Season Two: The Wedding

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Who’s who chart of idols

This story is part of a series.

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.

            Tomorrow was going to be a special day, so Sungjong decided to pamper himself.  He got a manicure and a facial.  He got Chanyeol to take him to dinner.  He picked up his outfit for the ceremony and snuck it into the dorm without being caught.

            Curious about how the other members were doing, he went into Dongwoo’s room.  Dongwoo was sprawled naked on Woohyun’s bed, reading.  He sat down on Dongwoo’s bed.  “Are you ready for tomorrow?”

            “Tomorrow?”  Dongwoo glanced at him.  “Oh!  Yes, all ready.  I got yellow flowers for you.  Yellow roses and daisies.”

            “Did you write your vows?”  Sungjong’s were a mess.  He was hoping to be able to get a good night’s rest and feel inspired in the morning.

            “I lost them.  I don’t know where they went!  I wrote them down, but they’re gone, now.”

            “Did you take them out of the dorm?”

            “No, they were only in this room.  I looked for them, but they aren’t anywhere.”

            Sungjong hoped that they really hadn’t left the dorm.  “Maybe if someone finds them, they’ll look like lyrics.”

            “They’d be bad lyrics!  There’s no rhythm to them and they don’t rhyme.”  Dongwoo rolled over, grinning broadly.  “Did you like your striptease?  Whoo!  Kai did a good job, I like the way he moves.”

            “He did so much!  Simulating sex and everything.”  It was an amazing memory.  A very erotic memory!  But a precious one, too.  He was touched that his dongsaeng would go that far for him.  Kai had been very hot, very explicit.

            He was really glad that Kai had done the most obscene parts with someone else, not with him.  When Kai had asked him if he wanted to do it, he’d felt way too embarrassed to say yes.  Not in front of all of his hyungs!  They’d never let him live it down!  They couldn’t get over mundane, little mistakes he made, like spilling water one time four years ago; if he let Kai roll him across the floor and hump his face and all of the rest of that, they’d never let it go.  He was glad that Kai had found a stand-in, so he could get a vicarious thrill without his hyungs humiliating him.

            But the person Kai had chosen.  The best, absolute worst person there!  It had been incredibly hot, but it had been shocking, too.  Shocking, to see Kai treat a hyung that way.  Shocking, how shameless C.A.P. had been.  And for him!  That performance had been a treat for Sungjong, and C.A.P. had jumped in, going with the moment, letting Kai push him around, letting Kai hump his ass and freak his face in front of everyone.

            It turned Sungjong on, every time he remembered it.  But it came with such a wave of confused longing, it hurt.

            Dongwoo was humming to himself, beat-boxing a little, going back to reading his book.  It took Sungjong a minute to recognize the song Kai had danced to.  “Hyung?”

            “Hmm.”  Dongwoo turned another page, absorbed in the book.

            “The first time that you and Chunji split up.  If he’d started liking Sungyeol hyung, later.  Like years later, and you were already dating Xiumin hyung or something.  If Chunji started seeing Sungyeol hyung, not even seriously, not a relationship, just, if they hung out sometimes, that wouldn’t be that bad, would it?”

            “My Chunji?”  Dongwoo looked overwhelmed for a second.  He sat up, the book forgotten.

            “He’s not really your Chunji, though, you’d be dating Xiumin hyung, and all of that was years ago.”

            Dongwoo gazed into space.  “If he’s happy.  I want my Chunji to be happy.”  He laughed.  “Sunggyu hyung keeps calling him a sparkly cat!”

            “But you’d be okay with it?  If you have a different boyfriend, anyway.”

            “I want Chunji to be happy.  Is he happy with Sungyeol?  Is Sungyeol good to him, treating him well?  That’s what matters.”  He smiled sadly, rubbing his chest.  “It’s different, in my head and in my heart.  In my head, if Chunji’s happy, that’s what I want, that’s enough.  In my heart, if there’s no Chunji, nothing’s enough.”  He got up, wandering out of the room naked.  “I want to call him, where’s my phone?”

            Sungjong sighed, curling up into a ball and then sprawling out.

            “Phone, where did you go?” Dongwoo asked.

            Sungjong rolled over, resting his chin on his hand.  Looking at his own phone, he edited his contacts.  He hesitated for a second, gazing at the screen, wishing for one last call.  Just for one last word, just to say thanks for the party, just-

            He shook his head, firming his resolve.  No excuses.

            He changed “C.A.P. hyung” to “No.”  Just no.  Off-limits, forbidden.

            And then he looked around, wondering if he could find Dongwoo’s vows.

            “Phone!” Dongwoo exclaimed, out of sight, laughing.  “What were you doing in here?”

            Sungyeol opened the door a crack.  He stuck his head into the dorm and looked around.

            He didn’t see anybody.

            He snuck in as quietly as he could.  He toed out of his shoes and then, clinging to his garment bag, rushed to his room.

            He thought that he was home safe, until he saw L standing in front of the closet.

            Hastily, he flung the garment bag aside, back out into the front room.  “Hey,” he said, trying to sound natural.  “Thought you had a schedule.”

            Mmm, we finished early.  I’m trying to decide what to wear tomorrow.”  He poked through the clothes hanging in his closet, plucking at a sleeve.  Then he laughed and gave Sungyeol a puzzled look.  “Are we really doing this?”

            “The vows thing?  Yeah, we’d better!  I put a lot of work into it.”

            “I can’t decide…”  His voice trailed off and he sighed, pulling at a different sleeve.  “What are you wearing?”

            “Haven’t thought much about it,” he lied.  “Hey, I’m hungry, can you get me something to eat?”

            “I don’t have food.”

            “Well, go get us something.  Even if you can’t find anything,” he said, pulling L away from the closet.  “Just go into the kitchen and look around.”

            “There isn’t anything,” L complained.

            He shoved L out of their room, coming through the doorway and pushing L away, putting himself between L and the garment bag on the floor.  “Just look.”

            L shuffled off.

            He waited until L was in the kitchen, then snatched up his garment bag and hustled into the room with it.

            Sunggyu was waiting for someone to bring up the commitment ceremony, so that he could act confused and ask, “Oh, is that tomorrow?” like he didn’t care.  But no one said anything about it.

            That started to annoy him.  No one wanted to talk about it?  No one wanted to ask him what his plans were, if he was all ready or not?  No one wanted to remind him?  He’d told them to remind him!  He was going to start thinking that nobody cared if he showed up or not!  They didn’t want him there?  He was their leader!  They couldn’t renew their vows without him!

            A message to the group popped up on his phone.  Sungyeol had texted the address of a hotel.  “Sunggyu 321, Dongwoo 323, Woohyun 325, L 324, Sungjong 326, I’m in room 322.  You have your own room to prepare in ahead of time or crash in after, but be in 320 at 10 pm or we’re turning the meeting into a revenge planning session against you.”

            Sunggyu was typing out a clueless, rude question, when a new message popped up.

            “Oh?” Woohyun texted.  “What’s this about?”

            Laughing, he deleted his own message.

            “10 pm, room 320, or else!” Sungyeol said.

            “Room 1020 at 3 pm, got it,” Sunggyu said.

            “Room 1030 at 2 pm!” Woohyun said.

            “Room 3000!” Sunggyu said.

            “At 21 am!” Woohyun said.

            “Did you all write out what you’re going to say?” Sungjong asked.

            “Finished it last week,” Sunggyu said.

            “Finished it days ago,” Woohyun said.

            “So long ago,” Sunggyu agreed.

            “Catch up, maknae, you’re slacking,” Sungyeol said.

            Sunggyu could hear Dongwoo laughing from another room in the dorm.  “Room 3000!” he exclaimed to himself, chortling.  “Are there that many floors?”

            Sunggyu smiled.  “I’ll be there, but let’s not be late.  Hyung’s very busy, I don’t have all night to wait around while you get dressed and have trouble finding the right address.  We’ll start at 10.  And don’t cause a scene running around the hotel, let’s behave ourselves in public this time.”

            “Okay okay okay okay okay,” Dongwoo texted.

            “Yes, hyung,” Woohyun texted.

            “K,” Sungyeol texted.

            Sungjong texted a heart.

            L sent them a selca.

            Ya, we know what you look like,” Sunggyu typed out.  “Save that for that maknae.”  Then he took a second look, reconsidered, deleted that, and sent, “Handsome.”  Holding out his phone, he admired the photo.  So good-looking.  He might be looking forward to tomorrow.

            Changjo didn’t need to set up surveillance.  He didn’t need a network of spies.  He just had to tap into Inspirit.

            The wedding wasn’t until 10.  According to photos, Woohyun and Sungyeol showed up at seven.  Dongwoo was there about half an hour later.  To Changjo’s real surprise, Sunggyu got there at eight.

            He waited for a good, clear photo of Sunggyu arriving, with a good, clear view of Sunggyu’s baggy, slouchy clothes and black sunglasses and knit hat and hint of a mustache, and he sent it to Suho.  He would’ve thought that anybody dating Sunggyu wasn’t into looks, right?  But Suho thought that nothing was as heart-pounding and glamorous as Sunggyu all made up for the stage, and nothing was as sexy and irresistible as Sunggyu looking like trash.  He was probably going to look at that crappy photo and swoon.

            Changjo was totally shallow.  He was only into L for his looks.  Nothing else.

            Sungjong showed up just after nine, shooting Inspirit a couple of quick smiles to prove that nothing odd was going on and this wasn’t some secret, clandestine meeting at all and there was no reason to be suspicious.

            L got there with barely a half hour to spare.  He had sunglasses on and his hood pulled up, and he slouched a little like he was trying to be inconspicuous.

            Everybody else had a bag.  L didn’t have a bag.  What was he doing?

            Sungjong’s room was beautiful.

            There were gorgeous bouquets on every surface.  White and yellow bouquets, pink and yellow, pure yellow, with big, lush flowers and shy, delicate buds and the most amazing scents.  He was so in love, he tried to hug one, and then he got embarrassed and pulled away, laughing at himself.  And then he realized that there was no one around to mock him, no one to see, and he gave in and hugged it again, anyway, nuzzling his cheek against the soft petals.  “You are lovely,” he told the bouquet, “lovely.”  Then he gave a yellow rose a playful tap.  “Almost as pretty as I am!”

            He had enough time, so he ran a bath.  A nice, hot, steamy bath.  While the tub was filling, he took his clothes out of his bag and hung everything up.

            Something fell out of his bag and onto the floor.

            He turned to pick it up, and froze.

            It was a ring box.  A black ring box, right there, on the floor.

            For a second, he wondered wildly if he was mistaken, if he’d dropped something else and it had rolled away, and this was someone else’s ring box, someone else’s entirely, left on the floor by the last guest who’d stayed in this room.

            The more he stared at it, the more amazing the ring box seemed.  Every time someone called tonight a wedding, someone else immediately said not to call it that.  By now, he hardly knew what to call it!  But if this was a ring box, then it held a ring, a real ring.  An engagement ring, a wedding ring, a commitment ring, there was a ring in there and it was for him.

            One of his hyungs had given him a ring!

            Swooping down eagerly, he snatched it up.  Squealing, he clutched the box to his chest, celebrating in private joy.

            He had a ring!

            Remembering his bath, he scurried into the bathroom and turned off the water.  Then he sank down onto the edge of the tub, cupping the ring box and giving it a long, wondering look.

            As long as he didn’t open it, this was the perfect moment.

            If he opened it, he might find a pretty, romantic token of the lasting commitment that his members wanted to make with him.  Or he might find nothing; the box could be empty.  Or he might find a plastic toy ring, or a smiley face sticker, or, god, who knew, some joke, his hyungs teasing him, getting his hopes up and making him feel special and then laughing at him.

            He shook the box, tried to hear inside.  It wasn’t empty, was it?

            He didn’t want to assume that it was a joke, because if his hyungs were giving him a special gift, he really wanted to treasure it!  He couldn’t just toss it aside and refuse to open it, refuse to be fooled, and then miss out on a meaningful moment!

            How had it even gotten into his bag?  Who could’ve snuck it in there?  Who’d seen him packing?

            Clutching the box in both hands, he tucked his fists under his chin, closed his eyes, and whispered.  “Please be real, please be real, please be pretty.”  Then, afraid to believe, his hopes soaring anyway, he flipped up the lid.

            His jaw dropped.

            “Oh, oh, oh.”  Dazed, he burst into laughter.  It was a ring!  A real ring!  A genuine, honest, authentic ring, shiny and gold.

            Leaping up, he danced around the bathroom.  He was alone, with no one to tease him, no one to call him out for overreacting, and he danced.  Finally, throwing his head back, laughing, breathless, he rested his ass against the sink and looked down at the ring again.

            Oh, it was so pretty.  “Come to me, come to me, yes,” he murmured, taking it out of the box and slipping it on.  “Oh, yes, look at you!”  He held up his hand, admiring it.  It looked even better on his finger than in the box.  God, it was beautiful.  He brought his hand close for a good look, rotating the ring on his finger, adjusting it just so.  It was a gold band made of delicate, overlapping vines, with tiny bits of diamonds surrounding a dainty yellow stone.  It was so romantic, and so beautiful, and so exquisite, and so incredibly perfect, he almost wondered if he’d bought it for himself, because the only person who loved him enough to give him such a wonderful gift was him.

            Turning to the mirror, he primped.  Casting the mirror flirtatious looks, he touched his hair, touched his lips, flashing the ring at every opportunity, showing it off.  “Oh, this old thing?” he asked with a bubbly, dismissive laugh.  “Oh, it’s just a gift from one of my hyungs.”

            But which hyung?

            He studied the ring, fascinated.  Clueless.  He had no idea.  He could kind of see any one of them doing this.  He could also totally not imagine any one of them doing this.

            This was how his hyungs treated him in his head.  In his fantasies.  He had idealized versions of them in his daydreams, where they adored him and looked after him.  It wasn’t a complete fantasy; he’d based it on a moment here, a moment there, little glimpses he got of them when they were kind and caring, when they hugged him and smiled at him and thought of him and encouraged him.  But every time he started to believe in them too much, they acted careless and thoughtless, and hurt his feelings, and he gave up and vowed never to fall for it again.

            But now he had a ring!  If he had this in his hands, the shining reality of it on his finger, how could he not believe?  The caring was real, the romance was real, the personal commitment was real.  His hyungs really did love him.

            He slid the ring off and tucked it safely into its box.  Then he slid into his bath and sang to himself as he splashed around.  He hurried through his bath happily, eager to put his ring on again.

            L walked into his hotel room and knew that he’d fucked up.

            There were bouquets of pink roses everywhere.

            Closing the door, he turned his gaze from one bouquet to another.  On the table in front of him.  On either side of the bed.  They were everywhere.

            Dongwoo had gone to the trouble of thinking of what to get him, and ordering it, and having it sent to the hotel, and having it put in his room, and - - and this wasn’t even part of the ceremony.  These weren’t even decorations meant for the ceremony room.  This was just to decorate his private room, in case he came in here and saw it.

            And he’d shown up with nothing.

            Nothing but himself.  That was his concept.  It was like what C.A.P. had said.  “It doesn’t matter what you wear, you look good in anything.  And it doesn’t matter what you say, as long as you make the point you’re showing up to make.”  He was going with that, he’d based his concept on that, but now he felt doomed.  He was fucking this up.  He’d shown up empty-handed.  It was going to look like he didn’t care, like he hadn’t tried.

            Plagued by self-doubt, he sat on the edge of the bed.  Noticing his reflection in a big mirror on the wall, he grimaced, shoving his hood back, fluffing his hair.  God, what had he been thinking?  Even if his concept was simple, he should’ve tried more than this!  Put some effort into it.  Shit.  Shrugging off his hoodie, he stared down at his jeans.  These weren’t even his good jeans!  God, he really had to hope that his members really did love him, so that they’d agree to commit to him even if he showed up looking like he’d wandered in after a late-night trip to the convenience store.

            He got up, rubbing his hands on his thighs.  He’d check out the bathroom, he’d call the concierge, maybe he could, what?  Take a quick shower and then what?  Brush his hair?  Floss?  He didn’t have time to get a whole new change of clothes.  Sunggyu had warned them not to screw around, not to be late.

            There was a knock at the door.  He hoped that it was one of his members, but it shouldn’t be.  They’d agreed to go quiet before the wedding, what Sunggyu called “radio silence.”  No talking, not even texting, to give each other time to prepare.  Wishing that one of his members had decided to break the silence and come to hang out anyway, he checked the peephole.

            It looked like a hotel employee.  He opened the door.

            If she recognized him, she didn’t show it.  “Kim Myungsoo?”  She offered him a big shopping bag.

            “Yes, thank you.”

            She went away, and he closed the door.  He had no idea what was in this bag.  Maybe the members wanted him to dress up, maybe they’d prepared specific outfits.

            He looked into the bag.  Surprised, he started taking stuff out of it, and out of the smaller bags inside of it.  Dumping it all onto the bed, he stared.

            He had everything.  Shampoo, body wash, BB cream, cologne, and more, all in his favorite brands.  A comb, a toothbrush, underwear, socks, all of it.  Two complete outfits and a new pair of shoes in his size.

            Where had all of this come from?  It was clearly just for him.  He was grateful for the rescue, but he was baffled.  It must’ve been something that his members had planned, to make sure that they all showed up dressed right, but then why would there be two outfits?  Was he going to need to change later on?  Which one should he put on first?

            He didn’t have time to stand around trying to figure it out.  He grabbed all of the toiletry stuff and headed for the bathroom.

            He rushed through his shower, wanting to have time to get dressed and do his hair.  Coming out of the shower, his towel around his waist, he headed back to the bed to grab his clothes.

            Passing by the table, he saw a little black ring box in front of the bouquet.

            Curious, he picked it up.

            There was a gold ring inside.  A gold band with a textured black inlay.

            He smiled, a little disbelieving.  Was this for him?  He slid it on.  It fit perfectly.  He curled his hand into a fist, spread his fingers out again, studying the band.  He loved it.  He felt attracted to it; he wanted to keep it, wear it.

            Where had it come from?  Who had it come from?  Who had any of this stuff come from?

            Baffled, he couldn’t do anything but accept it and get dressed.

            It felt like getting ready for a concert!  Dongwoo had pre-show jitters.  He cleaned himself up.  He ordered room service and nibbled as he got dressed.  He recited his lines to himself, trying to remember everything he’d wanted to say.

            He’d found a ring box in his bag, but it wasn’t his.  He wondered which of the members it belonged to.  The ring was so pretty, he really liked it.  He didn’t want to steal, but he put it on.  It was a really colorful band, like a prism on his finger, glittering stripes of gem dust, like someone had squeezed a rainbow into a ring.  It was so sparkly and shiny, he kept losing track of time, staring at it, watching the play of colors.  It reminded him of sex with Chunji, or that awed, magical feeling he’d gotten the first time Sunggyu had kissed him.

            He’d give it back to whoever it belonged to, and he’d apologize for having worn it, but even though he felt guilty, he couldn’t make himself take it off.

            Woohyun sang to himself as he buttoned his cuffs.  Leaning in close to the mirror, he smiled at his reflection and nudged a strand of hair into place.  Doing a jaunty little dance step, he serenaded himself back across the room.  He dug into his bag, looking for his tie.  He might need to iron it before he-

            What was this?

            His song cut short mid-note, he lifted a ring box out of his bag.

            His whole world stopped and he just stood there, in silence.  This wasn’t happening.  This was happening.  It wasn’t what he thought.  Maybe it was.

            His heart was pounding and squeezing so painfully that he had to sit down and catch his breath.  Sitting on the foot of the bed, he steadied himself.

            It was just a ring box.

            Just a ring box.  They were talking about getting married and now there was a ring box, this wasn’t just anything, this was everything.

            It was just a ring box.  It was symbolic, none of this was real.  They were playing, it was for fun, it was just a healing moment, the six of them trying to reassure themselves and reconnect.

            Symbolic?  Everything was symbolic.  The red roses all over this room, those were symbolic.  A real wedding ring was symbolic.  “Symbolic” wasn’t “meaningless,” it was meaningful, it was loaded with meaning.  This ring was a symbol.  Of love.  Of commitment.  Of intention.

            His heart felt like it was shaking in his chest.  Breathing through parted lips, he undid the buttons at his collar, pulling his shirt open, needing air.

            He’d been afraid, from the beginning, of how this vow renewal would work out.  He’d been sure that some members would take it more seriously than others, that it would be significant to some and just a good time to others, that some would be sincere and others would treat it as a joke.  Not a cruel joke, but a light-hearted idea.  He’d suspected that some members would treat it lightly out of innocence, and that some would treat it lightly on purpose, deliberately not allowing it to become a solemn occasion, afraid to give it real weight.

            He’d never thought that anyone would take it as seriously as he did.  He’d never thought that, in the moment, someone would meet him on his level.

            Maybe L.  The ring had to be from L.  But it might be from one of the others.  It might be innocent sincerity.  It might be goofy symbolism.  It might be anything.

            He cracked open the box.

            It was a gold band.  A smooth, gold wedding band.

            Inside, it was engraved with an infinity symbol.

            Infinite.  They were infinite.  Their love was infinite.

            He sat there and cried.

            “What am I doing here?” Sunggyu asked the room.  What was he doing?  Oh, just marrying his dongsaengs.  Sure, yes, that was good, that was definitely a good idea, that wasn’t completely overboard.  This was all normal.  This was a totally normal, ordinary thing to be doing.  Marrying his own members.  Getting together for some private commitment ceremony to exchange vows.  Giving each other flowers.  Very ordinary.  He was sure that all of their sunbae groups did it all of the time.

            Why wasn’t there ever anything on TV?

            He flipped through the room service menu.  He had time to kill.  He lay down for a nap.  He bolted upright, panicked that he might oversleep.  He set an alarm on his phone and settled down, closing his eyes again.  He couldn’t relax.  He was wide awake.  He called management, and they casually asked where he was, and he panicked and got off of the phone.

            He put on eyeliner.  He immediately scrubbed it off.  Then he put it on again.  Then he got self-conscious.  Then he got defiant and decided to leave it on.  They were supposed to dress up, right?  They wanted to look nice, right?  He was an idol, this was how he dressed up.

            Looking down at his outfit, he wondered if he was too dressed up.

            Then he wondered if he’d dressed up enough.

            He sat down to watch TV.

            He woke up to the sound of his alarm going off and almost fell off of the bed, panicked that he was missing his own wedding and he’d caused a disaster and his members would never forgive him.

            Nervous, he went to pee.  Then he very thoroughly washed his hands.  It seemed rude to handle his junk and then show up to his own wedding without using soap.

            He hovered at the door.  He didn’t want to show up too early.  He didn’t know how to make pre-vows small talk.  He didn’t want to be late, either.  The room was just across the hall; he could go at the last minute.  He watched the hallway through the peep hole.  He didn’t see anyone out there.  Why wasn’t anyone out there?  Was no one coming?  Were they all in their rooms, being lazy?  Was everyone going to be late?  Were they all already in the group room together, waiting for him, talking about him?

            He found his room key and shoved it in his pocket.  Then he went across the hallway and barged in.

            There was no one in there.


            The room looked great, though.  Mood lighting and fancy bouquets and bottles of champagne.  Approving, he nodded.

            Feeling very virtuous about being early, he found a chair and dragged it across the room.  He sat down facing the door.  He crossed his legs, then crossed his arms for good measure, then put on his most disapproving leader face and watched the door.

            Sungyeol was both completely enjoying himself, and panicking.

            He was having a weird mix of emotions, but it was kind of a weird night, so he figured that was okay.

            He’d washed up and everything in his room, and then he’d come into this room to change clothes.  He’d worked hard on his outfit, and he definitely wanted to wear it, but he didn’t want to be caught in it.  Cavorting up and down the hallway wasn’t really an option, so he’d decided to change in the bathroom of their group meeting room.  He’d closed the door so anybody coming in early wouldn’t catch him.  And it sounded like someone had come in early.  He’d definitely just heard the room door open and close.

            He’d felt great about his outfit until about twenty seconds ago, when he’d heard the door.  Suddenly he felt way less sure of himself!  But it was too late to back out, now.  He’d already committed to this concept.  And he looked great, right?  Okay, he looked ridiculous.  But he also kind of looked great.  He definitely had the legs to pull off a miniskirt.

            He’d planned and re-planned and re-planned the details of his concept.  He’d thought about going whole hog - - bridal gown, veil, everything.  But he didn’t want to go too far; it was a concept, not a joke.  He wanted his members to see at a glance what he was going for - - they were getting married, he was the bride - - but he didn’t want to get outrageous about it.

            So he had a white lace dress, but it was short and simple, just a basic, tight dress that stopped above mid-thigh.  He had on white stockings that went almost the whole way up.  He’d decided against the veil, but his regular head looked weird with the lacy dress; that was the same everyday head he had when he wore sweatpants around the dorm.  So he’d tried to style his hair, and he’d put on eyeliner and blush and lip gloss, to liven things up.  This was a special occasion, so, why not get done up, right?

            He’d put on earrings, simple pearl studs, to go with the concept.

            And he’d found a ring in his bag.  A gold and silver ring with a boxy, geometric design.  It looked like two rings locked together, like they were intricately notched inside of each other but if he tried hard enough, he could figure out how to pull them apart.  It was like a puzzle.  He was sure that it was just an illusion, but he tried it, anyway.

            The door opened.  He heard Dongwoo’s giddy laughter.  “Hyung!  Your expression!” Dongwoo exclaimed.  “Am I late?”

            “What are you eating?” Sunggyu asked.

            “Oh!  I ordered room service, there’s more.  Do you want some?”

            Leaving his ring alone for a moment, Sungyeol faced the mirror squarely.  He tugged at the hem of his dress.  Was this sexy or embarrassing or weird or just right?  From certain angles, he looked great.

            There were six of them; somebody might as well be the bride, right?

            Toying with his new ring, nudging it with his thumb, he wondered when to go out there.  If he’d dressed up, he should make a dramatic entrance, make the most of it.  But he was getting restless in here all alone.

            He heard the door again.  “Oh!  Oh, it’s pretty,” Sungjong said.

            “What time is it, why is everyone late?” Sunggyu asked.

            “No, we still have five minutes to go,” Dongwoo said.

            “The flowers in my room are really pretty, hyung.  These are nice, too!”

            “I thought that you were going to work on the decorations, what’d you do?” Sunggyu asked.

            “I made the lube bottles.  Sungyeol hyung was supposed to put one in every nightstand, didn’t he?  Oh, here, see?  They’re like little gift bottles, like mementos.  Keepsakes.  I made up these little stickers and printed out the date and everything.”

            “Nice, it’s pretty,” Dongwoo said.

            “Keepsake lube,” Sunggyu said.  “We have keepsake lube now.”

            “We can hold onto it and use some again on our anniversary,” Dongwoo suggested.  And then he laughed.  “Or should we use it all up tonight?”

            “If there’s one in every room, that’s seven bottles, we can’t use all seven in one night,” Sunggyu said.  He laughed.  “We could try!”

            Sungyeol felt too impatient, too eager to join them.  He tugged at the top of each stocking, making sure they were staying up, adjusting the elastic against his thighs.  Then he opened the bathroom door and walked out.

            Dongwoo saw him first.  Yeolie?  Where’d you come from?”  Dongwoo came past him to peer into the bathroom.  “Is there anyone else in there?”

            “No, just me.”  He jumped when Dongwoo grabbed his ass.  Shit, this skirt gave him zero protection!

            “Am I being pranked?” Sunggyu asked.

            “Is it a wedding dress?” Dongwoo asked, stroking the long sleeve.

            “I’m the bride,” he explained.

            “It’s really pretty,” Sungjong said.

            “You go together!” Dongwoo said.  Sungjong had on a black tux.  “Like the bride and groom.”  Dongwoo had on a white tux, the jacket draped over a chair, the shirt unbuttoned halfway down, his hair stylishly tousled.  He looked sexy and casual and rumpled, like the groom at the end of the reception.

            Sunggyu had on snug white jeans and a long, silk button-down, untucked.  And eyeliner?  “Is that eyeliner?” Sungyeol asked, leaning in, peering at his eyes.

            “Is that?” Sunggyu asked, pointing at Sungyeol’s face, and he laughed, caught.  Then he yelped; Dongwoo’s hand was on his ass again.


            Dongwoo was tugging his skirt up, peeking.  “Did you cut up your panties?”

            “I did it for him,” Sungjong said.

            “You did it too short, too,” Sungyeol said.

            “I didn’t know how short to go!” Sungjong explained.  “It sounded like you needed a thong, or something, like you were afraid that they’d show.  If I didn’t cut them enough, you’d complain about that.”

            “There’s nothing left, I’m practically falling out of them.”

            Sungjong gave him a look.  “Don’t exaggerate, who are you trying to impress?”

            Dongwoo hooted, and Sungyeol blushed, taking a swipe at Sungjong, and Sunggyu laughed, giving Sungjong a congratulatory pat on the back.  “Nice, Jongie, that was a good one.”

            The door opened.  Coming in, L stared at them.  At Sungyeol, mostly.  Pushing the door shut absentmindedly, he laughed.  “Are you our bride?”

            “Once you have two, three, four, five grooms, you want some variety, right?” Sungyeol asked.  God, L looked great.  He had on tight black jeans with ankle zippers, and a thin, loose white sweater that showed off his build just right.  He looked like a dream, walking in, pushing his sleeves up.  And his warm smile, wow.  “Let’s get married,” Sungyeol said.

            L chuckled at him, running a hand over his chest, touching the dress, eyes dancing with amusement.  “That’s what we’re here for.”

            “It’s time, isn’t it time, now?” Sunggyu asked.  “Where is everybody?”

            “Where’s Namu?” Dongwoo asked, glancing around, like he might’ve overlooked Woohyun in a corner somewhere.

            “He’ll be here,” L said.

            “Can we drink the champagne now?” Sungjong asked.

            “Not until everybody’s here,” Sunggyu said.  “Where is he, are we starting late?”

            “It’s okay if we run a little behind,” Sungyeol told him.  “We aren’t keeping an audience waiting, the venue won’t kick us out if we run over.”

            “They won’t?” Dongwoo asked.

            “Well, yeah, okay, I only rented the rooms until tomorrow afternoon, we can’t stay all week,” Sungyeol said.  “But starting a couple of minutes late won’t ruin anything.”

            “I love this sweater,” Sungjong said, petting L’s shoulder.  “Where’d you get it?”

            “I don’t know.  Did you give it to me?” L asked Sungyeol.

            “I’ve never seen it before.”  He grinned.  “But I’d like to see it on my bedroom floor.”

            L laughed at him, putting an arm around Sungjong.

            Running a hand over Sungyeol’s thigh, Dongwoo plucked at his white stocking, snapping it against his thigh.

            Okay, two could play at that game.  Sungyeol reached right into Dongwoo’s half-open shirt and grabbed a nipple.

            Laughing, Dongwoo bounced out of range.  “No titty parties until after the wedding.”

            Sungyeol tugged at his stockings, making sure they were nice and smooth, readjusting the elastic cuffs at the tops.  Catching L and Sungjong eyeing him, looking doubtful and amused, he glared at them, then laughed.  “What?”  He tugged his skirt down, suddenly modest.  “Like you’ve never seen a dress before.”

            “You came here with Woohyun, didn’t you?” Sunggyu asked him.  “Where is he?”

            “He’s probably just getting dressed,” Sungyeol said.

            “Is he getting cold feet?” Dongwoo asked.

            Sunggyu looked worried, vulnerable, anxious, his expression flickering, his eyebrows coming together, his mouth troubled.

            “No,” L said.  “Not Woohyun hyung.  He’s probably just running late.”

            “Maybe he has a lot to prepare,” Sungjong suggested.

            “I’ll go check on him,” Sungyeol said, and then he remembered what he was wearing.  “Maknae, you check on him.”

            “No,” Sunggyu said, clasping his hands behind his back.  “No, he knows where we are, he knows what time the meeting is.  He can get here on his own.”

            “He’ll come,” L said.

            Sunggyu turned his chair away from the door and sat down.

            Dongwoo ate his room service noodles.

            L and Sungjong sat on the foot of the first bed, holding hands.  Sungyeol practiced sitting on the second bed, tugging at his skirt, crossing and uncrossing his legs.  He might have found a dress he couldn’t sit down in.

            “It’s raining,” Dongwoo reported, peeking outside.  The kids were whispering to each other.  Sungyeol checked the time and couldn’t believe that it was barely ten after.  It seemed like they’d been waiting for way longer.

            “It just showed up?” Sungjong was asking L.

            “Somebody brought it to me,” L said.  “Somebody from the hotel.  With body wash and shampoo and everything.”

            “Sungyeol hyung,” Sungjong said.  “Did you give L this outfit?”

            “Why do you all keep asking me that?” Sungyeol asked.  “I worked hard on this outfit, I didn’t worry about everybody else’s.”

            “Did you give me this?” L asked Sunggyu.

            Sunggyu gave a start.  “Give, give what?” he asked, looking flustered.

            “This outfit, shampoo and cologne and everything,” L said.

            “Why am I giving you shampoo?” Sunggyu asked.  “No.”

            “Maybe Woohyun hyung did it,” Sungjong suggested.

            “But…just me?” L asked, looking uncertain about that.

            “Maybe he knew that you didn’t have anything to wear.”

            “He could’ve just told me to pack a bag like you did,” L said.

            “Wait, a random hotel worker handed you a sweater and cologne, and you didn’t ask why?” Sungyeol asked.

            L laughed.  “I don’t know.  People hand me stuff to wear all of the time, we’ve had coordis for years.  I’m used to it.”

            There was a sound at the door.  Sunggyu was on his feet in a flash, staring at the closed door.  They were all watching the door, Sungjong and L getting up, Dongwoo creeping forward.  Namu?” Dongwoo asked.

            Suddenly realizing that if it wasn’t Woohyun, he didn’t need to start new rumors, Sungyeol moved behind the TV stand.

            Someone was knocking.  Ya, Sunggyu.”

            Their manager?  Sungyeol ducked down, tucking himself into as small a ball as possible.

            “Nothing’s happening,” Sunggyu said, opening the door.

            “I…”  Their manager stopped talking.  “I don’t want to know, I’m not asking.  Here, he said that if I got this to you, I’d get a bonus.  Bonus, right?”

            “Yes, yes, bonus, right,” Woohyun’s voice said.

            Namu?” Dongwoo asked.

            “Get that back to me,” their manager said, and left.

            As soon as the door closed, Sungyeol popped back up.  The other members were clustering around Sunggyu; he went over, nudging Sungjong out of his way.

            Sunggyu was holding their manager’s phone.  Woohyun was onscreen, soaking wet and breathing hard.  “Where are you?” Sunggyu demanded.  “You’re not here?  You’re late, you don’t care enough to be on time?”

            “I’m coming, I’m coming,” Woohyun said, panting.  “Don’t start without me.”

            “Are you in a cab?” Sungyeol asked, seeing a seat, a seatbelt.

            “Yes.  I’m coming, you aren’t starting yet?”

            “Of course not, we can’t start without you,” Dongwoo said.  “Where’d you go?”

            “I had to get something, I had to go back to the dorm.”  He shook his head, tousling his wet hair.  He had on a black suit, his white shirt unbuttoned at the neck, a black bowtie hanging loose.  “I’m coming, I’ll be there.”

            “Stop worrying about it, we’re waiting,” Sungyeol said.  “Did you promise him a bonus?”

            “What are you wearing?” Woohyun asked.

            “I dressed up for you, be grateful.”

            Woohyun laughed, visibly relaxing.  “For me?”

            “Mostly for L, but, yeah, sure, you, too.”

            “Bonus, yeah,” Woohyun said.  He glanced away, giving instructions to the driver.  “I begged him a lot, I promised to pay him extra if he got in touch with you.  None of the members can answer a phone?  I tried calling all of you, first.”

            “I left mine in my room,” Sungyeol said.

            “I left mine at the dorm,” Dongwoo said.

            “I turned mine off so I wouldn’t be tempted to call everybody,” Sungjong said.

            “I saw that call,” L said.  “I thought we weren’t supposed to talk to each other before the ceremony, I didn’t answer.”

            “You should be here,” Sunggyu said.

            “I’m coming, I’m here, I’m coming up.”  Holding the phone in one hand, he paid the driver.  Then he was getting out of the cab, into the pouring rain.

            “Run, run!” Dongwoo urged.

            “Maknae, get a towel,” Sunggyu ordered.  He was staring intently at the screen, like he was personally willing Woohyun through every step.

            Breathless, jogging, the phone shaking, Woohyun made it inside.

            “Elevator, the elevator,” Sungyeol said.

            “He knows that,” L said, laughing.

            “I’m all caught up, here!” Sungyeol exclaimed.  “You can do it, come to us!”

            “Elevator,” Woohyun said.  He stumbled through the doors.  A second later, he leaned back against the wall, panting, flushed, his shirt plastered to his chest.  “I’m coming, hyung, I’ll be there.”

            “You can’t be like this,” Sunggyu said.  “Who knew where you were, who knew if you were coming, it seemed like you were skipping it.”

            “Skipping, no,” he said, still breathing hard, flashing a charming smile.  “I’m where I always am, I’m right beside you.”

            “What’d you leave here to get?” Sungyeol asked.

            “Something.”  He glanced upward, and they heard a bing, and then he was walking out of the elevator.  As he moved, he shook his wet hair, sending droplets splattering.  “Something for the members.”

            “Whatever it is, it isn’t important,” Sunggyu said.  “You should be here.”

            “I’m here, hyung, I’m here,” Woohyun promised, jogging down the hallway.  “Open the door and count to five, I’m right beside you.”

            “Five,” Sungyeol said.  Sungjong hurried over to the door.  “Three.”

            “Don’t rush him!” Sunggyu exclaimed, intently focused on the phone.  “Four, it’s four.”

            “Three,” Woohyun said, trying to button his shirt one-handed.

            “He’s here, I see him,” Sungjong said, unlocking the door.

            “Two, two,” Sunggyu said.

            “One,” Sungjong said, pulling the door open.

            Sunggyu shoved the phone at Sungyeol, turning to the door.  Woohyun rushed in and Sunggyu grabbed him with both hands, dragging him in, right into the room, right into Sunggyu’s arms.  Panting, drenched, Woohyun dropped his phone and his bag and hugged Sunggyu, and Sunggyu hugged him more tightly, arms locking around him.  “Where were you?” Sunggyu asked, hand covering the back of his head.  “You should’ve been here, I count on you.”

            “I know, I’m sorry, hyung, I’m sorry.”

            Sungjong was locking the door again, and Sungyeol turned off their manager’s phone, rescued Woohyun’s phone and turned that off, too.  It took him like one second to do, literally, and when he looked up again, Sunggyu and Woohyun were kissing.  Deep, urgent kisses, Sunggyu’s tongue slicking into Woohyun’s mouth, Sunggyu’s shirt damp from the press of Woohyun’s body.

            “Wet,” Dongwoo said, and started taking off Woohyun’s clothes.  He started with the tie, handing it to Sungjong, and then he tugged off Woohyun’s suit jacket.

            Still kissing steadily, hungrily, Woohyun shook his arm free like it was a distraction and raised his hand to the side of Sunggyu’s face, fingertips caressing Sunggyu’s cheek.

            “Spread this out,” Dongwoo told Sungjong, handing over the jacket.  Sungjong dutifully draped it over the TV while Dongwoo started unbuttoning Woohyun’s shirt.  He stood right behind Woohyun to do it, his hands squeezing in between their bodies, his fingers working busily.  The damp fabric clinging to Woohyun’s torso, their body heat, their sexual intensity, Sungyeol would’ve been totally seduced and tried to join in.  Dongwoo peeled Woohyun’s shirt off, leaving him in a tank top, and Sunggyu cupped Woohyun’s face in both hands, flushed, looking at his well-kissed mouth, his eyes.  “When I tell you to be here, be here.”

            “Here, I’m here,” Woohyun promised, wrapping his fingers around Sunggyu’s wrists.  “I’m sorry, hyung, I’m right here.  I’m always beside you.”

            Sunggyu stared into his eyes for a long moment, long enough for the sight to etch itself in Sungyeol’s memory: Sunggyu’s clenched jaw and troubled mouth and determined eyebrows, Sunggyu’s smooth hands clutching Woohyun’s face, Woohyun’s gaze direct and unblinking, Woohyun’s black hair tousled, the two of them not looking away from each other, holding onto each other.

            Then, carefully, Sunggyu nodded and let go.  “Okay.”  He sort of seemed to reset, coming back to the moment.  “Vows,” he said, like he was just remembering what they were all doing there.  “What, what are we,” he glanced around, taking stock of the situation, his gaze falling on the locked door, the bag on the floor, Sungyeol’s legs.

            Woohyun’s gaze followed Sunggyu’s, and he checked out Sungyeol’s legs.  His lips curling in a suggestive smile, he chuckled, lifting his gaze to meet Sungyeol’s eyes.  “Going to start wearing that around the dorm, too?”

            “Wait and see,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest.

            Woohyun chuckled again, his gaze drifting downward, his smile appreciative.  Sexual awareness, arousal, trickled down Sungyeol’s spine and he shifted his weight, curling his toes inside their stockings.

            “We’re all here, now,” Sunggyu said.

            Sungyeol wished that people would stop saying “all,” because it was a constant reminder that “all” meant something different from what it had meant before, but, yeah.  “All here,” he confirmed.  From now on, this was “all.”  All of the members, all of Infinite, the full total.

            Woohyun shook his hair out again, untucking his tank top, showing off his gorgeous abs.  “I can’t get married like this.”

            “What do you want me to do, go out in the rain and find you clothes?” Sunggyu asked.

            “I have something,” L said.  “There’s an outfit in my room.”  He dug into his pocket and handed Sungjong a room key.

            “Are we allowed to share clothes, now that we’re renewing our vows?” Sungyeol asked.  There were a lot of outfits he’d had his eye on.

            “No,” L said.  “But they’re not mine, anyway.”  He turned to Woohyun.  “Did you give them to me?”

            “Why do you,” Woohyun began, and Sunggyu shook his head, putting out a hand to shush him.  “No, he hasn’t been making sense.  Just go get the clothes,” he told Sungjong.

            “Well, somebody,” L said, and then he stopped talking, falling still with one hand in his hair.  He gazed into the distance and smiled at nothing.

            “Okay,” Sunggyu said, giving L a careful pat on the shoulder.

            Woohyun toweled off, and Sungjong brought a pair of black trousers and a gray velvet dress shirt.  He stripped out of the rest of his wet clothes, giving them all a good look at his red silk underwear.  Drawn to it like a fly to honey, Dongwoo touched his underpants, fingers flitting lightly over his junk, caressing the silk, tenderly stroking his genitals.  He ran his hands through his hair, waiting for Dongwoo to be finished, and when Sunggyu nudged Dongwoo away, he smiled and finished getting dressed.

            “Oh, it looks good on you,” L said, straightening out the shoulders, arranging the neckline.

            “We can’t just stand around, we should’ve arranged more chairs,” Sunggyu said, looking around.

            “Don’t people usually stand to recite their vows?” Dongwoo asked.

            “Who’s going first?” Sunggyu asked.  “Maknae, you start.”

            “Neither one of you is wearing a ring,” Sungyeol said.  Someone had to say it.  Someone had to point it out; hadn’t everyone noticed it?  He’d been staring at the members’ hands this whole time.  Sungjong had a new ring, so did L, so did Dongwoo.  He thought they were new; he couldn’t remember having seen them before, and they were so unique, so good-looking, he was sure that he’d have remembered.

            Sunggyu and Woohyun didn’t have a single ring on.

            “What?” Sunggyu asked, hiding his hands behind his back.

            “Woohyun hyung has one in his pocket,” L said.

            “What?” Woohyun asked.  “I’m wearing your pants, wouldn’t it be your ring?”

            “He took it out of his other pants and put it in his pocket,” Sungjong said.

            “Are you detectives, now?” Woohyun asked.  “So interested in everything I do?”

            “Leaving it in your pocket?” Sunggyu asked.  “Not going to wear it?”

            Woohyun swallowed and met Sunggyu’s eyes.  “I’ll wear it if hyung puts it on me.”

            Sunggyu hesitated, looking uncertain, put on the spot, pressing his lips together.  Then he nodded, accepting it, holding his hand out.

            Woohyun put the ring in his palm.

            Sungyeol moved closer.  He had to see this.  The other members were crowding in, too, pressing in on all sides.

            Sunggyu rubbed his hands on his thighs, taking a deep breath.  Then he took Woohyun’s hand in his.  The four of them were all leaning in, arms around each other, staring.  Sungyeol’s gaze swung from Sunggyu’s focused expression, to Woohyun’s haunted, hopeful eyes and parted lips, to their hands.

            Holding Woohyun’s hand, Sunggyu touched the ring to Woohyun’s fingertip, about to slide it on.

            Then he suddenly pulled his hand away, closing his fist around the ring.

            Sungyeol’s whole heart plummeted, and Woohyun’s eyes closed.

            “I shouldn’t just do it, I should ask first,” Sunggyu said.

            Sungyeol’s heart surged upward, and Woohyun’s eyes snapped open, and, god, Sungyeol couldn’t take much more of this.

            “Nam - - no,” Sunggyu said, cutting himself off.  He laughed nervously, looking happy and self-conscious.  “I can’t - - but I should do it right - - oh, why?” he demanded helplessly, and he knelt down.  “Okay, here, like this,” he decided, taking Woohyun’s hand again.

            Sungyeol had L’s hand in a death grip, or maybe it was the other way around.  Dongwoo crouched down, watching avidly.  Sungjong had both hands over his mouth.

            Sunggyu opened his mouth wide, like he had some important proclamation.  “I,” he said, and then he closed his mouth again, looking uncertain.  “I,” he tried again.  He cleared his throat and looked at Woohyun’s hand more sternly.  “Nam Woohyun.”

            Oh, god, just say it, why wasn’t he saying it?  What was he going to say?

            Sunggyu breathed in and looked up.  “Nam Woohyun, will you marry me?”

            The whole room froze.

            Then, “Fuck,” L breathed.  Sungjong shrieked and Sungyeol said, “Holy shit, hyung,” and Sungjong said, “Yes!  Say yes!  Say yes!”

            “Holy shit,” Sungyeol said again.

            “Not for real!” Sunggyu exclaimed to them.  Then he hastily looked up at Woohyun, his eyes wide.  “For real, really, hyung loves you,” he said reassuringly, and then he turned back to them.  “Not for real!  Just between us.  Stop screaming.”

            “Fuck,” L whispered, rubbing his hand over his mouth.

            Squeezing Woohyun’s fingers, Sunggyu looked up at him.  “Hyung needs an answer, Woohyun-ah.”

            Tears were brimming in Woohyun’s eyes.  He breathed in, trying to control himself, but one tear spilled over, and then another, and then they were streaming down his face.  His shoulders curving forward, he tried to turn away, but Sunggyu wouldn’t let go of his hand.  Full of concern, Dongwoo got up, trying to hug him, to comfort him.  Shoulders shaking, he let Dongwoo gather him in, and he cried on Dongwoo’s shoulder.

            “Tell him yes,” L said, rubbing Woohyun’s back.  “Say yes.  That’s what tonight’s about.”

            “Don’t rush, I can wait,” Sunggyu said, still kneeling down there, still clinging to Woohyun’s hand.  “Take your time, I don’t mind.”

            “It’s a big decision,” Sungyeol said.

            “He’s thinking it over?” Sunggyu demanded.  Ya, ya, no thinking.  Come here and say yes,” he insisted, tugging on Woohyun’s hand.

            Laughing, Woohyun raised his head.  Dongwoo wiped at his tears, and he sniffed, curling his fingers around Sunggyu’s.  “Should I say yes?” he asked, smiling down at Sunggyu.

            “Hyung loves you a lot,” Sunggyu said.  “Hyung’s always loved you.  Hyung really loves you more than anybody.  I’m committed to you already, but if you say yes, I’ll really try hard, I’ll work a lot on being good to you, and protecting you, and loving you even more.”

            Woohyun was crying again, turning red, trying to cover his face and wipe away his tears, gasping on another sob.  “Yes, yes,” he said, “yes.”

            Sungyeol put his arm around Woohyun, the others pressing close for support.  Part of him couldn’t believe that Sunggyu was even ceremonially proposing, but this seemed like what the last seven years had been building up to.  Sunggyu and Woohyun, committing to each other in every way possible.

            Sunggyu carefully slid the ring onto Woohyun’s finger.  Smooth and gold, it looked like a real wedding band.  Romantic, traditional, official.

            Sunggyu pressed a kiss to Woohyun’s knuckles and let his hand go.

            Sobbing, Woohyun turned away, fumbling into the chair, sitting down, looking too overwhelmed to stay on his feet.  As soon as he was down, Dongwoo was climbing into his lap, curling around him.  Stroking his hair, Dongwoo whispered to him, earnest, comforting.  “It’s okay, you’re okay.  It’s just love, love hurts sometimes, it’s okay to cry when it hurts.  It’s a lot, there’s a lot of love, you’ve been giving a lot of it and feeling a lot of it, but it’s a loop, an infinite loop, like the ring, like us.  Love out, love in.  You give love out, love comes back to you, all in a circle, all connected.  Gyu hyung loves you, we all love you, you’re okay.”

            Wrapping his arms around Dongwoo, Woohyun cried against Dongwoo’s chest.  Cooing softly, Dongwoo kissed his hair.

            Sunggyu sat back, rubbing his knees.  “He said yes,” he told no one in particular, and then he laughed, his eyes sparkling with happy disbelief, his smile wide.  “Wait, wait, he said yes!  I’m engaged, are we engaged now?”  Covering his mouth with one hand, he dissolved into happy laughter, looking around at them.  “He really said yes!”

            “You knew he would!” Sungyeol exclaimed, laughing.  God, these members were too much!

            “I just proposed to my own lead vocal,” Sunggyu said.  “Okay, who’s next?”  He gave his knees another brisk rub and then knelt, gesturing at Sungjong.  “Here, maknae, give me your hand.”

            “Next?” Sungyeol demanded.

            “Me?” Sungjong demanded.  “Hyung, what do you want my hand for?”

            “To - - what do you think?” Sunggyu asked.  “To propose!”

            “To me?” Sungjong asked.

            “Did you think I was going to stop after Woohyun?”

            “Yes!” the four of them exclaimed, and Woohyun started laughing, tipping his head back, his cheeks wet.

            “We’re all doing our vows tonight, everybody, all of the members,” Sunggyu said.  He took Sungjong’s hand and pulled the ring off.

            “Is the ring really from you?” Sungjong asked.  “Did you really buy it yourself?”

            “Yes, I bought it myself.  You don’t like it?”  Sunggyu looked hurt.

            “It’s beautiful!  I love it, I really do, so much,” Sungjong said.  “But it’s really, really pretty!  Did you really pick it out on your own?”

            “What are you trying to say about me?” Sunggyu asked.  “I went into the store and I asked to speak to somebody privately, and I explained what I wanted.  It’s me, it’s all me, and I paid a lot!  I shouldn’t mention that, it’s not polite.  But you’re all very expensive!”

            “It’s really beautiful,” Sungjong said, pressing his free hand over his chest.  “I’m really touched.  Can I just…”  He leaned down.

            Sunggyu cupped his chin and kissed him.

            Blushing, he straightened up.  “You look very handsome down there.”

            “Who thinks that Sunggyu hyung should spend more time on his knees?” Sungyeol asked, and Dongwoo chortled, and L rolled his eyes, and Sungyeol grinned.  “I’m just saying.”

            Looking up with a very serious expression, Sunggyu said, “Jongie-ah,” and then he burst into laughter.

            “Be serious!” Sungjong said, stamping his foot.

            “Sorry, sorry.  Hyung’s sorry,” Sunggyu said, trying to pull himself together.  He snickered again, and then he gave himself a little shake.  “Okay.”  Composing himself, he kissed the back of Sungjong’s hand and looked up again.  “Lee Sungjong.  Will you marry me?”

            Dropping down, Sungjong threw his arms around Sunggyu.  “Yes,” he said, his face radiant.  “Yes, hyung, I will.”  He peppered the side of Sunggyu’s face with kisses, and then he snuggled in happily.  Yes.

            Sunggyu’s hand ran up and down his spine.  “Hyung loves you.”

            Sungjong made a funny sound, a funny breath, and Sungyeol realized that he was crying.  Sungyeol moved closer, and he gave a little shake of his head, trying to hide his face.

            Sunggyu eased back, trying to see into his face.  “You’re crying?”  Sunggyu smiled at him, patting the top of his head.  Ya, you’re upset?” Sunggyu asked, cajoling.  “Hyung’s proposal made you unhappy?”

            “Aw, don’t tease him tonight,” L said.

            “It’s okay,” Sungjong said, wiping at his cheeks.  He sniffled and looked at Sunggyu more confidently, his expression brightening again.  “Say whatever you want, I don’t care, now.  I have this.”  He held up his hand, showing off his glittering ring.  “You can say anything.”

            Gently, Sunggyu kissed him.  “Go sit in the crying chair, make my Woohyun feel better.”  While Sungjong got up, Sunggyu gestured to Dongwoo.  C’mere, hyung wants to talk to you.”

            “Hmm?”  Dongwoo went obediently over, crouching down in front of Sunggyu, waiting for instructions.

            Sunggyu patiently took Dongwoo’s ring off and held Dongwoo’s hand.

            Woohyun pulled Sungjong down onto his lap, and everyone quietly watched Dongwoo, waiting for it.

            Dongwoo was gazing down at Sunggyu’s hands like he was waiting for something to happen.  Then all of a sudden he gave a start.  “Oh!  Is it my turn?  You’re doing everybody?”

            “Hyung, stand up,” Woohyun said.

            “Am I ready for this?”  Dongwoo got to his feet, then buttoned up his shirt and smoothed down his sideburns.  He shimmied in place and rubbed his hands together.  “Okay, hyung, go,” he said, holding out his hand.  Then he immediately pulled his hand back and walked away.

            Sunggyu sat down to wait.

            Dongwoo paced around the room, going from one end of the bed to the other and back.  Over by the window, he turned, looked at Sunggyu, and laughed, hopping in place.  “But it’s you!  Oh, I feel funny.”

            “Here, just do me, let’s get this over with,” Sungyeol said, walking up to Sunggyu and thrusting his hand out.  Immediately, he had second thoughts.  Standing there, in front of Sunggyu, with Sunggyu looking up at him, made it all too real.  It hit him with swift force, how much he loved Sunggyu, how much they meant to each other, how deeply their lives were entwined.  What they’d already been through together, and everything that might be in front of them.  He faltered, his hand trembling.

            Kneeling, Sunggyu took hold of his hand.

            He gripped Sunggyu’s hand for support.  “This isn’t real,” he said, to make it clear.

            “Don’t say that,” L said.

            “It’s not real,” Sunggyu told Sungyeol.  Then he turned and told L, “It’s very real, it’s all real, hyung loves you this much,” and he pointed up at Sungyeol.  “Not real.”

            But it felt real.  When Sunggyu looked up at him, so directly, and he was staring down into the attentive face of his hyung, his leader, it felt incredibly real, in his heart.  He loved this hyung, for real, and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Sunggyu, for real.  “Shit,” he said, blinking hard, trying not to cry.  He wasn’t going to fall apart like everybody else, he just wasn’t.  “I’m good, just, hurry up and do it,” he said, touching the corners of his eyes.

            Sunggyu took his ring off and kissed the back of his hand.

            He couldn’t take it.  Sunggyu was kneeling in front of him, kneeling to him, kissing his hand, so humble, so penitent, it showed what he meant to Sunggyu, it proved how tender and giving and modest Sunggyu really was underneath, it showed that when it came to him, Sunggyu didn’t have limits.

            “Lee Sungyeol,” Sunggyu said.

            God, that was his name.  Sunggyu was really going through with it.  Really doing this.  Not just for Woohyun, the love of his life.  Not just for Sungjong, to comfort the maknae.  For him, Lee Sungyeol.  In front of the members.  “Yeah, yeah, okay,” he said, sniffing, blinking his vision clear.

            Sunggyu was looking up at him directly.  Not teasing, not blustering, just gazing up at him with a sincere expression, mouth soft, brown eyes even softer.  “Will you marry me?”

            “Yes,” came right out of him.  Feeling breathless, he wanted to say it again, wanted to be sure, wanted to make it count.  “Yes.”  Wow.  He felt lightheaded.  “I’ll marry you,” he said confidently, happily.  Once the words were out, he heard how they sounded, heard exactly what he’d just said.  “Not for real!” he added hastily.

            Sunggyu slid the ring onto his finger.  “Hyung loves you.”

            He’d guessed that some intense stuff might go down tonight.  He knew how his members could get; he’d expected it.  But, still.  Wow.  “I love you, too,” he said.  Taking both of Sunggyu’s hands for balance, he leaned down, and Sunggyu’s face tilted up to his, and they kissed.

            “Oh, pretty,” Sungjong said.

            Slowly straightening, Sungyeol felt like he was floating away.  He opened his eyes, and Sunggyu was smiling at him.  He felt loved, and optimistic, and happy in a luxurious, romantic, blissful way he wanted to hold onto.  Feeling weirdly shy, he shuffled away.  He went over to the crying chair and petted Sungjong’s hair.  Looking at the ring on his hand, the shine of it, the complex locking of gold and silver together, he felt a fluttery sensation that started in his stomach and went the whole way up through the roof.

            Sunggyu loved him, okay.  But: Sunggyu loved him this much.  And had just proven it in a way he could always point to, in a way that couldn’t be taken back.

            God, Sunggyu was brave as hell.  Sungyeol felt amazed and giddy and hadn’t had to do anything but stand there passively and say “yes.”

            Reaching up, Woohyun took his hand.  He assumed that Woohyun just wanted to see his ring, but a moment later, after studying it, Woohyun kissed it and gave his hand back to him.  He curled his fingers in, feeling warm.  Tonight was about the six of them, together.  He rested his hand on Woohyun’s shoulder, brushing his fingertips over the soft velvet of Woohyun’s shirt.

            “Hyung can’t stay down here forever,” Sunggyu said, rubbing his knees.  C’mere.”

            “It’s too much!”  Dongwoo walked over and grabbed hold of Sunggyu’s hand.  Crouched down and popped up again.  Danced in place and squatted down.  “People have proposed to me before, Inspirits have asked me to marry them, but this is you.”  He held on with both hands.  “Leader Gyu.  My heart’s not ready.”

            Sunggyu nodded, rubbing the back of Dongwoo’s neck.  “Do you want to ask me?”

            “Yes!  Yes, I could ask you every day.  I think that you’d say no on most days,” he said, laughing.  “But I don’t have a ring!”

            “I’ll give you the ring, and you ask me the question,” Sunggyu said.  “It’s teamwork, right?”

            “Teamwork,” Dongwoo echoed with complete trust, nodding.

            Woohyun’s hand strayed over Sungyeol’s, lightly stroking his fingers.

            “Okay, do you want to stand?” Sunggyu asked.

            “You stand!  I like that, I’m used to that, it’s comfortable,” Dongwoo said.

            Sunggyu got up, dusting off his knees.

            Dongwoo was on one knee in front of him, their hands joined.  Dongwoo placed a chaste, reverent kiss on the back of his hand and looked up.  “Kim Sunggyu.”

            Sunggyu dipped for a second, like he wanted to kneel down again.  He edged closer, a tiny shuffle of his bare feet.  His smile was restrained and bashful.

            “I love you,” Dongwoo said formally.  Sunggyu shifted his weight, looking shy and antsy, rubbing one foot over the other.  “I want to be with you always.  I want to follow you wherever you go.  I want to support you through everything.  Sometimes you’re frustrated with me, but.”  Dongwoo licked his lips.  Sunggyu gazed down at him, shy but still.  “The magic runs deep between us.  I love my leader, and I love my hyung, but there’s something else that’s not that.  A bigger love that’s both of those things and more.”  Sunggyu’s head slowly tilted to one side, wonder dawning in his expression.  “I’m on my knees, now, in front of you, asking you, Kim Sunggyu, the Kim Sunggyu that means more to me than just one person can, will you marry me?”

            “Yes,” Sunggyu said softly, still gazing raptly at Dongwoo.  He didn’t sound like he was answering the question, really; he sounded like he was agreeing with Dongwoo, like he’d gotten absorbed in what Dongwoo had to say and had gotten swept up by how right it all sounded to him.  “Yes,” he said, still preoccupied.  Then he caught himself, looking startled.  “I mean, yes!  I will.”  With a big smile, he leaned forward and said, deliberately, “Yes, I will marry you.”  Then, looking very satisfied with himself, he slid the multi-colored ring onto Dongwoo’s finger.

            “Yes, yes?” Dongwoo asked.  He actually sounded surprised.  “Hyung, you said yes.”

            “Of course I said yes!”  Squatting down, Sunggyu cupped Dongwoo’s face in both hands and planted a kiss on him.  “Yes,” Sunggyu said again, and Dongwoo echoed, “Yes,” breathless and dazed, and Sunggyu said, “Yes,” and then they were kissing again.

            Woohyun’s fingers twined through Sungyeol’s.  Sunggyu was getting more assertive, kissing Dongwoo with more intent, and Dongwoo was moaning, melting against him, squirming giddily.  “Let’s get married,” Sunggyu said between deep, passionate kisses.  “Let’s just do it, you and me.  We’ll get married, and we’ll make music together, and we’ll rear four stupid kids.”

            “Hey,” Sungyeol said.

            “Yes, music,” Dongwoo breathed, kissing him back.  Then, “Those kids?”  Dongwoo didn’t stop kissing Sunggyu to look over at them, he just kissed Sunggyu’s cheek instead of his mouth to glance over from a better angle.  Then he laughed.  “I don’t think that you and I would end up with a kid who looked like L.”

            Laughing, Sunggyu kissed him and pushed him away.

            “We’ll make beautiful music together!” Dongwoo said.  “Make music in the studio all day, and then make music with our bodies all night.”

            Getting up, Sunggyu helped him up and pressed a kiss to his mouth.  “Thank you for proposing.  Hyung will remember all of it.”

            “You said yes!”  Dongwoo smiled at him, knowing and playful.  “You can’t take it back.”

            “I won’t take it back,” Sunggyu said, straightening Dongwoo’s shirt collar.  “Hyung meant it.”

            Mmm, beautiful music,” Dongwoo said, leaning against him, smiling up at him, joyful and uninhibited.

            “Beautiful magic,” Sunggyu said gently, caressing his cheekbone.

            “Magic,” Dongwoo whispered, and kissed him tenderly, eyes closing.

            Sungyeol kind of felt the magic.  He felt something, shimmering over him, tingling inside of him, as he watched his hyungs share a slow, captivating kiss.

            Mmm.”  Dongwoo’s eyes opened slowly, and he drifted back with a dreamy smile.  He might’ve wandered blissfully into the wall, but Sungjong put out an arm and caught him, reeled him in.  “Your ring’s so pretty, hyung,” Sungjong said.  “Look at all of those colors.”

            “Sparkly,” Woohyun said, grinning.  “Your favorite.”

            Four down, one to go.  Sungyeol looked over at L.

            L was watching Sunggyu, his hand pressed over his mouth, tears already trickling down his cheeks.  He was already crying?  Sunggyu hadn’t even said anything to him yet!  “L-ah,” Sungyeol said, going over to him.

            “I can’t,” L said, pushing him away with one hand and dragging him closer with the other.  “It can’t be a joke, I can’t do this if it’s not real.  I can’t,” he insisted, looking wounded, vulnerable, his lips trembling helplessly.

            “Okay,” Sungyeol said, looking into his eyes, putting both hands on his shoulders, trying to hold onto his attention.  He was desperate, looking in all directions.  “Okay, it’s not a joke.  It’s real, it’ll be real.  Sunggyu hyung means it, he loves you.”

            “This isn’t for fun,” L said, grabbing at Sungyeol’s arm.  “I can’t do it if it’s a joke, I can’t take it.”

            All of the responses that came to mind were teasing, cajoling, meant to shake L out of it, but he held those back.  That was exactly what L was asking him not to do.  “Okay,” he said again, using his serious hyung voice.  “It’s real.  Nobody’s playing around.”

            “You ask me.”  L’s eyes were wild.  “Ask me, say it.”

            “Sure, I’ll ask you first,” Sungyeol said.  Wait, what?  He couldn’t ask L to marry him.  Even as he was having that startled, confused thought, he knew: yes, he could.  Hell, this was L, he practically had fantasies of growing up and getting L to notice him.  He’d marry L in a heartbeat.  “I’m really asking, now,” he said, stroking the side of L’s neck, watching L’s expression get a little less frantic.  “Hyung wants a serious answer.  Kim Myungsoo, my precious L-ah, will you marry me?”

            L hugged him like some savage force was trying to tear them apart.  Clinging to him with muscular strength, L panted in his ear with desperate, hitching breaths.

            “Do you think that I haven’t wanted to marry you all of this time?” Sungyeol asked, patting his back.  “Do you think there’s ever been anybody else for me?  Of course it’s you.  Of course it’s marriage, I wouldn’t settle for anything less than that.  Not when it comes to my L.”

            “Don’t tease me,” L whispered.  “I can’t forgive it if you tease me.”

            Ya, you think I’m kidding?”  He gave L a little shake, looking firmly into L’s wet eyes.  “I’m in love with you.  I’ve been completely in love with you for years now, seven years.  That’s not a joke, that’s my life.  I love you every day, it’s all I know how to do when it comes to you.”

            Tears rolled down L’s cheeks as he gazed up at Sungyeol.  He looked conflicted, trapped in some internal battle, lost one second, full of hope the next, and it was painful to watch.

            If he couldn’t lighten the mood, then he had to stay serious.  He hated it, it was excruciating to be stern when L was struggling so badly.  Hardening his heart, he felt like a criminal.  “I already told you that I want an answer.”  He did his best to sound firm, not to let his voice quaver as more tears fell from L’s beautiful eyes.  “Will you marry me?”

            L looked overwhelmed for a second, his eyes widening, his expression stunned and uncomprehending.  Then he nodded, his mouth opening soundlessly, and he hugged Sungyeol again.

            “Yes?” Sungyeol asked, hugging him back.  “Yes, you will?”

            He gasped wordlessly for a minute, clinging.  Sungyeol was in agony, loving him, helpless in the face of his distress.  Then he said, “Yes.”  A moment later, “Yes,” more clearly, then, “Yes,” in an awed, wondering tone.  “What?” he asked, like he was coming out of a dream.  Pulling back, he gave Sungyeol a bright, bewildered look.  “Yes.”  He laughed, falling back a step.  “Yes.  God, yes,” he said, coming forward, hugging Sungyeol again.

            “So, yes,” Sungyeol guessed.  He was so relieved to see L smiling again, now he was getting clingy.  God, he never knew what to do when L got emotional.  It was hell on him.  “You’ll marry me?”

            “Yes,” L said.  He gazed at Sungyeol in wonder, absentmindedly brushing tears from his cheeks, his smile heart-stopping.  “You want to marry me?”

            “God, yes.”  In that instant, he wanted it more than anything.  In the emotional intensity of the moment, needing an outlet, he kissed L.

            Immediately, L kissed him back.  A deep, fervent kiss.  “I love you,” L breathed, kissing him passionately.  L was backing him against the foot of the bed, and he was okay with that.  “You want to marry me, you want to marry me,” L whispered.

            “I do,” he said, because if it made L this enthusiastic about him, then, yes, he was totally owning it.

            “You’re in love with me, you want to be with me,” L said, breathless, pushing him down.  Sinking back onto the bed, he returned L’s heartfelt kisses.  Loving L was one of the best things he’d ever done.

            Ya, ya, stop it,” Sunggyu’s voice said.  “You don’t get to do that now, nobody’s doing that now.”

            While Sunggyu dragged L off of him, Sungyeol collapsed, catching his breath.  Whew.  L was a whirlwind.

            Feeling hands on his thighs, he looked up.  Dongwoo was pulling his skirt back down into place.  Getting his equilibrium back, he let Dongwoo help him to his feet.  Feeling unsteady, he left a hand on Dongwoo for support.

            “I didn’t know this was from you,” L told Sunggyu, twisting the ring on his finger.  “I didn’t know who it was from or what it was.”

            Sunggyu held out a hand.  “Will you let hyung give it to you the right way?”

            Nodding, L gave it to him.

            Sunggyu went down on one knee.  “This is very serious,” he told L.  “I mean every word.  Hyung loves you a lot, this isn’t a prank.”

            L nodded again, tugging his sweater sleeve down over his hand and blotting his cheeks.

            “You won’t have doubts about me?”

            L was breathing more normally now, more evenly.  “Do you want me to believe you?” he asked uncertainly.

            “Yes!  I’m not doing all of this to kill time!  Hyung means it, I’m going through all of this so you’ll know how much I care about you!  There’s no point if you don’t believe me, that’s what all of this is for.”

            “L-ah,” Woohyun said.  “It’s okay.  You can believe him.  Let him give this to you.”

            “It hurts,” Dongwoo said.  “It’s like growing pains for your heart.  Trying to fit more love in there than you had, before.  But it’s good.  Growing and learning and loving is how we live.”

            “I’m sorry for the things I’ve done, that make you think I’m not being sincere, now,” Sunggyu said, taking L’s hand.  “And I’m sorry for everyone who’s hurt you, before, to make you feel that way.  You know how hyung feels about that.”  L nodded, sniffing, vulnerable but solemn, understanding.  “This is real.  It’s private, it’s just between us, but for us, it’ll be real.”

            L nodded again.  They were all gathering close, Sungyeol wanting to be there for support, the others drawing nearer.  “If I bring this up later,” L said, “will you admit that you asked me, and that you meant it?  Or will this just be some stupid kid game that we played once?”

            Sunggyu flinched.  He looked away, and then he looked up again, meeting L’s eyes.  “Hyung won’t do that to you.  This is real between us tonight, so it’ll be real later, too.  Don’t throw it in hyung’s face every time there’s an argument,” he warned.  “But I’ll acknowledge it.  And we’re all witnesses, everybody agrees?  I’m on my knees, you see me here, I’m going to ask, I’m being sincere.”

            “We’re witnesses,” Woohyun agreed.  Sungyeol nodded.

            “Okay.”  Sunggyu looked up at L.  “You’re ready?”

            L nodded.

            Sunggyu carefully drew his ring off.  “Kim Myungsoo.  My most handsome dongsaeng.  Hyung loves you a lot, you know all about that.  Being your hyung has never been a joke to me.  Loving you isn’t something I can take lightly.  You’re very precious, you’re very important to hyung.  Not just to Infinite, but to me, personally.  I want you to stay with me.  I’ve worried, sometimes, about what you’d do without me, but there’s another side to it.  What would I do without you?  I love you, L-ah, and I need you with me.  Will you take pity on me?  Will you do hyung a favor?  Will you marry me?”

            L leaned into Sungyeol, making Sungyeol bear his weight like he needed the physical support.  He wiped at his tears with his free hand, making a stifled sound.  “Yeah.  Yes,” he said.  “Yes.”

            Sungjong clapped, and Sunggyu smiled.  “Thank you, L-ah.  That makes hyung very happy.”  Sungyeol put his arm around L more solidly, holding him up, and Sunggyu slid a gold and black ring on.

            Sunggyu moved to get up, and L said, “Wait.”  Sunggyu paused, and L just stared at him for a minute.  “I want to, I have to remember this.”  So they all waited, Sunggyu kneeling down there, until L breathed in and said, “Okay.”

            As Sunggyu got up, Woohyun said, “We’ll remember all of it, we’ll hold onto it.”  They all moved in together, trying to hug each other, all at once, collecting into a knot.  L clung to Sunggyu, and Sungyeol kissed Sungjong.  Then Dongwoo remembered the champagne, and Sungjong went to pour, and Sunggyu kissed Woohyun’s cheek, thumb brushing over his lower lip.  “What about you, do you believe hyung?”

            “I believed you when I saw the ring,” Woohyun said.

            “You knew it was from me?” Sunggyu asked.

            “I didn’t,” Sungyeol admitted.

            “I thought it had to be from L hyung, maybe,” Sungjong said.  “Not you!”

            “Why can L be nice to you, and I can’t?” Sunggyu asked.  “Of course it’s from me.”

            “Why’d you sneak it into my bag instead of just giving it to me now?” Sungyeol asked.

            “I was trying to avoid all of this!” Sunggyu exclaimed, gesturing around them.  “But that was wrong, hyung was wrong,” he said, stroking L’s nape.  “It’s better, this way.  Get everything out in the open, make everything clear, so there are no misunderstandings.”

            “You were trying to stealth-propose to us?” Sungyeol asked.  “Just give us the rings and pretend they weren’t from you and secretly consider it an engagement?”

            “Ah, kind of,” Sunggyu admitted, blushing.  “I didn’t want to propose directly!  I didn’t know how everybody would take it.  I thought that I might get rejected, I didn’t want everybody to hurt my feelings.”

            Was he serious?  “Who here hasn’t secretly been trying to be your boyfriend and your fiancé and your husband for years now?” Sungyeol asked, gesturing to the other members.

            “What about you?” Sunggyu asked.

            “Me?” he asked, suddenly embarrassed.  He didn’t have a good way to play it off.  “I mean, I…  Well, I said yes, so, you don’t have to wonder about me anymore.”

            “I never wondered about you,” Dongwoo told Sungyeol.  “You love Sunggyu hyung as much as anybody.”

            “Am I that obvious?” he asked, cringing.  He’d tried to be cool about it!

            “You’re really bad,” L told him.

            “Me?” he demanded, laughing.  “You!”

            “No, I don’t chase the members,” L said.  “You all chase after me, that’s my concept.”

            “Your concept is that you can’t stay away from us!” Sungjong said.

            “Is it?”  L smiled, blushing.  “Maybe I got it wrong.”

            They settled onto the bed with their flutes of champagne.  Sunggyu sat at the head, leaning back against the headboard, and Woohyun sat beside him.  When L sat down, Dongwoo sat beside him, and he curled up on Dongwoo’s lap.  Sungyeol had a hard time sitting down at all until Sungjong gave him the jacket to his tux, to drape over his lap for modesty.

            “To Infinite,” Dongwoo said, and they clinked glasses.  “To us,” Sungyeol said, and they drank.  It was nice.  The room felt cozier now, with the six of them seated close together, some emotional intensity behind them.  Sunggyu was relaxing against Woohyun, and Sungjong kept petting the lace on Sungyeol’s sleeve.

            “Are there things that we should say?” Sunggyu asked.  “Things you had planned?”

            “I had some stuff,” Sungjong said.  “But I don’t want to go first.”

            “Okay, maknae, you go first,” Woohyun said.


            “Go ahead, get it off your chest,” Sunggyu urged.

            Sungjong turned away, sipping more champagne.  “It’s not very poetic,” he finally said.  “It’s just that, I love you.  All of the hyungs.  Even when you treat me like crap.  And sometimes you don’t!” he added when they groaned.  “Sometimes you’re really good to me.  A lot of the time, you’re really good to me.  I’m really lucky.  I’ve seen other groups, how everyone acts, how they treat their maknae, the way the members are with each other.  And I’m staying here, I’m sticking with you.  I don’t want to be anybody else’s maknae.  I hope that you feel the same way.”

            “You’re right,” Woohyun said, nodding.  He paused for a beat, then grinned.  “That wasn’t very poetic.”

            “Hyung!  I’m trying to be serious!” Sungjong protested.

            “Are you?  Or are you trying to complain?” Sungyeol teased him.  “Talking about how bad we are to you.  What happened to when you said that you’d never complain about us again?  I thought that now that you had a ring, you didn’t care about anything else.”

            “That doesn’t mean that I want you to mock me!”

            “Okay, okay,” Sunggyu said.  “We’ll be serious again.”

            “We love you,” L said.  Smiling fondly, he stroked Sungjong’s ankle.  “We really love you.  We want you to stay.”

            “We don’t want any other maknae,” Dongwoo said.

            “We could be nicer,” Sunggyu said.  “We won’t ever be!  But we could be.  I’ll admit that, I acknowledge it.”

            “Well, that’s something, I guess,” Sungjong said, toying with his flute.  Then he burst out with, “No, it’s not!” and they laughed.  “Why can’t you just be nicer to me?”

            “I’m nice all of the time!” Sunggyu argued.

            “I’m great to you,” Sungyeol said.  “I spoil the hell out of you.”

            “Nobody spoils you more than I do,” L said.

            “Then is it me?” Dongwoo asked, looking around.  “Have I been mean?”

            “You’ve never been mean to anybody,” Sunggyu said.

            “You’re a marshmallow,” Sungyeol told him.

            Dongwoo laughed.  “Am I sticky and fluffy?”

            “You’ve been different, lately,” Sunggyu told Sungjong.  “You’ve been nicer, you’ve seemed more mature.  It’s good to see.  Are you having an easier time making friends?”

            “I, yeah.”  Sungjong seemed taken aback.  “I didn’t know that you noticed!”

            “Hyung cares,” Sunggyu said.  “I pay attention.”

            “I think that I’ve held back a lot.  I’ve missed out on good moments, and I have regrets about it.  I’m trying to open up more.  Say yes more.  It’s hard, sometimes,” Sungjong admitted.  “It hasn’t always gone that great.  But part of it is, I want to be closer to the members.  I want to be more involved in your lives.  Like, with Dongwoo hyung.  We’re talking more lately, and I feel closer to him.  I’m spending more time with him, and with Chunji, too, so I’m getting to know Chunji better, and I think that’s bringing me and Dongwoo hyung closer together, too.  And we’ve been shopping for furniture and decorations, so when I go in his new room, I’ll have memories of those good times we bought things together.”

            “And there’s been more sex!” Dongwoo said.  “More kissing.  The maknae says yes all of the time, lately.”

            L smiled at Sungjong.  “Are you easy, now?”

            “Yes,” Sungjong said, nodding.  “But maybe too easy.  I don’t know how you all have so much sex all of the time.  It’s exhausting!  Don’t you get tired?”

            “Why do you think Dongwoo hyung sleeps so hard?” Sungyeol asked.

            “I like that you’re opening up,” Sunggyu said.  “It’s good for you.  I want you to have stronger friendships.”

            “It’s good to open up,” L agreed, gazing at Sungjong with an adoring smile.  “Let everybody else see the cute Jongie that we know.”

            Looking touched, Sungjong leaned down and met L’s lips for a soft kiss.

            “Is there anything that you want to say to the members?” Sunggyu asked Sungyeol.

            Ah.  “I prepared a lot,” he admitted.  “I wrote some comments down, and I printed out poems, and I didn’t know what to do, like, sing you all a ballad about how I feel?  I don’t have any of that, it didn’t seem natural.  I want to be honest.”  He hesitated, looking down, rotating his new ring on his finger.  “I love each one of you,” he finally said, looking around at them.  They met his eyes solemnly, Woohyun leaning forward, Dongwoo nodding at him.  “We fight, and we give each other shit, and sometimes problems with work spill over into our personal relationships, and sometimes we’re focused so much on work that we don’t have as much of a personal relationship.  But I love you.  You’re so important to me, and you mean so much to me, this isn’t just a job for me.  I want us to be together, I want to live the rest of my life right in the middle of this, with my precious dongsaengs and my seriously unbearable hyungs.  I thought that was obvious, I thought that went without saying,” he admitted, and it hurt to think about that.  “I thought we all felt the same way.  But I guess I was wrong, I don’t know.  Maybe I can’t assume that everybody knows how I feel, or that I know how everybody else feels.  So I want to tell you, that’s how I feel.  I love you, each one of you, no matter what.  And I want to stay together, no matter what.”

            Yeolie,” Dongwoo said, reaching for him, face crumpling.

            Kind of needing a hug, himself, he hugged Dongwoo.

            “You aren’t wrong, not about us,” L said.

            “That’s what tonight’s for, so we’re all on the same page,” Sungjong said, patting Sungyeol’s back.  “So we all know where everybody stands.”

            “How do you feel?” Sunggyu asked Woohyun, patting his thigh.  “Pissed off that he called you unbearable, or feeling smug that he lumped you in with the hyungs?”

            “Both,” Woohyun admitted, grinning.

            Sungyeol used the sleeve of Sungjong’s jacket to mop up Dongwoo’s tears.  “Hyung, you can’t be like this,” he chastised gently, as Dongwoo sniffled.  “We can’t get anything done tonight if everybody’s always crying.”

            “Let him cry,” L said.  “It’s the night for it.”

            “Then do you want to talk next?” Sungyeol asked Dongwoo.  “While you’re already crying?”

            “Wait, let me get tissues,” Sungjong said, rolling off of the bed.  “And stop using my jacket, please.”

            After Dongwoo dried his tears and blew his nose, he said, “I wanted to say everything that was in my heart, so I wrote it all down.”  His hand played over L’s abs, caressed L’s sweater.  “Maybe writing it down got it out of my heart, because now I don’t remember it all.”

            “Where did you write it down?” Sunggyu asked.

            “On paper,” he said, like that should be obvious.  “I wish that I still had it, but I lost it.  Did you see it?” he asked Woohyun.  “It was in our room, on my desk.”

            “Your desk,” Woohyun repeated.

            Dongwoo nodded.  “I’ll just say what I remember, then.  I guess whatever’s still left in my heart is the most important part, anyway, if it’s still with me.”  He patted L’s stomach, visibly gathering his thoughts.  “When I say that I love the members, what is love?  I want to be with you, and spend time with you, and be a part of your life.  I want to understand you, and I hope that you can understand me.  I want to be someone you can turn to, someone who supports you.  I want you to feel glad to see me, and safe and happy when you’re with me.  I want to be something good in your life, because you’re such a big, fabulous part of my life.”

            L sat up, watching his expression intently.

            “When I look into my future, I see you there,” Dongwoo told them.  “I want you there.  I want to mature together.  I want us to be old men together.  When I think about us, are we trees, growing together, some bigger, some prettier, some stronger, all of us spreading out our branches, making room for ourselves but not crowding each other out, reaching for the sun?”  He touched Sunggyu’s knee.  “But I think that you’re my sun.  I’m like a sailor, sailing through the world, I’m still an individual trying to go the right way in my life.  You’re my sun and my moon, you guide me, you show me the right way, you light the path for me.  And our members, our dongsaengs, they’re the stars in the sky, they guide me and light me, too, shining for me even when it’s dark.  You all keep me from getting lost.  It’s a big world!  It’s a big ocean.  But when I can look to my members, I can figure out which way to go.”

            “God, hyung,” Sungyeol said.

            “You’re a big, fabulous part of our lives, too,” Sungjong said.  “I want to stay together until we’re all totally old, when you’re all using walkers and I have to help you get around.”

            “People come and go,” Dongwoo said.  “It’s nature, it’s life, we should be grateful for what we get and not be so greedy about expecting more.  But you guys…”  His eyes were watering, and he laughed helplessly.  “I don’t want you to go anywhere.  When it comes to my members, I’m too greedy.  I want you to stay.”

            Woohyun pulled Dongwoo into an embrace.  “Nobody’s going anywhere.  We want you to stay, too, hyung, we need you.”

            Sungyeol didn’t blame everybody else for crying so much.  He was emotional, too.  They were close, and they talked about loving each other, but it was deliberate and deep, tonight.  He was glad that they were doing this.  After renewing their contracts, it was important for them to get together like this on a personal level and lay it all out.  Especially if they were committing to a professional future together, and agreeing to staying in each other’s lives, why not make it clear how they really felt?  With seven whittled down to six, they might’ve spent the next few years turning cautious, wary of each other, wondering what was really on everybody else’s mind.  It would just make them fragmented, it would make them more likely to turn away.  Declaring themselves tonight was necessary.  The best way to end up growing old together was to make it clear to each other that they were all heading in that direction together, that it was the future they all wanted.

            “Dongwoo,” Sunggyu said, cupping his face.  “You think too much of hyung.  You believe in me too much.”

            Dongwoo smiled at him, leaning closer.  “Will you marry me?”

            Sunggyu smiled.  “Yes, hyung will marry you.  But you can’t think so much of me.  I’m not anybody’s sun and moon.”

            “You’re my leader,” Dongwoo said, like Sunggyu wasn’t making sense.

            “That’s for work.  I’m not your leader right now, I’m just your hyung.”

            “Do you not know what you are to me?” Dongwoo asked.  Then he tilted his head to one side.  “Do I know what I am to you?”

            “Oh, oh, he’s figuring it out,” Sungyeol said.

            Sunggyu laughed, visibly nervous.  “Figuring what out, there’s nothing to figure out.”

            “Sunggyu hyung’s way more sprung over you than you think he is,” Sungyeol told Dongwoo.

            Eyes widening, Dongwoo laughed giddily.  “True?” he asked Sunggyu, his hands playing over Sunggyu’s thighs.  “Really?”

            “He knows how I feel,” Sunggyu argued.  “Hyung loves you, you know that,” he said, patting Dongwoo’s shoulder.

            “And we’re getting married,” Dongwoo said gleefully, running his hands up Sunggyu’s chest.  “And we’re going to make beautiful music together, day and night, night and day,” he added, pushing Sunggyu back against the pillows.  “And we’re going to have four beautiful babies.”

            “That’s not real, you know that’s not real, right?” Sunggyu asked, laughing, cupping Dongwoo’s elbows as he sank back.

            “Everything’s real,” Dongwoo said, and kissed him.  When Sunggyu finally surfaced, nudging Dongwoo up, Dongwoo collapsed comfortably onto Sungyeol’s lap.  Totally okay with that, Sungyeol patted his cheeks and rubbed his chest while he relaxed.

            “At EXO’s dorm, I heard you talking to Chunji,” Woohyun said.  “You were telling him something like that.”

            “Hmm?  Something like what?” Dongwoo asked.  Sungyeol pinched his nipples and he laughed.

            “About your sun and your moon.”

            “Oh?  Yeah, yeah,” Dongwoo said, remembering.  “I told him some of it.  I was practicing for tonight.  He liked it.  I wanted to hear how it sounded out loud in front of somebody.  I asked him if it would be okay, if he wanted to hear it, and he said yes.  Was that wrong?” he asked with concern.  “Those words are just for the members, not for anybody else.  But Chunji knows how I feel about you.”

            “It’s okay,” Sunggyu said.

            “I feel bad,” L mumbled, scratching his ear.  Lowering his face, he peeped at them from beneath his lashes, looking awkward and bashful.  “I don’t have anything good to say.  I don’t have anything about suns and moons.”

            “It’s okay,” Sungjong said.

            “We don’t need fancy stuff,” Sungyeol said.  “Just be honest.”

            L smiled at him like he’d said exactly the right thing.  Totally flattered, feeling confident about himself, he smiled back.  “That’s kind of my concept for tonight,” L admitted.  “I kept thinking about tonight, trying to prepare something, but I don’t really have a lot to give everybody.  I don’t have leadership, or romance, or a pure heart.  I’m just me, this is all I have.”

            “But that’s everything there is,” Dongwoo said, sitting up.

            L’s smile was heartbreaking.  “I didn’t bring flowers tonight, because they just die.  I didn’t bring rings, because a ring, you can lose it, you can take it off, you can leave it behind.  I love you, I love all of you so fucking much.”  His lips were trembling.  “I love you so much and I don’t have anything to give you.  I just have me, this is all there is, you can have me if you want me.”

            “We do want you,” Sungyeol said, grabbing his arm.

            “We love you,” Dongwoo said.

            C’mere,” Woohyun said, hugging him.

            “You don’t have to give us anything,” Sungjong said.

            “The maknae’s right,” Woohyun said, as L clung to him.  “You’re all we want.  You’re already enough, L-ah.  All on your own, you’re more than enough.”

            “I don’t know how you can think that you wouldn’t be enough,” Sungyeol said.  “For us, you’re all we need.”

            “Flowers and rings are nice,” Sungjong said, rubbing L’s leg.  “They’re pretty.  But you’re better than all of those things.”

            “Rings are very nice, I think,” Sunggyu said.  “Especially since I put so much effort in.  But they’re not everything.  You can throw them away tomorrow, but the ring isn’t what’s important.  It’s loving each other, and being good to each other, that’s what matters.  As long as I have my L-ah, my members, as long as we can look back and remember tonight, that’s what counts.  Flowers can go away, rings can go away, but I need all of you by my side.”

            “You’re enough,” Woohyun said again, soft in L’s ear.

            “I think that the proposals didn’t take very much time, tonight,” Sunggyu said.  “And that’s good.  The question was new, but the commitment wasn’t.  We didn’t decide anything tonight that we haven’t already known about for years.  We decided about each other a long time ago, whether we said it or not.  We love each other, and we’re sticking together.  It’s good to say it out loud, now and then.  Sometimes I think that we say it too often,” he admitted.  “But sometimes I think that it’s not often enough.  We shouldn’t doubt each other.  If anybody’s ever doubted me, I’m sorry.”

            “We know you love us,” Sungjong said.

            Sniffing, L sat up straighter, peeling himself away from Woohyun, red-eyed and vulnerable.

            “I’ve tried to be a good hyung,” Sunggyu said.  “There were times that I tried to shield you, and I didn’t always succeed, and I’m sorry for that.  I’ve made some mistakes that I can’t forgive myself for.  But no matter what, hyung loves you.  Whatever happens, when there are good times, I want to celebrate with you.  When there are bad times, I want to help you through it.  Hyung’s here for you.”

            “You have to let us support you, too,” Sungyeol said.  “You don’t always have to handle everything all by yourself.”

            Sunggyu absorbed that, nodding.  “I take a lot on myself, because I don’t want to burden you.  This is a time when you should be enjoying your lives.  If things are going well for you, I don’t want to bring you down, and if things aren’t going well, you already have enough to deal with, you don’t need more problems.”

            “You want to help us, but we want to help you,” Sungyeol said.  “You can confide in us.  We might not have all of the answers, but we can try.”

            L smiled at Sungyeol, stroking his sleeve.  “You’re not useless.”

            The way L said it made him laugh.  “Was that up for debate?”

            L just smiled and kissed him.

            “Tonight should be a memory that we keep,” Sunggyu said.  “I won’t take it back, and I don’t want you to, either.  What we say to each other, and how we feel about each other tonight, let’s remember all of it, even after the flowers are dead.”

            Sungjong melted against Sungyeol’s side, arms circling him.  He kissed the top of Sungjong’s head and rubbed Dongwoo’s chest, while L sank against Woohyun.

            “Anything else to say before I do what I have to do?” Sunggyu asked.

            “What do you have to do?” Sungyeol asked.

            “I have something for you,” Woohyun said, and when they all looked at him with sudden interest, he laughed.  “Not that!  In my bag, ya, in my bag.”

            Sungjong slid off of the bed to get the bag that Woohyun had brought in.  Carrying it over, he plopped it down as he sat again.  “Anything for me?”

            “See how spoiled you are?” Sunggyu asked.

            “Part of it’s just for you,” Woohyun said.  Hauling the bag into his lap, he unzipped it.  Ya, no peeking,” he warned.

            “A little peeking,” Sunggyu said, looking over his shoulder, poking at the open zipper.  “What’s so important you had to run out in the rain to get it?”

            “There are a few things that I got for the members that I never gave you,” Woohyun said.

            “Like birthday gifts?” Dongwoo asked.

            “Why didn’t you give them to us?” Sungyeol asked.

            “Things happened.”

            Okay, that was cryptic.  Leaning against Woohyun’s shoulder, L rubbed his back.  “It’s okay, hyung.  We’ll just be glad to have them, now.”

            The bag was stuffed.  “This was to celebrate your drama,” Woohyun said, handing L a jewelry box.  “This was for a birthday,” he said, handing Sungyeol a gift-wrapped box.  “I just liked this, I got it for you,” he said, handing Dongwoo a shirt.

            Wait.  “My birthday?” Sungyeol asked.  “But you haven’t missed any of my birthdays.  Have you?”  Maybe he was misremembering.

            “It’s a back-up present,” Woohyun said.  Then he corrected himself.  “I gave you the back-up present, that day.”

            “Then this is the real present?”  He didn’t understand.  “Why didn’t you just give me this?  Is it weird?”

            “Just be appreciative and say thank you,” Sunggyu told him.

            “Oh, I like this,” Dongwoo said, sitting up, holding the shirt up and then spreading it over his knees.  It was a white T-shirt with a glittery, metallic design.  “It’s hot, Namu, thank you.”

            “There’s this,” Woohyun said, handing Sunggyu a bottle of cologne.  He gave Dongwoo a poetry book, handed Sungjong a gift-wrapped box, and he kept going.  The bag was bottomless.  Sungyeol ended up with two shirts, a watch, underwear, and his birthday gift, a notebook laptop he’d been lusting over like three years ago.

            “Which birthday was this?” Sungyeol asked, confused.

            “You should wipe it before you give it away,” Woohyun said.

            “Did you put something on it?” Sungyeol asked.  Was that why Woohyun hadn’t wanted to give it to him?  “Is this full of porn?” he demanded, laughing.

            “Is the bag empty?” Dongwoo asked.  “Thank you for everything.  They’re good presents.  I would’ve been happy to get them when you bought them, but I’m happy now, too.”

            “Yes, thank you,” Sungjong said, hugging him.

            “It’s all great,” L said.  “Thank you, hyung.  I’m sorry that it seemed like you couldn’t give them to me before.  Was it our fault, did we mess something up?  You thought that we wouldn’t receive them well?”

            “Sometimes it was you,” Woohyun said.  “Sometimes it was me.  Sometimes the time just wasn’t right.  Sometimes I held back and then I gave it to you later.”  He smiled.  “I sneak a lot of things in with Sunggyu hyung’s fan gifts, he doesn’t even notice.”

            “You what?” Sunggyu asked, startled.

            “Just give it to him!” Sungjong said.  “Do you think that we don’t like gifts?”

            “My Inspirit friends?” Sunggyu asked, looking bewildered.

            “Oh, you wrote a message,” Dongwoo said, opening his poetry book.

            Sunggyu eyed Woohyun with suspicion.  “A lot, what do you mean, a lot of things?”

            “Don’t worry about it now,” Woohyun said.  “You liked the gifts, why does it matter who gave them to you?”

            Disconcerted, Sunggyu patted at his gifts, picking them up and putting them down.  He started to move the bag out of his way, then stopped.  “This isn’t empty,” he said, rustling the bag.

            “This is about Chunji,” Dongwoo said.  Holding the book in both hands, his mouth open, he brought it closer to his face, amazed.  “Woohyun-ah, did you write this about my Chunji?”

            “You were really missing him,” Woohyun said, rubbing his hand over his thigh.  He looked sentimental and uncomfortable.  “I wanted to reassure you.”

            “How long have you been holding onto all of this?” Sungyeol asked.

            “But I wish you’d given this to me before,” Dongwoo said.  “This would’ve made me feel better.”

            Woohyun rubbed his hands over his face, ran them through his hair.  “Look,” he said, and he swallowed.  “This.”  He held up a necklace.  “L had just broken up with that guitarist, and it was Pepero Day, and I wanted to be good to him and take him out and give him a romantic night.  I bought this, and some pepero, and I asked him to meet me for dinner, and he went out and fucked that actor instead.  I just gave the pepero to the other members and didn’t bring it up again.  This,” he said, dropping the necklace and picking up Dongwoo’s book.  “I bought this for you, and I was going to give it to you.  You were so miserable, I hated seeing you so unhappy, and I wanted to help.  But you came to me, looking for comfort, and the sex was some of the best we’d ever had, and you stayed in my bed all night, telling me how much you loved me and how glad you were that you had the members, and I thought, maybe I won’t give Dongwoo hyung the book, maybe it’s better for me if he’s seeking me out for healing, maybe I don’t want him to get over it that fast, if he needs me like this.  I don’t feel that way!  I only thought it for a second, but I thought it.  It was in my brain, and it confused everything.  It tainted the book, it made me wonder how I really felt and what my motivations really were.”

            “You.”  Dongwoo shook his head.  “You don’t really want me to be unhappy.”

            “I get overconfident, and then I get insecure,” Woohyun said.  “I’m jealous, I want you all to myself.  This,” he picked up Sungjong’s pajamas, “I was going to give you a special night, you’d been upset all week, I was going to pamper you, I was going to wash you and give you a massage and feed you strawberries and make love to you, and you saw me setting up the flowers and candles in my room, and you said, ‘God, ugh, why do you put on such a big show all of the time, just get over it, you know everybody thinks you’re creepy.’”

            “No!” Sungjong exclaimed, looking horrified.  “Oh, no, hyung!  No, I take it back, I didn’t mean it!”

            “This.”  Woohyun flipped open Sungyeol’s laptop, and a piece of paper fell out.  “The wallpaper is a photo of the two of us, it’s a fan photo we weren’t even posing for, we’re onstage and we’re hugging and you’d think there wasn’t anybody else in the world for us, but each other.”

            Dongwoo was reaching for the paper; Sungyeol got to it first.  “You thought it was too romantic?  What did you give me that year, instead?”

            “A shirt,” Woohyun said.  “You didn’t even like it.  But I got it for Sunggyu hyung in the first place, anyway.”

            “I couldn’t have it?” Sunggyu asked.

            “You were flirting with someone I didn’t want you flirting with,” Woohyun said.

            Sungyeol read his note.

            My Sungyeol-ah, my smart, handsome, wonderful beloved.  It’s your birthday.  A day to celebrate.  Another year of your life.  Another year that I’ve known you.  All year, whether you’ve known it or not, every day, my heart’s been yours.  This year, will you be mine?

            Sungyeol read it over again, his heart clenching in his chest.  He thought about Woohyun feeling this way and writing this out.  Being bold enough, loving him enough, to write to him in such open, flowery words.  And then second-guessing it, wondering how it would be received, being afraid of a rejection.  Shoving some second-hand gift on him instead, and hiding this away.  Hiding it and holding onto it for three years.  Filled with regrets, he shook his head.  “You could’ve given me this.  You could’ve asked me then.  I would’ve said yes.”

            “You would’ve laughed in my face,” Woohyun said.

            “I wouldn’t have.”

            “You would have,” L said.

            “You don’t know that!”  The accusation cut deep.  “You never gave me a chance.”

            “It’s all wasted chances,” Woohyun said.  “That’s what all of this is.  Opportunities I missed.  Moments I was too angry, too hurt, too scared to take.  Every time, I felt like I loved you too much and you didn’t love me enough.  Or I felt like I was loving you the wrong way, too jealous, too needy.”

            “There’s no wrong way to love somebody,” Dongwoo said.

            “God, there are so many,” L said.

            “Not here,” Dongwoo said.  “Not among us.  Love is like poop, it comes out how it comes out, you don’t get to decide.”

            “Whoa, what?” Sungyeol asked.

            “We love each other how we love each other,” Dongwoo said.  “There’s nothing wrong in any of it.”  He ran his hand over Woohyun’s thigh, looking solemn.  “You don’t want me to be hurt.  You don’t want bad things for me.  If missing Chunji made me confide in you, and turn to you for healing, and we grew closer, that’s not bad.  You helped me a lot.  All of the members did.”

            “I’m counting the days until Chunji breaks your heart and you need me like that again,” Woohyun said.  “I’ve been encouraging Niel to monopolize Sungyeol’s time because I know he’s not a threat to me.  I didn’t get rid of Changjo when I had the chance, and I regret it every day.  I told the maknae to stay away from C.A.P. for L’s sake because I didn’t like how close they were getting.  I’ve been getting the NCT kids to talk to me about Suho so I can get dirt on him.”

            “Don’t do that anymore,” Sunggyu said.

            “I’m not going to stop.”

            “Yes, you are.”  Sunggyu hesitated.  “Did you find anything?”

            “Their stories aren’t consistent.”

            “Okay, but stop,” Sunggyu said.

            Sungjong was glancing at L hesitantly.  “It wasn’t serious.  With C.A.P. hyung.”

            “I didn’t know there was anything between you,” L said.  “Wait, you - - you know I don’t care, right?”

            “You hate him, of course you care,” Sungjong said.

            “No, I really don’t care,” L said.  He exhaled, chewed on his lower lip.  “He meant so much to me that he can’t mean nothing to me.  But he really doesn’t mean anything to me, do you know what I mean?  He’s a part of my life, but.  It’s not positive, it’s not negative, he just is.  He’s C.A.P.  I can’t forgive him, but I’m over it.”

            “You can’t still hold a grudge and also be over it, that’s not how that works,” Sungyeol said.

            “It is,” L said.  “If you want to hang out with him, go ahead, hang out with him,” he told Sungjong.  “If you’re getting something out of it - - what, is it the sex?”  Sungjong nodded.  “Then go ahead, have fun with it.  Don’t give him your heart, he can’t take care of it.  He’s never going to be able to see you past Chunji and Niel.  But if you want to screw him, or talk to him, or anything, do it.  Don’t stop for me.  I don’t care about him, I care about you, and I want you to be happy.”  He blinked.  “I think he was trying to ask me about you.  I don’t even remember what I said.”

            “He asked about me?” Sungjong asked.  He was breathless and hopeful; it was a total overreaction, and immediately he tried to play it cool, toying with his hair, sitting back nonchalantly.  “Well, if you don’t hate him.  That’s good.”

            Dongwoo stroked Woohyun’s upper arm.  “Do you think that we don’t know you?  After years together?  We don’t know what you’re like or what’s in your heart?”

            “I want to break you and Chunji up,” Woohyun said.

            “No, you don’t.  You love me, and you want me to be happy.  Chunji hurt me, and you want to protect me before he does it again.  You think that you love me best, you think that you can be better for me than anyone else can.  You like it when it’s just us, just Infinite, just members together, without a lot of other people who haven’t been through the good and bad times that we’ve endured together.  Chunji’s a unique, independent person who lives his own life, and you don’t know what he might do.  What he might say to me, how he might hurt me, what kind of decisions he’ll make, how he might change my life.  Chunji has a lot of influence on me, and he’s somebody you don’t have control over, and that upsets you.  When people are precious to you, you want to arrange things for us so that we’re happy, and safe, and always loving you back, but you can’t control Chunji, and it frustrates you.  It’s just because you love me so much, that’s all.”  Dongwoo rubbed Woohyun’s arm.  “You don’t have to worry about anything or anybody.  I love you.  Whether somebody else loves me, or somebody else hurts me, I’ll still love you.  Chunji is Chunji.  Namu is Namu.  One doesn’t have anything to do with the other one.”

            Sungyeol didn’t get how somebody who couldn’t remember to put on a left sock to go with the right sock understood the world so well.  “You see it that way?”

            “Of course,” Dongwoo said.  “How do you see it?”

            “Uh.”  He probably shouldn’t be too honest, but.  “Really?” he asked, and Dongwoo nodded.  “I just thought that you were kind of creepy and jealous and pushy,” he told Woohyun.  “Not in a bad way,” he added hastily.  Or, uh.  “In a bad way that I like.  You’re shady and manipulative and jealous, and I love that about you,” he said frankly.  “It’s who you are.  We have to accept a lot of weird stuff about each other.  Sunggyu hyung’s rude and strict and controlling, the maknae’s spoiled and whiny, and you’re manipulative.  And full of yourself.  It’s frustrating sometimes and it’s annoying sometimes, but it’s great, sometimes.  I don’t have to worry that Sunggyu hyung’s going to end up with the wrong person, because I know that you’d never let that happen.  I don’t have to worry that any of the hoobaes I flirt with will get too attached and try to get serious with me, because I know that you’ll handle it.  You’re a pushy, jealous freak, but you’re our pushy, jealous freak.  And the sex has been wild, lately.”

            Woohyun stared at him for a second, uncomprehending, disbelieving, and then a sexy, suggestive smile spread across Woohyun’s face.  “You think I’m bad, and you like it.”

            Yes, but it sounded weird, put that way.  “Not bad, bad.”

            Sliding closer, Woohyun leaned into his personal space, fingers brushing his lips, under his chin.  Woohyun’s suggestive, approving smile was making him warm.  “I fucked that blond rookie and made it just dirty enough that he’d be embarrassed to see me again, so he’d be too shy to talk to you anymore.”

            Wait, the blond one?  “Damn it, I wanted him.”

            Woohyun’s smile grew.  “You can’t have him.  He can’t have you.”

            “He wasn’t going to have me, I just wanted to get laid.”

            “If you want a cheap screw, what are Niel and Baekhyun for?”  Woohyun’s touch drifted over his cheek, knuckles brushing along his jaw, too light, making him shiver.  “I like sharing dongsaengs with you.  I like it when they’re staring into my eyes, calling my name, while they’re coming and twitching and spurting and riding your cock.”

            “Shit, Namu.”  He was so turned on and so resentful, he just felt hot all over.  Why were his members so good at fucking with people?  “Not everything has to be about you.  Can I get Baekhyun off without you turning it into your own thing?”

            “No,” Woohyun said, still smiling, tickling under his chin.  “I want him to want me more than he wants you.  I want them all to want me more than they want you, so they won’t get too attached to you.  I don’t want to share you.”

            “L doesn’t want to share me, either, but he doesn’t get in my way,” he said, exasperated.

            L smiled at him.  “You know that?”

            “Everybody knows that,” Sungjong said.

            Smiling fondly at Sungyeol, L hugged Dongwoo’s arm.

            “You want me to be more like L?” Woohyun asked, and laughed.  “You don’t want me to be more like L.  You’re lucky that I’m cockblocking and keeping guys from getting too close.”

            It wasn’t like L would really do something to the rookie if Sungyeol brought him around too much.  If Sungyeol and Baekhyun got serious, it wasn’t like L would…

            L would do something.  He knew that L would do something.  Who was he kidding?  The more he thought about it, the more he had the uneasy suspicion that there might not be anything L wouldn’t do.

            “He lets Sunggyu hyung see Suho,” he pointed out, trying to reassure himself.

            “He likes Suho,” Woohyun said.  “It’s still not easy for him, sometimes.”

            “He lets Dongwoo hyung see Chunji.”

            “Don’t take that for granted,” L said.

            “What about Chen?”

            “Chen was good for him,” L said.  “And I knew that Woohyun hyung was watching it, I let him handle it.”

            “Chen’s good, inside, and he was really in love,” Dongwoo said.  “They don’t get so angry when we’re with people they think might be good for us.  They get a lot more upset about people they think might be bad for us.”

            “Like who?” Sungyeol asked.

            “Like all of those hot guys they drove away and seduced out from under you and threatened and deleted out of my phone,” Sungjong said.  “Like all of those women Sunggyu hyung’s never been able to date.”

            “Who’d they delete out of your phone?” Sungyeol asked.

            “Assholes he didn’t need to talk to again,” L said.

            “If you don’t let them delete the number, Woohyun hyung will just break your phone, or lose it,” Sungjong said.  “It’s easier to just let them do it.”

            “Me?” Woohyun asked.  “L, too, don’t just look at me.”

            “You broke my phone!” Sungyeol realized.  “Which one of you, which one of you did it?”

            “Which time?” L asked.

            “I knew that wasn’t an accident!  I told you!”  The one he’d found on the floor by his bed, that everyone had told him he must have dropped or knocked over without realizing it, like a fall that simple would have damaged it that badly.  The phone he’d lost, somehow, when he knew that he’d set it down on the kitchen counter, and everyone had told him that he must have knocked it into the trash.  The one he’d lost in the dressing room, when he’d only set it down for a second - - after getting a hoobae’s phone number!  “Damn it, phones aren’t free, do you know how much you owe me?”

            “Wait, do I keep losing my phone?” Dongwoo asked.  “Or are you two taking it?”

            “You keep losing it,” Woohyun told him, chuckling.

            “I just delete numbers out of it,” L said.  “You just get confused and think you must’ve not saved them right.”

            “Don’t take advantage of him,” Sunggyu chided.

            “You want me to steal his phone and make him get a whole new one?” L asked.

            “I want you to stop screwing around with phones!”

            L frowned.  “He’s talking to people who shouldn’t be talking to him.”

            “Then tell me and I’ll take care of it.”

            L exhaled uneasily, still frowning, and Woohyun shook his head.  “He doesn’t think that you’re strict enough.”

            “That’s our problem?” Sungyeol asked, laughing.  “Sunggyu hyung’s too lenient with us?”

            “He doesn’t get rid of people fast enough,” L said.  “He gives them too many chances.  He gives the members too much freedom.”

            Sungyeol was starting to see the significance of which members had the busiest social lives.  Woohyun and L had dated way more than the rest of them.  Because Woohyun and L wouldn’t let the rest of them get close enough to anyone to try dating.

            And all but one of L’s relationships had ended in complete, horrible disaster.  Maybe that was part of why L thought that Sunggyu was too lenient.  Because Sunggyu hadn’t stepped in soon enough to rescue L.  And L didn’t want that happening to the other members.

            “I thought you were the one I had to watch out for,” Sungjong told Woohyun.  “Was it you all along?” he asked L.

            “Our L-ah’s like a wild creature,” Dongwoo said.  “Like an animal who gets hurt easily, so he has a lot of claws and fangs, to protect himself when he feels threatened.  You just have to know how to approach him and treat him, so he doesn’t use them against you.”  His hand wandered over L’s thigh.  “It’s life.  You get hurt the first time, you’re surprised.  You get hurt the second time, you think, oh, I see, now, I won’t do that again.  You get hurt the third time, you aren’t just on the defensive anymore.  You’re playing offense, now.  You’re on the lookout, you’re going to catch them before they get you.”

            Rubbing his hand over his mouth, L looked at Dongwoo fondly.  “You make everything sound natural.  Everybody else just calls me crazy.”

            “We all grow and develop in different ways,” Dongwoo said.  “It’s not irrational to want to protect yourself against what hurts.  That’s an instinct everybody has.”

            Sunggyu put his arm around Woohyun.  “These are good gifts that you’ve given us.  Thank you.”  He cupped Woohyun’s nape, looking into Woohyun’s eyes.  “Stop hoarding moments.  Stop saving up love.  Stop holding grudges against yourself.  If you’re worried that you’ll embarrass yourself, do it anyway, it’s nothing new to us, we know how embarrassing you are.  If we’re acting ungrateful and you’re pissed off at us for not appreciating everything you do for us, scold us for it.  You love us a lot, you do a lot for us, and we should stop taking it for granted.”

            Woohyun and L had just admitted to trashing the members’ phones, and had just explained how they screwed around with the members’ private lives, and Sunggyu wasn’t scolding them.  He was acting like the members were the ones who were wrong, for not being more appreciative.

            Okay, if Sunggyu wasn’t going to discourage them, then Sungyeol at least had a request.  “Could you not destroy my phone from now on, and not steal it from me?  I’m tired of replacing phones.”

            “You love it, you have an excuse to get the latest one,” L said.

            “We’re really doing you a favor,” Woohyun added, grinning.

            “Stop doing me that favor,” Sungyeol said.  “Could you just delete the number and stop there?  Or don’t delete anything, just talk to me?”

            “Stop hitting on other guys,” L said.

            “He wants to get laid,” Sungjong said.

            L frowned.  “Put it in Niel, he’s easy.”

            “I like variety,” Sungyeol said, laughing.  “I like meeting new guys.  Why can’t I date?  You have Changjo.”

            L scratched his head.  “Then Changjo will be our exception.  We can date him.  You can have him after I’m finished with him.”

            “That’s a terrible idea,” Sungjong said.

            “You don’t need to date around, anyway,” Sunggyu told Sungyeol.  “You have more important things to focus on, dating can wait.  You aren’t interested in a relationship right now.  If you want sex, ask Niel.  If you want a nice dinner, take Chen out.  If you want a challenge, try D.O.  You don’t need a lot of new people.”

            Sungyeol studied Sunggyu.  “How many names have you deleted out of my phone?”

            Sunggyu hesitated.  “Well, you play around too much, sometimes.  I’m your leader, it’s my responsibility to keep you focused on work.  Dating is a big distraction.”

            “Everyone has a boyfriend and I can’t make phone calls?” Sungyeol demanded.

            “You have terrible taste, anyway!  I don’t delete all of your contacts, I just prune, sometimes.  Not often!  Barely at all, hardly ever, I almost never do it.”

            If he said-

            “A leader’s responsibility is real,” he added, “and-”

            “Oh my god!” Sungyeol exclaimed.

            Sunggyu gave him a speculative, assessing look, then turned back to Woohyun.  “Thank you for the gifts.”

            “Don’t hold back so much,” Dongwoo said.  “It’s not good for you.”

            Woohyun and L were totally over the top and seriously crossing boundaries.  And Sunggyu and Dongwoo were encouraging them like it was fine and natural.

            Just to see what would happen, Sungyeol said, “You know, you don’t have to be so dismissive.  Niel and I have really been getting closer, lately.”

            L’s head came up, his eyes flashing.  “Really?” Dongwoo asked, smiling.  Sungjong rolled his eyes.

            Woohyun didn’t say anything, just glanced at Sunggyu, who was frowning at Sungyeol and looking annoyed.  Niel?  Really?  That’s your type?  No, no.”  He shook his head, waving Sungyeol away.  “You have your acting to focus on, we’re looking towards a comeback, you don’t have time for that now.”

            Niel’s nice, he’s funny,” Dongwoo said.  “You’re cute together, he’s a good dongsaeng.”

            Sunggyu glared at Dongwoo.  “Sungyeol’s cute all by himself, when he’s focused on work.”

            “Okay, just to clear this up,” Sungyeol said.  “So I’m just not allowed to date?”

            “What?  Date whoever you want,” Sunggyu said.  “I don’t run your private life, that’s up to you.”

            “You just said!” Sungyeol exclaimed, laughing.

            “Me?  I never said that you can’t,” Sunggyu said.  “I just said, as a hyung who cares about you, as somebody who’s interested in your career, that this isn’t a good time for it.  ‘Shouldn’t’ isn’t the same as ‘can’t,’ nobody’s forbidding anything.”

            “Hyung, he didn’t mean it,” Sungjong said, putting a hand on L’s arm.  “He’s just kidding about Niel.”

            “I don’t know, they’ve been bonding a lot lately,” Woohyun said.  He smiled, eyeing Sungyeol with suspicion.  “Spending a lot of time comforting each other.  First Sungyeol was helping Niel to heal, and now he’s turning to Niel a lot.”

            “No,” Sungyeol said.  Hold on, he didn’t actually want his members gunning for Niel.  “He’s a good dongsaeng, but there’s nothing special between us.  I’ve been spending time with Chanyeol and Baekhyun, too, I can’t be in a relationship with everybody.”

            “Baekhyun?” L spat.  His lip curled in disgust.  “That’s your type?”

            “I don’t have a type!”  Oh, god, he was siccing his members on his dongsaengs.  “You’re my type,” he said, scooting closer to L.  Not looking at all convinced, L held back from him, and he pulled L’s leg across his lap.  “You’re my real ideal type.  Good-looking, and sexy, and sweet, and way, way too good for me but you don’t even realize it.  That’s my type.”  Suspecting what L really thought of the others, he asked, “If that’s my type, do you think I’m really interested in Niel and Baekhyun?”

            L snorted.

            He laughed, ruffling L’s hair.  “Don’t worry about other guys.  Lots of guys want to be on Team Sungyeol, I’m great, but I’m always on your team, okay?”

            L’s gaze slid away, his face tense, his expression brooding.

            He stroked L’s hair.  He was pledging himself to his members tonight, and he’d already signed a contract.  Either he was in for years of this, years of his members cockblocking and guarding him jealously and dictating his personal life for him, or he had to set boundaries right now.  He either had to let them run his love life and turn on anyone who got too close and wreak havoc, or he had to get them to change.

            He didn’t want them to change.  Yeah, Woohyun was overbearing and L was oversensitive, but he didn’t really mind it enough to push back too hard against it.  He wanted a little freedom, but if he really had to confront the facts, he liked how intense his members could get about him.  He liked that gorgeous, sexy L cared so much about him, enough to be possessive.  He liked that Woohyun, who had Key and Sunggyu and everyone else wrapped around his little finger, got jealous over him, too.  He liked that Sunggyu was territorial.  His members were incredibly hard to deal with sometimes, and complete hypocrites, but they loved him.

            Maybe it wasn’t the healthiest love.  Maybe they should be generous and supportive and encouraging, not possessive and jealous and vengeful.  But he got that kind of love from Dongwoo.  He had that, and it was great.  He liked his other members and their ways of loving him, too.

            He hadn’t realized that they were going to be like this, when they’d first debuted.  And they hadn’t been so jealous, before, not at first.  It had developed over time.  The longer they’d been together, the more they’d bonded as a group, the more they’d been through together, the more intense and complex their relationship had become.

            They loved him now more than they ever had.  And he loved them more, too.  Their behavior had escalated so gradually over time, he’d gotten used to each stage of it, and he hadn’t even noticed all of the boundaries being erased.  He loved L so much, he could forgive and accept and overlook anything L did.  Woohyun was so manipulative, so goddamned audacious, so capable of being so wicked with such a convincing smile, that he didn’t even mind it when he was openly being conned, and probably didn’t catch it half of the time, anyway.  And Sunggyu was like some kind of inescapable force in his life; if he’d really wanted to put up boundaries there, he would’ve had to start years and years ago.  And he hadn’t.

            He liked things the way they were.  He had to complain now and then, and ignore things now and then, and push back now and then, and force himself not to notice things now and then, but he didn’t want his members to change.  He liked the intensity.  He liked being in over his head.  He loved how greedily L loved him.  He loved how firmly Sunggyu took control of him.  He loved seeing Woohyun walk into a room and smile at him, and not knowing what he was in for.

            He loved Dongwoo, for being so good, and so honest, and so goofy.  And he loved Sungjong for being normal.  Thank god for the maknae.  The only other ordinary human being in this circus.

            “I love you,” he told L.  “I just proposed marriage to you, how can you be worried about anybody else?  Other guys are great, they’re fun, I like spending time with them.”

            “They’re good for your ego,” L told him, finally meeting his eyes again, looking resentful.  “You think you’re a top, and it turns you on to have other guys who see you that way.  You get Baekhyun moaning and squirming around begging, ‘Hyung, oh, hyung,’ and you feel like a king.”

            “He just likes to pretend he’s Sunggyu hyung,” Dongwoo said.  “He wants to be to other guys what Sunggyu hyung is to him.”

            “What?!” Sungyeol demanded, shocked.  What the hell?  He might expect Woohyun to try saying some bullshit like that, just to get inside his head, but Dongwoo?!  “You’re kidding - - he’s kidding,” he told the other members.  And then he realized that Sungjong was staring at him with wide eyes, having a revelation, seeing him in a whole new light.  “No!  No, shit, come on!”  They couldn’t be serious!  “That’s some weird psychology shit, no.”

            “Am I that impressive, to you?” Sunggyu asked, squeezing his shoulder.  “Am I your sun and your moon?”

            “I’m not kidding.”  Dongwoo said it like this was some ordinary conversation and not a complete mind-fuck.  “That’s why you care so much about topping and bottoming.  I don’t think that you should put so much emphasis on it, it’s all sex, it’s weird that everybody cares so much about positions.  But you’re so tight and so tense, and it’s so hard for you, I think that’s why it’s so important to you.  Bottoming is so intense for you, it blows your mind, it does things to you, and you just want to have that effect on other people, in return.”

            “Gross,” Sungjong said.  “That’s really gross.  Hyung, if you know why I like sex the way I do, don’t tell me.  I don’t want to know about it.”

            “It’s nice of you to look up to hyung so much,” Sunggyu said, giving Sungyeol’s shoulder a reassuring pat.  “You can try to follow hyung’s example, it’s all right.”

            “I don’t want to be you!” he exclaimed, horrified.

            “This is interesting,” Woohyun said.  “Is that why you’ve liked Baekhyun more than Chen?  Because Sunggyu hyung wasn’t giving it to him, so there wasn’t as much competition?  You don’t want a direct comparison?”

            “No!”  Oh, god.  “Get out of my head!” he ordered.

            A smile curved Woohyun’s mouth.

            “Too late,” Sungjong said.

            “I like sex because it feels good!  I like doing it with Baekhyun because he’s hot!  That’s normal!”  He couldn’t deal with his members.  “I like hanging out with Niel because he’s fun,” he told L.  “You don’t have to get pissed off about it, it doesn’t mean anything.”  He was really setting himself up, here, but he couldn’t let his members go after innocent guys.  “If you get upset about it, take it out on me.  Don’t take it out on Niel or Baekhyun or whoever, some random other hoobae, come after me.  Tell me off or fuck with my head, not theirs.”

            L glared at him, resentful and frustrated.  “I can’t hurt you.”

            “I can,” Sungjong said.  “Tell me and I’ll do it for you.”

            What?  “Are you a traitor?” Sungyeol asked, surprised.

            “I’m on L hyung’s side,” Sungjong said.  Niel gives great head, but you spend way too much time with him.”

            Niel’s a good guy,” Sungyeol said.  “You know he’s a whole person, and I hang out with him to have a good time, right?  We talk and play games and go out together.  It’s not just sex.”

            L frowned like that hadn’t made sense.  “Sex is all he’s good for.  He’s so useless, it’s the only purpose he has.  What else do you get out of it?”

            “His primary function in life isn’t to get me off!  He’s funny, he’s smart.  Have you ever talked to him?  He understands the industry inside and out.  I feel like I’m talking to a sunbae, sometimes.”

            “He’s a good dongsaeng,” Dongwoo said.  “He always makes me laugh.”

            “Toothpaste makes you laugh,” L said.

            “I like squeezing the tube,” Dongwoo said.

            “Watch your tone,” Sunggyu told L.  Yeolie, stop telling everybody how great Niel is right now, you’re not helping yourself.  Don’t see Baekhyun too much this month, the members are sensitive about him now.”

            “Who am I supposed to see, instead?  Am I supposed to get C.A.P. to bottom for me?”

            Woohyun grinned.  “He does it for Sunggyu hyung.  Having trouble measuring up?”

            “Get out of my head!” he shouted, but he was laughing.  “God.”  He smiled at Woohyun and kissed L’s cheek.  “Stop hating Niel, he’s never done anything to you.”

            L only looked more disgusted.  “He’s so weak.”

            L was so put off, so judgmental, about so many of their idol friends.  He kept calling people useless.  Sungyeol wondered what made people useful.  He liked Suho a lot; maybe he liked that Suho was a leader?  Maybe he saw power or strength there?

            But then what made Changjo so interesting to him?  Sungyeol had assumed that it was mostly because Changjo was a cute maknae.  L liked Sungjong, so maybe that was his type, cute and young.  This whole thing with Changjo and Sehun had brought out L’s protective streak.  But was that all there was to it?”  “L-ah,” Sungyeol said, watching his expression.  “If everybody’s so useless, what makes Changjo useful?”

            “That maknae is trouble,” Sunggyu said firmly.

            “Woohyun’s trouble, and you like him,” Sungyeol said.

            “Trouble?” Woohyun repeated, laughing.  “How am I trouble?”

            “You’re not,” Sunggyu said proudly, patting his back.  “You’re a good dongsaeng, you’re very precious to hyung.”  Then the two of them shared a smile.  “You’re also trouble!” he said, and Woohyun laughed with him.  “A whole lot of trouble!  Why are you like this?” Sunggyu asked.

            “I’m nice!” Woohyun argued, the two of them beaming at each other happily.  “I’m very nice.  I’m too nice!”

            “Changjo,” L said, and he glanced at Woohyun.  Still trading smiles with Sunggyu, Woohyun didn’t notice.  “He’s good to me, he cares about me.”

            That wasn’t a complete answer.  It was way too generic to be sincere.  But L was afraid to say too much and draw Woohyun’s attention.  Just a few minutes ago, Woohyun had said, “I didn’t get rid of Changjo when I had the chance, and I regret it every day,” and L didn’t want to aggravate him.

            L couldn’t talk about why he liked his own boyfriend in front of the members.

            Sungyeol couldn’t even suggest getting a boyfriend in front of the members.

            Was this an idol group or an exclusive cult?  Run by a dictator with a diabolical second-in-command and a vicious attack dog?

            Sungyeol turned to Dongwoo.  “I think this is our last chance to get out.”

            Dongwoo blinked at him innocently, questioning and trusting, wanting to understand.  “Get out of what?”

            “Get out of what?” Sunggyu asked.  Wrapping his arm around Dongwoo’s waist, he pulled Dongwoo back against his chest.  Laughing, happy with the attention, Dongwoo melted back against him.  “You don’t want to go anywhere, do you?”

            “No, let’s not go anywhere,” Dongwoo agreed, tilting his head back, smiling up at Sunggyu.  “Let’s stay here forever and make beautiful music together.”  Pleased, approving, Sunggyu rubbed Dongwoo’s chest, and Dongwoo smiled up at him dreamily.  For a second, they were completely absorbed in each other.

            Watching them, Sungyeol felt a surge of love.  This was why he was here.  For the bonds between the members.  For the moments of unselfconscious romance.  Because his hyungs were so in love with each other that it felt good to be around them, felt good just to witness it.  Because they loved him just that much, too, and because they showed it to him when he let them.  Because his members were the only people he knew who loved his other members as much as he did.  He loved L completely, but so did Sunggyu, and their shared love for L bonded them as much as their love for each other.

            He realized that he’d just made one mild comment to Dongwoo about maybe getting out, and Sunggyu had immediately interfered to cut it off and tie Dongwoo to himself.  He realized that should probably set off alarm bells.

            But alarm bells had been clanging so furiously for so long, he didn’t even hear them anymore.  They were just pleasant background music, now.  L could probably light the whole dorm on fire, and Sunggyu would tell Sungyeol not to worry about it, and Woohyun would smile and tell him that the heat felt good and tease his shirt off, and Sungjong would say, “God, hyungs, this again?” and let them continue, and he’d end up burning to death on the sofa while Dongwoo told him that fire was just a natural phenomenon.

            The thought made him smile.  He was totally fucked.  And he liked it.  “What else is in the bag?” he asked Woohyun.  He wanted all of the secrets to come out.  He wanted to be totally immersed in this.  He was in, one hundred percent, and he wanted to revel in it.  He wanted to cry and get married and have unnecessarily intense sex all night.

            “Ah, this?” Woohyun asked, trying to push the bag behind himself.

            “More presents?” Dongwoo asked, leaning off of Sunggyu’s lap to drag the bag out from where Woohyun was futilely trying to hide it in the pillows.  “More jewelry?”  He reached in, taking jewelry boxes out of the bag.

            Ya, those aren’t yours,” Sunggyu said, taking them out of his hands.  “Are you still hoarding or are you going to give them to us?”

            Woohyun looked down at the ring on his hand, then smiled at Sunggyu.  “Don’t be surprised.”  He passed out the boxes, one for each member.  “I did it a while ago.  There were a few times that I thought I’d give them to you, but it never seemed right.  It’s too obvious, it’s too cheesy.  But if we’re going to be like this tonight, I’ll go ahead.”

            “We’ll open them in order,” Sunggyu said.  “Maknae, you’re first.”

            “You don’t have to make a big deal of it,” Woohyun said.

            “Yes, we do,” Sunggyu said.

            Sungjong opened his box.  Inside was a gold charm bracelet.  The charms were letters, and he picked it up, reading.  “P.  A.  R.  A.  Oh!  It’s ‘Paradise!’”  Dongwoo started humming, and Sungjong smiled, clutching the bracelet to his chest and giving Woohyun a peck on the cheek.  “It’s pretty, hyung.  Thank you.”  He was glowing.  Being treated well went such a long way with him.

            L’s expression was intrigued as he opened his box.  “Oh,” he said, lifting out a necklace.  It was a gold chain with a heavy pendant.  The pendant was a black stone striped with gold.  There was a word etched onto one side of it, and L studied it, smiling.  “‘Romeo.’”

            “Are they all songs?” Dongwoo asked, shaking his box.  Sungjong was putting his bracelet on; Sunggyu clasped it for him.

            “Did I get ‘Cover Girl?’” Sungyeol guessed.

            “Will you put it on me?” L asked Woohyun, holding out his pendant.

            “You don’t have to wear it,” Woohyun said.  He was trying to play it cool, but his eyes were starting to water.

            “I want to,” L said.  “I want to be your Romeo.”

            Shaking his head, Woohyun pressed his lips together, looking up to the ceiling.  Sungyeol wondered exactly how long he’d been holding onto these boxes, how long he’d been dreaming of this moment.  Giving them these gifts had to mean a lot to him, because he’d held onto them so tightly.  Trying not to cry wasn’t working; tears started rolling down his cheeks, and he sniffed, turning his face away, turning red.

            “Don’t hide from us,” Dongwoo said, nudging him back around.  “Everyone’s so emotional tonight!  They’re good gifts, everyone’s happy.  Open yours, Yeolie, I want to see mine.”

            Sunggyu prodded Woohyun in L’s direction.  Sniffing, he put L’s necklace on.  He placed the pendant carefully against L’s chest, just so, and L kissed his wet cheeks.  “I love you,” L murmured, brushing soft kisses over his mouth.

            “I love you,” Woohyun said, his voice breaking.  Making a soft, empathetic sound, Sungjong hugged him.

            Curiosity overcame Sungyeol and he took the lid off of his box.  He had a bracelet.  It was two slim gold plates linked by three sapphires on each side.  He looked at the first plate.  “Be.”  He turned the bracelet around to see the other.  “Mine.”  He remembered the note Woohyun had put in his laptop.  It seemed like Woohyun had been trying to tell him something.

            Ordinarily, he wouldn’t just say something like this in the middle of a conversation.  But tonight was the night for it, so.  If they were doing this, they might as well do it completely.  He met Woohyun’s eyes.  “I’m yours.”  He offered the bracelet politely, with a slight bow.  “Will you please put it on me?”

            Reaching out slowly, Woohyun took the bracelet from him with careful fingers.  Tears still falling, gaze focused intently on the task, Woohyun settled the bracelet around his wrist and clasped it.  Then Woohyun was running both hands through his hair, kissing the top of his head, kissing his cheeks, face wet against his.  “Thank you, love,” Woohyun whispered, and he kissed Woohyun, a needy, burning kiss.  Being called that, and then being so bold, so daring, as to take a kiss, fucked with his head in the best, most serious way.  The press of Woohyun’s full lips against his own seemed like an impossible pleasure, a gorgeous, sensual reward he hadn’t earned, and he moaned, desire burning in him.  When Woohyun nudged him back, he whispered, “But I’m yours,” and stole another kiss, greedy for it, demanding.  “I love you.”

            Woohyun smiled at him, thumb brushing over his lips.  “You want to be mine?”

            He knew the answer to that.  “It’s not about what I want.  It’s about what is.  I’m yours.”  Then he added, “But I want to be, anyway.”

            Woohyun’s smile grew, eyes lighting up.

            He meant it.  He was fully committed, tonight.  But from now on, there was no way to be here and not be fully committed.  They were diving right in, and nobody was getting back out.  “I love you,” he said again.  For as many times as Woohyun had said it to him, he owed more than a few.

            L took Sungyeol’s hand, stroking the bracelet, examining it.  “It’s so, so pretty,” Sungjong said, snuggling up against Woohyun’s side.  “My hyungs give the best presents.”

            “Oh!  I’m next?” Dongwoo asked, opening his box.  “Ah, it’s shiny!”  Sunggyu laughed.  He lifted up a necklace.  From the chain hung a network of crisscrossing gold threads, dripping with gold letters and spotted with diamonds like the beginnings of a starry night.  It was complex and over the top, and Dongwoo was dancing in place, admiring it.

            “What does it say?” Sungyeol asked, leaning closer, but then he realized that Dongwoo was already humming it.  The letters spelled out “Destiny.”

            “God,” L said, touching it.  “Did you design this?”

            Woohyun nodded, watching Dongwoo’s face as Dongwoo sang to himself and turned the necklace this way and that to make it catch the light.  “I wanted something sparkly.”

            “Very sparkly,” Dongwoo said.  Leaning right over, he kissed Woohyun full on the mouth, deep and uninhibited, his tongue slipping right between Woohyun’s lips.  Then, just as matter-of-factly, he went back to admiring his necklace.

            Woohyun cleared his throat and wiped wetness from his cheeks.  He looked a little charmed, a little bashful, and it was funny, how he acted like he wanted to run the world, but a sudden kiss from his hyung flustered and seduced him.  Like this many years in, he still wasn’t used to it.  Sungyeol knew how he felt, though; his own heart fluttered and his body heated up helplessly when Sunggyu pulled him close for a kiss.  Seven years together, and they still affected each other this strongly.

            “This is one of the nicest presents I’ve ever gotten,” Dongwoo said.  “I have to take good care of this, it’s special.”  He smiled at Woohyun.  “Thank you.  It means even more if you designed it yourself!  So pretty.”  Then he laughed like something had just occurred to him.  “Am I your destiny?”

            Woohyun nodded, pulling Sungjong more snugly against his side.  “For me, I think so.”

            “I like that.  We’re destined to be a part of each other’s lives.  Destined to love each other.”  He leaned in again, smiling, kissing Woohyun’s cheek.  “Nam Woohyun and Jang Dongwoo, destined to sparkle together.”

            With a happy chuckle, Woohyun turned his head, meeting Dongwoo’s mouth in another kiss.  Kissing back, Dongwoo sucked at his lower lip, and he nibbled at Dongwoo’s lips, and Dongwoo whispered, “Destiny, destiny, you’re my destiny,” necklace in one hand, free hand sliding right up Woohyun’s thigh and landing on his crotch.

            Ya, ya, not that,” Sunggyu said, pushing his hand away.  “No sex until after the wedding, we’re polite grooms.”

            Dongwoo lifted his head.  “Do you want me to be a virgin on my wedding night?”  He laughed gleefully.  “I have some bad news!”

            While everyone was distracted, laughing, Sungyeol reached for Sunggyu’s box.  Sunggyu caught him just in time and smacked his hand away.  “Let’s see it,” Sungyeol said.  “What’d you get?”

            “Which songs are left?” Sungjong asked.

            “Is Gyu hyung a cover girl?” Dongwoo asked.

            “Only somebody who really loves me could think so, right?” Sunggyu asked.  He glared at them when they laughed.  Ya, it’s not that funny.”

            “Is it a ring?” Sungjong asked.  Sunggyu’s box was smaller than any of theirs.

            “Good!” Dongwoo said.  “Sunggyu hyung gave us rings tonight, now he gets one, too.  It’s nice.”

            Sunggyu flipped up the lid.

            It was a gold band.  When the light struck it, it flared brilliantly, and everyone made a fascinated sound, leaning in.  The band held nine impacted diamonds.  Between each one was a letter.  Sunggyu picked up the ring, and they all moved with it, crowding around, lifting their faces to see.  He turned the band, reading.  “Infinite.”

            Sunggyu stopped moving entirely, staring at Woohyun.  He blinked, once.  “Woohyun-ah?”  The vulnerable wonder in his voice almost stopped Sungyeol’s heart.

            Woohyun slid the ring off of his own finger and held it up.  There was something written inside, and Sungyeol knew what it would be even before he saw it.


            Sunggyu reached out and Woohyun swayed forward and Sunggyu pulled him into an embrace.  On their knees, they clutched at each other, Woohyun’s arms locking around Sunggyu, Sunggyu hauling Woohyun flush against himself.  Woohyun’s eyes squeezed shut and he shuddered, breaking into a soft sob.  Sunggyu tried to hug him tighter, and there were tears rolling down Sunggyu’s cheeks.

            Seeing Sunggyu cry demolished Sungyeol, and he started crying, too.  Sunggyu and Woohyun were locked together, and the rest of them joined in, leaning against Sunggyu, kissing Woohyun’s wet cheek.  They all loved each other, and Sunggyu and Woohyun loved each other, and only Sunggyu and Woohyun would somehow secretly, separately, manage to get each other the same gift.  The same wedding band.

            “I love you,” Woohyun said, his voice shaking.

            “My Woohyun-ah,” Sunggyu said.  Still holding onto the ring, he cupped Woohyun’s face in both hands, and Woohyun gazed into his eyes.  Woohyun’s expression was so open, so naked, he looked years younger.  “My Woohyun-ah,” Sunggyu said again, softly, with incredible certainty, like he was making a formal claim, and Woohyun nodded, trusting, accepting it, agreeing with it totally.

            Sniffling, Sunggyu didn’t even bother to wipe away his tears.  He looked at the ring, and he smiled, meeting Woohyun’s eyes again.  “It’s as beautiful as my Infinite is.”  My Infinite.  Sungyeol wasn’t used to hearing him say that, but it sounded so right, Sungyeol felt it resonate.  He held the ring between them.  “Hyung wants to wear it, but.”  His smile grew, tender and hopeful.  “I want you to put it on me.”

            Making an overwhelmed sound, Woohyun sat back on his heels.  When he reached out, his hand was trembling.  He took the ring.

            Sungyeol hugged Dongwoo from behind, watching.

            Sunggyu held out one slim, smooth hand, and Woohyun gently grasped his fingers.  Woohyun was still crying, sniffling, his expression stripped naked, defenseless.  His throat worked, and he finally got out, “Kim Sunggyu.”  Then he stopped again, pressing a hand to his mouth, sobbing, looking away.

            “Woohyun-ah.”  Smiling, Sunggyu leaned in, stroking the side of his neck.  He could barely meet Sunggyu’s gaze, his breath hitching.  “My Woohyun-ah.  I love you.  Hyung’s going to say yes.  Haven’t I always said yes to everything you’ve ever asked me?  I’ll say yes to you on this, too, I promise.  I just want to hear you ask me.”  Sunggyu stroked his wet cheek, voice soft, expression tender.  “It means a lot to me.”

            The love between them, all of the emotion between them, their devotion to each other, how sincere Sunggyu was being, how overcome Woohyun was, Sungyeol’s heart couldn’t take it.

            Sniffling, Woohyun nodded.  He cleared his throat, straightened his shoulders, tried to pull himself together.

            Sunggyu stayed close, looking down at their joined hands.

            Woohyun swallowed.  His chest heaved with a shaky breath, and then he said, “Kim Sunggyu.”  Sunggyu’s gaze rose to his, and the whole room seemed to be holding its breath.  With their gazes locked, Woohyun seemed to gain strength, and when he spoke again, his voice was stronger.  “Kim Sunggyu, will you marry me?”

            “Yes,” Sunggyu said immediately.  He laughed like he was startled.  “Yes!”  He was smiling, radiant, joyful.  Woohyun was sliding the ring onto his finger.  “Yes, yes, my Woohyun-ah, I’ll marry you.”

            Woohyun hugged him, practically falling against him, weak with relief.

            “Yes,” Sunggyu said, glowing, cherishing it, patting his back.  “Yes, yes, I’ll marry you.”

            Sagging, Woohyun cried on Sunggyu’s shoulder.  He wept so openly, so helplessly, it said volumes about how much the moment meant to him, how much asking took out of him, how much Sunggyu’s answer gave back to him.  Sungyeol wondered exactly how long he’d been holding it in, how much love he’d been hoarding, how many times he’d imagined giving Sunggyu this ring, how he’d thought it might go.  How much it meant to him for it to go exactly like this.

            “My Woohyun-ah,” Sunggyu murmured contentedly, resting his cheek against Woohyun’s hair.  “Thank you for asking me.  Thank you for loving me.”

            “He loves you so well,” Dongwoo said, delicately patting a tissue over Woohyun’s cheek.  “It’ll be a good marriage.  But you have to take care of each other.  You’re both so sensitive, sometimes.”

            “My Woohyun-ah always takes good care of me,” Sunggyu said.  “Should I be more careful with him?  I’ll have to be more considerate.”

            Sniffling, Woohyun took another tissue from Dongwoo and wiped at his eyes.

            “This is a very nice ring,” Sunggyu said, holding up his hand over Woohyun’s shoulder, smiling at it.  “Thank you, Woohyun-ah.  You must think well of me.  I’m touched.”  He pressed a kiss into Woohyun’s hair.  “Hyung thinks well of you, too.  I think that we both see that we have the same intentions, tonight.  Maybe we’ll understand each other better, from now on.”

            Clearing his throat, Woohyun straightened up.  “When did you buy the rings?”

            Sunggyu hesitated.  “When did you buy mine?”

            “Not this week.”

            Sunggyu smiled.  “I didn’t buy them this week, either.”

            Woohyun smiled at him, and they chuckled together, radiating happiness and perfect understanding.  “Not this month,” Woohyun said.

            “No, not this month, either,” Sunggyu agreed, and they beamed at each other.

            “Not this year,” Woohyun admitted, his shoulders shaking as he laughed.

            “No!  Not this year,” Sunggyu agreed.

            “Not this decade?” Woohyun tried, and Sunggyu tickled him under the chin, and then they kissed.  Short, happy kisses, their lips meeting in sweet, loving smooches.  They kept smiling at each other in between, openly enjoying each other, meeting in another kiss and then snickering happily.

            “Congratulations!” Dongwoo said.

            “Does anybody else have secret rings they bought three years ago?” Sungjong asked.  “Let’s get it all out tonight, I can’t go through all of this again.”  He undid the top two buttons of his shirt, his skin blotchy.  “I’ve cried so much I think I’m going to faint.”

            “2014?” Dongwoo asked.

            “That’s when we did ‘Last Romeo,’ so it couldn’t have been before that,” Sungyeol said.  “But they could’ve bought everything last year, or in 2015.”

            Woohyun smiled at Sunggyu, questioning, conspiratorial.

            Sunggyu gave him a deliberate wink.  Then they were laughing again, hugging, smooching.  “You’ll be a very good husband,” Sunggyu said approvingly.  “You have money, talent, looks.  You’re younger, but not too young, and you have a very nice body.”  He patted his hands over Woohyun’s sides.  “It’s a good match.”

            “A good match?” Sungyeol asked.  “He has money, talent, looks, youth, and a good body, and you have,” he paused, calculating, “maybe one of those things?”

            Sunggyu swiped at him, and he fell back, laughing.  Ya!”

            “Oh!  If you put us all together, we make a good husband for Sunggyu hyung,” Dongwoo said.  “Looks, youth,” he said, pointing to L and Sungjong.

            “I’m the good body,” Sungyeol said immediately.

            “I’m talent,” Woohyun said.

            “Am I money?  I have money!  I’ll open a bank account for you,” Dongwoo told Sunggyu.  “I’ll buy you nice things.”

            “I don’t need you to buy me things,” Sunggyu said.

            “Good, I’m trying to save,” Dongwoo said.  “I have to put a lot aside for Chunji.”

            “For what for Chunji?” L asked.

            “His future,” Dongwoo said.  “So he can be comfortable.”

            “He makes his own money,” L said.

            Ya, ya, no arguing,” Sunggyu said.  “This is about how much you all love me, not about-  He suddenly clamped his mouth shut, his eyes widening.  “It’s about how much I love you!  How much I love all of you!  So much,” he added earnestly, as they collapsed in laughter.  “I said it wrong!  Don’t misunderstand.”

            “I think we understand,” Woohyun said.  He stroked L’s hair.  “While you’re fussing at your hyung, how much is on that credit card you gave Changjo?”

            L bit his lip, and Sunggyu demanded, “Does he still have that?  We talked about this!  I told all of you!”

            “You don’t have an account for Suho hyung?” Sungjong asked.

            “For who?  Why do you think I call him what I call him?”  Sunggyu nudged Sungyeol.  “If you’re choosing between Niel and Baekhyun, think about that.”

            “You didn’t say no,” Woohyun observed.

            “Why would I have an account for Young Money?” Sunggyu asked.  “It’s my money, I have accounts for me.  And I have an account for family.”

            “Who else do you have an account for?” Woohyun asked.  “Anybody else?”

            Sunggyu hesitated, looking annoyed and flustered.

            “Hyung,” Sungjong said, disbelieving.

            “You!” Sunggyu finally exclaimed.  “I have accounts for you, one for each of you.  In case something happens, I don’t know, you might be irresponsible with your money, you might make a bad investment.  I don’t want you to suffer, later in life.  So I just, I put a little aside, from my appearances and musicals and things.  They’re very small accounts!”  He pointed at L.  “And you’re going to be the first member who needs it, if that maknae runs around with your card.”

            Dongwoo looked enchanted.  “Are you preparing for our futures?”

            “I’m your hyung, I feel responsible,” he grumbled, embarrassed.

            “So I can splurge on cars,” Sungyeol said.  “I don’t have to worry, I can do whatever I want.  Let’s buy that restaurant,” he told Woohyun.

            “No!  It’s not for that, I’m not bailing you out of a bad investment, no restaurants,” Sunggyu scolded.

            “That’s exactly what it’s for, you just said it,” Sungyeol reminded him.

            “I shouldn’t have told you,” he realized.  “I take it all back, I didn’t mean any of it.  I’m giving it all to charity, you’re on your own.”

            “On our own?” Woohyun asked.  “You’re not being a very good husband.”

            “We’re not married, yet,” Sunggyu said.  Then he blushed, fiddling with his shirt.  “We’ll do that now, if there’s nothing else to say.  Other gifts?”

            What?  “We’ll do what now?” Sungyeol asked.

            “Married,” Sunggyu said, looking self-conscious.  “Get married.  Why does everyone look so surprised?”  Then he laughed and gestured at Sungyeol.  “What do you have on?  What do you think we’re here to do?  You wore that, I proposed to you, that’s what we’re here for.”

            He’d thought that they were just going to talk!  Get together and confess to each other and agree to stay together.  That was basically what a wedding was, wasn’t it?  Hadn’t they already done all of that?

            “We’ll say our vows, now,” Sunggyu said.  He gestured at Sungjong.  “Go ahead, maknae, you go first.”

            “I,” Sungjong said uncertainly.  He cleared his throat and sat up straighter.  “I promise,” he said, and he glanced at Sunggyu for help.  Sunggyu nodded encouragingly, gesturing for him to keep going.  “I promise to, uh, to love the members,” he said.  He looked around at each one of them and seemed more confident.  “I promise to think of you, and care for you, and stay with you.”  Then he turned to L.  “And I promise to take things out on Sungyeol hyung for you.”

            L smiled at that.  He kissed Sungjong on the mouth.  “I love you, too.”

            Woohyun and Dongwoo kissed Sungjong, too, stroking his face and making him blush, so Sungyeol got a kiss in, too, and then Sunggyu kissed him last.  “L-ah?” Sunggyu prompted, putting an arm around Sungjong.

            “Ah.”  L ruffled his hair and smoothed it down again.  “I promise to love the members,” he said, looking down at the bed, distracted, like that part was easy but he didn’t know what to say next.  “I promise to look out for you,” he said, looking up.  “And shield you.  I promise to stay with you.  And I promise to try not to hurt the people you love.”

            Sungyeol kissed him first, and then everyone else planted one on him.  He looked pleased by the attention, and Sungjong snuggled up against his side, toying with his new ring.

            That made it Sungyeol’s turn.  Uh.  “I promise to love you,” he offered.  “I promise to stay with you.”  He thought about some of the stuff they’d just said to each other.  “I promise not to notice some of the creepy, scary stuff you do, because I think it’s easier that way.  And I promise that when I do notice it, I won’t freak out and try to leave you over it.  I know who you are and what you’re like, and I’m still here, I’m signing up for this.  You don’t have to get jealous and worried about other guys, because look at us, look at all of this right now, we’re sitting here exchanging vows.  No other guys are a threat to you.  If you get jealous anyway, if you can’t help it, if that’s your thing, go ahead, but don’t get stressed out that I’ll start putting some other guy first.  It’s kind of hot that you’re so into me, it kind of turns me on, but I don’t want you getting upset and worried.  I love you, and I’m with you.”

            Smiling happily, helplessly, L kissed him.  For a second, he was surrounded by his members, L’s mouth on his, Woohyun kissing his right cheek, Dongwoo nuzzling against his left.  He was still kissing L back when Sungjong started kissing his right cheek and Woohyun moved to his left.  He was drowning in their affection, Woohyun whispering, “I love you,” Dongwoo’s hand on his inner thigh.  As L’s kisses trailed away from his mouth, L nuzzling his cheek and making contented, purring sounds, his eyes were still closed when Sunggyu kissed him, mouth soft and sure on his.  “We love you, too,” Sunggyu promised, brushing Dongwoo’s hand off of his thigh.

            He was feeling great about this vows thing.  Opening his eyes, he smiled at his members.  It made him feel emotional and vulnerable to get everything so boldly out in the open, but the more they all just came out and said, the closer he felt to them.  Like he was stepping out onto a tightrope, and so were they, but with each step forward, they got that much closer to the safety of the platform in the middle, where they could all be together.  And now that they were at the part of proposals and promises and rings, there was barely any danger anymore.

            “I promise to love you,” Woohyun said, reaching out to each of them, taking their hands, one by one.  He looked deeply into Sungyeol’s eyes, and Sungyeol didn’t shy away from the connection.  “I promise to stay with you.  I promise to fight for you.  I promise to try to get along with the people you love, whether they’re spoiled, selfish, dramatic, interfering, entitled little brats,” and Sungyeol was just thinking, okay, wow, harsh, when he added, “or Chunji and Changjo.”

            Sunggyu’s jaw dropped, and he pointed at Woohyun, wide-eyed.

            Woohyun smiled at him.  “And I promise never, ever to let you go.”

            “Never let us go,” Dongwoo said, hugging Woohyun.  “We won’t let go of you, either.”

            “I won’t say anything,” Sunggyu decided.  Sungyeol kissed Woohyun, whispering, “Love you,” and Woohyun gave him a soft kiss back.  “Tonight’s about us, not about other people, so I won’t spend time on that.”  Sungjong and L kissed Woohyun.  “All of those words about Money, and nothing about that thieving maknae?  It’s okay, I won’t mind, tonight’s not about that.”

            “There’s nothing to say about that thieving maknae,” L said.

            “Tonight is about us,” Woohyun said.  “I’ll go again.”  He looped his arms around Sunggyu’s neck, and Sunggyu gazed into his eyes, immediately trusting and quiet.  “I love you.”  A tender smile curved his mouth.  “I promise to keep loving you, no matter what.  I promise to stay by your side, no matter what.”  Sunggyu nodded slightly, completely absorbed.  “I promise to fight for you, no matter what.  I promise to work on improving myself, so that I can be a husband you always love and can feel proud of.  And I promise to give you more head, in the future, I know you want that.”

            “Woohyun-ah,” Sunggyu breathed, looking captivated.

            “Promise to keep being cheesy and greasy and embarrassing,” Sungyeol said.

            “I promise I’ll accept your flowers from now on,” Sungjong said.

            Woohyun turned his head, smiling at them.  “You like it, suddenly?”

            Sungyeol nodded, and Sungjong said, “Yes, I do.”

            Smiling, Sunggyu planted a lingering kiss on Woohyun’s cheek.  “Thank you, Woohyun-ah.  Those are good promises.  Those are all things hyung wants to hear.”

            Woohyun smiled at him, tapping his chin.  “I know they are.”

            “Should I go next?” Dongwoo asked.

            “Yes, make vows to us,” Sungjong said.

            Dongwoo looked down at his hands, flexing his fingers, looking at his ring.  “I can say what everyone else said,” he said, looking around at them.  “I promise to love you.  I promise to stay with you.”  He took another considering look around.  “I promise to work on being more considerate, so that I can notice more about you, notice more when something’s wrong, show you more support.  I feel like I don’t do that enough, but I want that.  Especially as a husband.  What does a good husband do?” he asked.  “I promise to give more of myself.  Whatever you need from me.  My time, or my patience, or sex, or just somebody to listen, whatever you want, you can have that from me.  I’ve been a dongsaeng and a hyung and a member and a rapper and a dancer and sometimes a puppy to you, but I’ve never been a husband before.  I promise to do my best at it, I promise to work on being a good husband.”

            “Thank you,” Sungjong said, hugging him.

            “We love you,” L said, kissing him.

            Sungyeol liked this thing they were doing, pledging themselves and then rewarding everybody with kisses.  Being kissed was good positive reinforcement, and it made him feel like his members trusted him to follow through on his promises, which made him even more committed to doing it.

            Sunggyu gestured everyone closer.  They scooted in, and he gestured them even closer.  Only when they were all stacked on top of each other, Dongwoo in the vee of L’s thighs, Sungjong on Sungyeol’s lap, did he seem satisfied.  He gathered their hands into a pile, in between his own.  “This is one marriage, with all of us together.  But each one of you needs different things from me.  You, I promise to trust you more,” he told Dongwoo.  “Sungyeol-ah, I promise to give you more freedom.  Sungjong-ah, I promise to give you more responsibility.  L-ah, I promise to give you more of my love and attention.  Woohyun-ah, I promise to give you more romance, so that you’re getting and not only giving all of the time.”

            Dongwoo’s fingers were curling lightly around Sungyeol’s wrist, stroking his pulse point.

            Sunggyu’s expression was solemn and thoughtful.  “To all of my dongsaengs, my members,” he smiled briefly, a burst of self-conscious happiness, “my new husbands.  I promise to love you.  I promise to stick with you and stand by you and shield you.  I promise to give you more of myself.  Hyung hasn’t always been sure of what’s right, what’s too much, where boundaries should be.  But this isn’t a relationship where we can hold back from each other.  So I won’t be so shy about how I feel, anymore.”  He looked directly into Sungyeol’s eyes, and his gaze was so direct, so sincere, that when he looked away, it felt like he was taking a little piece of Sungyeol’s heart with him.  “We started something special together, seven years ago, and it’s still the most important thing in my life.  That means that you,” he pressed their hands together, looking at them earnestly, “you are the most important thing in my life.  Hyung loves you.  Hyung’s always going to love you.  That’s what the rings mean, that’s what tonight is for.  So there are no misunderstandings.  Hyung is always going to love you, no matter what.  This is a commitment, tonight.  Whatever you want to call it, a healing ceremony, renewing our vows, getting married.  However real you need it to be.  That’s what this is, for me.  This is about us, forever.”

            There was a lump in Sungyeol’s throat.  Sungjong hugged Sunggyu first, giving him a kiss.  “Forever,” Sungjong promised.  Leaning in around and past Sungjong, Sungyeol kissed him, too.  It seemed like a significant kiss, like cementing something between them, signing on for everything he’d just said.  The final seal.

            Sunggyu kissed L and Dongwoo.  L repeated, “Forever,” arms tight around Dongwoo’s waist.  “Forever,” L said again, trying to lock his legs around Dongwoo, too.  Sungyeol kissed L’s cheek, rubbed his shoulder, leaned against him, and he kissed Sungyeol’s ear, nuzzling close.

            Sunggyu hugged Woohyun.  Woohyun hugged him back tightly.  “I love you,” he said.  “You don’t have to worry about me, right?  You know what’s in hyung’s heart now.”

            Red-eyed, sniffling, Woohyun nodded.  “You’re the.”  His breath caught and he swallowed.  “You’re the most important thing in my life, too.”

            Sunggyu smiled, kissing him gently.  Stroking his ear, caressing under his chin, Sunggyu murmured, “Really?” and kissed him again.  “The most important?”

            He nodded again, gazing into Sunggyu’s eyes with no defenses up, running his hands over Sunggyu’s chest.  “Really.  Always.  From the beginning.”

            “I like hearing that,” Sunggyu confessed, fondling his earlobe.

            “It’s so nice,” Dongwoo mumbled into his tissues, blowing his nose.  “It’s always so good, it makes me feel good, how much the members like each other.  Why can’t I stop crying?” he demanded, laughing.  Looking around at the members with a bewildered smile, he grabbed at Woohyun’s hand.  “Are we married, now?  Are we all husbands?”  He let go of Woohyun and grabbed Sunggyu’s arm.  “Do you take me and keep me and have me and hold me and all of the rest of that?”

            “Yes.”  Sunggyu glanced around at the rest of them, then nodded at Dongwoo.  “Yes, I do.  I do take you.  I take everybody, all of the members.”

            “Even me?” Sungyeol asked, grinning.

            Sunggyu gave him a narrow look.  “Even you.  I do.”

            “I do, too,” Woohyun said quietly, tugging at his earlobe where Sunggyu had just been touching him.

            “I do, I do,” L said against Dongwoo’s shoulder, still hugging him.

            Sunggyu wiped Dongwoo’s cheeks while Sungjong slipped off of the bed to pour more champagne.  When everyone had a flute, Sunggyu said, “To Infinite.”

            “To us,” Dongwoo said.

            “To love,” Woohyun said.

            Sungyeol looked around at his members.  At Sungjong, cuddled so sweetly against his side.  At Dongwoo’s red, blotchy cheeks.  At Sunggyu, who was looking at Woohyun.  At L, holding onto Dongwoo and not letting go.  At Woohyun’s hand sneaking over Sunggyu’s, lacing their fingers.  It had grown bit by bit, with a word here and a look there and a kiss, and it had taken seven years to get here, but he’d never loved anybody more than this.  “To sticking together.”

            “To always and forever,” L said.

            “To Infinite,” Sungjong said, and they clinked glasses.

            L couldn’t believe it.  He put down the champagne after one sip because he already felt disoriented, intoxicated.  His thoughts were already fuzzy, his life was already a dream.  None of this could really be happening.

            While his members drank and talked, he stared at them.  They seemed real.  He poked Dongwoo.  Was it all real?  Was it all true?

            Sunggyu was joking with Sungyeol, gesturing.  His ring was distracting.  The diamonds dazzled L’s eyes.

            Blinking, L shook his head.  Sungyeol had proposed to him.  Sunggyu had proposed to him.  They’d all promised to stay together.  Not signing contracts, in front of management, on someone else’s terms.  On their terms.  Just on their own.  The six of them, pledging everything.

            “Is it too much?” Woohyun asked, patting his back.

            He latched onto the understanding in Woohyun’s expression.  He nodded, feeling overwhelmed.

            “You can believe in it.”  Rubbing his shoulder, Woohyun gave him an encouraging smile.

            He’d believed in people before.  He’d believed in their promises, in their smiles and kisses.  And he remembered where that had gotten him.

            But this wasn’t like that.  This was Infinite.  Sungjong’s love for him was real.  Dongwoo’s love for him was honest.  Sungyeol’s promises were earnest.  He’d known his members long enough, they’d been through enough together, that he could believe in this.  He could have this.

            “This is what you wanted,” Woohyun reminded him.  “You said that you were going to make this happen, and hold onto it, no matter what.  You said you’d force it if you had to.  But you didn’t.”  Woohyun’s smile grew, brighter now.  “I didn’t, either.  They did it.  They booked the rooms and bought the flowers and dressed up and gave us rings.  You didn’t have to fight and force any of it.  They did it, on their own.”  Woohyun gave his shoulder a light shake.  “Because they wanted to.  They gave this to you because they wanted you to have it.”

            He pulled Woohyun into his arms, trying to absorb it all.  The reality of it.  With his hyung’s firm, strong body against him, he felt reassured enough, physically secure enough, to open his heart.  “Did we just.”  It was too good to be true.  “Are we married, now?”  He laughed.  The idea was more dazzling than diamonds.  “What?”

            “We are.”  Woohyun smiled at him, their noses brushing.  “Are you going to be a good husband to me?”

            He nodded.  He couldn’t believe it.  He’d gotten his wedding.  With rings, and vows, and a white lace dress.  He hummed, letting blissful contentment sink in, and pressed his lips to Woohyun’s.  Married.  Drawing a line down Woohyun’s nose, he asked, “Was it what you wanted?”  Woohyun’s heart was greedy; he didn’t want to leave anything undone if there was more Woohyun had wished for from tonight.

            “It’s better,” he admitted.  “I thought it might go a lot of ways.”  He smiled helplessly.  “I didn’t see this coming!”

            L smiled back at him, happy for him.  Really happy for all of them.  “Sunggyu hyung proposed to you.”

            “And to you,” Woohyun reminded him.

            He shook his head, laughing.  Embarrassed, denying it.  It couldn’t be true!  “He wouldn’t.”

            “He did!”  Woohyun reached over, cupping Sunggyu’s elbow.  L blushed, trying to tug Woohyun’s arm down.  “Hyung.  Ask L to marry you.”

            “We’re already married.  Why would I propose to my own husband, when we just got married?”  Sunggyu nudged L, exasperated.  “Did you forget about me already?  That soon?  Ah, you move on too fast!”

            Already married.  My own husband.  L laughed, filled with giddy joy.  “Is it real?”

            “I’m real,” Sunggyu said.  “That ring is real.  What’s not real?  Real, real, real,” he insisted, patting his own chest, squeezing L’s thigh, prodding Woohyun, patting the bed.  “It’s all real.”

            He was so emphatic, L gazed at him in wonder.  It was real.

            The members loved him.  They’d committed to each other, and to him.  They weren’t going anywhere.  That uneasy, creeping tension, the anxiety that gnawed at him, his need for reassurance, he didn’t need it anymore.  His members were his, now.  And he was theirs.

            They’d asked him.  Kim Myungsoo, will you marry me.  And they hadn’t been kidding.  It hadn’t been a joke, an exaggeration.  It hadn’t been out of pity.

            “It’s real,” Woohyun said, fingers drifting through his hair.

            He wanted to feel it all the way through.  He wanted to feel the physical reality of it, not just the emotional weight.  He ran his hand lightly over Woohyun’s chest, angling closer.  “Make love to me.”

            “Just him?” Sungyeol asked suddenly.

            Happiness bubbled up in him like he’d had the whole bottle of champagne.  Splaying his hand over Woohyun’s chest, he smiled at Sungyeol.  “Should we all share?”

            “Yes,” Sunggyu said.  “On the other bed, there are too many dirty tissues and things here.  Maknae, is there another bottle of lube, one for six people isn’t convenient.  You, here, more champagne, drink up.”  He got up, herding Dongwoo towards the other bed, reaching for L and Woohyun.  Then, with one hand on Woohyun’s wrist, he sat down on the edge of the bed, close beside Sungyeol, and lowered his voice.  “Be good to hyung and leave the stockings on, okay?  Just for tonight.  It’s something hyung likes a little bit.”

            Dongwoo laughed, and L bit his lip, totally turned on, and Sungyeol gave Sunggyu a wide-eyed, wary look.

            “Just for tonight,” Sunggyu repeated, blushing.

            “Seriously?” Sungyeol asked.  “Okay, but-”

            “Good, good, drink up,” Sunggyu said, patting his arm and getting up, tugging Woohyun towards the other bed.

            “But this isn’t going to be a thing,” Sungyeol said.

            “No, no,” Sunggyu said, pushing Woohyun onto the bed and making a placating gesture to Sungyeol.  “Just for tonight, I said.  Just a special treat for hyung.”

            From behind Sunggyu, Woohyun shot Sungyeol a devilish look.

            The prospect of sex with his members, his desire for them, had L crawling onto the bed.  His temperature was rising with every second, and as soon as he was close enough to make contact, he moaned, crawling across Woohyun, running his hand over Sunggyu’s side, nuzzling Dongwoo’s neck.  Dongwoo kissed him, tenderly at first, then deep and pushy.  Groaning, succumbing to lust, he stopped thinking and just felt.  Felt the plump softness of Dongwoo’s lips against his own, felt Dongwoo’s hips grinding up against him, felt Sungjong’s hands run over his back and push up his shirt.  Felt the heat of wanting, the pleasure of arousal, the celebratory joy of requited love.

            They slid against each other, humping, crawling.  L was all over his members, burrowing in between their bodies.  He stripped away all of the clothes he found, pulling away fabric until his members were all naked to him, Sungyeol’s stockings a smooth white in the tangle of limbs.  He kissed all of the skin he found, pulled his members closer and closer, wanting to feel their bodies against him, the warm press of their skin, the solidity of their muscles, the squirming as they moaned and kissed.  He ran his hands over them, fascinated, aroused, in love with every part of them.  The rippling of Dongwoo’s abs, the pert softness of Sungjong’s ass, the sensitive nape of Sunggyu’s neck, the long journey up and down Sungyeol’s arms, the muscular strength of Woohyun’s thighs, it all captivated him.  He couldn’t get enough of his members.

            He was so horny, he kept grinding his hard-on against them.  He kept moaning, low and urgent, and everything felt good, everything turned him on, everything pushed his pleasure just that much higher.  In the haze of that pleasure, he rubbed his cock against whatever it bumped into: Sunggyu’s thigh, Sungjong’s ass, Dongwoo’s chest.  They kept touching his cock, fondling him, the familiar touch bringing him to full erection, keeping him up and on edge.  Loving the sweet, needy throbbing of it, he groaned, moving for their cocks, his desire more focused, now.

            He was holding Sungyeol’s cock in one hand, kissing up and down the shaft, when he felt a slick finger nudge into him.  It added a new depth to his pleasure, and he arched his back, inviting more of it.  Once it started, it kept happening, his members lubing him, fingering him.  They were kissing him two at a time, licking his nipples, sucking his balls, Sungjong’s mouth on his erection, Dongwoo’s fingers sliding in with Sungyeol’s, stretching him wider.

            Feasting on intimacy, feeding on erotic pleasure, he craved more.  Rolling over, he crawled on top of Woohyun from behind.  When his fingers delved in, he found Woohyun’s asshole was already slippery with lube.  Needing it, he lined up and thrust in, groaning, claiming, aching.  Ahh, ooohhh, L-ah,” Woohyun panted, writhing under him, and he groaned again in response, rocking deeper.  The grip of Woohyun’s ass felt so incredible, he just rutted for a moment, lost to the hot, tight sensation.  Then he felt new penetration, Sungyeol entering him, the hard push as Sungyeol’s erection lodged in his ass.  Crying out at the intense pleasure, he bucked, thrusting hard into Woohyun, and Woohyun rocked back against him.

            Surrounded by his members, he felt like he could have as much of them as he wanted.  He kept going, seeking pleasure, giving pleasure, sharing it, sharing them with each other.  He was inside Dongwoo, and then Dongwoo was inside of him.  As soon as Woohyun popped out of Sungjong, he was there, sliding in, moaning at the warm welcome of Sungjong’s body, at Sungjong’s excited wriggle.  Sunggyu kept kissing him, kissing him deeply, passionately, mouth so commanding and loving on his.  Dongwoo kept slithering through the pile of bodies, sinuous and uninhibited, fucking him and slipping away and then coming back for more, on him again.

            L buried himself in his members, burrowed down to the bottom of the knot of bodies, pressed down by their weight.  Then he heard a familiar, anguished sound.  “God, oh, ah, ah, hyung,” Sungyeol gasped.  “Big, it’s so thick, ooohhh.”  He crawled across Sunggyu to where Sungyeol was kneeling, panting, face buried in the sheets, Sungyeol’s ass lifted high, Dongwoo’s erection pounding in from behind.  “Oh, oh, slower, slower, yeah, good, so good.”

            “So good, so good, I love it when you bounce your pretty ass.  Isn’t Yeolie such a pretty bride taking my cock?” Dongwoo asked, and L had to agree.  Sungyeol groaned, long back arching.  Sungyeol’s raised ass was taut, perky, his white stockings covering the whole way up his thighs.  L ran an appreciative hand across his back, then across Dongwoo’s chest, then all the way down Dongwoo’s rippling abs to the base of Dongwoo’s cock, hot to the touch as L’s hand was pressed between their bodies on each thrust.

            Feeling like a sexual glutton, feasting at this gorgeous banquet and constantly craving more, L kissed Dongwoo.  It was a hot, fervent kiss, his hand in Dongwoo’s hair, Dongwoo’s body steadily rocking.  Soon, Sungjong pulled Dongwoo away mid-stroke, and L mounted Sungyeol, squeezing in while Sungyeol was still open from Dongwoo’s fuck.  “God, god, L, ooohhh,” Sungyeol groaned, long back arching.

            L pressed their bodies close together, kissing the back of Sungyeol’s neck, thrusting steadily.  It felt amazing, his sensual high intense.  “Feel it, I want you to feel me inside you,” he said, his voice coming out low and urgent, his hands sweeping over Sungyeol’s ribcage.  “I want you to feel your husband’s cock filling you up, giving it to you deep.”  Under him, Sungyeol moaned, fervently agreeing, writhing and bucking, only getting more and more worked up at the constant driving of his cock.  Sungyeol was his husband, and he let it feel real, let their bodies consummate everything they’d pledged.  He sped up, thrust harder, making Sungyeol groan louder, and he moaned in echo of it against Sungyeol’s neck.

            “Fuck, I’m gonna come, I’m gonna come like this, ah!” Sungyeol gasped, rubbing his forehead against the bed.

            “Yeah, ooohh, get off on that hard cock, he’s plowing you good,” Dongwoo urged, rolling over, slithering under Sungyeol.  “Get it right in me, come in my ass.”

            Sungyeol groaned helplessly, shuddering, Dongwoo’s knees rising.  Turned on, thrusting faster, L fucked him hard, wanting him to come, wanting to get him off, and he cried out, tightening up exquisitely on L’s erection.  “Unh-ahh!  Oh, oouh-hh, oh!”

            Dongwoo kissed him, hands crawling over his ass, squeezing, spreading his cleft open.  “Yeah, yeah, get L deep in you, fill you up the whole way.”

            “Shit, hyung, oh,” Sungyeol gasped, squirming.  “Yes, yes, oh, it’s good, let me roll over, let me roll over.”

            When L pulled out and Sungyeol rolled over, Woohyun was there, taking over.  Still rock-hard, wanting, L crawled back on top of Sungjong, pushing in.  Sunggyu’s erection was in his face, and he mouthed the head, groaning, fucking Sungjong harder, drooling all over that big cock while Sungjong licked his neck and Dongwoo mounted his ass.

            His members loved him.  He was theirs, and they were his.  He could have this, he could have as much of it as he wanted.  What it meant to him wasn’t just his alone, anymore.  It meant just as much to them.

            “Love you,” he mumbled against Sunggyu’s thick cockhead, licking up precum, his hips picking up a steady rhythm between Dongwoo and Sungjong’s bodies.  “Love me harder, fuck me harder, yes.”

            Sunggyu needed to fuck again.  He looked over his dongsaengs.

            Dongwoo’s chest was sticky with champagne.  He was on his knees, one hand in L’s hair, shoving his erection down L’s throat.  Groaning, L was drunk on bliss, chin streaked with the drips of Sungyeol’s last load.  Sungjong was behind Dongwoo, head back, eyes closed, thrusting in slowly, dreamily, moving to his own rhythm.

            Sungyeol was on his back, knees in the air, feet swinging with the force of Woohyun’s thrusts.  “Don’t stop, don’t stop.  Right there, god, like that, god, Namu, f-f-fuck, you’re going so deep.”

            Sunggyu ran his hand over Sungyeol’s leg.  The stocking was soft, delicate, and he stroked Sungyeol’s calf as he shifted in behind Woohyun.  “You ready for me?” he asked, his other hand cupping Woohyun’s ass.

            “Always,” Woohyun said, thrusting steadily.

            A firm squeeze, and then he slipped two fingers inside, testing.  “Have you already had enough tonight?”

            Moaning, Woohyun writhed on his fingers.  Ahhh, don’t tease.”

            “God, god, don’t distract him,” Sungyeol panted, trying to pull Woohyun closer.

            Taking himself in hand, Sunggyu rubbed his erection against Woohyun’s asshole.  His cock knew this terrain perfectly, and he groaned as desire built in him, his cockhead smearing precum on Woohyun’s soft skin.  “We’re married, now,” he said, brushing his lips over Woohyun’s shoulder, kissing the shell of Woohyun’s ear.  Moaning, Woohyun swayed, hips going off-rhythm again.  “Are you going to make it good for your new husband?  Is your beautiful ass going to get hyung off tonight?”

            “Fuck, fuck, yeah,” Sungyeol gasped, squirming.  “Fuck him hard, drill him right into me, I’m dying over here.”

            “Yeah?” Sunggyu asked, smiling, his fingers dipping in again, rubbing right where it counted.

            Woohyun cried out, undulating against him, bucking hard.  Sungyeol cursed again, hugging a knee.  “Please,” Woohyun panted.  “Please, yes, yes, I want it to be me, fuck me, come in me.”

            He couldn’t have resisted that if he’d wanted to.  He thrust in hard, and then he slid deep, hitching his hips, rocking forward until his cock was buried in Woohyun’s hot, beautiful body.  “That’s my Woohyun-ah,” he murmured, easing back and driving in again, relishing the way Woohyun hugged him.  “Always so good to hyung.”

            Ooahhh, uunhh, hyung,” Woohyun moaned, squirming.

            He thrust deep again, rocking Woohyun forward.  “Fill him up, Woohyun-ah, Sungyeol loves your cock, give him what he wants.  Do you like fucking my husband, Woohyun-ah?  Does my husband feel good to you?”

            “Yeah, god, hyung,” Woohyun panted.  “God, fucking your husband, I’m fucking your husband.”

            Ahh, auuhh, so deep,” Sungyeol gasped, fingers digging into Woohyun’s back.

            Deep, yeah, he wanted to go deeper.  Sunggyu buried himself balls-deep on every thrust, pressing Woohyun forward, fucking through Woohyun and into Sungyeol.  “Take all of it, hyung knows you want it.”

            “Want it so much, so much,” Woohyun moaned, shuddering between their bodies.  “Needed you to fuck me like this.”

            “Hyung wants it, too,” he panted.  His cock was aching, his body was tense with need, and Woohyun was all of the pleasure he sought.  He wrapped Woohyun in his arms, kissing Woohyun’s neck, treasuring Woohyun’s muscular body, the way Woohyun writhed against him.  “How’s this?” he murmured, tugging Woohyun out of Sungyeol, fondling that sexy cock.  Mmm, you’re hard for me?”

            “Fuck, fuck, more, don’t stop,” Sungyeol said.

            “So hard, all for you,” Woohyun breathed, melting back against him.

            “God, seriously, please,” Sungyeol said, clutching at Woohyun’s waist.

            “He’s begging for you,” Sunggyu said, kissing the side of Woohyun’s neck, still steadily working his cock in that snug tunnel.  Woohyun’s erection was silky in his fist.  So sexy, so handsome, his precious Woohyun.  “So pretty, the way dongsaengs beg for you.”

            Ooouuhh.”  Woohyun leaned back against him, arching, arm curling around his neck.  He loved the press and slide of Woohyun’s hot skin against him.  “You like it?  Like, ahh, hearing them want me?”

            Mmm, hyung likes it,” he murmured, tenderly stroking Woohyun’s shaft, thrusting steadily.  Fussing, Sungyeol was twisting around.  “You make dongsaengs feel good, don’t you?  You make hyung feel good, too.”  When Sungyeol was on all fours, Sunggyu pushed Woohyun’s erection back in, using the momentum of his next thrust to drive Woohyun deep.  Sungyeol yelped and Woohyun groaned, undulating, and Sunggyu kissed Woohyun’s nape, fondling his pecs.  “Do you feel good, Woohyun-ah?  What can hyung do for you, what makes you feel good?”

            “Yes, oohh-hh-hh.”  Woohyun’s moan trembled as he rocked between their bodies.  His fingers threading through Sunggyu’s hair, he arched, tipping his head back, and Sunggyu kissed his neck, sucking gently.  He was so strong, so sweet, so pliant, giving himself to Sunggyu so well.  Sunggyu loved him like this.  “Love me, tell me, s-s-say that you love me.”

            Sunggyu stroked his toned body, fingers playing over his abs.  “I do love you.  Hyung loves you every day.”  Nudging him forward, Sunggyu pressed him down.  “I love you, Woohyun-ah.  Let’s feel good together.”

            They’d been here so many times before, the two of them and their members, just like this, that their bodies knew what to do.  Woohyun started out, picking up a natural rhythm, hips rolling, back and forth between them, rocking on Sunggyu’s cock, giving it to Sungyeol, steady and easy.

            Sunggyu rode that wave, moaning, his eyes slipping shut as he rocked to Woohyun’s rhythm.  His hands stayed on Woohyun, fingers trailing over Woohyun’s pelvic bones, as Sungyeol groaned and cursed, Sungyeol’s hands brushing against his on Woohyun.  It turned him on to share his members with each other, and he put Sungyeol’s hands where he wanted them, guiding them over the terrain of Woohyun’s body.

            As his pleasure intensified, his lust demanded to be satisfied.  He picked up the pace, fucking Woohyun more forcefully.  The swifter beat felt so good, he moaned, reveling in it.  “Yes, yes.”

            “Yes,” Woohyun moaned, echoing him, moving with him.

            Wanting to go deeper, craving this dongsaeng, he grabbed Sungyeol’s legs, his fingers slipping on the soft stockings until he firmed his grip.  He yanked, snatching Sungyeol closer, trapping Woohyun more tightly between them.  Sungyeol cried out ecstatically, and Sunggyu fucked harder until Woohyun was making the same eager sound.  Hearing both of them cry out so enthusiastically, shaky and needy and joyful, their bodies bouncing together as he hammered into them, doubled Sunggyu’s pleasure.  “I love you,” he panted.  “Sing for me, Woohyun-ah, let hyung hear you.”

            Sungyeol’s, “Ooo-ahh, ooo-ahh, unh,” was rhythmic, every rapturous moan jolted out of him with Sunggyu’s forceful thrusts.  Woohyun’s desperate, ecstatic cries wobbled up and down, arrhythmic, his voice as out of his control as his pleasure.  Relishing the sound of it, relishing having this effect on him, Sunggyu slipped a hand in between his body and Sungyeol’s, fingers circling snugly around the base of his cock.  Ahh-oo-yaa!”  Woohyun’s voice cracked, a spasm running through his body, as Sunggyu teased his erection.  He was still rocking, still fucking, thrusting through the ring of Sunggyu’s fingers and then into Sungyeol.

            “So hard,” Sunggyu said, proud of him, admiring the width of his sexy cock.  He was slick with lube, and he was trembling all over, gasping erratically as Sunggyu fondled his erection.  “Such a pretty cock, Woohyun-ah, hyung likes seeing where you like to put it.”

            “Ah, hyung, oh!”

            Recognizing that sound, Sunggyu stopped thrusting.  Buried deep, his hips still, he jacked Woohyun off, milked Woohyun right into Sungyeol.  “That’s it, dongsaeng-ah, just like that, that’s what hyung wants,” he whispered, kissing Woohyun’s nape, handling Woohyun’s cock.

            Ounnh, I came,” Woohyun breathed, slumping over Sungyeol like he was about to collapse.  He looked gorgeous, sweat beading over his muscular back, his strong arms barely holding him up, his spine arched, his ass stretched wide around the base of Sunggyu’s erection.

            “Hyung loves you,” Sunggyu promised him, rubbing his back.  “Come and take care of my Woohyun-ah, kiss him well, he’s worked hard,” Sunggyu instructed.

            L coaxed Woohyun off of Sungyeol, Dongwoo stretching out and gesturing him over.

            Kneeling between Sungyeol’s splayed thighs, his erection aching and in need of a home, Sunggyu saw an obvious solution right in front of him.

            “No, oh, god,” Sungyeol moaned, as Sunggyu rolled him over and ran both hands over those delicate white stockings.  They were such a feminine, decorative touch on Sungyeol’s long, spread legs, it really turned him on.

            “Don’t say no, it sounds bad,” Sunggyu scolded, pushing his knees to his chest.

            “Yes, yes,” Sungyeol said.  “Just, go slow, okay, slow, I - - ah!”  He cried out as Sunggyu thrust into him, and Sungjong placed a hand over his mouth, muffling his next yell.  He was so tight, Sunggyu went slowly, letting him get used to it, filling him up just a bit at a time.  L rolled over, putting a hand on him and swallowing his cock.  Sungyeol was writhing, trying to roll over but unable to get anywhere, pulling on L’s hair, shouting against Sungjong’s hand.

            Sunggyu was trying to be polite, trying to be sensitive and go slowly, but after giving it to Woohyun, the urge to really get into it, to rut and get off, to reach satisfaction, was strong.  He wanted to fuck, not play.  “Come on, Yeolie, can you take it?  Hyung has needs.”

            L’s head was bobbing, cheeks hollowing.  Eyes closing, head going back, Sungyeol squeezed down on L’s shoulder, his body stiff and shaking.  Groaning, L opened his mouth, and a slippery load of cum and spit dribbled down Sungyeol’s shaft, wet proof of Sungyeol’s orgasm.

            Mmm, so good,” L mumbled, kissing Sungyeol’s stomach, and then he rolled away again, going back to Dongwoo.

            “Okay, hyung?” Sungjong asked, lifting his hand.

            Sungyeol whined, squirming around, restless.  He was quieter now, but he was still whimpering, hugging his knees, then trapping Sunggyu between his thighs, then putting an ankle on Sunggyu’s shoulder.  “I, I,” he panted, his hairline damp with sweat, one hand pulling on his stockings.

            “It’s okay,” Sunggyu said, moving slowly.  “Hyung understands.”  He nudged Sungjong closer, and Sungjong leaned down, kissing Sungyeol.

            The kissing distracted Sungyeol enough to relax him.  His agitated whimpering turned to long, resonant moans, coming from deep in his chest, as Sunggyu kept fucking him.  Slow, tender thrusts, at first, building gradually, giving him plenty of time to get used to the increasing pace.  By the time Sunggyu was fucking him with real energy, he was trying to get more of it, trying to pull Sunggyu closer with his legs, his hand buried in Sungjong’s hair, his tongue in Sungjong’s mouth.

            Sunggyu ran his hand over Sungjong’s back, stroking his maknae.  This was what Sunggyu liked.  His dongsaeng splayed so willingly in front of him, moaning and flushed with pleasure.  His members kissing each other, fondling each other, taking care of each other’s needs.  It was important to him for his members to feel good together, to see pleasure and intimacy as something to share, to foster together.  Woohyun and L were rolling over, kissing, legs twining together.  Dongwoo crawled over and squeezed Sunggyu’s ass, watching avidly where Sunggyu was rocking in and out of Sungyeol.  “Ahh, I like this,” Dongwoo said, lifting Sungyeol’s balls out of the way and getting a closer look.  “Good, Yeolie, is it good?”

            “Don’t stop, don’t stop,” Sungyeol gasped, diving back into Sungjong’s mouth for more kisses.

            “All of that fussing, and you always like it so much when you get it,” Sunggyu said, still thrusting.

            “He’s such a silly baby,” Dongwoo said.  “Doesn’t ever know what he wants.”  Swinging a leg over, he knelt astride Sungyeol, both hands splayed over Sunggyu’s chest.  With a cheeky grin, he walked his fingers over Sunggyu’s pecs.  “Not like me.  I know what I want.”

            Sunggyu kissed him, cupping his ass in one hand and pulling him closer.  “What do you want?” Sunggyu asked, kissing him again.  So easy, this dongsaeng, so totally available to him.

            Moaning, Dongwoo kissed him, immediately passionate, arms winding around his neck.  Mmm, this,” Dongwoo breathed.  “This, how did you know?”

            L woke up.  He was hungry.

            He rubbed his eyes open.

            The ring on his hand drew his attention.  He stared at it, fascinated.

            It was a wedding ring.  He had a wedding ring.  He’d married his members last night.

            Smiling, he was amazed.  He couldn’t quite believe it.  He pushed himself up onto his knees and looked around.

            Dongwoo was under him, fast asleep.  Beside them, Sungyeol was splayed out facedown, one arm hanging over the side of the bed, white stockings stained with cum.  On the other bed, Sunggyu and Woohyun were curled up together, Sungjong tucked cozily between them.

            The room was filled with flowers.  A black and gold pendant hung from a chain around his neck.  He closed a hand around the pendant, still staring at his members.


            It blew his mind.  They’d gone so far last night.

            But not too far.  For him, it felt just right.

            He felt like he finally had the sense of security he’d lacked.  Over the past seven years, as they’d all cemented their bond, he’d grown secure in Infinite.  Other people might betray him, other people might turn on him, abandon him, but not his members.  He didn’t have to worry about them.

            But then.  All of a sudden.  His entire foundation had been shaken.

            He’d tried to understand.  He’d tried to put his world back together.  But all of a sudden he’d had doubts.  Insecurity.  Questions, where before he’d been sure.

            Those questions, however well-founded or paranoid they’d been.  Last night had answered them.

            He got up and padded around the room.  He went to the bathroom.  Called room service and ordered breakfast, then ordered some for the other members, too.  Watching everyone sleep, he started to envy the maknae, so he crawled in there, too, nudging Sungjong out of his way and burrowing in against Sunggyu.  Taking his members for granted, assuming that he’d be welcome.

            Sunggyu grumbled, Sungjong squirmed to make room for him, and once he was comfortably snuggled in, he felt Woohyun’s foot rub against his, toes flirting with his ankle.  He smiled, murmuring, “I love you,” and Sunggyu yawned.  “Love you,” Sungjong mumbled sleepily.

            When Woohyun woke up again, Sunggyu was kissing him awake.  Dongwoo and L were eating, Sungjong was singing in the shower, Sungyeol was still passed out in the other bed, and Sunggyu was kissing him and rubbing his stomach and murmuring, “Wake up, Woohyun-ah.”

            It felt like something out of a dream.  He’d had fantasies where his life was like this.

            He’d had real moments when his life actually was like this.  But they hadn’t lasted, not the way he’d wanted them to.  Something always intruded.  Work, tension, another guy, his own demons.

            This time, this moment was something he could hold onto.  Something he didn’t have to hold onto, really, something he didn’t have to cling to for fear it would slip away if he relaxed his grip.  This was authentic.  It was built to last.  They’d created it between the six of them over the course of years, and last night, they’d cemented it.

            Smiling, he returned Sunggyu’s tender, fond kisses.  “Morning, husband.”

            “Good morning, husband,” Sunggyu said, smiling right back.

            As their mouths met in another kiss, he wondered how long it would take before Sunggyu called Suho.  Hours?  Half an hour?  A few minutes?  How long had Sunggyu been awake, had it already happened?

            But as soon as his mind summoned up the questions, he felt them melt away again.  He didn’t care.  Let Sunggyu call Suho now or later, it didn’t matter.  “You’re mine,” he said, a fingertip stroking under Sunggyu’s chin, tilting Sunggyu’s face to his.

            “Always yours,” Sunggyu murmured, kissing him again, rolling him onto his back.

            After a shower and some coffee, Sungyeol could begin to function again.  Too much champagne, too much sex, and way too many intense emotions last night.  He put on the casual clothes he’d worn into the hotel yesterday, and he carefully folded up his wedding dress.  He kind of wanted to keep it.  For the memories of one wild night.  Not that sitting around holding hands for a few hours really counted as a wild night, but, yeah.  His brain still categorized it that way.

            He balled up the stockings and shoved them into a corner of his bag.  He needed to hide them, then get rid of them.  Sunggyu was way too interested, and his sex life was embarrassing enough as it was.

            Sunggyu and Woohyun were in a cute, romantic mood, cooing at each other.  Dongwoo was tidying up, trying to fit all of Woohyun’s gifts back into the bag so they could take them home.  L started crawling around from one member to another, giving blowjobs.  Sungyeol sat back and let L coax his body to a vigorous, resounding climax.  While he was still catching his breath, and L was still kneeling down there, kissing his abs, Sungjong came over and sat on his knee.  “L hyung?”

            Mmm.”  L licked circles around Sungyeol’s navel.

            “I don’t want to make a big thing of it.  I won’t keep asking, I swear, this is the last time.  But I don’t want to hurt you, so, if you aren’t sure, you have to tell me.”

            Blinking uncertainly, L raised his head.  “What are you talking about?”

            “Are you okay if I see C.A.P. hyung or not?”

            “Why would I care about C.A.P.?”

            Sungyeol rolled his eyes.  “You hate him.”

            “Oh.  Well, yeah, but.”  L licked his lips, looking thoughtful.

            “Hyung,” Sungjong said impatiently.  “Just tell me it’s okay.”

            “You can’t fall in love with him,” L said.  “But you can use him for sex and hang out with him, go for it.  Make sure he’s good to you.  If he hurts your feelings, tell the other members, but don’t tell me unless you want me to kill him.  But, yeah, date him if you want.”  He chewed on his lower lip and looked up at Sungyeol.  “I don’t think the sex with him was actually as good as I thought.  We were close, and I liked him, so I think I told myself it was great.  But how good could it really have been?”

            “You’re ten times better than he is,” Sungjong said, patting L’s arm.  “A hundred times.”

            “Who’s the best?” Sunggyu asked from across the room.

            Sungjong sighed, not looking over there.

            Ya, maknae,” Woohyun called, seated beside Sunggyu.  “Who’s the best?  There’s C.A.P., and L’s ten times that, so who’s the best?”

            “Kai?” Sunggyu guessed.  “Is it that Kai?”

            “Chanyeol,” Woohyun said.  Oppa!  Oppa!”

            Sungjong rolled his eyes.  “You, hyung, you’re the best.”

            “You?” Sunggyu asked Woohyun, pointing.  “He’s talking to you?”

            “You, of course, it’s always you,” Woohyun said reassuringly.

            “Ah, it must be you,” Sunggyu said.  “So talented, so romantic.”

            “No, it’s you,” Woohyun said.  “Everyone knows, bigger is always better.”

            “Ah, well, it’s not small,” Sunggyu said with false modesty.  “Both of us, then, he meant us both.”

            Smiling, Woohyun high-fived him, and they patted their hands together happily.

            When Dongwoo got back to the dorm, he unpacked his bag and hung up his wedding suit.  He left his colorful new wedding band on; he liked it.

            He studied his new necklace for a while, turning it over in his hands, draping it over his fingers, watching it sparkle.  So pretty.  The letters and diamonds together reminded him of a constellation.  He put up some tacks and hung it on the wall.  He’d wear it soon, he was looking forward to designing outfits around it, but while he wasn’t wearing it, he wanted it hanging up, not put away in a box somewhere.  It should be out, where he could see it.  His destiny.

Series page: "Let's Love"

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Copyright October 19, 2017
by Matthew Haldeman-Time