Hitting Other Idols
I write about men having sex with other men. You must be eighteen or older to read my fiction. This site is for consenting, responsible adults only.
L walked Suho and Changjo from his room to the front door. “Thanks for dinner.”
“Always,” Suho said, hugging him. “When are you leaving for Japan, tomorrow?”
“Mmm. I’ll call you when I get back.” When Suho pulled away, L gestured at Changjo. “Pockets.”
“Hyung!” Changjo looked like he wanted to laugh. “I didn’t take anything!”
They went through this every time that Changjo came over with Suho. It didn’t even bother L anymore; it was just part of Changjo’s visits. “Come on, let me see.”
Changjo turned to Suho. “Hyung! Tell him, you know I didn’t take anything. Why would I?”
“Why did you have my bracelet in your pocket that time?” L asked.
“I don’t know!” Changjo exclaimed. “It was an accident.”
“And why are things always missing after you leave? I still can’t find the remote to Sungyeol hyung’s stereo, he’s getting really pissed off.”
“I can’t help it! It’s not my fault if you lose things.”
“All right.” L pushed him back against the door with one hand. He went easily, not resisting. Holding him there, a hand on his muscular chest, L reached into the front pocket of his jeans. The pocket was empty, the fabric warm from the heat of his body, and he squirmed a little, making it sexual on purpose. Amused, L shoved him harder against the door. “Hold still.”
“I don’t know if it’s okay for you to touch me like this,” Changjo said, laughing.
L smirked at him. “Don’t pretend to mind.”
Coyly dropping his gaze, Changjo sucked in his cheeks.
Going more slowly this time, L slid a hand into his other pocket. It was empty. Hand still there, L took a step closer, practically leaning into him. When their eyes met again, mischief glittered in Changjo’s gaze. “Anything in your back pockets?”
Changjo was doing his best not to smile, but nothing could repress the happiness dancing in his eyes. He was enjoying this way, way too much. “Maybe hyung should check for himself.”
“You two,” Suho mumbled to himself, sighing.
Changjo was having so much fun with the challenge, L saw no reason to back down. Still standing too close, he kept his left hand splayed against Changjo’s hard chest. Slowly, he dragged his right hand out of Changjo’s pocket, rubbing it over Changjo’s hip, stroking over denim. Reaching behind Changjo, he felt over Changjo’s ass frankly, shamelessly, until his fingers slid into a pocket.
“Oooh. L hyung,” Changjo breathed, looking delighted. “You’re so bold like this.”
It had been a long time since he’d touched another guy like this. A long time with someone new, at least. He and Changjo both knew that this was just about provoking each other, just about messing with each other, just about bullshit and the strange competition they were locked in. But it was still kind of a turn-on; Changjo had a great body and was kind of cute, playing it up. He gave Changjo’s ass a healthy squeeze - - oh, nice, okay, he could admit it, that was one sexy ass - - and backed up. “All clear.”
Changjo smirked at him. “Bring lube next time.”
Rolling his eyes, L reached past him and opened the door. “Good night.”
Changjo didn’t know why he did this to himself. It only annoyed him. He knew that he’d just get pissed off and he kept doing it anyway. Why did he have such bad habits?
In his room, glaring at Ricky’s monitor, he clicked another link and read another page full of comments. The screen was full of photos of L. L onstage, L offstage, L in dramas, L standing around. And the comments! The comments were like some horrible nightmare of delusions and lies.
ever since debut, no one has ever called him ugly ... wow wow
when I saw the photos I almost fainted
he's more and more handsome
he looks like a boy, but also like a man, and he looks like a fairy too
he's a combination of everything pretty in this world
as soon as you see him, you'd think that he comes out straight from a manhwa
are you human??????????
Who talked like this?! Who thought like this?! Who - - it was just L! It was just some guy! It just - - he wasn’t even that good-looking!
even so, he looks cute most of the time
seriously I didn't know which screencap to post...since they were all handsomeㅠ
did his eyes crashed into the stars..?
seriously even his personalities are good ㅋㅋㅋㅋ
you really have to see L in real life!! his pictorials are all handsome, he's really not human, if you compare his face in real life you'd think that the pictures came out bad!!! since I'm an L fan, I'm aware that he's handsome but if you see him in real life, he's so handsome that you can't even call him handsome, he's not humanㅠㅠ
even from a guy's point of view, he's handsome. he's the most idol looking from the idols
“What the hell?!” Changjo shouted, gripping the monitor with both hands.
“Ya!” Ricky’s knuckles met his scalp. “Get off, get out, you’re not supposed to be here like this.”
“This is bullshit!” Changjo snapped at the screen. Getting up, he jabbed one of L’s photos in the face. “And your personality isn’t that great, either! What do they know?”
“Stop yelling at my computer,” Ricky said, pushing him away from the chair. “You didn’t download porn on here, did you?”
“No.” Still agitated, disgruntled, he went out to the living room. Throwing himself down onto the couch, he pulled out his phone. Stupid fans. They didn’t know anything. Even from a guy’s point of view? Changjo had a guy’s point of view, and he didn’t think that L was so great. Ugh. “‘Did his eyes crash into the stars?’” he mocked in a breathless, amazed tone, and then he stuck his tongue out at his phone. Irritated, he texted L. Send me a selca. Don’t put on make-up, don’t even comb your hair, just send me one.
An instant later, he got a reply: ?
“He looks like a boy! And like a man! And like a fairy!” Changjo exclaimed in a mocking sing-song. Rolling his eyes, he started to text back. He was only a few words in when a new message popped up.
A photo. A photo of L, leaning right into the camera with a warm, inviting smile. The light was coming from in front of and under him, somehow - - how had he managed that? - - and it kind of made him glow. His skin was perfectly smooth, his thick hair fell across his forehead, and his eyebrows looked dark and perfectly groomed and totally natural all at the same time. He was smiling like he was filming an ad for something; he looked happy and charming and manly and sweet, full of honest affection and quiet charisma. He looked like he was having a good day and nothing meant more to him than sharing it with Changjo.
God damn it, there were fucking stars in his eyes.
Changjo shoved his phone under the couch cushions and went to the kitchen.
Changjo was surprised when they actually made plans to meet at noraebang. Usually, L acted allergic to noraebang. On his way there, he hoped that L would remember to dislike it and decide not to show up.
When he went in, they tried to give him a basic room at the front. Then he said that he was meeting EXO’s Suho, and all of a sudden someone entirely different showed up and took him to a room on the third floor. He walked in and found L sitting alone in the dark.
Flipping on the lights, he said, “Hi, hyung.”
“Hi, infant.” L yawned. He was on one of the padded benches lining two walls.
Strolling over to the table, Changjo flipped through the song book. To be annoying, he started an Infinite song.
L huddled into himself and closed his eyes.
Letting L nap, Changjo texted Suho. Then he played another Infinite song and mimicked their choreography. He was hungry. He should wait until Suho got there to order something, though, to be polite. L was still pretending to be asleep. He played an old DBSK song and sang along. Where was Suho, anyway? He checked his phone. No new messages. “Check your phone.” L didn’t move. Into the mic, he said, “L hyung. Check your phone.”
L opened his eyes about halfway and dug his phone out of his pocket. He was dressed in all black again. No hoodie today, though; he had on a nice black sweater. It would’ve looked better on Changjo, but what wouldn’t? Not that it looked bad on L. Nothing looked bad on L, and Changjo had seen him wear some weird stage clothes over the years. “When did you have that shirt with the back all cut out? What was that, ‘Paradise?’”
L snorted, smiling. “Yeah, ‘Paradise.’” Setting his phone aside, he pulled his legs up, folding himself in half. “I guess Suho hyung’s going to be late.”
“Late doing what?” Changjo asked, sitting beside him. “I thought they only had practice tonight.”
Okay, well, Changjo wasn’t going to wait forever. “Do you want to order something to eat?”
L nodded, rubbing his ear. “Get a lot.”
Hopping up again, Changjo turned to him with a teasing grin. “And what if Suho hyung doesn’t come? Who’s going to pay?”
L smiled at him. “It’s okay, hyung will pay.”
He ordered a bunch of everything. He barely drank anything, because Suho worried too much, but between the two of them, he and L pretty much polished the plates. When Suho came, they were going to have to order more.
Once the food was gone, he texted Suho again. No answer. He shouldn’t have made the joke about Suho not coming; he’d cursed them. “Is Suho hyung not coming at all?”
“He’d better come. I didn’t come here to watch you stuff your face.”
“I didn’t come here to watch you at all.” He got up, but he was only halfway out of his seat before L pulled him back down.
“Ya, don’t sing again.”
“What else am I supposed to do? We’re at noraebang. What do you want to do, sleep?”
“We can drink,” L suggested.
“What if Suho hyung comes?”
“We could talk,” Changjo said.
L gave him an amused look. “Talk about what?”
“I don’t know.” He grinned. “Why don’t you tell me more lies about you and Sunggyu hyung? That’s always fun.”
“Lies?” L looked surprised. “When did I lie?”
“All of that bullshit about making love and how precious it is and how much you love it when he sprays his nasty little load on your face. You’re full of so much shit. Do you think that stuff turns Suho hyung on?”
“It’s not lies,” L argued. Then he grinned. “And it does turn him on. I talk so much about it because he’s so eager to hear about it.” He sat up straighter, crossing his legs. “And it’s not a little load, I’ve seen guys with little dribbles of cum. Sunggyu hyung has a lot more than that.”
“I don’t want to hear about that!” He totally did. “You’re full of it, that’s not how it really is. What’d you do last night?”
“What did I do?” L repeated.
“With your members, sexually, in bed. What’d you do last night?”
He frowned, thinking about it, and then he laughed to himself. “I’m not going to tell you about that.”
“Why not, because nothing happened? Not creative enough to make something up?”
“Something happened! What about you, what did you do last night?”
“I asked you first.”
“If I tell, you have to tell.”
“I’ll tell.” Changjo touched his heart. “Promise.”
“Sungyeol hyung.” L scratched the back of his head and leaned closer, lowering his voice. “Sungyeol hyung sucked me off while Dongwoo hyung and Woohyun hyung screwed me.”
Really? Changjo liked the mental images that created. “How hard did you come?”
L laughed, smiling. “So hard. It was the best.”
“Did they splooge all over your back or inside you?”
Snorting, L smacked his arm. “Who taught you how to talk? Woohyun hyung came inside me, and Dongwoo hyung came all over my ass and got Sungyeol hyung to lick it off.”
Shit, that was hot. “Your hyungs are nasty.”
He just smiled, like he knew it and he loved it. Smug jerk. “What’d you do last night?”
“Drilled Niel hyung from both ends.”
Changjo grinned at him. “You like being spit roasted?”
L didn’t even hesitate. “Who doesn’t?”
Damn it, he couldn’t embarrass L if L was just going to admit it like that. “How many cocks can you fit up your ass at once?”
“One,” L said, laughing. “Damn. I like more than one when I’m blowing them, though.”
“So you love having a bunch of your members wave their cocks in your face all at once.”
L’s smile never faltered. “Don’t you?”
Aw, damn it, what was he supposed to say to that? Of course he did.
L checked his phone. “I don’t think that Suho hyung’s going to come.”
“He’d tell us if he weren’t coming. He’s probably just late.” Idols were always running late.
Half an hour later, he wasn’t so sure. L was curled up in the corner where the benches met, knees up, looking bored as hell. Changjo was on the floor, doing another set of push-ups. L’s phone made a noise, and he hopped up, hopeful. “Suho hyung?”
He’d taken his shirt off, so he was just in a tank top, and he was sure that L checked him out when he got up. He flexed a little, showing off. “No, Sungjong.” L sighed. “I’m going to go.”
“What, now?” He didn’t know why he was trying to stop L from leaving. That just meant that when Suho finally showed up, all apologetic, he could have Suho all to himself. He could explain how disloyal and faithless L had been, and how early L had taken off, but how he’d never doubted Suho for a second. It would be great.
“What should I stay for?” L asked. “To do what?”
He shrugged. “We could make out.”
L snorted. “What would I want with a stupid kid?”
“Is that what I am?” he asked, walking closer, moving in. Pushing the idea turned him on; he didn’t think that it would really work, but it was fun to try. L hadn’t been with anybody but Infinite in a long time; how much would it take to get some? “That’s not how you described me before. ‘You have a great body, you’re enthusiastic, and you’re hung. What do you think they won’t like about you?’”
L laughed, looking surprised. “I said that?”
“You said it right in front of Suho hyung.” Taking another step forward, in front of the bench now, he ran a hand over his abs, teasing his tank top up a little. “Is that what you think, hyung? You like my body?”
“Such a brat,” L said, laughing, looking away. Then he glanced up, smirking a little bit. “It’s not bad.”
“Yeah?” He pulled his tank top up higher, showing off his abs, letting L take a good look. “Want to touch?”
L shook his head. “I’m not putting my hands on Suho hyung’s baby. I’m not going to let you get me in trouble.”
“Who’s going to be in trouble?” Changjo asked. “We can do whatever we want. I have sex with his members, he doesn’t care.” When L didn’t say anything, he bumped the bench with his knee. “Come on, what, are you scared? Are you shy? It’s okay if you look ugly down there, I don’t care.”
“Thanks, that’s nice,” L said.
Leaning forward, he braced his hands on the back of the bench, his arms on either side of L. “Come on.” He tried to sound seductive, tried to look flirty. “Let’s make out a little. No one has to know about it, who’s going to believe me if I try to tell them? Let’s just kiss for a minute. I bet it’ll be good.”
With a half-smile, L gazed into his eyes. “Don’t you know?” L leaned toward him, looking up at him, getting a sexy, appreciative look. “With me, it’s always good.”
Yes, oh, yes, this was going to be great. Changjo leaned in-
-and L brushed him aside, getting up. “I’ll be going first.” With a long-legged stride, L was at the door, and then L turned and smirked at him. “Really, Changjo-ah? You don’t have anything I can’t get everywhere else.”
After Suho missed noraebang, L wasn’t surprised to get an apologetic text. Suho talked about being called into an unexpected meeting and apologized profusely. L told him that it was okay; that was how idols lived, after all.
They agreed to meet another time. On a night they were all free, the three of them met for dinner and went to Infinite’s dorm. It was a boring pattern, but it was comfortable.
When the three of them were holed up in L’s room like usual, Changjo asked Suho, “You don’t care if I have sex or not, do you?”
Suho looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”
“L hyung said that he won’t have sex with me because of you. I think he thinks that you won’t approve.”
This brat! L couldn’t believe his nerve!
Suho’s eyebrows went up to his hairline. “That’s not about me, that’s between the two of you. If you do that, if you want to do that, if that’s what you want, I won’t say anything. I won’t think anything. I mean, it’s not my place to have an opinion about that.”
“I didn’t say that,” L told Suho. “Ya, don’t make up things,” he chided Changjo.
“But that’s what you said,” Changjo argued. “You said that you wanted to touch me but you thought that you’d get in trouble with Suho hyung.”
“You’re making it sound weird!”
“I’m just saying what you said!”
“I never said that I wanted to touch you,” he objected. “Did I? I didn’t, I wouldn’t have!”
“You also don’t remember saying what a great body I have and how well-hung I am, either,” Changjo said. “It’s not my fault if you can’t admit to what came out of your own mouth.”
Laughing, exasperated, L demanded, “Why are you bringing that up? Sneaky little brat. Just close your mouth before you say anything else.”
“I think you’re scared,” Changjo said. “I think that you’re worried that we’re going to find out it’s all made up. You don’t have any proof about you and your members, do you? No one’s ever seen anything.”
“Who’s seen you with your members?” L challenged.
“You can call my hyungs right now,” Changjo said. “I’ll do it right here in Sungyeol hyung’s bed if you want to see it.”
Incredulous, L laughed. “Are you offering to put on a show? Do you think we want to see something like that?”
“I’m not embarrassed,” Changjo said, and he sounded so frank, L believed him. He really would do it, all of it, right in front of them, and not regret it. “But you’ve been telling us all about your members, and I don’t think it’s true. I don’t think that you really do any of those things.”
“I believe you,” Suho said. “You believe him, too, stop pretending that you don’t,” he told Changjo.
“Have you seen anything? I haven’t,” Changjo said. “I think we should get to see something. We’re in Infinite’s dorm, aren’t we? It isn’t difficult to kiss one of your hyungs, is it?”
L shook his head in disbelief. Changjo always had to push for something, prove something, rile somebody up. “I’m not doing it. Don’t believe me if you don’t want to. Have you seen Suho hyung with his members? Do you believe him or not?”
“It’s different with Suho hyung. We can trust him,” Changjo said. “Why should we trust you?”
He snorted. “Why should we trust you?”
“But I’m willing to prove it,” Changjo said. “Here, I’ll call one of my members right now. Which one do you want?” he asked, pulling out his phone.
“Changjo-ah, put your phone away,” Suho said, pushing it down.
“No, let him do it,” L said. “I want to see how far this goes.”
“This is silly,” Suho said. “We all believe each other. Nobody wants to see anything like that, we don’t need proof.”
“What do you think you’re going to do, anyway, kiss Ricky in front of us?” L asked. “Go down on L.Joe?”
“I - - ah, hyung,” Changjo said into his phone. “Are you busy? Ah. Is everyone there? Can someone come to Infinite’s dorm? I need one of the members to come over to do something. Just something. Can’t anyone come?”
“This is so silly,” Suho said. “We aren’t going to watch. You’re only wasting your members’ time.”
“Hyung, please?” Changjo asked whoever was on the other end of the call. L rolled his eyes. “It’s for a good reason, really.” Changjo sighed. “Okay.”
“It’s fine,” Suho said as Changjo hung up. “We all believe each other.”
“Who’s here?” Changjo asked L. “Which members?”
“I don’t know.” He knew exactly.
“I’ll go ask one,” Changjo said, getting up.
“Changjo,” Suho said. “Get back here, seriously.”
“One second, hyung.”
While Changjo left, L sighed, sinking down with his head in Suho’s lap. “Let’s leave the baby at home next time.”
“He gets ideas in his head and he won’t let them go,” Suho said.
Changjo walked back in and sat on Sungyeol’s bed. A second later, Hoya looked in. “You need me for something?”
L sat up again. “Changjo wants you to bend me over and fuck me on Sungyeol hyung’s desk.”
“No, I want you to make sweet, sweet love,” Changjo said. “With flowers and candles and butterfly kisses, like you do every night.”
Hoya raised his eyebrows. “You want me to get Woohyun?”
“No.” L glanced at Suho. “Why don’t you go to the bathroom or get some water for a minute, hyung? I’ll come see you in a minute.”
“Ah.” Rubbing his hands on his pants, Suho got up. “I’ll be in the, uh, kitchen.”
While Suho left the room, Changjo stared at L, grinning. “You’re really going to do it?”
L got up, adjusting his shirt. “Changjo doesn’t think that we’re romantic.”
“I’m not romantic,” Hoya said.
“That’s what I’ve been saying,” Changjo said.
“No, seriously, I’m the least romantic person on our team,” Hoya said. “You really want Woohyun for this. Or anybody else.”
“Can you kiss me a little?” L asked.
Hoya shrugged. “Not really in the mood.”
“Just for a minute?”
“Eh, all right.” Hoya walked over to him, and Changjo shifted on the bed, leaning forward for a better look. Hoya kissed him, and he closed his eyes, kissing back tenderly, easing into it. Hoya kissed slowly, and, mmm, it was nice. When he felt Hoya’s hand on his waist, he wrapped his arms around Hoya, humming into the kiss.
They’d kissed now, and Changjo had seen it, so he could stop. But it felt good; he didn’t want to break away. He sat on the edge of Sungyeol’s desk, and Hoya moved in between his thighs. As he tilted back a little, Hoya moved with him, leaning forward, bracing a hand on the desk. Hoya’s hard, muscular body turned him on, and he moaned. The kiss kept getting deeper, more intense, heating him up. When Hoya’s hand rubbed over the small of his back, he moaned, “Mmm, hyung.” So much easy pleasure; he felt good all over.
“Oh, uuooohh.” Hoya kissed him again and again. They were both turned on, but there was nothing rushed between them. He was enjoying this too much to hurry, and Hoya’s kisses were sensual, tongue caressing here and there and delving in to explore him in slow, sexy strokes.
Wanting to be closer, he tugged on Hoya’s shirt, then gripped Hoya’s side, fingers digging into the muscle of Hoya’s back. “Unnnh, hyung, oh.” His blood simmered, and he wished that he were naked, that he could feel Hoya right against his bare skin. He pulled his own shirt up, just a couple of inches, and Hoya’s hand slid across his exposed skin. The hot, intimate contact was just what he’d wanted, and he groaned, loving the press and stroke of Hoya’s hand.
They stayed that way for a while, slowly making out. L soaked up all of the affection, loving all of this intimacy. Hoya wasn’t the cuddliest hyung he had, and it felt really good to be together like this, just touching and kissing.
When Hoya finally drew away, licking his lips, L exhaled, feeling kind of dreamy, and smiled at him. “Thanks, hyung.” Remembering that Changjo was there, L added, “Love you.”
“Right.” Hoya ran the back of his hand over his mouth, then nodded at L and poked him in the chest. “You, too.” Hoya gave Changjo a little salute and left the room.
L wondered how long that had taken. He’d left Suho waiting! Adjusting himself in his pants, he tried to think of stressful things; he couldn’t go see Suho with a hard-on. “Okay?” he asked Changjo.
At some point, Changjo had gotten off of the bed and now stood in the middle of the room. His erection was obvious and his expression was incredulous. “That’s the non-romantic member of Infinite?”
He nodded, then laughed at Changjo’s annoyed, baffled face. “What?”
“Do you always kiss that much without doing anything?”
Foolish kid. “Kissing is doing something.”
“Shit.” Changjo made an uncomfortable face and rubbed his cock. “I wish things were better between our teams. Can I fuck Hoya hyung sometime?”
“No.” He gestured to Changjo’s crotch as he moved toward the door. “Put that away, I’m going to get Suho hyung.”
“Wait.” Changjo moved toward him, scanning his face, looking curious. “Then everything you’ve said is true? It really is that romantic in Infinite? Isn’t it awkward?”
“No. Maybe. It can be embarrassing sometimes. But it’s nice.” L gave him a puzzled look. “Why do you pretend so much? You like being intimate and romantic with your members, too. It doesn’t make you more grown-up or sexy to act like you only want to drill like a porn star.”
Embarrassing to - - oh. L understood. It was embarrassing for Changjo to admit that he had feelings for his other members. It seemed like it was difficult to be emotionally vulnerable in Teen Top. It was difficult for L, too, but it had to be worse in Teen Top, where everyone was so young and foolish. “You have to grow up sometime.”
“I have grown up! I’m an adult now, didn’t you notice?”
“No.” L moved toward the door again. “I’ll get Suho hyung.”
Changjo didn’t like L. And he was tired of sharing Suho with someone he didn’t like.
Usually, when the three of them met somewhere, they went back to Infinite’s dorm afterward. L didn’t seem to mind having them over, and Sunggyu didn’t seem to mind, and the rest of Infinite’s members mostly left them alone. Tonight, though, Infinite’s dorm was off-limits for some reason L wouldn’t explain, and they’d ended up at EXO’s dorm.
They went into Suho’s room and closed the door. Changjo crawled onto Suho’s bed, and Suho sat on Baekhyun’s bed, tucking his feet up. L smiled, touching the fan art on the walls, and then sat beside Suho.
Suho put an arm around him like they were boyfriends or something, and he put his head on Suho’s shoulder.
Yeah, Changjo was ready to get rid of him. “Suho hyung.” Changjo rolled onto his stomach, kicking his feet up. “You’ve never been in love.”
“Never,” Suho agreed.
“Me, either.” Changjo pretended to be distracted by something on his phone. “L hyung, can’t you tell us what it’s like?”
“Me?” L asked.
“You’ve been in love?” Suho asked, looking into L’s face, his hand in L’s hair.
L shot Changjo an angry, warning look. “Don’t start conversations you don’t want to finish.”
He laughed like he was innocent. “I’m not starting anything!”
“Do you think it makes me look bad, that my members and I know how to care about somebody?” L asked. “Don’t you think it makes you look bad, that your members don’t?”
Oh, that was bullshit.
Suho looked concerned. “We don’t have to talk about this.”
“You haven’t told Suho hyung any of it?” Changjo asked. “Aren’t the two of you close? Don’t you make him tell you everything?”
“I don’t need to know about what’s in the past,” Suho said. “If it’s private, it’s private.”
“I don’t care,” L said, staring as hard into Changjo’s eyes as if the two of them had been a foot apart and not across the room from each other. “I used to like C.A.P. I wanted to be with him, I thought that we were going to be boyfriends, and he never had a thought about me. That’s it, that’s all there was.”
“That, and all of the sex,” Changjo said.
L chuckled briefly and silently. He smiled at Changjo, and his amusement was so bitter, it stung. “Do you think that Suho hyung cares about that?” He turned, looking right into Suho’s face, and said, “I used to have sex with C.A.P. We had a lot of sex. I gave him head the way he liked it, and he drilled my ass over and over and over again.” He flashed Suho a meaningless smile, and then he looked at Changjo again. “Okay?”
“I.” Suho put his hand over L’s hand, trying to meet L’s eyes. “I knew that your teams used to be close, and I knew that there was some kind of history, but I didn’t know. You liked him?”
L stared into Changjo’s eyes like this moment was going to last forever, like he’d never look away, like a part of him would always be here in this instant in this room pinning Changjo down with his gaze and his judgment and his hatred, and then he looked away, meeting Suho’s eyes. “Yeah.” He scratched the side of his head. “I was stupid, I was young, I thought that we were really close, I thought that there was something special going on. But he didn’t think of it that way, so.” He shrugged, and his sad, honest, self-deprecating smile was heartbreaking.
Changjo hadn’t planned this out well enough. He’d counted on the information being shocking enough that dropping the bombshell would do most of his work for him. Shouldn’t Suho be more surprised than this? Shouldn’t Suho be having second thoughts about who L really was? For all of L’s talk about how special and tender and romantic it was to make love with Sunggyu - - which, seriously, Changjo had a lot of trouble believing anyway - - wasn’t it big news to find out that really he ran around falling for any guy with a hard cock?
The problem here was L’s acting ability. L was messing everything up by acting all emotional and hurt and strong. It was winning Suho over. Like L was a victim or something. “C.A.P. hyung never tried to hurt you,” Changjo pointed out. “He thought that you were just friends, he wanted to be friends.”
“You’re the same age,” Suho realized, still holding onto L’s hand. “You must have become close, debuting together like that.”
“We ran into each other a lot, and we had some members the same age, and we did a lot of special stages,” L said. “We arranged some time together, when C.A.P. came over, or C.A.P. and Chunji together. We all got along, it was good between all of us, but C.A.P. and I. We’re the same age, we.” He laughed shortly, rubbing his nose. “I don’t know. We were close. It was hard on him, hard to be the leader, and all of his members were so young. He liked coming to see us, it was a break for him.”
Hold on, L hated C.A.P. now. Where was his anger, where had his bitterness gone? Why was he being so sympathetic? This was all a show, he was putting on a show for Suho, trying to get Suho to like him, pretending to be nice.
“It was fun, for a while,” L said. “I liked C.A.P., and Dongwoo hyung liked Chunji, and it was so great. We’d get so happy, ‘They’re coming over, they’re coming over!’ C.A.P. would come in and talk to Sunggyu hyung and have sex with Hoya hyung, and then he’d come into my room, and we’d.” He cleared his throat, blushing, glancing down. “We’d have sex. And we’d talk, and we’d just hang out for a while. Take a break from being Infinite and Teen Top, and just be ourselves.” He smiled, like fond memories were making the stars in his eyes glisten. “We had the best times in hotels. Meeting in China.” He took a deep breath and chuckled lightly, quickly, like he was embarrassed and wanted to brush it off. “But then Dongwoo hyung and Chunji had a fight, and Teen Top didn’t want to see us anymore, and C.A.P. didn’t want to see me anymore, so. It’s been a while.”
“That was Sunggyu hyung’s fault,” Changjo argued. He wasn’t going to let L rewrite history. “He wouldn’t let anyone see anyone anymore. Niel hyung tried to see Sungyeol hyung, and Sunggyu hyung acted like Infinite was too good for us all of a sudden.”
L looked over at him. “He didn’t want anyone to get hurt. He was tired of watching Dongwoo hyung cry. He didn’t think that it was a good idea anymore.”
Watching Dongwoo cry. That made it sound bad. “Who knew that your team was going to get so emotional? You’re older, you’re more experienced, why are you so sensitive?”
L snorted. “Why is someone so young so dead inside?”
Hey! Changjo rolled off of the bed and onto his feet before he even thought about what he was doing, and he and L met in the center of the room, nose-to-nose, glare-to-glare. He didn’t know if L had meant him or C.A.P. or what, but he was pretty sure that a few punches could clear things up.
“Kids!” Suho pushed him back, stepping in between them.
“Let him hit me,” L said. “Let him, if he wants to hit me. That’s how people on his team solve problems, right?”
“Asshole,” Changjo snapped, wanting so badly to step around Suho and get his hands on that smug, self-centered jerk. “You’re an egomaniacal asshole.”
“You’re a selfish kid,” L snapped back. “You think with your fists and your cock, and you don’t even care who you hurt.”
“I’m not hurting anybody!”
“Do you even care about Suho hyung?” L demanded. “Or are you just using him while it’s fun?”
“I love him!” Changjo shouted, crowding forward. “You’re the one who’s dead inside, you don’t care about anybody but yourself! Get out of his life if you don’t care about him!”
“You foolish, self-centered kid, you don’t even know what love is!” L shouted, shoving him backward. As he balanced himself, his self-control snapped, and he swung, connecting with L’s jaw.
“No! No! No!” Suho shouted, trying to separate them. L reached for Changjo, clawing at him, nails catching at his cheek, and Changjo pulled his fist back, about to strike again, and Suho shoved L so hard that he bounced onto Chen’s bed. “Stop it!” Suho exclaimed, rounding on Changjo. “You make one more move and you’ll never step into this dorm again.”
Changjo froze. Breathing hard, he stared at Suho.
Conviction rang in Suho’s tone and was visible in every line of his face. He held Changjo’s gaze without blinking. He meant every word, and he wouldn’t hesitate to back it up.
“Shit,” L mumbled, sitting up.
Suho’s eyes widened and he spun. “Visual!” was the first word out of his mouth. “L-ah, oh, no, what happened, are you okay?” Then he pivoted, cupping Changjo’s cheek in one hand, looking stricken. Wide-eyed, he turned back to L. “No, oh, no. Here, here.” He dove for the closet, digging on the floor, shoving shoes out of his way.
Changjo couldn’t see any difference on L’s face. That was disappointing. It would’ve been nice to give L’s make-up artists some work.
Rubbing his jaw, L glared at Changjo. It was a sexy, sullen look. Changjo really, really hated him and really, really wanted to hurt him.
“Here, here,” Suho said, dumping a first aid kit open across his bed. Pawing through its contents, he found a cold pack. Sitting beside L on Chen’s bed, he put it gently against L’s jaw. “Are you okay?” His eyebrows looked troubled. “Hold this.” Popping right up again, he pushed Changjo down until Changjo obeyed and sat on his bed. “Look at you, both of you. I should kick you out right now. Starting a fight!”
Suho ripped open a little packet of wipes. Some sharp, medicinal smell made Changjo recoil. Grabbing Changjo’s chin, Suho held him in place and dabbed at his cheek. Feeling a sting, he flinched away. Merciless, Suho’s grip tightened, and Suho’s tense, angry expression warned him to behave.
The fact that it stung told him that L had broken the skin. Maybe he wasn’t a visual, but he was a fucking idol. “What the hell, did he cut me?” he asked in disbelief.
“You punched him in the face,” Suho said. His expression was so tense and disappointed, he was starting to make Changjo’s stomach hurt with guilt. “I’m going to have to talk to C.A.P. about this.”
“Talk to Sunggyu hyung about it! I have an interview tomorrow!” Changjo exclaimed.
“You’ll be fine.” L shot him a disgusted, condescending look. “Starting fights you can’t handle? I warned you not to start something you couldn’t finish.”
“Who’s calling who dead inside?” Changjo demanded. “You don’t have any emotions you don’t fake for TV!”
Someone knocked at the door. “Suho hyung?”
“No more arguing,” Suho ordered, shoving a tiny tube and a hand mirror at Changjo. “It’s time for both of you to be silent and reflect. Put that on your face.” He went over and opened the door a crack. “It’s okay. Everything’s fine. Go back to your room.”
Even a quick glance in the mirror told Changjo that he had nothing to complain about. He had three little scratches on his cheek. They’d probably be invisible by the morning. Disgruntled, he put the salve on each scratch to pacify Suho. It was definitely in his best interests to play along. Damn it, he couldn’t believe that he’d let L scratch his face! It stung his pride. And he couldn’t believe that he’d punched L in front of Suho. He didn’t care about punching L, but he did care about Suho, and he was going to have to work hard to make up for this. It was one thing for him to mess around with his own members, but now he’d punched a hyung, someone outside of Teen Top, someone who cuddled up to Suho acting all precious. Shit. Putting down the mirror, he glared at L again, only to find out that L was already glaring back.
“I don’t know what to say about this.” Suho had such a stern, parental look that Changjo felt sick with shame. “I’ll have to talk to C.A.P. and Sunggyu hyung. I don’t think that we should see each other for a while. Let’s take some time apart to reflect.”
Changjo swallowed down his guilt. He was furious with himself for putting that look on Suho’s face. He’d just ruined everything. He’d worked so hard to keep Suho happy, to make Suho like him, and he’d thrown it all away. All because of some asshole. His anger simmering, he glared at L.
“I think if Changjo doesn’t get to see you anymore, he’ll do something stupid,” L told Suho. “Don’t see me anymore, but don’t abandon him, he’ll be too upset.”
What?! What was L trying to do, impress Suho by pretending to be magnanimous? “Asshole. What are you doing?”
“Choi Jonghyun!” Suho looked ready to slap him. “Is that how you talk to hyungs? Who taught you that?”
“He’s not my hyung!” Changjo protested. “He’s not my anything!”
“Aren’t you close?” Suho demanded. “How much have the three of us been together, how much have we shared?”
“That was for you! I’m here for you, I don’t have anything to do with that guy.”
Still looking like someone’s angry parent, Suho turned to L. “Is it the same for you? That’s how you feel?”
“He’s a brat,” L said. “I come to see you.”
Suho turned from one of them to the other, looking exasperated. “I don’t understand either of you. We’ve been together so much, all three of us. We talk about everything, we share such personal things, we go to the movies, we go shopping, we meet whenever we can. My members think I have two boyfriends. And you never noticed each other at all? How could you be so close to someone at the same time you never think of him?”
L shrugged. Changjo looked away. He didn’t know how this was going to go or where Suho was going to end up. The less he said right now, the better. He didn’t want to make things worse. He’d just keep his head down and wait for Suho’s anger to fade.
“You make me worry about you,” Suho said quietly. “Both of you. So much. You’re so sweet and so sensitive and so good. But you look out at the world with eyes that are so cold and so calculating, it frightens me. I don’t know how you can be so cut off from the best parts of yourselves.”
Uncomfortable, Changjo shifted uneasily on Suho’s bed. He wanted to label all of that as nonsense and let it slip by him meaninglessly, but parts of it seemed a little relevant. He wondered if Suho knew him better than he’d realized.
“Stay in here, and no more fighting,” Suho said. “I’ll tell your managers to come and get you.”
L had barely gotten the front door closed before Sungyeol was at his side, staring at his face. “Are you okay? What happened?”
“L-ah, you’re okay?” Dongwoo hurried over to him. “You had a fight?”
“Ya.” Brushing everyone else out of the way, Sunggyu stepped right in front of him, cupping his chin in one hand. Wincing away from Sunggyu’s hard expression, he looked to one side, waiting. “Getting into fights?” Sunggyu asked sharply. “Infinite’s been together too long, you think it’s time to throw it all away?”
From Sunggyu’s tone, he knew that he had to answer. He also knew that the less he said, the better. “No.”
“Hitting other idols? That’s how you spend your nights, now?”
This was humiliating. “I’m sorry,” he muttered. He couldn’t believe that he’d let Changjo provoke him like that. One too many comments, one too many insinuations; he just hadn’t been able to take it anymore. He’d never done anything to that kid, and he’d gotten fed up with taking shit. His history with C.A.P. was no one’s business, it was something old and private that he kept to himself, and he couldn’t stand Changjo yanking it out and swinging it around just to taunt him, just to get a reaction, just to keep him off-balance, just to get Suho’s attention.
“What?” Sunggyu demanded.
He said it more audibly this time. “I’m sorry.” He felt lousy, he felt sorry for everything. He just wanted to curl up in bed in the dark and feel miserable. He wanted his members to hug him until he felt better. He wanted to go back in time and really draw Changjo’s blood.
“Stupid,” Sunggyu muttered. “You stupid kid. Don’t talk to me until tomorrow.”
He flinched, and Sunggyu walked away. Rubbing his jaw where Sunggyu’s hand had been, he felt nauseated. Tears were already brimming in his eyes when Dongwoo’s arms came around him.
“Oh, hey,” Sungyeol said, ruffling his hair. “Hey, now, don’t cry.”
When Changjo walked into the dorm, he saw Niel and L.Joe seated on the couch, staring at him with wide eyes like they desperately wanted to say something but couldn’t. Before he could ask them what was going on, C.A.P. grabbed his arm and swung him around, shoving him across the dorm. “Get in your room!”
He turned, blinking, feigning astonishment. “Hyung!”
C.A.P.’s expression was hard and unflinching, and he flung an arm out, pointing toward Changjo’s room. “Go!”
Shit. Dropping the act, he breathed out hard. “I didn’t do anything! Suho hyung’s making a big deal out of nothing, he’s too innocent!”
“Did you punch another idol?” C.A.P. demanded, stepping closer. “Did you punch a hyung?” He held his ground, not budging, but C.A.P. was getting close, right in his face, so close he held himself tense so they wouldn’t accidentally touch. C.A.P.’s fury was thick and oppressive, bearing down on him and making him look away. “Did you hit Kim Myungsoo?!”
He couldn’t help it, he flinched away from C.A.P.’s anger. “I did, I did it. But it’s not-”
“Get. The fuck. In your room,” C.A.P. said. Changjo hesitated, and C.A.P. said it again, faster and louder and making him flinch again. “Get the fuck in your room!”
Turning away, he swallowed. His head down, his shoulders hunched, he went to his room. He passed Ricky in the hallway, and Ricky watched him with wide, worried eyes, silently offering empathy.
In his room, he picked up the closest thing available, a bottle of lube, and hurled it at the wall. It struck hard and cracked open. The sudden, loud crack! was satisfying. The bottle left a dent in the wall and fell to the floor, where it started to ooze.
The members were talking. “I’ll get it,” Ricky said suddenly, and then Ricky was in the room. “Don’t argue,” he whispered. “Give me your phone, maknae,” he said sternly. His eyes pleaded with Changjo to cooperate, and he held out his hand.
Cooperate? For what? “Fuck you,” Changjo snapped. “If you want it, take it.”
C.A.P. moved through the doorway with the grim determination and tense energy of someone on a mission. Changjo didn’t have time to breathe before he was face-down on Ricky’s bed, snorting impotently against the sheets while C.A.P. pinned him in place and Ricky took his phone. When C.A.P. let him up, he whirled around, gasping for air and landing on his butt, and by the time he got to his feet again, he was alone and the door was closed.
He decided not to try leaving the room yet.
His phone was gone. Ricky’s computer was gone; they must have taken it out after Suho had called. God damn it, Suho. Seething, frustrated, he scrubbed his hands through his hair, making aggravated noises and wanting to kick something. Fuck. Now what? What was he going to do? He had to fix things with his own members, and he had to get Suho to trust him again, and neither one of those things was going to be fun. Or quick. He was going to be taking shit for weeks.
He was still too angry to plan. Too angry and frustrated and hurt and pissed off to figure anything out. He just wanted to scream and pound on the walls. But if he got loud, they’d punish him for that, too.
He flung himself across his bed and hated everyone.
The next afternoon, L called. Suho didn’t answer. He’d meant what he’d said about taking some time away from each other. He wanted to think about his friendship with them and why it was so important to him and how it had gone so wrong.
A little while after that, L texted him an apology. Reading it made him want to call L right away and forgive and make everything between them right again. But he bit his lip and resisted that urge. It was too soon; they had to take more time.
Changjo didn’t call him or text. He was pretty sure that they’d taken Changjo’s phone away, anyway.
Changjo brooded. No phone. No sex. His members barely spoke to him, and he had nothing to say to them. He was being grounded, so he could only leave the dorm for schedules and practice. He spent his free time alone in his room; Ricky barely came in. That was typical; when he’d been punished before, the hyungs had made Ricky sleep with Niel, to force him to be alone.
He slept a lot. He worked out a lot. He masturbated. He thought about the best way to break Ricky’s things, killing time by trying to imagine the most efficient way to be the most destructive. He wrote lyrics about how awful his members were. He daydreamed about Suho blowing his cock.
He spent a couple of days plotting out how to destroy his members one by one, to make them suffer. He couldn’t fucking believe that he was in this much trouble for punching L, like anyone had given a crap about L before now. “Did you hit Kim Myungsoo?!” What, like L was some precious national treasure they all lived to protect? He wished that he’d replied with something like, “Did you break Kim Myungsoo’s heart?” See who was so fucking self-righteous then.
The thought that C.A.P. had broken L’s heart seemed weird to him. It had been interesting, before, kind of fun, a little insider’s secret that only a few of them knew, filed away in the vault of his mind alongside facts about how to make C.A.P. cry and the seriously hot things that the twins from Boyfriend were into. But it hadn’t really seemed real to him, before. He hadn’t cared about L or thought about what being heartbroken might actually be like. He’d thought more about the hot sex that C.A.P. and L had shared, and the fact that Infinite’s visual was super hung up over C.A.P., of all people, and it had been like an ace up his sleeve. So whenever someone made some comment about how good-looking L was, he could smirk to himself and think, “Yeah, and it’s my hyung he can’t get over.” Daydreams of good sex, and something to gloat over. It hadn’t meant anything more than that.
But now, he kept remembering the way L had talked about it. The way L had looked so sad and brave. Acting, it was all acting, he couldn’t take it seriously, he knew that. But it had seemed so real. It had made him feel guilty and ashamed. It had made him feel angry and confused. Had C.A.P. hurt L? Not on purpose, right? Still. It wasn’t so funny anymore.
L wasn’t just some idol anymore. Wasn’t someone he’d used to do special stages with and didn’t see as often anymore. These days, L was Suho’s best friend - - after him - - and when he thought of L, he thought of a more complex person. Someone who could be so cool and chic and sexy, and so blunt and cold and sarcastic, and so goofy and innocent and cute. Sometimes L didn’t seem to care about anything, like the whole world was bleak and life was meaningless, and sometimes L was really cute and funny and easygoing. L laughed so easily for Suho, relaxed and unguarded, and apparently opened up sexually for Infinite and didn’t hold anything back, but then they’d go out in public and he’d shut down, close off, slip his sunglasses on and disappear into himself. It wasn’t even only for strangers; one time while the three of them were out, they met up with a couple of Suho’s members for a few minutes, and it was like L stopped existing. He was cold, and Suho’s members were super polite, and everything was so stiff and formal and uncomfortable that Changjo felt relieved once they left again. But then later that night, in Infinite’s dorm, L was relaxed and cuddly and giggling like a kid and curling up with his head in Suho’s lap.
The way L had talked about C.A.P. had sounded really genuine. Like he’d been reminiscing about something really special and painful that meant a lot to him. Like whatever had happened with C.A.P. had been really important to him, and whatever he’d felt then still meant something to him now, even if it had ended badly. Did he still like C.A.P.? He wasn’t still in love, was he?
Changjo wanted to hate him. Wanted to call him superficial and cold, wanted to believe that it had all been acting, that everything L did was just designed to manipulate Suho. It was easier that way. But they’d spent too much time together, and Changjo had seen him be honest and open and real. When he hugged Suho and when he smiled at Sungyeol and when he laughed like he’d never be able to pull off being chic, that was real. What he’d said about C.A.P., that was real, too. And C.A.P. had never apologized. No one had ever made it up to him. He’d been the same age then that Changjo was now, and he’d fallen in love with a friend, and he’d thought that C.A.P. loved him back.
Changjo couldn’t imagine what that had been like. Falling in love? It sounded horrifying. Maybe he was sort of into Suho, a little, but Suho was easy to love. Suho was a “make sure you take your vitamins” kind of hyung, too shy to have sex with the lights on. C.A.P. was - - C.A.P. wasn’t really - - C.A.P. wasn’t really nurturing. Or sensitive. Or very curious about other people’s feelings. Not a great person to fall in love with. Especially in that kind of situation, where they were friends and they had a lot of sex but C.A.P. didn’t have any feelings back. That sounded incredibly painful. Especially for the young, sensitive, cute, cuddly kid Changjo still saw in L sometimes. That poor kid. Changjo kind of wanted to protect him.
Sungyeol was kind of worried about L. He was really upset about Suho and Changjo, and he wouldn’t say anything about it. He wouldn’t talk about anything. He just sat around in silence like he was waiting for something that he knew would never come. He stared at nothing for too long without blinking. Whenever Sungyeol asked him what was wrong, he said that he was tired, but how could he be tired when all he did was sleep? Whenever they weren’t busy with schedules and practice, he went to bed. Sungyeol and Sungjong invited him out to do stuff, but he didn’t ever want to go, like he didn’t care what happened in the world outside the dorm anymore.
He wasn’t interested in sex. Finally, out of desperation, Sungyeol asked if he wanted to cuddle, and he said okay, so they cuddled that night, and the next night, and the night after that. Cuddling, at least, he seemed to like. He held on like the two of them were connected for life now and there was no point in ever letting go. It wasn’t too tight or desperate, it was just really comfortable and kind of permanent.
One day Dongwoo asked L, “You haven’t talked to Young Money?” and L said, “I don’t know. He texted me. I don’t know.” Sungyeol didn’t know how to reply to that; L didn’t know what? Dongwoo asked, “Have you talked to Changjo?” and L looked annoyed and baffled and said, “No, I don’t have anything to do with that kid.”
On his way out of the dressing room, Changjo swiped Ricky’s phone. In the bathroom, he locked himself into a stall and scrolled through Ricky’s contacts. Who did Ricky know who would have L’s number? If he had access to his own phone, like any other grown-up, he wouldn’t have to play around like this, but his hyungs were assholes, so here he was, hiding in a bathroom. He had to choose his target carefully, too, because he didn’t want to call around too much, and he didn’t think that L’s number was all over the place like L.Joe’s was. He remembered how few people were in L’s phone, and someone as selective about people as L was wouldn’t just give the number out to everybody.
Sungjong was in Ricky’s phone. Sungjong was a pretentious asshole. Shit.
Oh, Sungyeol. Sungyeol was friendlier. Changjo tucked his lips in and dialed. One ring. Two rings. Three. Come on…
“Ah, Sungyeol hyung? It’s Teen Top’s Changjo.”
“Ah, really?” Sungyeol sounded kind of nervous. Who was he with? Was he near L, was L listening?
“I’m sorry, hyung, I don’t mean to be like this, but I don’t have my phone. I want to talk to L hyung, to apologize to him. I’m very regretful about a lot of things.”
“Do you want to talk to him now?” Sungyeol asked.
“If I could have L hyung’s number…” When Sungyeol didn’t reply, he said, “I won’t call him, if he doesn’t want to be bothered. I could text him, to apologize.”
“I don’t know, I don’t think, maybe now’s not the best time.”
“I won’t feel right until I’ve made up for my wrong behavior.”
Sungyeol sighed. “Yeah, okay.” He said L’s number, and Changjo quickly put it into Ricky’s phone. “Just don’t bother him too much, all right? He’s not happy right now.”
“Thank you, hyung. I’ll be careful.”
When he was off the phone with Sungyeol, he texted L.
L hyung, it’s Changjo. I’m using Ricky’s phone for now. I’m sorry about what I said and what I did and a lot of things. I’ll feel better if I can apologize in person. Will you let me meet you somewhere?
He waited as long as he dared, but L didn’t reply. He went back to the dressing room and set down Ricky’s phone.
After practice that night, when the other members were distracted, Ricky gave him an eyebrow and gestured him over. “I got a text,” Ricky whispered. “He says no.”
Changjo glanced around to make sure that no one was watching. “Let me see, let me see,” he whispered.
Discreetly, Ricky passed over the phone. L’s message was simple: No.
Did it have to be like this? Changjo texted quickly. Hyung, please. Wouldn’t it mean a lot to Suho hyung? I feel bad. I can’t be happy until I’ve made my apologies to you. There’s a lot that I’ve gotten wrong. I can come to your dorm or your practice room or anywhere you say.
“Ya! What are you doing?” Chunji demanded.
“I’m just showing him that photo of Baekhyun hyung,” Ricky said, taking the phone back.
“Don’t show him crap like that,” Chunji said. “EXO’s off-limits to him from now on.”
He didn’t respond to that. The less he argued, the quicker this shit would pass. This early in his punishment, Chunji probably wasn’t even serious about it being permanent. He’d deal with it when he had to.
L didn’t know why he said yes to Changjo, when he finally said it. Maybe he was just tired of dealing with it all, and wanted to give in so that Changjo could get past it and leave him alone. Maybe he was bored and finally ready to get out of the dorm and interact with people again. Maybe he still held onto hope that he and Suho could repair things and be close after all.
He said yes to Changjo. He put on sunglasses and a black hoodie and went to a café a few blocks over. He ordered a drink and sat at a table in the back corner and texted a photo of his drink to Sungjong.
He was staring at the framed drawings on the wall without really seeing them when someone moved in too close. Quickly, his eyes darted to the side. Legs. He blinked, glancing up. Changjo.
The strangest thing in the world happened.
He felt glad to see Changjo.
Astonished, he couldn’t understand why he felt like this. Had he missed Changjo? He didn’t even like the kid, but now that they were together again, he felt really good about it.
“Hyung. Hi,” Changjo said, acting cute and self-conscious. “Is it okay?”
He nodded, and Changjo sat down across from him with a drink.
“It’s nice here,” Changjo said. “You look like a scene from a drama, sitting here alone.”
Propping his chin on his hand, he studied Changjo’s face. Why did he like Changjo so much? He’d thought that he didn’t like Changjo at all.
Biting his lip, Changjo moved his cup a couple of inches to the left, then right again. He looked insecure and determined in a way that made L want to reassure him. Sometimes it was so, so easy to see why Suho shielded him. “I don’t like apologizing. But I regret a lot of things about what I’ve said to you. And what I did.”
“Do you still not have your phone?”
“C.A.P. hyung has it. I haven’t seen it.”
“Have you talked to Suho hyung at all?”
Changjo shook his head, shifting in his seat. “Have you?”
“He texts me sometimes.” L toyed with his straw, sliding it up and down through the lid. “Do you think he’s real?”
“Real?” Changjo chuckled. “He’s not a figment of my imagination.”
“Is he sincere?” L asked. “Is he honest?”
Changjo looked at him closely. “What’s wrong, what happened? You don’t trust him anymore? Why, because he got angry?”
L stared down at the top of his drink. He didn’t want to hurt anymore. He was tired of getting hurt. Tired of falling for someone and trying to be with someone and opening up to someone and being slapped away. Suho had cut him off. Part of him was upset and confused and angry and betrayed, and part of him had seen it all coming and couldn’t be bothered to care. That was how life went; this was how people were. “I don’t want to get too close to someone who can throw me away that easily.”
“He wouldn’t do that,” Changjo said, sliding to the edge of his chair.
Changjo shook his head. “Only for EXO, only for the good of his members, only if he had to. Not for nothing. Not easily. It wouldn’t be easy. Don’t you know? With Suho hyung, things are either the easiest thing in the world, or the hardest. Money, success, looking good, there’s no effort at all, and then other things, he cares too much and tears himself apart and takes it too seriously.”
The description made L smile. He felt like he hadn’t smiled enough, lately. It made him want to go home and snuggle up in Sungyeol’s arms. Maybe he’d have sex tonight. He really wanted to be close to somebody, all of a sudden. He wanted to feel good again.
“I haven’t apologized yet,” Changjo said. “Can I do it now?”
“I don’t care about that,” L said.
“But I snuck out to be here and I’m going to be in a lot of trouble when I get back, so can I say it anyway?”
Surprised, L looked at Changjo, his head tilting to one side. “Your members don’t know that you’re here? Your manager didn’t bring you?”
“I took a taxi. Nobody knows.”
This strange kid. L studied him with more interest. “Just to apologize to me? Why do you care?”
Changjo glanced around. “I don’t want to say everything in public.”
Hunh. “Come on,” L said, getting up. He was in a good enough mood to humor the kid. “Sunggyu hyung’s out, you can come to the dorm.”
Changjo had thought that it would be awkward to see L again, but it wasn’t. L was being a little weird, but L was always a little weird, in one way or another, so that felt comfortable and familiar. He’d thought that L would make things difficult for him, and he couldn’t figure out why that wasn’t happening. He was kind of glad that the two of them were together again.
They were kind of a team, when they were with Suho. They played off of each other to keep the right mood to make Suho comfortable. He’d wondered if, without Suho there, maybe they’d have nothing to say to each other, but it seemed like he’d been wrong.
They got to Infinite’s dorm. The fans outside were used to him by now; they asked where Suho was. L flashed them one of those man-boy-fairy smiles and went in without saying anything. Changjo bowed a little and tried to look humble. That was usually the best way to act around other idols’ fans.
Inside, while they took off their shoes, L called, “Members? Hyungs? Hello? Someone’s here with me.” Just as he told Changjo, “I think everyone’s out,” Dongwoo walked out of the kitchen.
“L-ah! Changjo-goon!” Dongwoo grinned broadly. He had a pair of yellow-striped boxer-briefs on, and nothing else.
L burst into laughter. “Hyung! Clothes, seriously.”
“What?” Dongwoo grabbed Changjo’s hand. “You never come over anymore! How are your hyungs?”
“They’re great,” Changjo said. If Dongwoo wasn’t going to be shy about being almost naked, then he wasn’t going to be shy about looking. He loved short, muscular guys. Dongwoo was little and wiry, like L.Joe. So sexy.
“Is everyone else out?” L asked. He hugged Dongwoo, and Dongwoo went with it, patting his back.
“Yeah, it’s just me. I didn’t know you were bringing anybody, aren’t you supposed to call first?”
“I thought everybody was gone.” L tightened his arms around Dongwoo, snuggling in, burying his face against Dongwoo’s neck. Dongwoo rubbed his sides and let him, like this was just a thing that L did sometimes and it was best just to let it happen. Then Dongwoo’s hands slid over L’s ass. Dongwoo’s expression didn’t change, it didn’t seem like a sexual thing, and no one said anything or winked at Changjo, but Dongwoo was all over L’s ass, cupping it, rubbing it, making it look sexy and squeezable. They just stood there like that for a while, until Changjo wondered if someone should say something, but L was in his own world of snuggling and Dongwoo was having his own party of ass-fondling and everyone seemed kind of spaced out. Then L laughed a little and pulled back. “We’re going to be in my room, okay?”
“Okay,” Dongwoo said, like nothing had happened. Changjo could not wait to tell Ricky all about this. Some of the private stuff that L talked about, he didn’t tell - - the “when Sunggyu hyung makes love to me the world is so magical” crap - - but this he totally had to share.
They went into L’s room. He tucked himself up sideways in L’s desk chair while L closed the door and sat on the bed. Sighing, L flopped backward, like life was too exhausting. Then L rolled onto his side, propping up his head on his hand, and pinned Changjo with a hard, sexy look. “You’re sucking up to me so I’ll help you get back to Suho hyung.”
Like he needed L for that. “Suho hyung and I were close before he knew which one of Infinite’s members you were.”
“He likes us together,” L said. “He’s more comfortable with both of us, that’s why he tries to see us together. He knows that I won’t let you make a move, and you won’t let me make a move, so he’s safe.”
Changjo shook his head. “He likes us together because he’s worried that he’ll make a move. He won’t do anything with you in front of me, or with me in front of you. He won’t embarrass himself in front of witnesses.”
L blinked slowly, then rolled onto his back again. “You’re right,” he mumbled like he was lost in thought. Then he rolled up onto his side. “He doesn’t trust himself.”
L gave him a slow, speculative once-over, smiling a little, looking interested. “What else do you know?”
He shrugged, enjoying L’s appreciation. “Some things.”
L nibbled on his lower lip for a moment. “You feel sorry for me, don’t you? You think I’m pathetic for falling for C.A.P.”
“No.” Maybe a little, before, but it wasn’t like that now. “I feel bad for you, but I don’t think you’re pathetic. I just think it’s sad. I feel bad for C.A.P. hyung. I don’t know if he was too young or too stupid or what, but I think that he made a lot of mistakes.” Looking down, he twisted his fingers, and then he glanced at L again. “I want to apologize to you about that. For what he did and for what I said about it. I should have been more careful.”
L had this way of looking at him that made it really hard to look away. He felt like he’d been captured and it was up to L to let him go. There was something emotionally intense about L sometimes that made his heart race. Just then, L did it to him while shifting positions and sitting up, which seemed unfair. “What are you up to?”
“Why? What do you want?”
He wanted to stop feeling bad. It seemed too honest to admit that face-to-face. He knew that L thought that he was only trying to make up so that he could prove to Suho what a good, contrite guy he was, and it was easier to let L think that. It was easier to pretend that his real motive was only his superficial motive. It was easier to let L think that he was being manipulative, not sincere.
“What would you even do with Suho hyung, if you got him?” L asked.
“What would you do?” he challenged. “Make sweet, sweet, romantic love to him?”
Changjo grimaced, looking away. “You’re probably a lousy lay,” he muttered. “It’s not something you can act out with the right lines and the right looks,” he accused, glaring at L.
“You think you’re better at sex than I am?” L asked. With a short huff of laughter, he shook his head at the ceiling. “This brat.”
“Suho hyung wants me more than he wants you.”
“Suho hyung loves you more,” L said. “He wants me more. He wants to cuddle you and kiss you and tell you how cute you are. He wants me to fuck him through the mattress.”
Wow. He didn’t know what he liked more, L admitting that Suho loved him more, or L talking about fucking Suho through the mattress.
Flopping onto his back, L sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “Have you finished apologizing yet?”
“No.” As long as he was going to apologize, he might as well make it a good one. “I’m sorry for what I said to you, and I’m sorry for hitting you, and I’m sorry for C.A.P. hyung. And I mean it, I really regret everything. I should have been nicer to you. You have a precious heart, and C.A.P. hyung shouldn’t have treated you lightly.”
Laughter burst out of L. Disbelieving, he stared at Changjo. “I don’t have a precious heart! What is this? Are you practicing your acting? Making fun of me? Suho hyung’s not here, you don’t have to put on a show.”
Hey, he could say nice things sometimes, and mean it! “I’m not acting!”
“You don’t think about my heart! You don’t give a shit about me!”
“I care!” Changjo shot back. “I can care! You’re my hyung, I spend all of my time off with you.”
“You spend all of your time off with Suho hyung,” L corrected him. “I just happen to be there. Like you’re there when I’m with Suho hyung. A bug I can’t get rid of. A stray dog that won’t leave.”
“We get along sometimes.”
“We never did.”
Whatever. They’d never wanted to be close, but they’d spent so much time together, telling Suho everything, they’d ended up knowing each other well. It hadn’t really been by their own choice, but it had happened, anyway.
Changjo wasn’t used to being alone with L. The fact that the door was closed and Suho wasn’t there to make them behave seemed really suggestive. “Do you want to make out a little?”
“Not with you.”
He grinned. “Why not? It’ll be fun.”
L turned his head and gave Changjo a flat look. “How is it going to be good if I’m such a terrible lay?”
He laughed. “I’ll make it good. I’m terrific.”
L raised his eyebrows. “Did someone in Teen Top learn to kiss?”
Hey! “Don’t base everything on C.A.P. hyung. Besides, he was young then, he didn’t know things he knows now.”
“I always wanted to make out with L.Joe,” L said thoughtfully, looking at the ceiling again. He laced his hands behind his head. “You were boring, though, you were such a little kid, and you didn’t look like anything.”
Asshole. Changjo stretched out his legs, putting his feet on the edge of L’s bed. “It’s funny how some people grow up and get more mature and good-looking and sexy, and some people stay the same forever.”
L’s eyes closed.
Changjo hoped that L would fall asleep, so he could poke around through L’s room.
“I miss Suho,” L said. His eyes were still shut. “I don’t know if we can be close again right away or if he’ll make us work for it. I don’t know about that. I don’t want to be friends with him if that’s how he acts, but I don’t want to lose him.”
Changjo thought about that. “And if you don’t talk to him, you won’t have to find out, so you won’t ever have to lose him.”
L smiled a little. It was a sad smile, and his eyes were still shut, but Changjo thought that he looked glad to be understood.
“He’s hard on himself,” Changjo said, “but he’s always easy on us. We’re not him and we’re not his members. He’ll give us another chance. If we make up with each other and he believes that we’ve learned from it, he’ll let it go.”
“But he won’t trust us.”
“We messed up by being mean to each other,” Changjo said, thinking it through as he spoke. If he analyzed what had gone wrong and how, he could figure out a plan.
“You threw everything about C.A.P. in my face,” L said. “He’s terrified that someone will do that to him, and you have information on his members, too.”
“I think with my fists and my cock?” Changjo asked. “You threw sex in my face, too.”
“It looks like we were fighting over him, too.” L’s eyes slowly blinked open. “We argued about who should be in his life.”
“That put him right in the middle,” Changjo said. “He hates that.”
“Who’s having sex with who, who’s in love with who,” L mumbled.
Put it that way, and they sounded jealous.
Immediately, Changjo wondered if they could use that.
Could he sell the idea that they’d argued with each other because they were jealous? Would it be convincing, and what would it gain them? Where would it leave things? It was easy to put the idea together. He was jealous of L’s past with C.A.P., he was jealous of the attention that L gave to Suho, he wanted L for himself, something like that. Or L was jealous of how close he and Suho were, L had secretly fallen for him, whatever. So they’d pushed each other’s buttons and they’d quarreled because all of their secret emotions were boiling up. Suho thought that they were both good-looking and horny, so it would make sense in Suho’s head, and they could give Suho credit for bringing them together, which Suho would like. And it would make their argument easier to take, easier to forgive, because Suho would think that it was a one-time thing, that they’d gotten upset and jealous but everything had worked out. The specific situation of the two of them secretly being hot for each other and being jealous and blowing up at each other came from such exact circumstances, it would be hard to repeat, so Suho would feel safe and assume that it wouldn’t happen again.
But then Suho would think that they were a couple. And if they were a couple, they’d never have a chance at being with Suho. Not even if they broke up. And they wouldn’t be able to break up for a while.
They’d gain Suho’s friendship and trust, but they’d lose the possibility of sex.
Which one was more important to him? The idea that maybe he’d someday get to fuck Suho? Or being close with Suho and hanging out with Suho and talking with Suho?
If Suho thought that they were together, Suho would think that they were safe. He’d never hit on someone in a relationship. He’d trust them, he’d open up to them, he’d feel relaxed with them. They could probably even make out in front of him. Damn, that would be hot.
L sat up slowly, giving him a wary look. “You’re coming up with some bullshit scheme that’s going to screw me over.”
“No, I’m thinking of a brilliant plan that’s going to make Suho hyung even happier to spend time with us than he already is. What does Suho hyung like more than his own happiness?”
“His members’ happiness.”
“Then he’ll like our happiness, too.”
L narrowed his eyes. “What are we happy about?”
Changjo shook his head, not ready to talk about that yet. “Why haven’t you had sex with Suho hyung?”
“I like things the way they are,” L said simply. “I like being close with him. I think that if I push too hard, he’ll run away. Even if we have sex, it’ll never be the same again. I’d rather be his friend for a long time than have sex with him for a short time.”
“I think so, too. It would be incredible, amazing-hot sex, but he’d never let me see him again, after. And he’d feel bad about himself. I don’t want him to feel that way. I don’t want to lose a good hyung, and I don’t want to make him feel guilty.” It was okay, he could admit it, finally, once and for all. “I don’t think that I’m ever really going to get to screw him.”
Rubbing his hands together, Changjo wondered if he could trust L with this plan. “I think we can all be close again, though.”
He explained what he’d come up with. He told L about how it would go and why it would work. And when he was finished, L just sat there, staring at him, open-mouthed.
“It’s a good plan,” he insisted, when L didn’t say anything.
L blinked, then shook his head. “It’s stupid. It’s terrible. Why do you think that lying to Suho hyung is the best way to get him to trust us?”
“All we have to do is pretend we want each other. I’m sexy as shit and you’re a good actor, so how hard can it be?”
L snorted. “Sexy as shit,” he repeated, like he couldn’t believe it. “This brat.” Changjo waited for him to get over it. “Ya, he’s going to know that we’re lying. We don’t like each other, we don’t get along, we’re not suddenly in love. He won’t believe it. Suho hyung knows us. He can read you better than you think he can.”
He wondered about that, sometimes. How often he genuinely got away with something, and how often Suho let him think that he was getting away with it. “So let’s try to like each other. It can’t be that hard.”
“I’m not going to lie to Suho hyung.”
This stubborn hyung, shit. “Fine, then let’s be boyfriends. I’ll call you every night and we can meet once a week to cuddle. You like cuddling, right?”
“Call me, you don’t even have a phone.”
“I’ll get it back!” he snapped, exasperated. “What do you want me to call you, darling? Honey? Myung-bunny?”
L gave him a long, hard look. “Do you want to die?”
Changjo turned away, frustrated. He’d come up with a good plan! Why couldn’t they be boyfriends? Just for a while, at least. What was the big deal, people had half-assed relationships all of the time. They already saw each other pretty often, anyway, meeting up with Suho. Not that much would even have to change. They didn’t even have to have sex, if L didn’t want to. It irritated him that he couldn’t tell for sure if L wanted to or not. L seemed to separate out things like “people I’m physically attracted to” and “people I’m willing to have sex with,” like sex was some magical treasure only to be shared under ideal circumstances. He knew that he fit right into the first category, but probably not the second. Because L was a jerk.
“I can’t be that dishonest with Suho hyung,” L told his back. “If I’m going to be close to him again, I don’t want to bring lies into our relationship. It’ll taint everything.”
“It doesn’t have to be dishonesty!” Changjo faced him again. “We can just be boyfriends, how difficult is that?”
“We don’t like each other.”
“Stop making up stupid excuses. You could like me if you tried.” He smiled cutely. “I’m charming.”
L looked phenomenally bored.
“Fine, I’m leaving.” He was fed up with this guy. “If you talk to Suho hyung, tell him how well I apologized.”
Sighing, L got up. “I’ll walk you out.”
So annoying! “I don’t need a baby-sitter! I’m only leaving. I won’t take anything.”
“I don’t trust you.”
Great. Sometimes it seemed like of all of his hyungs, Suho was the only one who believed in him. In a sour mood, he went to the front door and put on his shoes. Then he laced his fingers behind his head like people in movies. As L patted him down, he stared sullenly over L’s shoulder.
He was surprised when L’s hand brushed his cheek. Meeting L’s eyes, he was surprised again to see how sincere and wondering L’s expression was. His heart fluttered, and he completely understood why people looked at L and then rushed to their keyboards to post breathless comments. Shit.
“You’re in a lot of trouble, aren’t you?” L asked. “Are your members giving you a hard time?”
“It’s okay.” He was still furious with them, but he didn’t want to bring that anger out now. He didn’t want to bother L with it.
“It’ll be worse, now that you’ve snuck out.”
Looking lost in thought, L cupped the side of Changjo’s face. L’s thumb smoothed down his sideburn in a slow, repetitive caress, and he wondered where in the world this was coming from. L never touched him like this. He’d never been on the list of people L shared skinship with. After a moment, L nodded, then stopped touching him and handed him a phone. “You should text Suho hyung, while you can.”
L was helping him in his friendship with Suho? Not trusting the gesture, he moved slowly as he accepted the phone. L’s expression seemed normal, honest but not showy. “What do you want me to tell him?”
“Whatever you want. Just tell him that you’re you, don’t let him think it’s me.”
If L was up to something, Changjo couldn’t tell what it was. He could see from the previous messages that Suho had been texting L without getting a reply. They were simple messages, sincere-sounding inquiries about L’s well-being. Early on, there was one request for L to call, but only that one; Suho either didn’t want to push too hard or didn’t want to sound desperate.
What could he say? He thought it over and sent: Suho hyung, it’s Changjo. I hope that you’re healthy. I’m very sorry and I want to apologize to you for everything. I’m being punished and I don’t have my phone, so I’m using L hyung’s. I’ve apologized to him and we’ve talked about a lot of things. I regret so much about how I acted. I hope that you’re living well.
Then he left the text messages and opened L’s photo albums. So many photos! Selcas, photos of fans, photos of Infinite. No naked photos, but plenty of embarrassing photos of the Infinite members in their underwear, or deep asleep, or looking messy and bleary first thing in the morning, or looking exhausted and sweaty and miserable in the practice room. And lots of shots of everyone looking sexy and glamorous and made-up and super-styled in the dressing room. Damn, Infinite cleaned up well. He flipped back to see more underwear photos.
“What are you - - stop that,” L objected, laughing and taking the phone away from him. Just then it rang, and he grabbed it back. “Ya!” L took it away again, looked at it, and handed it over one more time. “It’s Suho hyung.”
Oh? Nervous, hopeful, Changjo answered. “Hyung? It’s Changjo.”
“Ah, I shouldn’t talk to you like this.” He couldn’t believe how familiar Suho’s voice sounded. Like someone he knew well, someone he’d known forever. “If you don’t have your phone, then you shouldn’t be calling me, and I shouldn’t do something that your leader wouldn’t like.”
Changjo wasn’t in a position to argue that Suho should help him to break rules. Biting at his lip, he looked down. “I don’t want to say anything else before I’ve apologized to you. It doesn’t seem like something I can do over the phone, but I don’t know if you want to see me.” L’s hand cupped the side of his neck. Surprised, he glanced over, and L gazed at him with such a caring, supportive, empathetic look that all of a sudden, he felt emotional. Really emotional, sad and vulnerable and guilty and awful about himself and worried about Suho and scared that he couldn’t fix this. Horrified, he felt tears in his eyes. What the hell?! Breathing hard, he blinked, trying desperately not to start crying. All of his worry, how upset he was over being estranged from Suho, his regrets, it all rose up inside of him.
And then, making it worse, L smiled at him, an adoring, sympathetic, “aw, the baby’s crying, it’s so cute” smile and brushed a thumb under his eye. Augh! Twisting away, he turned his back, sniffling.
“Changjo-ah?” Suho asked.
He cleared his throat, wiping at his face. “Hyung?” he asked, trying to sound normal.
“Changjo-ah, are you crying?”
Damn it. “No.” It was stupid L’s stupid fault. He’d been fine a second ago.
“I’d like to talk to you,” Suho said. “I’ll talk to your leader and arrange it.”
Maybe it would work. Chunji had kept on making snide, obnoxious digs at him about how he’d never see anyone in EXO again, but would they really say no to EXO’s Suho? “I’d really like that.” If it didn’t work, he’d arrange something another way. He’d sneak out again if he had to. It would be a lot harder the second time; he’d been so cooperative with his punishment that they’d relaxed their guard, but now that he’d escaped once, they’d be even stricter in the future.
“Is L there?”
Turning around, Changjo offered the phone to L.
Frowning, L shook his head, pushing Changjo’s hands away.
“He wants to talk to you,” Changjo whispered, trying again.
Widening his eyes insistently, L shook his head.
“Yeah, he’s right here,” Changjo told Suho. “He’d love to talk to you.”
L snatched the phone out of Changjo’s hand and held it to his ear. Stupidly, he didn’t say anything. A moment passed, and he finally said, “Mmm.” Changjo leaned in, trying to hear; he shoved Changjo away. “Ah.” He conversed so well, no wonder Suho liked him so much. “Mmm. Yes.” He was looking at the floor like he was getting bad news. “Mmm. Okay. Good-bye.”
“What’d he say?” Changjo asked as he put his phone in his pocket.
“Nothing.” L studied the floor some more. “He wants to meet. He’s going to come over on Monday.”
“You aren’t happy about it.” L was too sensitive and held onto things for too long. “Hyung, it’s okay. He’s not throwing you away. He wouldn’t let go of you that easily. You can trust him and hold onto him.” Maybe he was so worried about being abandoned because he was so stubborn about writing people off. People were either in or out with him, and when he pushed them out, he left them out for good. He was kind of scary that way. And he barely had anyone outside of Infinite left. Would he have broken up with them, too, if he’d been able to? “You feel things too much. You have to lighten up sometime.”
“You don’t feel anything,” L said.
He’d just cried! He didn’t feel like bringing that up, though. “Give Suho hyung a chance. He hasn’t mistreated you, and it’s not fair to be so hard on him.”
L looked at him like he was some interesting new artifact. He felt like L was looking through his layers, or something. He wanted to cross his arms over his chest to protect himself from it, but he didn’t want to give himself away and seem insecure. “What?” he asked, laughing like it didn’t matter.
“Sometimes I think that Suho hyung’s right about you.”
His gaze flickered over L; he wondered what that meant. “What, that I’m too tall, or that I have nice hands?”
“You have weird hands. Your fingers are too crooked.”
“I’m double jointed! There’s nothing weird about that.”
L shook his head and opened the door.
“Wait, you didn’t tell me what Suho hyung’s right about.”
L smiled. “Bye.”
Chunji couldn’t believe this kid. He was so furious, he sent Ricky and Niel to their rooms, not trusting himself to be around other people.
On top of everything else, Changjo had snuck out? He’d made secret plans to meet L? Chunji was going to make sure that Ricky was punished for life, for keeping his secrets for him, for giving him phone access, for not telling on him earlier. These kids, what the hell was wrong with them?
And now what, now they had to wait for Changjo to get back. What else could they do, ask Sunggyu to send Changjo back to them? Like that was the conversation Chunji wanted to have with Sunggyu right now! Shit.
He and C.A.P. planned to make Changjo face L and apologize. They just weren’t sure when. They were going to contact Sunggyu about it, but they’d been putting it off. It was embarrassing. They’d been in the industry long enough to be professionals now; they were sunbaes to most other artists. He was humiliated at the thought of facing Infinite after something like this, like they were just a bunch of rowdy kids instead of seasoned professionals. He couldn’t believe that Changjo had put them in this spot. That goddamned kid. He’d been pissed off since it had happened. All day, every day, his tone was sharp and his temper was up, just from thinking about this mess.
Changjo was going to be grounded forever. No phone, ever. No sex, ever. Chunji was going to watch that brat like a goddamned hawk.
When Suho called, C.A.P. heard him out.
C.A.P. appreciated hearing Suho’s side, but in the end, he had to say, “I’m sorry, hyung. That’s not a good idea right now.” First off, Changjo had started throwing punches and fighting with a hyung. Not okay. Second, that hyung had been another idol. A successful, well-known idol from a rising company. Third, it had taken place in front of another idol from a different group entirely, from the last company in the business C.A.P. wanted to tangle with. Changjo had involved two separate groups in this mess! Not just arguing, but physically fighting? Punching L in the face, in front of Suho? Changjo could have ruined Teen Top’s reputation forever. It was a miracle that the news hadn’t gotten out. It was a miracle that Suho was even willing to deal with Teen Top at all anymore. They had so much to lose, everything from C.A.P.’s sex life to Teen Top’s career was in jeopardy with this kind of shit. And what if Suho had decided to take Sehun away from L.Joe? Changjo had almost thrown everything away, and they couldn’t risk it happening again.
The problem with Changjo was knowing when and how far to trust him. By now, Chunji was at “never” and “not at all.” C.A.P. just wasn’t sure. He was a smart kid, and when he made mistakes, there was always some kind of reasoning behind it, even if it was such weird, twisted-up logic that someone had to explain it to C.A.P. using small words. His brain worked in strange, sometimes backward ways, but it was always on. Punching L didn’t fit in with that. Unless he’d been testing Suho, trying to see how far he could go and what Suho would forgive? It didn’t make any sense, any other way.
If C.A.P. figured out what had gone wrong and what Changjo had been up to, then he could figure out when to start easing up on the punishment. It had to ease up sometime; keeping an eye on Changjo meant constant, alert surveillance, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and they couldn’t keep that up forever.
C.A.P. went into Changjo’s room and sat on Ricky’s bed. Spread half-naked across his own bed, hugging his pillow and staring blankly at the wall, Changjo pretended not to notice anyone else was there. “I want to talk to you.” Changjo didn’t respond. “Punching somebody. Sounds out of control. You lost your temper?”
Changjo turned his face away, his cheek against the pillow. “Yeah.”
“Why do you think?” Changjo muttered. “He pissed me off.”
They pissed Changjo off all of the time, and he took it. What made this different? “What’d he do?”
“Nothing,” Changjo muttered. “He said a bunch of crap about how I’m dead inside.”
Dead inside? Changjo had a lot going on inside. C.A.P. was constantly amazed by how much his members thought and felt. L.Joe was so sensitive, and Changjo was so busy, and Chunji had a whole world in there of gleaming lights and bright edges.
“He said that I don’t care about who I hurt, and I don’t care about Suho hyung.”
So this was all about Suho. C.A.P. could see that; Changjo was really attached to Suho.
Changjo mumbled into his pillow; C.A.P. almost didn’t catch it. “And he made everything sound like it was our fault.”
What did that mean? “What’s whose fault?” C.A.P. asked, leaning forward.
“The fight with Infinite. He made it seem like it was our fault. Yours and Chunji hyung’s. He was talking about how no one in Teen Top knows how to care about somebody. He said that Sunggyu hyung got tired of watching Dongwoo hyung cry.”
How was all of that, what had happened in the past, related to anything else? Why would they sit up talking about that? “There were things I could have handled differently. A lot of it was my fault. Why would you hit anybody over that?”
“Are you sorry?” Rolling over, Changjo sat up, finally looking at him. It wasn’t a very aggressive question, but it was kind of demanding, like Changjo really wanted to know. “Are you sorry that you hurt L hyung like that?”
He hadn’t expected to talk about this tonight. “Yeah,” he admitted. “I feel bad about it.”
“Did you ever apologize to him?”
He wished that he could say yes. “No.”
Changjo frowned at him. “Didn’t you know that he was in love with you?”
“No.” He hadn’t realized.
“But how can you not know that L hyung is in love with you? How do you not see something like that? Is he right, are you dead inside? Am I?”
Changjo was starting to lose it. “Don’t get hysterical. Nobody’s dead inside. I was young, I was really stupid about a lot of things back then. What did I know about love or relationships or any of that? I was just trying to keep Andy hyung happy and keep the five of you alive. L and I were friends, that was all. I needed a friend, and he was a good one.”
“Haven’t you ever loved anybody? Besides your family?”
He grinned. “I guess I kind of love you, sometimes.”
Changjo glared at him. “Be serious.”
He shrugged. “I love all of the members.”
“Why couldn’t you love L hyung? What’s so wrong with him? Or what’s so wrong with you?”
“Ya. Watch how you talk to me,” he warned. He thought it over, but, “There’s nothing wrong with him. Maybe it just wasn’t right. We had a lot of other things in our lives.”
“It sounds like he was really upset. And Dongwoo hyung was upset, too. You and Chunji hyung really hurt them a lot.” Changjo folded his legs in. “I didn’t know it was that bad. When it happened, I didn’t understand. It didn’t seem serious. It was just one more thing for Chunji hyung to complain about and Niel hyung to whine about.”
“Chunji was too young to have a boyfriend like Dongwoo hyung. I think things can’t work out when one side wants a relationship and the other side is just having fun. How can I have a serious boyfriend when I have the five of you to look after?” He would’ve said, “Especially then,” but it wasn’t like his members needed any less supervision now. “I need to know why you hit L, so I know it won’t happen again. You can’t act like this, going around starting fights. How long have you been an idol, you know how easy it is to throw everything away with one mistake.”
“I didn’t like the way he talked about me or about you. I didn’t like the things he said.” Changjo sulked for a moment, and then his sullen expression faded. C.A.P. could almost hear the mechanical click and hum as gears began to spin in his head. He was thinking about something, but what?
Changjo needed to sneak out on Monday.
On Thursday and Friday, he was on his best behavior. His hyungs were suspicious and hard on him.
On Saturday and Sunday, he was quiet and resigned. His hyungs were wary and watchful.
On Monday, he was exactly the same as the two previous days. He let them think that he was dispirited, that he’d become used to his captivity and punishment, and that he was past his rebellious stage.
And then, during practice, he snuck out. He went to the bathroom and never returned. He took a split second to grab a change of clothes from the bag in the manager’s office, then ran out of the building. He got a cab, went to a hotel, showered, and changed. The shirt was Chunji’s, but that was okay. The pants were Niel’s or somebody’s, definitely not his, and they were too tight. He wriggled around, trying to break them in, decided that they probably wouldn’t rip, and hurried back out of the hotel to take a cab to Infinite’s dorm.
During the ride, he tried to guess what his members were doing. What was their reaction to his disappearance? Would they call Suho, or would they be too embarrassed to let another team know that they’d lost control of their maknae? If they called, they’d find out that he wasn’t with Suho. Then what? Would they call L?
When he got out of the taxi, a couple of the regular fans outside of Infinite’s building greeted him. He smiled politely, trying to look humble, and bowed to them. “Hello. I lost my phone,” he confessed. Did he look young and cute enough? Should he have tried grown and sexy, instead? No, no way could he seduce another idol’s fans. At least one of them would resent him for trying, and he’d have antis on his hands. “Is L sunbaenim home?”
They tried to get information out of him, and he balanced giving away as little as possible with keeping them in a good humor. Two of them texted L for him, and long minutes later, the door opened.
The sight of L hit him hard. He felt all lit up inside, felt really happy and hopeful, felt glad to see L, glad to have a chance to interact again, felt like his life had just become more precious. He felt like he’d just been offered a present, and he wanted so, so badly to be able to keep it. Even the hardest choreography didn’t leave him so breathless. Even Suho didn’t make his heart flutter like this.
L was waving him over. Bowing to the fans, he thanked them profusely, and then he jogged over and went inside.
L cuffed the side of his head and squeezed the back of his neck. It was such an affectionate, scolding greeting, such a close hyung’s thing to do, that he laughed, surprised. He wanted to hug L; he felt happy and a little shy. “What are you up to?” L asked, putting an arm around him and walking him to the elevator. “Showing up like this.”
“Nothing.” He smiled at L. “I just wanted to see you, hyung.”
“You want to see Suho hyung.”
Changjo gasped, covering his mouth and blinking in fake astonishment. “Is he here?”
“No, not yet. Such a brat,” L said fondly, steering him out of the elevator. “Come on, you can come in and wait for him.” When they walked into the dorm, L called out, “He’s here! Teen Top’s Changjo is here! We have company!”
“Hi,” Sungjong said, passing by.
Dongwoo and Hoya were on the couch and holy shit, they didn’t care that they had company. Hoya sat in the corner of the couch, Dongwoo on his lap, and they were making out like they were about to start taking off clothes. Dongwoo was in constant motion, grinding against him, pulling on his shirt, and damn, Dongwoo’s hips knew how to move.
“Hyungs,” L said. “Dongwoo hyung! Seriously! Changjo’s here!”
“What?” Finally breaking away from Hoya’s mouth, Dongwoo looked at them in a daze.
Clearing his throat, Hoya blinked, rubbing his hand over his mouth and looking away.
“Oh!” Dongwoo brightened. “Hi.”
“Please don’t be like this when Suho hyung comes over,” L said. He nudged Changjo along. “We’ll be in my room.”
Changjo had to ask. “Is it okay if we stay out here and-”
“Ya.” L dragged him onward. “It’s not a public performance.”
“Infinite H fighting!” he called. He heard Dongwoo’s laughter as L closed the door.
“Do your members know that you’re here?” L asked.
“Are you even allowed to be out right now?”
“No.” He sat on L’s bed.
“Maybe you wouldn’t get in so much trouble if you didn’t sneak around so much.”
L ruffled his own hair, then walked over and opened a closet door. He stared into the closet like someone looking for a late-night snack and bored with the contents of the fridge. Then he sighed and took off his shirt.
Wow. Was this a gift or torment? He looked so smooth and satiny all over. And he was more muscular than Changjo had expected. Changjo wanted to kiss every gorgeous part of him. “Should I applaud?”
“Everyone else does.” L took a shirt off of its hanger.
Exchanging a plain black T-shirt for a black T-shirt with a single white stripe around the torso? What a dramatic change. “Dressing up for Suho?”
“Putting on something clean.” His shirt on, L ruffled his hair again, then sat down beside Changjo on the bed. “Is everything okay? Besides your punishment?”
“Yeah.” Side-by-side like this, eye contact was too much. His gaze bounced from L’s thigh to the desk, to L’s thigh again, to the floor, and back to L’s thigh.
“I was going to take a nap before Suho hyung comes.”
A nap. No wonder L and C.A.P. had gotten along so well, sharing their favorite hobby. “You can sleep.”
“I don’t want to leave you unsupervised.”
It was the perfect opening. “I’ll sleep, too. Look, I’ll even sleep between you and the wall, so you’ll know if I get up.”
L gave him a suspicious look. “Stay in the room. Stay on the bed. Don’t bother my hyungs and don’t take anything.”
It was that easy? He wasn’t going to have to argue and convince? He smiled. “Do you want me to promise?”
“Not if you aren’t going to mean it.” L pushed him toward the wall, making him lay down. He scooted back, making space. He couldn’t believe that L was going along with it!
Plucking at the front of the shirt he’d just put on, L glanced down at it. Then he took it off and tossed it over his desk chair. Then he, whoa, got right into bed.
Heart racing, Changjo stared, disbelieving. This was too good to be true. All of L was right there, all of that smooth skin, the muscles in L’s arms, the line of hair trailing down from his navel. It didn’t seem right for him to be so gorgeous when he wasn’t even trying to look good. Flopping down on his butt, he stretched out, and then he rolled onto his side, right up against Changjo. Like it was nothing, he slung an arm around Changjo, snuggling right in like Changjo was his own personal teddy bear. Tucking the pillow under his head, he closed his eyes.
Breathing out carefully, Changjo took in the situation.
Pros: his visit to Infinite’s dorm was going way better than he’d expected, he had L’s half-naked body pressed against him from chest to knee, and this was definitely the best thing that had happened to him in all of these crappy weeks.
Cons: he was turned on and his dick was getting hard and he couldn’t do anything about it. Also, he liked L way too much.
Things to figure out: what was up with L lately? All of a sudden they got along better. The two of them had fought, and Suho was the one L wasn’t sure about, the one L was pulling away from. With him, L had weird flashes of being cooperative and sympathetic and even friendly. And there was way more skinship than there had ever been before. How had their fight made L like him more? Maybe the apology had made L like him more?
How much more?
He’d developed a hypothesis the other day, after talking to C.A.P. He was starting to suspect that he liked L. He cared too much what L thought. He wanted L to like him back.
He wasn’t sure how he felt about liking L. He kept poking at it, trying to figure it out, curious about his own reactions. He had a lot of time alone in his room lately, and he sat in there wondering how far he was willing to go to make L like him. He thought about his plan to be boyfriends, and how to make it more convincing, so that L would want to do it. He thought about L and Hoya kissing when he masturbated. He thought about how incredible sex with L would be. He thought about the way L had made him cry with one touch and one look, and he thought about that look, about how affectionate L had seemed. He thought about the stars in L’s eyes.
It was kind of funny to sit in his room and daydream about a good-looking idol, like he was a foolish, star-struck fan. It was a stupid crush, and he knew that he’d get over it soon. He’d never been interested in anybody for more than a couple of weeks before, besides Suho, and L was nothing like Suho.
It would be smart to keep his crush to himself, because once L found out, he’d never be allowed to forget about it. And he didn’t need L teasing him for the rest of his life, or the rest of his friendship with Suho, or the rest of his career, or whatever, however long he and L had to deal with each other. He didn’t want his members to know, either, not that he was confiding in them or even talking to them right now, and he didn’t want Suho to find out, because then Suho would just try to console him or help him or something, and that would be too embarrassing.
So it was a secret crush. And he’d get over it any minute now. But while it lasted, it felt so real, so exciting and important. Even when he’d noticed guys before, he’d never been this into them; his interest had never been so strong. Maybe that was just because he knew L pretty well and had more to base his feelings on? But he also knew L well enough to know how goofy and clumsy and weird L was, so shouldn’t that turn him off?
He remembered, a few years ago, a hoobae asking him why he didn’t have a boyfriend, and he’d laughed, because what the hell did he need a boyfriend for? He’d never wanted one. He hadn’t been allowed to have sex anyway, so what was the point? And now that he could have sex, he could have it with all sorts of guys, so why commit to just one person? Unless he found someone who would be okay with him giving it to his members and EXO. But why go to all of the trouble of being in a relationship and keeping the person happy and finding time to meet and putting up with complaints about how busy he was and being patient and fun and nice when he was exhausted and grumpy? Plus he’d have to hide it from the fans, plus whoever it was would just get jealous of the fans anyway. And all of that was assuming that he found the person interesting enough to want to be with. Sure, there were a ton of people he could hang out with, but over and over again, for the foreseeable future? When he could just work out and screw L.Joe and go to bed, instead? A boyfriend wasn’t worth the trouble; he didn’t really get the appeal.
He’d do it for Suho, but Suho was different. And Suho was never going to ask him, so it didn’t matter, anyway.
But the thought of being L’s boyfriend interested him. It made him feel kind of excited, like he was eager to try it. Was it an ego thing, getting to hold onto the secret that L was his while no one else had a chance? Was it a sex thing, because he thought that L was hot and if they were boyfriends he’d get to have some? But it couldn’t be only those things, because he felt too flustered and happy when L smiled at him. Flustered! Nothing flustered him, he didn’t do that.
L was asleep. He should’ve looked less attractive in his sleep; Changjo had watched enough idols sleep to know that seeing their relaxed faces without make-up took some of the glamour away. Take away their stylists and watch them stumble around the practice room botching their choreography, and it was obvious that idols were just regular people. But Changjo had seen L without make-up countless times. Had seen him in a bad mood. Had seen him laugh for ten minutes over nothing. Had seen him fall over in his own bedroom. When they’d debuted, they’d worked together enough that he’d actually taught L moves. And he still thought that L was interesting and good-looking and sexy. He even had this strange, tender feeling in his heart, like - - like - - like if he let himself, he’d really fall for L, really care a lot, really think that L was special and rare and precious.
Wow, that was weird. He refocused his thoughts, shaking the feeling off. Why was he so sentimental all of a sudden? Maybe his punishment was getting to him, and he was too lonely. Maybe this was all just hormones and once he actually got to have sex again, his brain chemistry would balance back out.
He definitely needed to get laid. Now that he could finally screw his members whenever he wanted, being cut off again was hell. He remembered beating his meat in Ricky’s bed last night, panting and really getting into it, picturing Hoya’s tongue sliding into L’s mouth, his cock rising up so hard and so red, his jizz spraying all over Ricky’s sheets. He’d been frustrated and desperate but god, it had felt great.
He was turned on now, too. It was uncomfortable, because his underpants were a fan gift and they were too small, and Niel’s pants were too tight, and there was no room for his swelling cock. He couldn’t do anything about it, though, because he didn’t want to wake up L. Licking his lips, he looked at L’s mouth. Relaxed like this, L’s lower lip looked so full. So tempting. He really, really wanted to kiss that mouth. Really, really wanted L to kiss him back.
Struggling with his urges, he swallowed, his gaze dipping to L’s bare shoulders. Something so simple as a guy’s shoulder shouldn’t have been interesting, but it was sexier and sexier the more he looked at it. The sight of L’s bare skin had cast some kind of spell over him; he thought that it was the most enticing, erotic, seductive thing ever. He wanted to kiss L all over, every inch, no limits.
Was it only his imagination, or in falling asleep, had L relaxed more against him, weight pressing forward onto him? He loved it. He wondered if L was too deeply asleep to feel the poke of his hard-on, or if L just didn’t care. His mind reminded him of L and Hoya’s cocks rubbing together, of Hoya’s hips rocking forward, of Hoya’s hand sliding under L’s shirt. The way L had kissed Hoya, the way Hoya had held on, it had been so obvious how much L liked it, how much L wanted more of it. And that moaning, so sexy. Deeper than he’d expected.
According to all of L’s stories, with Hoya, he was a top, but he hadn’t seemed aggressive or in charge when they’d been making out. Maybe because Hoya was hyung. The fantasy of kissing L like that, of making him moan like that, of making him hold on and want more, suddenly meant everything to Changjo.
Carefully, moving with strategic deliberation, Changjo lifted his hand and put it on L’s arm, just above the elbow. L’s skin was so warm. His thumb swept out and back, caressing L’s bicep. Such soft skin, so soft. It seemed like such a tiny thing to get away with, too minor to care about, but he felt triumphant. Any headway was a win.
He gazed at L’s face for a while, his eyes lingering here and there and then revisiting his favorite spots. It was too bad that L’s dimples weren’t out. He didn’t know what made L’s face so fascinating. Such a boring nose, and weren’t L’s eyebrows too thick? Maybe that was a manly charm, or something. He was pretty sure that L’s eyelashes were longer than his, and he was pretty sure that he liked that, and he didn’t know what to do with that feeling, that strange pride in L’s prettiness. L’s long bangs were all over the place, and he slowly, delicately finger-combed them back into order. He liked how thick L’s hair was. He couldn’t believe that L didn’t have any blemishes or anything.
He really liked L. He realized belatedly that he should be scheming on the best way to get up without waking L up. This was a great opportunity to find out what exactly was on L’s computer, or Sungyeol’s. But he hadn’t put any thought into that at all, and now he could easily come up with a dozen excuses to stay exactly where he was. He’d rather be here, with L pressed up against him, with L’s soft skin against his fingertips, than poking around somewhere else.
He liked L too much. He’d be relieved when his crush ended, right? It would be better that way. Was he getting soft in his old age? He felt like when his crush was over, he’d miss this.
He wondered if there were ways to get L to indulge him. Maybe if he burdened L with his feelings, L would take pity on him and treat him kindly. It would be good to have L on his side, wouldn’t it? He could act upset and confused by it, like a helpless kid, and L would take on a hyung’s role and guide him through it. He could explain how he hadn’t expected to fall for L, because he liked Suho so much, but all of a sudden he had all of these romantic feelings. If everything went really well, he might even get to blow L.
At that thought, his cock throbbed, and he bit into his lower lip, trying to hold his hips still. Damn, he really needed to rub up against something, and L was right here, and this torment was too much.
He didn’t care if he had to lie, sneak, or steal, he wanted to have sex with L. He wasn’t allowed to do anything like this with someone who wasn’t in Teen Top or EXO, but he didn’t care about that, either. Let them punish him some more; it would be so, so worth it.
Running his hand up L’s side, he groaned. He was so turned on, and L was so sexy, he felt hot all over, his face burning. “Hyung.” Breathing in, he rubbed his nose against L’s, nuzzling. “L hyung.” He didn’t even have a plan, he didn’t have anything but his own lust.
“Mmm.” L pushed at his chest, leaning back a couple of inches and yawning. Then, like nothing was going on, L snuggled in again, tucking in under his chin, and went back to sleep.
The. What?! Who - - how?! Amazed, Changjo didn’t even know what to do now. Wrapping his arm around L, he rested his chin on the top of L’s head and grimaced. Damn, his cock was too hard for this.
Shifting, L threw a leg over his, pressing forward, trapping him even more permanently against the wall. The movement rubbed right over his cock, and he moaned involuntarily, pleasure spiking. Shit, that couldn’t have been accidental. Was L messing with him? Catching his breath, wary now, he waited for another tease. But nothing happened, and then L snored.
Minutes passed, and then more minutes. He whimpered and felt tormented by his cock and fantasized about what sex with L might really be like. He rubbed his cheek against L’s hair and daydreamed about how to win L over and ways that he could get L to smile at him. He marveled over how much he cared, and wondered if it was possible that he really, actually did care. He was used to being close with his members and having more casual friendships with other idols, the kind of relationship where they hung out when they had time and didn’t bother with it when they were busy, the kind of relationship where they goofed around backstage when they were promoting at the same time and then went months without a word. And for those friendships, he preferred idols his own age when he could get them. Not someone ancient, someone C.A.P.’s age.
Wasn’t it bad enough that he was so close with Suho, who treated him like a kid and expected him to be full of integrity at all times? Why should he spare a thought for L, who treated him like a kid and constantly put him down? Up until their fight, things had always been tense and competitive between them. Sometime tonight, L had decided to be more comfortable with him, but who knew how long that would last?
When he looked at things from L’s perspective, though, he was surprised that L had gotten so close to him, even before the fight. He was C.A.P.’s member, C.A.P.’s dongsaeng, and C.A.P. had broken L’s heart. L had to have negative feelings toward him, and why not? And he’d been young when they’d met, so of course L thought of him as a kid. Just some kid, some bystander to L’s heartbreak, someone loyal to the guy who’d hurt L so badly. Considering how private and emotionally intense L could be, it was amazing that L had let him in so much.
Closing his eyes, he created a little scenario in his head. He pretended that he was L’s boyfriend, and he’d come over today as a matter of course. They were napping together now, and later they’d get up and order something to eat. Or they’d settle in the living room and play videogames. L would give him the warm, fond smile that L was always giving to other people like Suho; it would be all his, tonight. They’d make out on the sofa, and L would stroke his cock and tell him how hot he was, and maybe it would be all slow and steamy like relationship sex.
He and L got along best when they were playing off of each other and acting like a team. When that happened, he felt like L understood him. Suho was full of morals and ethics and rules, but Changjo had thought that L was like he was, a realist, someone who dealt with the world the way it really was. When L had outright accused him of being dead inside one too many times, he’d felt really upset by it. It had almost felt like betrayal. He’d thought that L got him, but there L was, acting like he was broken or something. He’d thought that they were the same in that way, but L had made a clear distinction between them, shoving him aside and setting him behind some boundary. It had been alienating.
He’d noticed that he had a different approach to life than most people. A lot of people went through life without examining anything; either out of some kind of inner bliss or out of general ignorance, they didn’t look too closely at the world around them. Changjo liked to figure people out. But he wasn’t only different; people thought that he was wrong to be the way that he was. They called him sneaky, they didn’t trust him, and sometimes they gave him this disbelieving look like he’d just exposed something incredibly ugly inside of himself. The older he got, the better he was at covering that up with outsiders; he was more and more adept at knowing which lines to cross and when to pretend innocence. But with people he was close to, like his members, he didn’t hide. They knew who he was, and they knew how he was, and he could be himself around them. He’d thought that L got him, and that he didn’t have to pretend with L, either. When L’s judgments became too harsh to brush off, he’d felt scalded. It had been like an ally had suddenly turned on him.
He wasn’t dead inside. And it wasn’t that he didn’t care who he hurt. He cared; that was why he selected his targets and his plots strategically. He didn’t just do anything willy-nilly to anybody he bumped into. He was very loyal to his members, and he was very careful with Suho. Even knowing that if he went too far, Ricky would forgive him, he still didn’t do anything, because he didn’t want to hurt his best friend. And he wasn’t running around stabbing and setting fire to people. He wasn’t a villain from a drama, ruining lives. He just tested people to see how far he could get. It was their fault for letting him, anyway. If they had any sense they wouldn’t indulge him so much.
The more he thought about it, the more unhappy he was that L didn’t understand him after all. He wanted to be close, but L had a terrible opinion of him. Why did the one person who should get him misunderstand so badly? It made him feel lonely and distressed.
L’s phone beeped. L made a tired, grumbling noise against Changjo’s chest.
Was that Suho? “I’ll get it, hyung.” He worked the phone out of L’s pocket and then checked the text over L’s shoulder.
I’m on my way, arriving soon.
He hoped that Suho would be glad to see him here. He hoped that Suho would forgive him. Ever since the two of them had become close, he’d always had a question in the back of his mind: what did he want out of this, what was he looking for, what was he trying to get from Suho? Information, sex, insight? He felt a lot calmer now, felt like that question had finally been settled. He wasn’t looking for anything but friendship. He wanted to be close to Suho only for the sake of being close. Suho was a really good hyung, and he didn’t need to push for anything else. Not even sex. It would only complicate things, and no matter how good it was, it wasn’t worth losing Suho over.
But now that he’d settled the Suho question, he had this strange emotional upheaval over L. What if Suho noticed his crush? It made him feel shy and uncomfortable. His feelings were a private thing. But he could tell Suho anything. Maybe Suho could help him get over L. Or maybe C.A.P. could tell him how to get over L, since apparently C.A.P. was the expert on making that a completely one-sided relationship.
He knew that his hyungs weren’t perfect. That had been obvious the first time he’d tried to teach them how to dance. How many hours had he and Ricky spent complaining to each other about how awful C.A.P. and Chunji were? But he’d been with them day in and day out for so many years now, he knew exactly what was wrong with them. He hadn’t thought that there was anything about them that he didn’t know. And then L had tossed a whole pile of hurt into his lap and forced him to look at it. His hyungs had flaws he hadn’t known about. What had gone wrong between Teen Top and Infinite ran a lot deeper than he’d ever realized. That was a hard thing to admit.
Rationally, he understood it. But the part of him that had a crush on L couldn’t comprehend it at all. How could C.A.P. be best friends with L and have sex with L and not develop feelings? Who could be that intimate with this complex, charismatic, contradictory, cosplaying guy and not fall hard? L had wormed right in under Suho’s defenses, so how could C.A.P. be unaffected?
Maybe that was why L thought that everybody in Teen Top was broken. He thought that C.A.P. was cold and emotionless and Changjo was manipulative and untrustworthy and they were all dead inside. But that just proved that L didn’t understand them.
Changjo balked at the idea of proving himself to anybody. He had to prove himself to people over and over. He had to convince a never-ending parade of adults and authority figures that yes, he was talented enough and yes, he was mature enough and yes, he could handle it. He wasn’t going to start trying to impress anyone for fun in his time off. But if he could get L to understand him, wouldn’t it be worth it? He wanted L to see him as he really was. Maybe he was selective about who he cared about - - he didn’t just hand out his heart to everybody who asked for it - - but wasn’t L the same way?
Running his thumb over the screen, he wondered if he should text back. He didn’t want to mislead Suho and pretend to be L - - he didn’t want to start off on a dishonest note - - but he didn’t want to let Suho know that he was here, in case Suho decided to tell C.A.P.
He should wake L up, but he didn’t want to do that, either. He was really reluctant to end this moment. He didn’t know if he’d ever have L all to himself like this again.
“Hyung.” Skimming his hand over L’s back, he marveled at how soft L’s skin was. It wasn’t like he’d never touched another human being before, but there was something really alluring about L. “Hyung, L hyung.” Cupping his hand under L’s jaw, he lifted L’s face, getting L’s nose out of his cleavage. With an irritated sound, L shook him off. “L hyung.” What would happen if he kissed L’s cheek? “Suho hyung texted you, he’s coming.”
“Wake me up when he’s here,” L mumbled. With one hand splayed against Changjo’s chest, he smushed his face into his pillow and went back to sleep.
Had something in the water made the ’92 line lazy? Why did they have to sleep all of the time? Taking L’s hand, Changjo put it on his waist instead, then leaned forward, curling around L, his cheek on L’s shoulder. Was L genuinely more comfortable with him now? Was it because of his apology? Or did L not take him seriously and not even care anymore? Maybe L felt closer to him than ever, or maybe L didn’t think anything of him and was okay treating him any which way.
That was a depressing thought.
The phone rang. It was Suho. “Hyung, you have to wake up.” He kissed L’s shoulder and then wished that he hadn’t. The less he did now, the easier it would be to forget that he’d ever had a crush at all, once it was gone. “L hyung, Suho hyung’s calling.” Smiling to himself, he leaned in nose-to-nose. “Ya, Myungsoo, get up.”
L’s eyes shot open.
He’d never gotten L’s “you’re dead to me” stare so close up before. “You’re pretty when you’re glaring.” Ouch! Rubbing his ear, he shrank back against the wall while L took the phone from him.
“Suho hyung?” L sat up, yawned, and ruffled his hair. “Yes, okay. Okay.” Ending the call, he got up and put his shirt on. Then, suddenly in idol mode, he turned to the mirror on the wall, giving his reflection a professional assessment, adjusting his shirt and fixing his hair with practiced touches. “You’ll have to come with me, I can’t leave you in here alone.”
“I can hang out with Dongwoo hyung.”
Sighing, L opened the door. Curious, Changjo followed him out.
Sunggyu was asleep along the couch with his head in Woohyun’s lap. Woohyun was paging through a notebook. “Ah, hyungs,” L said.
“Hmm?” Woohyun smiled. “Our baby came to visit again.”
It was amazing, how people had no concept of the passing of time. Like if they met someone when he was fourteen, he stayed fourteen in their minds permanently, forever. “Hi, hyung.”
“Suho hyung’s here, I’m going to bring him up. Can you watch this one for a minute?” L asked. “Just don’t let him touch anything and don’t let him out of your sight. And don’t let him near your phone.”
And don’t let him run around with sharp knives. And don’t let him play with matches. And make sure that he holds his sippy cup with two hands or he might spill. Changjo rolled his eyes.
“Sure,” Woohyun said.
“Thanks.” L hesitated, looking suddenly doubtful, then hunched his shoulders and left.
For a moment, Changjo was worried about L. He wanted go to with L and say reassuring things and make sure that L’s reunion with Suho went well. He felt concerned and protective. When it came to Suho and L’s friendship, he wasn’t used to being worried that L’s feelings might be hurt. Usually he was rooting for Suho to ditch L as soon as possible. Having a crush on someone he was used to loathing was strange. All of his feelings were reversing and intensifying.
“So. Changjo-goon.” Tossing the notebook aside, Woohyun grinned at him. “How’ve you been?”
“Fine, hyung. You?”
Before Woohyun could answer, a voice said, “Oh, you’re still here?” Changjo turned around to see Sungjong coming out of a bedroom. Into a phone, Sungjong said, “Yeah, he’s right here. Mm-hmm, in our dorm. Do you want to talk to him?”
Who the hell was on the phone? Someone Sungjong spoke politely to, but someone who would call Sungjong looking for Changjo. That description didn’t fit anyone Changjo had ever met.
“Okay, hyung. Sure. Call me later, okay?” Sungjong’s trademark bubbling laugh. “Okay, hyung. Bye.” He hung up and turned away.
“Sungjong hyung,” Changjo said hastily. “Who was that?”
“Oh.” Sungjong cast him a look, then turned away again. “Chanyeol hyung. That Ricky kid is looking for you.”
Ricky was looking for him. Looking hard enough to get Chanyeol to call Sungjong. Ricky was trying to track him down without involving leaders. He was in serious trouble and Ricky was trying to get in touch with him. Shit. He couldn’t worry about that now, but he had to worry about it, because Chanyeol would tell Ricky where he was. And if Ricky could find out, so could his hyungs. They were going to show up at Infinite’s dorm with a battering ram and drag him out like a criminal.
Except, no. They wouldn’t come to Infinite’s dorm. C.A.P., here? Chunji, here? No way. Okay, he was safe. Unless they sent L.Joe? No, it would be too embarrassing. They’d wait for him to come home.
He’d get his hands on a phone and call Ricky before he went back to the dorm. Or would they expect that, and pounce on the phone as soon as it rang? Was Ricky betraying him and calling around not independently but because the hyungs were forcing it? No, probably not; that wasn’t C.A.P.’s style.
Okay, as long as only Ricky knew where he was, and as long as he stayed somewhere his members would be afraid to show up, he was safe. So he could finish his talk with Suho; he had time.
“Are you supposed to be here?” Woohyun asked.
“Hmm?” he asked, turning around with his perfectly crafted vaguely questioning expression. “Oh, sure. I don’t have my phone, though, so nobody can call me directly.”
The door opened. “Members!” L called. “Suho hyung’s here!”
“I don’t know why I try to sleep out here,” Sunggyu said, swinging his feet to the floor and sitting up, rubbing at his eyes. “Come on,” he muttered, leaving and pulling Woohyun along by the hand.
“Hi, Suho!” Woohyun called with a wave, trotting after Sunggyu.
“Hi!” Suho called.
Changjo held back, biting his lip. He didn’t know how Suho felt about him, and he didn’t want to mess things up. He had to tread carefully and follow Suho’s lead. Even though there were a lot of similarities between playing contrite and strategizing his way back into someone’s good graces and actually being contrite and wanting Suho to trust him again, it felt very different to him. There was a lot of overlap in the outward behavior, but he felt his own sincerity very strongly. He felt terrible about what he’d done, and he felt terrible about alienating Suho. It was really good to see Suho again. Except for the tension in Suho’s expression; that made knots of anxiety twist in his stomach.
“Changjo-goon.” Suho frowned at L. “You didn’t tell me that he was here.”
“I forgot,” L said, and Changjo’s heart plummeted. Oh, no. It couldn’t be like this. L had pulled back behind some chic wall of ice; Changjo could see it in his cool expression, the way he kept his chin up, the “I dare you to call me on my bullshit, just try it” tone to his voice. This was the way he treated people he didn’t like, people he didn’t want to let in. He was resisting, pushing Suho away. God damn it, this was only going to make everything so much worse! It was so hard for L to trust people, really trust them, and C.A.P. had to be a part of that, and Changjo felt horrible.
“Do you have permission to be here?” Suho asked. “Does C.A.P. know?”
If he was honest, Suho would try to make him leave, but he couldn’t start off dishonestly. “No. I knew that you were coming over, and I wanted to see you. It was the best way I had to apologize in person.”
“I can’t go behind your leader’s back. Sneaking around like this, this is why I worry about you. You can’t be like this.” Suho turned aside, running his hand through his hair. “I’m so upset, I don’t know what to do with the two of you.”
“You have to keep doing what you’ve been doing.” During an important moment like this, Changjo wasn’t used to speaking without thinking. Pausing, he examined his statement and was glad to find it pretty sound. “You’ve helped me a lot, hyung. I’m maturing a lot because of you. I know that I make a lot of mistakes, but I get some things right, too. I snuck out last time to apologize to L hyung, not for fun, not to piss anybody off or just to prove that I could escape, I did it because I really wanted to apologize to him in person. And I snuck out tonight to see him again and to apologize to you.” Oops, too much honesty. Maybe he’d get lucky and L wouldn’t notice that “see him again” part. “I know that I deserve some kind of punishment, but I have to apologize, too. I don’t feel right without it. And wouldn’t you tell me how important it is for an adult to stand up and face his mistakes? You teach me important lessons, hyung. I’ve learned a lot from you. You can’t abandon me now, can you?”
“Sneaking out isn’t the way to do it.”
“L hyung needs you, too,” Changjo said. “His whole team is getting close with EXO, and he won’t talk to anybody there besides you. He’s so picky and sensitive, we need to help him to open up, and he does that with you. If you leave now, he’ll never make another friend again.”
“Suho hyung doesn’t want friends,” L said. His tone was disdainful, the way his gaze flickered over Suho was contemptuous, and his whole demeanor was so icy that Changjo felt like somewhere between the elevator and the front door, they’d just lost all hope of ever being close to him again. “He wants people he can judge and instruct and be better than.”
“That’s what you think?” Suho asked, drawing back.
“No,” Changjo said. “No, that’s not what he really thinks. L hyung, stop it!” He needed to find the reset button to turn L back into Myungsoo. He really didn’t want to betray L’s confidence, but what else was he supposed to do? Sit back and watch L burn everything to the ground? Okay, no, he’d refocus, he’d fix all of the other problems first. He didn’t want to have this entire conversation in the middle of the dorm, but if he suggested that they go back into L’s room, L would probably kick them out instead. “Suho hyung, please, let me apologize. I’m really sorry for what I did, and for what I said. I apologized to L hyung already, but I want to apologize to you, too. It was wrong for me to do that, and it was wrong for me to involve you. I got upset and I lost control of myself. I’m not normally like that. I wrestle with my members all of the time, but not like that, we don’t hit each other when we fight.”
“You shouldn’t have played around with L’s feelings like that,” Suho said. “You have to be more respectful and more careful. And fighting? You’re too old for that. This isn’t a playground. You’re an adult now. And no matter what, you’re an idol. Think of your members, think of your fans. Think of how much your company’s poured into you. This is how you repay everyone else’s hard work?”
He hated being chastised. He knew he deserved it, but it was so painful, coming from someone whose opinion mattered so much. “I’m sorry,” he said. His gaze dropped, not because he wanted to seem contrite, but because he was so ashamed that it was hard to meet Suho’s eyes. “I’ll work harder on myself.”
“I can’t have you around my members if this is how you act,” Suho said. “Not for fun and not for sex, not if you’re cruel and antagonistic and violent. I think that you should take a break from them for a while.”
His breath caught, and his gaze flew to Suho’s face again. He had to know. “A break from you?”
“No.” Suho put his hand on Changjo’s shoulder, and his expression was solemn, but his words were beautiful. “I love you, Changjo-ah, and I know that you’re better than this. I just need to see that you understand that you’re better than this, too. My members are precious to me, so I have to protect them, that’s my duty as their guardian. But you’re precious to me, too, and I’d never forgive myself if I walked away from this special dongsaeng so soon. Let’s be close again, and let’s make sure that this doesn’t happen again. I want to support you, I want to watch you embrace becoming the man I know you are.”
He was so relieved, he hugged Suho. When Suho hugged him back, he mumbled, “I love you, too,” against Suho’s shoulder. “I’ll work hard, I promise.” He wanted to tell Suho how honest he was being, but then he’d have to confess to how manipulative he’d been before. Then again, maybe that would be a good thing.
“I’ve missed you.” Suho took his face in both hands and smiled at him, really smiled, looking happy and fond of him and glad to be with him. It made him feel a hundred times better. “I’ve missed your face so much, it seems like I haven’t seen you in years. Chen caught me looking at your photos on-line, I don’t think he’ll ever stop teasing me about it.”
Delighted, he laughed as Suho’s hands dropped. “You looked me up on-line? You know what I look like.”
“But I missed you. And you’re so handsome these days. Your fans take such nice photos. And they’ve been so worried about you! They can tell that things are wrong. You shouldn’t make them worry.”
“I know.” His gaze dropping, he pouted a little. Okay, maybe that was partially for effect. “I’ll do better.”
Suho squeezed his shoulder again. He watched Suho’s gaze swing over to L.
L gazed at them emotionlessly, like the cameras were rolling and his arch nemesis had just walked into the room and his character was filled with scorn but pretending not to care. Except that Changjo couldn’t tell if he was acting, or if he’d actually decided in the last two minutes to hate them.
Hate both of them, or just hate Suho? Maybe both of them. But maybe only Suho. Earlier, L had been comfortable with him.
He decided to gamble. Taking a few steps forward, he went over and put his arm around L. “Hyung.” L was still giving Suho that cold look. “Let’s go into your room for a minute, okay?” L usually responded well to being touched - - as long as it was by the right people - - so Changjo took another risk and leaned in, putting his forehead to L’s temple. “Suho hyung came all the way over here on a busy day, let’s at least talk to him. There’s a lot to clear up. Please?”
“Yeah,” L said. He didn’t blink and he didn’t take his gaze from Suho. “Yeah, there are still a few things to say.”
That sounded ominous. “Great,” Changjo said. Gently, he nudged until L turned and walked off. Then he took Suho’s hand and hurried, in case L decided to close the door and lock them out.
Once all three of them were in the room, he closed the door and sat on L’s bed. L sat down beside him, then scooted back to lean against the wall, positioned behind him so he had to turn around to see. Suho sat on Sungyeol’s desk chair and looked concerned. Was L hiding from Suho, or deliberately putting him in the middle, or what?
“You two seem closer,” Suho said. “That’s good. I’m really glad to see that. I was worried.”
“L hyung likes me more now that I’ve apologized to him,” Changjo said. “I don’t know why, maybe because I said that he has a precious heart.”
Suho smiled at him. “It’s a very precious heart. I’m glad that you see that. Yours is precious, too.”
“You think so?” L asked. He sounded tense and threatening. Had he taken some acting class on villains lately? Changjo expected to turn around and see him shrouded in shadows or surrounded by smoke. Maybe his eyes would glow red. “You think that his heart is precious?” Wait, that “you think so” had been about what Suho had said about Changjo, and not what Suho had said about L? How did that make sense? “Then you’ll protect it?”
“I’ve always tried to protect Changjo’s heart,” Suho said, like he didn’t appreciate the insinuation. “You know how precious he is to me, it was all we talked about when we got to know each other.”
It was? They’d bonded over how much Suho liked him? No wonder L couldn’t stand him. Wait, Suho went around telling people how precious he was? He hadn’t expected that. For someone so private, Suho sure didn’t mind if the whole world knew how close the two of them were. Hunh, maybe that was proof that Suho didn’t intend to have sex with him. Or, no, that was a way for Suho to safeguard against having sex with him. The more people knew how close they were, the more Suho risked by becoming sexual with him. Making sure that everyone knew they were close ensured that Suho wouldn’t give them anything to speculate about. He was glad that he’d given up on the idea of sex with Suho, because a revelation like that would’ve frustrated him too much. Well, whatever, it was really nice to know that Suho ran around talking about him, anyway. He wondered what exactly Suho had said.
“Then you won’t have any trouble taking care of him,” L said. “Staying beside him like a real hyung. Not pushing him aside as soon as you decide he’s not worth it anymore.”
Hey. “No one’s pushing anybody anywhere,” Changjo said. “Suho hyung’s too loyal for that. He’s responsible about his commitments. How could it be easy for him to throw us away? You saw how difficult it was for him to open up to us. He doesn’t pick people up lightly, and he doesn’t reject them lightly, either.”
“It will be bad for you, if you hurt him,” L warned. “You have more to lose than anyone.”
What?! Changjo turned around, staring at L, surprised not to see horns and a tail. “Seriously, was your villain class fun? Did they teach you how to rub your hands together when you cackle, too? Why are you talking like this?”
Looking startled, L blinked, and he looked incredibly vulnerable in that instant, and oh, god, he wasn’t acting. He wasn’t playing a role. He was genuinely this upset.
Changjo’s thoughts whirled. With every second that passed, L looked more and more unhappy, miserable, were those tears in his eyes? Please let those not be tears, no, no, what was with the crying? Appalled, Changjo scrambled for answers, needing to figure this out, needing to get it right.
L didn’t trust Suho. He’d written off Suho, rejecting Suho before Suho rejected him. But Changjo and Suho had made up, and he was worried that Suho would do the same thing to Changjo. He was trying to protect Changjo.
“No, hyung, no.” He might be a hyung, but he was as sensitive as a little boy sometimes. “You don’t have to look out for me like this. Suho hyung’s a good hyung. He loves both of us, he wouldn’t treat us carelessly.” He rubbed L’s thigh, trying to be reassuring, while his thoughts spun. How could he convince L, what proof could he use? There had to be something, something, good evidence, a trusted source. Ah! “After what happened between you and my members, Sunggyu hyung wouldn’t let anyone get together anymore, right? He protected you, he made sure that even Niel hyung and Sungyeol hyung couldn’t see each other. But he’s let your members be with EXO. He’s let you get close with Suho hyung. How does he talk, does he warn you to leave Suho hyung alone or be careful?”
“He thinks that Suho hyung’s a terrible leader,” L muttered. “He doesn’t take care of his members.”
Okay, that wasn’t a helpful point. “But what about Suho hyung and you? Does he hate it?”
L frowned. He still looked angry and unhappy, but there weren’t tears in his eyes anymore. “He’s supportive.”
“Don’t you trust him? He wouldn’t let you and Suho hyung get this close if it weren’t okay. He wouldn’t let his beloved members get close with EXO if he didn’t trust Suho hyung, and if he thought your feelings were in any danger, he’d shield you more than this. He knows that Suho hyung’s a good person. Hasn’t he been careful with his beloved members until now?”
“Beloved members,” L muttered, like it was funny. He made a face, tapping his fingers against Changjo’s thigh. It was kind of amazing, how well he responded to Changjo today. Something really had changed. “He watches out too much. Sometimes Sungyeol hyung calls him too possessive. But he doesn’t do it for himself, he does it for us. There was somebody I started talking to, I thought that we could be close, but Sunggyu hyung told me to stop seeing him. I stopped, and then later I found out things. It made me feel like I couldn’t trust anybody, like I had too much of a habit of finding the wrong people.”
Changjo wondered why he’d listened to Sunggyu and broken things off. “Then you know that Sunggyu hyung wouldn’t let you be this close to someone who’s so bad for you. Doesn’t everybody like Suho hyung? It’s not because he has everybody fooled, it’s because he really is a good guy. Some of them are around, here and there.”
L looked haunted. “Everybody fakes it sometimes.”
“We all have impulses,” Changjo said. “Sometimes you’re pissed off and you’re tired and you’re in pain and you have to go up onstage and smile when you really feel like telling everybody to fuck off. When you greet the fans with a smile, does that mean that you don’t mean it? Are you faking it? Or are you just pushing past the pain to put on a good face for someone you care about? Do you do it because you want their money or because you don’t want them to worry about you? Stuff’s complex sometimes, that doesn’t mean you’re a soulless fake who should suffer for his crimes. We do good things and bad things. We have bad feelings and do good things anyway. Sometimes we mess up. If you expect Suho hyung to give you room to be human, then you have to let him be human, too. He struggles with a lot. You can be frustrated with him for being weird and having high standards and having trained for seven years and still not having any clue how to dance, but at least be angry with him for things he’s really done. Don’t make up things he might do and hold those against him ahead of time. He doesn’t do that to you.” L’s expression was softening into a worried frown. “Hasn’t he always given you room to make mistakes? Hasn’t he always been understanding?”
L’s eyes widened in a wounded flash of guilt. Something had struck a very sensitive nerve. His gaze flew past Changjo to Suho.
“Is it okay if I talk now?” Suho asked gently, fondly, coming over to sit beside Changjo.
“Hyung,” L said, like he had a hundred things to say and didn’t know how to get any of it out.
Suho put his hand on L’s knee, right under where Changjo’s hand rested on his thigh. “It’s okay, L-ah. I’m sorry that you’ve been so upset. Is it my fault, did I take too long to reach out to you, that you think I’d throw you away? Did I spend too much time telling you how precious Changjo is to me, and not how precious you are? You mean a lot to me. You’re not only Sunggyu hyung’s beloved member, you’re my beloved L, too. I got upset, I had a lot of things to think about, but I never wanted to lose you. I’m sorry that it seemed that way for even a minute.”
“You should mess up more,” Changjo told Suho. “You give great apologies.”
“I’m sorry.” L looked distraught; he was pulling up fistfuls of sheets. “I thought - - I was scared - - I assumed too much.”
“You’ve been through a lot,” Suho said, shifting over to sit side-by-side with him against the wall. “You’ve learned a lot about the bad sides of the people around you. Maybe it’s time to learn about the good sides again.”
“I’m sorry, hyung, I’m so sorry, I should believe in you more.” Squeezing his eyes shut, L shook his head. “I always think the worst of you. I hate it, I don’t want to be like this. You’ve always been so good to me.”
“The older you get, the more experiences you have, and the more you get hurt,” Suho said. “It can be harder and harder to trust. But there are times when you have to put your faith in the people around you. You have to take that risk once in a while. And you’ll see that always holding back, cringing, waiting for the worst, means that you miss all of the good stuff while you’re guarding against the bad. That’s no way to live.” With that said, Suho leaned against L, putting his head on L’s shoulder, relaxing right in. L took a wondering look, then immediately put an arm around him, encouraging him to stay.
No fair, Changjo wanted some skinship, too. “Are we all close again?” Things had to be great, if Suho was cuddling in like this.
“Yes,” Suho said.
“Yes,” L said.
“Good.” Changjo dove in, curling up right in between them, snuggling into the dip between their legs, his head on L’s thigh. Suho laughed, and then he had two hands on him, Suho caressing his face, L stroking his hair. He grinned, happy with their affection, relieved that everything was so friendly now.
“I’m glad that the two of you are so close,” Suho said.
“Mmm.” It was weird. He’d just helped L and Suho to get back together. Instead of using their split to his advantage, he’d pushed them back toward each other. And he’d been genuinely worried, too. L being so upset had freaked him out, and he’d been scared that they’d lose each other. Since when did he care so much about the stability of their relationship with each other? Wasn’t he the one wishing they’d break up?
“The things you say about him,” L said. “I used to think that you were too idealistic, that he had you fooled. But now I think you’re right. He really is all of those things.”
Suho’s caress skimmed down his nose and skirted his chin. “I wouldn’t love him so much if there weren’t so much to love.”
Changjo was really enjoying this conversation. He stayed quiet, hoping that they’d keep going. He was fascinated; what, specifically, did they mean? What “things” was L referring to?
“If you want him, you should have him,” L said. “I’ll shield you.”
Changjo turned those words over and over, taking the sentence apart and examining it from all sides. L sounded sincere, but how could he mean something like that?
“Oh, please,” Suho said. He laughed, but he sounded agonized. “Don’t offer me things like that. I can’t, I really can’t. And it wouldn’t be good for either one of us.”
“Why not?” L asked.
“Changjo needs someone his own age to play with, someone he can relax and be himself with, not a hyung. And I can’t pick up another dongsaeng to take care of, I’m already stretched too thin. I can’t ruin something this important to me for something that won’t last.”
Suho had never spoken this frankly about the possibility of something happening between them. Changjo couldn’t believe it. Was everybody getting more honest today?
“You should at least get to take him for a drive once in a while,” L said.
“I don’t think that I’m built for casual sex,” Suho said.
“Mmm. Me, neither,” L said.
Changjo was. He definitely was. He was built for any and every kind of sex there was.
Suho caressed his neck, fingers running down across his collarbone. “We have to get you back to your members.”
“L hyung’s too upset, we shouldn’t leave him alone.”
L snorted. “Don’t make me your excuse.”
There was a sudden cry of “Hyung!” from the next room. It was such a familiar sound that Changjo almost didn’t notice it. That exasperated tone; he wondered what Ricky was fussing about now.
“Who’s that?” L asked.
“Shit,” Changjo said, leaping to his feet. “It’s Ricky,” he explained, opening the door.
He barely had one foot out of the room before Ricky spotted him and grabbed at him, pulling him out. “We have to go! What are you doing?” Ricky demanded, wide-eyed and red to the ears. “You have to get back!”
“What are you doing here?” he demanded. “Did you come by yourself? How did you get here?”
“I snuck out!” Ricky shouted, smacking his shoulder. “You stupid, stupid fucker, I snuck out to warn you! My whole life is going to hell because of you!”
He cringed away as Ricky pounded on his arms and chest. “Sorry! I’m sorry! I didn’t know!”
“What’s happening?” Suho asked. “Ricky-ah, tell hyung everything.” Sungjong, who’d apparently let Ricky in, looked like all of this was funny to him.
“They’re looking for him,” Ricky explained, popping him one last time. “C.A.P. hyung and Chunji hyung and the managers. They’re going around looking for him. They left me at home with L.Joe hyung and Niel hyung, and I ran away, and I’m going to be in so much trouble if we don’t get back. You have until midnight, they said midnight, and then Andy hyung’s going to get involved. It’s going to be really bad, Changjo, we have to go.”
Oh, fuck. “I have to go,” he said, running for his shoes.
“I’ll take you,” L said.
“I’ll take him,” Suho said.
“No, I’ll do it,” L said. “If it’s you, they’ll be embarrassed, but if it’s me, they’ll be more lenient. C.A.P.’s too afraid to face me, he’ll be nicer if I’m there.”
Yes! “Can Dongwoo hyung drive us?” Changjo asked.
“Maknae, go get Dongwoo hyung,” L said. “Give me one second, I have to fix my hair.”
“Fix your hair?” Ricky asked in disbelief.
“Do you want me to save your life or not?” L asked, and disappeared into his room.
A key in the lock. L shooed everyone out; the four Teen Top kids scurried to their rooms, silently closing doors.
The front door began to open. He sat back on the couch, crossing his arms over his chest, arranging his face into a patient expression. Showtime.
Chunji and C.A.P. came in, taking off their shoes. For a moment, in the entryway, they didn’t spot him. “He has five minutes,” Chunji warned. “Five fucking minutes, and that’s it.”
“Maybe we’re being too hard on him,” C.A.P. said.
“Screw that,” Chunji snapped. “He’s too old for these games, and - - holy shit.” Jumping back, Chunji stumbled over his shoes and landed on his ass.
“What?” C.A.P. asked, reaching down to help him up.
Staring at L, Chunji batted C.A.P.’s hands away and pointed. “What’s he doing here?”
Turning, C.A.P. finally noticed L. He looked taken aback. “L?”
“Dongwoo hyung drove me,” L said. “He’s in the kitchen. We brought Changjo home.”
Chunji’s expression hardened. “He was with you?”
“I hope that you can understand.” L got up, his posture relaxed, his movements easy. “Changjo’s a special dongsaeng, and I’ve been really upset since we fought. When he snuck out before, it was to come and apologize to me, and when he came to see me tonight, I was really a mess. He made such a big difference. I feel awful that he’s in so much trouble. I would really be grateful if you could forgive both of us for tonight.”
“I didn’t know that he went to see you,” C.A.P. said.
“He felt like he couldn’t rest until he’d apologized and made sure that everything was okay between us,” L said. He held onto C.A.P.’s gaze too long. “I think that’s the kind of behavior it would be a mistake to punish.”
“He’s not in trouble for apologizing, he’s in trouble for sneaking out,” Chunji said. “Which he’s done twice now.”
“Thanks for bringing him back,” C.A.P. said. He seemed sincere. “I’m sorry about all of this.” A rueful smile flickered over his face and he rubbed his chin. “I have a lot of things to be sorry to you for.”
L nodded but didn’t address that. “You’re right to be worried about Changjo. I’m worried, too, but hiding him at the dorm isn’t going to help him. Suho hyung is a good influence on him, and keeping him away from that seems like a bad idea. He needs more positive influences in his life, not fewer of them. Even if you want to punish him in some ways, at least let him see Suho hyung.”
“And let him see you?” Chunji asked.
“That’s up to you.” He shifted his weight. “We should go, I just wanted to stay until you came home. I hope that you won’t be too hard on him.” He raised his voice. “Dongwoo hyung!”
Dongwoo came out of the kitchen, wiping his hands on his pants. “Oh, hi! Hello, hello,” he said, smiling broadly and bowing at C.A.P. and Chunji.
“Hi, hyung,” C.A.P. said, returning his smile.
Chunji’s smile was so forced and tense, he looked like he was in pain.
“We’ll go, so the Teen Top members can talk,” L said.
“Oh! Sure, okay,” Dongwoo said. “The babies said they hadn’t eaten, so I started some ramen and things. It would be good if you’d go and check on it in a minute.”
“Thanks, hyung,” C.A.P. said.
L moved toward the door, Dongwoo following, and C.A.P. and Chunji quickly got out of their way. “It’s good to see you,” Dongwoo said as he put on his shoes. “How’s everything been?”
“We’ve been good,” C.A.P. said. “How about you? Infinite’s been working hard.”
“Teen Top’s been working hard!” Dongwoo exclaimed. “Your choreography scares me! We should do another special stage like we used to do, and do each other’s routines. I want to do all of your jumps and everything.”
C.A.P. chuckled. “Don’t suggest it to Sunggyu hyung, he’ll never forgive you.”
“Aw, it would be fun.”
“Changjo-ah!” L called impulsively. “Come and say good-bye!”
Slowly, a door opened. Changjo emerged. His posture was cowed and repentant, his expression was youthful and innocent, and his steps were short compared to his normal graceful, long-legged stride. He kept his head down, his gaze flickering here and there uncertainly as he approached. He’d changed into gray sweatpants and a navy blue T-shirt that was too big for him. Chunji was glaring a thousand daggers of death.
Dongwoo laughed. “You look so sad!”
“Good-bye, hyung.” Changjo bowed. “Thank you for bringing me back.”
L hugged him, partly to mess with C.A.P., and partly because it was just something L wanted to do. It felt good, and when he hugged back, L kissed his ear. “Be good, okay?” Stepping back a little, L smoothed his hair. “If you keep misbehaving, you’ll only be punished more, and then we’ll never see each other.”
Changjo nodded, eyes wide and solemn. “I understand.”
It occurred to him that it might feel good to kiss Changjo. Perplexed by that thought, he pushed it away. “If you ever get your phone back, call me, okay?” He smiled, gazing into Changjo’s eyes. Cupping Changjo’s face in his hands, he brushed his thumbs over Changjo’s cheeks. Being in Teen Top’s dorm and seeing all of the Teen Top members in an intimate, private setting and talking to C.A.P. again, something about it all made him realize how much he liked Changjo. He’d thought that he might be over C.A.P., but now he knew for sure how true it was. He’d just said all of those things about how special Changjo was to him and how he hoped that they wouldn’t punish Changjo for effect, to mess with C.A.P., to do a favor for the kid. But now he was realizing how true it was. He really did want the freedom to see more of Changjo.
“Okay, hyung.” Changjo’s eyes were full of questions.
It was funny, the unexpected people he felt drawn to. He wondered why Sunggyu hadn’t done a better job of warning him away from this one. He ran his thumb just under Changjo’s lower lip, coaxing Changjo’s mouth into a smile.
For an instant, a happy, puzzled, interested smile flickered over Changjo’s face, and then he caught himself and looked sad and regretful again.
L still wanted to kiss him. What was that about? “Good night.” Not really interested in C.A.P. or Chunji anymore, L said good-bye to them to be polite, then left while Dongwoo was still trying to make conversation.
In the car, he leaned back, watching the streetlights pass as Dongwoo drove. He really liked Changjo’s face so much. Changjo’s expressions could be very subtle sometimes, just a little twitch here, a little quirk there, but they said so much. “Who do you think is better-looking? C.A.P. or Changjo?”
“Chunji,” Dongwoo said without hesitating.
L chuckled. “No, hyung. Between C.A.P. or Changjo?”
“Mmm.” Dongwoo drummed his thumbs on the wheel as he thought about it. “Isn’t Ricky better-looking? He’s so handsome and he doesn’t even have to work at it. And he’s really the most adorable one, sometimes he’s so cute that I want to squish him up and pet him.”
L turned his head to look at Dongwoo. “Hyung, if I ask you again, are you going to bring up Niel next?”
“What?” Dongwoo glanced at him distractedly and then refocused on the road. “What is it, C.A.P. or Changjo? I don’t know. How do you tell a thing like that?”
There were definitely ways to tell. “Okay, who’s better-looking, me or Sunggyu hyung?”
Dongwoo grinned. “You mean up here?” He drew a circle around his face. “Or down there?” He drew a circle around his lap. “Because when things down there are nice enough, things up here look beautiful to me.”
The dorm was quiet, the room was dark, and after Chanyeol spent forever patting around the bed, he found his phone under Baekhyun’s shoulder. With Baekhyun sleeping against him, he texted Ricky. Ricky-ah, is it okay? What happened? Did you find Changjo?
His phone rang. Oh, it was Ricky. He answered quickly and whispered, “Hello?” Baekhyun pushed at his chest in sleepy irritation.
“Hyung, it’s Teen Top’s Chunji. I’m calling to let you know that Ricky doesn’t have his phone right now. There’s no use in trying to call or text because he won’t have it back for a while.”
Chunji had it? Why couldn’t - - oh. Oh, shit. “Is he in trouble?”
“He won’t have his phone for a while,” Chunji repeated. “I’ll hang up now. Good night, hyung.”
“Good night,” he said to a dead line. Oh, shit.
Knocking at his door. So annoying. Sunggyu pulled the covers over his head. More knocking?! It sounded like L. “Go away,” he muttered.
Beside him in bed, Woohyun was shifting around. “What is it?”
“Sorry, hyung. Can I talk to Sunggyu hyung?”
“No,” Sunggyu muttered. “Tell him no.”
“Yeah, come in.”
Sunggyu burrowed in grumpily.
The door opened and closed again. The mattress shifted. Somebody tugged at the covers. “Sunggyu hyung, are you in there?”
“What time is it?” he grumbled, pushing the covers down. Leaning on one elbow, he wiped at his face, getting sleep gunk out of his eyes. “What do you want, why are you here?”
“It’s not even one in the morning.”
He was kidding. “It’s not?”
“No, you lazy bum,” Woohyun said, laughing.
Oh. “What do you want?” he asked again, more willing to talk now.
“If you thought Suho hyung might be bad for me, you’d tell me, wouldn’t you?”
He frowned. “What, am I your baby-sitter? Your father, to tell you who you can’t date? Some service you hired to vet your friends? It’s none of my business who you spend time with, I don’t care about those things.” He totally cared, and yes, he’d say something. If he had to, he’d say it over and over again.
L nodded. “What about that other guy you told me to stay away from?”
“That guy was an asshole,” Sunggyu said. “Stay away from him and everyone else in his team. I don’t want my members around them.” Sunggyu frowned, thinking about it. “But Suho’s good. It’s okay if you have a friend like that. He’s not going to make trouble. I need more dongsaengs like him. It would make my life easier.”
“What about Changjo?”
“Oh, besides that.” Sunggyu stayed right where he was as Woohyun leaned on his shoulder and toyed with his hair. “Eh, he’s okay. He’s a good kid. He’s a good kid on the outside, and then inside that there’s a devil, and somewhere inside that is where he keeps the real Changjo.”
“Who’s the real Changjo?” L asked.
“The sensitive, good-hearted kid Suho’s trying to turn into a man. He only likes to show me the good kid and the devil, but I’ve seen the real Changjo come out when he’s with his members. You know how people get when they had to grow up too fast. Parts of him are more mature than all of the adults around him, and parts of him are still innocent and foolish. But he’s smart. He has a lot of potential.”
“What?” Woohyun asked. “Somebody who’s better at cosplaying than you?”
L shot Woohyun a disgruntled look, then plucked at Sunggyu’s sheet. “Can I stay here tonight?”
“Yeah. How did everything go, are you and Suho and Changjo all best friends again?”
“Yeah.” Getting up, L started to undress. “I almost messed everything up, but it ended okay. Suho hyung forgave me.”
It wasn’t fair that people accused Sunggyu of being too controlling and interfering too much when he let his members run their own lives. Especially since he knew that he could manage things so much better than they could.
Naked, L crawled onto the bed. “What makes you want to kiss somebody? Isn’t it weird, to look at somebody and want to push your face up on his face and stick your tongue in his mouth?”
“Yeah,” Woohyun said. “But it feels good.”
L smiled into the distance, then came back to the moment and crawled closer, tugging the sheets away from Woohyun, uncovering more and more of that sexy, gorgeous body. “It feels really good with the right person.”
“Feels great with the right person,” Sunggyu agreed, pulling L into his lap and leaning toward Woohyun. “Feels terrific. Now do it, kiss, kiss, I haven’t had a good show lately.”
July 13, 2015
by Matthew Haldeman-Time