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Baekhyun walked into his room.
Suho was on one bed, on the phone, blushing and fondling his pillow. Chen was on the other bed, also on the phone, laughing.
Baekhyun rolled his eyes. It was that time of night again, when Infinite was settled in the dorm and all of the, “Oh, hyung, you’re so funny!” flirting started. He walked out again, Chen’s laughter following him into the hallway.
He went into the kids’ room. D.O. and Kai were curled up together, gazing into each other’s eyes and making out as slowly as sloths; Sehun was texting and wearing a very sexy expression that looked proud and smug and also dangerously sociopathic. Rolling his eyes again, Baekhyun walked out.
He walked into the hyungs’ room. “Is everyone dating?” he demanded. “Am I the only one who doesn’t have a boyfriend?”
“Everyone who?” Lay asked. He and Chanyeol were on his bed, looking at something on his laptop.
“I don’t have one,” Chanyeol said.
Xiumin, sitting up in bed, looking bored, did a thing with his eyebrows. “Single.”
Ouch. Feeling awkward now, Baekhyun sat on the foot of Xiumin’s bed.
“Sehun doesn’t have a boyfriend,” Lay said.
“He has L.Joe,” Baekhyun said.
“But that’s not the same thing,” Lay said.
“It’s more than I have,” Chanyeol said.
“You could date Sungjong,” Lay suggested.
Chanyeol blushed and laughed like he’d been caught at something, his eyes widening. “I don’t want a boyfriend!”
“I don’t really get the point,” Baekhyun said. “Especially the way everyone’s doing it, no one’s monogamous, anyway. I mean, if you watch Suho hyung, is he dating Sunggyu hyung or L or Changjo or what? What’s the point of having a boyfriend?”
“You’d see it differently if you cared about somebody,” Xiumin said.
“It would be kind of cute if you dated Dongwoo hyung,” Chanyeol told Xiumin.
Xiumin snorted, but he smiled. Lay smiled, too, making a dreamy sound, and said, “I’d love to be Dongwoo hyung’s boyfriend.”
“Is it better to date someone in another group, like Chen and Hoya hyung?” Baekhyun asked. “Or is it better to,” oh, “date someone,” shit, “like, in the, um, in the same group?” He really wished that he’d thought about what he was saying before he’d started talking.
Xiumin inhaled, doing that thing with his eyebrows again. “There are pros and cons.”
“If it’s someone in a different group, I’d try someone who debuted the same year,” Lay said. “Like Changjo and L. It’s not so uneven between them.”
“Dating a hyung who’s also a sunbae, it’s too much,” Xiumin said. “One or the other, you can work with, but both, it’s too imbalanced.”
“But what about Onew hyung and Ricky?” Baekhyun asked. “He’s dating a hyung who’s also a sunbae, and he has Onew hyung wrapped around his little finger. Onew hyung will do anything for him, he can’t do anything wrong.”
“But you also get hyungs who are sunbaes like Sunggyu hyung,” Xiumin said. “Suho runs to him any time he snaps his fingers, dresses up to look good for him, is always buying meals for his members, there’s no question who’s in charge in that relationship.”
Chanyeol laughed. “Sehun’s with a hyung who’s also a sunbae, and we know who’s in charge in that relationship, too.”
“Okay, that’s different,” Baekhyun said. He had a thing for hyungs, personally, and for sunbaes, too, but Xiumin might be right, he didn’t want to end up being totally dominated. Well, not all of the time, anyway. “Things aren’t so uneven with Chen and Hoya hyung, I don’t think.”
“Hoya’s not as pushy as Sunggyu hyung,” Lay said.
“So date a sunbae and hyung who’s a pushover?” Baekhyun asked.
“Dongwoo hyung?” Chanyeol suggested, grinning.
“Hit him,” Xiumin told Lay, and Lay socked Chanyeol’s arm.
“Hey,” Kai said, walking into the room. He had a bulge in his underwear; D.O. must not have gotten him off. “Anybody want to get off?”
“Yes,” Lay said immediately, pushing his laptop aside. Grinning, Kai crawled on top of him, and he sank back across Chanyeol’s lap, pulling Kai down.
“Oh, fun stuff happening in here,” Chen said. He came in and sat down between Xiumin and Baekhyun. He was smiling too much.
“How’s Hoya?” Xiumin asked.
He laughed way too happily and then made a humming sound, running his hand over Baekhyun’s thigh. “Good, he’s good.”
Xiumin grinned, eyeing him. “C’mere.”
He laughed again. “Come where for what?”
“Just c’mere,” Xiumin said, still grinning.
Chen crawled up the bed, and when Xiumin slid his hand over the back of Chen’s neck, Chen moved right in and kissed him.
Baekhyun watched them make out for a minute. Chen’s hand was already down the front of Xiumin’s shorts, which would’ve seemed quick if Kai weren’t already balls-deep inside Lay on the other bed.
“Ah,” Suho said. “Members, remember that we have an early start tomorrow. Chanyeol, did you want to, uh, could I see you for a second?”
“What? Yes,” Chanyeol said. “Excuse me, hyung.” He wriggled and kicked his way out from under Lay and Kai, getting to his feet. “Yes, okay.”
“Hey, Baekhyun hyung,” Sehun said, coming to the doorway and breathing too hard. “Are you busy?”
There might be some benefit to everyone having a boyfriend, after all. “Not busy at all,” Baekhyun said, pulling his underwear down.
Chunji stretched out on the couch, flipping channels. He watched a few minutes of a cartoon. Yawned. Watched the maknaes wander back and forth.
The watch on Changjo’s wrist caught his eye. He glanced over at Ricky’s on the next walk by.
He was glad that he didn’t have one. Not that he’d mind having the actual watch, itself. But as a gift from a hyung? It was too expensive, and not only in the financial sense. It came with obligations. It was loaded with emotions and pressure. Suddenly seeing it like a shackle around Changjo’s wrist, he shuddered. No, thanks.
His thoughts drifted from Ricky’s watch to L.Joe’s collar and back to Ricky’s watch. Not that he was supposed to know about L.Joe’s collar, but, please. It was in his bedroom, of course he knew about it.
He didn’t want to be tied up in bondage or tied down to some hyung. But he wouldn’t mind being spoiled and pampered. Changjo and Ricky were showered with gifts and affection. He wouldn’t mind someone petting him and telling him how sexy he was and constantly sucking his cock.
Although he had that, didn’t he? Simultaneously turned on and uneasy, he rolled around on the couch, unable to get comfortable. Dongwoo was always hot for him, always glad to see him, always ready to kiss him and tell him how good-looking he was and admire his cock. And he got all of those things without the emotional pressure, without the obligations and commitments, right? So it was even better. All of the benefits, none of the strings.
That was the best way, the best possible set-up. It was definitely the way he wanted it. So they could enjoy each other but not take it too seriously.
Everybody was too quick to pair off, anyway. What was that even about? Why couldn’t they just have a good time? Half of them weren’t even in love, anyway, not really. Why were they so eager to jump into relationships? Everybody had a boyfriend these days, it was too much. He was glad to be single. He still got all of the sex but none of the hassle; it was perfect.
Cartoons weren’t holding his interest. When a commercial came on, he picked up his phone. He had a text message from Sungyeol. “Hey, I got free time tomorrow night, you want to meet up?”
He studied the message, licked his lips, and texted Dongwoo. “Do you have any time this week? I’m off tomorrow, we should go out. Call me.”
Dongsaengs everywhere. Trying to take a shower, Sunggyu watched members zip in and out of the bathroom. “Do we need a revolving door?”
“What?” Sungyeol asked, brushing his teeth.
“What is this, why is everyone running around, what are you all getting ready for?” he asked. “You all have big dates?”
“Aren’t you taking your second shower today?” L asked him.
only polite if everything’s clean,” he said.
When L smiled, he said, “Don’t laugh.
You could use another shower, too, or does that maknae like your sweaty
L shrugged, still smiling. “That maknae loves my sweaty balls.”
After Sunggyu got dressed, he stood in the living room and watched everyone dart around, changing clothes and searching for jewelry and arguing over transportation. He already knew that L was going to see Changjo. The only other person L was likely to make plans with and be in such a good mood for was Young Money, and Sunggyu had already claimed Young Money for himself, for that night. Woohyun had on his fetish panties, so he was seeing Key. Hoya was dressed in date clothes, not dance clothes, so he was seeing Chen, not Feeldog. “Who are you going out with?” Sunggyu asked when Sungyeol walked by.
“Niel and C.A.P.,” Sungyeol said.
Mmm. That was okay. “Who are you seeing?” he asked Sungjong.
“Chanyeol hyung,” Sungjong said.
Sunggyu’s eyes narrowed. “He’s getting too attached.”
Sungjong smiled and kept walking. “I know.”
Scary maknae. “Who are you seeing?” he asked Dongwoo.
“Chunji’s coming over,” Dongwoo said.
Sunggyu shook his head. “Young Money’s coming over, they can’t both be here.”
“Why not?” Dongwoo asked.
“Young Money likes privacy.”
“We won’t interrupt.”
“Go to Teen Top’s dorm instead. Or don’t see him at all, you see too much of him, anyway. Didn’t we talk about this, didn’t you tell me that you weren’t going to get in over your head this time? Seeing him so often, it’ll only lead to bad things. Go out with Lay instead, go play games with Baekhyun.”
“Chunji and I have plans, I can’t cancel on him,” Dongwoo said. “I want to see him, I’ve been looking forward to it.”
“Looking forward too much,” Sunggyu guessed. “Go out with a group, take other people with you. Go with the maknae, he’s meeting Chanyeol, you can all go together.”
Dongwoo’s expression was too close to an unhappy frown. “Why are you being like this?”
Because he hadn’t liked having to put together all of the wounded bits and bruised pieces of Dongwoo last time, and he wasn’t looking forward to doing it again. “I’m not being like anything. Everyone’s friends, everyone gets along, you can all go out together.”
“Then can’t we get along here, you and me and Chunji and Young Money?”
“No. The dorm is off-limits for tonight, it’s mine, I don’t want extra members running around.”
“But we live here,” Dongwoo said. “We can’t come home?”
“Wait, I’m bringing Chen back here,” Hoya said.
“Screw him in the practice room,” Sunggyu said.
“Oh, that’s very romantic,” Hoya said.
“EXO’s not allowed to do things in our practice room,” Sungyeol said.
“They’re not?” Dongwoo looked surprised.
“Who did you screw in our practice room?” Hoya asked, grinning.
“Xiumin hyung?” Sungyeol guessed. “Lay?”
Dongwoo laughed. “Baekhyun came by, and he was so cute, and it’s fun, in front of the mirrors.”
Why was everyone so horny all of the time? “You both want to come back here? Good. You can double-date, Infinite H together again. Go out together, come back here together, you can all play together.”
“No,” Hoya said.
“Yes,” Sunggyu said, staring at him.
“If they’re coming back here, can Chanyeol hyung and I come back here, too?” Sungjong asked. “It’s more fun here than at EXO’s dorm, Chanyeol hyung gets so turned on when we do it on L hyung’s bed.”
“What?” L asked, blinking.
“Yes, do it here, everyone do it here,” Sunggyu said. “Infinite’s dorm is the party spot tonight, Dongwoo’s hosting, fun for everybody.” Now Dongwoo would have more people around, more distractions, less focus on shiny, pretty, magical things.
And now Sunggyu’s date night was ruined. He called Money.
“Hyung? Am I already late?”
“No, it’s not that. We have to meet at your dorm instead.”
“Mine?” He didn’t sound very sure about that. “Ah, it’s a little…”
“What, messy? I’ve seen that already.”
“No. Yes,” he admitted, laughing. “But also, L.Joe’s coming over. So I thought that it would be better if everyone else went out and gave them privacy.”
“Someone has to stay to baby-sit, right? Isn’t that how you do things? We can baby-sit.”
“Oh. Are you sure?”
“We won’t bother them and they won’t bother us, right? Unless there’s an emergency. Do they cause a lot of emergencies?”
“No, no.” He was laughing. “There aren’t emergencies, it’s just a precaution, I’m not comfortable leaving them completely alone. If it’s okay with you, it’s okay with me. And Lay will be glad, we talked him into baby-sitting duty but he’d rather go out.”
“Good. Everybody’s happy. I’ll be there soon.”
“Okay, hyung. I’ll be waiting.”
Rubbing himself, Sunggyu hung up. “Don’t screw up, don’t embarrass me, and stay out of my room.” He kissed L and then Woohyun. “Nobody call me or bother me, got it?”
“Bye,” Woohyun said.
“Wait, what if I forget how sex works and where to put everything?” Hoya asked. “Can we call for help?”
“I’m not an advice hotline,” Sunggyu said. “Just take your cock out, Chen will know what to do with it.”
Chunji and Dongwoo walked slowly down the sidewalk, taking their time. It was dark, the streetlights lit up, the storefronts bright and enticing. They stopped to buy something to drink, stopped here and there to look in windows and talk about what they liked.
Dongwoo didn’t bother to buy him anything. But that was okay. It was good. Dongwoo wasn’t that kind of hyung; they didn’t have that kind of relationship.
They were discussing which pair of pants in a window display they’d consider buying, when a woman approached. She looked excited and nervous and shy, and a guy was trailing a couple of steps behind her. When she bowed, Dongwoo noticed her and said, “Oh, noona!”
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“It’s been a long time,” Dongwoo said. “How are you? You’ve been living well?”
“Yes, thank you.” She shot a curious glance at Chunji; he smiled at her. Dongwoo was already taking the pen and album from her hands.
“It’s been too long,” Dongwoo said. “Don’t be so shy.” Finished signing, he handed everything back. “Couple tees! And rings? Is this your boyfriend?”
She blushed. “Yes. I’m sorry, I couldn’t wait for you forever.”
Dongwoo laughed. “It’s okay! It’s good, it’s good.” He shook the guy’s hand. “Congratulations. I’m Infinite’s Dongwoo, this is Teen Top’s Chunji.”
Chunji said hi, and the guy said hi, looking embarrassed and excited. Dongwoo talked to the Inspirit for another minute or so, catching up, and then said good-bye. “She used to come to all of the fan signs,” he told Chunji as they walked on.
“Couple tees,” Chunji said.
“Oh, are you finished?” Dongwoo took the empty cup from his hand and threw it away.
“Thanks. I wonder how long they’ve been together. It’s weird, isn’t it, to wear stuff like that? So everybody you know who sees you together knows that you’re a couple? Why is it so important? If they see you together, they can guess, and if they know you, they’ll find out, anyway. And if they see you separately, they don’t know it’s a couple tee, it’s just some shirt.”
“The rings and things, people like to let everyone know that they’re in love,” Dongwoo said. “If you’re in love with someone, you want to brag and show off, you’re excited about it.”
Something about that bothered Chunji. Well, a lot of things, but what he said was, “It’s not that you’re in love, there aren’t just ‘I’m in love’ announcement rings. It’s that you’re in a relationship.”
“I guess that’s not the same thing at all,” Dongwoo said, and Chunji shoved his hands in his pockets. “But you want people to know that you’re in a relationship, so they don’t try to hit on you.”
“There are people who are in relationships who still see other people.”
Dongwoo laughed. “I know a lot of those!” Chunji smiled a little. “You don’t like couple tees? Or love announcement rings? I think Changjo likes his ring, he wears it a lot.”
“He almost never takes it off.”
“Your maknae’s lucky. Having so many good hyungs taking care of him.”
“Mmm.” Straightening his shoulders, Chunji lifted his chin, looking ahead. “I’m too old to be taken care of.”
Dongwoo laughed. “Sunggyu hyung would say that I need someone to look after me, and I’m older than you.”
He smiled at that. “Sunggyu hyung’s too hard on you.”
“It’s a leader’s job.”
“C.A.P. hyung’s too easy, my members get away with everything.”
“You get away with a lot of things, don’t you?”
He flashed Dongwoo a smile. “Of course, I’m too handsome.”
Dongwoo laughed, slinging an arm around him. “So good-looking, you must get whatever you want. Is that how it works? You get anything you ask for?”
But what good was getting whatever he wanted, when he didn’t know what he wanted?
Dongwoo didn’t like that his members worried about him. He could see it in the subtle tension in Sungjong’s posture when he talked about Chunji. The subtle wariness in Hoya’s expression. With Sunggyu, it wasn’t subtle, it was right in the open. Sunggyu didn’t like him getting too close to Chunji again, didn’t want them spending too much time together. But what was too much, when he never got enough?
It wasn’t that Sunggyu didn’t like Chunji. They got along just fine. Sunggyu liked him enough to fool around with him, so everything had to be okay between them. It was only when it came to Dongwoo that it seemed like Sunggyu was unhappy about him.
Was that Dongwoo’s fault? For being so upset, before? For being too sensitive? For taking too long to get over him? For not getting over him at all.
But everything was okay again, now. Things were good between them. And that felt fantastic, because Dongwoo had thought that things would never be okay again, that they’d spend the rest of their lives estranged. Missing Chunji had been living with a wound that never healed. But they were talking again, and seeing each other, and Chunji always looked glad to see him. Not like before, when Chunji had been so tense, always avoiding him, pulling away. These days, when they met, Chunji smiled at him, directly at him, a smile that went the whole way up to those beautiful brown eyes. Seeing that always made him happy, always gave him an extra burst of energy. His pretty Chunji.
He wished that he could get Sunggyu to understand that it was okay, now.
But Sunggyu didn’t care about now. Sunggyu cared about the next chapter. What might come next. It might not go well, but he understood that. Chunji might push him away again. Whatever healing his wound was receiving now, he’d have to live with even more pain in the future.
Nothing lasted forever, not even the sun. Some things might go on and on for a long, long time, stretching out for ages, and he thought that his love for Chunji was like that. Solid like the mountains, timeless like the ocean. But Chunji’s affection for him was more like a birthday candle, or a sparkler. So bright and so happy when it was there, but it wasn’t meant to last. Chunji would move on to light up someone else’s day, and all he could do was accept that, and appreciate the light while it shone.
“Hyung.” Woohyun was with the Infinite members, having dinner on the floor in the dorm. “When we went on MT with Teen Top-”
“Hey, when can that happen again?” Sungyeol asked. “Can’t we do it soon? Niel’s been asking about it.”
Woohyun brushed Sungyeol aside. “When we were there,” he said to Dongwoo.
“Excuse me, I’m asking a question,” Sungyeol said.
“Excuse me, I’m talking,” he said.
“Excuse me, I’m eating,” Hoya said.
Sungyeol laughed. “And? Who’s stopping you?”
“What? Oh, sorry,” Hoya said. “I thought we were just catching everybody up on what’s happening.”
L laughed, Sungjong rolled his eyes, and Woohyun said, “Dongwoo hyung. On MT. Why did Chunji lock the door?”
“Lock which door?” Dongwoo asked.
“Which door?” he repeated. “The door of the room you were in. The two of you ran away to the back of the house and had sex behind a locked door. What were you doing that’s so private?”
“Sex,” L said. “Sometimes sex is private.”
Hoya raised his eyebrows. “Doesn’t everybody have sex in the middle of the house with a dozen people around? That’s how everyone I know does it. ‘Sex is private,’” he repeated, giving L a confused look. “So weird.”
“Oh, was the door locked?” Dongwoo asked. “I didn’t know. Did you want to come in?”
So it had been Chunji who’d locked it, after all. “No, I was just wondering.”
“Chunji has sex behind locked doors?” Sungjong asked. “I thought he liked the attention.”
“Changjo likes attention,” Sungyeol said.
“I think Chunji didn’t want interruptions,” Dongwoo said. “There’s more between us, it wasn’t only for fun, the way it was with his members.”
“Was it nice?” L asked. “You made love?”
Dongwoo nodded. “We talked, too. I think it was good. What happened before, it still burdens him, but I don’t want him to hold onto his regrets.”
“If you don’t regret your mistakes enough, you repeat them,” Sunggyu said.
“Hyung, how was it, really,” Sungjong asked L. “Watching that maknae have sex with everybody. Whose idea was it, yours or his?”
“His,” L said. He smiled, rubbing the back of his neck. “It was good, it turned me on. Really turned me on a lot,” he admitted, blushing. “It was hard to get used to, but I liked it.” He rubbed his nose. “At first I thought that I wouldn’t care, that it would be, oh, whatever, but then it started, and I thought, oh, I’m not ready for this. I’m too jealous, I’m too possessive, I’ve never seen him like that before, it was difficult. But he likes sex so much, and everyone was so happy, and he’s so sexy, I got so hard. And it’s you, my members, I know that you don’t have weird intentions.”
“These members?” Sungyeol asked. “They have a ton of weird intentions.”
L laughed. “But I know what their weird intentions are, I’m used to them. I don’t have to worry.”
Chunji thought a lot about his second first time with Dongwoo. That night on MT. In Andy’s house. Maybe it was his second second time, if the bathroom at karaoke counted? In bed at night, when the dorm was finally quiet and Ricky was asleep on his shoulder, he’d close his eyes, and he was back in Andy’s house, in the bathroom. Upstairs, on the second floor.
He was drying off slowly. He’d already seen everyone else; it was time for Dongwoo. He was looking forward to it; he’d been looking forward to sex with Dongwoo again more than anything. Sex was like lightning between them, and he couldn’t wait for it to strike again. He didn’t know why he’d put it off, that had been such a strange impulse; he should’ve had Dongwoo first. And second, and third. Or at least Dongwoo first, and then in between all of the other members after that. This was MT, they’d finally gotten both of their teams in the same place at the same time, and he still hadn’t had it yet? It was like something was wrong with him.
And now he was standing alone in a bathroom, stalling. Frowning, he stopped drying off. They liked each other so much, and things were so good between them, what the hell was his problem?
He didn’t have a problem. He was fine. He’d just saved the best for last, that was all. Smart strategy.
Confident again, he dropped the towel and went to find Dongwoo. He didn’t have to go far; Dongwoo was coming up the stairs. “I found you,” Dongwoo said. “Ooohh, naked!”
He laughed when Dongwoo grabbed his ass with both hands. He hugged Dongwoo, and it was amazing, how good the press of their bodies felt. He was naked, and Dongwoo only had underwear on, so there was skin everywhere, taut and smooth against him. Dongwoo was still all bone and muscle, skinny and defined. They kissed, and Dongwoo squeezed his ass, pushing him against the wall, tongue in his mouth. Moaning, loving it, he wrapped his arms more tightly around Dongwoo, his shoulders against the wall, his back arching. The immediate sexual aggression, the hands on his ass, Dongwoo was pushing all of his buttons, lighting him up, turning him on. Things always moved so fast with Dongwoo, escalated straight to the top.
They made out against the wall, hot and intense, There was nothing but this on his mind, nothing but lust, sex, fire. Grinding against Dongwoo, he groaned when their cocks rubbed together, and he pulled Dongwoo’s underwear down, wanting to feel that right against his sensitive skin. Dongwoo’s cock felt hard against him, and knowing how aroused Dongwoo was only turned him on more, made him want it even more.
They got off right there in the hallway, humping right up against the wall, making out and gripping each other and coming. The rising rush to climax was so natural and so quick, he didn’t have to work himself up to it; his body just went there, ecstasy taking over. The way Dongwoo rocked against him made him moan, and soon Dongwoo was coming, too, right against him. It was all so easy and it all felt so good, he laughed, and Dongwoo laughed with him, and they just stood there, sated and laughing and kissing, relaxing against each other, leaning into each other, Dongwoo’s hands stroking pleasure over his skin.
They kissed more slowly for a while, just enjoying it, and it had been ages since they’d been able to just be together like this, doing whatever they wanted, no restrictions, no tension. Wanting to really make the most of it, not wanting a bunch of annoying members interrupting, Chunji took Dongwoo’s hand. “Come on.” Immediately agreeable, Dongwoo followed him, and they went down the hallway into the last room. He locked the door, and Dongwoo hugged him from behind. Hugging Dongwoo’s arms to himself, he walked over to an armchair, and then he sat down.
“Oh,” Dongwoo said, and then he laughed, squashed between Chunji and the chair. He wiggled, but Chunji didn’t let him up, just relaxed on top of him, and he hugged Chunji more tightly. “But I can’t suck your balls from here.”
“You could if you tried.”
Dongwoo squirmed again, like he might really be able to figure out a way, and Chunji laughed, wiggling on his lap. He laughed, too, saying, “Oh, oh,” like it turned him on. He started kissing Chunji’s shoulder, and Chunji relaxed again, going boneless.
“You really like my balls,” Chunji mused.
“They’re the sexiest,” Dongwoo said, nibbling on him a little, stroking his chest.
“Hyung.” He couldn’t believe that he was about to say this. They’d already had this conversation, he’d apologized, it was over, right? That was behind them. But he’d been stalling a few minutes ago, and he was stalling again, now. Once they got up from this chair, they’d go to the bed, and he couldn’t be in a bed with Dongwoo again until he’d said what he had to say. He had to clear things up again, or reassure himself, or something, he just wasn’t in the right emotional place to feel Dongwoo inside of him. That shouldn’t seem so significant, right, it was just sex. But he didn’t feel sure about it. And he didn’t have sex he wasn’t confident about.
“Mmm.” Dongwoo drew a line across his shoulder, then kissed a slow path following the same line.
“Hyung, I.” Not certain, he blinked, taking Dongwoo’s hand and squeezing it, grounding himself. “I’m sorry, about before. We talked about it, but I still regret how I acted.”
“About that?” Dongwoo sounded vaguely surprised, like it hadn’t been on his mind at all. Chunji could have laughed at that; it was painful but also a relief to know that it didn’t weigh on his mind. Was Chunji alone in this weird suffering, then? That was good, right, it meant that he didn’t take it very seriously, that it hadn’t been all that bad for him, after all. He was over it already; Chunji could be, too. “You apologized for it already.”
“I know, I did, but - - never mind, it’s behind us, right?” Forcing himself to let it go, pushing himself to a brighter mood, he shifted on Dongwoo’s lap, smiling.
And then he met Dongwoo’s eyes. Dongwoo’s open, honest eyes. And Dongwoo’s expression was so sincere, his mood collapsed. “Damn it,” he said, dropping his forehead to Dongwoo’s. He couldn’t lie to himself; he couldn’t pretend that he hadn’t really hurt Dongwoo, that it hadn’t really been that bad. It had been exactly that bad, it had been hell for both of them. If it hadn’t been, he wouldn’t have avoided Dongwoo so much since then, he wouldn’t have worked so hard never to interact, never to run into each other, never to have to speak or make eye contact. He would’ve brushed it off, or not cared, or deliberately said hi just to make a point about how over it he was. But he hadn’t been able to meet Dongwoo’s eyes at all, because Dongwoo’s feelings for him were always right there on the surface, and he hadn’t been able to handle it. He’d devastated someone who’d only ever wanted to be good to him, and he hadn’t been able to face it.
And now he had a second chance, and he couldn’t start that off by pretending that things were better than they were.
“Damn what?” Dongwoo asked, stroking the back of his neck. “You’re not okay?”
“No. I don’t know. No.” He sighed and raised his head, looking into Dongwoo’s eyes again. Dongwoo gazed at him, trusting, waiting, not understanding him but wanting to. Why did Dongwoo’s expression have to be so honest all of the time, always giving away everything inside? But that had been one of the things he’d always liked most about this hyung, how everything was direct, no games, it was all right out there, good or bad. “We talked about it all, before. I guess there’s nothing new to say. I just wanted to tell you again that I’m sorry.”
“In case I forgot?” Dongwoo asked. “But I don’t want you to be sorry.” His thumb stroked over Chunji’s cheek, and he smiled a little, like something about Chunji just made him happy, no matter what. “I want you to be happy, I want you to feel good. It’s so bright when you smile.”
“You forgive too easily.” He felt exasperated. He should be grateful to be forgiven, and he was, but why didn’t Dongwoo want to hold it against him or make him pay?
“It’s not good to hold onto things for too long,” Dongwoo said. “I have regrets, too.” He ran his hands over Chunji’s shoulders, and Chunji leaned in, their foreheads touching again. “I made mistakes last time, I guess I wanted more than you were willing to give me. I won’t push you again. I won’t expect things from you. I’ll just be grateful for what I get.”
It should’ve been a relief. But it only hurt Chunji more, a knife in his heart. He couldn’t stand for Dongwoo to be so forgiving and so selfless and so generous with him. “You let me get away with too much, before, you let me get away with everything. You have to stand up for yourself. I was disrespectful, I took you for granted, I was a selfish little shit.”
Dongwoo’s finger drew a line along his chin. “There are other sides to you.”
“Are there?” In that moment, he wasn’t so sure.
“You’re Chunji,” he said. “You’re a whole world of emotions.”
He smiled at that, running his fingers through Dongwoo’s hair. “Are you playing with my name?”
“But it’s true.” Smiling, Dongwoo walked his fingers up Chunji’s chest. “You’re a whole, beautiful world of feelings and sex and music.”
“And magic?” he guessed, brushing his thumb over Dongwoo’s lower lip.
“Mmm, and magic,” Dongwoo breathed, and kissed him.
If the bad times had been really bad, the highs that Dongwoo gave him were swift and intense. Sexual possibility had always sparked between them, quick and promising, but as soon as they started kissing, it was all right there, lust, fire. They made out on the chair until he couldn’t take it anymore, until the need for more was too strong, Dongwoo kissing him passionately and groping him in that crude, celebratory way only Dongwoo could. “Lube,” he gasped, stumbling out of the chair and dragging Dongwoo towards the bed.
“Yeah, that’s what I want,” Dongwoo said, grabbing him around the waist and snatching him back.
Dongwoo’s cock was so hard against his ass that he groaned, grinding back against it. Bending him over the side of the bed, Dongwoo humped against him, and he moaned, arching his back, fondling himself. “God, yeah, fuck me already.”
“Yeah, give me that sexy, naughty ass.” Shoving him forward, Dongwoo spanked him a few times, punishing smacks that stung his flesh. Crying out, he masturbated eagerly, so turned on he couldn’t take it. “Show me that pretty, slutty ass, I want to see the whole way up inside you.” Dongwoo was spreading him open, and he groaned, bent over, exposed, jacking his stiff, throbbing cock. “Love this hole, I love it. Look at it, so pink, twitching and flirting. Are you winking at me?”
“Unngh, come on, put your cock in me, do it,” Chunji panted.
“So pretty and clean,” Dongwoo murmured appreciatively, toying with him, stretching and prodding, making him groan. He loved the way Dongwoo played with him, god, he’d missed this. “Wish you were messy and used, wish you were wide open and oozing with everybody else’s cum. I want to lick you and taste everybody who’s been here, want to suck their cum right out of your hot, gooey hole, Woohyun and C.A.P. and Xiumin and everybody.”
“God, you’re so fucking nasty.” It was so goddamned sexy, he loved it. Crawling onto the bed, he grabbed the lube. Rolling onto his back, he grinned. “Come and get it.”
Instead of diving for the lube, Dongwoo went right for his crotch. As soon as Dongwoo’s face was between his legs, he closed his thighs, locking Dongwoo down there. Growling, Dongwoo nuzzled his junk, mouthing his shaft. “Fuck, yes,” he moaned, his thighs tightening their grip. Dongwoo’s strong, wet tongue slid over his cock, sending pleasure straight to his brain. “Oooohhh, ooohh, yes.” The lube fell from his hand, forgotten. “Oh, hyung, shit, yes.”
Pushing his thighs apart, Dongwoo sat up, shoving his knees to his shoulders. “Don’t hide from me,” Dongwoo scolded, tapping his hips upward. “Oh, there’s my heaven. Heavenly little hole.”
“You haven’t fucked me lately,” Chunji said. “Sure you’ll be able to get me off?”
“Your hole feels so good, this is gonna get me off, and you, and the whole neighborhood.” One hand on the back of his thigh, Dongwoo squirted lube right onto him, cold and sloppy. He shivered, laughing, squirming, and Dongwoo started smearing it around, fingering him open. “Get you all wet and shiny, grease you up so much I can get my whole hand up inside you.”
“God, oh, don’t even try it. Oh, ooohhh, unnnhhh.” Shuddering, he twisted on the bed. The crude, quick way Dongwoo fingered him felt too explicit, too much like fucking, and he felt insatiable. “God, your cock, fuck me.”
“Oh, that’s it.” Dongwoo slid into him, giving him what he needed, that thick, deep penetration, and he cried out, bucking, pleasure making his body spasm. “Come on, take all of it, be a good boy, I want to give you the whole thing.”
“Oohhh, fuck me hard, nail my ass.” It wasn’t just sex, it was sex with Dongwoo, Dongwoo on top of him, and everything was more intense, sensation heightened, his pleasure ramping up to an endless crescendo. “God, drill me open, do it.”
Rocking into him, Dongwoo laughed when he cried out. “Ooooohh, you like that? You like it?” Slowing down, teasing him, Dongwoo fucked him in shallow thrusts. “Do it again, yell for me.”
“Unnnhh, hyung, don’t be like this.” The angle was so good, it was lighting him up with repetitive shots of pleasure, and he couldn’t help it, he was crying out again, hitting breathless high notes, his hips jerking excitedly. “God, yes, fuck me, fuck me.”
“Yeah, ahhhhhh, it feels so good,” Dongwoo moaned, giving it to him harder, fucking him more forcefully, making him squeal, his whole body shaking. “Pretty, pretty Chunji, so pretty, slutty and stuffed full of my cock.”
Yes, yes, he loved it when Dongwoo talked like that. “Ooohh, oh, fill me up with it, oh, huooohh, give it to me.”
Shifting against him, Dongwoo slipped deeper, and he gasped, grabbing at Dongwoo’s thigh, nails digging in. Exploiting this new angle, Dongwoo fucked him roughly, taking him in long, pounding strokes. The fierce jolts of pleasure were so powerful, he wrapped his legs around Dongwoo eagerly. He couldn’t even talk anymore, he could only call out, his ecstatic wailing louder and louder with every thrust, pleasure striking over and over again. Sweating, moaning, Dongwoo stared down at him, devouring the sight of him. Managing a last, “Oh, oh, fuck me,” he came, his ecstasy peaking in an eruptive climax, too intense to be contained. He got off in wet spurts, cum pooling on his chest.
“Oooohhh, fresh cream.” Dongwoo popped out of him, and he moaned, feeling rapturous, delirious. Fingers wiping up his cum, scooping it off of his chest, Dongwoo made a lusty, appreciative sound.
And then, as Chunji watched, Dongwoo rubbed it over the dripping, red head of his erection, smearing Chunji’s cum on himself. It was so obscene and so typical, Chunji moaned again, laughing helplessly. “You’re so dirty.”
“Roll over, let me get it from behind, too,” Dongwoo said, stroking his hips. Lazy and sated, he rolled over, pushing a pillow under himself. Thumbing him open, Dongwoo chuckled. “So pink and slippery, ooohh, like a hungry little mouth. Ah, ah, watch it twitch.” Being examined so frankly while he was in the middle of being fucked raw made him self-conscious, and he felt his muscles tighten, trying to close up. Dongwoo laughed happily, cock pushing into him, making him ache. “Ah, that’s it, squeeze me, oooohhh, I like that,” Dongwoo moaned, rocking into him. “Hold me tight, pretty Chunji.”
The rest of the night was like that, the two of them rediscovering each other, enjoying each other. They had wild, raunchy sex and slow, appreciative sex, and they kissed each other everywhere, and all of it felt good. When he kissed Dongwoo and slid inside, Dongwoo cupped his ass, pulling him in, until he was lodged snug and deep. He groaned, mouthing Dongwoo’s jaw, thrusting, and Dongwoo moaned under him, breathing, “Ah, ah, that’s it, that’s the magic.”
Waking up, Dongwoo sat up and just stayed there for a few minutes, letting his brain slowly power on. After a little while, when he felt capable of it, he opened his eyes. Chunji’s room. He was in Teen Top’s dorm. Right, okay. Wait, Chunji? Taking that as very good news, he looked around.
Chunji was beside Dongwoo in bed, tucked up under the covers. He was fast asleep, totally conked out, face slack, mouth open, hair messy. Dongwoo sat there and admired him for a while, fixing his hair.
Then Dongwoo realized that he had to pee. He got up, naked, and went down the hall to the bathroom. Went into the kitchen after that. Talked to C.A.P., ate some cereal, made out with L.Joe. Wanting to see Chunji again, he returned to the bedroom. Sitting on the bed, he tugged on the sheet. “Chunji-ah.”
Snatching the sheet back, Chunji tried to burrow under it.
Laughing, he pulled on it. “Wake up, you can’t sleep all day.”
“I can,” he grumbled. “It’s my day off, I’m not getting up.” He pulled the sheet over his head, scrunching down.
“I know you’re under there,” Dongwoo pointed out. He grinned to himself. “Should I come in and find you?” Liking the idea, he lifted the sheet on one side, sneaking under it.
Oooohhh, nice. A tiny private world, just him and Chunji. A world he wanted to explore, where all of the terrain was Chunji’s body. Inhaling deeply, he rubbed his face against Chunji’s side. They’d gotten kind of messy last night, so they’d showered just before going to sleep, and Chunji’s skin smelled clean, like soap. Chunji was completely naked under the sheet, and all of that smooth, bare skin captivated him. Waking up to Chunji made getting up in the morning a completely different experience. If he had Chunji at the dorm, he’d never need an alarm clock again.
Wanting to touch everything, he ran his hands over Chunji’s naked legs, nuzzled one bare hip, nipped at a muscular thigh, kissed the sensitive bend of Chunji’s knee, flicked at the dark hair on Chunji’s shin.
Laughing, Chunji wiggled, kicking at his chest. “What are you doing?”
“Waking you up.” Crawling up Chunji’s body, he tapped at Chunji’s arousal. “I think it’s working.”
“Mmm.” When they kissed, Chunji curved his hands over Dongwoo’s sides. “Did you have fun with L.Joe?”
What? Remembering, he laughed. “I thought that you were asleep.”
“I could hear his moaning the whole way in here.”
Yeah, L.Joe was sexy. “He sounds great.”
“Yeah, mmm.” Chunji’s kisses were really turning him on, and when Chunji’s hand wrapped around his cock, he moaned, amazed that something so simple could feel so good. “Let’s double-team him, you want to?”
“Yeah, yeah, we can both shove our cocks in your mouth at the same time.”
Chunji laughed, tugging on his cock, making his hips rock. “I’m not that kind of guy.”
“Mmm, I am.” He ran his thumb over Chunji’s soft lips, pushed it in between Chunji’s teeth. “You should be, too, I want to see your pretty mouth full of cock, want to see cum dripping off your chin.”
Chunji smiled at him, eyes bright with wicked happiness. “You really want to see it?”
He could already imagine it, Chunji sucking on his cock, L.Joe’s cock pushing toward Chunji’s mouth, pre-cum smearing over Chunji’s cheek. He did it all of the time, and his members did it, but he’d never seen Chunji like that, kneeling down, blowing two at once. “I think I’d never forget it.”
“Well, if we’re really going to do it, why stop at two?” Chunji asked. “Let’s see if C.A.P. hyung wants to play, too.”
Chunji licked his lips, adjusting the sleeves of his stage clothes. They were in their dressing room, and half of Infinite had come in to say hi. L was gazing at Changjo with this fascinated smile and running a hand all over Changjo’s thigh. Sungyeol was flirting with Niel. Dongwoo had been messing around with Ricky, and now was talking with L.Joe. God, L.Joe was such a flirt, laughing too much and constantly touching, rubbing Dongwoo’s arm, playing with his clothes. So embarrassing.
It was okay that Dongwoo had barely said anything to Chunji. He didn’t need some obsessive creep hanging all over him, like L did with Changjo. And he wasn’t going to flirt around like L.Joe and monopolize anyone’s attention.
Dongwoo had always liked L.Joe. They’d always gotten along well and talked a lot. They’d never had sex, though, not until just recently. He wondered, all of a sudden, if that meant something. If they might grow closer now that their teams were interacting so much again, if adding sex might change things.
It wasn’t like Dongwoo would have preferred L.Joe all along, and had only liked Chunji the most because L.Joe was off-limits. It wasn’t like now that L.Joe’s ass was up for grabs, Chunji would be shoved to the side.
Annoyed with himself for being jealous of L.Joe, of all people, he sat down beside C.A.P. on the couch. He messed with his phone. Crossed his legs. Glanced over. God, L.Joe was all over Dongwoo, it was disgusting. Ugh. He went back to his phone.
Dongwoo looked happy, but anything could grab his attention. He only liked L.Joe so much because L.Joe was standing right in front of him, talking and touching, laughing and smiling and rubbing him up. Let anyone else stand over there and he’d be just as interested.
How often did he think about L.Joe, when L.Joe wasn’t around? Never, probably.
Well, how often did he think about Chunji?
Chunji had no idea. He liked to flatter himself that he stayed on Dongwoo’s mind, but was that true?
Dongwoo’s calls and texts were sporadic; he was bad at staying in touch. But Chunji had always liked that; it kept things low-pressure.
Low-pressure was good, right? He didn’t want some hyung chasing him around, wanting to know where he’d been and what he’d been up to and why he hadn’t called. They saw each other when they saw each other, they hung out when it was convenient, and they didn’t feel obligated to see each other all of the time. It was good. He could have a night off to relax and slump on the couch and do nothing, and he didn’t have to explain why he hadn’t felt like meeting up. He never had to justify himself.
It was good that Dongwoo was so attracted to so many other guys. He was a lot to handle anyway, wasn’t he? He was a hell of a lot of fun, but he was probably best in small doses. Chunji had never spent too many hours with him in a row, or seen him consistently for weeks. Sunggyu was with him all of the time, and Sunggyu said that he was exhausting. So it was good that they saw so many other people, good that they didn’t try to force themselves into some kind of relationship.
Not that Dongwoo seemed to want a relationship, at all, anyway. He didn’t know why it kept popping up in his mind; Dongwoo never mentioned it. It had probably never even occurred to Dongwoo.
Probably if Dongwoo wanted a boyfriend, he’d ask Xiumin first, anyway. That might be kind of cute, actually. They were really adorable and super sexy together. They were good friends; whenever Xiumin was stressed out, being around Dongwoo seemed to relax him and make him laugh again.
Chunji wondered what it was like when they were alone together. If Dongwoo ever treated Xiumin the way he treated Chunji.
He was always happy to see Chunji, but he was glad to see anyone. He always grabbed Chunji’s ass, but he grabbed everybody’s ass, it was his thing. He thought that everything Chunji did was pretty and sexy, but anything could turn him on.
Since they’d started seeing each other again, since they’d reconciled, he hadn’t said anything about being in love. He’d said, “I miss you,” and, “I like you,” and he’d talked about Chunji being shiny, and he’d talked about magic. But he could say those things to anybody.
Everyone else seemed to think that he was in love. L said it, Suho said it. But what did they know?
So he wasn’t in love with Chunji anymore. Okay. So, good. That was good. It was a relief, right, it was easier this way. So much easier. Chunji didn’t have to worry that he’d push for a relationship or want more than Chunji had to give. They could just have fun together and not turn a simple friendship, sexship, into something serious. Everyone was foolish for pairing off, anyway. Not everything had to be dramatic and romantic.
Their manager opened the door and came in, telling them that it was time to go on. So, great, Dongwoo had spent all of that time talking to Ricky and L.Joe, and had no time left for Chunji. Whatever. He got up, checking his hair in the mirror.
“Teen Top fighting,” L said, smiling at Changjo.
Dongwoo came over and squeezed Chunji’s ass. “We’ll cheer for you.”
“Don’t trip or let your voice crack or anything,” Sungyeol said.
“Hyung!” Niel exclaimed. “Thanks!”
“Cheer for L.Joe,” Chunji told Dongwoo. “He needs it.”
Looking good, looking good. Ready to go out, Changjo walked across the dorm. He stopped when he saw Chunji draped across the couch, wearing complete crap. “Not going out?”
“Not going out,” Chunji repeated blandly, barely glancing at him.
He looked so bored it was painful. “Why not?”
“Don’t feel like it.”
Suspicious, Changjo mentally reviewed the last couple of weeks. He hadn’t gone out at all lately. Chunji could be lazy, sure, but he liked people, and he loved sex, so why did he keep staying in? He wasn’t being punished. He wasn’t sick. Was he fighting with someone? Feeling sorry for himself over something? He wasn’t angry; someone must’ve said something to hurt his feelings. An Angel? Or someone in EXO? Someone in Infinite? “Have you talked to Dongwoo hyung lately?”
Chunji spoke in the slow, careless way he used when he was trying really, really hard to make it seem like none of this really mattered and he wasn’t really paying attention anyway. Which meant that it was important to him. “Are you two fighting? Did you say something mean?”
“Mean?” Chunji demanded, finally looking at him for real. “What the hell, why is that the first thing you jump to?”
“Because Dongwoo hyung doesn’t say mean things, and you do.”
“Right, I’m an asshole,” Chunji muttered. “Get the hell out.”
He sat on the armrest, near Chunji’s feet. He stayed there, doing nothing, watching TV. Chunji pretended to ignore him, then got used to him being there, then kind of forgot about him. He slid Chunji’s phone into his pocket. He waited a few more minutes. Then he went to his room.
With the door closed, Changjo checked Chunji’s calls and texts. People had invited him to go out, had been asking him out this whole time, and he’d kept saying no. Half of EXO begged to see him, and he made up excuses.
Dongwoo hadn’t called. Hadn’t texted in a little while, either. The last call wasn’t the last time they’d seen each other, though. Because Dongwoo had come to their dressing room a couple of days after that. Did it make sense for that to be the last time, and for Chunji to be so weird and unhappy? They hadn’t fought or anything.
They hadn’t argued. But Chunji was avoiding everyone and not talking to Dongwoo.
Annoyed now, Changjo went back out and stood over the couch. “What are you doing, are you playing games again? Jerking people around? What year is this, don’t you ever change?”
“What - - ya! What the hell are you doing with my phone?” Chunji demanded, sitting up and snatching it away from him.
“Are you going to sit around forever, feeling sorry for yourself? Waiting for some guy to call? Your phone works, you can call him, you don’t win some prize if he calls you first, you just make yourself upset and lonely.”
“Are you lecturing me?” Chunji demanded. “Do you want to die?”
Changjo was so frustrated with this hyung. “You’re fucking up something good. Over what, your pride?”
“Fucking up what?” Belligerent, Chunji hopped to his feet on the sofa, standing on the cushions. “What am I fucking up?”
“Things with Dongwoo hyung!”
“What things?” Fire flashed in Chunji’s eyes. “What do you think there is between us, something special? He likes me? He likes everybody. He’s happy to see me? He’s happy to see everybody. He flirts with everybody, he has sex with everybody, he makes magic with everybody.”
Changjo couldn’t believe this. “Right. Nothing special, then. I guess he just doesn’t give a fuck about you.”
Chunji glared at him, stubborn and furious and hurt. “Guess he doesn’t.”
Changjo shook his head, fed up. “I thought that you were going to have your shit together this time. Aren’t you supposed to be older and more mature than you were before? Going to stay selfish forever? Dongwoo hyung’s better off without you, then.”
Chunji bared his teeth, drawing his fist back. “Say one more thing, maknae, just one more word.”
A hand clamped over Changjo’s mouth from behind, Niel wrapping an arm around him and dragging him backward. “He’s sorry, the maknae’s sorry, he doesn’t know what he’s saying, he won’t bother you anymore.”
Changjo let Niel pull him into the kitchen. When Niel let him go, he was tempted to go back out there and flip Chunji off. “What the hell is wrong with him?”
“He’s Chunji hyung,” Niel said, like that explained everything.
“He doesn’t have to be like this! He’s fucking shit up!”
“Yeah, I can see why you’d be so confused,” Niel said. “It must be so bizarre to you. Somebody liking some guy, and worrying that it won’t work out, and completely fucking sabotaging it. Someone in Teen Top liking someone in Infinite,” he mused, tapping his fingers against his lips. “Causing huge problems and trying to destroy the relationship before it ever starts. So strange, nothing like that could ever happen.”
Hey! “That’s completely freaking different!”
“Whatever,” Niel said, dropping his hand and shrugging. “I can’t keep track of your personal nonsense.”
Sabotaging it. “Ricky!” Changjo called.
“What?” Ricky called back.
“You come here!”
“I said c’mere!”
“Maknae! I don’t run when you call, you run when I call!”
“Stop yelling!” L.Joe shouted.
Changjo waited. A minute later, Ricky walked into the kitchen, sighing and looking put-upon. Knowing what was coming next, he braced himself. Ricky punched him in the gut just hard enough to make him double over, then asked, “What do you want?”
Rubbing his stomach, he breathed for a second, then straightened. “Our stupid hyungs are messing up their lives again.”
Ricky nodded, opening the fridge. “That’s typical.”
“What happened the other day when Dongwoo hyung was in our dressing room? Did you see anything?”
“Do you only care about your boyfriend these days?” Ricky asked. “Once he’s in the room, that’s all you notice?”
“You’re going soft,” Niel said.
Mortally offended, Changjo stared at Niel. “I am not!”
Ricky dug into the back of the fridge. Pulling out a plastic container, he opened it and sniffed.
“Hey, I thought L.Joe hyung ate all of that!” Changjo said, recognizing the remains of last night’s dinner.
“I guess he’s trying to hide it,” Ricky said.
“Thanks for finding it,” Niel said, taking it from him and walking out.
Ricky sighed, closing the refrigerator door. “That was the only good thing in there.”
“L.Joe hyung!” Changjo called. “Is it okay if Niel hyung finishes your leftovers from last night?”
“What?” L.Joe demanded.
Smiling, Ricky high-fived him. Together, they crossed their arms and leaned side-by-side against the sink, shoulder to shoulder. “When the Infinite members came over? Chunji hyung got really pissed off. You don’t remember how nasty he was that night?”
“I thought he was pissed off because of that crap with the cameraman.”
“It wasn’t just that. He was jealous. Dongwoo hyung didn’t pay him enough attention. Too much flirting with L.Joe hyung.”
“Wasn’t Dongwoo hyung flirting with you, too?”
“That wasn’t flirting. Chunji hyung doesn’t take me seriously, anyway, he’s not worried about me. Not when it comes to Dongwoo hyung.”
So he’d gotten jealous about Dongwoo and L.Joe. And he’d decided to draw back to punish Dongwoo for not treating him right. Or he’d decided to hold out and see how long it would take Dongwoo to contact him first. “Why isn’t Dongwoo hyung calling him?”
Ricky shifted his weight. Changjo did, too, so they’d match. “We can only guess.”
“Lost his phone,” Changjo said, holding out one finger.
“Had it taken away as punishment,” Ricky said.
Changjo put out one finger for that guess, then a third, and said, “Is too busy with work.” Fourth guess: “Is too busy with some other guy.”
“Or, he just hasn’t called because he just hasn’t called,” Ricky said.
Changjo nodded. Dongwoo forgot to text or forgot to return calls all of the time. It didn’t mean that he didn’t care, and it was never intentionally manipulative. “Let’s find out,” he decided, and called L.
“Hey,” L said. “When are you getting here?”
“Leaving in two minutes. Does Dongwoo hyung have his phone?”
“No, he left it at EXO’s dorm like a week ago. Why?”
“So he’s not secretly in love with L.Joe hyung?”
“No, not like I am.”
Changjo laughed. “Are you going to leave me for my hyung?”
“Totally. What does Dongwoo hyung losing his phone have to do with L.Joe?”
“Nothing, be there soon.” He hung up. Just hearing L’s voice had his feelings all stirred up. “I like him too much.”
“You’re in love with him. Going to tell Chunji hyung?”
“No, let him suffer.” Changjo kissed Ricky’s cheek. “Bye.”
Dongwoo woke up to realize that L was crawling into bed with him. He scooted over to make room. L hugged him, bare-chested and warm, and he rubbed a muscular arm. L was so good to cuddle up with. “Changjo went home?”
“Mmm.” L relaxed against him. “You still don’t have your phone?”
“No, Mini was going to give it to Yeolie to give it to me tonight, but they never managed to meet, I guess.” It was inconvenient, but he wasn’t very stressed out about it.
“You don’t mind not having it?”
“I mind getting scolded when Gyu hyung can’t get in touch with me and I’m late for things,” he admitted. “And I miss talking to Chunji and Mini. And it’s hard to schedule dates when I can’t talk to anybody! Hoya told me to go find a payphone.”
“You can use my phone,” L said. “If there’s anybody you want to talk to. Just tell them it’s you so they don’t get confused.”
That hadn’t occurred to him. “You wouldn’t mind?”
“I don’t care.”
In the morning, he was getting dressed when he heard Woohyun and Sungyeol talk about last night. He wished that he’d gone out last night. His thoughts drifted to Chunji. Pretty, sexy Chunji. It had been too long since he’d seen Chunji. Now that they were close again, he kept wanting to see Chunji. Well, he’d always wanted to, he’d always had that impulse; the real difference was, now that they were talking, he could see Chunji. All of the time, he wanted to look at Chunji, talk to Chunji. He’d missed Chunji so much for so long, he kept wanting to put his hands on Chunji, to make sure that Chunji was real, to prove to himself that they were really on good terms again, that Chunji wasn’t gone from his life.
Without his phone, he couldn’t call or text, so he didn’t get the sound of Chunji’s voice in his ear or Chunji’s happy humor. He wished that they’d met up last night, that Chunji had come over with Changjo.
Oh! But he could use L’s phone, couldn’t he? L was in the kitchen; the phone was in the bedroom. He sat on L’s bed and called Chunji. No answer. He texted. “Chunji, pretty Chunji, it’s L’s phone but the words are Jang Dongwoo’s. I don’t have my phone but I can use this one. Do you have time to meet? Or I can come by practice. I won’t interrupt, I just want to see you.” Oh, he wasn’t supposed to say all of that where someone else might see. Frowning at the text, he tried to figure out what Sunggyu wouldn’t approve of.
“Hey,” L said, walking in.
Looking up from the phone, he asked, “What time does Teen Top practice today?” Sometimes L knew things like that.
“I don’t know, Changjo put it on my calendar.” L reached for the phone, so he handed it over. “Texting somebody?” L asked, glancing at the screen.
“Yeah, Chunji, but I don’t know if I wrote it right.”
“Ah, I’ve already sent it, sorry,” L said. Tapping at his screen, he said, “They start at eleven tonight.”
“Practice? Maybe I’ll go, do you want to come with me?”
L smiled at him. “Sure, I’d like to.”
In the van, Chunji frowned at his phone. “Changjo. Changjo. Maknae!”
“What, what, I’m right here,” Changjo said from the front seat.
“What’s L hyung’s number?”
“C.A.P. hyung, what’s L hyung’s number?”
Yawning, C.A.P. handed over a phone. “It’s in there somewhere.”
He found it saved under “L.” Boring. He changed it to “Myungsoo” with a bunch of flirty symbols and hearts. It was the same number that had texted him, so he saved it in his own phone under “Creepface.”
He wondered how he should reply. He decided not to say anything at all. He’d pretend that the strange number had confused him and he hadn’t been sure if it was a prank or a sasaeng or what. He couldn’t just text back anyone and everyone who found out his number, after all. He’d wait and see if Dongwoo bothered to text him again.
Right before practice, while Chunji was out of the room, Changjo asked C.A.P. if it was okay if L stopped by for a couple of minutes. He’d been, like, super well-behaved lately, so C.A.P. said okay, as long as it was quick and not a big distraction. He slipped out for a second and called L. “It’s okay, you can come. Did Chunji hyung text back?”
Such a piece of shit. “He doesn’t deserve Dongwoo hyung. Let’s break them up.”
“If we only got to be with the people we deserved to be with, nobody would ever be together.”
“That’s deep, did you just think of that?”
“Read it on a coffee cup.”
He smiled. Liar. “Get here soon, before I’m all sweaty and gross.”
“I like it when you’re sweaty and gross. Oh, leader-nim wants to talk to me. I’ll be there soon.”
“Ya! Ugly jerks!” Niel shouted. Changjo headed back into the room.
“Talking to yourself?” Chunji asked.
“Of course, it’s a room full of mirrors,” Niel said. “Who else would I be talking to? Definitely not you, hyung.”
Ricky glanced at Changjo, silently checking in. He nodded slightly, covering the move by rubbing his nose so their hyungs wouldn’t notice. Dongwoo was on the way; so far, so good.
Chunji had been holding onto his anger and resentment pretty well. He’d had to do some work to keep himself on track; it was a lot harder to hold a grudge against Dongwoo than it was against some other people. He’d slipped up a lot. Last night’s argument with Changjo had helped a hell of a lot; hearing, “Dongwoo hyung’s better off without you,” had really hit him hard.
So he’d been back and forth, emotionally, but he was in a pretty determinedly miserable place when practice started.
And then L.Joe opened the door, and Dongwoo walked in. Walked right past L.Joe and everyone else, straight for him. He was surprised that Dongwoo had actually shown up, but he didn’t know why, since it wasn’t like this was the first time that Dongwoo had stopped by to see him at practice. He was surprised that Dongwoo had come while they were sort of estranged, he guessed, except that they weren’t estranged. He was feeling pissed off and resentful and ignored, but Dongwoo hadn’t been ignoring him; Dongwoo hadn’t had phone access. As far as Dongwoo was concerned, everything was exactly the same between them as it had been before. He was the only one going through some weird emotional break-up.
He’d completely invented his own personal drama. All by himself.
Marveling at himself, he hugged Dongwoo back. He couldn’t even figure out how he felt about himself at that moment, so he focused on Dongwoo instead.
And seeing Dongwoo made him feel great. After pulling back from their hug, Dongwoo smiled at him, then went back in for another embrace, like the first one had been too good to resist. Lifting him up, Dongwoo turned in a circle, spinning him. Tightening his arms around Dongwoo, he held on, laughing, feeling good, his mood lighter than it had been in days. Putting him down, Dongwoo squeezed his ass in both hands. “Happy to see me?” he guessed.
“Mmm.” Looking completely charmed, Dongwoo cupped his face, smiling at him, stroking his cheekbones. “Yes, happy.”
“What, I thought,” Niel said. “Wow, I can’t keep up.”
“Don’t bother trying,” C.A.P. said.
“Did you get my text?” Dongwoo asked. “I had to send it from L’s phone, Mini has my phone.”
He couldn’t lie and make up excuses right to Dongwoo’s face. “I got it,” he said, and quickly moved on from that point. “When are you getting your phone back?”
“I don’t know, I have to see Mini, I guess, but I can’t arrange to see him if I don’t have my phone.”
Dongwoo’s hands were on him, in motion, rubbing his chest, straightening his shirt. He loved being the object that Dongwoo’s hands roamed over. “I could get it for you. Xiumin hyung’s been trying to see me, anyway.”
“And you’ll bring it to me?” His expression brightened. “Then we’ll have to meet, for you to get it to me!”
Exactly. “I’ll contact you through your members, okay?”
“Ah, good.” Dongwoo kissed him. “Can we stay for a while? Are we intruding?”
“Ah, it’ll be boring. We have to practice for ‘Immortal Song.’”
“What are you singing?”
He named the song. “The choreography’s easy, we’re mostly going to work on the vocals.”
“You’re right, that’s boring,” L said. “We’ll go.”
“No, I want to hear,” Dongwoo said seriously. “We’ll stay for a while.”
He stayed the whole time, seated on the floor in the back of the room, L at his side.
After going through the performance a few times, they decided to take five minutes to cool off before getting back into it. Chunji walked over to Dongwoo and asked, “How is it?”
Dongwoo tugged on his pants, guiding him down. Putting a hand on the wall for balance, he went where Dongwoo pulled him and ended up right in Dongwoo’s lap. “Hi,” he said, laughing.
“It looks good. It sounds good. There’s never anything to criticize with Teen Top’s choreography.”
“That’s definitely not true.” He coiled his arm around Dongwoo’s shoulders. Their faces were so close, it was really hard not to start kissing. “I sound great, right?”
“Ah, I like your voice so much. No one else sounds quite like it.”
He never had to worry that Dongwoo’s compliments were insincere. He never had to doubt Dongwoo’s intentions or search for hidden meanings in Dongwoo’s words. Dongwoo was probably the most honest person he knew. Which was a huge change, considering the diabolical liars he lived with. “We haven’t talked in a while. I haven’t seen you. Were you thinking about me?”
“Every day,” Dongwoo said, kissing his cheek. “I always think about you every day.”
Taken aback, he brushed Dongwoo’s bangs aside. “Why every day?”
Dongwoo’s arms closed more snugly around him, and Dongwoo made a thoughtful sound, kissing his cheek a few more times. “Everyone always said that if something really mattered to me, I wouldn’t forget about it. If I really cared about appointments, I’d remember them, and if I really cared about my phone and my keys and my shoes, I wouldn’t lose them, and if I really cared, I wouldn’t forget birthdays or errands or homework. I thought that was wrong, I thought that, ‘I do care, I want to remember, it’s not because I don’t care.’ But you must really matter to me a lot, because I never forget about you. You’re on my mind all of the time.” His smile was wide and bright. “No one ever has to remind me about Chunji.”
When L.Joe walked into the bedroom, Chunji was facedown across the bed, face buried in a pillow.
A while later, when he went in again, Chunji was in the same spot, facedown on the bed, head under the pillow this time.
Later that night, Chunji was still there. The pillow was on the floor.
L.Joe didn’t really want to get into it, but, “You okay?”
Chunji’s voice was muffled. “Am I a horrible person?”
He didn’t think twice before answering. “Yes.”
Chunji rolled over and sat up. He stared into space for a minute, then blinked and pulled his knees up. He looked thoughtful and unhappy. He looked serious. That couldn’t be good.
Actually concerned about him, L.Joe sat on the other bed. “You know you’re not a terrible person.”
“I’m kind of a jerk, though.”
“Ah, sometimes,” he admitted reluctantly. “Everybody is, sometimes.”
“I’m a jerk on purpose, though. If Dongwoo hyung’s ever thoughtless about something, it’s innocent, he doesn’t do it on purpose. When I get pissed off, I get mean. I’m selfish.”
“You’re a lot of fun, though.”
Chunji met his eyes frankly. “You can’t stand me.”
“You can’t stand me,” he pointed out. “That doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with me, we just don’t get along.”
Chunji hugged his knees. He looked miserable for a second. “I think that I have to break up with Dongwoo hyung.”
“Because he deserves better. He cares about me too much. Also, there are a ton of things wrong with you. I was trying to be nice and be a good person and not say it, but I have to say it, there are like a ton of things wrong with you.”
He couldn’t even be annoyed, he just laughed and moved over to sit beside Chunji. “How can you break up with him when you aren’t even boyfriends? You’re not even really dating.”
“I can’t just stop seeing him, I have to tell him that we can’t see each other. If I just cut him off, that’s too cruel, isn’t it? It’s not going to be fun to tell him to his face that he should give up on me, but doing it any other way seems worse.”
“But why do you have to stop seeing him? Just because you’re not perfect?”
“Do you honestly not get this?” Chunji asked. “He’s honest. I’m not. He’s straightforward. I’m manipulative. He lost his phone, and instead of finding that out like a normal person, or giving him the benefit of the doubt, I decided that he didn’t give a fuck about me. He flirted with some asshole, and I thought that he didn’t care about me at all. I’m not even fair with him.”
“Who was he flirting with?”
Surprised, he asked, “I’m the asshole? When?”
“You flirt every time you talk. You flirt with everybody. The only people you don’t flirt with are me and Sehun.”
“No, I flirt with him sometimes.” When he was in the right mental space for it. It really, really turned Sehun on.
“Why the hell am I the only person you don’t flirt with?”
“Because you’re annoying. But when was I flirting with Dongwoo hyung?”
“I’m not annoying, you’re annoying. It was when they came to our dressing room that time, when he came with L hyung and Sungyeol hyung.”
He frowned. “Then?” He tried to remember the conversation, and then he punched Chunji’s thigh. “We were talking about you!”
“You talk about me when you flirt? Ya, that’s creepy.”
“We were talking about music, and about that new production equipment Chanyeol hyung got, and about this new mike Woollim has. And then we talked about Sungyeol hyung. And then we talked about you.”
“You didn’t.” He gave L.Joe a suspicious look. “What about me?”
“Whether you’re a better top or a bottom, and why you don’t wear earrings anymore.”
Chunji gave him a baffled look. “Why I don’t wear earrings anymore?”
“I don’t know. He brought it up out of nowhere.”
“What’d he say, top or bottom?”
“He likes both, he said you’re good at both. I said you’re way too annoying as a top and way too demanding and pushy as a bottom. I really only like you when you’re sucking my cock, at least then you aren’t talking.”
Chunji nodded, licking his lips. “So you know that now I’m never going to blow you again, right? You just ruined that forever.”
Oh, shit. No. He couldn’t be serious. He might be serious. “No big loss,” L.Joe said, trying to play it off.
Chunji frowned thoughtfully, rubbing his knees. “I kind of thought that I messed up last time because I was too young. Maybe I haven’t changed. Maybe it’s not just being young, maybe I’m just…” He sighed. “I’m not good for Dongwoo hyung.”
“You’re just going to give up?” L.Joe asked. “You can’t even try?”
“Try what? Being a better person?”
“Why, does that seem impossible? You could at least try it.”
“Just decide to be mature.”
“I can’t just change who I am. I can fake it for like half an hour, but I can’t be some whole different person.”
“Isn’t Dongwoo hyung important to you? Isn’t it worth trying?”
Chunji sniffed and studied the wall. “Well.” He shrugged. “I could.”
“Try not overreacting to everything,” L.Joe suggested. “Try giving people the benefit of the doubt. You could resist the urge to say mean shit.”
“Okay, but I’m trying this with Dongwoo hyung, not with you,” Chunji said. “Don’t expect me to be nice and mature around you, that’s not going to happen.”
“Then why am I helping you?”
“I have no idea,” Chunji said frankly, laughing. “Thanks, though.”
Damn, being a good person was hard. Chunji could see why so few people really managed to pull it off. It was really difficult to watch his tongue. There were so many hilarious, cutting, tempting things he wanted to say, that he couldn’t say anymore, that he picked up the habit of physically putting his hand over his mouth. Especially when he was alone with his members, he started biting on his knuckle, struggling to keep the words in.
They were complete assholes about it and made all kinds of digs, taunting him, setting him up and feeding him lines, practically begging him to say something nasty. Seeing them try so hard helped him to resist it; he wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.
He didn’t switch his drink with L.Joe’s just because his was getting watered down and L.Joe’s looked fresher. He didn’t sneak the chip he’d dropped on the floor into Niel’s open bag. He resisted the urge to trip Ricky even though he was in the perfect spot for it and Ricky was distracted. When L.Joe complained about how messy their room was, he wasted ten minutes of his life picking shit up, when what he really wanted to do was wait until L.Joe’s back was turned and then rub dirty underwear all over L.Joe’s pillow.
Three days in, he didn’t even know himself anymore. “So you’re basically a saint now,” Changjo said, beside him on the couch.
“I’m mature as hell,” he said.
“But everything’s been going okay,” Changjo said. “It doesn’t count unless you’re really put to the test.”
He glanced at Changjo. “So test me.”
Changjo laughed. “You don’t mean that.”
“Do it. Test me.” He only had two options here. He either had to be the kind of person Dongwoo could be with, or he had to give Dongwoo up. He couldn’t bring himself to push Dongwoo away again, he just couldn’t do it, so he had to be good and decent and honest.
“Hunh. Sehun hyung’s coming over tomorrow to see L.Joe hyung, isn’t he?”
“Yes.” That wasn’t a real question; Chunji knew that Changjo knew that.
“You know how pissed off you were when Xiumin hyung and Lay hyung had the whole dorm to themselves, and they invited you over, and you couldn’t go?”
“Yes.” Damn, it still pissed him off. Someone had broken C.A.P.’s fancy-ass new razor, and no one had confessed to it, and C.A.P. had figured out that it had to be either him or Niel, so he and Niel’d spent a whole week being punished. He still wasn’t over it.
“L.Joe hyung did it,” Changjo said. “He was trying to shave his junk. He thought that Sehun hyung might like it. But he messed it up and got freaked out and broke the razor, and now he doesn’t want to try it at all. He shouldn’t, anyway, it would look terrible. He didn’t want to get in trouble for it, so he let C.A.P. hyung think that you and Niel hyung did it. It would really be rough on him if you told on him and he couldn’t see Sehun hyung tomorrow, right? He’d get all upset.”
Oh, holy fuck, it was tempting. Chunji struggled to hold onto his self-control. “Are you screwing with me? How do you know about it?”
“Like I don’t know everything that happens in this dorm, it’s not a big place,” Changjo said. “Remember how smooth his underarms were then? He started on those first.”
Like Chunji paid that much attention to L.Joe’s armpits. But now that Changjo mentioned it, he did remember L.Joe being shaved. His punishment had meant no sex, and he’d had to sit around horny and celibate while everyone else boinked in front of him, and he remembered how smooth L.Joe’s body had looked. God damn it. “I had to take his fucking punishment?”
“You had to miss a great night with Xiumin hyung and Lay hyung,” Changjo said. “Just the three of you with the whole dorm to yourselves. All of that time alone, all of that privacy. I wonder what they would’ve done to you. I bet it would’ve been pretty freaking amazing. You had to skip the whole thing, though, C.A.P. hyung didn’t even think about letting you go, you were in so much trouble. You said that you were innocent, but nobody believed you, nobody could trust you. But of course L.Joe hyung gets to see his own personal hoobae whenever he wants, everybody makes sure of that, nothing can get in the way of that. They’re going to meet up again tomorrow, Sehun hyung’s going to come over, and you’re going to have to stay in and waste your whole night baby-sitting just in case L.Joe hyung needs you for something. Like you don’t have anything else you want to do with your time. No, it’s important for you to put L.Joe hyung first. He screwed you over for no reason, and C.A.P. hyung believed that he was innocent, but you’re not upset about that, are you? You don’t want revenge for it, right?”
Squeezing his eyes shut, Chunji rubbed the sides of his face, fighting his own impulses. “You’re the freaking devil.” Damn it, he wanted so badly to screw L.Joe over. To make C.A.P. squirm and apologize and pay. To ruin L.Joe’s week, or month, or life. That lying little shit had made him look bad, let him take the punishment, sat back and played innocent!
“C.A.P. hyung!” Changjo called. “Chunji hyung has something to tell you! Something important!”
“What?” C.A.P. called.
Clenching his teeth, Chunji fought it. He couldn’t seek revenge. Dongwoo wouldn’t. He couldn’t strike out to make L.Joe suffer. Dongwoo wouldn’t.
“It’s about L.Joe hyung!” Changjo called.
“So come here and tell me,” C.A.P. called.
“Me?” L.Joe yelled. “What about me?”
Fighting it, Chunji gnawed on his knuckle. Dongwoo wouldn’t seek revenge. He couldn’t, either. It would feel fantastic to throw the truth in C.A.P.’s face, to take L.Joe by surprise, to make them pay for screwing him over. It would make him so, so happy. It would be satisfying. But if he did it, he’d have to give up Dongwoo.
L.Joe walked in, frowning at him. “What about me?”
Oooohhh. Chunji burst into hysterical, frustrated laughter, slumping back on the couch and throwing his arm over his eyes so he wouldn’t have to look at L.Joe.
“Is he losing it?” L.Joe asked.
“Kind of,” Changjo said.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Chunji said, laughing, rubbing his eyes. “Fuck.” He couldn’t believe that he was doing this. He couldn’t believe that he was passing up this golden opportunity. “Nothing, nothing, it’s nothing.” Oh, god, was he going to have to be like this for months? For years? What was he doing to his life?
“Nothing,” L.Joe repeated, clearly not buying it.
“It’s nothing, the maknae’s just making a point.”
L.Joe gave them a suspicious look, then left.
“Oh, god, I hate my life.” Groaning, Chunji felt exhausted.
“You like Dongwoo hyung too much,” Changjo said.
“Yeah, well.” Dongwoo made him laugh. Made him happy. Made him feel good about himself. Pushed like all of his sexual buttons. “He’s kind of hot.”
“Mmm. That’s why I like L hyung. Strictly based on looks.”
A dozen smart comments sprang to mind. Rubbing his hand over his mouth, Chunji got up.
“Going somewhere?” Changjo asked.
“Bathroom.” He didn’t actually need to use the toilet, but it might buy him a few minutes alone, away from temptation.
Dongwoo was so glad to see Chunji, he forgot why they were meeting. When Chunji gave him his phone, he was surprised to see it. “It’s been so long!”
“You probably have a million missed calls.”
He probably did! “What if I just throw this away and get a new phone?”
Chunji laughed. “Most of the calls are old by now, you don’t have to worry about them, people probably forgot that they even called you.”
That was a relief. He admired his case for a second, then put it in his pocket. He had all night with Chunji! “What do you want to do?”
Chunji smiled at him, and it was a perfect Chunji smile, handsome and bright. “Anything.”
After his date with Dongwoo, Chunji felt more sure than ever that he was doing the right thing. It was difficult to be only selfless all of the time, but he was on the right track. It was worth it. To be with Dongwoo, any struggle would be worth it.
When Dongwoo walked into Teen Top’s practice room, he could tell that things weren’t going well. Chunji seemed tense. No one seemed happy, and that was a shame, but seeing Chunji so tense bothered his heart.
Chunji looked tired, too. “Are you all right?” Dongwoo asked, rubbing his back.
His smile wasn’t convincing. “Yeah, I’m okay. How’ve you been?”
“Are you sleeping?” He didn’t like this; it worried him. Sunggyu made jokes about Chunji being shiny, but it was true. Tonight, though, some of the shine was gone.
“Oh, Chunji hyung gets a lot of rest,” Niel said.
Niel’s tone was sharp and snide, and the comment sounded like such a pointed dig, Dongwoo expected Chunji to snap back. Instead, Chunji bit the pad of his thumb for a second, then didn’t say anything.
Concerned, Dongwoo wondered if the members had been fighting too much again. “Have you eaten? If you have time, when practice is over, I’ll take you out. We’ll eat well, it’ll make you feel better. Your heart and your brain suffer if you don’t take care of the rest of your body, too.”
This smile was a little better. “Thanks, hyung. Yeah, that’d be good.”
The rest of practice was tense and difficult. Dongwoo was glad to get Chunji away when it was over. It seemed rude not to invite the other members, too, but Chunji was so unhappy, Dongwoo wanted to focus on just him. The two of them went to a good restaurant, somewhere they’d been before, and they ate a lot.
Once he had some food in him, Chunji relaxed, and by the end of the meal, he was happy again, his smiles and his laughter and his brightness lighting up the room. It felt so good to be with him, and to see him in a good mood, that Dongwoo felt refreshed, just being with him. Half an hour with Chunji was as good as a week’s tropical vacation.
Dongwoo had to take him back to his dorm, and couldn’t stay. They couldn’t make out in the van, but they sat in the back row together, and he put his arm around Chunji, and Chunji leaned against his chest, and when the van stopped, it was really hard to let go. “Let’s be together soon,” he said softly, resting his cheek against Chunji’s soft hair. “Let’s be together a lot.”
“I’m glad that you came over tonight,” Chunji said. “Being with you makes it easier.”
“Makes what easier?” he asked, stroking Chunji’s bare forearm.
“Nothing.” Then he said, “Everything.” Sitting up straighter, he touched Dongwoo’s mouth, and he smiled, a small smile that warmed up the whole van. “Good night, hyung. Thanks for dinner.”
Some days, it was easy. Sometimes, it all came naturally. Laugh it off, overlook it, let it go. Dongwoo didn’t hold grudges, Dongwoo didn’t seek revenge, Dongwoo wasn’t petty, so he wouldn’t be, either.
Sometimes, it was frustrating. Aggravating and annoying and infuriating.
But more and more, it was dull. He felt muffled. Smothered. He missed a hundred opportunities for jokes a day. He couldn’t express his anger. He couldn’t order the maknaes around. He couldn’t tease L.Joe. He couldn’t play pranks on Niel. He had to be nice all of the time and good all of the time. If he let something slip, his members scolded him for being too harsh and berated him for hurting their feelings. “Dongwoo hyung never hits me.” “Dongwoo hyung never curses at me.” “Dongwoo hyung never bullies me.”
He reined in his temper, held in his anger, swallowed it down. In the beginning, he felt like he was going to explode, felt like if he had to hold back any more words they’d all come rushing out of him at once.
Later, though, he started to go numb.
A bunch of the EXO members wanted to go bowling, and they’d invited Dongwoo’s members, and as long as everyone was already getting together, they’d invited Teen Top, too. It was really fun, and everyone was noisy, and Xiumin had too much to drink, and their side of the bowling alley seemed like one big party.
Chunji seemed really glad to see him, and he was really glad to see Chunji, too. They hugged, and just having Chunji there made everything even better, and he made sure that they were on the same team.
Chunji didn’t seem to care about the game very much, though. He kept leaving it. The two of them spent a lot of time walking around the bowling alley together, and sitting by empty lanes, and hanging out in the little hallway near the bathrooms, just talking. He thought that maybe Chunji wanted to tell him something private, but they talked about normal things, everyday things. After a while, it struck him as a little odd, that they were separate from the rest of the party so much. Chunji usually liked to be around the other guys, near the fun, watching the action, laughing at everyone’s foolishness.
But if Chunji wanted to be alone, just the two of them, that was good, too. They took their turns bowling, and then they went away and hung out, and when someone called them back, they went back for another turn. They still ended up with a lot of time to themselves, because everyone was more focused on eating and flirting than on the game.
They were standing in the hallway again when Changjo came up to them and said, “They keep sending me to come and find you. Why do you keep running away? What, are you too good to hang out with the rest of us?”
Dongwoo looked at Chunji, expecting a comeback, but he just asked, “Is it our turn?” and walked back to the others. It was strange. Chunji had been tense and subdued for a while now, hadn’t he? On date nights, and when they ran into each other around work, too. Even over the phone. Dongwoo kept thinking that he must be tired, he must be overworked, maybe he was fighting with his members. But how many times could something be a temporary situation before it became the way things were?
“Are you sick?” Dongwoo asked, touching Chunji’s forehead when they were back in the hallway again. “Is your family okay? Have there been problems with management?”
“I’m fine,” Chunji said. “Don’t worry so much.”
He didn’t laugh when he said it. Chunji laughed a lot; it was one of Dongwoo’s favorite things about him. He had this easy, teasing tone when he talked, and he joked and smiled, and he was physical, tactile, pushing and pulling, leaning on people when he laughed. When he said, “Don’t worry so much,” he didn’t seem upset at all, he wasn’t scolding or brushing Dongwoo off. But he didn’t laugh, either.
Chunji wasn’t only happiness and fun. He could be serious sometimes, too. But he was serious too often, lately. Quieter than usual.
This wasn’t right. “If something’s wrong, you can tell me.” Worried about him, Dongwoo stroked his chest, his side. “Even if it’s bad, I want to know about it.”
“Everything’s okay.” He tucked a finger into Dongwoo’s pocket. “What are you doing next week?”
“Oh, for our vacation? I might go camping. I want to try it again.”
“You want to go camping? That’s your vacation?” Before Dongwoo could reply, he said, “Sorry, I’m sorry, hyung. Camping’s a good idea. You’ll probably have fun.”
What was he apologizing for? “Maybe you could come with me. We have a few days off, and I can spend some of them with my parents. And then if you have a day or a night, that’s when I’ll go camping, and we can go together. If you want to,” he added.
“Camping,” Chunji repeated. “If you were anybody else, I’d tell you to, ah.” He cut himself off and smiled. “But I’ll go, if it’s you. I’ll check on my schedule and let you know when I have some time free.”
“You’d tell me to what?” he asked, curious.
“Nothing. Camping where, where do you want to go?”
After Xiumin woke up, threw up, downed some aspirin, and convinced Suho that of course he didn’t have a hangover, he hadn’t drunk enough to get a hangover, Dongwoo called. They talked about last night’s bowling party. “Where’d you and Chunji keep sneaking off to, anyway? You weren’t doing things that you weren’t supposed to be doing, were you?”
“No, we only talked. He’s unhappy about something.”
Dongwoo sounded troubled. “What, something’s wrong? Is he fighting with his members again?”
“See! That’s what I thought, too. But it’s not that. Or it’s not only that. Did the other Teen Top members seem okay to you?”
“Yeah. Everybody seemed great. I didn’t notice anything weird.”
“Maybe it’s something private that he can’t talk about. He hasn’t said anything to you?”
Xiumin thought it over. “No. He hasn’t said anything.” Actually, “When I saw him last week, he didn’t want to talk at all. He was in kind of a weird mood. We, uh, did a lot of other things.” A lot of kissing, a lot of sex. “But that was last week, so if he’s still upset about it, it might be pretty bad.” He wondered why Chunji wouldn’t tell Dongwoo about it.
“Should I ask C.A.P.?” Dongwoo asked. “I don’t want to go behind his back, though, that doesn’t seem right.”
“According to D.O., if you want to know something, ask Changjo.”
“No, hyung, he’s been fine,” Changjo said. “I see him every day, and he seems okay to me. He’s actually been really nice lately. Really easy to get along with. He doesn’t fight or argue about anything, he only has nice things to say. It’s a lot more quiet around the dorm lately.”
Dongwoo called Chunji to confirm their camping trip. “So it’ll be on Wednesday. On Thursday. On Wednesday? Two days from now, what’s today?” He laughed. “A couple of days on vacation and I’m already turned around!”
“Today’s Monday, we’ll go on Wednesday,” Chunji said.
“Right. I’ll pick up all of the equipment tomorrow, so I’ll have everything ready. And then I’ll come to get you in the morning! It’ll be a long drive, should I make a playlist? I’ll put in some songs that you like.”
“That’d be nice.”
“I hope that the weather’s good. I was going to bring some games for us to play while we’re there, but I can’t find the ones I wanted, so maybe I’ll buy some? Or what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know about games. I usually cheat. Maybe we should do something else.”
Chunji’s tone was too serious. Ordinarily, Dongwoo would’ve laughed at that. But that night, he was too worried to find humor in it. “You think I don’t know that you cheat? I don’t mind. But we can do other things.”
“You know I’m that kind of person?”
“What kind of person? Of course I know that you cheat, why wouldn’t I? I’ve even seen you get sneaky with rock, paper, scissors.”
“You don’t cheat.”
“I don’t, usually. It’s not my style. I’m really looking forward to going away with you. I’m really glad that you can come, even if it’s only for one night. It’ll be good to go, it’ll be good for you to be away from everything and sleep outside and breathe fresh air. It’ll be a healing trip, I think you need it.”
“Yeah,” Chunji said. “You’re probably right, it’ll make me feel better.”
He didn’t sound like he believed it.
Chunji couldn’t wait to get away. He wished that it weren’t an overnight trip; he wished that it were a week. A week of just himself and Dongwoo, no responsibilities, no distractions. No temptations. No annoying members he couldn’t make fun of and no friends he couldn’t joke with.
He woke up early Wednesday, and it was raining. It was flat-out pouring, rain coming down in heavy sheets. He couldn’t face the idea of canceling their trip, so he got up and packed anyway. He needed this trip, he needed this break. It was hard to retrain his brain and rewire his personality, it was a constant fucking struggle, and he needed to be with Dongwoo and surround himself in Dongwoo’s affection and remind himself what he was doing all of this for. Remind himself why it was all so worth it.
He’d finished packing when Dongwoo called. “Chunji-ah? It’s raining.”
He held back a smart-ass comment. “I saw.”
“The campground’s closed, they said we shouldn’t bother to go.”
Shit. Shit, shit, shit. “Shit.”
“I have all of this equipment. I have the tent and the sleeping bags and this mattress thing with a pump, all of it. Do you want to come over and use it?”
“All of the members are gone, they’re still on their vacations, and I’m alone here with the tent. I thought, you can come over. It won’t be the same as camping, but we can still have a vacation. Without all of the driving and bad weather.”
“Yes,” he said immediately. It was perfect. It sounded even better than the trip they’d planned. “Yes, I’ll come over. I’m already packed.”
Dongwoo laughed. “Great! I’ll set up the tent.”
“No, no, wait for me, I’ll help.”
He grabbed a taxi and went across town. They had the whole dorm to themselves, and all day to do whatever they wanted. They set up the tent right in the middle of the front room. It was huge and striped, and putting it together seemed like the most fun Chunji’d had in ages. They cursed and they cracked up laughing and they improvised a little, and he nicked his index finger in three places, but in the end, they crawled inside and the tent didn’t collapse around them, so they called it a success.
They filled the air mattress and unrolled sleeping bags, and then they curled up inside the tent. Being closed up in the small space together felt really intimate. They made out and fed each other trail mix. He’d needed this, really needed to get away and focus on something good. He’d been tense lately, watching his words, curbing his tongue, but it was easy to be with Dongwoo. He felt happy and relaxed, letting his guard down more than he had in a while.
Dongwoo brought a bunch of board games and card games into the tent. They played, and made up new rules, and lost game pieces in the sleeping bags. They sang old kids’ songs and talked about old family trips. They roasted marshmallows over candles. They competed to see who could roll the most somersaults from one end of the dorm to the other. Dongwoo won; Chunji kept laughing too hard and rolling into walls and careening into furniture.
When he ended up splayed in a doorway, Dongwoo hurried over, laughing and making sure that he was okay. “Not hurt?” Dongwoo reached a hand down to him.
Grasping Dongwoo’s hand, he almost tugged. It would be so, so easy, so natural, to yank Dongwoo down. Dongwoo would land on top of him, and laugh, and they’d make out, and it would be fun, the kind of easy, carefree, happy, sexy fun that was so good between them.
But was taking Dongwoo’s hand only to snatch Dongwoo down a “nice” thing to do? Was that the kind of thing that Dongwoo would do?
“I’m okay,” he said, getting to his feet.
“I can’t let you get bruised,” Dongwoo said, dusting him off. “We’ll play something else.”
“Sure.” Had he done the right thing? Had he missed an opportunity? He didn’t know what he was doing anymore. He couldn’t trust his own instincts. “Whatever you want to do.”
They’d turned off all of the lights and curled up in the tent with a couple of flashlights. “Should we tell ghost stories?” Chunji asked, tucked inside his sleeping bag, Dongwoo on top of the other one.
“No!” Already feeling a shiver of fear, Dongwoo played his flashlight over the tent, checking the corners. “Let’s not talk about that.”
He expected Chunji to tease him, but instead Chunji just said, “Okay.” It wasn’t a big thing, all by itself, but little moments like that kept happening. Moments where he expected one thing and got something else, or expected a reaction and didn’t get one at all. It felt like he and Chunji were out of sync, and he wasn’t used to that. It was uncomfortable and confusing for him, like finishing his verse and turning to Hoya and finding someone else there.
He stood his flashlight on its end, aimed upward, creating a halo of light above them on the tent. “It’s been hard for you lately.” He’d seen that bright sparkle in Chunji’s eyes today, and there had been really good, happy moments where everything had seemed right and normal and good again. But it didn’t last. Sometimes it was only there for a minute, and sometimes it shone for half an hour, a whole hour, but it always faded again. He couldn’t figure out what kept going wrong. Chunji seemed subdued. Uncertain.
“No, I’m okay.” Chunji’s smile might have looked convincing to someone who didn’t know him, but it didn’t fool Dongwoo at all. When Dongwoo slid closer, he rested a hand on Dongwoo’s waist. “I’m glad that we did this today.”
“Me, too.” He drew a line across Chunji’s eyebrow, and Chunji’s eyes drifted shut. It was something they’d used to do, a private little gesture, and he hadn’t done it in a long time. He’d held back from trying it because he’d thought that Chunji wouldn’t remember it, and that would hurt, it would hurt if Chunji had forgotten about it or refused to do it. But tonight, he was so in love and so worried, he’d forgotten to restrain himself. And Chunji had responded like they still did it all of the time, like it wasn’t unusual at all. With Chunji’s eyes trustingly, patiently shut, he carefully, tenderly caressed Chunji’s eyelashes. So long and so pretty. “I’m glad that you came camping with me. I wanted you to have a healing trip.” Love filled him up, and he planted soft kisses on Chunji’s eyelids, on Chunji’s cheek. “I’m here, Chunji-ah. If you aren’t sure about something and you can’t be confident in yourself, be confident in me. I’m here for you.”
Chunji hugged him. It was a tight hug, Chunji’s arm hooking around him and locking him close. Chunji had different ways of hugging people - - quick, loose hugs for acquaintances and when he wasn’t in a great mood, too-tight, intimate hugs for Teen Top to challenge them and make them laugh, long, comfortable hugs for the people he loved, and hard, muscular hugs like this one when he needed something and wanted to make sure that he got it. What did he need tonight? Reassurance? Emotional strength? Whatever it was, Dongwoo wanted to be sure that he had it. “Are there words that you need to hear?”
“No.” Chunji’s embrace relaxed a little, and Dongwoo rubbed his back. “You’ll say anything to me, you like me too much.”
“I won’t say empty words.” He caressed Chunji’s cheek. He could never get over how good-looking Chunji was. He loved Chunji’s beautiful eyes; he could look at Chunji forever and not get bored, not get distracted, not want to look anywhere else. There was so much personality in Chunji’s expressions. So much emotion. So much Chunji. “I don’t say things to you that I don’t mean.”
“You never say anything that you don’t mean.”
“Why would I? Why say it if I don’t mean it? It’s wasted breath, isn’t it? Or it’s hurtful, it’ll only confuse people.”
Chunji’s mouth tightened, a tiny flame of emotion flickering in his eyes. It looked hot, like anger, but it wasn’t. It was pain. A lot of the time, when he was hurt, he looked angry, because he lashed out, he got resentful.
Dongwoo felt awful. He hadn’t meant to upset Chunji, not for a second. “What is it? I said the wrong thing?”
“No.” Chunji was trying to let it go, trying to shake it off. “No, there’s nothing, it’s fine.”
He didn’t understand why Chunji couldn’t confide in him about this. “Is it too private? You don’t trust me?”
He hadn’t meant it as an accusation, but he could see immediately that Chunji took it as one. Chunji inhaled, nostrils flaring. “It’s fine, I’ve told you, there’s nothing to tell.”
Distressed, he stroked Chunji’s side. “You don’t have to lie to me.”
Pressing his lips together, Chunji just didn’t say anything for a minute.
Feeling terrible, Dongwoo hugged him. Words weren’t getting them anywhere. But words weren’t the only way to communicate. When his arms circled Dongwoo again, then Dongwoo knew that things were okay, that there wasn’t a rift between them. Dongwoo rubbed his back in long, slow strokes up and down his spine, comforting him, relaxing him. When he sighed, relaxing, then squirmed closer, Dongwoo understood that he felt better, and kissed him.
Chunji’s lips were soft, and Dongwoo took his time. Chunji was too special; he wasn’t going to rush tonight.
He savored Chunji, indulging in slow kisses, licking just enough to make Chunji moan. He tugged down the sleeping bag’s zipper, coaxing Chunji out of the bag and then out of his clothes, too.
Words weren’t working, so Dongwoo would say what he wanted to say with his body, instead. With his hands. He’d use his mouth for something besides words. He kissed reassurances across Chunji’s collarbone. He stroked love into Chunji’s skin. He sought out the places Chunji was softest and most sensitive, the inside of an elbow, a smooth inner thigh, and made sure that Chunji felt protected and soothed. He slid inside Chunji, joining their bodies, turning two separate individuals into one linked unit, and he made love to Chunji for a long time. Moaning, “Ooohhh, ooohhh, ahh,” Chunji looked beautiful under him, eyes heavy-lidded, red lips parted for gasping breaths. He got Chunji off in his hand, and when he came, he stayed balls-deep in Chunji, spurting his seed as far inside as he could.
Hand sinking into his hair, Chunji pulled him in for a kiss. He stayed there, kissing Chunji, for a long time, not wanting to be apart, transfixed by the sensual pleasure of Chunji’s mouth. Rolling onto his side, he brought Chunji with him, flush against his body.
Chunji tapped at his cheekbone, gazing into his eyes. “I never know what to do with you when you get like this.”
“You don’t have to do anything.” He rolled forward again, putting Chunji on the bottom, and then he went on a tour, kissing Chunji’s chest again, licking at Chunji’s nipples. “I wish that I could make us come at the same time. Woohyun’s so good at it, but it’s hard to time it.”
“Seems like a fun trick,” Chunji said, winding his legs around Dongwoo’s waist.
He kissed his way up Chunji’s neck and then just hung out for a minute, gazing into Chunji’s eyes. Looking happy and self-conscious, Chunji laughed, and he smiled, kissing Chunji’s mouth again. “When I come inside you. I’m giving you some of my life force, aren’t I? That seems like a powerful thing,” he said, his thumb stroking over Chunji’s temple. “But I wish that it were even more powerful than that. I wish that I could give you more. Really give you my energy. That we could come together and transfer something. More than just pleasure. But maybe we do, maybe we share something of ourselves when we’re together like this. It feels like that, with you. Like when I’m with Leader Gyu, and he’s inside me, after we make love, I feel like he gave me his love and his strength, I feel like we became a part of each other, and he took away some of my hurt and gave me a part of him in return. It’s very healing. Do you ever feel that?”
Chunji looked shaken for a second, and then he pushed Dongwoo aside. “Hyung, shit.” Getting up, he crawled out of the tent.
No. No, no. He’d gone too far, he’d pushed too hard. “I’m sorry,” he said, hurrying out of the tent. “Don’t go. I won’t say it again, I won’t talk about it.” He reached for Chunji’s back, but he caught himself and, curling his fingers in, he dropped his hands to his sides. This was what had gone wrong before, he’d held on too hard, he’d pushed for too much. “I won’t do it again. Please don’t go.”
His hand in his hair, Chunji turned around. He looked rattled, his eyes wide and anxious. “I can’t do this. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how. It’s not even the relationship anymore, I can be in a relationship, I could do it if it was Ricky or somebody, it’s you. I can’t do this with you. Anybody in the world would be easier than you.”
Hearing that was so devastating, Dongwoo just stood there for a second, trying to absorb it. “I’m that bad?”
“You?! I’m that bad!” Moving fast, Chunji leaned into the tent, snatching clothes out and putting them on. “I can’t do this.”
“You’re bad?” He didn’t understand. If Chunji was leaving him, he had to understand. “Why are you bad?” He was crying, and he sniffed, wiping tears from his cheeks. Crying over Chunji again, Sunggyuu would hate that. “Please don’t leave.”
Underwear on, Chunji pulled his pants up. He looked distressed, really distressed, like he was lost and just trying to get through it, just trying to survive.
“If we’re both upset, can’t we cling to each other?” Dongwoo asked. “But I’m what upset you. I’m sorry, I mean it, I won’t talk about those things again. Did I do wrong, trying to make love to you? That wasn’t how you wanted it?”
“God, hyung.” Fly still open, hair tousled, Chunji reached for him, wiping at his tears. “You have to stop crying, you’re going to kill me.” There were tears in Chunji’s eyes, too, but Chunji was trying to be strong about it, trying to hold it back. “You can’t be like this, you can’t be so upset over me. I’m not worth it, I’m not - - not - - shit,” Chunji said, face crumpling, tears spilling over.
He hugged Chunji, and Chunji tried to pull away from him, punched him in the ribs, but then Chunji hugged him tightly, sobbing on his shoulder. They held onto each other, and for a moment, he was so miserable, he couldn’t do anything but cry. But Chunji being so upset pulled him out of his own emotions. In a way it gave him strength; he had to hold himself together to help Chunji. “Why would you say that you aren’t worth something?” He genuinely didn’t understand it, and he rubbed Chunji’s back, trying to figure it out. “You’re worth everything. You mean everything to me. You’re Chunji, you’re the earth and the sky and my whole world.” He was already doing a terrible job of not expressing his feelings.
“I’m not.” Chunji pulled away, wiping at his cheeks. He half-turned away, looking down. “I shouldn’t be. You have to,” his voice hitched and cracked, “you have to give up on me.”
Frowning, Dongwoo cupped his elbow, trying to see into his eyes, but he stubbornly edged away. “But why can’t you look at me when you tell me that?”
“Just give up on me.” He grabbed a shirt from the floor.
“Give up on what?” he asked, his emotions chaotic. “Give up on loving you? Give up on dreaming about you? Give up on wanting good things for you?”
Halfway into the shirt, Chunji suddenly wrestled it back off and threw it on the floor. “This is yours!” He reached into the tent and made a frustrated, furious noise. “Where’s my shirt?” Flinging a sleeping bag out, he whirled around. “Where the hell is my shirt?!”
“Why can’t you talk to me?” Dongwoo demanded. “You won’t make any sense!”
“I tried!” Chunji shouted, finally staring at him. Chunji looked so lost and wounded that it tore his heart open. “I tried to be what you need, I tried to be good enough, and I can’t do it! I can’t fucking do it!”
“Good enough?” He felt like they were speaking different languages. “What’s good enough? Aren’t you already what I need? Aren’t you already everything you are? Why would you want to be different?”
“God, shit.” Chunji dropped to the floor, pulling his knees up and rubbing his eyes. “Fuck, you don’t even get it.”
“Tell me about it so I can understand.” Sitting down, he put his arm around Chunji. If Chunji was going to leave him anyway, he’d hold on now, while he still could.
“You like me too much to see me clearly.” Dropping his hands, Chunji stared despondently downward. His reddened, wet eyes looked huge in his pale, exhausted face. “You know no one thinks that we should be together.”
“No one? But I think that we should be together.”
“Your members don’t. They know that I’m not good enough for you.”
“Not good enough?” That wasn’t right. “They’re worried about me, because I got hurt before. They’re worried that I’ll get hurt again.”
“It’s not only that. They didn’t want us together before I ever hurt you.”
“Because you were too young. Not too young for me, it’s only three years, I don’t think it’s that much. But you were too young to be in a relationship, you weren’t ready.”
“I wasn’t mature enough. And I’m still not. I’m not good enough. I’m not like you, I’m not an angel.”
“I’m not an angel,” he said. “You aren’t, either, nobody is. You look like one. You’re pretty like an angel, I’ve always thought that.”
“You’re a good person.” Chunji met his eyes. “You’re honest. You’re decent and good. You don’t say things you don’t mean. You take people at their word. You don’t hurt people on purpose. You didn’t even hurt me. I broke your heart, didn’t I? I really hurt you, it was bad. And you didn’t try to get revenge.”
“Revenge wouldn’t have solved anything. I wasn’t angry, I was sad.”
“I love getting revenge,” Chunji said. “I think it feels good.”
“I know.” A good memory came to him, and even though he was still unhappy, he felt himself smile a little. “Remember when Niel made you late on purpose and you got in trouble with your manager? And we set his alarm too early and stole all of his right shoes, and he only had one shoe on and couldn’t leave, and he panicked and called Ricky begging for help? It was so funny! He was so upset, and he thought that he was running late, and Ricky said, ‘But, hyung, where would your shoes go? And you’re not late yet, we still have half an hour.’”
Chunji didn’t laugh. “You never would’ve done that to someone.”
“I helped you do it, didn’t I?”
“But you wouldn’t have come up with the idea, you don’t do things like that.”
“But it was funny! It didn’t hurt anyone.” He frowned, peering into Chunji’s eyes. “You really don’t think that you’re a good person? Why not, what happened?”
“I - - could you put some clothes on?”
Oh. He glanced down at himself. “Don’t go anywhere, this is important.” Chunji nodded. He got up. He put on his underwear and his pants, and then he found Chunji’s shirt. “I don’t want to give this to you,” he said, holding onto it as he sat down again. “I don’t want you to put it on, I don’t want you to go. I’m not ready for you to leave.” He swallowed, his grip tightening on it. “I don’t think that I ever will be.”
“I’m not ready, either.” Chunji didn’t try to take it from him. “You’ve been asking me if I’m having a hard time. I. It’s been difficult, lately. I’ve been trying to be a better person, and shit, it’s not easy.” He scratched his head and re-tucked his legs. “I’ve tried to watch what I say and control my temper and be more patient.”
Oh! He got it, now. “That’s what’s been wrong? That’s why you haven’t said any of the right things.” When Chunji gave him a startled, unhappy look, he explained, “The things you normally say. When you tease me and scold your members. I couldn’t figure out why you were so quiet. It’s not like you. But you were doing it on purpose? Why would you not want to be yourself?”
“I’m trying to be good!”
“But you weren’t being anything. It’s like talking to someone else. I’ve missed you.”
Chunji gave him a disbelieving look. “You’ve missed me being rude and sarcastic.”
“Yes. Yes, yes, I’ve missed you,” he said, cupping Chunji’s face. “Can’t you come back?”
Chunji pushed his hands away. “I’m doing it for you.”
“For me? Why? I don’t want this.” Confused, he tried to read Chunji’s expression. “You think that I want you to be someone else? I’ve never wanted you to be different.”
“You’re killing me,” Chunji mumbled, squeezing his eyes shut. “Okay, hyung, look.” He took a deep breath like he needed strength for this, and met Dongwoo’s eyes. “You love me, right?”
“Do you want to be in a relationship with me?”
Hope swelled in his chest. He was almost afraid of it. “Could I be? Could we? You wouldn’t hate it?”
Chunji stared at Dongwoo for a second, then groaned and collapsed. Rolling facedown, he groaned again, clawing at the floor.
“I said the wrong thing,” Dongwoo guessed, his stomach sinking.
“My whole life is the wrong thing,” Chunji muttered. He rolled onto his back and rubbed his face. “Okay, just. Yes or no question, let’s pretend that you just said ‘yes.’ You want a relationship with me. But what the hell kind of relationship would that be? I’m not good enough for you. You’re better off without me. I thought that if I changed, if I could be nicer, I could make it work. But you love me too much and you’re too good for me and I can’t do it. I’ll never be right for you. You deserve better than this. You deserve better than me.”
“Better off without you?” Dongwoo repeated. “I was without you already, I know everything about it. It was never better, it wasn’t better for even one day. What is this, ‘too good,’ ‘deserve better,’ has someone been lying to you or are you only lying to yourself? Where did these ideas come from?”
Chunji sat up. “You know what I’m talking about. You know that you’re a good person. You know that I’m not nice.”
“But I don’t want you to be nice. I want you to be Chunji.”
“You tried being with Chunji before, and look at how that went.”
“You’re older now. I’m learning, too, I’m trying not to hold on too tightly. I messed up tonight, it’s hard to hold back when you’re so upset, but I’ll work on it. I won’t try to make love to you again, I won’t tell you how much I love you, I won’t ask you to be my boyfriend, I’ll hold back.”
Chunji took him in with one look. “Have you been holding back this whole time?”
“I don’t want to scare you off too early. I know that you don’t want pressure, and I won’t pressure you, I won’t ask for too much.”
Chunji’s eyes narrowed slightly like he was figuring things out. “You think I’ll run away?”
“It’s all I want! I’ve been trying to tell myself that it’s too much pressure and it’ll freak me out and I’ll hate it, but that’s a load of bull. I want to be your boyfriend, it’s like all I want, I fucking hate that you won’t ask me.”
“Why didn’t you ask me?”
“You’re the hyung! You’re supposed to ask me! I thought that you didn’t like me enough, I thought that I didn’t matter to you! I’ve been freaking out thinking that you’re going to ask Xiumin hyung or something.”
“Ask Mini to be my boyfriend?” That had never occurred to him. “But we’re not in love. It’s not like it is with you. He’s my best friend, not my Chunji.”
“God, hyung.” Chunji swayed towards Dongwoo, limp and exhausted. He rested his forehead against Dongwoo’s, his hand braced on Dongwoo’s leg, and closed his eyes. “You wouldn’t have scared me off. You might have freaked me out, I might’ve acted weird about it, but it’s what I wanted.”
“You wanted me to ask you,” he said, putting everything together, fitting all of the pieces into one clear picture, smoothing out the edges. “You wanted to feel ready to say yes. That’s why you’ve been so strange. You were trying to be ready for me.”
“Yeah.” Chunji rubbed his hand over Dongwoo’s knee. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“But I don’t want you to change. Not for me.” He caressed Chunji’s nape, and when their gazes met, he got lost in Chunji’s eyes. “I love you the way you are. You’ve been so quiet lately, it wasn’t right. You have a lot of love in you, and a lot of life, and a lot of personality, and a lot of emotion, and a lot of parts, a lot of Chunji. Don’t hide that away.”
“A lot of love in me,” he repeated, like he didn’t believe it.
“You love music and you love performing and you love your members and you love Angel. And it shows, all of the time.”
“You think too much of me. If-”
“Stop it!” He was fed up now. “Stop it,” he repeated sternly, and Chunji blinked, looking chastened. “How could I love you if I didn’t know you this well? You think that I don’t understand you? I know that you’re not perfectly sweet or perfectly pure-hearted or perfectly innocent, but I don’t want you to be those things. Nobody is those things, nobody real. I’m not perfectly anything except perfectly Jang Dongwoo, and you’re perfectly Chunji, and that’s who we are. That’s all we can be in this life.” He cupped Chunji’s face in his hand. “You lose your temper sometimes. Everybody does. When you get hurt, you suffer so much, you push your pain out on the people around you and make them suffer with you. We all get hurt, we all get upset, we all handle it badly sometimes. You fight with your members. I don’t know one single idol in all of Hallyu who doesn’t fight with his members once in a while.” He could tell that Chunji was really listening, quietly hearing him, so he kept going. “Everyone has problems. Everyone has faults. I’m foolish and I cry too much and I talk nonsense. I’m frustrating and annoying even to the people I love the most. I want to be like a plant, always growing, always developing into something better and stronger, but I can only change so much. This is who I am. I’m not going to be someone else just to find love. I’m going to be me, and I’ll find someone who can love this real, flawed, human Jang Dongwoo. I don’t know if that’s you,” he admitted. “I’ve hoped for a long time that it could be you, that you could love me and want to be with me. If it’s not, I’ll just love you on my own and maybe someday someone else will come along.”
“Me, me, it’s me,” Chunji said insistently, gripping his arm. “There’s no one else, fuck everybody else, it’s me.”
Laughing, he loved how vehement Chunji was. “You sound sure.”
“I’m sure,” he said immediately.
“Will you be yourself from now on? Will you tease me and play with me and laugh like you used to? Even when we were apart for so long and I couldn’t be with you, I knew that wherever you were and whatever you were doing, you were enjoying life. I don’t know what to do if you aren’t laughing anymore.”
“Shouldn’t I keep trying to be good?” Chunji asked. “I can do it if it’s for you.”
“No. Be Chunji, one hundred percent Chunji, all of the time. If that’s happy and loving and full of life, or if that’s unhappy and tired, or if that’s sexy and playful, as long as it’s you and it’s real, that’s what matters.”
Chunji licked his lips. “What if I’m mean to you? What if I hurt you?”
He looked so worried, it pulled on Dongwoo’s heart. “I’m human. I can forgive you, and I can heal. If you hurt me, and you regret it, and you don’t want to do it again, we’ll work on it so it doesn’t happen again. If you hurt me, and you mean it, and you walk away without looking back, then it’s my problem to deal with, not yours.”
“It sounds so cruel,” Chunji whispered. He looked pained. “Hyung, I never walked away from you without looking back. I looked back all of the time. I know that it seems like I abandoned you, and I tried to, but on my side, it was more complicated than that.”
He thought that over, rubbing Chunji’s thigh. “I don’t know, I think that if it seems to the other person like you pushed them away and walked off, even if you’re still with them in your heart, if they feel abandoned, then it doesn’t make a difference, to them. It doesn’t change things from their perspective if they don’t know anything about how you feel on the inside.”
Reluctantly, Chunji nodded. Then humor flickered in his eyes. “So if we have an argument, and we stop talking for a week, I should text you to tell you that I’m still pissed off but I still like you and even though I’m too angry to see you I’m thinking about you anyway?”
Dongwoo laughed, imagining it. “That would be good! It’ll clear things up, right? Otherwise there are too many misunderstandings.”
Chunji put his shirt on and rubbed his nose. When he smiled at Dongwoo, it was a real smile, a teasing sparkle in his eyes. “I can be myself again? Does that mean that I can tell L.Joe what a whiny jerk he is?”
“You haven’t been fussing at each other?” he asked. “I wonder if he misses it. I bet that he does. Lay and I were talking about how much we like it when the two of you fuss. There’s so much friction, it’s like foreplay. Pushing each other’s buttons, begging for attention.”
Chunji looked horrified, and then he burst into laughter like he didn’t know how else to react. “Hyung! What are you talking about? Don’t say that!”
“It’s good role-play. I was you, and I hadn’t cleaned the room, and Lay was L.Joe, and he scolded me for being so messy. I think we weren’t very accurate, he spanked me and I don’t think that L.Joe spanks you, but it was really good, we got off really hard.”
“I would break his whole face if he tried to spank me,” Chunji said. “Hyung, you can’t role-play people you know!”
“It’s fun with Lay! We role-play all of the time.”
“How did you…” Looking shy and interested, Chunji grinned. “How did you have sex, who topped?”
“When we were you and L.Joe? He topped, he did it from behind. But it’s okay either way, right, since you two switch.”
“Next time, you have to top,” Chunji said. “Make sure that you nail him hard, show him who’s boss. I’m older, anyway. Who else do you two role-play?”
“We do Infinite H a lot. Does that not count, since I’m playing myself? It really gets him excited when I rub my junk in his face and call him ‘Hobaby.’”
“Does he finger himself like Hoya hyung does?”
“Sure, we have to be accurate!”
Bursting into laughter, Chunji leaned into him. It was so good to see Chunji happy that he hugged Chunji, kissing Chunji’s cheek. “You’re so dirty,” Chunji said, eyes sparkling, and kissed him on the mouth.
“Are you ready for me to ask for a relationship?” he asked. “Should I wait? If it might happen someday and it’s not crossed off the list entirely, if it’s not never, I can wait.”
“Are you sure that you want it?” Chunji asked. “I know that you’re sure, but maybe you should think about it some more. Maybe you should talk to Sunggyu hyung, he’ll give you a dozen reasons to wait.”
“Gyu hyung knows how I feel about you already. Mini said that if I ask you, I should give you something. Like Changjo has that watch. That’s not from his boyfriend, does that not count? But he has L’s ring. And Ricky has a watch, Onew hyung’s watch. Should I give you something? I want to give you something, I want to give you diamonds that sparkle as much as you sparkle, but Mini said that would only scare you off and I should go for something cheaper. But my feelings for you aren’t cheap.”
“Diamonds,” Chunji repeated, looking amazed. “Hyung, no, you can’t give me diamonds. I don’t need anything like that.”
“But I didn’t ask if you need it. I asked if you wanted it.”
“I want you,” Chunji said, taking his hand. “I was trying so hard every day to be someone else, so I could be with you. If I can be myself and still have you, that would be the best thing in the world.”
That had been a lot of good, important words. But none of those words had been, “Please, no, I don’t want you to give me diamonds.” Dongwoo could guess that he did want them, and he didn’t want to lie, so he was talking all around the point. Dongwoo wanted to give him something as pretty and bright as he was. Something expensive, to say: this is what you mean to me, this is how far I’ll go for you. “Should I wait to buy it before I ask you to be my boyfriend? But I want to ask you now. I don’t know what’ll happen tomorrow, and I don’t want to wait.”
“Is it okay to ask me?” Chunji asked. “What about all of your other boyfriends, won’t they mind?”
He smiled, intrigued. “I have other boyfriends?”
“Xiumin hyung, Lay hyung, Hoya hyung, Sunggyu hyung, Woohyun hyung, L hyung-”
“Those aren’t boyfriends! Everybody has a role to play, and sometimes roles change over time, but they’re not my boyfriends.”
“I don’t want to disrupt Infinite H.”
“I think that Chen already did!” Oh! “I don’t think that Hoya gave Chen a boyfriend gift. Should I remind him?”
“It’s not mandatory!” Chunji said, laughing. “Suho hyung set a bad example, spoiling the maknae like that. Gifts aren’t necessary. Sunggyu hyung hasn’t given Suho hyung anything, has he?”
He grinned, wiggling his eyebrows. “Gyu hyung gives Suho a lot of something. I think he gets so much of that, he doesn’t care about anything else.” While Chunji laughed, he considered the other couples they knew. He wondered if L.Joe had given Sehun something, or the other way around, but he wouldn’t ask. Chunji made jokes about L.Joe’s relationship with Sehun, but never actually gave out real information; Chunji protected L.Joe’s privacy when it came to that. “Do you think that D.O. gave Kai a boyfriend gift?”
“Their relationship doesn’t count, anyway,” Chunji said.
“No? Why not?”
“They’re in the same group. It’s like if I dated Niel.”
“Why can’t you date Niel? People are in relationships with their own members all of the time. A lot of sunbaes do it. But I don’t think that you should choose Niel. You should choose Ricky. Or C.A.P. Or L.Joe.”
“L.Joe and I are not a couple!” Chunji held Dongwoo’s hand. “You and I will be a couple. But you have to give me some time to get used to being a boyfriend. What are the rules?”
He felt a huge smile break across his face. “You’ll be my boyfriend?” He squeezed Chunji’s hand excitedly. “Mine?”
Chunji hugged him. “Yes.” It was a long, tight hug. “Yes. But don’t expect too much, I’m not good at relationships.”
“You’re great at relationships. You’re better than I am.”
“Since 2010, anyway. The thing that keeps you and L.Joe together is you. You never let him go. The thing that keeps me and Gyu hyung together is Gyu hyung. He never gives up on me.”
Looking curious, Chunji pulled away. “Is that true?”
“Don’t you know yourself?” He stroked the side of Chunji’s face, mesmerized. “My boyfriend?”
“My boyfriend,” Chunji said, and kissed him. “But what are the rules? How is our relationship going to work? We’re not going to be monogamous.”
“Is monogamy about bodies or hearts?” Dongwoo asked. “I think that if you have sex with new people, I want to know that it’s happening. I want you to tell me about it. And if you have feelings for someone, new feelings, if you develop a crush on somebody, if you’re starting a relationship with someone, I want to know about that, too.”
“I’m not going to have feelings for someone else,” Chunji said. “Not someone I don’t already have feelings for.”
“How are your feelings now? For other guys?”
“I’m close to Xiumin hyung, but you know that. And you keep telling me how much I love my members, so there’s that. There’s nothing else very interesting.”
“If we’re boyfriends, we should go out sometimes. You can call it dates. I want to see you. You don’t always have to choose me over everyone else, you can make other plans, but it’s good if we see each other.”
“We already do that.”
“Then the only thing that’s different, I think, is that I want you to confide in me. You went through a lot lately and didn’t talk to me about it. That’s no good.” His thumb rubbed over Chunji’s knuckles. “Come to me and confide in me. Tell me things. If you’re having a hard time, I can help. Even if I can’t fix everything, I want to lend you my strength, I want to be there for you.”
A second passed, and then Chunji nodded. “Okay. I’ll open up to you more. I can confide in you.”
Chunji was his boyfriend now. Chunji. “My boyfriend.” Gleeful, he grabbed Chunji with both hands, gripping Chunji’s shoulders, Chunji’s sides. Laughing, Chunji hugged him. “It’s exciting! Can I tell you how much I love you? I’ve loved you a lot, I’ve loved you for a long time. No matter how close we got, I always wanted to be closer. I wanted to know everything about you. I wanted to kiss you all of the time. I still feel that way, I’ve always felt that way. You don’t get to pick your family and you don’t get to choose your own members, but if we can choose the people in our lives, I’ll always pick you to stay close to me.”
Chunji looked into his eyes, cupping his face in both hands. “I’m in love with you. I couldn’t tell you because I was afraid of what it meant. I tried not to be in love with you for a long time. I tried to pretend that it wasn’t true. I pretended not to want it. But I can say it now. I’m in love with you.” Regret shimmered in Chunji’s eyes. “I don’t know why you’ve loved me for so long, but thank you for not giving up on me. I’m sorry that I put you through so much. I’m sorry that I’ve been so selfish and immature. I’ll try to get it right this time.”
In love with him? Chunji was in love with him? Truly in love with him, really, and saying it? “You confess so prettily,” he marveled, and Chunji chuckled helplessly, kissing him. “You love me?” Could it be real? “I didn’t think that you ever would. I used to hope for it and believe in it, but then I told myself to be satisfied with what I had, to stop expecting more.” Amazed, he searched Chunji’s face. “Did I give up on you too soon?”
Chunji hiked himself right into Dongwoo’s lap, his arms around Dongwoo, their cheeks pressed together. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I was so stubborn and weak that you had to give up on me. I haven’t treated you the way you deserve. I haven’t been the kind of person you should want to be with.”
“Stop saying bad things about yourself, stop it.” His arms around Chunji, Dongwoo was thrilled to have Chunji in his lap. “You weren’t ready. That’s okay. These things have to develop on their own. It’s not good to rush. If you’re ready now, that’s what matters.” Chunji was in love with him. It was still hitting him, in slow shockwaves, each one striking closer to the core of him, breaking through layers of hurt and disbelief. He’d wanted this to be a healing trip for Chunji, but it was healing him, too. If being with Chunji soothed old wounds, then tonight was a miracle cure. Chunji loved him.
When Chunji finally pulled away from him, he didn’t want to let go. Relaxing the circle of his arms, he caressed Chunji’s arms, gazing at Chunji, drinking Chunji in. Chunji had captured his heart long ago, in ways that no one else ever had. There was a brightness, an energy to Chunji, that entranced him. Whenever Chunji smiled, he couldn’t think about anything else.
“Ugh.” Chunji rubbed at his own face, then ran his hands through his hair and slid off of Dongwoo’s lap. “God, I feel so much better.” He smiled at Dongwoo. “We’re boyfriends now? What do you want to do, shouldn’t we celebrate?”
“Oh, I should tell Gyu hyung!” he realized. Where was his phone?
“No! Shit, no, no,” Chunji said hurriedly, laughing. “Let’s wait. You can tell him later. When you see him. Don’t distract him on his vacation.”
Why? “You think that he won’t like it?”
“I know that he won’t like it!” He wasn’t like he had been the last few weeks anymore; he wasn’t subdued. He was himself again, candid, open, his whole personality right there in his smile. Dongwoo wanted to kiss him.
Dongwoo kissed him. It felt so good that pleasure tingled the whole way down to Dongwoo’s groin. Deepening the kiss, Dongwoo wanted more, more of Chunji, all of Chunji. He pulled Chunji’s shirt off, and Chunji pushed him onto his back. They kissed deeply, and everything felt good, and everything was natural and sexy and hot. They rolled over, onto the sleeping bag that Chunji had tossed on the floor, and he was in love with Chunji, and Chunji was in love with him, and Chunji’s hand was on his cock, and the pleasure mounting in him felt like a dream. “Magic,” he breathed, kissing Chunji again. “You’re magic.”
Niel was on the couch in the dorm when the front door slammed open.
Chunji stood on the threshold, grinning.
Oh, no. Oh, no, no. “You’re back,” Niel said. Hunching his shoulders, trying to make a smaller target of himself, he carefully got up from the couch, edging towards the bedrooms.
“Yes. I’m back.” Looking gleefully happy, Chunji toed out of his shoes.
L.Joe was still on the couch. “God, close the door, what are you doing?”
Niel tried to give L.Joe a look, to tell him to save himself, but he was too busy complaining to notice. That was too bad. But it was good; it was always good to have a victim in the way, and L.Joe would keep Chunji occupied for a while.
Ricky was about to walk into the room, but he saw Niel and paused. He gave Niel a questioning look, and Niel whispered, “Chunji hyung’s back.” Ricky didn’t seem to get it, so he whispered it again, doing exaggerated things with his eyebrows. Ricky stared at him, then ran into the bedroom and closed the door.
Chunji strolled towards the couch. “How’ve you been?”
“What do you mean, how’ve I been?” L.Joe asked, looking down at his phone. “We’re together every day.”
“Didn’t do anything interesting last night?” Chunji asked, sauntering around. Niel really needed to leave, but it was too tempting to stay, to watch this unfold. L.Joe was like a tiny, young fawn who had no idea there was a wolf in the woods. “Nothing fun?”
“It was a lot of fun,” L.Joe said. “You weren’t here.”
Chunji smiled at that. Standing over L.Joe, he toyed with L.Joe’s hair. “Did you stay in? Play games?”
Looking annoyed, L.Joe batted Chunji’s hand away.
Chunji grabbed L.Joe’s wrist, and Niel took a step back, instinctively feeling the urge to be somewhere else.
Frowning, L.Joe looked up, trying to pull his arm free.
Chunji’s smile was razor-sharp.
L.Joe froze. The fawn had seen the wolf.
“Tried shaving anything?” Chunji asked. “Maybe broke something? Didn’t want to tell anyone about it?”
“I, I,” L.Joe stammered. “That, it, wait!” he exclaimed, putting a defensive arm up. “Wait, you can’t get mad about it, you can’t hit me, Dongwoo hyung-”
“Dongwoo hyung is in love with me,” Chunji said. “Dongwoo hyung likes me just the way I am. Dongwoo hyung is my boyfriend now.”
“He what?” L.Joe asked. Then he was too busy defending himself to talk; Chunji yanked him off of the sofa onto the floor, then landed on top of him, punching.
Dongwoo and Chunji were boyfriends? Chunji had a boyfriend? “Chunji hyung, congratulations,” Niel said. Then he went to his room and closed the door.
“Are they killing each other?” C.A.P. asked from in front of his computer.
“No blood. Chunji hyung and Dongwoo hyung are boyfriends now.” He sat on his bed. “That probably means that they’ll want to be monogamous, so we won’t get to have sex with Chunji hyung anymore.”
C.A.P. did a double-take. “Don’t joke about that,” he said, rubbing his chest.
“Why not? You still have the rest of us.”
“Boyfriends,” C.A.P. said thoughtfully. Lacing his fingers together, he leaned back in his chair and rested his hands on top of his head.
Hunh. Chunji and Dongwoo, Ricky and Onew, Changjo and L, L.Joe and Sehun. “Why is everybody in a relationship all of a sudden?” More important than that, “And why aren’t we? Why don’t I have a bunch of hyungs giving me fancy watches?”
“I don’t know,” C.A.P. said. “It can’t be because they’re better-looking or sexier than us.”
“No, it’s definitely not that,” he said, thinking it over. “It must be because they’re weak. They need to cling to some other guy. They need someone to pat their heads and buy them dinner and tell them how special they are. We don’t need anything like that.”
“Yeah, that sounds right,” C.A.P. said.
“I can buy myself a watch,” Niel said.
“I already have watches,” C.A.P. said.
“It’s a shame that our members are so weak.” Niel shook his head, dismayed. “Changjo’s going soft, Chunji hyung let us push him around for weeks, I can only punch Ricky in places that won’t bruise in case Onew hyung starts asking questions.”
“He bruises too easily, anyway,” C.A.P. said.
“Wuss. They’re all wusses. You wouldn’t catch me acting like that.” Feeling very self-righteous, he nodded to himself.
C.A.P. grinned at him. “At least we still have each other.”
He reached over, and they shook hands.
The door swung open and Chunji smiled at them, looking breathless and bright-eyed, a rip in the collar of his shirt. “What’re you doing in here?”
Turning traitor in an instant, C.A.P. shoved Niel in Chunji’s direction. Squawking, he stumbled right into Chunji’s arms. Bent over, clinging to Chunji for balance, he saw C.A.P. dart away and vanish down the hallway. With a sinking feeling of doom, he met Chunji’s eyes.
Chunji smiled at him. “What was that you were saying the other day, about my vocals?”
He smiled back weakly. “I didn’t mean it.” Carefully regaining his balance, he eased back, staying on his toes, never taking his eyes off of Chunji. If he got out of striking range-
“Okay,” Chunji said, still smiling, closing the door and coming farther into the room, one hand already forming a fist. “Good, I don’t mean this, either.”
Sunggyu’s mini vacation was almost over. But before he went to his own dorm, he went to EXO’s. No one was there except Suho, who was very glad to see him. It took him a while to do everything he wanted to do to Suho, but eventually he was finished, sated. He couldn’t get up, though, because Suho was sprawled on top of him, weighing him down and still moaning. Patiently, he patted Suho’s hip and waited for the moaning to stop.
It took a while.
Pushing himself up, Suho dragged a hand through his hair, then blinked down at Sunggyu. “What. How. Are you on some new vitamins?”
“Days off,” Sunggyu said. “I’m well-rested.”
They were halfway dressed when Suho got a text. “L wants to come over.”
“He can’t be here, I’m here,” Sunggyu said. “Tell him to go away.”
“You don’t want to see him?” Suho asked. “You don’t miss him?”
“Miss him, it’s only been a few days, how can I miss him already?” Besides, they’d been on the phone together for hours last night.
“What do you think about Dongwoo hyung and Chunji?” Suho asked, texting back. “I’m rooting for them, I hope that it’ll work.”
He said that like there had been some new development. “What about them?”
“They…” Voice trailing off, Suho gave him a discerning look. “Oh. Um. Just their relationship, how close they are, I think that it’ll be good if they can work things out, don’t you?” Suho started moving towards the door. “You must be hungry, there’s some-”
“Ya!” Suho froze as he advanced. “What about them?” he demanded. “Something happened? They got engaged? Dongwoo’s pregnant? What?”
“Preg-” Suho started, then shook his head. “No, it’s nothing. I don’t know anything, anyway, it’s just all second-hand, third-hand, you know how rumors are. I’m sure that if there’s anything going on, Dongwoo hyung will tell you. You should hear it all from him first, that’s the best way.” Smooth-talking and opening the door, Suho drifted into the hallway. “There’s plenty of food, I can heat something up for you, or-”
“Who told you?” He wanted to know exactly how far these rumors were spreading without him. “Dongwoo tells Xiumin tells Young Money, is it that simple? Or did it go through a dozen people first and I’ll hear about it from VIXX next? Or did Chunji tell that maknae, and that maknae told L, and L told you and not me, is that it?”
“No!” Suho looked upset about that last part. “No, Lay told me. Dongwoo hyung told him today, and he mentioned it to me. I’m sure that Dongwoo hyung wants to tell you, he’ll probably talk to you as soon as you get back. He probably wants to do it face-to-face. You’re his leader, he’d never try to keep anything from you.”
Dongwoo and Chunji. He could imagine a lot of strange scenarios, but the most obvious assumption was right in front of him. “They’re boyfriends now, is that it? Dongwoo got himself a shiny, magical boyfriend?”
Suho looked sympathetic. “They’ve been through a lot. I know that you’re worried, but it’s good news, isn’t it? This means that they’re confident about each other and they’re ready to give it a shot.”
“Neither one of them has any sense! What kind of relationship is that?”
“Dongwoo hyung has a lot of wisdom and a lot of heart. You only see him from your perspective, as his leader and his hyung, someone who has to be responsible for him. For us, he’s our hyung.”
“A hyung you take lightly,” Sunggyu said. “Chunji’s going to take him lightly, too, and then what? Then I have to pick up the pieces again?”
“They hurt each other years ago,” Suho said. “You have to give people a chance to change. Maybe it’ll be different now.”
Sunggyu shook his head, not liking this at all. Some of his members were resilient, but some of them were too vulnerable, too easily wounded. And Dongwoo didn’t have any natural defenses, didn’t have any tough layers built up, no walls, no shell. “He’s going to get hurt.”
“You might hurt me,” Suho said. “Does that mean that we shouldn’t try to be together, anyway?”
Bristling, Sunggyu scowled at him. “Why do you care, it doesn’t matter to you if they’re a couple or not.”
“Chunji’s precious to me.” Sunggyu rolled his eyes; Suho had to try to adopt everybody, these days, it was all nonsense. “Things haven’t always been easy for him-”
“Just him? Who’s ever had things easy all of the time?” Sunggyu demanded. “Besides you.”
Suho glared at him. An extra second passed. “He’s precious to me,” Suho said again. “Things haven’t always been easy for him, and who’s he had to guide him through it? C.A.P.’s barely older than he is, and has even younger members to look out for. Who comforts him? Who buys him dinner and gives him strength and pets his hair when he can’t sleep at night?”
“Nobody pets my hair.”
“Dongwoo hyung loves him,” Suho continued, like he hadn’t said anything. “Really loves him a lot, I can tell. Let them have that for a while. Let them just love each other. Dongwoo hyung has a big heart and a lot of love to share. It’ll be good for Chunji to have someone he can turn to, someone who’s always good to him no matter what.”
“What about Dongwoo?” Sunggyu asked. “Is it good for him, too?”
“Maybe it’ll be good for him to have someone to take care of,” Suho said. “Someone he feels responsible for.”
Like owning a cat. Practicing responsibility. Chunji was pretty enough to hold his attention and outspoken enough to let him know if he became neglectful. He’d have to learn to plan ahead and manage his time and prepare for dates. He wouldn’t have his leader to keep him on track or his manager to call him up or Hoya to remind him of things. Chunji would be solely his responsibility, and he’d have to figure out how to make it work. And it would matter enough to him that he’d put the effort in, because Chunji was too important to him.
He might still lose his phone. But he’d damn sure go back and find it.
Sunggyu smiled. “Lots of new couples lately. We’ve started a trend.”
“I don’t think that we started it,” Suho said.
“Of course we did, two leaders, what’s more important than that? Everyone’s just following our example.” He stroked Suho’s hair and kissed the side of Suho’s head. “Do you need me to pet your hair? I don’t buy you dinner often enough?”
“You never buy me dinner.”
“I buy sometimes!”
“You’ve never bought me dinner.”
“I’m hyung! Of course I pay!”
“You’ve never bought me dinner.”
“Are you a robot?” he demanded. “Why are you only saying the same things over and over?”
“Because you’ve never bought me dinner!” Suho exclaimed, laughing.
That didn’t sound right. Was it true? Embarrassed, he felt kind of guilty about it. “You don’t need me to pay for you. When will we see each other again?” He moved towards the table by the front door where he’d left his phone. “We’ll go to dinner. We’ll go shopping. I’ll pay for everything.”
“You don’t have to buy me things.”
“No, you’re calling me a bad boyfriend, I have to prove myself.”
“I’ve never called you that!”
“I don’t pet you enough either, is that it?” Stroking Suho’s hair with one hand, he pulled up his calendar on his phone. “When can we go out, Tuesday? Tuesday’s good? I’ll take you to dinner. I’ll buy all kinds of nice things. You’ll think it’s your birthday.”
Suho kept moving closer and closer, inching nearer, so he kept petting. “Tuesday’s good, we can meet on Tuesday. But we don’t have to go to dinner, you don’t have to prove anything.”
“Maybe I do.” He kissed the other side of Suho’s head, and then Suho’s mouth. “It’s hard, being the leader,” he said quietly, kissing Suho’s cheek. “You look out for your members, but who looks out for you?”
“I was talking about Chunji, not myself,” Suho mumbled, making little motions like he was about to pull away but not actually going anywhere. “I only meant, it’s because he’s so young, and he debuted so early. I didn’t mean myself, I’m fine. I don’t need - - I don’t need anyone to comfort me.”
“Okay.” Sunggyu kissed him again, still stroking his hair. “I won’t do it for you, then, I’ll do it for me, and you’ll just tolerate it to humor me, right? I like having a pretty boyfriend to take care of.”
“I like having a boyfriend, too,” Suho said, and his voice got kind of dreamy at the end.
“Pretty,” Sunggyu said.
Suho came out of it, meeting his eyes. “Hmm?”
“Pretty,” Sunggyu repeated. “I said that I like having a pretty boyfriend, and you said that you like having a boyfriend, too.”
“I do,” Suho said.
“But not a pretty one.”
Suho smiled at him, giving him a very condescending pat on the arm. “You’re very good-looking, hyung, you know that.”
“I know that,” he agreed. “But do you know that? It seems like you don’t know that. I’m very handsome!”
“Yes, you are, you are, you’re very handsome,” Suho said, trying not to laugh.
“Your perspective’s off, because you grew up looking at this all of the time,” he said, gesturing to Suho’s face. “You’d appreciate how handsome I am more if you’d grown up looking normal.”
“I’m normal!” Suho objected.
“That is not a normal-looking face!”
“This is a very normal face!”
“Why are you fussing at me?” he demanded. “Aren’t you making me dinner?”
“I’m not making you anything until you admit that my face is normal!”
Hey! “Who are you to make ultimatums?”
“I’m your dongsaeng, and I’m not making dinner or anything else,” Suho said, crossing his arms over his chest. “You should buy me dinner.”
“I’m buying on Tuesday! I have to buy everything, every day?”
“Yes.” Suho lifted his chin, trying very hard to look chic. “I’m very expensive.”
“What is this?” Sunggyu asked. “You think that just because you’re so handsome and sexy, I’ll be so in love with you that I’ll do anything you want?”
It looked like a lot of work for Suho to maintain his cool expression; he kept shifting his weight, trying to keep laughter in. “Yes.”
“All right,” Sunggyu said, picking up the wallet he’d left by his phone. “Okay, here’s my bank card, you can just keep that. Do you want two, is that enough? I’ll-”
Suho burst into laughter. Waving away the cards Sunggyu tried to hand him, he shook his head. “No, no! I don’t want any of it, it’s okay, no.”
“Just one for credit, and one for ATMs,” Sunggyu insisted, blustering, digging through his wallet, pushing the joke just to keep Suho laughing.
“No! It’s okay, don’t, don’t.”
“I’ll just leave them here for you, in case,” Sunggyu decided, setting them on the table.
“No! Put them back,” Suho said, shoving them back in his wallet. “I don’t need this from you, we don’t have that kind of relationship.”
“I’m a good boyfriend,” he insisted.
“You’re the best boyfriend I’ve ever had.”
“I’m the only boyfriend you’ve ever had,” he pointed out.
“You’re still the best. If you answer my calls and let me come to see you and give me advice even when I don’t want to hear it, that’s all I need.”
“And a little petting sometimes,” Sunggyu guessed, putting an arm around him. He was still shirtless, so Sunggyu’s arm was on bare skin, and that made him self-conscious, but they were alone in the dorm, and he moved up close to Sunggyu’s body, running a hand over Sunggyu’s chest. “And a little kissing. And a little sex.”
“I don’t mind it,” Suho admitted.
“Ah, you don’t mind it,” Sunggyu said, nodding. They smiled at each other, and Sunggyu kissed him lightly. “No bank cards, then. Just IOUs for dates and kisses.”
Suho smiled at him like he’d said something brilliant, stole a kiss, blushed red, and pulled away. “Food. Dinner.” Still blushing and beaming with happiness, Suho backed towards the bedroom. “I’ll get my clothes, shirt, and then dinner, there’s some in the kitchen, food, stuff.”
“Or we could make out first,” Sunggyu suggested.
Suho grabbed at the doorjamb, leaning out again. “Now?” he asked breathlessly.
“I’m still on vacation, I want to enjoy myself,” Sunggyu decided. “We’ll eat later.”
“Right,” Suho said, pulling him into the room and closing the door. He kissed Suho, and Suho moaned, leaning back against the door and tugging him close. “Later, later.”
Dongwoo was in bed with Hoya when Sunggyu came back from vacation. He was moaning and feeling amazing and squirming around and getting his cock sucked, and all of a sudden Sunggyu was in the doorway, complaining. “I come back and no one cares? You haven’t seen me at all and now I’m home and it doesn’t matter? No one wants to greet me?”
“Hi,” Hoya mumbled, waving carelessly without looking up.
“Hyung, hi.” Dongwoo sat up, felt weak, and groaned, falling back and thrusting into Hoya’s mouth. “Oh, that’s good. Hi, hyung.”
“Oh, are you here?” Woohyun asked, lazily getting up from the other bed.
“Don’t pretend to care,” Sunggyu said. “Where are my good dongsaengs, where’s my maknae, where’s my visual, they care about me.”
“L’s out with Changjo, and Sungjong’s out with Chanyeol,” Woohyun said.
“Where’s Sungyeol, then, he’s a good dongsaeng, he’d greet me if he were here, he’d hug me at the door and ask about my trip.”
“I think he’s asleep already.”
“You’re all ungrateful,” Sunggyu accused.
Woohyun chuckled. “Hi, hyung, how was your trip?”
“You don’t care.”
“Ah, yeah, I don’t,” Woohyun said lazily, wandering away.
Sunggyu grabbed his arm, dragging him back, and he laughed and kissed Sunggyu, and then they were making out against Dongwoo’s desk. Woohyun started moaning, making loud, aroused sounds, filling the air with sex and pleasure, and Dongwoo came, shaking and jetting hard in Hoya’s mouth, feeling like Woohyun was singing him to orgasm.
It wasn’t until later that he remembered to tell Sunggyu about his new boyfriend, and then Sunggyu was the one who brought it up first. He was in the kitchen when Sunggyu came in and said, “Congratulations on your new kitty.”
“Didn’t you adopt a new cat while I was out of town?”
He couldn’t figure out what Sunggyu was talking about, and then he laughed. “Cat! You mean my Chunji? He’s my boyfriend now.” He hesitated, unsure. “Should I tell you that, or should I ask you? Is it okay? Do I need permission, do I have permission?”
“It’s good, it’s okay.” Sunggyu kissed his forehead and looked into his eyes. “Take good care of him. He’ll need a lot of attention and a lot of petting. And if it gets hard for you, you can talk to me about it.”
“I can talk to you about anything.”
Sunggyu kissed him on the mouth. “You can.”
L walked in and smiled. “You’re back.”
“This one cares,” Sunggyu said, hugging L.
“I always care.” L gazed into Sunggyu’s eyes, smiling fondly.
“What’s a good restaurant? Someplace I can take Young Money on a date.”
“Someplace he takes me and Changjo?” L asked. “Oh, no, you want that place his parents go for their anniversary. I’ll ask Changjo, he’ll remember what it was.”
“Good,” Sunggyu said, nodding. “Good, that’s good, he’ll like that, it’ll mean a lot to him. Can I borrow something from your wallet?”
L laughed. “No.”
“You always pay for Changjo, don’t you? Do you buy him dinner and things?”
“Sure. Unless Suho hyung’s there, and he pays for everything. When it’s just us, I always pay.”
“That maknae’s not very expensive, though.”
“He’s cheap. He never uses the card I gave him, he keeps it locked in his safe.”
Sunggyu coughed like he was choking, then grabbed L’s arm. “What?!”
L laughed, looking puzzled and uneasy. “The card I gave him. He’s never used it for anything. It’s in his safe. I told him that he could buy stuff with it, that’s what I gave it to him for, but he just likes to have it. He really likes it, it means a lot to him. What?” L asked when Sunggyu wouldn’t stop staring at him.
“Should I give Chunji a card?” Dongwoo asked. Was that what boyfriends did? He didn’t think that Chunji needed it, since Chunji already had plenty of money. But he didn’t want to be neglectful if it was something that Chunji would expect. And he didn’t mind. He wondered what Chunji would buy with it.
“Why did you give that maknae - - Hoya! Woohyun! Here, in here, right now!” Sunggyu shouted. “What was it, a credit card, a bank card, what?!”
“Credit,” L said.
Woohyun and Hoya came into the room, Woohyun looking concerned, Hoya looking sleepy. “Hyung?” Woohyun asked, while Hoya rubbed at his face and yawned.
“What have you given Chen?” Sunggyu demanded. “Money? Credit cards? Bank accounts?”
“Bank accounts?” Hoya asked, looking surprised, more awake now. “No, I - - why would I give Chen a credit card?”
“Doesn’t Chen have his own credit cards?” Woohyun asked.
“What about Key, what have you given him?” Sunggyu demanded.
“I gave Changjo a credit card,” L explained. “I guess Sunggyu hyung doesn’t think that I should have.”
“You shouldn’t have!” Sunggyu shouted. “What about Key?”
“Hyung, he’s in Shinee,” Woohyun said. “He gives me credit cards.”
Surprised, Dongwoo burst into laughter. Sunggyu did a double-take and demanded, “What?!”
“I have three,” Woohyun said. “Do you want to see them?”
“Yes,” Hoya said. “I think that I’d like to see that, yeah.”
“What is wrong with everybody?!” Sunggyu demanded.
“He gave me one a long time ago, and then he opened up a bank account for me, and then he gave me another credit card last year,” Woohyun said.
“How much credit?” L asked.
“The new card?” Woohyun asked. “Unlimited.”
“What do you do with it?” Dongwoo asked, curious.
“Buy him presents.”
“Then isn’t he buying himself presents?” Hoya asked.
Woohyun smiled. “He likes presents.”
That seemed funny, but it made sense in their relationship. It was probably sexy for Key, that Woohyun used his money.
“L-ah.” Sunggyu gripped L’s shoulders, staring into his face. “That maknae has your credit card. He can do anything with it that he wants. He can post the number on-line or give it to your antis. He can buy a car. He can get upset with you and buy a lot of nasty things and ruin your reputation. He can ruin your finances. He can ruin your life. You love him and you trust him and he makes your cock hard, but you can’t be like this. You have to take it back.”
L got a hurt, stubborn look. “He wouldn’t do that to me.”
“If you don’t get it back from him, I will,” Sunggyu said. “You, you’re giving all of that shit back,” he told Woohyun. “You, are you being sensible?”
“Yes,” Hoya said.
“Good, stay that way, you’re my favorite member from now on.” He squeezed Dongwoo’s shoulder. “Don’t be like these fools. Set a good example. Don’t be so extravagant. No one needs access to your money, but you. Spoil your new kitty by loving him a lot and paying attention to him and being kind to him, not with expensive jewelry and things.”
“What about diamonds, I want to give him diamonds.”
“No diamonds!” Sunggyu shouted. “Does C.A.P. know that maknae has your credit card?”
“I don’t know,” L muttered, looking unhappy.
“Does Onew know that Key’s giving you these things?”
“I don’t know,” Woohyun admitted.
“Why are you all like this?” Sunggyu demanded. “Where do you get these ideas? Give your money to homeless kids if you’re so desperate to give it away, not to spoiled idols! Changjo was earning his own money before he hit puberty, he doesn’t need your credit cards! Chunji’s been an idol as long as you have, he doesn’t need you to buy him diamonds! Everybody go to your room and reflect! I’m tired of all of you!”
Looking sullen and wounded, gaze on the floor, L headed for the door.
“But,” Dongwoo said. “But we all spend money on the people we love. Don’t we? We give money to our families and we help out our parents, right? We buy things for each other, we take care of each other. I have bank accounts for family, and Hoya gives Sungjong his card all of the time. L’s always buying things for Sungyeol. If I love Chunji, why is that different? Inspirit loves me and buys me things, and sometimes it’s way too much and it’s too expensive and it’s too extravagant, but I know that it comes from a place of love, I know that they mean well, I know that it’s because they care. It isn’t wrong to be generous with each other. It isn’t wrong to give to the people you love. Changjo doesn’t even use L’s money, he just likes having the card, he likes what it means. Love and trust and security, good things, precious things from L’s heart. Woohyun’s buying presents for Key, it isn’t about the money, it’s never about the money, it’s about trusting someone and giving to him and showing how much you care. I love Chunji, but I can’t give him my physical heart out of my chest, so I want to give him something else, something tangible, something he can look at. Something that shines as brightly as he does.”
When Suho opened the door, Sunggyu was more dressed up than Suho had ever seen him outside of official appearances. And he was carrying a small duffel bag. “Where are we going? Am I dressed for it?” He looked so handsome, Suho’s heart was fluttering. Did they have to go out? Suho wanted to stay in to admire him. And kiss him.
“You look good, you always look good,” Sunggyu said.
In the kitchen, Sehun exclaimed, “No, no, what are you doing!”
“Can I leave this in your room?” Sunggyu asked.
“Ah! Ah! Off, turn it off!” Baekhyun shouted.
“Yes, yeah, go ahead,” Suho said. “I’ll be right back.”
When he’d restored order in the kitchen, and the kids were cleaning up their mess while they found new ways to blame each other, he went back. Sunggyu was coming out of his bedroom. “Need to call an ambulance?” Sunggyu asked.
“No, they’re fine.” He smiled at Sunggyu, really looking forward to this, wanting to take Sunggyu’s hand. “Ready to go?”
Sunggyu squeezed his hand and kissed him on the cheek. “Ready.”
Changjo liked having L in his bed. Naked and gorgeous and spread out all over his bed, totally relaxed, not going anywhere. He ran his hand over L’s back, looking for flaws. He could recognize Sungjong’s scratch marks on sight by now; they were always longer than the rest, and in the same places, right under L’s shoulder blades and then another set lower down. There were fading love bites, too, and he wondered who’d left them this time. “Were your hyungs chewing on you again?” L left love bites on him all of the time; he loved it so much.
“Constantly.” L reached back for him, pulling him down until they were nose-to-nose on the pillow. L really liked looking at him. He liked looking, too. He drummed his fingers on L’s forehead until L batted his hand away. He ran his hand over L’s chest instead, walking his fingers up and down L’s pecs. He drew lazy circles around L’s navel. Gazing into his eyes like something was happening in there, interested and attentive like someone watching a movie, L rubbed his back. “Does C.A.P. know about my credit card?”
That Changjo had it? “No.” Ricky knew. He’d waited at first, to see if L would take it back, but when time had passed and L’s mind hadn’t changed, he’d showed it to Ricky. They’d talked about all of the things he could buy with it, and then he’d put it back, all locked up and safe.
“You have to tell him.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Have to?”
L nodded. “If you don’t tell him, I have to, or Sunggyu hyung will do it.”
He raised his head from the pillow. “C-”
L covered his mouth with one hand, shoving his head back down. “Not now!”
He licked L’s hand. L laughed and tried to smother him, covering his mouth and nose with both hands, and he just kept licking. L wrestled him onto his back, and he stole a kiss, and he loved it when L laughed like this, so happy, so carefree.
He couldn’t tell C.A.P. now, because L had issues about privacy. It was like dating Suho, only having sex with the door shut. But he’d tell C.A.P. when they got up. “Sunggyu hyung didn’t know about the card until now?” He’d wondered about that. He’d been pretty sure that Sunggyu didn’t know, or else L never would have given it to him. He hadn’t wanted to ask, though, because it might make L reconsider.
“I brought it up, I wasn’t thinking.” L pawed at his own hair for a second, looking uncomfortable, then flopped down beside Changjo again. “He hated it, at first. But the other hyungs talked him into it.”
“You can’t have it back.”
“I don’t want it back.”
“Good, because you can’t have it back.”
L laughed, rolling onto his side and rubbing Changjo’s chest. “I don’t want it back.”
Good. L kissed his pecs, and he relaxed, toying with L’s hair. “What if C.A.P. hyung makes me give it back?”
L became still for a minute, then frowned. “He doesn’t have enough weaknesses.”
“I know, I hate it.”
“I wish that we could give him some,” L said to himself, eyes sliding right and then left.
“There’s his family, but we can’t use that.”
“What does he care about besides Teen Top?”
“It would be easier if he had a boyfriend.”
“Not you,” Changjo said. C.A.P. couldn’t have L.
“What?” L looked confused for a second, then dismissive. “No, not me.”
“But if he didn’t want you, when you were so close, he’s not suddenly going to fall for somebody else. The only person I think he’d really have those feelings for would be Niel or Chunji, and that’s just gross. And Chunji’s taken anyway.”
“No, someone new, someone outside of the group. A real weakness.”
It was a fun puzzle. Changjo sat up, considering it. “Someone we could use to jerk him around?” When L nodded, he grinned. “Are you doing this so we can manipulate him to get what we want, or so you can get revenge for before?”
“The first,” L said. He shrugged a little, one corner of his mouth turning up. “Both.”
Changjo laughed, liking this. “I don’t think it’ll be easy. He’s very lazy and very boring. And he gets so much ass so easily, he isn’t interested in picking up new guys.”
“Someone older,” L said to himself. “Someone younger. Same age?”
“We’d either have to dig around really hard to convince him to fall for someone he already knows. Or we’d have to come up with someone he’s never even looked at before.”
“Too bad Chen’s taken. That might’ve worked out.”
“We could break them up.”
L gave him a scolding look.
“What, we have to consider all of the options.”
“What’s C.A.P.’s type?”
“Not you?” he guessed, and L laughed. “Insatiable bottoms? Wait, that’s you, though.”
L rolled his eyes. “But maybe that’s too obvious. Maybe it should be someone completely different.”
“A bored top?” He thought about it. “It has to be someone who will really jerk him around. Someone we can use, someone we can hold over him. Someone you and I can get to do what we want.”
“Who do you have that kind of influence over?”
Changjo grinned. “I know what we can do.”
Digging in his dresser for clean socks, Suho found a black leather notebook. It looked like a diary. What was this, why were his members leaving their things in his sock drawer? Exasperated, he opened it to see whose it was.
At first, he wasn’t sure about the handwriting. And what he read didn’t make sense. And then he saw, “Money-ah,” in English, and he did a double-take. Wondering, he flipped to the first page.
Ah, Young Money, you want hyung to give you advice? Your life is already going so well, what can hyung say to you? You’re already strong, and you’re smart, and you’re responsible, and all of the good things that a man should be. You aren’t always sensible, but that’s okay, it’s okay to be silly sometimes.
Can I tell you to stop being so cautious, when I yell at everyone else to be more careful? But it’s okay to relax, Money-ah, it’s okay to let go sometimes. Especially when it comes to your members, who love you. Especially with me, you can let go when you’re with me. Hyung will catch you if you fall.
You spoil that maknae too much. It’s embarrassing. And what about you and L? Nobody notices that you’re dating me, because it seems like you already have two boyfriends. Should I be grateful that I can get away with it?
I’ll tell you the same things that I’d tell any idol. Be good to your fans. Talk to them. Always be grateful. And you need to work on your variety skills, you’re too awkward! You can’t be that way in public! Is that your concept?
It went on that way. Page after page, Sunggyu soothed him and instructed him, praised him and scolded him. It was a whole book of advice, written out just for him. He sat on the edge of his bed and read, devouring every word, marveling. Sunggyu gave him advice on being an idol, on being a leader, on dealing with the company, on relationships, on songwriting, on performing, on everything. There were long paragraphs of flattery, telling him how handsome he was, going on and on, making him blush, and then finishing with an abrupt, “But why do you make those faces onstage?!” and cracking him up.
It was amazing. It was a treasure trove of Sunggyu, of personality and advice. A portable Sunggyu. A hyung in a book. It was a fantastic gift. He couldn’t believe that Sunggyu had gone to so much trouble for him. Sunggyu’s advice, even - - especially - - when he hadn’t asked for it and didn’t want to hear it, had always been important to him, had always been an integral part of their relationship, and now he’d always have it with him.
He hadn’t even seen Sunggyu with this journal. How - - the duffel bag! Sunggyu must have smuggled it in that way, and snuck it into his drawer when he wasn’t looking. He wished that Sunggyu had given it to him face-to-face! But he would’ve made a big deal over it, and Sunggyu would’ve been embarrassed. He smiled, running his hand over the cover. He’d thank Sunggyu in person, on their next date. He’d gush a lot and be full of gratitude and praise, and see how fast he could make Sunggyu blush.
After dinner, Chen and Hoya moved to the couch. Smooth R&B was playing, the candles were still lit, and Chen was floating on happiness and pleasure. Luxuriating in Hoya’s kisses, he sank back, moaning when Hoya’s hand slid under his shirt. Feeling something poke him in the back, he reached back, fishing it out from behind a throw pillow. Not wanting to toss it aside carelessly in case it might break or something, he peeked.
It was a box. In sleek purple wrapping paper. With a bow and everything.
Laughing, surprised, he held it up. “Is this yours?”
“What, just because it’s purple, it has to be mine?” Hoya asked, rubbing his side and kissing his jaw. “Yeah, it’s mine. Yours, it’s yours.”
Delighted, he smiled. “You got me a present?” Was this a special day? “It’s not my birthday. Or yours. Or our anniversary.”
“Anniversary? If we’ve been dating for a year already, I’ve miscalculated something.” Getting off of him, Hoya sat back.
He sat up, too, admiring his gift. “It looks nice. Thank you.” Curious, he peeled off the paper. The logo on the case made him gasp. “What is this?!”
“You said that you wanted them, so I thought, you know, I want you to have the things that you want, so.” Voice trailing off, Hoya eyed him cautiously, hopefully.
Hurriedly snatching the case open, he was so excited, he shouted when he saw what was in there. In-ear monitors! Two sets! Two sets of gorgeous, new in-ear monitors! “You got them for me?!”
“You said that you didn’t know which kind would be better, so I got both.”
“This is too much! Hyung!” Thrilled, he threw his arms around Hoya. Grunting, Hoya caught him, and they fell back against the armrest together. “I can’t believe you! They’re perfect, this is exactly what I wanted! Chanyeol’s going to be so jealous, he’s been talking about these for weeks!” They were new, top-of-the-line, just released; he didn’t even know anyone who had them yet. He and his members had been drooling over them and talking about calling the reps and planning when would be a good time to try them out, but they hadn’t actually done anything about it. And now he had them! Staying on top of Hoya, he admired his new gift. One set was decorated with red roses on a gold background, and one set had pink roses on a frosty silver background. Roses. For romance. “You got me roses.” The longer he stared, the more it meant to him. Hoya had given him roses. “Hyung, they’re beautiful.” Moved, he laughed at himself. “You should give presents more often, this is amazing.”
“You’re amazing,” Hoya said, and smiled. “You like them? I hope they’re good.”
“They’re perfect!” He couldn’t believe it. “Thank you, thank you.” Clutching the case to his chest, he kissed Hoya, peppering enthusiastic kisses across Hoya’s face. “You’re the best boyfriend ever.” He dropped a last kiss on Hoya’s mouth and smiled, gazing into Hoya’s eyes. “You didn’t have to do this. But I’m really, really glad that you did.” He kissed Hoya again, unable to resist. “Mmm. I love you so much. Drop a lot of hints about things you want, so I can give you presents, too.”
“Drop hints? That’s so tacky,” Hoya said, stroking his side. “Ah.” Hoya faked a stretch. “Did I mention how difficult this week has been? Such a long week. So tired. I should really go to bed. Go to bed early. Now’s good, do you want to go to bed now?”
Baekhyun found a jewelry box on his bed. Wondering, he opened it. Damn. There was a really nice ring inside. Silver with segments of a really pretty blue, polished stone in the band. He wanted to keep it, but it wasn’t his. Unless sasaengs had snuck into the dorm again, and someone had left it for him? “What’s this?” he asked when Chen walked in.
“Isn’t it yours?” Chen asked.
“Suho hyung found it on the floor. It’s not mine.”
“What, just on the floor?”
“With his clothes.” Chen gestured to Suho Mountain, the pile of clothes heaped in the corner at all times no matter how much laundry they did or how much they complained. “It isn’t a fan gift?”
“Not mine.” He went out into the hallway, calling, “Hey, kids!”
“What?” Chanyeol called. D.O. came from one direction, looking mildly bored; Kai came from another direction, hitching up his pants; Sehun followed, hair mussed, mouth red.
“Is this yours?” He showed them the ring.
No one recognized it. No one knew where it had come from. Since it had been in Suho’s clothes, they decided that it had to be Suho’s. A fan gift he’d forgotten about? Baekhyun tracked him down in the kitchen, where he was padding around trying to find clean spoons. “This isn’t mine. It has to be yours.”
“I’ve never seen it. Are you sure that it isn’t yours? You kids can’t be so careless with your things, leaving them just anywhere.”
Baekhyun laughed, disbelieving. “Who’s careless with his things? That’s your pile of clothes! How could my stuff get lost in there? It must be yours. Unless a sasaeng broke in and hid it there, but why hide it away, why not just give it to you?”
Suho opened his mouth to argue, then froze. His eyes went wide, and then he said, “Oh. Oh! Oh!”
“Oh oh oh what?” Baekhyun asked, laughing at him. “Oh, no? Oh, god? Oh Sehun? What?”
“I think I know where it came from.” Turning red, Suho took the box from him, snapping it shut. “I’ll, um, I’ll go put this away.”
“Is it yours? You suddenly remember buying it?”
“It, uh, it’s mine. Mine,” Suho said, backing out of the room. “If you, um, if you see anything else new in our room, if you notice anything else, tell me.” And then he disappeared.
Dongwoo took Xiumin with him to buy his boyfriend gift for Chunji. Xiumin said that he should buy Chunji a cockring, but he was pretty sure that Sunggyu and C.A.P. would both hate that idea.
In the store, he found two things that he really liked. He couldn’t decide which one to get, so he bought both. Then he bought things for Sunggyu, too, and for Xiumin.
He wanted to give it to Chunji immediately, but their schedules didn’t coordinate, so he had to wait. He spent a couple of days with the two jewelry boxes on his desk; he patted them whenever he walked past them, happy with them, sometimes stopping just to admire them. Sungjong complained that he was being too nice to random idols from other teams when he never gave Sungjong such expensive things. Sungyeol asked Sungjong, “You want jewelry? How about a nice pearl necklace, that’d look good.” Sungjong got all horny and indignant, so Dongwoo and Sungyeol and Woohyun and L wrestled his shirt off and held him down and came all over his chest and his neck, and he loved it, and he didn’t complain about gifts anymore.
Eventually, Dongwoo got too impatient, so he went over to see Chunji during Teen Top’s practice. He forgot to ask for permission until he was already halfway there, but when he did call, C.A.P. said that it would be okay if he was quick.
His pants didn’t have any pockets, but he couldn’t just walk around carrying jewelry boxes, he had to be discreet. So he wrapped the boxes up in his jacket and carried them carefully like that.
Chunji was happy to see him, hugging him and teasing him and sparkling all over. He kissed up beads of sweat from Chunji’s neck and groped Chunji’s ass. “Okay, my boyfriend’s here,” Chunji announced. “You can all take a break now, my boyfriend’s here to see me.”
“Wait, you have a boyfriend?” Niel asked. “This is news to me, I’m shocked. You never said anything about it.”
“You know, other people have boyfriends, too,” Ricky said.
“Handsome boyfriends,” Changjo said. “Some of us have very handsome boyfriends.”
“Too bad L hyung doesn’t,” L.Joe said.
“Take five,” C.A.P. said.
“Okay, we’ll all get lost and give Chunji hyung and boyfriend some privacy,” Changjo said.
They didn’t leave. They only came closer, all five of them grouping up, standing around Chunji and Dongwoo in a ragged circle. Laughing, Dongwoo waited for them to go away, but they didn’t.
“Get out,” Chunji said, shoving Niel away.
Dongwoo didn’t mind. It was nice for members to share and care about each other’s lives. “I got something for you.” He unfolded his jacket, finding the boxes. “A boyfriend gift.”
“For me?” Chunji laughed, looking embarrassed. “I didn’t get you anything.”
“Is it the hyung’s responsibility? I don’t need anything else, I have you.”
Chunji took the first box, holding onto it for a minute. He started to crack it open, then snapped it shut again and laughed. “This is freaking me out. It isn’t a watch that costs as much as a house, is it?”
“No, not a watch.”
Looking relieved, Chunji opened the box. He snapped it shut again, opened it, closed it on his finger, and burst into laughter. “Holy shit, are we engaged now?”
“I hope not! I’m not ready for marriage.”
“What is it, what?” L.Joe asked.
“Diamonds,” Chunji said, showing them the earrings. “Diamonds! Like I’m his wife!”
“You’d make a terrible wife,” Ricky said.
“Wow, so shiny,” Changjo said.
“Don’t lose them,” C.A.P. said.
“I won’t lose them!” Laughing, Chunji clutched the box to his chest. “What if I lose them?”
“I can buy more,” Dongwoo said. “Can I see them on you?” He wanted to see how they looked. He’d wanted something shiny and bright, to light up along with Chunji’s eyes and Chunji’s smile.
“God, you can’t just buy some guy diamond earrings.” Chunji put them on, then smiled self-consciously, fixing his hair. “They look great, right? I’m even better-looking now.”
They were perfect. “Perfect, it’s perfect,” Dongwoo said. Cupping Chunji’s face in both hands, he stared, drinking Chunji in. This was exactly right. This was exactly what he’d pictured, exactly what he’d wanted. They caught the light perfectly, creating a sparkle that highlighted the happy brilliance of Chunji’s personality. He loved it.
“Fuck,” Changjo said. Crossing his arms over his chest, he shifted his weight. Chunji glanced at him, and he said, “No, it’s just. They match the stars in your eyes.”
They did. They matched exactly. “I love this,” Dongwoo said, and kissed him. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Chunji admitted, smiling and kissing him back.
“Well, that’s just disgusting,” Niel said.
Chunji kicked Niel and kissed Dongwoo again. “What’s this?” he asked, picking up the second box, longer than the first. “Diamond bracelet?”
“Anal beads?” C.A.P. asked.
“Oh, please, please, please let it be anal beads,” Ricky said.
“It’s an ankle bracelet,” Dongwoo said. “I don’t think that you should put it in your ass, that wouldn’t be safe.”
Chunji opened the box and stared at it. “Shit.” He lifted the bracelet, and it caught the light, lighting up like a rainbow. The stones were all different colors, gleaming and brilliant, contrasting and complementing each other, like all of the different sides of Chunji’s personality, all beautiful, all fascinating.
“Wow,” Ricky said.
“Wow,” Niel said.
“Wow,” C.A.P. agreed.
“You should put it on him,” Changjo advised.
Yes, he wanted to. Taking the bracelet, he crouched down. He clasped it around Chunji’s ankle. Wanting a better look, he lifted Chunji’s heel, resting Chunji’s toes on his knee. Admiring the sight, he loved it. The gemstones looked vivid and colorful against Chunji’s skin. So pretty and so sexy around Chunji’s ankle. Cupping Chunji’s heel again, he kissed Chunji’s ankle. He felt fantastic. He wanted to decorate Chunji some more. “Let’s go shopping. I want to buy you more things.”
Chunji tried to lean down, hopped out of his hold, and squatted in front of him. “Hyung, I don’t know what to say.” The happiness on Chunji’s face made his heart full. “You’re so good to me all of the time, you treat me so well, I didn’t think that you were going to get better! You said, I mean, you said that you wanted to give me diamonds, but I didn’t think that you really would! And not this nice!”
“Do you like them?” That was all that mattered. If Chunji was happy, then he was happy. He smiled, wrapping his arms around Chunji’s waist. “You look like you like them.”
“They’re great,” Chunji said. Hugging him, Chunji fit perfectly into his arms. “They’re the best, hyung, I love them. I almost love them as much as I love you.”
Chunji was in love with him. It felt like a miracle. “If you wear the bracelet, can you tell me you have it on? I want to picture it. I want to imagine it around your ankle while you’re dancing. Or while you’re walking around, or asleep at the dorm. Or sparkling against your skin while you’re on your back with your legs in the air while C.A.P.’s balls-deep inside you.” So pretty, so sexy, so bright, just like his Chunji.
Still hugging him, Chunji laughed in his ear, a vibrant, happy sound. “Okay, hyung, I’ll tell you all about it.”
Sunggyu yawned. Rolling over in bed, he scratched his balls. He watched Sungyeol sleep for a minute. He thought about kissing Sungyeol’s cheek, decided that was too romantic, decided that it didn’t matter if Sungyeol slept through it anyway, and did it. He didn’t feel like getting up yet, so he killed time by checking his phone.
Suho had texted him. “I found something else.”
Was he supposed to be a mind-reader? He texted back: “Found what?”
“Something I think you left here. Hyung, how many different things were in that duffel bag?”
“What duffel bag? Make sense.” Were they up to four gifts now? He hadn’t expected it to take so long. Maybe he’d hidden a few things too well. Maybe Suho should clean up more often.
“You know how I feel about you, right?”
Aw, it must have been a good present, if Suho was getting emotional. “It’s okay, Money-ah. Hyung knows.”
He was still in bed when Hoya came in and asked, “Is this a competition? I can’t keep up if you’re all going to be like this.”
“What’s a competition?” Sunggyu asked.
“I’m winning,” Sungyeol mumbled into the pillow.
“Shut up, you’re asleep,” Sunggyu said, covering his face with one hand. “What competition?”
“Boyfriend gifts. Chen just called me to tell me how romantic you are.”
“I’m very romantic,” he decided.
“Right, it’s one of your best qualities,” Hoya said. “First thing I always say, when people ask me about you. How romantic you are.”
Sungyeol was snickering. Sunggyu covered his face more firmly and said, “You already make Chen happy all on your own. Don’t worry about what other people are doing.”
Squirming out from under Sunggyu’s hand, Sungyeol sat up. His hair was a mess, but other than that, he looked great. Not fair, being so handsome first thing in the morning. “When Chen got your last gift, what’d he do?”
“Went down on me,” Hoya said.
“What’d Suho do for your last gift?” he asked Sunggyu.
“He texted me.”
Sungyeol laughed. “You’re already winning,” he told Hoya.
“Seems like it,” Hoya agreed, walking away.
That wasn’t fair! “Hoya gave it to him in person! Money’s not even here! You can’t compare that!” Sunggyu complained.
“Just a text?” Sungyeol asked. “Not even a kiss? You must give terrible gifts.”
Now he wanted a blowjob. “I give great gifts. C’mere, there’s something I want to give to you, now.”
“Oh, you have something for me?” Sungyeol asked, grinning and leaning away. “What if I don’t want it?”
“You don’t appreciate my gifts?” he demanded. “Ungrateful brat, no one’s polite anymore. Just take it and say thank you.”
“If I’m doing this, I think that you should say thank you,” Sungyeol said, finally taking hold of his cock.
“Yeah, let’s wait until it’s over and see who’s the most thankful,” Sunggyu said. They both knew who it was going to be.
June 18, 2016
by Matthew Haldeman-Time