisung’s full attention. He whimpers, removing his reddened knuckles from his mouth and laying his arms at his sides, palms flat against the bedspread.
Minho makes a pleased hum and sinks down slowly onto Jisung’s cock. He bites down on his lip, but it doesn’t do much to hide the moan reverberating in his ears, neck arching up off the bed as his hands clench in the blankets underneath him. Minho eases himself into it, only dipping down a little before popping up to swirl his tongue around the head of Jisung’s dick, then sinking down a little further, until Jisung hits the back of his throat.
“Your voice,” Jisung rasps on instinct, though his mouth waters when he thinks about what it would be like to have Minho so far inside him. How would it feel? Is it good?
Pulling off with a slick, obscene sound, Minho laughs against Jisung’s inner thigh. “Jagi, jagi, jagi,” he whispers into Jisung’s skin. “I really don’t care.”
When Minho sinks down onto him again, Jisung forgets to worry about how loud he is, or about Minho’s throat. His hips barely twitch upwards before Minho braces his arm over Jisung’s stomach, sharp elbow digging into his side, pinning him down with little effort. “Please,” Jisung begs, voice sharp and high as he channels the urge to whine into actual words, hoping he’s at least begging at a normal volume. “Please, hyung, please—”
He doesn’t really know what he’s asking for, but Minho seems to know, sucking him off with increasing speed. Jisung’s fingers twist in the blankets as his back tries to arch off the bed, but Minho’s weight presses him down, mouth sinking down until it meets his fist around the base of Jisung’s dick. He swallows like that, squeezing around the head, and that’s all it takes for Jisung’s orgasm to hit, rushing through him so fast he can’t stop himself from wailing as the pleasure overwhelms him.
There’s a few moments where Jisung loses all sense of time, though he’s dimly aware of the way Minho leaned back enough to catch Jisung’s orgasm on his tongue, lapping at the head until he finished. The next thing he’s aware of is the rocking of the world as Minho flips him onto his stomach. Jisung braces his arms against the bed and turns his face to the side, but that’s all he has the energy for, still shivering as Minho’s weight covers him like a blanket.
“Good Jisungie.” He makes a small, semi-miserable noise into the blanket that makes Minho laugh. This one might take over as Jisung’s favorite Minho laugh; there are many beloved flavors, but the fond dismissal in the ones he’s gotten since they kissed makes Jisung’s toes curl.
Minho bites down hard on the nape of his neck, making Jisung yelp before sucking another bruise into his skin. He repeats the pattern down the length of Jisung’s spine, until all of Jisung’s bones feel like they’ve melted and he’s become one with the bed, dick faintly stirring where it’s trapped against the bed. “How do you feel, jagiya?”
Jisung gives a pleased hum, but apparently that’s not good enough, because there’s a sharp crack as Minho spanks him. He doesn’t hold back. Jisung’s hips rock forward at the sting, whimper dissolving into harsh, staccato breaths when Minho rains soft kisses down onto Jisung’s tingling skin.
“Jisung-ah,” Minho asks again, “how do you feel?”
It takes Jisung a second to remember how to work his tongue. “Good,” he chokes out, “it’s good, yeah.”
“Yeah?” Minho’s tone has gone into dangerous territory, but Jisung is still buzzing with too many endorphins to worry, rocking back a little when Minho’s hands come to a rest on his butt, one on each cheek. If they weren’t so naked, if Jisung hadn’t just come, it would almost be just another day in Minho’s bedroom. “Well rested? Ready for more?”
The sound of the word more kills every last cell in his brain. “More?” he repeats, barely stuttering out the sound as he forgets how to breathe. That was already the hardest he’s ever orgasmed, the first time he’s ever come with another person. There’s more?
Minho laughs and spanks him again, this time with both hands. “Remember to use your words,” he croons. Before Jisung can ask more questions, he feels Minho force his thighs apart, then part his cheeks. Warm air brushes the sensitive skin of his ass as Minho sighs, but Jisung can barely remain cognizant of that, overwhelmed by how embarrassing it is to have someone see him here, like this.
Then Minho spits on him, and Jisung shudders out a sound so embarrassing he didn’t think it was possible for him to make it.
“That’s good, too,” Minho says before licking inside him.
Jisung’s voice breaks as he whines into the bedspread, his thigh jerking as he tries to rock forward and away from the sensation. It’s too much, foreign and intense, and Minho shows no signs of going slow or easing him in. Jisung’s dick gets hard so fast it’s painful, made worse because it’s trapped against the bed. He can feel a wet spot quickly spreading beneath him as he rocks forward and back, not sure whether he wants to get away or beg for more.
The harsh sting of Minho spanking him makes Jisung cry out again. “Tell me how it feels,” Minho demands, hunger lacing every word.
How is he supposed to talk when Minho is stretching him open and spitting inside him? How can he remember what to say when the tip of Minho’s tongue darts in and out of Jisung’s hole, swirling around the rim before Minho leans back and spanks him with the same hand, Jisung’s already tingling skin stinging properly under the force of that palm?
“Jagiya,” Minho draws out, sweet and bright as he rubs his thumb in a tight circle over Jisung’s raw nerves. “I’m waiting.”
Something inside him rebels at giving in so easily, the competitive side of him briefly winning out. “I hate you,” Jisung slurs into the bed.
Expecting punishment, he jumps when all Minho does is laugh, the warmth of his breath only making the tingling of his skin worse as Minho presses his cheek against Jisung’s sore ass. “I love you, too,” he says, surprisingly earnest for the moment they’re in. Jisung’s stomach bursts into a hundred butterflies.
Minho turns his head to kiss Jisung’s butt. “I’ll show you.” Jisung kind of regrets the harsh words now that he’s heard such sweet ones, but there’s no time to take them back before Minho is on him again. It’s like he’s determined to drive Jisung insane, wet and messy enough that his face must be shining. Jisung wants to see him so badly his eyes burn, rocking back into his touch now, deliberate and needy. He wants Minho so much he doesn’t know how he ever managed to convince himself that it was less than a need, that it was something Jisung could ignore or shake off or keep secret forever.
How do you feel?
Use your words.
Tell me how it feels.
Something inside Jisung cracks under the pressure of Minho’s mouth. “Hyung, it’s good,” he whines, tongue clumsy but the pronunciation mostly there. He’s a rapper, after all. Minho’s hands tighten on his thighs, and that small reaction is enough to spur him on. “More, please, I want more, I can be good, promise promise promise promise promise—”
Minho turns his head and bites down on his ass again, making Jisung sob. His hand slides up Jisung’s thigh until Minho presses his thumb just a little inside Jisung’s hole, tugging at the rim, opening him up for a further onslaught. He can almost get his tongue inside, and squeezing around Minho’s thumb makes stupid, high-pitched sounds pour from Jisung’s mouth, uncontrolled and desperate.
“So good for me, jagi,” Minho murmurs as he works him over. The acknowledgment that he’s done what was asked of him, that he’s pleased Minho, makes Jisung cry for real, burying his face in the bedspread briefly before remembering what Minho said earlier. I think you’ll cry.
He turns his head enough that Minho can see if he looks up, grinding against the bed as his dick pulses, body tight. “Close,” he slurs, “close, jagi, I want, I want you, please?”
Minho sits up, thumb still inside just enough to keep Jisung open. His eyes lock with Jisung’s and trail down his face, where Jisung can still feel the wet mess of tears cooling against the heat of his flushed cheeks.
“Jisungie,” Minho breathes. “You’re so fucking pretty.”
He dips down to lick inside Jisung again, causing a frustrated whine to leave Jisung’s throat because he wants Minho’s cock. “No, please, I want you to, I want, fuck me, hyung, you have to fuck me—”
Minho groans with his tongue inside him as he hears Jisung beg, but he doesn’t stop. Orgasm hurtles closer and Jisung whines, clinging to any remaining shred of sanity until Minho replaces his thumb with one finger, wet with Jisung doesn’t even know what. The deep press inside is all Jisung needs to come, dick spurting where it’s trapped between his body and the blanket as he keens through pulsing waves of pleasure, trembling in Minho’s hands.
This time he feels everything as Minho sits up, sobs in overstimulation and need when the head of Minho’s cock presses against his hole. Minho jerks himself off rapidly, motions fast and slick, so wet that Jisung wonders if Minho tried to fuck his precome inside of Jisung’s hole, if that’s what made him come. He shudders and whines, the sticky mess beneath him only adding to the pleasure-pain of oversensitivity, but he doesn’t have to wait long. Minho’s moan is high and breathy when he comes, quiet enough that Jisung has to strain for it as he soaks Jisung’s hole, making a mess of his ass and collapsing heavily against his back in the aftermath.
The two breathe there together for a minute or so, exhausted and just a little too warm. Jisung never wants to move again, actually. Minho is better than any weighted blanket he’s ever tried. If he wasn’t so sticky and uncomfortable, he might beg to lay like this forever, until they just sort of sink into one messy blob of a person, never to be seen again. That sounds nice.
“Next time,” Minho says, a little breathless, “I’m fucking you.” He drops a wet kiss on Jisung’s shoulder.
“What was wrong with this time?” Jisung asks, unable to help a touch of petulance.
He feels Minho’s smile where it presses into his back. “You think I’d let you ruin your choreo tomorrow?”
They both can’t help giggling at that, shaking almost in sync before Minho rolls off him. “Be right back,” he says, running a hand through Jisung’s hair before he has time to stress out about Minho abandoning him. “Don’t move.”
It’s easy to listen to Minho, but as he basks in the afterglow, Jisung feels an itch in the back of his mind, like he’s forgotten something really important. Minho tugs his joggers up over his ass and runs to the bathroom, laughing at something when he comes back in; Jisung catches a flash of white as Minho grabs something off his bedroom door before returning with a damp cloth and a box of wipes.
“What’s funny?” Jisung asks. Minho starts cleaning him off with careful dedication, the cloth not to warm or too hot against his sensitive skin.
“Just the others,” Minho says off-hand.
Jisung stiffens. “The others?”
“They left us a note,” Minho says, huffing a laugh again under his breath. “You can read it if you want, but I don’t think you want to.” He rolls Jisung gently onto his back and looks down with the most smug grin Jisung has ever seen on Minho’s face. “Reading between the lines, I think they like how loud you are almost as much as I do.”
Jisung ignores the fact that his stomach and thighs are still sticky with come in favor of tackling Minho, smacking his bare chest. Minho might be the threatening one between them, but Jisung has learned a lot, and he could definitely kill Minho right now.
“Noooooo,” Jisung moans when the warmth abandons his bed. He doesn’t feel that should be possible until he remembers where he fell asleep last night. Opening his eyes, he whines, “Nooooooo,” even louder this time.
“What?” asks Minho, already rummaging through his closet.
Jisung puts the blanket over his head. “It’s eight in the morning.”
“It’s eight thirty-two,” Minho corrects. “We slept in.”
“I—” The usual refrain is I hate you, but as it comes to his lips, Jisung remembers that he didn’t actually respond in kind when Minho said ‘I love you’ last night. Peeking out from the blanket, he sees Minho bent over and can’t resist poking his foot out off the bed to kick his butt. Minho jumps forward with a startled laugh, turning around and climbing back onto the bed to hold Jisung down and rip the blanket away from him while he clings as hard as he can.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry!” Jisung says through giggles, not fighting that hard before he settles in under Minho. His hair is a total mess, and he’s still so beautiful he doesn’t seem real. The smile on Jisung’s face slowly fades.
“Good morning,” he says. “I love you.”
Minho’s soft expressions always feel unbearably intimate, but this time, Jisung finds he has the strength not to look away, no matter how hard he blushes. “Then I guess I forgive your attack,” Minho says, half a smile on his face. “Since you’re so in love with me and all.”
“You said it first!” Jisung argues. “After doing something way worse.”
“You didn’t think getting eaten out was so bad last night,” Minho points out. Jisung is still pinned to the bed by his wrists, so he sticks out his tongue, not expecting the way Minho leans in and bites it.
“Ah!” Jisung laughs and tries to squirm free. “Fuck, Lino-hyung!”
A harsh knock at the door interrupts their fight. Minho and Jisung both freeze and look in that direction as Seungmin’s voice comes through. “Everyone’s here already, please don’t encore.”
The note from last night. Jisung abruptly wishes for death. “Everyone?” he calls out.
“I knew you were in love!” Changbin calls through the door.
When Jisung looks up, Minho is already watching him with satisfied amusement. “I can kill them,” he offers. “One at a time.” He looks up like he’s thinking, then shakes his head. “Not Innie.”
“I’ll take it,” Jisung jokes. Minho rolls off him and helps Jisung to his feet. Together they raid the closet, with Jisung finding Minho’s biggest hoodie and wrapping himself in it like armor. He pulls the hood over his head and tugs at the strings until most of his face is obscured.
“Okay,” he says, turning to sort of squint at Minho. “Ready.”
Minho loosens the hood and pulls it down, combing down Jisung’s hair with his fingers. “Don’t hide,” he says. “I need you to watch when I kill them. I’ll make it sexy for you.”
“Is there a time where you’d kill people but it wouldn’t be sexy?”
He tilts his head and considers the question. “No. Let’s go.”
Fingers linked with Jisung’s, Minho tugs him to the bedroom door and opens it, revealing a disgruntled Seungmin with his fist raised. He blinks. “Thought I’d have to knock again,” he explains, shaking his americano menacingly at them before turning around and heading for the living room.
Jisung’s fingers tighten on Minho’s, who whispers, “Sooooo dead.”
They follow Seungmin to where the others have gathered. There’s space left for them in the center of the couch, but when Jisung goes to take the left side, Minho stops him and sits down first before tugging Jisung into his lap. “Morning,” he says. Though Jisung can’t see his expression, he can hear the chipper, terrifying smile in Minho’s voice anyway.
“Morning,” says Felix, cross-legged on the floor and looking way too happy for someone who definitely heard everything through the walls last night. Meeting his eyes makes Jisung flush and hide behind his hands. Minho’s arms tighten around his waist.
“This is awkward,” Jeongin starts, sitting close enough to Felix to hold his hand. Felix laughs and Hyunjin joins in from the right side of the couch, while Changbin leans against Minho and Jisung from the left.
“I can’t believe I missed your debut performance!” he whines. “I knew Minho-hyung wasn’t memorizing what side of the bed everyone else sleeps on.”
“Before we get into that,” Chan says from the center of the room, frozen with his hands on his hips as the only one standing, “I think we should start with a chat about dating inside the group, since it’s come up.” He looks at Jisung, who attempts to sink through Minho’s body and hide, then over his shoulder as Minho digs his chin into it. “That is what this is, right? If it’s a fling—”
“Nope,” Minho says. “Do your first speech.”
Chan’s shoulders slump. Jisung can’t tell how much of it is relief and how much is just for Minho’s attitude, but he’ll take it. “Okay,” Chan says, clapping his hands in front of him. “Right. Dating. We’re all old enough not to be barred from dating, but within the group, it gets tricky. Do you want to go public?”
“No,” Jisung says immediately. He turns his head enough to catch Minho’s blurry profile. “You’d hate it too, right?”
“Keep everything as it is,” Minho agrees.
Chan nods. “If you change your mind, we’ll plan it out, okay? Before we go to staff. I’ll build a proposal with you.”
Jisung would rather die, but his chest is warm and full at the offer. “Thanks, hyung.”
After a brief smile, Chan continues. “As your friend, you can always talk to me about anything at all, you know that. As your leader? I need to know if you’re fighting and you don’t resolve it; I know that’s already a rule, but I’m reminding you again. If you ever want to tell someone, talk to me first so that I know who we can be open with. Do you want to tell manager-hyung?”
“Yeah,” Jisung says. “That’d help a lot, right, jagi?”
Minho nods, the sharp point of his chin digging into Jisung’s shoulder. Jeongin mimes throwing up and sticks his tongue out at Jisung. “It’s way worse when you’re together-together,” he says, though judging by his smile, he’s not too grossed out.
“Okay, we’ll work it out with him, then.” Chan shifts his attention so that he can address the entire group. “If anyone else starts dating, we can follow the same rules, okay? That will make things easier going forward.” He focuses in again on Jisung and Minho, clearing his throat. “The only other thing I ask is that you’re safe and careful.”
“Headphone signal,” Seungmin says. He manages to pack a lot of emotion into such few words. Chan coughs, his ears flushing pink at once.
“Right! Right. So, uh, well, I know having our own rooms affords us some privacy, but not quite as much privacy as we’d like—”
“Tell the children to block their ears when I make Jisungie scream, I got it,” Minho interrupts. Jisung turns to elbow him, absolutely mortified. Minho makes a pained sound and falls back against the back of the couch, turning his big, soft eyes on Jisung. “You don’t like it?” he asks innocently. “I thought you said I had to—”
Jisung slaps his hand over Minho’s mouth and turns over his shoulder to grit his teeth in some approximation of a smile as Chan very clearly struggles not to break. Felix’s face is red from hiding his laughter behind his hands, while Jeongin has his face hidden in what appears to be secondhand embarrassment. “We will not be having a repeat performance,” Jisung says as loudly and clearly as possible.
Minho pries Jisung’s hand off his mouth. “Ever?”
“If you survive the night,” Jisung threatens, turning to glare at Minho again, “you can make your case.”
“People say that owners start to look like their dogs after a while,” Hyunjin whispers loudly to Felix and Jeongin on the floor behind his hand. “That’s why I’m almost as beautiful as Kkami. Do you think couples also start sounding like each other?”
Chan throws his hands up. “Just—be responsible, okay? Don’t make anyone take sides. Be careful with each other.”
“Yes, Abeoji,” Minho drones.
Having finished his little speech, Chan cracks, laughing and scrunching his shoulders. “Done! I promise. Go wild,” he says, gesturing to the others and plopping down on the floor to cover his face. His ears remain quite pink.
“You have to tell us who broke first!” Changbin demands as soon as he’s let loose. “It’s important.”
“For the bets,” Felix adds, sounding totally unbothered.
Jisung looks at him in surprise. “You didn’t bet?”
“I did,” he says, eyes crinkled at the corners as he grins. “But I bet you’d get together over vacation, so I already lost. You’re so stubborn!”
“Only Iyenie, Hyunjinnie, and Changbin-hyung thought you’d be this stupid,” Seungmin agrees.
Hyunjin snorts. “I always bet on us being stupid, it’s not like it’s exclusive to them.”
“I ordered better headphones,” Seungmin continues, as though Hyunjin hasn’t said a word, “but they won’t come for two more days. Can you… not? Until then?”
“No, but I’ll give you a thirty minute head start,” Minho offers, syrupy sweet. Seungmin sighs, but he doesn’t argue, walking out in the direction of the kitchen.
“I’m still out,” Hyunjin points out, throwing himself dramatically onto the floor. “I thought you’d take way longer! You’re both stupid!”
“Thanks, Hyunjin-ah,” Jisung calls.
“So?” Changbin asks again, practically bouncing he’s so excited. “Who broke first? Hannie, it was you, right?”
Jisung hesitates. “Sorta, but—”
“Ha!” Changbin raises his arms in a cheer. “I win! I know Hannie and Minho-hyung so well, I always knew you’d get there.” He tries to pinch Jisung’s cheek, but Minho’s hand comes up to slap him away before Jisung’s can. “I don’t even mind that he’s a Jisungie hog,” Changbin continues. “It’s cute! So cute, Minsungie.”
“Please don’t,” Jisung begs, more embarrassed than he’s ever been in his life.
“Wait,” Jeongin cuts in, letting go of Felix to shuffle closer. “Wait, wait. That wasn’t what we said.”
“It wasn’t?” Changbin asks.
Jeongin shakes his head. “It wasn’t who broke first, it was who said ‘I love you’ first.”
“You’re right,” Changbin remembers. “Okay, who said it? Hannie?” All of Changbin’s hopes are stored in his name, but Jisung avoids his eyes, the memory of Minho’s confession heating the tips of his ears.
Jeongin makes a sound like an old cash register. “Minho-hyung, you said it first?”
“Jisungie only said it this morning,” Minho agrees. The two of them high five over Jisung’s shoulder. He would like to melt into the floor and become one with it forever. Floors don’t get embarrassed, right?
Changbin and Jeongin start arguing over whether or not they bet on a love confession specifically, but it’s clear they’re mostly doing it for show, or maybe even to get attention off Jisung and Minho. Jisung doesn’t really care as Minho pulls him even closer, leaning back on the couch and letting Jisung lean back, too. He feels totally encircled by Minho’s presence, both physically and emotionally.
“Worst part over,” Minho whispers in his ear. Jisung relaxes in slow increments after that, until he actually starts to laugh at the way everyone’s fighting. Changbin has his wallet out and is trying to show Jeongin how empty it is, while Felix is very obviously embarrassing Chan by saying something ridiculous into his ear. Hyunjin has joined Seungmin in the kitchen, but Jisung can barely see them from this angle, the room filled with the white noise that comes from all of them being in the same place now that they don’t actually live in a single shared space.
Jisung turns his head to study Minho’s side profile. After a moment, feeling almost dizzy with anxiety, he leans in and presses a soft kiss to Minho’s jaw.
Behind them, Jeongin makes a gagging noise again while Changbin ‘awwwwww’s loud enough to wake the dead. Hopefully they’ll desensitize everyone soon enough. For now, it’s surprisingly nice just to bask in the glow of being in love-love, despite the abject mortification that comes along with it.