The Birth of a Prince

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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.

There’s a lot of BDSM content in this story, taking place among enthusiastically consenting adults.  There’s also some discussion and depiction of sexual assault.  The assault itself is not explicit and doesn’t escalate.

This may come in handy: Up10tion gif/info page

May 6, 2016

            “I’m king of the world!” Baekhyun exclaimed, standing over his birthday cake.

            Chen threw a handful of discarded wrapping paper at him, laughing.  “You are not.”

            “Sit down, you fool,” Suho said, laughing, tugging him down.

            “Happy birthday,” Sehun said, smiling.

            “I am king of the world,” Baekhyun insisted.  He was more than a little drunk by now.  “Today is Byun Baekhyun day.  Baekhyun day.  Officially.  It’s all over Twit-” he burped, “-stagram.”

            “Twitstagram?” Chanyeol asked, laughing.

            “It’s not Baekhyun day,” Chen said.  “Do you think you were the only person born today?”

            “No,” Baekhyun said, and he grinned widely, looking very proud of himself.  “I’m the only important person born today.”

            Xiumin groaned.  “Can he have two extra hours of practice tomorrow?”

            “First thing in the morning,” Sehun suggested.

            “You’ve had too much to drink,” Suho decided, patting Baekhyun’s back.

            “Too many presents,” D.O. added.  “It’s gone to his head.”

            “Too much cake,” Baekhyun moaned, rubbing his stomach.  Leaning back against Suho, he looked faint.

            “People born today,” Chen said, scrolling through his phone.  “George Clooney.”

            “You are not more important than George Clooney,” Sehun told Baekhyun.

            “Sigmund Freud,” Chen added, still reading.

            Kai snorted.  “Way less important than Sigmund Freud.”

            “Tony Blair,” Chen said.

            “Who?” Chanyeol asked.

            “The Prime Minister of England,” Suho said.  “Before.”

            “How do you know that?” Chanyeol demanded.

            “How do you not know that?” Sehun scoffed.  He must have oversold it; Kai laughed and Xiumin smacked his arm.

            “Oh, Lee Hwanhee,” Chen said.

            “Who?” Lay asked.

            “Little Baekhyun,” Chen exclaimed.  When they all gave him baffled looks, he rolled his eyes.  “The rookie from Up10tion!  The one who sings like Baekhyun.  They have the same birthday.”

            “He doesn’t sing like me,” Baekhyun said.

            “He does, kind of,” Suho said.  “It’s cute.”

            “Here,” Chen said, pulling something up on his phone.  He handed it to Baekhyun and they all leaned in, trying to see.  It was a video of Up10tion, of Hwanhee singing at a radio station.

            “He kind of looks like you,” Lay said.

            “He does not,” Baekhyun said.

            “He kind of sounds like you,” Kai said.

            “He does not!” Baekhyun exclaimed, bouncing in his seat.  Just as Baekhyun wriggled in frustration, Hwanhee wriggled onscreen, laughing at one of his members.

            Sehun laughed, and Xiumin said, “He even squirms like you.”

            “Mmm, sexy,” Kai said, grinning.

            It was sexy.  A dongsaeng who squirmed like Baekhyun?  It sounded perfect.  Intrigued, Sehun waited until Baekhyun set the phone down, and then he picked it up.  While his hyungs talked and ate cake, he watched the video again, and then another one.  Maybe it was just because he was drunk and missing his pet, but the way Hwanhee bounced and wiggled and laughed turned him on.  He’d love to give it to a sweet dongsaeng who wriggled around under him, panting and moaning, reacting and gasping to his every touch.

            Suho caught him rubbing himself and took the phone away, but the idea stayed on his mind, and he gave it to Baekhyun slowly that night, fantasizing.

Months later

            L looked down at him.

            His heart was pounding out of his chest.  The intensity of L’s gaze made his stomach hurt.  I love you, he wanted to say.  Please.

            Disgust curled L’s lip.

            Desperate now, he sank down to his knees.  Excitement and fear made him ache, made him whimper.  He wanted this so badly, so badly, if L could just give him a chance, please, it would mean everything to him.

            Stone-faced, L stared down at him.  So cold, so chic, so handsome, L was devastating.  He whimpered again, helplessly.  “Give me a chance, L sunbaenim, let me just, let me, please.”  He’d do his best, he’d try his hardest, he’d do everything he could to make L happy.  Everything he could.

            L’s thumb brushed his cheek.  His breath caught in his chest, his skin blazing hot.  Cool, perfect L was touching him.  “Sunbaenim?” he whispered, hopeful, fearful.

            L smirked, showing one, deep dimple.  “Ya, get up!”



            The familiar call broke through.  Suddenly awake, Hwanhee blinked.  The demanding ache of his erection made him groan, and he rolled over in bed, burying his face in his pillow.  Ignoring the busy sounds of the dorm, he pushed his hand down the front of his shorts.

            “Are you guys getting up or what?  Ew, are you jacking it?”

            “No,” he mumbled, his skin hot.  He was so turned on, he couldn’t let go of his cock.  God, he’d been so close.  Another minute and he would’ve had L’s cock in his mouth, god, why couldn’t they have let him sleep a little longer?

            “Let me see,” Wooshin said, standing by his bed, nudging at him.

            “Were you dreaming about L sunbae again?” Xiao asked from the other bed, grinning.

            “No, just - - hyung, hyung, really,” he complained, embarrassed, as Wooshin rolled him onto his back.  Panting a little, he moaned.  So close, aauuhh, so close, unh!

            “I’m gonna tell Changjo hyung,” Xiao said.

            “Gonna come?” Wooshin asked, running his fingers through Hwanhee’s hair.  “Gonna shoot?”

            “Don’t, I, I, ah!”  Gasping, he climaxed, shocked, convulsing.  His load shot out in quick arcs, and he thought desperately, blissfully, of L as he came.

            “So fast!” Xiao said, laughing.

            “Pretty.”  Leaning over, Wooshin dropped a kiss on his forehead.

            “Thanks.”  He blinked, catching his breath.  He hoped that he’d get to see L today.

            The same kid was outside of their tent, pretending not to be watching.  Sungyeol wondered if they should close the tent flap or something.  So weird; what did he want?

            Dongwoo walked out, and the kid snapped to, posture suddenly perfect.  The kid bowed, and Dongwoo bowed, walking past, and the kid’s gaze shot into the tent again.

            L.  He was looking at L.

            Sungyeol wanted to laugh.  Of course he was looking at L.  “You have an admirer,” he said, nudging L.

            Seated on the folding chair beside Sungyeol, L barely glanced up.  “Mmm.”

            “Who is he, anyway?”

            L took another look before going back to his phone.  “One of TOP Media’s rookies.”

            “Oh, Up10tion?”  That was Teen Top’s dongsaeng group.  They were practically family!  “I’ll go say hi,” he decided, pushing himself up.  “What’s that one’s name?”

            “Little Baekhyun.”

            He didn’t remember another Baekhyun among the rookies.  “Is that a stage name?”

            Lowering his phone, L looked up and laughed.  “No, it’s - - it’s how I tell them apart.  I don’t know what his real name is,” he added thoughtfully.  “There’s just the leader, and the second leader, and the tall one, and the pretty one, and the fancy one, and Little Baekhyun, and the maknae.  And the one with the high voice.  Oh, and the extra one.”

            “That’s only nine,” Sungyeol said, counting on his fingers.  “There should be ten of them, right?”

            L considered that, scratching his head.  He looked up at Sungyeol and shrugged, smiling helplessly.  “Plus the other extra one?”  Then he tapped Sungyeol’s thigh, sitting back.  “The one with the eyebrows.”

            “Do any of them, I mean - - are they old enough?  Does Teen Top…”  He raised his eyebrows, trying to communicate sex without saying it.

            L nodded.  “Some of them.  Changjo said they’re okay.”

            “If they’re - - we’re already close with Teen Top, right?  Shouldn’t the rest of TOP Media, I mean, we might as well all be close together, right?”

            L smiled.  “You know that means that when your brother debuts, you’re basically volunteering him-”

            “Ew!  Ew!  Ew!  Stop that!” he insisted, pushing at L.  Laughing, L slid down in the chair, trying to evade him.  “Gross!  Don’t - - I don’t need to think about that!”

            “Stop, stop,” L said, pushing at his hands, trying to fend him off.  “Your brother’s already Sungjong’s age.  Maybe EXO wants to make some new friends.”

            “Park Chanyeol can keep his goddamned hands to himself,” Sungyeol said.  “I know what he’s into.”

            Sitting up again, L smoothed his shirt down, fixing his sleeves.  “Go check out the rookies, see if there’s anyone you like.”

            “I don’t want to, now.”  He sat down beside L again.  A glance at the tent flap told him that Little Baekhyun was still out there, trying to be discreet about hovering.  Not bad-looking.  “When Changjo said - - does he have any favorites, or anything?”

            L shrugged, fixing his bangs.  Then he shot Sungyeol one of his best smiles.  “His favorite’s me.”

            Bitto called an end to practice.  Jinhoo went over some last-minute stuff and went to talk to management.  Kuhn started herding everyone down to the vans.

            “I’ll stay for a while,” Hwanhee said.

            “You sure?” Kuhn asked, pushing Xiao towards the door.

            He nodded, running his hand through his hair.  “I want to work on it some more.”

            “You want me to stay?” Sunyoul asked.  “Or Bitto?”

            He didn’t want to bother his hyungs.  “No, I’m fine.”

            “Okay.  Don’t stay too long!” Sunyoul called, heading out with the others.

            He waved.  Once his hyungs were out and the door closed, he swung his arms, facing the mirror.  Okay.  He gave himself a determined look and got into the starting position.

            He practiced for a while.  A long time, but he didn’t know how long, because he tried not to look at the clock.  Seeing how late it was would give him an excuse to go, but he didn’t want to leave until he had the moves right.  His fans wouldn’t care if it was three am or not; the public wouldn’t be impressed if he was well-rested.

            His manager cared, though; when he checked his phone, he had angry texts.  Flinching, guilty, he hurriedly texted back an apology and promised to get back to the dorm right away.

            When he left the practice room, he heard music.  Something quick.  Hip-hop with a lot of bass.  One of his sunbaes?  Was it Changjo?  Curious, he slipped down the hallway.

            He peeked through the window in the door.  It was Changjo.  Dancing, practicing.  He eagerly scanned the back wall, and his pulse raced.  L.  Seated on the floor, waiting for Changjo, watching.

            He wondered how long L had been there.  He wondered what L was waiting for.  Were they going to leave together?  Go to Teen Top’s dorm?  Infinite’s dorm?  He couldn’t believe that Changjo got L to sit around, waiting.  Sexy, cool, handsome L.  It blew his mind.  If he had the chance to spend time with someone like L, he’d never, ever make him wait, for anything.

            L glanced at his phone.  He got up.  It looked like he was answering a call, and he was walking in Hwanhee’s direction!

            Startled, Hwanhee scurried back.  He ducked into the bathroom.

            “…just hanging out.  Yeah.  Mmm.”  The way L made that humming sound, god, it was so sexy, he couldn’t take it.  “Yeah, I’ll be back tonight.  Changjo’s coming with me.”  L laughed, and Hwanhee wanted to go to him.  “Yes, he has to.  Yes!  Yeah, okay.  All right.  I’ll take care of those things for you tomorrow, okay?  Mmm.”  Hwanhee leaned back against the bathroom wall, feeling faint.  “Okay.  Night.”

            Everything was quiet.  Hwanhee felt over his chest, making sure that his heart was recovering.  Whew!

            Changjo was going to Infinite’s dorm?  That night?  To L’s bed?  That night?  It was too good to be true.  It was so sexy, it seemed impossible.  Shit.  He shook his head, sending fantasies flying.  If he started thinking too much about it, he’d just devastate himself.

            He opened the door.  And yelped, startled, banging into the door.

            L stood there, watching him.

            “Oh, wow,” he breathed, blinking.  God, what, what was this?  “Sorry, sunbaenim.”  He laughed breathlessly.  “You scared me!”

            “Sneaking around?”

            “No!  No,” he repeated quickly, horrified that L would think that about him.  “No, I was practicing, I stayed late to practice.  I’m leaving now, my manager texted, I have to get back to the dorm.”

            “This is Teen Top’s practice room,” L said.  “This whole building comes from their hard work.  Give your sunbaes privacy.  They don’t need a lot of nosy hoobaes running around getting in their way.”

            He felt sick that he’d upset L.  “Yes, sunbaenim.  I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bother anybody,” he said, bowing.  “It won’t happen again.”

            L nodded and walked away.

            Pressing his hand to his chest, where he ached, he watched L stroll down the hallway.  So cool and so handsome and so unhappy with him.  He’d pissed L off!

            L went into the practice room.  There was a blare of music, and then it was muffled again as the door closed.

            “Augh!”  Turning, balling his hands into fists, Hwanhee kicked the wall.  He felt dismayed, and then he felt frustrated, and then he felt devastated, and then he groaned, leaning forward, bumping his fists against the wall.  Shit.  Sagging, he lolled against the wall for a moment, groaning, hating himself.

            His phone rang.  Startled, he grabbed for it and then, lanced by guilt, he winced.  Hitting the heel of his hand against his forehead, he cringed.  “Yes, hyung?”  His manager started scolding him.  “Yes, sorry, sorry, hyung,” he mumbled, shuffling down the hallway.

            Sehun hated seeing Teen Top now.  It was so painful, he avoided them whenever he could.  If they were backstage, he found anywhere else to be.  If they came over to the dorm, he went out.

            Seeing them, and not seeing his pet, was like a knife in an already raw wound.  He tried to deal with it.  Knowing what they were going through, he felt like he didn’t have any right to cry.  But losing his pet was killing him.

            Suho kept telling him that time would help, but time kept passing, and he never felt any better.  Different, maybe, because his emotions were shifting, but not remotely better.  Grief was starting to dull, but it was replaced by need, and frustration, and tension.

            Woohyun kept telling him to adopt another pet, but he couldn’t.  He couldn’t, he just couldn’t.  He’d never find another pet.  No one could ever replace his sweet, perfect, needy pet.  His sexy, feisty sunbae.  No one.  He’d never find anyone else he clicked with, someone he wanted so viscerally, someone he responded to so intensely, someone who needed him so very, very badly.

            A pet was a commitment.  A commitment he couldn’t risk making again.  When he thought about what he and L.Joe had gone through, he was filled with a thousand regrets.  A pet was a responsibility.  A demanding relationship.  He couldn’t believe how blithely he’d made that commitment the first time around.  How arrogant had he been, then?  He couldn’t possibly do it again.  His life wasn’t his own, and he’d learned that thoroughly.  His pet would have to live at Suho’s whim, at SM’s whim.  He’d have to cancel dates and sacrifice time together and abandon his pet at a moment’s notice, and he’d never put someone so vulnerable through it again.

            In his mind, the only solution was casual sex.  Casual BDSM.  No pets, just partners he could see when the urge struck.  But in his current situation, the only possible partners available to him were in Infinite.  And when he’d mentioned it to Woohyun, figuring that Woohyun would agree that it was the best way to go, Woohyun had startled him by shutting the idea down immediately.  “No, not while you’re like this, not while you’re in between puppies.  I said you could try Dongwoo hyung before because you already had a regular puppy, and it would’ve been just for fun.  You’re too dangerous now.”

            Dangerous.  He felt dangerous.  He felt capable of very dark things.  His fantasies were wicked.  More and more elaborate, more and more controlling, more and more violent.  He spent a lot of time alone, silent and still, imagining what he’d do if he got his hands on Dongwoo, what he’d do to pretty Sungjong.  The dirty, dark, delicious things he’d do to Woohyun.

            And he spent a lot of time alone, crying.  Missing his pet, feeling sorry for himself, mourning what had been, seeing no future now that he’d lost it.

            “You forgot one,” Changjo said.

            “Hmm?”  Suho wiped at his mouth.  Then he took his phone back from where Changjo had been trying to conceal it under a napkin.  “Forgot what?”

            “One of your members.”  Changjo leaned back in his chair and counted on his fingers.  “You’re here with me.  Xiumin hyung’s with Chunji hyung.  Lay hyung’s in China.  Kai’s out with Taemin hyung.  D.O. hyung’s filming.  And Baekhyun hyung, Chen hyung, and Chanyeol hyung are at my dorm, playing with my members.”  He flicked at his ninth finger.  “What about Sehun hyung?”

            Suho had left him out on purpose.  Of course Changjo had noticed.  “He’s fine, he’s at the dorm.  Resting.”

            “Resting,” Changjo repeated.  He sucked his cheeks in, eyeing Suho.  “You mean he’s feeling sorry for himself.”

            “He’s having a hard time,” Suho wanted to say, but he didn’t.  How could he look Changjo in the eye and say something like that?  He knew better than anyone what it was like to lose a member.  He knew what Changjo was going through.  He considered his words and said, “He didn’t want to come out tonight.”

            “Because he’s feeling sorry for himself,” Changjo said again.  He picked up his cup, nodded to himself, and put it back down again.  “Let’s go see him.”


            “Sure.  Now, let’s go see him.”

            He could tell from Changjo’s insistent energy that Changjo meant right then, that instant.  “What about the movie?”

            “I thought you already saw it, with Sunggyu hyung.”

            He hadn’t paid any attention to it.  He’d just sat there in the dark theater and spent two hours acutely aware of every breath Sunggyu took, every minute shift of Sunggyu’s legs, every happy, sudden laugh.  He’d liked the bright, daytime scenes the most because he’d used them to look at Sunggyu’s profile.  He’d practically suffocated on his own desire.  “I guess it wasn’t very good,” he mumbled.

            Sehun was in his room when he heard someone at the front door.  One of his hyungs, he guessed.  He tried to make himself care.

            “Sehun-ah!  Hyung’s back!” Suho called.  “Changjo’s with me.”

            He remembered kissing Changjo.  Remembered being on the couch with L.Joe, with Changjo between them.  Remembered L.Joe vibrating with need, hovering behind Changjo, whispering.  Remembered feeding on L.Joe’s intoxicating need for him as their hands never quite met on Changjo’s body.

            Suho and Changjo were talking in the other room.  He ignored it.  He tied another knot in the red ribbon he’d wrapped around his lower leg.  The crisscrossing fabric looked bright and bold against his skin.

            Changjo walked in.

            He flipped the sheet over his leg.  “Get the fuck out.”

            “Hey, hyung.”  Changjo sat on D.O.’s bed.  Bounced slightly, leaned back, studied the walls, the ceiling.

            Sehun wished he’d leave.  Wished that he’d just fucking go.  He was a horrible, painful reminder of everything Sehun’d had.  Everything Sehun had lost.  It was impossible to look at him without feeling furious.  And desolate.

            “So this is just your life now?” Changjo asked, finally looking at him.  “You’re your own sex toy?”

            “He wasn’t a toy.”  The words came out vehement, enraged.  Sehun felt dangerously out of control.

            Changjo studied him.  “Are you losing it?”

            He’d get better.  With time.  He’d get over it.  At least, that was what everyone kept saying.  Xiumin was over Luhan - - hell, he was over Luhan.  He’d get over this, too.  Tucking his hand under the sheet, he picked at a knot.  “How are you?”

            “I’m great.  Great,” Changjo repeated, swinging his feet.  “Super great.”  He pressed his lips together.  His feet stopped.  Started again.  Stopped.  “Are you doing that with your own members now, or aren’t you allowed?”

            “They don’t like it.”  They’d been having sex with him two at a time more often, lately.  Like they didn’t want to be alone with him.  Chen said that it was easier to get him off that way - - his body was slower to come, lately, like everyday sex just didn’t do it for him anymore.  But he knew that Baekhyun was nervous around him, jittery, and relieved when someone else joined in.

            “What about anyone else?  I guess Woohyun hyung isn’t sharing his key.”

            Sehun snorted, but he felt tense, the muscles in his back locking up.  “No, he isn’t sharing.”  Resentment seethed in him.  He was tired of being denied.  His pet had never denied him anything.

            “Mmm.”  Changjo crossed his legs.  “Guess I’ll have to do it, then.”

            Sehun stared at him.  Everything inside of Sehun stopped, for a second.  It seemed like both the worst idea, and the best idea, he’d ever heard.

            “Not tonight,” Changjo continued, his tone conversational, confident, blithe.  “We’ll have to make arrangements.  I want privacy, no hyungs around.  We can do it here, if you can get your members out.”  He lifted his chin, holding Sehun’s gaze, looking cool and arrogant.  “You can do whatever you want to me, I won’t complain.  I can take it.  I can take anything.  You think you can get to me, but you can’t, so try as much as you want.”

            This really was the worst idea.  The best idea.  He knew that he had to say no, but he was already saying, “Yes.  Okay.  Tuesday, my hyungs will be gone on Tuesday, they have schedules and dates.”

            “Great.”  Changjo bounded to his feet.  “Tuesday.  You can do it then.”

            Sehun reached out, grabbing his wrist, latching onto him.  Staring up at him.  Mentally, Sehun was already devouring him.  “Don’t tell Suho hyung.”  Don’t tell anyone.

            A tiny smirk flitted over Changjo’s features.  “I won’t.”

            Ricky stared at Changjo.  “When did you get so stupid?”

            “What?”  Changjo gave him a disgusted look.  “Don’t be weird.  I only told you because I thought that you’d be cool about it.  If you’re going to start causing problems, I can’t tell you shit anymore.”

            “This isn’t-”  Annoyed, Ricky smacked his upper arm.  “Maknae!  Don’t do this!”

            “What, why can’t I?  You do it.”

            “I don’t!”

            Changjo glanced at their closed bedroom door.  “What do you call that shit you and Woohyun hyung do?”

            “That’s different!  That’s completely different!  Seriously, why did you agree to this?  You can’t go through with it, you can’t do it, you have to cancel.”

            “I’ve done it enough, before.  On the other side.  I can handle it.”

            Ricky raised his eyebrows, challenging.  “Did you tell C.A.P. hyung?  No.  Did you tell Suho hyung?  No.”

            “Suho hyung doesn’t need to know about it.”

            “You think he’s not going to find out about it?” Ricky asked.  “What about Chunji hyung?  You’re not supposed to do this stuff without him.”

            “That’s for dom shit, this is sub shit, it doesn’t matter.  He only thinks he has to supervise so I won’t go too far or hurt anybody.  This is different, I don’t need a baby-sitter.”

            He went for the big guns.  “What about L hyung?”

            Changjo hesitated.  For a second, Ricky could see all of his resolve vanish.  Then he stiffened back up, trying to brush it off.  “He won’t care.  He gets it, he does that stuff all of the time, anyway.  It’s just sex, he doesn’t care what I do with other guys.”

            “He’s going to hate it.”

            “It’s just sex,” Changjo repeated.  “It’s just - - Woohyun hyung does stuff to him, right?  So what’s the difference?”

            “The difference is, L hyung’s going to freak out,” Ricky said.  “He’s going to hate it, and he’s going to get pissed off, and he’s going to rip Sehun hyung’s face off with his teeth.”

            Changjo shook his head.  “He’ll be okay.”

            Ricky didn’t believe that for a second.  “All right.  If you want to start a war, that’s up to you.”

            Changjo blinked, gaze shifting, gears turning.

            Ricky didn’t point out the biggest problem: that Changjo couldn’t handle it.  That Changjo was going to get hurt.  Really, badly hurt.  He couldn’t say it, because it would just make Changjo defiant, would just make Changjo even more determined to go through with it.

            But he couldn’t let Changjo get hurt.  So he was going to have to stop this.  One way or another.  “You don’t have to make things up to Sehun hyung.  He’s upset, but it’s not your problem.”

            “I gave him a lot of shit,” Changjo said.  “I made stuff harder.”

            “It’s not your fault.”

            “I didn’t say it was my fault.”

            “I’m saying it’s not.” 

            “I never said it was!” Changjo shouted.

            Ricky sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

            “Fuck it,” Changjo muttered, and left the room.

            Ricky weighed his options.  He called D.O.

            Hwanhee loved giving head.  He loved having his mouth penetrated, his face penetrated.  Loved being on his knees for it.  It made him feel a little bit subservient.  It was easy to feel helpless, easy to feel like the whole encounter wasn’t under his control.  Down on his knees, with his hyung looming over him, a big cock shoved in his mouth, overpowering him.  Nothing turned him on like that thrill, that sense of helplessness, that sense of subservience.

            He loved giving head to Wei and Gyujin the most, because they were so well-hung, it added to that feeling of being dominated, being used.  He loved it with Wooshin, too, because Wooshin played with him a little, teased him.  Or Kogyeol, sometimes Kogyeol acted like he should be grateful for it, grateful to be on his knees, and he was, god, yes, he was so grateful.

            He was with Kuhn once when he got too ambitious and gagged himself on Kuhn’s erection.  For a second, he really did feel helpless, his body not under his control.  That fleeting, disorienting moment shook him, and for days after, he fantasized about it, about that sensation of being overwhelmed, overpowered.

            He tried it on purpose.  Tried to choke himself while he was giving head, tried to trigger his gag reflex.  But his members were always concerned, always laughed and asked, “Wait, are you okay?” and tried to check on him, so the erotic thrill he was looking for was always immediately overcome by guilt for making them worry.  For them, it wasn’t sexy; they just wanted to make sure that he was all right.  And then, once, he went too far, choking himself on Wei’s long cock, and he threw up on Wei’s feet, and that was so much the opposite of sexy, he never did get to finish that blowjob and Wei was shy around him for a while.

            Sehun had been looking forward to this.  He hadn’t thought about anything else since Changjo had suggested it.  All day, every day, and all night, every night, he’d thought about this.  Fantasized about it, plotted for it.  What he’d do when he finally had Changjo alone, on his turf, behind a closed door.  When he finally had Changjo submissive, and suffering, and groveling, and completely under his control.

            They were alone in the dorm, but when he took Changjo into his room, he locked the door, anyway.  He wanted the click of the lock to resonate, wanted Changjo to feel locked in with him, trapped in this room with only the empty rooms of the dorm beyond.  No one to intervene, no one at all.

            He circled Changjo slowly.  Changjo was taller than his pet, bigger, stronger.  From behind, he ran his hand through Changjo’s thick hair, pulled Changjo’s head back.

            Changjo laughed.  “Is that supposed to be sexy?  Are we starting?”

            He ran his fingertips across Changjo’s shoulder and stepped around in front again.  “What’s your safe word?”

            “Don’t have one.  Don’t want one, don’t need one, we don’t need one.”

            He considered slapping Changjo across the face.  “Use ‘Teen Top.’  Can you remember that?”

            “Nope, never heard it before, not familiar with it.  What-”

            He slapped Changjo across the face.

            The second he did it, a shock went through him.  Suho was going to kill him.  He’d just slapped Suho’s dongsaeng.  He’d just slapped a sunbae.  Suho was going to-

            No, no.  This wasn’t a regular conversation, this wasn’t an everyday encounter.  It was inside of a scene, it was in context.  Changjo wanted it, they-

            Changjo didn’t want this.  Changjo didn’t want it.  Not like his pet did.

            This was just - - it would be okay.  He was getting off to a bad start.  This was a different person, a different partner, he was still getting into the rhythm of it.  Changjo wanted this - - Changjo had volunteered for it - - and it would be fine, it would be great, they just had to find the right groove.

            “Hunh.”  Changjo eyed him.  “Was that supposed to make me come?  Are we at the sexy part yet?”

            “Are you being sexy?”  He tapped at Changjo’s lower lip, ran his fingers over Changjo’s chin.  Got them both used to the fact that he could touch however, whenever, wherever he wanted.  Yeah.  Yeah, this was more like it.  “What are you going to do to turn me on?”

            “Blow you?” Changjo suggested.

            He smirked.  “So crude.”  This one wasn’t trained at all.  He caressed Changjo’s lips again, stroked feather-light along Changjo’s jaw, then gripped Changjo’s jaw hard, digging his fingers into soft flesh, squeezing down to the bone.

            Inhaling, Changjo looked up, studying the ceiling.

            He held on too hard for too long, then abruptly let go, stroking Changjo’s lips again, brushing his fingers across Changjo’s nose.  Changjo wasn’t like his pet; Changjo was deliberately making it a challenge, was trying to prove something.  He was going to have to break Changjo, but when he finally did, it would be a rich victory.  A victory to savor.

            Wouldn’t it?

            Of course it would.  That was what he wanted, to get through, to put Changjo in his place, to dominate.  When he finally had Changjo responding to his every touch, grateful to him, desperate for him, it would be a delicious triumph.  He could train Changjo however he wanted, train Changjo to do whatever he liked.

            It wouldn’t be natural or instinctive, the way it had been with his pet, but Changjo would be eager to learn, once he trained Changjo to his will, once he broke through.  It would be just as good as the real thing.  Better, even, because he could train Changjo to be whatever he wanted.  He could mold his new pet from the base up.

            Just as good as the real thing.

            But this wasn’t the real thing.

            Changjo didn’t need him.  Changjo wasn’t grateful.  Changjo didn’t give a fuck about him.

            What did he think, that he was going to break and train Changjo?  Really?  Without Suho or C.A.P. or L, of all people, not having anything to say about it?  Really?  Shit.  No one would notice, no one would try to stop him?  What would he say to them, what would his defense be?  That this was right, that Changjo needed him, that this was best for them both?

            Best for him.  Nothing to Changjo.  Or, worse.  Harmful to Changjo.

            Seeing this opportunity evaporate in front of him, he felt helpless desperation overtake him.  No, no!  He needed this!  This was the only hope he had, his first shot since he’d lost his pet.  It was wrong and it was misguided and it was nothing like what he really wanted, but it was all that he had.  And he wasn’t going to let his fucking conscience get in his way.  He needed this.  Changjo had volunteered for it.  He wasn’t forcing anything that Changjo hadn’t asked for.

            “Get on your knees,” he said, ripping his fly open.  Forget thinking long-term, forget training, forget trying to recreate the perfect eroticism of his pet’s constant desire for him.  He needed a fix, he needed just five minutes, five seconds.  Changjo wasn’t moving.  “Do it!” he shouted, shoving his underwear down.  “You asked for it, you want it, so fucking do it!”

            Changjo’s gaze skittered around the room, and then he raised his chin.  “Make me.”

            Fury shot through Sehun, red-hot.  He grabbed Changjo.  “You asked for it,” he insisted, panting.  “You wanted it.”  He shoved Changjo down, forcing Changjo onto his bed.

            “Fuck.”  Changjo wasn’t pulling him closer, wasn’t fighting him off.  “Fuck,” Changjo said again, almost whispering it to himself, staring up at Sehun.

            He was letting Sehun do it.  He didn’t want this.  He wasn’t saying no.  “Take it,” Sehun said, climbing roughly onto him, cock in his face.  “Take what you’ve been begging for.”  He wasn’t saying no.  He’d asked for this.  He wasn’t using the safe word.  He wasn’t trying to stop it, he was letting Sehun do it, he-

            He didn’t want it.

            Changjo didn’t want this.

            There was no desire in Changjo.  None of the electric need that hummed in Sehun’s pet.  None of the mortified lust, none of the desperate, pleading yes-no-yes.  Changjo simply, plainly didn’t want it.  He was looking up at Sehun with strange intensity, an odd, passive determination.  He wasn’t going to stop this.  But he didn’t want it.

            For a second, Sehun’s pain and frustration were gone, and he saw the moment clearly, saw exactly what he was doing.  “I can’t,” he said, moving back.

            “Maknae!  Anyone home?” D.O. called.

            “Shit.”  Horrified, feeling guilt rise up like a tidal wave, he scrambled backward, off of the bed, off of Changjo.  Yanking his pants back up, he didn’t know what to do, what to say.  He wanted to take the last ten minutes back, wanted to take everything back.

            The doorknob rattled.  “Maknae!  Why is this door locked?” D.O. demanded.

            Pushing himself up on his elbows, Changjo swallowed, then stared at Sehun with scared, defiant eyes.  “Not going to finish?”

            For a second, he didn’t know which of them was more fucked up, him or Changjo.  But he was guessing it was the guy who’d just tried to force himself on someone who obviously didn’t want it.  Oh, god.  “Where are your members right now?”  He couldn’t just send Changjo out into the night without talking this out, without offering comfort, but he didn’t think that he was the right guy to be offering anyone reassurances just then.

            “Maknae!” D.O. shouted, pounding at the door.

            He had no idea why D.O. sounded so angry.  “Just a minute!”  He didn’t want D.O. to burst in on them; he had to take care of Changjo first.  He didn’t want Changjo to have to get over this and deal with a hyung’s interruption at the same time.

            Changjo got up, off of the bed.  He looked shaky one second, like he might fall over, and then he looked weirdly robust, crackling with strength and energy.  “Not going to finish?” he asked again.  “Too bad we were interrupted.  Next time.”

            “No,” Sehun said immediately.  “No next time, there’s not going to be a next time.”

            “Oh Sehun!” D.O. shouted.

            Was he kicking the door?  “What?” Sehun demanded.  What in hell was this hyung’s emergency all of a sudden?  Hurriedly, just to shut him up, Sehun unlocked the door, yanking it open.  “What?”

            D.O. burst in, gaze sweeping the room.  “What are you doing in here?”

            “Nothing,” Changjo said, practically bouncing on his toes.  “Guess I’ll just go.  Call me,” he told Sehun, and he walked out.

            “Don’t just - - Changjo,” Sehun said, hurrying after him.  “Where are you going?  Are any of your members at the dorm?  Is there someone-”  Mid-sentence, he realized that he hadn’t even apologized yet.  “I’m sorry!  I’m sorry, shit, I’m so sorry.  I don’t know what the hell’s wrong with me, I’ve been really - - it’s been really - - god, I’m sorry, are you okay?  Are you going to be okay?”

            Putting his shoes on, Changjo gave Sehun a mildly quizzical look.  “Sorry for what?”

            He was never going to admit it.  Not to Sehun.  Never going to admit for one second that he’d been in over his head, that Sehun had gone too far, that he’d been in a position he couldn’t handle.  Never going to admit weakness.  “Changjo…  Shit.”  Just, shit.  Sehun had fucked up, but it wasn’t just a temporary glitch.  Sehun was fucked up.

            God, what had he done?  What the fuck had he done?  It hit him all over again, and he reeled, clutching at the shoe rack for balance.


            Startled, Sehun turned to see Ricky standing there.  Where the hell had he come from?  He must have come in with D.O.  “Can you go with him?” Sehun asked.  He’d feel a lot better if Changjo weren’t alone.

            Changjo blinked at Ricky.  He looked like himself for a second.  Then he was tough and cool again, opening the door.  “Want to go?”

            “Sure,” Ricky said.  He put his arm around Changjo as they walked out.

            “What were you doing in there?” D.O. demanded as the door closed.  “Is he okay?”  Suddenly, D.O. was closer, voice less harsh.  “Are you okay?  Maknae?”

            No.  No, he wasn’t okay.

            Kai came home to find Sehun in bed again.  Crying again.  He sighed and patted Sehun’s back.  It seemed worse than usual.  He asked if there was anything he could do.  After a while, Sehun sniffed and told him to tell Xiumin to take his place in the nightly rotation.  “You can skip my turn from now on.  I don’t want to be a-alone with S-suho hyung.”

            Changjo was fine.  He was fine.  He was fine, it wasn’t like Sehun had tried anything he couldn’t handle.

            He was curious, though.  “You were there the whole time, weren’t you?  What were you doing, hiding in the closet?”

            Ricky shook his head.  They’d walked around the city for a while, and Ricky had bought him ice cream.  “Under the bed.  D.O. hyung was waiting in the hallway, and then he snuck in and waited for me to text him so he could pretend like he was just coming in and interrupting.”  Ricky looked at him seriously.  “I’m sorry if I wasn’t fast enough.”

            “No, it’s good.  You didn’t need to do anything,” he added, to be clear.  It had all happened really fast, anyway.  It had felt like it took hours, but it had been all in one second, practically, over as soon as it started.  “What’d you tell D.O. hyung?”

            “Nothing.  I told him that I couldn’t tell him anything, I just needed him to cooperate.”

            Hunh.  “He trusts you that much?”

            Ricky nodded.  “He snuck me in.  It was so boring, waiting, I was under there forever.  He had to move a bunch of boxes and crap to fit me in, and Sehun hyung almost caught us.”

            Ricky had done a lot for him.  “You didn’t have to do it.”

            “He’s going to tell Suho hyung.”

            Ricky meant Sehun.  Changjo grimaced.  “Fucking wuss.  He is, isn’t he?”

            Ricky nodded, licking his ice cream.  “Once Suho hyung knows, everybody’s going to know.  He’s going to think that he has to tell C.A.P. hyung.”

            Shit.  “Should I tell L hyung now, before he finds out from somebody else?  Or should I try to keep it from him?  I’ll bet that we can keep it from him.  Who’s going to tell him, anyway?  I’ll just ask Suho hyung not to bother him with it.”

            “Suho hyung might respect your privacy.  But L hyung’s going to know that something’s wrong when he tries to screw you and you start flinching.”

            Shit.  “I won’t.”

            “Yes, you will.  You always do, after something happens.”

            “Nothing ever happens,” he said, just to say it, just to have it out there, just to contradict what Ricky had said.  He needed that to be the final word.  Nothing had happened.  Not tonight with Sehun, and not before.  “It’ll be fine, I’ll be okay.”  It wasn’t good to have a tell, anyway.  He’d suppress it.  He’d practice with his members, get it out of his system, before he saw L.  “Let’s go back to the dorm.”

            They did go back, but Ricky wouldn’t have sex with him.  They sat on the couch instead and watched a bad movie.  He slumped on top of Ricky, and Ricky petted him.  It was kind of a sad movie, so he cried a little towards the end.

            Suho could see for himself that something was wrong with Sehun.  More than usual, even.  Sehun had been going through a hard time, lately, and they’d all tried to be patient, to be comforting, but today, Sehun looked ill.  Between schedules, D.O. pulled Suho aside and said in very vague, ominous words that he should have a private conversation with the maknae later.  So that evening, when they were finally back at the dorm, Suho went into the kids’ room and asked to speak with Sehun alone.

            Kai left, and Sehun tucked up in a ball, slumping against the headboard and not meeting his eyes.

            “What’s going on?”  Suho sat beside him on the bed.  “Do you not feel well, do you need to see a doctor?”

            Sehun messed up his own hair and wouldn’t answer.  Finally, he said, “No, I’m okay.  I just.”  He cleared his throat, picking at the sheet, still not looking at Suho.  “I’m going to focus on work more from now on.  I need to, um.”  He rubbed at his nose, blinking.  His eyes were watering.  “I figured some things out, and.  I.”  His voice cracked and he wiped at his eyes, looking ashamed.

            “Maknae?  What is this?”  Baffled, Suho slid closer on the bed.

            Sehun put a hand up, warning him off.  “You.”  A bitter laugh.  He wiped at his eyes again.  “You’re really not going to want to be nice to me if you know what I’ve done.”

            Okay.  Wary now, Suho studied him.  “What’ve you done?”

            Sehun told him.

            So tired.  Blinking his eyes open, Hwanhee tried to focus on what Jinhoo was saying.  They wouldn’t be going on for a while, and most of the members were looking forward to grabbing a nap.  He couldn’t wait to put his head down for a minute.  They’d been up late practicing, and he’d gotten up early because their manager had needed someone available for a phone call from an overseas reporter.  It hadn’t gone well; she’d wanted to talk about Teen Top, and she’d asked a bunch of questions about Niel.  He’d tried to answer her, but her Korean was bad, and as soon as he’d gotten off of the phone, his manager had scolded him for talking so much about Niel and not promoting Up10tion any better.  He’d felt horrible; he’d ended up pissing off everyone involved.  He kind of wished that he’d just slept through it.

            Jinhoo was explaining that this would be a good time to give out some of the fan gifts they’d arranged.  Two of them could go out to thank the fans for waiting so long in the rain.

            Oh!  “Me, Hwanhee,” he immediately said, putting up his hand to volunteer.

            “You need rest,” Jinhoo said.

            “The weather, your voice,” Sunyoul said.

            “No, I’ll be fine.  I’ll do it.”  He wanted to see the fans.  Passing out gifts was always so much fun; it was so cute to see the fans so happy, to make them smile, it really made him feel good.  It was exactly what he needed.  Besides, “Hyungs need rest,” he said, patting a sleepy Gyujin.

            “Yes, thanks,” Gyujin said, already leaning over the table, pillowing his head on his arms.

            “Okay, we’ll go,” Jinhoo told Bitsy, smiling.

            They went outside.  He had little plastic bags filled with paper hearts and personal notes, and Jinhoo had roses.  They split up.  It was drizzling a little, but it wasn’t too bad.  Smiling, greeting everyone, he bowed as he passed out the bags.

            It was great at first!  The fans squealed and laughed and eagerly plucked the bags from his hands.  Some of them were shy; it was really sweet.  Who needed sleep when he could have this?

            But then it all started to go wrong, somehow.  He stopped for a selca with one fan, but his manager got impatient and told him not to do that again.  He felt bad for the mistake.  Everyone else wanted a selca, suddenly, and he had to say no, and he hated that, he felt like a jerk for refusing his fans.  They started asking for Wooshin, for Xiao, and he felt like a disappointment.  They didn’t want his bags; they asked why they couldn’t have roses, instead, and he wished that he’d traded with Jinhoo.

            He kept smiling, and he apologized a lot, and he was grateful to the fans who thanked him, grateful to the ones who returned his smiles.  But on the way back in, his manager scolded him for taking so long, for wasting time, for having to be outside so much in the rain.  He just kept his head down and apologized, again.

            He couldn’t seem to get anything right.

            “Mmm.”  Kissing Hwanhee, the two of them tangled up on the couch together, Kogyeol pushed Hwanhee’s shirt up.  Taking the cue, Hwanhee took it off, dropping it, and Kogyeol kissed him again.  They’d been making out for a while, and it was great, everything felt great, cozy and sexy and turning him on.  “Getting me worked up,” he murmured, rubbing himself.  “Mmm.”  Nuzzling Hwanhee’s ear, he licked at Hwanhee’s earlobe.  “Want to go down on me?” he whispered, working his fly open.  “Want a taste of this?”

            “Yeah,” Hwanhee said breathlessly.  God, yeah, that was what was so great about Hwanhee.  He was always so into it, always ready for it.  He like literally never said no.  It had turned into kind of a joke around the dorm, that Jinhoo wanted them to be careful about what kind of sex they asked for when, because Hwanhee always said yes, no matter what.

            Kogyeol kissed him again, turned on, looking forward to a good blowjob.

            And then: “Could you, uh, make me?”

            Hwanhee looked so ashamed and eager and hopeful and confused that he was really adorable just then.  Laughing, Kogyeol tried to make sense of it.  “What?  Make you?”

            Hwanhee bit his lip, looking anxious but really hopeful.  “Yeah, like.”  His laughter was self-conscious.  “Could you make me?”

            He didn’t get it.  Getting his hand off of himself, he tried to focus.  “Could I make you what?”  When Hwanhee didn’t reply, he tried to put the pieces together himself.  “Make you blow me?  What, like…”  What was he talking about?  “Force you?”  The words sounded ridiculous, atrocious, coming out of his mouth.

            “Never mind,” Hwanhee said hastily.  “I’ll just, I’ll just do it.”  He leaned down towards Kogyeol’s crotch.

            He didn’t want it anymore.  The mood was gone, now.  “No, wait.”  Pushing at Hwanhee’s shoulder, he made Hwanhee look him in the eye.  “What are you talking about?  Is it like - - is this some sex thing?  Role-playing, or something?”

            “Yeah.”  Looking relieved, Hwanhee laughed.  “Role-playing.  It’s stupid, never mind.  That’s too weird, right?”

            Baffled, he laughed.  “Are you watching too much porn?”  He ruffled Hwanhee’s hair.  “Don’t say weird stuff like that, someone might take you up on it.”  He bussed Hwanhee’s cheek and got up.  “I’m going to bed.  Don’t stay up too late.”

            “Yeah,” Hwanhee said, smiling up at him.  “Yeah, I won’t.”

            Sunggyu didn’t know what had happened, and Suho wouldn’t give out any details.  But Suho was upset, tense and furious, for two whole weeks before he got Suho to sit down and talk to him about it.  And even then, Suho just babbled in fits and starts, complaining and ranting and blaming himself and not making any sense.  Then, all of a sudden, he said, “I should talk to Woohyun.  I need an expert, I need someone who knows about this.  He knows more than anyone, when it comes to this.”

            “When it comes to what?” Sunggyu asked, at a loss.  He was Suho’s hyung, why couldn’t he help?

            “BDSM,” Suho said impatiently.  “What else have I been talking about?”

            “BD-what?” he asked, startled.  Was that what Suho had been going on about?  Things started to make more sense now.  Okay, he could see that.  “Why does he know more than I do?”

            “He has - - you know why!  Because of Key.  His private relationships and things.”

            “I know everything he knows!”

            “I’ll talk to him,” Suho decided, getting up.  “Is he here?”

            Sehun was working out when Woohyun came over.  He’d been working out a lot.  He tried to stay busy, tried to fill his time.  Working out, extra hours of practice, cleaning.  He’d started volunteering on his days off, going to hospitals, reading to kids.  It helped to focus on other people, to get out of his own head.

            He went to the gym regularly.  The ritual of it filled time.  But he worked out at the dorm, too, used it to tire himself out before bed.  He wasn’t sleeping well.  He was standing in the middle of his room, using hand weights, when Woohyun walked in and plucked one of the weights out of his hand.

            He tried to ignore the sudden disruption.  It felt like a challenge, like aggression, and he immediately felt his hackles rise.  But he swallowed, breathed through it, tried to calm himself back down.  “Hi, hyung.”  Setting the other weight aside, he stretched.

            “Working out?  Having fun?”  Woohyun did a few quick bicep curls.  It was like he was literally flexing, posturing, showing off his bigger muscles.

            Sehun couldn’t take this.  He’d been pushing himself, struggling every day, trying to stay on the right path, controlling himself, policing himself.  Being good.  Doing good.  And now this jackass was marching all over his turf, deliberately trying to get under his skin.  Woohyun had only been in front of him for about twenty seconds, and he could feel himself wanting to fight for dominance.  All of his hard work, all of his self-discipline, wiped out, just like that.  “What do you want?”

            “I talked to Suho last night.”

            Shit.  Suho had told Woohyun?  God damn it.  He’d tried to avoid that.  Suho had thought that everyone he had sex with should know, had wanted to warn all of Infinite and Teen Top and even their SM sunbaes if it came up, but he’d told Suho not to bother, that it wasn’t necessary.  He wasn’t having sex outside of EXO anymore.  He barely had sex inside EXO, these days, as it was.

            “I talked to Changjo today.”

            Oh, fuck.  Sehun let that simmer for a second, let himself absorb it.  Then, bracing himself, he met Woohyun’s eyes.  “What’d he say?  How is he?”  He needed to know.  “Is he okay?”  He’d tried to talk to Changjo himself, more than once, but Changjo either didn’t answer or acted incredibly breezy.  Once Chunji had answered Changjo’s phone and cursed him out so thoroughly he’d just sat there, gripping his phone, shaken, for a while after.

            “He’s fine.”  Woohyun pulled up his sleeve, admiring his muscles, and then set the weight down.

            That was it?  “He’s not fine.”

            “He’s fine,” Woohyun repeated.  He sat down on D.O.’s bed like he owned it.  “You scared him, you shook him up.  You reminded him of someone else.  But he’s over it.”

            Sehun frowned.  “Someone else.”

            Woohyun leaned forward, his elbows on his knees.  His gaze was like a weight on Sehun.  “You’re making me look bad.  Get your shit together.  I want to like you, and I want to help you, but you’re fucking up.”

            Making him look bad?  Sehun wanted to laugh, it was so absurd.  “This is about you?!”

            “Everything’s about me, pay attention.”  He sat back again, flipping his hair out of his eyes.  He flashed a charming grin, like that had been a joke.  “Seriously, you’re screwing up.  How many times have we talked about this?  What happened to your whole sensitive, earnest conversation about only doing it with people who really need it?”

            “There is no one like that.  Not anymore.”

            “So if you can’t find the right person, you’ll force it on just anyone?”

            “No.”  He shuddered, repulsed.  “No.”  Just thinking about it made him want to get out of his own skin.  Made him want to crawl out of his own life and start over as someone else.  He couldn’t be a person who’d force someone into unwanted sex.  He couldn’t live with himself.

            “You thought Changjo wanted it?”

            “No.”  He decided to try to explain.  “He came to me, he volunteered himself.  He told me that he’d do it, he’d be my sub.  I knew it wasn’t right, I knew it was a bad idea, but I needed it so badly, I would’ve said yes to anyone.  But it was never right, I couldn’t get into it, I kept trying to get started but it never felt like it should have.  It never felt like it used to, with - - with L.Joe sunbae.”  He dragged his hand through his hair.  “I went too far.  I told myself that he knew what he’d signed up for, he was the one who suggested it in the first place.  He had a safe word, but he never used it, he never even said no, and I tried to tell myself that was permission, I tried.  But I knew he didn’t want it.  So I stopped.  But I went too far, I never should have even gotten started, I never should have tried.  I knew it was bad from the start.”

            Woohyun nodded.  “When you go around calling yourself a dom and doing shit like this, you make it seem abusive.  I can tell Suho all day every day that what I do is just healthy, consenting adults enjoying themselves, and then you try to rape his favorite dongsaeng, and now he thinks kink is dangerous.”

            Flinching away from the accusation, Sehun rubbed at his face.  He deserved it, but he still felt an instinctive shock at the word “rape,” still felt an immediate urge to deny it at all costs.  Taking it, letting it sit there, letting it sink in, he pressed his lips together.

            “You’re off-balance,” Woohyun said.  “You were in a really good groove with your puppy.  You had what you needed.  That’s gone now, and you’re all over the place.  You’re hurting so much you’re hurting other people.”

            “I won’t.  It won’t happen again.”  He knew what he’d done wrong, he was acutely aware of it, and he wouldn’t do it again.  He’d never put himself in a position where he’d come close.

            “Come here.”  Woohyun gestured him over.

            Wondering what this was about, he approached the bed.

            “Down,” Woohyun said, shooing him downward.

            Wary, he crouched down.

            Woohyun reached for him.  He flinched away, and Woohyun let him go without contact.  Woohyun’s hand stayed there, outstretched.  He hesitated, and then he realized what this was.  Training.  Woohyun wanted him to submit.

            His pulse stuttered, sped up.

            He inhaled.  The longer he held back, the more obvious it would be when he gave in.  He didn’t have to give in at all.

            But he wanted to know how Woohyun would touch him.

            Slowly, he leaned in.

            Woohyun waited.

            He was going to have to do it himself.  He rested his cheek against Woohyun’s hand.

            Woohyun’s smile was warm and coaxing.  Gently, Woohyun stroked the side of his face.  “You’re off-balance.”  Uneasy, he tolerated the caress.  It felt good, but he wasn’t sure about it.  “Sshhh.  I’m not going to hurt you.”  Woohyun’s fingers glided around the shell of his ear, threaded through his hair.  “You need to let go, Sehun-ah.  You can’t control the people around you.  You’re trying to control yourself, and it’s hard, isn’t it?  You’re frustrated, you’re tired, you want a break.  You need a break?”

            Slow, tender caresses.  The friendly warmth, the understanding in Woohyun’s eyes made him nod.  Yes.  He needed a break.

            “It’s time to let someone else be in charge, Sehun-ah.  It’s time to let go for once.  You don’t have to work so hard all of the time all by yourself.  Let hyung help you.”

            An instinctive spark inside of him immediately rebelled.  He knew what Woohyun was doing, and he rejected it completely.

            But.  But, god, Woohyun was right.  He was tired.  He was frustrated.  He was sick of himself.  He wanted to get away, get out of his own skin.  He’d fucked up so badly, he’d proven that he wasn’t fit to run his own life.  Why not let someone else do it?  Why not put someone else in charge?  It couldn’t be any worse than this.

            God, he was miserable.  He was in agony.  He was still grieving, mourning his pet, mourning the very concept of even having a pet.  He hadn’t just lost L.Joe, he’d lost a whole way of life.  He was brittle, short-tempered, unstable.  He was overcompensating with self-discipline but he didn’t know what else to do.  He’d come within seconds of raping Changjo.  He couldn’t get any lower than this.  He couldn’t keep living like this; he didn’t want to do this anymore.

            If he could escape, if he could get away for even an hour, if he could stop trying so hard and stop thinking, if he could put it all into someone else’s hands, then, yes.  Yes.  He’d take it.

            Woohyun was right.  He was off-balance.  Maybe he had to swing the whole way to the opposite side, first, before he could get back to where he needed to be.

            Curious about what, exactly, that might mean, he looked up and met Woohyun’s eyes again.  “What would we do?”

            “Nothing complicated.”

            But Woohyun?  He wasn’t sure about that.  He was less and less sure the more he thought about it.  “Is there anyone else?  Someone besides you?  Anyone Key hyung knows?”  If it was someone Key trusted, he could probably talk Suho into okaying it.

            Woohyun smiled, smoothing Sehun’s hair.  “You don’t like me?”

            He didn’t want Woohyun to see him like that.  He wouldn’t be able to let go.  There was too much between them.  His pride wouldn’t let him submit.  “It’ll be easier if it’s someone I don’t know so well.”

            Woohyun laughed.  “I’m not part of some extensive network, Sehun-ah.  It’s either me or it’s Sunggyu hyung, and I don’t think he’s interested.”

            Sunggyu?  Suho’s boyfriend?  No, no way, never.

            Or would that make it better?  It might be easier, with Sunggyu.  He and Sunggyu didn’t know each other as well, hadn’t spent as much time together.  Sunggyu was older.

            But, no!  He couldn’t do that with Suho’s boyfriend.  It would be too weird.  How would he face Suho from then on?  How would he face Sunggyu?

            It would be easier than facing Woohyun, though.

            He realized that he was really going to go through with this.  He was so committed to it, he was past the point of wondering if he should try being someone’s sub; he was already trying to figure out whose sub.

            Woohyun smoothed his eyebrows.  The tender caresses were soothing and provocative all at once, comforting him and setting off tiny, agitated sparks inside of him, putting his need to be reassured and his need to be in control at odds.

            He couldn’t do this, he couldn’t.  No, no way, he wasn’t submitting to anyone, he wasn’t putting himself in this guy’s hands.

            Yeah, but had putting his life in his own hands worked out?

            Woohyun already knew him better than he knew himself.  Woohyun had seen all of this coming, had warned him to stay away from Dongwoo, had recognized how dangerous he was.

            Sehun had thought that he knew what he was doing, and he’d ended up taking advantage of Changjo.  Making his own choices had not worked out for him until this point.  He’d try letting someone else be in charge, letting someone else make his decisions for him, and see if that went any better.

            Historical dramas were Hwanhee’s favorite kind of TV.  Romantic historical dramas were the best, but he’d take any kind.  He loved watching Korean royalty.  Loved the proud princes, their haughty mannerisms.  He was fascinated by the dynamic between the demanding royalty and their scuttling, submissive servants.

            What would that be like?  To serve royalty?  To dedicate his life to someone so grand?  He knew that in reality, it came with all kinds of problems he couldn’t comprehend, but he liked the fantasy of it.  He wanted to try it, wanted to play pretend, wanted to be someone’s servant.  One of the first times he’d masturbated, growing up, had been to that kind of thought.  Those sexual fantasies.  Serving someone.  Humbling himself to someone fancier, greater, more powerful than he was.

            He still thought about it all of the time.  About a handsome prince.  Someone wealthy and commanding and prideful.  Someone who would expect him to be unquestioningly obedient.  And he would, he’d be the most obedient.  He loved that part of the fantasy; he was eager to prove himself.  He’d outdo all of the other servants; he’d become his prince’s favorite.  He’d be more loyal, more humble, more eager, more hardworking.  Always hardworking, for his prince.

            He’d put a lot of different guys into the role of the handsome prince, over time.  Different actors, depending on which historical drama was on the air.  Lately, L was his prince.  Not even on TV, L was just that handsome and just that cool in real life.  L was on his mind constantly.  Xiao kept teasing about telling Changjo all about it, and he thought that he’d die of humiliation if that ever happened.

            His members didn’t really understand all of his sexual desires.  He felt shy about it, anyway.  They thought that he liked historical dramas because he was romantic.  And he was, maybe.  He thought that Jinhoo had figured some things out about him, because Jinhoo was always telling the other members to be careful around him.  Reminding them to be nice to him.  No one had ever been rude to him, to begin with.

            Which was annoying, really.  He wished that they would be rude to him once in a while.  He fantasized about that a lot, too.  Nothing very violent, nothing bloody or traumatizing, just a little roughness, a little rudeness.

            He didn’t talk about it.  The couple of times he’d tried, no one had seemed to know what he was talking about.  He didn’t want to seem strange.  He didn’t feel strange!  He just wanted things that he wasn’t getting.  And he was getting kind of scared that he’d never get them at all.

            Nothing made him feel lonelier than that.

            Sehun wasn’t sure about this.  There were a lot of aspects to this that he wasn’t sure about at all.  Did it have to be Woohyun?  Did it have to be today?  Maybe tomorrow would be better.  Did he really want to do this here, in Infinite’s dorm?  He might be more sure of himself on his own turf.

            But one thing he was absolutely sure of: he didn’t want Suho here.  “Seriously, hyung, you can leave.”

            “I was always in Teen Top’s dorm,” Suho said stubbornly.  He kept glaring insistently at Sehun and pouting at the furniture.  “I’ve always taken responsibility.  I’ll be fine, here.”

            “There’s nothing to take responsibility for.”  Suho was too much!  “You went with me the first time because we didn’t know Teen Top.  You know Woohyun hyung!”  Suho kept looking stubborn.  “You were there because Chunji hyung and Changjo were there.  Woohyun hyung doesn’t need baby-sitters!  Neither do I.  I know what I’m doing.  I know a lot more about this than I did before.  Woohyun hyung knows what he’s doing, too, you don’t have to worry.”

            “Do you?” Suho asked, suddenly staring at Woohyun.  “Don’t answer that,” he said, looking away again.  “But - - no, what’s private is private,” he mumbled to himself.  “No,” he said firmly, and he gave Woohyun a direct look.  “Maknae, go in the other room, I think that Woohyun and I need to have a talk.”

            Absolutely pained, he tried to argue, but Woohyun said that it was all right.

            Wishing that none of this were happening, wishing that he’d never agreed to any of this, wishing that he’d never even talked to Changjo, wishing that everything were the way it had been before, desperately missing his pet, he went into Woohyun’s room to wait.

            Pacing beside the bed, he rubbed his hands on his jeans.  He thought about his pet.  About how brave his pet was.  He didn’t think that he could be that brave.  About how defiant Changjo had been.  He couldn’t be that tough, either.  He was going to crumble.  He was going to panic.  He couldn’t do this.  He didn’t want to do this.

            But he did.  A part of him really did.  It seemed like such a beautiful way out.  He needed this.  He needed to get away from himself.  He needed to let someone else be in charge.  The sweet release was an incredible temptation.  What would that be like?  To be free?

            Woohyun came in.

            Swallowing, Sehun watched Woohyun cautiously.  He had no idea what this might be like.  “Maybe we shouldn’t do this.”

            Woohyun paused in the act of closing the door.  Pushing it open again, he stepped aside.  “Do you want to go?”  He looked like he’d honestly let Sehun walk out.

            The open doorway beckoned Sehun.  He could get out of here.  He didn’t have to do any of this.  He could grab Suho and go home.

            Go back to the dorm.  Where he’d been for weeks now, miserable, confused, lost.  Making all of the worst moves he could make.

            There were no answers there, at the dorm.  There was no help there.  He had to get himself together, he had to do something, and Woohyun was the only one offering him even a ray of hope.  Even a glimpse of a real escape.

            Sehun reached past Woohyun and closed the door.

            Suho sat on Infinite’s couch and slowly unraveled.  Woohyun and Sehun were in there forever, they were in there forever, and he had no idea what they were doing.  No, he knew; he knew just enough, had just enough of an idea, to be completely uncomfortable with all of it.

            His own maknae!  Was this right?  Should he be allowing this to happen?  As Sehun’s leader, as a hyung, wasn’t this the sort of thing he should stop?

            He texted everyone he knew.  He started with his members, and then his friends, and then he texted family members, company people, anyone whose number was in his phone for any reason.

            He watched TV.  He lectured himself.  He was afraid to go to the bathroom because he’d have to pass Woohyun’s room to get there and he was terrified of what he might overhear.

            He got up.  He unloaded the dishwasher.  He loaded it back up.  He organized the cabinets.  He counted the silverware.  He poked around L’s room.  He messed around on his phone and bought shoes he didn’t have any real use for.

            Infinite’s Nam Woohyun was doing things to his maknae.

            He couldn’t object to that.  If it was okay for Sehun to be a dom but not okay for Sehun to be a sub, then that would say something, that would make Suho some kind of hypocrite.  He refused to be judgmental about sex.  So it was okay with him, the dom thing, the sub thing, it was all okay with him, it was just fine.

            He just didn’t know about Woohyun, though.  Of course Woohyun did things with Key, so it had to be okay to trust him, it had to be just fine.  But what about Key, couldn’t Key do it?  If Sehun could do it from both sides, Key could too, right?  Or couldn’t Chunji do it?  Chunji had used to step in, before, and help out.  Pinch hit, or whatever.  Chunji could do it!  Chunji was so sexy, how could that not work?

            But Woohyun?  He didn’t know what Woohyun was like, sexually, he had no idea what Woohyun might be doing in there.  To his precious, beloved maknae.

            They took forever.

            It didn’t really hit Sehun until he was in the van.

            Putting his shoes on, leaving Infinite’s dorm, he’d been in a daze.  It had taken him a moment to get used to acting under his own power again; he felt like he was reentering the world after having been away.  Coming back to himself after a deep sleep, reorienting himself, figuring out how all of this worked.

            In the van, it came to him how good he felt.  How free, how unburdened.  How much more positive.

            It lasted for hours.  It lasted all night.  He slept well, slept naturally, like he’d used to before he’d lost his pet.  Even the next morning, he felt lighter.

            Losing his pet had been a shock to his system.  It had devastated him.  His pet had been the most important personal relationship in his life, and had involved key parts of his psychology, key parts of his very self.  He could only see it all, could only admit to it all, now that it was gone.

            Maybe he’d been wrong to make one person so central to his sense of self.  Maybe he’d been wrong to let his pet take over so much of his brain, so much of his heart.  But once his pet had been gone, he’d been left with only emptiness.  Gaping holes and huge, ragged wounds where core parts of his identity had been.

            A shock to his system.  He’d been left empty.  Unbalanced.

            Woohyun had tipped him all the way over.  Swung him the whole way back around.  For a few hours, he’d been the pet.  It had been nothing like he’d ever done before, nothing like he’d ever wanted.  But it had set him back at zero.  Started him all over.  Stripped away all of his broken commitments and failed responsibilities.

            He felt like this was a fresh start.  The opportunity he’d been desperate for, the chance to set aside his miserable, dangerous failures and begin anew.

            Now he just had to decide what he wanted to do with it.

            Infinite was backstage.

            Hwanhee hung out in the hallway.  He didn’t want to be in the way, be a nuisance, so he tucked himself close against the wall, beside a stack of chairs.  He couldn’t see into Infinite’s dressing room from there, but he could see the doorway.  He wondered what L was doing in there.  Sitting in the stylist’s chair?  What would it be like to style L, personally, to be granted the opportunity to touch him and groom him?  Dusting powder over his cheeks, glossing his lips?  God, Hwanhee would’ve given anything just to button his cuffs, help him with his socks.

            “What are you doing?” Xiao asked, popping up behind him.  Nudging him, giggling, Xiao prodded his ribs.  “Waiting for your boyfriend?”

            “Shut up!”  God!  What if someone heard?

            Oh!  Suddenly there was movement at Infinite’s door.  Kim Sunggyu and Nam Woohyun came out, laughing.  Woohyun said something, smirking, teasing, and Sunggyu put an arm around him, laughing, pulling him close.  They kept talking, and they looked really flirty.

            “You know what Nam Woohyun sunbae’s into,” Xiao whispered, poking him again.

            “What, Kim Sunggyu sunbae?” he whispered, watching them.

            “No!”  Xiao laughed, wrapping both arms around him from behind.  “BDSM.”  It was a breathy, scandalous whisper, right in his ear.  Stunned, he froze.  “He’s into kinky things.  Everybody knows, everybody’s talking about it.  The Seventeen hyungs say he does it with Key sunbae.”

            It was so impossible, Hwanhee was having trouble breathing right.  What was Xiao even saying to him?  “Key, which key, what - - Shinee’s Key?” he demanded, twisting to look at Xiao’s face.

            Grinning, Xiao nodded.

            Bullshit!  “Liar,” he accused, laughing.  No way!

            “It’s true!” Xiao insisted as Hwanhee pushed him away.  “It’s real!  Honest, honest, ask anybody!  Ask Seventeen!  Ask Chunji hyung, I’ll bet he knows.”

            “I’m not asking Chunji hyung about that!” he exclaimed, blushing.  God, of all things to bring up with Chunji!  “Stop making up lies about the Shinee sunbaenims, are you trying to get in trouble?”

            “It’s not lies!”  Xiao gestured down the hallway.  “Go ask!”

            Horrified, Hwanhee pushed at Xiao, trying to shush him.  What if he drew attention?

            “They’re coming, they’re coming,” Xiao whispered gleefully, batting at his hands.  “Ask, ask!”

            Oh, god.  Mortified, Hwanhee turned to see Sunggyu and Woohyun walking in his direction.  He wanted to disappear behind the stack of chairs and never come out again.  What if they’d overheard?!  Breathless, his voice shaking, he said, “Sunbaenim, sunbaenim,” and bowed, smiling desperately.

            Sunggyu bowed politely, and Woohyun said, “Hello,” in a cheerful voice, and they passed by, disappearing around the corner.

            Moaning, relieved, Hwanhee collapsed against Xiao.  Thank god.  Then, laughing, he punched Xiao in the back.  “Don’t be like that!  Ah!  What’s wrong with you, really?!”

            Chen was thrilled to see Sehun acting like himself again.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was a huge improvement.  Sehun was in a much better mood these days.  Happier, smiling again, laughing again, even cute sometimes!  He went out with them and didn’t spend so much time alone in his room.  Instead of grimly disappearing to the gym on his own, he tagged along when Chen went, or invited Xiumin along.

            Chen hadn’t expected Sehun’s little date with Woohyun to work this well!  He hadn’t even been sure that it was a very good idea, to be honest.  And no one really knew what the two of them had done together - - although, whew, was there a lot of talk about it!  Everyone was speculating, even though Suho had told them not to be so nosy.  But Sehun felt a lot better, and Chen was glad for it.  It was a relief to have their maknae back.

            Everybody seemed to know all about Woohyun and Key, but nobody seemed to know how anybody knew.  There was no source for the story, no real anecdotes.  Hwanhee couldn’t get anyone to give any details about overheard conversations or strange encounters.  It was just something that everybody, somehow, knew for sure.

            He finally did ask Chunji.  Chunji laughed and asked, “You believe that?”  Blushing, he’d said that, well, no, he didn’t really believe it, he’d just heard some other idols talking about it.  Chunji had laughed again and patted his shoulder and told him not to believe in idol gossip.  “Idols will say anything to get attention.”

            He felt so embarrassed!  It had been a foolish thing to believe, anyway.  Like idols would ever risk getting caught doing that!  Some idols did all kinds of stupid, dangerous things.  That big scandal with Westonic had sure proven that!  But Shinee?  Smart, professional sunbaes like Shinee wouldn’t take risks like that.  And Infinite?  Woohyun seemed so nice.

            Besides, if anybody in Infinite was a dom, it had to be L, anyway.  The way L had looked at him in the hallway outside of Changjo’s practice room had made him shiver.

            Sehun had some hard truths to face.

            He was a dom without a sub.

            He didn’t have a way to get a sub.  He couldn’t make a commitment to a new pet while he was still in EXO, while his life was still ruled by Suho and by company rules and by fans’ expectations.

            His future looked very bleak without a pet.  But it was a hard fact that he couldn’t get around.  So he had to figure out how to function without the joy and fulfillment and release of a pet in his life, and without even the possibility of one on the horizon.

            He took it day by day.  He focused on self-discipline.  He fantasized.  He spent time repairing his relationship with Teen Top, making sure that everything was okay between them.  Changjo was never going to admit that anything might have been wrong, but he eventually convinced C.A.P. and Chunji to give him another chance.

            He talked to Woohyun a lot.  It helped to have someone to talk to, someone to share his fantasies with, someone who understood him.

            His everyday sex life was fine.  Not fulfilling, nothing compared to life with a pet, but he got off, and he was close with his members, and it was still nice to be sexual.  But he didn’t trust himself alone with Suho.  He hated to pull away, but it was a risk he couldn’t take.  Suho was way too susceptible, way too vulnerable, way too tempting.  The need and vulnerability he’d seen in his pet were right there, alive in Suho, right under the surface.  He didn’t even get that vibe from Key most of the time, but with Suho, it was rich and addictive and almost tangible.

            He really missed his time alone with Suho.  He missed being that close, missed connecting.  And he was sure that Suho missed him, too, even though Suho would never say anything about it.  It was just one more consequence, more collateral damage, another painful fact of Sehun’s new life.

            Hwanhee wasn’t obsessed with Nam Woohyun.  His members teased him about being obsessed, but he wasn’t!

            Okay, he was preoccupied, maybe.  Maybe that was a better way to put it.

            He knew that the rumors weren’t true.  Woohyun and Key didn’t have that kind of a relationship.  But now that he’d heard about it, he liked thinking about it.  He liked imagining what their relationship might be like.  What kind of person Woohyun was, and what kind of person Key was, and what turned them on, and which sorts of things they might do together.

            It gave him a thrill to think about people he knew - - well, kind of knew - - having that kind of relationship.  He wished it were true.  It would make him feel better.  Less alone.  He felt so alone in his desires.  He wished that he weren’t - - weren’t whatever he was, weird, kinky.  He wished that he didn’t want the things that he wanted.  Regular sex was enough for everybody else.  Why wasn’t it good enough for him?  It was so frustrating, so alienating, feeling like he’d never get what he really wanted.  Like, Xiao’s sexual fantasy was to be adored by two or three hot guys at once, which might happen any day now if their hyungs agreed to it, and Kogyeol’s sexual fantasy was Choi Siwon, which was at least semi-sort-of-possible now that Kogyeol had debuted.  Hwanhee’s sexual fantasy was prince-servant roleplay that never really ended and also wasn’t really roleplay, it was more like a constant state of being, where he would always be completely, immediately available to his prince and his prince would be nice to him but also really haughty and demanding sometimes and maybe get kind of rough but not violent rough just carelessly rough, just inconsiderate and taking him for granted but totally letting him live to serve.  To get that, he was going to have to be able to explain it to someone who not only got it but wanted to do it with him, and he couldn’t imagine how he’d ever make that happen.  Whereas Kogyeol could just hit on Choi Siwon someday and at least see what happened.

            He just.  He felt really lonely, sometimes.  In a kind of frustrated, helpless, despairing way that made him want to cry and give up.  That made him hate himself for being so stupid and so weird.  He was making a big thing over nothing, he was getting obsessed for no reason, it was just a sexual fantasy.  Why couldn’t he let it go?  Why couldn’t he just turn his stupid brain off sometimes?

            Heading for the bathroom, looking forward to finally getting to bed soon, Kuhn glanced into the maknaes’ room on the way by, out of habit.  Seeing Hwanhee, he paused.  Frowning, he stepped into the doorway.

            Sniffling valiantly, Hwanhee was folding shirts.  He had crap strewn all over his bed, clothes and boxes of shoes and stacks of letters.  There were drying tears on his cheeks and he was muttering to himself under his breath.

            Wondering what this was about, Kuhn edged into the room.  “You okay?”

            He jumped, startled.  Hastily wiping at his cheeks, he said, “Sorry.  Sorry, I thought you were asleep, I thought the members were all in bed.”  He looked guilt-stricken.  “Am I keeping you up?  Did I bother you?  I’ll be quiet, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-”

            “Ya, chill,” Kuhn said, squeezing his shoulder.  “You’re not keeping anybody up.  But you should be in bed already, what are you doing?”

            His smile was hopeful and self-conscious.  “All of these fan gifts, they’ve been piling up.  Everyone’s been so good to me, it seems too ungrateful to let it sit.  I’m organizing it, putting it away.”

            Okay.  “And that makes you cry?”  If he’d been crying tears of gratitude, or something, Kuhn could see it.  But the way he’d been muttering under his breath had sounded too unhappy.  Those weren’t thankful tears.

            “Oh.”  He wiped at his cheeks again, wincing.  “It’s nothing, that, uh, don’t worry about that.”

            He raised his eyebrows.  “Do I need to get Jinhoo?”

            “No!”  He winced again.  “It’s my fault.  After practice, our manager hyung was already pissed off that he had to wait for me, I took too long staying late, I wasn’t considerate.”

            Kuhn felt himself frown.  “You mean, when you stayed for vocals?”

            He nodded, looking guilty.  “I should’ve been more thoughtful, I wasn’t respectful of his time.  And then when I was leaving, I said hi to the sasaengs, I waved at them.  I know we’re not supposed to encourage them!” he added quickly.  “I won’t do it again.  It’s just so hard, if they’re happy to see me, if they want to talk to me, I don’t like refusing them.  It seems so mean, rejecting them, and they - - they don’t like it, so I thought - - but I shouldn’t have, I won’t do it again.”

            He was so conflicted, so miserable, that Kuhn had to hug him.  “You don’t have to get so upset,” Kuhn said, rubbing his back.  “It’s not worth getting so stressed out over, okay?”  Holding him at arms’ length, Kuhn smiled at him encouragingly.  The smile he showed Kuhn in return was so grateful and miserable and eager to please, it was heartbreaking.  “They’re fans, it’s okay to say hi to them.  It’s okay to wave at fans.  We’re idols, that’s our job, right?  Don’t let management bother you about stuff like that, it’s their job to be strict, they have to discourage saesangs.  Fans are going to try to get close to you, and you’re going to want to respond to it, and managers are going to get in the way.  It’s the circle of life.”

            He smiled at that, making a brief, almost-laughing sound.

            “It’s late, and you’re tired, right?”  Hwanhee had been kind of stressed out lately.  “Get some rest.  Don’t worry about the fan gifts.”

            “It seems so ungrateful-”

            “No one thinks you’re ungrateful.”  Kuhn gave him a light shake, smiling again.  “Don’t take everything so seriously.  Come on, you can sleep in my room, you can’t even get to your bed under all of that stuff.”  Squeezing his shoulder, Kuhn tried to cheer him up.  “How did you get so many fan letters, anyway?  You think you’re more popular than me?”

            “I should write back to them,” Hwanhee said.  “There’s just never enough time.”

            “You can write something and post it on-line,” Kuhn said, steering him down the hallway.  “Get to all of the fans at once.  Saves time.”

            Finding his main vocal stressed out and crying wasn’t great, but they were all under pressure.  And Hwanhee was kind of sensitive, worried about upsetting and displeasing people, hit hard by criticism.  Kuhn wished that the managers would be more careful about scolding the members, but he couldn’t do a lot about it.  He’d just keep an eye out.  Try to make sure the kid got more rest.  Debuting was rough on everybody, but especially on the youngest members, and they weren’t given a lot of coping strategies along the way.

            Up10tion was crammed into a dressing room with Seventeen and Monsta X.  There were so many guys piled on top of each other, the hyungs were making jokes about storing the dongsaengs under the couch until it was time to go on.

            The room was so crowded, it was getting hot.  Hwanhee took a stroll to the bathroom and back to cool off.  On his way, he saw Nam Woohyun.

            His heart racing, he slipped farther down the hallway.  Then he knelt down out of the way and untied his shoe.  Retying it very, very slowly, he peeked up, watching.

            Woohyun was talking with EXO’s Sehun.  They were standing really close together.  He wondered what big sunbaes like that talked about.  The same things he and his members talked about, sore feet, lack of sleep, annoying PD’s?  Did they talk about important things like concerts and tours?  Did they talk about celebrity stuff, like which rare cars they were going to buy and which top designers were begging for their attention?

            Woohyun ran the back of his hand up Sehun’s chest.  It was a quick touch, and Hwanhee burned with envy, wishing that he knew how to get Woohyun to touch him like that.  Sehun laughed a really cute, sexy laugh and rubbed his nose and glanced around like he hoped that no one had seen it.  Wasn’t that too much of an overreaction?  It was just skinship.

            Wasn’t it?  Was it something else?  Were they flirting?  Fascinated, scandalized, Hwanhee untied his shoe again.

            Oh, god.  They were flirting.  Weren’t they?  Sehun kept blushing and brushing Woohyun’s hands away.  Woohyun kept touching him and glancing around super discreetly.  Trying not to get caught, Hwanhee kept looking down, hoping to stay unnoticed, so he missed a lot of it, but every time he glanced up, they were still at it, murmuring things to each other and grinning like they had secrets.

            Were EXO and Infinite close?  He guessed so.  Were Woohyun and Sehun close?  Hwanhee had to find out more idol gossip.  He’d ask Seventeen.

            He glanced up just in time to see VIXX’s Hongbin walk around the corner.  Hongbin saw Sehun and Woohyun, and everyone said hi, and everyone bowed, and Hongbin flashed a really pretty smile and kept walking.

            And then Sehun smirked.  A really saucy, smug little smirk, at Hongbin’s back.  His gaze raked over Hongbin like he knew every inch of Hongbin’s body, like he owned Hongbin and it had been worth every cent.  It was such a crude, suggestive, self-satisfied smirk, it sent flames rocketing over Hwanhee’s skin.  There was a whole scandal in that one look.

            Laughing, Woohyun slapped Sehun.  A light, teasing smack across one cheek.

            With an apologetic grin that wasn’t apologetic at all, Sehun dropped his gaze.  He rubbed his hand across his mouth, and then he leaned closer, whispering something that made Woohyun laugh.

            That look.  Hwanhee couldn’t believe his own eyes.  He wished that his members had been around, that he had witnesses to share the moment with, to confirm what he’d seen.

            That look.  So blatantly sexual.  So crude.  So superior.

            His heart thumping, his mouth watering, Hwanhee snuck another greedy look at Sehun.  Everybody talked about how good-looking EXO was and everything, but EXO was so successful, they seemed like idols of another class.  He hadn’t paid much attention to them as individuals.  But, wow.  Sehun was really handsome.  And so tall!

            With those broad shoulders, those long legs, didn’t he kind of have royal proportions?  Maybe like a prince?

            Changjo was hanging out at the offices, waiting for C.A.P., when Up10tion came around.  He talked to Jinhoo and Kuhn for a minute, and then he hit on Wooshin, and then Hwanhee asked, “Uh, hyung.”

            “Mmm.”  He plucked at Hwanhee’s bangs just because he could.  It was still novel, having company hoobaes who were also dongsaengs.  They all looked up to him like he was somebody cool and important.

            Hwanhee blushed and smoothed his bangs.  “You’re close with EXO’s Suho sunbaenim, right?”

            “Mmm.”  He nodded and pulled Hwanhee’s hair again.

            Hwanhee laughed, blushing brighter.  “Hyung.”  He tried to fix his bangs again.  “What about Oh Sehun sunbaenim?  Are you close?”

            “Oh Sehun Oh Sehun Oh Sehun?” he asked.  “Why?”

            “Just, I just wondered.  If you knew each other.”

            Yeah, but he was asking about Sehun specifically, and not about EXO in general.  “Do you think he’s good-looking?”

            “Not as good-looking as Chunji hyung,” Wooshin said from like five feet away on the couch.

            Changjo laughed.  God, these kids were well-trained.  “I thought you had a crush on L hyung.  You don’t like him anymore?  Are you disloyal?”

            Hwanhee laughed, hugging himself and looking around for help.  “What?”

            “Don’t go from L hyung to Sehun hyung, that’s a downgrade,” Changjo said.  “Big downgrade, that’s bad.  When you look at Infinite, all you need to worry about is L hyung.  When you look at EXO, all you have to worry about is Suho hyung.  The other members aren’t that great.”

            “I think you’re biased,” Jinhoo said.

            “No, I’m smart.”  He held up two fingers in front of Hwanhee.  “L hyung,” he instructed, tapping one finger.  “Suho hyung.  When it comes to EXO, the leader is the most important member.”

            “I think you’re just not that close to Oh Sehun sunbae,” Kuhn said.

            He snorted, his phone already in his hand.  Hwanhee’s eyes went round like he’d just pulled bars of pure gold out of his ass.

            It rang twice.  “Changjo-ah?”

            “Hey.  We’re close, aren’t we?”

            “Is that really Oh Sehun?” the hoobaes were whispering to each other.  They crowded around him, Jinhoo hanging on his arm.

            “Sure, yes, of course we’re close,” Sehun said.  “I mean, I hope, after - - wait, am I on the radio?”

            “No, I’m talking to a bunch of desperate hoobaes who buy all of that crap and hype about you.”

            “Is that Changjo?” Chen’s voice asked in the background.  “Changjo-ah!  Come over sometime!”

            He grinned.  “Should I come soon?  Do you miss me?”

            “We do, we miss you,” Chen said.  “Which hoobaes are there, is it Up10tion?”

            Changjo held out the phone.

            Immediately, Jinhoo led the members in their formal greeting.

            Chen laughed.  “So cute!  Work hard!  Sunbae’s cheering you on!”

            “Oh my god, I’m hanging up,” Sehun said.  “Call me later, though, okay?”

            “Visit soon!” Chen called.  Sehun hung up.

            Smirking, Changjo tucked his phone into his pocket.

            While the other members said nonsensical things about how great Chen was and how hot Sehun was and what it must be like in EXO’s dorm, Hwanhee hugged himself, laughing.  “He hung up on you!  Aren’t you his sunbae?”

            “See how crappy and disrespectful he is?” Changjo asked.

            “I could never hang up on a sunbae,” Hwanhee said.  “He’s so bold!”

            C.A.P. walked into the room, fixing his hat.  “Maknae, come on.”  He patted Sunyoul’s ass and waved to Jinhoo, then gestured to Changjo.  “Let’s go.”

            Blushing, Sunyoul giggled, cupping his own ass.

            Suspicious, assessing, Changjo gave Hwanhee a closer look.

            “Maknae!” C.A.P. said.

            “Coming,” he said without moving, still analyzing Hwanhee.  Putting clues and cues together.  He wondered if-

            C.A.P. grabbed him.

            “Whoop!”  Laughing, he managed not to trip as C.A.P. dragged him away.  “See you guys later!”

            Hwanhee asked around about Sehun, but it was hard to get a clear picture.  He heard that Sehun was really tight with Chunji and Changjo, and had used to go to see them all of the time, but that had apparently stopped and never happened anymore.  He never went to Teen Top’s dorm at all, these days.  There had been some big rumors about him and Infinite’s Hoya being in some feud, but no one knew what that was about, and he was close with Woohyun, so maybe it was over, or maybe it had never been a thing to begin with.

            He was so chic, so handsome, it was easy to see why he was so super popular.  Wanting to know more about him, wanting to see more of him, Hwanhee looked for him backstage and watched him on TV and searched for clips on-line.  Hwanhee kind of devoured clips of him, scouring them for hints of that scandalous smirk, hungry for more of that guy, that cold, crude prince.

            Sehun had a really cute side when he was around his members.  He seemed so quiet sometimes, and so nice sometimes, that it was hard to believe that other guy lived anywhere inside of him.  That was good, probably, but it was really disheartening.  Hwanhee probably shouldn’t want for a successful idol to be a rude, selfish jerk who eyed other idols like they were sexual meat, right?

            But he knew what he’d seen.  That smirk had been real.  Woohyun had seen it, too, he was sure of it.

            There were signs, here and there, that Sehun was kind of full of himself.  But it seemed like a typical idol thing; most idols were their own biggest fans.  It was really annoying, actually.  Seeing that in Sehun just made Sehun seem more pedestrian, cheaper, not more prince-like.

            He was really good at giving chic looks, though.  Looking at photos of him, Hwanhee imagined that he was a prince, that he was secretly transported from the Joseon Era, that he privately expected the people around him to bow down and serve him.  That he took those cheering, enthusiastic crowds as his right.  That he was so regal and so proud that he expected the world to revolve around him, and that if Hwanhee’s world specifically revolved around him, he’d approve.

            Hwanhee really wanted him to approve.

            It had been a long day, and Ricky was ready to go back to the dorm.  He sat in the middle of the practice room floor, resting his legs, and waited for someone to tell him that the van was ready.

            Changjo wandered around the room for a while, on his phone, filming for fans.  When he was finished, he crouched down in Ricky’s personal space and acted annoying.  Ricky ignored him.

            Jinhoo walked in.  “Ah, important sunbae business?” he asked with a wide smile.

            “Very important,” Changjo said.  Ricky waved in greeting, too tired for conversation.

            “Do you have a minute?” Jinhoo asked.

            “Sure.”  Changjo moved even closer into Ricky’s personal space, and Ricky put a hand on his side to balance him.  “What’s up?”

            Jinhoo came over and crouched down beside them.  He glanced at the door, and then he looked concerned.  “Some of my members.”  His voice trailed off and he smiled apologetically.  “One of my members.  He’s been having a hard time.”

            “Hard time with what?” Changjo asked.

            “It’s difficult,” Jinhoo said.  “He likes to make people happy, he wants to be liked.  We all want to be liked, right?”  He smiled, and Ricky nodded.  “But keeping the fans happy, keeping management happy, keeping hyungs happy, keeping family happy, keeping PD’s happy, and stylists, and cameramen, and I don’t think it ever ends.  You can wear yourself out, worrying about disappointing people.”

            “That’s being an idol,” Ricky said.

            “It is,” Jinhoo said, nodding.  “But it’s harder on some idols than others.  We all have different personalities.  And I have to lead all of these different personalities,” he added, smiling again.  “He’s working so hard and trying so hard, he’s wearing himself out.  Debuting means so much to him, I don’t want him to burn out so soon.  We’re just getting started!  You’re sunbaes,” he said, gesturing to the two of them.  “You’ve been through it.  What can I say to him?”

            “This question is for you,” Changjo told Ricky.

            “He’s asking both of us.”

            Changjo shook his head.  “I don’t keep anybody happy.”

            “You’re all the time worried about impressing hyungs.”

            Changjo laughed, trying to look shocked.  “I don’t!  Oh my god, what are you saying right now?”

            Bitto was in the doorway.  “Jinhoo hyung - - sorry,” he said, cutting himself off and bowing to them.  “Jinhoo hyung, the manager hyung’s looking for you.”

            He sighed, then forced a smile and pushed himself up.  “Excuse me.  A leader’s life.”  He walked out, putting his arm around Bitto as he left.

            “Who’s he talking about?” Ricky asked.

            “He didn’t say,” Changjo said.

            Kuhn and Gyujin and Hwanhee walked in, talking.  Seeing Ricky and Changjo, they laughed and bowed.  “Sorry!  We’re interrupting,” Hwanhee said, starting to back out.

            “We’re not interrupting anything,” Kuhn said, striding forward.

            “Hello, Ricky sunbaenim, Changjo sunbaenim,” Gyujin said, bowing politely.

            “Hello,” Ricky said, giving a slight bow in return.  “Why are you all running around loose, don’t you have practice?”

            They talked for a while.  Changjo, Kuhn, and Gyujin started messing around with foolish dance moves, and Hwanhee sat with Ricky.  When Ricky’s phone rang, over by the far wall, Hwanhee looked around at the sound.

            “Oh, it’s too far,” Ricky complained, not in the mood to get up for it.

            “Oh, I’ll get it.”  Hwanhee scurried up and across the room.  Coming back, he handed it to Ricky.

            “Thanks.”  It was just Niel; he let it go to voicemail.

            “That’s a nice case,” Hwanhee said, sitting down beside him again.

            “Thanks.”  It had been a gift from Onew.  “Have you seen Changjo’s?”

            “I did.  It’s really nice.”

            “Mine’s better.”

            Hwanhee laughed.  “Are you bragging?”

            “It’s just the truth!  Mine’s way nicer.”  Feeling a tickle in his throat, he coughed.

            “Do you need a drink?  Oh, is that your water?” Hwanhee asked, looking around.  He nodded, coughing into his fist.  Hwanhee hopped up and came back with the water bottle he’d left on the chair in the corner.

            Ricky drank, soothing his throat.  Hwanhee was a good dongsaeng.  Energetic, happy to please.  He wondered if this was the member Jinhoo had been worried about.  He could see that.  Behind those quick smiles, Hwanhee was eager to be liked.

            Ricky wondered if he should find something to say, offer advice.  It was hard, trying to keep everyone happy.  And Hwanhee had a lot of hyungs in Up10tion.  Ricky wondered if any of the other members were making things harder.  They seemed like nice guys, but in private, they might be demanding.  Shit rolled downhill, and when hyungs were tired and irritable and stressed out, dongsaengs had a lot to deal with.  “How are things at the dorm?  Everybody getting along okay?”

            Hwanhee nodded.  “No one’s getting any sleep and there’s never any space!  I can’t brush my teeth without an elbow in my face.  It’s all, ‘Out of the way, I just want to get to the sink!’” he exclaimed, miming struggling his way forward.  “But the members are great, the hyungs are great.”

            Jinhoo was kind of conservative about sex and careful about putting the younger members in intense situations, so Teen Top only got to screw the older ones.  But Ricky was pretty sure that the Up10tion members did all have sex with each other, inside the group.  Like everything else in life, the burdens fell on the dongsaengs there, too; there was a reason that EXO’s infamous line-ups were based around Kai and Sehun and not around Xiumin and Lay.  Trying to keep up with hyungs’ demands and worrying about keeping people happy might mean that Hwanhee wasn’t getting enough sleep for a reason; he might be up still servicing his members while the others got their rest.  “Who do you room with, the maknae?”

            He nodded.

            Changjo’s phone rang.  “Ricky, get that,” Changjo said.

            “You get it,” Ricky said.

            “I’ll get it,” Hwanhee volunteered, already on his feet.  Definitely too energetic.  Jinhoo was right, he was going to burn out like this.  It was natural for dongsaengs to want to be helpful, and it was cute for him to want to please, but there was an edge to it, a desperation, that seemed unhealthy.

            Ricky tested that theory by making Hwanhee do things for him.  He sent Hwanhee to run messages back and forth to C.A.P.  He spilled his water on purpose, and Hwanhee scurried to clean it up.  He sent Hwanhee out to the convenience store to buy snacks he didn’t even want.  Then he pretended not to like what Hwanhee had brought him, acted ungrateful, and sent Hwanhee back out for more.

            Hwanhee just took it.  He was so eager to please, he couldn’t argue on his own behalf.  When Ricky scolded him unfairly, he seemed to want to defend himself, but as soon as Ricky’s tone sharpened, he wilted.  He looked guilty and confused, like he didn’t know how everything was going so wrong.  Getting it right, making Ricky happy, clearly mattered to him, and upsetting Ricky only made him desperate, more eager to prove himself.

            When Teen Top’s manager finally called and told him and Changjo to get in the van, Ricky hugged Hwanhee good-bye.  His grateful smile was pathetic.  Ricky smiled at him and rubbed his ear and told him that it had been really good to see him.

            In the van, Ricky said, “Hwanhee’s going to burn out.”

            “He can’t,” Niel said.

            “He’s going to,” Ricky said.

            “What do you mean, he can’t?” Changjo asked.

            “He’s the main vocal,” Niel said, leaning back in his seat.  “The main vocal’s not allowed to burn out, he can’t.”

            “I like him,” C.A.P. said.  “He’s cute.  Reminds me of Baekhyun.”

            “God, that comparison is so old,” Changjo said.

            “It’s true,” Ricky said.  “They both have that energy.  They want to please people, they want to be liked.”

            “Mmm,” Chunji said.  “I’ve noticed it.  He’ll do anything to make his hyungs happy.  The sex must be amazing.”

            Ricky blinked.

            “Shit,” Changjo said softly.  “Shit, I knew it.”

            C.A.P. kicked the back of Niel’s seat.  “What’s wrong with the maknae?”

            “I don’t know, how am I supposed to know?” Niel asked.

            C.A.P. kicked again.  “Ask him, genius.”

            Niel rolled his eyes.  “Maknae!  What’s wrong?”

            “He’s like that, isn’t he?” Ricky asked.

            “I don’t know, how would I know?” Changjo asked Ricky.  Then he turned around in the front seat.  “I think so.  He’s weird about Sehun hyung.  That’s just a coincidence, right?  Tons of people have crushes on Sehun hyung for no reason.”

            “What are they talking about, is this code?” Chunji asked.

            Niel looked from Ricky to Changjo and back.  Then he carefully, deliberately put his earbuds in, sat back, and closed his eyes, shutting them out.

            “Should we ask Jinhoo?” Ricky asked.

            “He won’t say anything, he’s too protective,” Changjo said.  “We gotta test it.”

            “You do it.”

            “Chunji hyung can do it.”

            “Chunji hyung’s not doing anything,” Chunji said.  “Chunji hyung what, what am I supposed to do?”

            Ricky hesitated.  It was kind of tempting to ignore the issue.  It wasn’t really their problem.  It would bring up too many complications.

            But it would be good to be loyal to TOP Media.  He didn’t want to watch their dongsaeng group’s main vocal crack under pressure.  He sighed and nodded at Changjo.

            “You gotta hit on Hwanhee,” Changjo immediately told Chunji.  “See if he’s, you know.  If he gets in a mood.”

            “What are you talking about?” Chunji demanded.  “Mood, what mood?”

            “An Oh Sehun Oh Sehun Oh Sehun kind of mood,” Ricky said.

            “Oh.”  Chunji blinked dramatically.  “Oh.”  He laughed.  “Oh!”

            “Fucking hell, not another one,” C.A.P. said.

            “I’m not baby-sitting this one,” Chunji said.  “I did enough with the last one.  This one isn’t ours, he’s Jinhoo’s.  Jinhoo and Kuhn can handle it, they can,” Chunji gestured meaninglessly, “grind his gears or clean his clock or whatever.”

            Changjo laughed.  “That isn’t what any of that means.”

            “You know what I’m talking about.”

            Changjo shrugged.  “Sehun hyung can do it.”

            “Sehun can kiss my ass,” Chunji shot back.

            Changjo rolled his eyes.  “Stop being so sensitive.”

            “You’d seriously hand him another victim?  Really?  You’d really give him another chance?”

            “God, L hyung, you hold onto grudges forever,” Changjo groaned.  “Just let it go for once.  Nothing happened.  He didn’t even do anything.  And he said that he was sorry.  And he stopped himself.  And he’s all guilty and worried about me and shit.  And he admitted everything to Suho hyung on his own.  And - - just forget it, get over it.  You don’t want to grind Hwanhee’s gears, Jinhoo’s not going to do it, what do you expect, Sunyoul’s going to do it?  Sehun hyung’s pathetic and lonely anyway, it’ll be good for him.”

            “Maybe they’d get along,” C.A.P. said.

            “Oh, fuck you,” Chunji said.

            “Fuck who?” C.A.P. asked, raising his eyebrows.

            “Fuck you, I said it,” Chunji snapped.  “Sehun-”  He caught himself, casting a sharp glance at the back of their manager’s head.  “-did that to Changjo - - freaking Changjo, are you fucking kidding me? - - and you want to give him a new victim to play with?  You want to hand over Up10tion’s main vocal?  Are you fucking kidding me right now?”

            “Changjo’s over it.”

            “Changjo’s never gotten over a goddamned thing in his goddamned life.  I don’t care what he’s over.  I’m not over it.  I’m not fucking getting over it.  You can fucking carry me right up to it and strap me to a fucking airplane and fly me across it, I’m not.  Fucking.  Getting.  Over it!”

            “So peaceful,” Niel whispered to himself, turning up the volume on his phone.

            Ricky sighed.  “Somebody has to talk to Sehun hyung and somebody has to talk to Hwanhee and somebody has to talk to Jinhoo.”

            “I’ll do it,” Changjo said.

            “Which part?” C.A.P. asked.

            “All of it.  I’ll handle it,” Changjo said.

            C.A.P. shrugged.  “Less for me to worry about.”

            “I’ll talk to Hwanhee,” Chunji said.  “The last one was my fucking responsibility, I might as well handle this one, too.”

            “You curse a lot,” Changjo said.  “I think you’re setting a bad example.”

            “I think you can suck my fucking cock,” Chunji replied.

            Ricky reached over and patted Niel’s arm.

            It had been a great day.  Their performance had gone really well, the crowd had really seemed to like it.  Their interview had gone well, too, and the reporter had complimented Hwanhee’s vocals.  He felt really good about that.  It could be a lot of pressure, sometimes, being the main vocal.  Not more pressure than was on the other members, but different pressure.  But it was really great to be able to represent the group well and prove that Up10tion really was talented.

            He’d only been in the dorm for a few minutes when his manager told him that Chunji wanted to see him.  He felt a tiny glimmer of despair - - he’d really wanted to sit down for a minute and just rest.  He was exhausted, and this was the only evening he’d had to himself in weeks.  But a sunbae was a sunbae, and a hyung was a hyung, right?  So he hopped up.

            He took the bus.  No one recognized him.  He was going to have to work harder.  Going to have to put on a better performance, going to have to push himself, going to have to impress more reporters.

            He wondered what Chunji wanted.  He couldn’t think of anything.  It was kind of exciting, being summoned all by himself.  He wasn’t that close with any of the Teen Top members in particular.  He wanted to be!  Jinhoo had known them for a long time, and sometimes the hyungs went over to Teen Top’s dorm for sex.  He and Gyujin and Xiao weren’t allowed to go along, but he really wanted to.  Every time they went, he asked if he could go too, next time, and Jinhoo always smiled at him and found a nice excuse to tell him no.

            He’d asked what it was like.  Wooshin said that it was amazing, and Kogyeol said that it was really nice to have such experienced, talented, well-hung sunbaes, and Bitto said that Wei was totally Niel’s favorite.

            Standing outside of Teen Top’s dorm, he straightened his clothes and fluffed his hair and wished that he had a mirror.  He checked his breath and practiced smiling and rang the bell.

            The door opened.  “Oh, hey.”  Chunji had checkered pajama pants and a gray T-shirt on, and no make-up whatsoever, and it was alarming how handsome he was.  Like, Hwanhee felt shy and dazed just being near him right then.  “Come in.”

            “Hi.”  Self-conscious, Hwanhee shuffled into the dorm.  “You wanted to see me?  About something?”

            “Yeah.  Take your shoes off,” Chunji offered, gesturing.

            He did, trying to be discreet about checking the place out.  Teen Top’s dorm was nice.  Messy, but with a way bigger TV and more game consoles and like ten times as many games stacked up, seriously.

            “Come here.”  Chunji went over and sat on the couch.

            He was nervous, but he was happy, too.  He’d never really been alone with Chunji before.  “Are your members out?” he asked, sitting down.

            “Yeah.”  Crossing his legs, Chunji looked handsome and relaxed.  He had beautiful eyes.  He could’ve modeled those pajamas.  Hwanhee wanted to buy five pairs.  “So, this is just between us, okay?”

            He nodded.  He had no idea what Chunji wanted to talk to him about, but this was getting intriguing.  He’d never had a secret with a sunbae.

            “I’m not supposed to kiss you, right?  I’m going to, but it breaks company rules and Jinhoo’s rules, so I need you to say it’s okay.  Is it okay with you if we make out?”

            “Us?”  He looked around, his heart pounding.  Was this real?  “Is this a joke?  Is this a hidden camera?”

            Chunji smiled at him.  “There’s no one else around.  So you can tell me to screw off, or you can walk out, if you want.”

            Tell Chunji to screw off?  When Chunji was asking to make out with him?  “If you want to, I mean.”  He couldn’t believe this was happening.  He scooted nearer, hopeful, excited.  “I’m not going to walk out!”

            Chunji chuckled.  “You consent?”

            Did he have to say it?  Jinhoo was always talking about that, about consent, about making sure everybody was totally comfortable with everything going on.  Hwanhee didn’t really think that it was necessary.  All of his members were really considerate about stuff like that.  Maybe a little too considerate for his taste.  “Yes, yes,” he said, nodding, breathless.  “I consent.”

            Chunji put a hand on his arm and leaned closer.  Trying not to breathe too hard all over Chunji’s face, he watched Chunji move in.  Snickering, Chunji whispered, “Close your eyes,” and pinched him.  Embarrassed by the words and startled by the pinch, he squeaked, and then he laughed, and then Chunji was kissing him.

            It was so…  Oh, god.  Chunji kissed him slowly.  He tried to hold back.  He didn’t want to be rude!  He didn’t want to rush.  But it was so exciting, so hot.  He was kissing Chunji!  And Chunji was good at this.  Sexy, and kind of teasing him, and making him burning-hot all over.  Moaning, he tried to make it good, tried to be sexy back, but he was so turned on he couldn’t plan, couldn’t hold back enough to calculate.  He could only kiss back, and whimper, and agonize over where to put his hands.

            Chunji’s hands were both on him.  One on his neck, stroking his nape, fingers caressing up into his hair and making him shiver.  Chunji’s other hand was on his waist, curving over his side, coaxing him closer.  Moaning, he squirmed forward.

            “Mmm.”  The pleased, approving noise Chunji made sounded so good, he whimpered.  “I like the way you wiggle,” Chunji whispered.  Leaning back, Chunji tugged on him.  Oh, god, was this really happening?  Breathless, he crawled on top.

            Reclining against the armrest, Chunji gazed up at him with those beautiful eyes.  Long, black lashes drifted down, and Chunji ran a lazy hand up Hwanhee’s arm.  Shivering, he wished that Chunji would kiss him again.  Chunji pulled Hwanhee’s shirt up a little, and excitement swirled through him.  He was so turned on, so eager for this, so thrilled that it was happening, that he moaned, rubbing his thigh, wanting to rub his cock but not wanting to be rude.  Smiling at him, Chunji stroked his side.  It was a light caress at first, and then he felt Chunji’s nails drag across his skin.  The sudden change in sensation sent sparks skittering over his flesh, and he whimpered, excited.  God, that was hot.  It felt so good, he whimpered again, squirming a little, wishing Chunji would do it again.

            Chunji’s nails caught at Hwanhee’s skin again, and then he lifted his head, pressing his lips to Hwanhee’s for another kiss.  Whimpering, rock-hard, Hwanhee kissed him, melting over him.

            It seemed rude to shove his hard-on against a sunbae, but Hwanhee was too turned on to be able to disguise it anymore.  His whole body was aching, burning.  Everywhere Chunji touched him seemed to light up, like Chunji’s touch was electric, and these sexy, flirty kisses were making him feel really hungry, really kind of, like, desperate for more.

            “So cute,” Chunji whispered, kissing him, licking at him, tongue flicking over his lips, making him whimper, making him kiss Chunji harder.  “What do you like, what are you into?”

            “You,” he panted, and he meant it so earnestly, he didn’t realize, until Chunji laughed, that it wasn’t the right answer.  Blushing, embarrassed, he felt painfully stupid.  “Um, sex,” he tried.  It was hard to think when Chunji was still kissing him, still stroking his side.  Chunji’s hard-on felt shockingly good nudging against his own, and he couldn’t believe that he’d gotten a sunbae hard.  This sunbae!  “I like giving head,” he confessed, trying to talk around Chunji’s kisses.  “I could blow you, do you want me to blow you?”

            ‘Does that turn you on?” Chunji whispered, nails raking up his back, making him moan.  He shuddered, his whole body hurting with want.  “Is that what you like, sucking cock?  Getting hyungs off?”

            “Yeah,” he breathed.  He felt like he was under some kind of spell.  He never wanted this to end.  “It feels so good.”  He meant giving head; he meant what Chunji was doing to him; he meant everything.

            “Bet you’re real cute with a cock in your mouth,” Chunji whispered, and he whimpered, grinding against Chunji urgently.  God, what an obscene thing to say!  He wanted to hear it again, he thought it was the hottest thing anyone had ever said to him.  “Bet you’re so pretty, such a pretty sight, with a fat pair of balls shoved in your mouth.”

            Groaning, he couldn’t even kiss Chunji anymore.  His burning cheek pressed to Chunji’s, he whimpered excitedly, rocking against Chunji’s hard-on.  “Yeah, oh.”  It felt so good, god, he felt like he’d never been so worked up.  “You, you think so?”  No one had ever talked to him like this, these lewd things.  But it wasn’t just the words, it was Chunji’s voice.  How seductive those rude words sounded, how knowing Chunji sounded, like Chunji had already uncovered his secrets, had known about him all along, knew him better than he knew himself.

            “Yeah, I’d like that,” Chunji whispered.  Oh, god, he would?  His fingers stroked around the shell of Hwanhee’s ear, a light touch that sent electric heat shuddering through him, spasms of ecstasy shooting down his spine.  “I’d like to see you like that.  Like to keep you on your knees full-time, doing nothing but sucking my cock whenever I want it.”  Yes.  His heart was pounding.  “Maybe I could keep you in my room, in my closet, so you can do nothing but that from now on.”  God, yes, he was shaking.  “Let you out whenever I want to see you with a face full of my delicious cum.”

            Fuck, too good, “Oh, oh, oh!”  He was coming, he was coming and he couldn’t help it.  Crying out, he felt such a deep throb of ecstasy, it was like nothing he’d ever experienced before.  And then Chunji pinched his ear, a sudden, sharp stab of pain, and he felt shattered by pleasure.  Crying out again, he unloaded his balls, shooting over and over again, delirious with relief.  “Ohh, oh, oooohhh…”  Panting, he felt so good, he could barely keep his eyes open.  “Oh…”

            Chunji’s lips brushed his cheek, his slack mouth.  “You’re cute,” Chunji whispered.  “Do your members know what a freaky little slut you are?”

            The accusation shocked him, set off whole new sparks of delight.  He was shaken that Chunji would say that to him, and he was thrilled.  Self-conscious laughter bubbled out of him, and he couldn’t meet Chunji’s eyes.  “No,” he mumbled, feeling shy.  Shy but trusting.  There was something really intimate, really wonderful, about the way Chunji was treating him.  He felt like he might be in love.

            Chunji chuckled, kissing his cheek.  Both of Chunji’s hands were on his torso now, under his shirt, stroking him.  Kind of petting him, like he was a favorite animal.  It felt great, it felt really soothing.  He felt shaky, happy-shaky, like everything was too good to be real.  “What are you into?  You want to be tied up and pushed around?”

            It was amazing to be asked.  He was so relieved, he felt like this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  “I don’t, I’ve never,” he stammered, but there was so much more he wanted to say, he felt it building up in his chest.

            “Sure, but you want to,” Chunji said, like it was just a matter of fact.  Chunji was acting like this was all totally normal, something anybody could talk about.  He could feel his mind opening up.  Looking totally comfortable under him, Chunji kept petting him, making all kinds of shivery pleasure hum under his skin.  “What do you like?  What do you wish your hyungs would do to you?  Spank you, call you names, get a little rough?”

            He was always too embarrassed to talk about it, because nobody ever seemed to get it.  His hyungs never understood him, and that made it too uncomfortable for him to bring it up.  He didn’t want them to look at him weird or react badly.  But it seemed like Chunji wanted to hear about it.  That was such a new experience for him, he felt eager to talk about it, now.  “I have fantasies sometimes.  About things like that.”  Hopeful, uncertain, he met Chunji’s eyes.  Chunji met his gaze frankly and nodded like he should keep going.  His breath catching, he wondered if it would be okay to say everything, to tell it all.  “I have thoughts sometimes, like, oh, it sounds weird!” he exclaimed, shivering.  “I wish my hyungs would do rude things to me.  Dirty things.”

            Laughing, Chunji looked happy with him, like he was cute.  “Like what?  Don’t be vague!”

            Oh, god!  This was the best!  “Like naughty stuff.  Like I wish Kuhn hyung would be rougher with me, hold me down a little.  I wish Wei hyung would, you know, make me blow him, sometimes, and not just let me.”  It seemed so dangerous and so fun to say it out loud, he laughed, getting into it.  “I have this thing, it’s like a fantasy, about being with a guy who’s kind of powerful and proud of himself, like a prince or something, you know?  And he lets me take care of him, it’s like he’s doing me a favor, letting me serve him.  And I do stuff for him, sex stuff, and sometimes I get everything right and it’s the best thing ever, and sometimes he’s in a bad mood and he’s rude to me but I understand, it’s okay, because he’s a prince, and princes get that way sometimes, right?  I don’t mind it if he treats me badly, I just want to be near him.”  His breath was coming too fast and excitement was fluttering around in his stomach and he wished that Chunji would be his prince.

            Chunji smiled at him, caressing his cheek.  “God, you’re romantic.”

            “It’s not that romantic,” he argued, embarrassed.

            “What kind of guys are you into?  Who do you want to be your prince?”

            Besides Chunji?  He laughed, self-conscious.  “Infinite’s L sunbaenim.  Or, like, EXO’s Oh Sehun sunbaenim.  Guys like that.”

            Chunji stared at Hwanhee for a second, then burst into laughter.  Covering his mouth with one hand, he shook with it.  “Oh, god!”  Smiling, he wiped at his eyes.  “Not them, come on, seriously?”

            “They’re handsome.  Like you,” he added loyally, and Chunji smiled at him fondly, pinching his cheek.  “They have this aura.  They’re really cool.  They have this force.”

            “God, you have awful taste,” Chunji said, but he sounded kind of affectionate about it, and he was still smiling, so Hwanhee didn’t mind.  “Fantasies are just fantasies, though.  It’s sexy to dream about stuff, but what if you actually had it?  What if I really started pushing you around and ramming my cock in you whether you wanted it or not?”

            The anxious, thrilled fluttering in his stomach doubled, tripled.  “I’d like that.”

            “You can’t want sex you don’t want.”

            “I do,” he said.  He felt eager for sex he didn’t want.  “I always want it.  That’s why - - Jinhoo hyung, it’s so embarrassing.  I thought it was normal, I thought everybody wanted sex all of the time, I thought that’s just what sex was, something everybody wanted all of the time.  That’s what they make it seem like, right?  But I guess everybody else doesn’t feel that way, or no one really feels that way.  Except me.”  He smiled apologetically, and Chunji nodded, watching him, still petting him.  “Anyway,” he hurried to explain, “Jinhoo hyung keeps telling the other members not to bother me too much, not to ask me for it when I’m too tired or busy or whatever, because he thinks I say yes too often.”

            “Do you ever say no?”

            “No,” he confessed, and he laughed at himself.  “I always want it.  I guess, I mean, if somebody asked me and he was like thirty years older than I am and smelled bad, I’d say no.  But with my members, it’s always like, okay!  Yes!  Let’s do it!”

            “Do you like doing it with a bunch of guys at once?”

            “God, I wish!” he exclaimed, and Chunji laughed at him.  “No, seriously,” he said, joining in Chunji’s laughter.  It felt so good to make Chunji happy, to make Chunji laugh, to see the sparkling fondness in Chunji’s eyes.  “I wish I could have all of my hyungs at once.  Or even, like, just half of them!  The older hyungs do it, but Jinhoo hyung thinks that it’s too much for us to handle, he says that it isn’t good if things get too confusing.”

            “I wonder if he’s trying to protect you,” Chunji said.  “From being overwhelmed.”

            “Does he hate me?” he demanded, and Chunji cracked up.  “That’s what I want!  It would be amazing, right?  Kuhn hyung pushing me down and Gyujin hyung giving it to me and Wooshin hyung rubbing his cock in my face, all at once?  I’d die of happiness.”

            “Hwanhee,” Chunji said affectionately, kindly, caressing his cheek.  “I really want you to think about this, seriously.  The difference between fantasy and reality.  Do you really want your hyungs to force you?  Being hurt, being taken advantage of, being forced to do things whether you want them or not.  It’s not sexy like it seems on TV.  It’s someone you trusted, someone you were close to, pinning you down and doing whatever he wants, even while you’re saying no.”

            He licked his lips, unable to hold back a soft, aching sound of trembling eagerness.  “I wish they would.  I wish that could happen, I dream about it all of the time.  I know what you mean,” he added quickly.  “I know the difference between the real thing and what I want.  I don’t really want someone to hurt me, I don’t want someone to, like, actually really rape me.  It’s like - - can I consent to being raped?  I want that.  Like if there’s a safe word, or, like that.  I want my prince to do that to me.  I’d consent to anything with him, no matter what it was, I’d give him anything he wanted.”

            “Okay.”  Chunji was still petting him, so he figured he hadn’t said anything too alienating.  “Okay.  I’m going to talk to Jinhoo about this, okay?”

            No!  “Why?”  Jinhoo was too nice, he wouldn’t understand anything about this.  He’d probably never let Hwanhee have sex again!

            “I’m not going to get you in trouble,” Chunji said.  “We might be able to figure something out.  There might be a way to help you, so you can get what you want.  But it’s easy for things to go wrong, so we need to talk about what’s best for you.”

            So his leader and his handsome sunbae were going to sit down together and talk about how to fulfill his sexual fantasies?  That sounded amazingly hot and also totally horrible.  “You think he might let the other members do things to me?”

            “He might.  I’ll talk to him.”

            He smiled.  He’d never forget this.  He’d never forget today.  He’d never stop being grateful to Chunji.  Even if nothing else ever happened and Jinhoo wouldn’t listen to Chunji at all, he’d always have this memory of how sexy and handsome Chunji was, how good Chunji was to him, how Chunji listened to him and understood him and thought that it was okay for him to be this way.  He felt so, so much less alone than he ever had before.

            “Are you okay?” Chunji asked, stroking his cheek.  “Are you going to be upset if I send you home in public with a wet load in your pants like the freaky, desperate slut that you are?”

            He laughed, blushing and loving it.  Chunji really did it, too, kissed him good-bye and sent him away, and he had to go home with soiled underwear.  He was an idol now, he had a reputation!  He spent the whole time anxious about being noticed, terrified of being found out, squirming, half-hard.  He felt dirty, and gloriously happy, and in touch with a deep, tender part of himself that made him feel vulnerable and fulfilled, all at once.

            Sehun was surprised that Changjo wanted to see him.  He’d been trying to get Changjo to talk to him one-on-one since the night he’d been so wrong, but Changjo had always blown him off.  They’d only talked over the phone, where he couldn’t go into detail or see Changjo’s face, or in front of other people.  Trying to talk to Changjo in EXO’s kitchen with Suho breathing down his neck and Changjo breezily spinning around like nothing could ever be wrong hadn’t really been a great chance to get anywhere.

            Now, suddenly, Changjo was asking to talk to him alone.  They went into Chanyeol’s empty bedroom.  Changjo closed the door, and Sehun barely got as far as, “I’m really sorry,” before Changjo said, “God, seriously?  Is this your hobby, now, this is what you do, you go around apologizing?  You’ve said it before, you’ve said it a million times, I don’t need to hear it again.  I already told you, okay, one, there’s nothing to apologize for, and, two, I accept it, I accept your apology, you can stop bringing it up any time now.  Okay?”  Changjo stared at him, wide-eyed, unblinking, silently willing him to agree.

            He pressed his lips together, not satisfied with that.  But forcing Changjo to say what he wanted to hear, while he was apologizing for forcing Changjo into sex, seemed like a horrible conclusion to what he’d done.  “I won’t stop feeling sorry,” he finally said.  “But I’ll stop telling you about it.”

            “Thank god.”  Changjo sat on Chanyeol’s bed.  “You’re still a dom, right?”

            “Yeah.”  He had mixed feelings about that.  It was something he couldn’t stop, something he couldn’t change about himself.  He wished that he could, a lot of the time; his life would be so much easier if his sexuality were different from this.  But a part of him embraced it, reveled in it.  His time with his pet had been exhilarating, fulfilling, some of the best highs of his life.  There was a lot about being a dom, paired with his current life as an idol, that was frustrating and painful.  He had a hundred regrets.  But, god, the good times were incomparable.

            “So, you looking for a new sub?”

            He laughed.  It sounded so bitter that he winced, rubbing his hands over his pants.  “No.”

            “What do you mean, no?  And why are you still standing?  Sit down.”  Changjo glared at him.  “If you’re afraid to be alone with me, I’m going to punch you.”

            There was always a chance that Changjo meant that.  He avoided the bed, but he rolled Chanyeol’s desk chair over and sat on that.

            “No sub, why?” Changjo asked.  “Are you waiting for your old one to come back?  He’s not, it’s not going to happen, he’s not coming back.”

            “I know.”  He wasn’t confused about that.  “Having a sub is too much of a commitment.  You know how hard it is just having a boyfriend.  You never get to see L hyung, right?  It’s like that, you miss each other, you have to cancel on each other, you piss each other off and disappoint each other, your schedules just never match up.  And then there’s shit like the Westonic scandal, or maybe your leader and his leader have a fight and now you can’t see each other even if you want to.  But it’s worse than that, it’s different, because a sub isn’t just a commitment.  It’s a responsibility.  He needs me, he counts on me, he relies on me.  It’s like if you have a puppy, you can’t take him home and feed him and make him promises, and then just abandon him on the side of the road.  It’s too cruel.  I can’t do it again, I can’t put somebody through that.  I took on too much responsibility, before, I can’t make promises I can’t keep.”

            “You are taking this way too seriously.”

            He laughed again, disbelieving.  “Did you ever know him at all?  Did you ever see him like I saw him?  What was it like when Suho hyung made me stop seeing him?  I put him through hell when he only wanted to be with me.”  Feeling tears well up in his eyes, he pressed his lips together, not wanting to cry over his regrets again.

            Changjo was quiet for a minute, crossing his legs and picking at Chanyeol’s sheets.  Then he looked at Sehun again.  “So if I knew somebody, you wouldn’t want to adopt a new puppy?”

            The question stunned him.  Did Changjo know someone?  Was there someone?  “No,” he said immediately.  He felt almost terrified of the information.  “No, I don’t want to know anything about it.”  He didn’t want to know.  He didn’t want to know that someone was out there.  He definitely didn’t want to know who it was.  “Don’t tell me his name.”

            “Seriously?  You don’t even know want to know who?  What if he’s hot?  What if he’s really into you?”

            “Shut up.”  Was it an idol?  No, no!  He didn’t want to know.

            “You’re so hot, you’re so special, I thought you were the only one who could really take care of guys right.  What’s he supposed to do if you won’t see him?”

            There was no one.  He refused to believe that Changjo had a real person in mind.  It was all just talk, a hypothetical.  He had to believe that there was no one out there, no one needing and suffering and whimpering and lost, no potential pet in need of an owner.  Shaking his head, feeling the room spin, he forced himself to his feet.  “You can go.”

            “What’s he supposed to do without you?” Changjo asked.

            No, no.  This wasn’t his responsibility.  “Woohyun hyung can do it.  Sunggyu hyung.  Chunji hyung.”  “You think you’re unique?  Look me in the face,” Chunji shoved him in the chest, hard, sending him back against the wall, “you selfish goddamned asshole, and think about who takes care of your business when you’re away.”  “Anybody.”

            “Anybody?” Changjo repeated.  “Oh, so now you’re not so special?  Now just anybody can do it?  That’s not what you said before.”

            “Talk to Woohyun hyung.”  He was trying to get to the door, desperate to get away, but it seemed to take an hour to get there.  “He’ll help you, he can do it.”

            “You really don’t want to,” Changjo said.

            “I can’t,” he said, finally grasping the doorknob, yanking the door open, finding his escape.  “I don’t want to know about it.”

            Chunji wanted to talk to Jinhoo alone, but Changjo insisted on being there, too.  He and Changjo went over to Infinite’s dorm for a while, and then when Up10tion finally got off for the night, they went over to Up10tion’s dorm.

            Jinhoo’s room was crowded, two beds and two dressers crammed into space meant for one.  It was a poignant reminder of a rookie’s life.  Chunji felt both nostalgic for those years and incredibly grateful to be past that.  He sat on the tidier bed, Changjo beside him, and Jinhoo sat on the other one.  The door was closed.  The Up10tion members were so well-behaved, he trusted that they wouldn’t eavesdrop.

            “Seems important,” Jinhoo said, smiling.

            “It’s about Hwanhee,” Chunji said.

            “We know about him,” Changjo said.

            Jinhoo kept smiling, his eyebrows going up.  “Know what about him?”

            Chunji had planned to break the news more gently, but Changjo just came right out with it.  “He’s a sub.  He’s sexually submissive.  I’ve seen it, Chunji hyung’s seen it, and Ricky says that if you don’t do something about it, he’s going to crack up.  You gotta do something.  You could probably lose a bunch of members and still be okay, but you’re screwed without Hwanhee.”

            “Well, every single one of my members is important,” Jinhoo said, like that was the point.  Good of him to be so loyal, anyway.  “Kuhn should be here for this,” he said, picking up his phone.  For a second, Chunji didn’t see why, but then he thought about how he’d definitely been a part of C.A.P.’s discussions and decisions about his own members.  Jinhoo dialed and said, “Hey, come in here for a minute.”

            “There in five,” Kuhn said.

            Jinhoo smiled.  “Thanks, babe.”  He hung up and turned his smile on Chunji and Changjo, waiting patiently.

            “-four, five,” Kuhn said, opening the door.  “Made it!”  Walking in, he closed the door.  His gaze swinging from one face to another, he sat beside Jinhoo.  “What’s going on?”

            “They want to talk about Hwanhee,” Jinhoo said.

            “He’s kinky,” Chunji said.  “He needs things that he isn’t getting, sexually.  I don’t know what he might be like in his regular life, but under the pressure of debuting, it’s intense.  He’s under a lot of stress, and if he gets into kink, it’ll help to blow off steam.”

            “So, are you okay with raping your members?” Changjo asked.

            Chunji stared at him, then punched him.  “Go wait in the van.”

            “What?” Changjo asked, like he hadn’t said anything.

            “What makes you say all of this?” Jinhoo asked.

            He was being way too calm.  Between his lack of a reaction now, and what Hwanhee had said about Jinhoo trying to protect him, Chunji was sure that he’d already figured all of this out.  He knew that Hwanhee was submissive.  But what had he been planning to do about it?  “I made out with him, and he told me everything.  Is that why you won’t let him come over with the other members?  You didn’t want us to notice something was wrong?”

            “Well, our Teen Top sunbaes are a lot of fun,” Jinhoo said with a pleasant smile.  “But things can get chaotic.  I don’t want the younger members to be overwhelmed.  The older members are more experienced, they’re ready for that kind of situation.”

            “He’s not like that because he’s young, he’s like that because he’s dying for someone to bend him over and spank him,” Changjo said.  “But you know that, right, I’m not saying anything new.”

            Chunji didn’t know why Changjo was so freaking confrontational.  But maybe he had to be.  Jinhoo’s serene front wasn’t cracking.  “You can’t ignore it and hope it’ll go away,” Chunji said.  “He’s going to crack.”  If Ricky had diagnosed it, then Chunji believed him.  No one was better at recognizing when an idol was about to crumble.  “Someone has to step up and give him what he needs.”

            “I definitely don’t want him to crack,” Kuhn said, glancing from Jinhoo to Chunji.  Checking his leader’s mood, making sure it was okay to talk.  “What are you saying, what do you think we should do?”

            “Maybe Kogyeol could do it,” Chunji said.  “Or Wooshin, they could do it together, help each other.”  Really, Xiao would be the best, but Xiao was too young for something so deep.  “They should talk to him about it.  He’s pretty in touch with what he wants, and he’s not too ashamed to talk about it, so he can explain a lot of it himself.  Mostly, they just have to put him in his place.  Take control when they have sex with him.  Remind him who’s boss.”

            “A lot of idols are kinky,” Changjo said.  “I could like reel off a whole list of them.  Doms, subs, all kinds of shit.”  Chunji really should have left him in the van.  “Companies make arrangements.  We’ll let your sub see our dom, we’ll keep your secrets if you’ll keep ours.  Big companies.  Small companies.  Our company.”

            Kuhn gave a start.  “Our company?”

            “Probably.  You should ask Andy hyung about it,” Changjo said.  “He’d know how to make arrangements.”

            “They don’t need to make arrangements,” Chunji said, trying to be patient and not pulling it off.  “They can handle it themselves.  Involving a whole different group is way too much, it makes everything more complicated.  Jinhoo’s not going to expose his members and risk some big scandal.”

            “What you need,” Changjo told Jinhoo, “is to make sure it’s a big idol from a big group from a big company.  If it’s a smaller company, they have less to lose.  You want leverage, you want them to have a reason to protect your secrets.  You want a big, big company.”  He sucked his cheeks in and released them with a pop.  “Big.”

            Kuhn laughed, looking from Changjo to Chunji.  “Are you trying to tell us that YG idols are into BDSM?”

            “Gross,” Chunji said.  “You don’t need any other company.  Just talk to Hwanhee about it.  He knows what he wants.”

            “He’s not going to get it here,” Changjo said.

            Whirling around, Chunji punched him hard in the arm, then again, then in the back when he doubled over and tried to cringe away.  “Get in the van!”  When he didn’t immediately go, Chunji grabbed his arm and got right in his ear, whispering so softly it was more suggestion than sound.  “You drop one more hint about a big company, and they’re going to know what you mean, and how do you think your precious favorite hyung is going to feel about you giving out clues like that?  What’s private is private, you goddamned shit, and they don’t need to know anything until they need to know it.  Got it?”  He shoved Changjo away, glaring, raising his voice.  “Got it?!”

            Changjo winced, sliding away.  “Got it,” he mumbled.  Cowed, he blinked and looked down.  Visibly ashamed, he got up and left.

            Chunji hadn’t expected him to actually go.  Wow.  Guilting him about Suho really worked.  Chunji was going to have to remember that.

            Jinhoo still looked pleasant.  Kuhn looked a little rattled but leaned forward gamely.  “What else can we do?  Should we really talk to Andy hyung?  Do you think that Kogyeol and Wooshin should really do that?  It seems like a lot to ask them.”  He tugged on his earlobe.  “Getting another company involved seems like a big risk.  I think we should handle it ourselves.”  He laughed self-consciously.  “It’s not that serious, is it?”

            Getting another company involved was a huge risk.  They’d already exposed Teen Top to SM, and for what?  Apparently if they’d just waited long enough, the problem would have solved itself.  Exposing Up10tion, too, just wasn’t worth it.

            But when that particular solution worked, it worked really well.  Sehun had improved their situation drastically.  There had been a lot of problems, sure.  But he knew the contrast in their pre-Sehun and post-Sehun life, and he couldn’t deny the truth.  Sehun had helped.  If Sehun had the same effect this time, it would improve not just Hwanhee’s quality of life, but Up10tion’s, too.

            But Hwanhee wasn’t as deeply ashamed as L.Joe had been.  He wouldn’t freak out if his members started dominating him.  Kogyeol and Wooshin could be his princes; he’d probably love it.  They didn’t necessarily need to reach out beyond their group.

            Chunji stayed for a little while longer, encouraging them to help Hwanhee and pushing the idea that they could handle it themselves.  Kuhn had a lot of questions about BDSM generally and what it might be okay to do with Hwanhee.  Chunji didn’t bother to be coy about being experienced, but he didn’t explain why, exactly, he knew what he knew, and Kuhn was too respectful to ask.

            He got Wooshin to go down on him while he was there, and he hugged Hwanhee before he left.  He hoped that things worked out.  Such a talented, hardworking kid.  Shit, he was starting to care about these guys.

            After Chunji was gone, Kuhn was still trying to wrap his mind around everything they’d just heard.  He and Jinhoo had talked about Hwanhee before, and they’d come to some of their own conclusions, but this was, wow.  This was heavy.  “What do you want to do?”

            Jinhoo looked thoughtful.  “It’s a big decision,” he finally said.

            Kuhn grinned, trying to lighten the mood.  “I’ve always wanted to be closer to Big Bang.”

            Jinhoo smiled briefly, but said, “It’s not YG.  They were talking about SM.”

            Whoa.  What?  “SM?” he repeated.  A nervous laugh exploded out of him.  “You’ve heard the same rumors about Key sunbae?”

            Jinhoo chuckled at that, but he was still thoughtful.  “I’ll talk to Andy hyung.  I didn’t want to think that it was this serious, but maybe we should take our sunbaes’ advice.  I don’t want to cause a problem for the company.”

            Talking to Andy seemed like taking things way too far.  Then again, confiding something so private and significant to one of their regular managers seemed wrong, too.  Kuhn didn’t want to expose something so personal to just anybody.  Their managers already knew enough about them; they didn’t need to know this, too.  Still, Andy?  “Chunji hyung thinks we can take care of it.  Maybe we should give it some time.”

            Jinhoo shook his head.  “I won’t put the members in that position.  Relieving Hwanhee’s burden by adding to Wooshin’s burden isn’t the right idea.”

            Kuhn hadn’t looked at it that way.  Wooshin was already under a lot of pressure; making him responsible for Hwanhee’s sexual wellbeing sounded like a lot to ask.  And this kind of sexual activity, in particular, it would alter relationships between the members.  It might cause them to see each other differently, interact differently.  He didn’t want to make the wrong choice now and find a whole new set of problems, later.  He wanted to encourage the members to be close, and sex was part of that, but this exact kind of sex should be handled more carefully.  He wanted to be sensitive to what Hwanhee needed, but he wanted to be sensitive to other dynamics in the group, too.

            “I don’t think that it’ll be good for Xiao to see that it’s okay for members to treat each other that way,” Jinhoo said quietly.

            Kuhn nodded, swallowing.

            “I’ll talk to Andy hyung,” Jinhoo decided.  “And I’ll talk to Hwanhee.”  He got up, kissing Kuhn’s ear on his way.  “Let’s keep this between ourselves for now.”

            “Sure.”  He wished that someone had warned him that being co-leader meant dealing with this kind of stuff.  He might have done some reading or something, ahead of time.

            Hwanhee was so embarrassed, he couldn’t sit still.  He got up, walking around the room, bouncing a little.  “Why did Chunji hyung tell you so much?” he moaned.

            “He’s trying to help,” Jinhoo said.  “It’s good that our sunbaes are looking out for us.”  He smiled.  “Maybe soon we’ll have company hoobaes we can set a good example for.”

            He wished!

            “Chunji hyung said a lot about the difference between having fantasies and being ready to play it all out in real life,” Jinhoo said.  “What do you think about that?”

            “I know what he means.  He talked about it with me, too.  But I only have fantasies because they’re things I can’t do.  Or haven’t done yet, I guess.”  Ever since he’d talked to Chunji, his prince had seemed like less of a faraway, impossible dream.  It still wasn’t within reach, or anything, but it seemed like something that could maybe happen in some kind of way someday.  More like the remote possibility of winning the lottery than the complete impossibility of a billion dollars randomly falling on his head.  “If I could have it, I would.  If I could do it, or get someone to do it to me, I would.”

            “We’ll try to work something out,” Jinhoo said.  “We don’t have a lot of options, but I’ll do what I can.”

            He felt really grateful.  “I know.”  Jinhoo always looked out for them.

            “If you’re having trouble with something, you can come to me.”

            “I know,” he said again, but his gratitude was turning to guilt.  He hadn’t meant to keep anything from Jinhoo!  Not in a bad way.  It was just that the sex stuff was awkward to talk about, and no one had ever wanted to hear it before Chunji.  And everything else seemed too little to bother Jinhoo with.  What was he going to say, that he was tired and kind of stressed out?  Everybody was tired and stressed out!  He couldn’t burden his leader with personal complaints when Jinhoo already did so much for him.  “Thanks, hyung.”  What was Jinhoo saying, though?  Try to work something out, what did that mean?  “We don’t have a lot of options?  What are the options?”

            “I’m working on it,” Jinhoo promised him.  “I’ll tell you when I have a good result.”

            He didn’t know what that meant.  But whatever was going on, he already felt better.  Last week, he’d thought that he’d have to suffer on his own forever.  Now Jinhoo was offering to help him and Chunji had given him a night he’d never forget.  Imagine what might happen next week!

            Chunji and Changjo had been arguing for days about Sehun.  About Hwanhee.  C.A.P. was staying out of it.  Whatever happened to Hwanhee, it was all up to Jinhoo now.

            He thought that Changjo’s idea, to turn Hwanhee over to Sehun, wasn’t really all that bad.  It might be the best set-up.  He’d trusted Sehun with L.Joe, and he knew the difference that had made.  If Sehun’s magic worked on Hwanhee, too, then more power to him.

            He got the feeling that Chunji didn’t disagree with that.  Chunji was just too pissed off about the Sehun-and-Changjo thing to be willing to give Sehun another chance with another sub.  Changjo kept pointing out that Chunji had started having sex with Sehun again, so he couldn’t be that upset, and Chunji kept saying, “Of course I have sex with him, I like getting my cock sucked.  I can take care of myself!  I can punch him in the throat if I don’t like the way he’s treating me.  Hwanhee doesn’t have any fucking self-preservation.  You don’t hand someone that vulnerable over to a fucking sexual predator!”

            C.A.P. didn’t think that Sehun actually was a sexual predator, but the words were kind of hard to unhear.  That was still on his mind when he was summoned to see Andy.

            He returned to the dorm and went to talk to Changjo.  Then he skipped Changjo and went to Ricky.  Pushing Ricky down to sit on his bed, he sat on the other bed and looked Ricky in the eye.  “Be real with me.”

            Ricky nodded.  “Okay.”

            “Do you trust Sehun?”

            “With what?”

            Fair question.  “Would you trust him with Hwanhee?”

            Ricky thought about that.  “I would’ve said yes, before.”  He pressed his lips together, his gaze flickering.  “When he was with Changjo, he stopped himself.  He stopped himself before D.O. hyung interrupted.  As soon as he went too far, he knew he’d gone too far.  That’s good.  But he still got that far, and I can’t get over that.”  He seemed to have more to get out, so C.A.P. stayed quiet, letting him work on it.  “He’s sorry for it.  He’s really sorry, not just apologizing to recover his reputation or to get out of trouble.  So I could trust him, I think.  I could.  But I’d have to test him first.”

            Okay.  “How?”

            “Tempt him with something.  Put him in a situation where he could get what he wants and get away with it.  See what he does.”

            That wouldn’t be easy to set up.  “Okay.  Who’s tempting enough to get him going, that you wouldn’t mind being hurt if Sehun makes the wrong choices?”

            Ricky’s eyebrows went through some interesting dances.  “Suho hyung would be perfect,” he murmured to himself, his elbows on his knees.  “But I’d regret it if anything happened.”  He met C.A.P.’s eyes.  “I’ll do it, I guess.”

            Um.  “Okay, assume that I’d even be okay with that,” C.A.P. said.  “Would it even work?  He’s had as much as he wants of you, how are you tempting?”

            Ricky looked annoyed.  “I’m very tempting!”  He sat up straighter, smoothing his shirt.  “Besides, he hasn’t had me in weeks.  I haven’t let him touch me since then.”

            Since the thing with Changjo?  “Really?”  C.A.P. hadn’t realized that.  He and Chunji and Niel were doing it with Sehun; he’d figured that Ricky was, too.  “Has Changjo?”


            Great.  C.A.P. grimaced, wondering what to do about that.

            “He’s okay,” Ricky said.  “It’s not about Sehun hyung, he’s been over that.  It’s just about before, the old stuff.  And L hyung and Chunji hyung are so upset, it’s making things weird for him, it’s making it harder.”

            What the hell.  “L’s supposed to make him feel better about stuff, not worse.”

            “Do you want me to test Sehun hyung?  I think he’ll pass.  I think he made a bad mistake, but I think it was the kind of mistake he can learn from.  I don’t think he’ll do it again.  He’s probably less likely to do it again, now that he’s fucked up.”

            He didn’t want to put Ricky in a shaky situation.  He didn’t want to put Suho in one, either.  Wasn’t there someone he didn’t really care about?  “What about one of those SM rookies or trainees or something, can’t we set him up with one of them?”

            “I don’t want to make things too complicated.”

            “What if you test him, and he tries something?”

            “Then I’ll let him.  I have to see how far he’ll go,” Ricky explained.

            The shit his members thought it was okay to say freaking boggled his mind.  “You’re not going to let him molest you.”

            “What do you want me to do?  I have to see if he’ll do it, that’s the point.”

            What was it Chunji had said?  “As soon as he crosses the line, punch him in the throat.  I don’t need to see how far he’ll take it, I just need to know if he’ll cross the line at all.  He makes one wrong move, knock him out.”

            “Then what?” Ricky asked.  “What if he’s totally decent?”

            “Then I have some leader crap to deal with.”  That was its own issue.  “I’ll get to it if he passes.”

            Sehun had plans to go out with Woohyun, but Woohyun canceled on him at the last second.  By that time, everyone else had already gone out and met up.  He thought about going out, too, maybe catching up with his members, but all of a sudden Ricky called and asked if he was busy.

            Ricky came over to the dorm, and they hung out.  He hadn’t seen Ricky one-on-one in a while, and it was really good to spend time together.  Maybe it was his hormones - - he hadn’t had Ricky lately - - but Ricky looked great.  Sexy and touchable and full of smiles.  They shared a lot of skinship, and Ricky gave a hundred signals, a lot of cuddling and hints and looks, just asking for it.  He let the mood simmer, enjoying it, loving the flirtation, looking forward to a great finish to the night.  Even when he couldn’t get a real dom fix, it turned him on to control when sex happened, to draw things out, to toy with his partners a little and let them want it.

            They got into the soju, and they shared a lot of funny toasts.  He didn’t have too much, he didn’t think, but maybe Ricky did.  He put the bottle out of Ricky’s reach, but a little later Ricky had it again, anyway.  He took it away again; he didn’t want Ricky to get drunk.

            It was too late.  Ricky was definitely drunk.  Drunk and really flirtatious, really fun, playful.  Ricky was an adorable drunk, pink-cheeked, pink-eared, giggling at everything.  Really cuddly.  They ended up on the couch, and Ricky snuggled up against him, laughing at everything he said.

            It was really kind of tempting.  Ricky was just so pliable, it was wreaking havoc on Sehun’s hormones.  Good-looking, malleable, willing, he was pushing all of Sehun’s buttons.  His skin was flushed and warm; Sehun wanted to nuzzle him.  Nibble on him.  Make him squirm and moan.  Turn him on and see how much he could take.

            God, he needed a pet.

            He took Ricky into his room and tucked Ricky into his bed.  Ricky tried to undress, tried to undress him, tried to kiss him, but he said no and kept their clothes on.  He just stroked Ricky’s face and talked about quiet things until Ricky fell asleep.  Then he texted C.A.P. to explain where Ricky was, and he slept in Lay’s bed that night.

            Ricky had okayed Sehun, so now C.A.P. had to move on to the next step.

            He asked Suho to meet him at his dorm.  Suho said, “It’s a busy day.  Could you come to our practice room?”

            “It’s private.”  Suho didn’t seem to trust his company’s building, so C.A.P. didn’t, either.

            “It, oh.”  Suho hesitated.  “I can come over, but it’ll be late.”

            “Any time.”

            Suho stopped by after two that morning.  C.A.P. sent Niel to sleep in Chunji’s room so he could talk to Suho in private.  He started off by saying, “There’s a situation with another idol,” and then he wondered what he was beating around the bush for.  “I got a sub on my hands, and I need a dom.  This kid, he’s a good idol, but he’s really feeling the pressure, and he needs this or he’s going to crack.  Can Sehun do it?”

            “A sub,” Suho repeated.  He scratched his head.  “Niel?”

            He snorted.  “Not in Teen Top.”

            “Oh.”  He could see Suho thinking that over and coming to conclusions.  “Well, I can ask him.  Sehun’s had a hard time lately.  He’s struggled a lot.  You know how bad it’s been.”  He nodded.  “I don’t know what he’ll say.  But I think that it’ll be good for him.  I’ve had so many regrets, but I think that he needs a special relationship like that.  Things just aren’t right for him without it.  He’s healthier, he’s stronger, he’s more himself, when he has someone special.”

            C.A.P. nodded.  What was good for one person wasn’t good for everybody.  But that “special relationship” had been really good for L.Joe.  And he hoped that it would be good for Hwanhee, too.

            “If you can’t tell me who it is yet, I understand.  Can you tell me anything about him?”

            “He’s younger,” C.A.P. said.  “Younger than Sehun.  He’s not a visual or anything, but he’s an idol, so he’s, you know.”  He grinned.  “Not bad-looking.  Not too tall, but that didn’t bother Sehun before, right?”  Suho smiled.  “Brown eyes.  What else do you want to know?”

            “Is he nice?  Is he smart, is he lazy, is he good to his members?”

            “Works hard.  Good dancer, good singer.  He’s always been respectful to me.  I’ve never screwed him,” C.A.P. admitted with a grin and a shrug.  “But he seems like a good kid.”

            Suho nodded.  “I’ll talk to Sehun about it.  If he says yes, we’ll arrange a time for them to meet?”

            C.A.P. nodded.  “Sounds good.”

            Suho got up, then hesitated and sat down again.  “If he isn’t in Teen Top.  Then we’d be opening ourselves up to another group.  We’ve already been through so much with you and Infinite, I don’t know.  It’s a lot, to start over with someone new.  It might be good for Sehun, but it’s still a risk.  Could you reassure me?  Is this someone we can trust?  I know how much L.Joe struggled without Sehun.  Is it as bad, this time, with this other idol?  I don’t want to do this all on someone’s whim because he thinks it’ll be fun to play around at sex.”

            “I trust them,” C.A.P. said.  “I don’t think anyone’s playing around.  I haven’t talked to him about it, personally, but I’ve talked to the head of his company, and that guy says it’s real.”  He figured that he could go into detail; he trusted Suho.  “If Sehun won’t do it, someone in Teen Top is going to have to do it.  There’s not a future where no one takes responsibility for this kid.  Someone has to do it.  And I don’t want to force Chunji into it.”

            “No, neither do I,” Suho said, looking troubled.  “He’s already done enough.  Sehun will do it,” he said decisively.  “He’s been suffering too much without a special partner.  I’ve been wishing that I had someone to introduce him to.  This is the answer I’ve been hoping for, and I’m grateful to you for bringing this to me.  I’ll tell Sehun tomorrow, and then we can make arrangements for a meeting.  Maybe they won’t hit it off, maybe there won’t be that special chemistry between them.  But if it works out, this will solve a big problem.”

            C.A.P. was relieved.  “Let me know what Sehun says.”

            “No,” Sehun said.  Shaking his head, he got up.

            Suho pulled him back down.  “Stop that.”

            “No,” he repeated.  Suho had to be kidding.  “Don’t you remember anything?”  Suho looked grim, not liking his tone, but he kept going.  “How many times did you make me and L.Joe sunbae break up?  How many times did we have to stop seeing each other?  How many times did I have to cancel on him because our photo shoot ran late or we had to go out of the country or we suddenly had practice?”

            “There are always complications,” Suho began.

            “I’m not doing it!”

            “You need it,” Suho said firmly.  “It’s good for you.”

            “It’s a human being, not a vitamin pack!”  Suho didn’t understand anything.  “It’s a commitment.  It’s a responsibility.”

            “That sunbae was one of the best things that’s ever happened to you,” Suho said, putting a hand on his arm.  He swallowed, too sensitive to talk about it.  “Losing him has hurt you a lot.  But you can’t hide forever.  You have to take care of yourself.”  Suho squeezed lightly.  “The people closest to me lecture me all of the time about my sexual habits, about how I need to take care of myself, how I need to stop denying myself, about how I need to do what’s healthy for me, whatever that is.  You need to do what’s right for you, too.  I don’t know if it’s this other idol or not, but you need to find that out.”

            “I can’t.”  He shook his head, not meeting Suho’s eyes.  “I don’t want to know who it is, I don’t want to know anything about him.  Woohyun hyung can do it.”

            “Are you going to push your problems onto other people?” Suho asked.  “Is that healthy for you?  Is that fair to this other idol?”

            “I’m not the only dom in the world, he can find someone else.  Woohyun hyung-”

            “I’m not letting you get out of this,” Suho said firmly.  “You’re being a coward, and I don’t like it.”

            He stared at Suho, shocked.  Coward!  “I’m looking out for him!  I can’t take on another responsibility!  It’s too much!  I’m just going to let him down, I’m going to hurt him.”

            “Or maybe he’ll hurt you,” Suho said quietly.  “Maybe it’s not only about what you put him through.  Maybe he put you through something, too, and you don’t want to endure it again.”

            He swallowed.  He knew, from the way his heart ached, that Suho had hit too close to home.

            “If I have to admit that I love sex and I need it all of the time, then you have to admit that you need this, too,” Suho said.  “If I have to have sex every night and every morning, because it’s healthy for me to get laid more often than a porn star, then you have to try meeting this idol.  It’s good for you.”

            It was weird to hear Suho talk this way, but he liked it, so he didn’t say anything that might sound discouraging.  “Hyung.”  He made himself meet Suho’s eyes again.  “I can’t.  Not now.  Maybe I’ll meet someone later, maybe-”

            “Take your vitamins, maknae.”

            He couldn’t.  “You told me, before.  A dom’s responsibility is real.  You know what kind of commitment this is.  I can’t.”  He felt a rising tide of despair welling up in him.

            “A dom’s responsibility is real,” Suho said quietly.  “If you meet him, and you like him, if you make this commitment.  I’ll help you to keep it.”

            He wished that his leader had less integrity.  He wished that his leader weren’t so stubborn.  Suho had been determined to help him, once, and had brought him his sexy, perfect pet.  Now Suho felt determined again.  But he was afraid, this time, of where that might lead him.

            This had been the most embarrassing week of Hwanhee’s life.  He’d had to go to Andy’s apartment and talk to Andy, in private, face-to-face, and answer all kinds of questions, and explain all sorts of things.  It had been humiliating.  Andy had been really nice about it, really kind to him, though.  And he was a little confused about the point of it, because Andy had asked a lot about his sexual fantasies but had also asked a lot about his schedules, and his health, and his relationships with his hyungs and his managers and everybody.  He didn’t know why Andy cared so much about how he felt about being an idol.  He hoped that he’d given the right answers.  He’d admitted, when Andy had pressed him, that he kind of cried a lot.  He’d tried to downplay it, because it was embarrassing, and because he didn’t want Andy to think that something was wrong with him, and because he didn’t want to bother Andy with something so stupid and personal.  But Andy had really seemed to want to know how he was, like, just how he was doing, not as an employee but as a person.

            He wondered, for a second, if Andy could be his prince.  But Andy was ancient.  Like, he’d been born a couple of months after Andy had debuted.  Andy was handsome, and terrific, and totally Hwanhee’s role model, but Andy was more king age than prince age, maybe.

            After practice, Jinhoo pulled him aside.  “You’ve worked hard today,” Jinhoo said, and hearing that, seeing the way Jinhoo smiled at him, made him happy.  It felt really good to have his effort noticed.  Everyone, all of the members, worked so hard that sometimes he felt like he couldn’t do enough.  He was glad to feel like he’d done well, like he was on the right track.  “There’s someone I want you to meet.  An idol from another company.”  Jinhoo’s smile was encouraging.  “Think of it like a blind date.”

            “Who is it?”  What was so mysterious?  Meet, meet for what?

            “A new friend, maybe.  A friend of C.A.P. hyung.  He’s arranged it, he thinks that maybe the two of you will get along.”  Jinhoo looked at him in a reassuring, serious way that told him this was important.  “Maybe if you get along, you could grow close.  You could have a private friendship.”

            What…  What…  Butterflies took off in Hwanhee’s stomach, and he hugged himself, trying not to freak out.  “Hyung.  Hyung,” he repeated, feeling excitement bubbling up in him, trying to get out.  “Hyung!”

            “What?” Jinhoo asked, laughing at him, squeezing his shoulder.  “Dongsaeng-ah, I’m right here.”

            “Hyung!”  Looking around, he lowered his voice, searching Jinhoo’s expression.  “Are you talking about my prince?”

            “Prince,” Jinhoo repeated fondly, chuckling.  He brushed sweat from Hwanhee’s temple.  “Sure.  A potential prince.  A maybe prince.”  Putting a hand on his shoulder again, Jinhoo looked directly into his eyes.  “Don’t jump into it.  This is just a get-together, just to say hi.  Don’t rush yourself.  Maybe it won’t be right.  Maybe you won’t get along.  Maybe this is just a court advisor and not a real prince, okay?  Maybe he’s just a pretender to the throne.  If it isn’t right, that’s nothing to worry about.  We’ll figure out something else.  There are a lot of guys out there, I’ll make sure that you find the right one.”

            He heard Jinhoo, he heard every word.  It all made sense, and he knew that Jinhoo was right.  It was really, really likely that this guy wouldn’t be right for him at all.  But even so, in his heart, he was still stuck on the last words out of his mouth: my prince.  Jinhoo had found his prince for him.  He was going to get to meet a real, live prince!

            He’d debuted.  He was an idol.  And now he had his very own prince.

            The movies were right.  Dreams really did come true.

            Sehun hated this.  He paced around Teen Top’s dorm, agitated.  He wanted to leave.  He wanted to fly to China and get away from all of this.  He wanted to see Woohyun.  He wanted to close his eyes and be in Woohyun’s bedroom and feel those cool strips of silk tighten around his wrists and just let go.  Closing his eyes, he breathed deeply, willing himself there.

            “Who is it?” Suho asked.

            He paced away, going to the kitchen, not wanting to hear.

            “You know Up10tion?” C.A.P. asked.

            “Sure,” Suho said.  “Of course, Changjo’s introduced me.  They’re good kids!  You’re lucky to have such talented hoobaes.”

            Up10tion?  That barely meant anything to him; he couldn’t tell one member from another.  He tried to remember any names or faces.  Then he tried not to, shoving thoughts away.  He didn’t want to do this.  Why was he here, why had he agreed to meet this guy?  Why the hell did Suho have to be so goddamned stubborn?

            “It’s Hwanhee,” C.A.P. said.  “The main vocal.  Not the high-voiced one, the other one.”

            “Little Baekhyun!” Suho exclaimed, laughing.  “Oh, how weird.”

            That one?  Oh, god.  “Not that one,” Sehun said out loud, right to the closed refrigerator door, like it might save him.

            “What?” Suho called.  “Did you say something?”

            “No.”  Not that one.  Fuck, no, no, not that one.  He knew that one.  He remembered talking with his members about that one.  Remembered indulging in fantasies about screwing a cute, submissive, eager to please dongsaeng who wriggled like Baekhyun.  It had been hot, tempting, and he’d wondered if Teen Top was screwing Up10tion, wanted to ask C.A.P. what it was like, wanted to try it out for himself.

            Couldn’t it have been one of the boring ones?  One of the anonymous ones he wouldn’t recognize if they passed each other backstage?  Did it have to be the one he’d already checked out, already lusted for?  The one he’d already decided pushed his buttons?

            “Fuck,” he told the fridge.  Rubbing his hands over his face, he turned away, muffling his voice against his palms.  “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he whispered.  He couldn’t do this.

            “He’s here with his leader,” Jinhoo explained, ringing the bell.  “Whoever it is, you don’t have to make any decisions right away.  Just meet him and get to know him, and we’ll talk about it.”

            “Okay.”  Hwanhee was so anxious, he was doing his breathing exercises, trying to stay calm.  What if his prince didn’t like him?  “I have to go get a nose job,” he said, turning away.

            Laughing, Jinhoo dragged him back.  “Your nose is fine.  It’s cute.  If you’re worried, I’d focus on other things beside your nose, first.”

            Pretending to be indignant, he stared at Jinhoo, jaw dropping.  “You - - who are you to criticize somebody else’s face?” he demanded.  “I’m cute!  I’m an idol!”

            “Who are you talking to?” Jinhoo demanded, pushing at him.  “I’m an idol, too!”

            “This is a great face!”  Self-conscious, he rubbed his cheeks.  Then he tugged at his hair, uncertain.  He tried to take Jinhoo’s phone, thinking to take a quick look at himself, just to make sure there wasn’t anything in his teeth.

            “You look fine,” Jinhoo said, pushing his hands down.  “Besides, if he only cares about looks, you don’t want him.”

            “You sound like my mother,” he mumbled, wondering what was taking so long to answer the door.

            “I am your mother,” Jinhoo teased, putting an arm around him.  He laughed, hugging Jinhoo.

            The door opened.  He jumped, startled.  It was C.A.P.  “Hey.”  C.A.P. gestured them onward.  “Come on in.”

            He bowed as he entered, mumbling a hello.  He looked around and almost fell right back out of the doorway.  He caught at the doorjamb, staring at EXO’s Suho.  EXO’s Suho.  That was EXO’s Suho, right in front of him.  He rubbed at his eyes, but nothing changed.  That was EXO’s Suho.

            Maybe he was jumping to conclusions.  Suho and Changjo were close, everybody knew that.  Maybe Suho was just visiting.  Coincidence.

            “Hello,” Jinhoo said politely, bowing.  Hwanhee followed his example automatically, a beat late, still stunned.  “I’m Up10tion’s leader, Jinhoo.”

            Suho smiled.  “EXO’s guardian leader, Suho.”

            “I’m Teen Top’s - - never mind,” C.A.P. said.  “This is Hwanhee.”

            “Main vocal?” Suho asked.

            “Yes, main, main vocal,” Hwanhee said.  He’d greeted Suho before, they’d met backstage, he and his members had gone to EXO’s dressing room to introduce themselves, and he’d seen Suho with Changjo once.  But this time, in this setting, this was blowing his mind.

            His prince was here.  His prince’s leader was here.  Suho was here.  Suho was EXO’s leader.

            If his prince’s leader was here.  And EXO’s leader was here.

            Was his prince in EXO?  Was his prince an EXO member?

            “Sehun-ah,” Suho called.

            Hwanhee sat down on the couch.  He didn’t mean to, it was just that his knees weren’t holding him up anymore.

            “Oh Sehun sunbaenim?” Jinhoo asked.

            “Surprise,” C.A.P. said.

            There was no Sehun in sight, though.  Was this real?  “Oh Sehun sunbaenim,” he whispered to himself, just to hear it out loud.  He couldn’t help it.  He felt like he was in a dream, in a dream world, and he was desperate not to wake up.  He needed this to last just a little bit longer, just five more minutes, he needed his hyungs to let him sleep for five more minutes so he could meet EXO’s Sehun.

            Suho smiled at Jinhoo, then looked away and raised his voice.  “Sehun-ah!”  There was an edge to his tone that Hwanhee recognized, a warning to behave.

            A couple of seconds passed.

            Hwanhee got up, fixing his clothes.  This wasn’t really happening.  He was sure that this wasn’t really happening.

            Sehun walked into the room.  Tall and broad-shouldered and grim, he didn’t look at Hwanhee.  On one hand, Hwanhee was desperate to be looked at, desperate to be acknowledged.  On the other hand, it was okay.  Prince Sehun could look or not look anywhere he wanted.  Hwanhee was just grateful to be there, to be near him.

            It was Sehun.  It was really Sehun. 

            “You don’t want to get to know each other in front of a pack of leaders,” Suho said.  “Why don’t you two talk in Chunji’s room, and the three of us can talk out here?”

            “Alone?” Jinhoo asked politely, pleasantly, with his “don’t you fucking try it” smile on.

            Suho smiled right back.  “They’ll be fine.  We don’t know each other well yet, so I can understand if you aren’t ready to trust me, but I think this is an important moment, and Sehun and Hwanhee need to get to know each other.  They won’t be able to relax with so many leaders and hyungs around.”

            “They’ll be all right,” C.A.P. told Jinhoo.  He nudged Sehun’s ankle with his foot.  “You two go on, we don’t need to stand around here all day thinking about it.”

            Hwanhee hesitated.  Sehun wasn’t moving, and Jinhoo didn’t want him to go, so he should probably stay put.

            C.A.P. reached over and pushed him towards the bedroom.  “Go.”

            “Not that room,” Sehun said.

            Hwanhee froze.  He felt like all of time froze.  He didn’t even know what Sehun was talking about or why Chunji’s room was a bad idea, but Sehun was talking.  Prince Sehun was speaking!

            “The maknaes’ room, then,” C.A.P. said.  “Don’t get picky, the only other choices are my room or the bathroom, and I don’t want you doing that shit on my bed.”

            Doing that what?  Doing what?  What were they going to do?  On a bed?  A bed was involved?

            EXO’s Prince Sehun was going to fuck him on Changjo’s bed.

            Cursing under his breath, Sehun stormed off.  He was all long legs, long back, broad shoulders, striding away angrily.

            “Go with him, that’s the whole point of this,” C.A.P. said, pushing Hwanhee forward.

            “Phones,” Suho said suddenly.

            “Right,” and C.A.P. caught at the back of Hwanhee’s shirt, pulling him back again.  He felt like a yo-yo.  “Give me your phones.”

            While Jinhoo handed C.A.P. his phone, Suho disappeared into the same room Sehun had just gone into.  A moment later, Suho was back with a polite, determined smile.  “You can go on in,” he assured Hwanhee.  “We’ll wait out here for you.  Take your time, I don’t want you to feel rushed.”

            Suho was being really considerate.  Sehun was kind of being a total jerk.  Hwanhee was a complete jumble of every emotion at once; he felt so many ways about all of this, he didn’t know what he felt.  “Thank you.  I won’t take long.”  He bowed to Suho and smiled nervously at Jinhoo and walked, hurried, to the bedroom.

            He went in cautiously.

            There were two beds.  Sehun was standing beside one, his back to Hwanhee.  He was looking at the wall.  At the fan art on the wall?  Wow, Teen Top had really talented fans.

            “Hi,” Hwanhee said politely.

            The door closed behind him.

            “We’re not doing this,” Sehun said.

            Hwanhee’s heart plummeted.

            “I only came for Suho hyung’s sake.  This is important to him,” Sehun said.

            He closed his eyes.  So it had been too good to be true.  He’d known that, but a small part of him, an eager, thrilled part of him, had hoped for more.  Had believed that this might really be happening.  Had already been rejoicing at all of the fantastic things that were about to happen.

            That were never going to happen.

            Only some dreams came true.  Not all princes were real.

            He swallowed and opened his eyes again.  They were watering; he wiped at his face.  “Okay.”  His voice shook.  Ashamed, he felt hurt, felt stupid.  Felt stupid for ever thinking that he could really have this.  For being so simple and foolish and immature that he’d believed in it.  What would EXO’s Sehun want with him, anyway?  “I’ll go.  I’m sorry for wasting your time.”

            “Don’t go now.  Wait a few minutes, we have to make it seem like we tried.”

            He swallowed again.  His nose was running, and he sniffed, trying to be quiet about it.  Sehun wasn’t looking at him, and he didn’t want to give away that he was crying.  “Okay,” he said, wiping at his tears again.  “We’ll wait.”  This was it, then.  This was his reality.  He had to stand here and wait for time to pass so that Oh Sehun could save face.

            He went over and sat on the foot of the closest bed.  He dried his tears with the hem of his T-shirt.  He wondered what Sehun was really like.  Not great, apparently.  But that wasn’t fair; he couldn’t blame Sehun for not wanting him.  He could blame himself, though, for not being anything that Sehun wanted.

            Clearing his throat, he tried to salvage the moment.  “We can still talk, right?  I like your hair.  It’s a nice color.”

            Sehun put his hands in his pockets.  Half-turned.  Glanced at him over one shoulder.  Grimaced.  Turned the rest of the way around, facing him.  “I’m doing pink next.”

            He smiled.  “I’ve never had pink hair.  Is it fun?”  He touched at his hair self-consciously.  “I don’t know if I could pull it off.”

            “You could do red, though.”

            He laughed, liking that.  “Do you think so?”

            Sehun pressed his lips together, gaze drifting away.  He looked at the opposite wall.

            Hwanhee struggled to get the good mood back.  “Are you close with the Teen Top sunbaes?”

            Sehun blinked unhappily.  He rubbed at his eyes with one hand.  “Yeah.”  He sat on the other bed.  “Yeah.  We’re close.  Niel and I are friends.”

            “I guess they’re your sunbaes, too.”

            “Yeah.”  Sehun took a closer look at him.  “Are you close?  In the company?”

            “I know the 100% sunbaes better, because I’ve spent more time with them.  The Teen Top sunbaes are busy.  My hyungs are closer with them than I am, they spend more time together.  Teen Top’s always been really nice to me, though.  They’ve accomplished so much, their fans love them so much, it’s a lot to live up to.”

            “It seems like it was hard for them, being the first ones at their company, having to start everything,” Sehun said.  “But it sounds nice, too.  Being the big sunbae now, not having anyone over them.  We have so many huge sunbaes at our company, Shinee and Super Junior and everybody, even BoA sunbaenim.”

            “And Shinhwa,” Hwanhee said.  “Not really.  But kind of.”

            “Yeah.”  Sehun smiled.  “Guess we’re kind of related.”

            He smiled.  “Cousins.”

            C.A.P. should’ve made one of his members handle this part for him.  Baby-sitting the play dates was Chunji’s job, not his.

            He didn’t hear anything from the bedroom.  But it would’ve been hard to hear anything over the smiling.  So much smiling.  Jinhoo was being very pleasant, very polite, and Suho was being very gracious, very thoughtful, and it was like some kind of formal tea party from hell.  He wished that they’d just relax.  He was tempted to find something else to do, maybe leave the room altogether, but he was afraid that if he left them alone, they’d bite each other with those shiny, polite teeth.

            This wasn’t L.Joe.

            It wasn’t Baekhyun, either.  It was someone new, someone he didn’t know.

            Someone he didn’t want to get to know.

            Sehun leaned against Ricky’s headboard.  Looped his arms around his knees.  “Have you ever done this before?”

            “Done - - oh.”  Like he’d just realized what Sehun meant by that, he blushed.  “No.  My members don’t, um.  Once, uh, kind of.”  He laughed at himself, bouncing a little.  “It’s so awkward!  But no, not a lot.”  Looking shy, hopeful, he scratched his head.  “Have you?”

            “Before.  Yeah.  I can’t really talk about it, there’s someone else, I have to respect his privacy.  But I’ve done it.”

            Hwanhee slid up the side of the bed, closer to Sehun.  Desire glittered in his eyes.  “What’s it like?”

            He didn’t know what to say.  It was such a monumentally enriching experience, he couldn’t describe it in simple terms.  And he couldn’t open up his chest and show the deepest parts of himself to this stranger.  This stranger that he didn’t want to get to know.  This stranger whose desires pained him.

            “You don’t have to tell me,” Hwanhee said, pulling back, cringing.  “Sorry, it’s not my business.  I just.”  He laughed like he wanted Sehun to like him.  It was visible, audible, that he wanted Sehun to like him.  “I’ve never done any of it, but I’ve thought about it!  I don’t really have anyone to talk to.  I don’t know how any of it goes, but I’ve thought a lot about how it might go, you know?”

            He knew.  He knew exactly what that was like.  He’d lived that way.  Before his pet.  “Let’s talk about something else.”  He couldn’t do this.  He couldn’t do any of it.  Had enough time passed, yet?  He had to make it seem like he’d really tried, had to satisfy Suho’s determination.  “You’re the main vocal, right?”

            He nodded.  “With Sunyoul hyung.  We’re both.  Most groups only have one, so if I say that I’m the main vocal, it sounds like I’m bragging, or putting myself first, but we have two.  I don’t want to leave him out.”

            He was so high-strung, so anxious, Sehun felt his tension like Hwanhee’s nerves were vibrating in Sehun’s body.  “We have two.”  Sehun said it without thinking, said it just to make some reply, but immediately wished that he’d said something else, instead.  He knew, as soon as the words left his mouth, that Hwanhee was going to take them as chastisement, as a correction.

            Hwanhee cringed.  “Right, I’m sorry.  I wasn’t thinking.  You have one from EXO-K and one from,” he faltered, “EXO-M.”  He looked pained.

            Sehun felt pained.  This was unbearable.  Not the dramatic history of EXO-M stuff, he was used to that.  But Hwanhee.  Hwanhee’s anxious desire to please.  Hwanhee’s pathetic desperation.  This should be a happy, energetic, lively person.  That was obvious, it was right there, Hwanhee’s bright personality and adorable mannerisms and bouncy, cuddly fun.  Anyone could see it.  But anyone could see it all cracking around the edges.  Hwanhee was falling apart.  And it was excruciatingly painful.  Because Sehun knew exactly how to put him back together.

            Why hadn’t anyone else put him back together?  How long had he been like this?  This wasn’t new, it couldn’t be.  Hwanhee had to have been struggling for weeks now.  Months, it must have been months.  Why hadn’t his hyungs helped him?  What was wrong with his leader, to leave him like this?  To let him suffer?

            He wasn’t Sehun’s problem.  Let Jinhoo take care of it.  Let C.A.P. help.  This had nothing to do with Sehun.  It wasn’t his responsibility.

            “You must be so proud of your members,” Hwanhee said.  “You have such great vocals.  All of your hyungs are so talented.  And you!” he added hastily.  “Everyone in EXO.”

            “I can’t sing for shit,” Sehun said.

            Hwanhee laughed like he was surprised.  He was grateful that Sehun was joking with him.  It made him shine; for half a second, it almost hid his deep, cavernous misery.  “You don’t need to!  You dance really well, I’ve seen you.  I guess everyone’s seen you!”

            “You guys perform well, too.  Your debut was great.”  Sehun wanted to grab Hwanhee’s leader by the throat and explain some things.  Wanted to make him pay for letting this happen.  “Your members, how do they treat you?”  There were ten members altogether, right?  He guessed so, it was right there in the group name.  “How many hyungs do you have?”

            “Oh, I’m the ninth one.  I’m in the maknae line, me and Xiao.  We were both born in ’98.  Everyone else is older.  Two from 1995, and then five from 1996 all together, and then Gyujin hyung’s all by himself in 1997.  It’s fun, we have two leaders, and then five hyungs together like a posse, and then Xiao and I, we’re best friends.  And Gyujin hyung!  He thinks he’s one of the hyungs, but the hyungs shove him down with us in the maknae line.”

            He glowed again when he talked about his members.  His affection for them was real; it brightened him.  “1998,” Sehun said.  The two of them were four years apart.  He’d never done this with someone younger.  He wondered how that would change things.  It was a completely different dynamic.  His pet had been older, had been a sunbae, so outside of scenes, he’d emphasized his pet’s advantages over him to change the balance of power.  But Hwanhee was younger, was a hoobae, would always be under him, always-

            Always nothing.  Nothing.  There was nothing between them.

            “It’s funny,” Hwanhee said.  “I heard rumors about Nam Woohyun sunbae, from Infinite.  Well, you know who Nam Woohyun sunbaenim is!  But I heard rumors about him, about him and Key sunbaenim, that they do things like this.  I know it’s not true!” he added hastily.  “But I heard about it, and I thought it was great that there are other idols who like this.  I didn’t think that there was anybody else.  But now, there’s you.  So I guess it’s not just me, anymore.”

            Sehun didn’t want to expose anyone else’s private life.  But he couldn’t let Hwanhee feel alone in this.  He knew what it was like to feel frustrated and lonely.  “It’s not just the two of us.  There are other idols.  Some of them aren’t as serious about it and some of them are pretty deep into it, but they’re out there.”

            Hwanhee stared at him, disbelieving.  “Really?”

            He nodded.

            He laughed.  “Who?!”

            Sehun grinned.  “Who do you want it to be?”

            “L sunbaenim,” he said immediately.  “Can I say it’s L sunbaenim?  Can you pretend, can you lie to me and tell me that it’s L sunbaenim?”

            “L hyung!” he exclaimed, laughing.  “Why him?”

            “Hyung?” Hwanhee repeated.  “Are you close?  Do you know him?”

            “I know a lot of people.”  He rubbed his nose.  “We’re not close-close, but we’re close.  He’s closer with Suho hyung, they’re really tight.”

            “Does he go over to your dorm?  Have you been to his?”

            Sehun nodded.

            “I met him a couple of times.  Not, like, we never hung out!  But I’ve met him.”  Hwanhee’s smile was brave and miserable.  “I don’t think that he likes me very much.  It’s probably annoying, having a lot of hoobaes around.  Like, so many rookies debut every year, he’s probably tired of new kids popping up all of the time.  There are so many!  I don’t know how anybody makes it.  We’re all backstage complaining that there isn’t any elbow room, but Niel hyung says that we should be grateful, because there are all of those idols who weren’t even invited backstage and can’t get near the show unless they have a ticket to sit in the audience.  You know?  It’s scary.”

            “There’s a lot of competition,” Sehun said.  “It’s a lot of pressure.”  He knew what kind of pressure he was under, being in EXO, being in the spotlight, and it was intense.  But he couldn’t kid himself that EXO was in any way struggling.  There was a totally different pressure on Hwanhee, trying to make it, trying to push Up10tion forward, desperate to succeed.  He wondered what it was like, being the main vocal and being so young.  He was still in awe, sometimes, of how much Chen did for EXO, and Chen was older and had a gorgeous, strong voice.  “How stable is your live?”  It was a rude question, one he never would’ve asked a sunbae.

            “Of course it’s stable!  I’m the main vocal,” Hwanhee explained.  “You can’t be the main vocal if you can’t keep up.”

            Sehun made a face.  “I don’t know about that.  Some groups…”  He shook his head.

            Hwanhee laughed.  “Maybe they’re just having a bad day!  Everybody has a bad day.  If I get sick, ooohhh.”  He shivered dramatically.  “It’s scary.  It’s hard, going out there, scared that my voice won’t make it.  It feels like a nightmare, getting onstage when I’m not ready.  But the main vocal, there’s no excuse.  It’s my responsibility, I have to get it done.  It’s okay, for some of the other members.  If you’re the visual - - I’m not picking on Wooshin hyung!” he added quickly, waving his hands to push the idea away.  “I don’t mean anything specific!  But if you’re the visual, if you have another role, people say, ‘Oh, well, he’s not the main vocal.’  But I’m the main vocal!  So.  No excuses.”

            “But how old were you when you debuted?” Sehun asked.

            “Like it was so long ago!  Seventeen.  It was after my birthday, but Xiao hadn’t had his birthday yet, so he was only sixteen.  He’s such a baby.”

            Fuck.  “Do your members support you?” Sehun asked.  “Do they look after you, take care of you?  Does management pressure you too much?”

            “My hyungs are great!  We have two leaders, so.”  He stopped short, then wailed and threw his hands over his face, dropping back on the bed and kicking his feet, writhing in frustration.  “Why do I always say the wrong thing?!”

            He was so energetic, so cute, that Sehun smiled, reaching across the space between their beds, pushing his feet down.  “Stop it, I don’t care.  Say whatever you want.”

            He rolled onto his side, tucking his head on his arm, peeking at Sehun.  “It’s okay?”

            Sehun wanted to make everything okay for him.  “Yeah.”

            He sat up again, fluffing his hair.  “I’m sorry about your, uh, what happened with your other members.”

            “It’s okay.  What are your two leaders like?  Mine were,” he paused, “probably not like yours.”

            “Jinhoo hyung’s really good to us.  But he’s so busy, he’s always running things and talking to management and doing all of the official business and stuff.  So Kuhn hyung looks after us while Jinhoo hyung’s doing all of that.  Our mom runs the business while our dad watches the kids.”

            Hwanhee started telling him anecdotes about the members.  They were funny stories, but he was more interested in how Hwanhee told them than in the stories themselves.  Hwanhee explained earnestly, laughing, and every smile, every gesture, tried to please him, tried to entertain him, invited him to like both the story and the storyteller.  There really was someone happy and sincere in there, someone who bounced around through life making friends and meaning well.

            There was someone tough in there.  Sehun could see, through the jagged cracks in Hwanhee’s façade, how miserable he was.  How stressed out and unhappy.  How emotionally exhausted.  How needy and plaintive and desperate.  But he was holding himself together, he was still smiling, he was forcing himself through it.  He wouldn’t complain, he wouldn’t quit.

            God, Sehun got upset over stupid, little shit and went around being pissy and rude to everybody, rolling his eyes and mouthing off to hyungs and sulking over nothing.  Hwanhee was coming apart at the seams and was still trying not to cause problems for anyone else, still trying to deal with it on his own.  He was so fucking strong.  Just since Hwanhee had come into this dorm, Sehun had ignored him, brushed him off, and shut him down, and he’d still tried to make nice, still tried to get along, still tried to make the best of a bad situation.

            So tough.  So brave.  Desperate by the side of the road, wagging his tail happily at the sight of anyone approaching, eager to be accepted.  Rejected over and over again, but still brightening at the sound of another pair of feet.  Maybe this time it would work out, maybe this time.

            Fuck.  He was so pathetic, it was impossible not to respond to him.  But if Sehun saw this in him, so did other people.  Who else would recognize his vulnerability?  Who might want to take advantage of it?

            He wasn’t Sehun’s responsibility.  It wasn’t Sehun’s job to shield him.  He was old enough to say no, smart enough to get himself out of a bad situation.  He had two leaders looking out for him.  He wasn’t Sehun’s problem.

            Maybe, though, maybe Sehun didn’t have to adopt him.  There were a lot of relationships besides an owner and a pet.  They could simply be a dom and a sub to each other.  See each other when it was convenient, ignore each other when it wasn’t.  Tons of people had casual sexual relationships.  He didn’t have to make a commitment.  He didn’t have to worry about making promises he couldn’t keep.  He didn’t have to make any promises at all.

            Sehun could just see him sometimes.  Get off with him once in a while.

            Use him.  It would just be using him.  But there was nothing wrong with that.  They both had a need; they’d be using each other.

            “Hwan-ah.”  Sehun slid to the edge of the bed, studying him.  Already, Sehun felt dark energy crackling through himself.  “What if you and I make an agreement?”

            Hwanhee nodded, already interested.  “Agree to what?”  He laughed at himself.  “I think that I’d agree to anything you wanted.”

            Sehun smiled, a private part of himself taking that as his due.  “We could meet sometimes.  Not regularly, just whenever it’s convenient.”  Whenever it was convenient for him, but that went unsaid.  “We could mess around a little.”

            Hwanhee blinked his eyes wide.  “You’d do that?”  He laughed, pointing at himself.  “With me?”

            “Sure.”  Now that Sehun had accepted in his own mind that he could have Hwanhee, he was starting to feel impatient for it.  “We could even do a little now, if you want.”  Of course Hwanhee wanted to, because Sehun wanted to, and from now on, Hwanhee would want whatever Sehun wanted.

            “Um, yes!  Yes, okay.”  He started to get up, sat back down, gripped the side of the bed with both hands.  “What do you want to do, how does it work?”

            “We need a safe word.”

            “Oh!  Right.  Right, um.  Do you have one?”

            Television.  Kimchi.  So many words seemed off-limits.  “How’s badminton?” he asked with an easy, charming smile.  It felt so, so good to be easing back into this groove.  He felt like he was finally coming back to himself after too long away.

            “Badminton!”  It seemed to tickle him.  “Sure.  Badminton.  Badminton,” he repeated to himself, getting used to it.

            “If I do anything that you don’t like, if I touch you in a way you aren’t sure about or say something you aren’t comfortable with, just say ‘badminton,’” Sehun said.  “I won’t be upset with you, I’ll be glad that you stopped me from going too far.  You have to trust me to know what I’m doing, but I have to trust you to stop me and keep me from hurting you.  Okay?”

            Watching his face seriously, Hwanhee nodded.  “I get it.”

            “We’ll start with something light, just to see how we get along,” Sehun said.  “What’s your focus?  Do you want to be humiliated, or do you like bondage, or do you want pain, or, what are you into?”

            “Oh.”  Hwanhee scratched his nose, looking uncertain.  “Uh, I don’t know about humiliation, I don’t know what that’s like.  And I don’t think that I like pain?  Not a lot of pain.  And I’ve never been tied up, I don’t know what that would be like.  I’ve never done any of this!”  Sehun tried to look patient.  “I,” he glanced at the closed door, then back at Sehun, blushing.  “I kind of just want to blow you.”

            Shit.  He wasn’t going to be boring, was he?  “We’ll start with that,” Sehun said, and pointed to the floor.  “Get on your knees with your hands behind your back.”

            He got up, and then he settled onto his knees.  He spread his knees, and then he straightened his back, and then he shifted a little, figuring out exactly how he wanted to pose.  He put his hands behind his back, and then he blew his bangs out of his eyes, looking up at Sehun hopefully.  “Like this?”

            “Not bad.”  It was fine, but he was going to have to learn that Sehun was not effusive.  He looked pretty down there, and Sehun sat back, watching him, enjoying the sight.  He was dressed simply, his gray T-shirt stretched across his shoulders.  He looked pliant and deliciously vulnerable.  His left ear was pierced, but not his right one, and Sehun wanted to bite him there.  Wanted to know exactly how he’d jump, how he’d squeal.

            A new sub to explore.  He had so much to learn about this one, and he’d have so much fun learning it.

            Moving smoothly, controlled, Sehun got up.  Hwanhee watched him, face tilted up, so trusting, so obedient.  “Do you like to give head?” Sehun asked.


            “Call me hyungnim,” Sehun decided.

            “Hyungnim,” he repeated.  “Okay.  Yes, hyungnim.”  He smiled hopefully.  “What will you call me?”

            Sehun chuckled, carelessly flicking Hwanhee’s bangs out of his eyes.  “Whatever the fuck I want.”

            “Oh.”  He shivered, laughing.  “Yes, hyungnim.”

            He smiled so easily.  He was hopeful, grateful.  “Aren’t you ashamed?” Sehun asked.  “To be on your knees, already begging for cock, from someone you barely know?”

            His expression was doubtful.  “Should I be?”  He winced like it was funny.  “I guess my parents wouldn’t approve!”  Then he looked around, laughing, anxious.  “God, I hope they don’t find out about this!”

            His attitude was so new, so unexpected, that Sehun felt even more interested, even more curious about him.  Crouching down, Sehun gazed into his eyes.

            He looked right back, frank, smiling pleasantly.

            Sehun kept looking.  Wondering about him.

            He grimaced, shifting his weight.  He relaxed his arms for a split second but repositioned himself before Sehun could even start to correct him.  He met Sehun’s gaze without a trace of shame.  There was a hint of embarrassment, maybe, because for him this was new, an awkward situation, and he wasn’t used to this yet.  But he wasn’t upset.

            He liked this.

            He wanted to be doing this.

            He didn’t just need it, sexually.  He wanted it, mentally.  He liked it.

            Fascinated, Sehun stood up.  Stood over him, so that he had to tilt his head back to look up.  But he did look up.  No hanging his head in shame.  He kept making and maintaining eye contact, meeting Sehun’s eyes as readily as if they were making small talk over coffee.

            “You don’t look slutty enough,” Sehun decided.  “Take your shirt off.”

            “I don’t know what slutty looks like.”  He had no sense of shame whatsoever; he kept replying to Sehun like they were carrying on the normal back-and-forth of conversation.  It was adorable.  Either Hwanhee was in way over his head, or Sehun was.

            He took his shirt off, shook out his arms, and clasped his hands behind his back again.  Sehun nodded, approving.  He had the same lean body of most male idols, toned from hours of dancing.  Sehun cupped his chin, and he gazed up at Sehun, trusting.  So trusting.  He was a decent person, and he assumed that Sehun was, too.  Silently, Sehun watched him breathe.

            He wasn’t pushing for more.  He wasn’t struggling and pulling away.  He was just letting Sehun be in charge.  Just going at whichever pace Sehun set.

            Letting go of his chin, Sehun toyed with his hair.  Caressed it, fluffed it, tousled it this way and that.  It was soft, thick, unstyled, falling into his eyes.  “Do you like the way you look?”

            “Yeah.”  A crooked smile.  “I’m okay with it.”  Then, with what seemed like absolute frankness, he added, “I like the way you look more.”

            Sehun smiled at that.  “Good.”  That was the way things should be.  “You’re cute,” he decided.  Good cheekbones, cute nose, strong chin.  “How often do your hyungs fuck you?”

            “Oh.  Um, I haven’t really counted,” he admitted.  He winced when Sehun pulled too hard on his hair.  It wasn’t necessarily a physical correction, a light punishment for giving the wrong answer, but Sehun would let him take it as one.  “We jack each other off and things, and I go down on them a lot.  It’s not really a lot to me, I’d do it way more if I had the chance, but I guess it might seem like a lot?  But if you, do you mean anal?”


            “That, uh.”  His eyes drifted like he was trying to remember.  “That’s mostly Jinhoo hyung and Kuhn hyung, the lube’s in their bedroom.  So, uh, once a week, I guess?  More or less, if we have time.  And then the other members, we do it when we have a chance, we go into their room and do it real quick.  I like it slow, it’s really hot with Jinhoo hyung and Kuhn hyung, but it feels really good when it’s fast, when we’re rushing to get it done while we have a chance.”

            They only gave it to him once a week?  He probably liked it quick because of the frantic feeling, because of the heightened intensity, because his members were fucking him hard and fast and maybe a little out of control.  “You’ve been neglected.”  Sehun was not happy.

            “I wouldn’t say it like that.  That’s a lot of sex!  Way more than I ever had before.  We make out all of the time, and-”

            Sehun slapped him lightly across the face.  Not enough to hurt, just to startle him into silence.  “I would say it like that.  I did say it like that.  A cute, fuckable puppy like you should have his ass sweetened with a hyung’s cum once a day, at least.  At least,” he added for emphasis.  “Can you make that happen, or do I have to talk to your leader for you?”

            “If I knew how to make that happen, I would.  Trust me!”

            Sehun raised a hand.

            He cringed.  “Don’t hit me!”

            Sehun slapped him.  “Now thank me.”

            He was wide-eyed.  “Thank you.  Thank you, hyungnim,” he added, correcting himself.

            He was learning.  Good.  “These blowjobs you like to give so much.  When you serve your one useful purpose in life and manage to make your members jizz, do you spit, swallow, or get it rubbed on your face?”

            He looked startled by the first part of Sehun’s question, and it took him a second to get past that to remember to answer.  “My hyungs don’t - - I mean, Jinhoo hyung says that coming on somebody’s face is disrespectful and too messy.  He thinks it’s rude.  So most of them don’t, at least not often.  But Wooshin hyung does, and Xiao does.”  He smiled.  “Wooshin hyung’s fun, he teases me with his cock and puts it in my face and makes me ask for it.  It turns me on so much, I wish he’d do more of it.  But I swallow, I don’t spit.”  He looked genuinely confused.  “Why would I spit it out?”  He laughed.  “The cum’s the best part!  Where would I spit it, the floor?  Then I’d just have to clean it up!  My hyungs already don’t clean up after themselves, I know it would be my job.  ‘What’s this mess on the floor?’  ‘Oh, it’s Hwanhee, he’s been giving head again.’  ‘Get in here and clean this up!’”  He laughed again, shaking his head.  “Too much trouble!”

            He was adorable.  Sehun couldn’t wait to make him suffer.

            When Sehun took his shirt off, Hwanhee watched avidly, drinking him in.  He was so tall, he looked really long from Hwanhee’s position on the floor.  Those broad shoulders, those firm abs, he was really handsome.  “You’re so good-looking, hyungnim.”

            It was really hot, to have a special thing to call him.  A special term, just between them, something Sehun had asked for.  Maybe later, when Hwanhee fantasized about this, he’d call him “my prince” or “Prince Sehun” or “Your Highness” or something.  But for now, hyungnim was good.

            Half-naked in front of Hwanhee, he undid his fly.  He was turned on already; Hwanhee could see the bulging of his hard-on.  Hwanhee was rock-hard, but it was really hot, it was amazing, for Sehun to be aroused, too.  Nothing had even happened yet!  Well, a ton had happened, in Hwanhee’s mind, but Sehun was so much more experienced, he hadn’t expected this to affect Sehun at all.

            He tucked his thumbs in his waistband and pushed his jeans and underwear down about an inch.  And then he stopped.  Breathless, on edge, Hwanhee stared, waiting for the rest.  Where was the rest?  Why had he stopped?!  Tormented, Hwanhee wriggled, too impatient to take it.  Hwanhee could see the black fuzz of his treasure trail, the lines of his pelvis.  “Hyungnim,” Hwanhee complained, squirming from side to side.

            “There’s the slut I was looking for,” Sehun said.

            Hwanhee laughed, embarrassed.  Sehun sounded so approving!  He looked up, blushing.  He guessed that being on his knees, begging for cock, was kind of slutty.  “I can’t help it!  What are you doing?  Show me, show me, can’t I see everything?”

            Sehun slapped him.  It was a careless, light slap, and he yelped, startled.  It stung a little, but he didn’t mind, really.  He was getting used to it, now.  If this was how Sehun was going to treat him, then he might even like it.  Wincing, he looked up, wondering if Sehun was angry.

            “Tell me what a greedy slut you are.”

            Really?  He licked his lips.  “I’m a very greedy slut?” he guessed.  So embarrassing!  He winced, shifting his weight, swaying a little from side to side, hoping to get this right.  “I’m a very greedy slut, hyungnim.”

            “Where do you want my cock?”

            “In my mouth,” he said immediately.  “In my ass?”  He wished!  He probably wasn’t going to get that lucky tonight.  “I want your cock in my ass, hyungnim.  I’m a really greedy slut,” he added earnestly.  “So greedy!”  Um, was that enough?  “Can I have it now?” he asked hopefully.

            “Don’t touch it.”  Sehun pushed his pants and underwear down together and kicked them off.

            “Ooohhh.”  Licking his lips, Hwanhee shuffled closer on his knees.  Sehun’s cock was long and smooth, stiff, turning a sexy, flushed red.  Need pulsed between his own thighs and he moaned, suddenly ravenous.  All of this had been really fun and sexy, but now things seemed serious.  Sehun’s cock was out, and Hwanhee needed it.  Needed it right now.  “Hyungnim.”  He couldn’t look away from it.  Sehun was touching it, long fingers gliding along the shaft.  He thought that he was going to die.  “Hyungnim, seriously.”  He was panting now, his fingers knotted around each other, his need paining him.  “Hyungnim, please, let me do it, okay, let me just, oh, god.”  His chest was tight and his cock was throbbing and he ached all over.  It was right in front of him, right there, he was on his knees and his prince’s cock was in his face and it was just like his dreams, exactly like his fantasies, he just needed one taste of cock, one lick of that smooth shaft, “Please.”

            “Hold still,” Sehun said, and rested his cock on Hwanhee’s face.

            Groaning, Hwanhee couldn’t believe it.  He’d been told to hold still, but he couldn’t possibly do that.  He lifted his face, nuzzling against that soft skin.  “Hyungnim, oh, ohhh.”  He’d never been so close to fulfilling his hot, desperate fantasies, and he couldn’t hold back.  Groaning, he licked Sehun’s cock, finally getting his mouth on it.  The hard shaft was smooth as satin against his tongue, and he licked his way up to the head, eagerly hoping for a prized bead of pre-cum.

            “Disobedient, untrained cunt,” Sehun said, but he barely heard the words; Sehun’s cock was in his mouth now.  Grunting, Sehun rammed it in, and he gasped involuntarily.  His body panicked and his heart rejoiced and he choked, overwhelmed by the swift thrust of Sehun’s erection.  Sehun plunged into him, reared back and thrust in again.  Moaning enthusiastically, he lived in sexual delirium, loving every second of it as Sehun crudely fucked his mouth.  Sehun gripped his hair hard with both hands, pulling on it, dragging his face back and forth, his mouth sliding along the hard shaft.  He tried to keep up, not sure what Sehun wanted from him.  He’d spent long hours daydreaming about being forced, but he’d never actually felt it before, never felt like this would keep happening whether he wanted it or not.  It was shocking, and it was scary, and it was fantastic.  His heart was pounding and his whole body was trembling and he hoped that there would be a whole lot more of this, hoped that this helpless, used feeling would last.

            “Thank me,” Sehun ordered.

            Sehun was still rocking into him, banging into him steadily, erection pushing between his lips, black pubes thick in his face.  He couldn’t talk with a cock in his mouth - - he could barely breathe, was choking on the juices clogging his throat - - but he’d been given an order.  His prince wanted him to be grateful, and he was, he was incredibly grateful, this meant everything to him.  “Thank you,” he mumbled, but it came out muffled, garbled, and he coughed.  “Thank you, thank you,” he tried to say around the erection being rammed into him.  He stared upward, trying to express it with his eyes.

            Sehun sneered down at him, thrusting into him without missing a beat.  It was the look he’d always imagined that he’d see on his prince’s face: proud, disgusted, smug.  So handsome and so contemptuous.  A thrill raced through him and he moaned, writhing, hips bucking excitedly.  His prince was using him.  Using him the way he was meant to be used.  He understood what Sehun had said to him completely now.  When you serve your one useful purpose in life and manage to make your members jizz.  Yes.  That was his purpose.  That was his purpose in life, his primary function.  To make his members jizz.  Maybe even to make Sehun jizz, if he was lucky, if he was really, really lucky.  God, it made so much sense now, it all made sense.  Hot, blissful, he moaned, closing his eyes, embracing it.

            “Fuck,” Sehun said, and then he was coming.

            Quick jets of cum spurted in Hwanhee’s mouth, splattering the back of his throat.  Sehun’s jizz.  He felt ecstatic in a way unrelated to his own fierce need for orgasm.  He felt transcendent.  He’d made Sehun come.  No, he’d helped Sehun come.  No, Sehun had made Sehun come, and he was just the tool, the vessel, the grateful, grateful recipient.

            He’d served his purpose.  He’d served his prince.

            Intoxicated, he moaned blissfully as Sehun let him go.  His mouth empty now, he listed slowly to one side, then the other, weaving, unsteady.  Spit and cum dribbled from his lips, trickling down his chin.  His lips felt sore, swollen, roughly used.  He felt deliriously happy.  He felt so good, he didn’t want to open his eyes.  He was afraid that he might wake up.  He didn’t want to wake up.  He wanted to stay here, in this moment.  He finally had the taste of his prince in his mouth, and he didn’t want to taste anything else.

            “Fuck,” Sehun said again, softly.

            “Mmm.”  He licked his lips, savoring the slickness of Sehun’s cum.  He finally closed his mouth.  It was okay to do that, right?  What if Sehun wanted to use his face again?  Mmm, probably not this soon.  “Prince Sehun,” he murmured to himself, treasuring it.

            “Hwan-ah.”  Sehun’s voice was still soft, but closer now.  He’d thought that Sehun had called him that before, earlier, but he’d wondered if it had been an accident, just something he’d heard wrong.  But here it was again.  Was that what his prince liked to call him?  He smiled, savoring the idea.  He wanted to hear it again.  He wanted to have a nickname, something that only Sehun called him.  “Badminton.”

            That was the safe word.  No.  “Nnn.”

            “Badminton,” Sehun repeated.

            Squeezing his eyes shut tighter, he shook his head, denying it.  No, no.  It couldn’t be over, he wasn’t ready for it to be over.  They’d only just started.  He had so much more to do, so much more to experience, so much more to learn.  They had to keep going.  He’d be a good vessel, he’d serve his prince well, he’d do really, really well.

            “Hwanhee,” Sehun said firmly.  “Badminton.”

            Whimpering, he opened his eyes.  He felt miserable, felt like he was losing something.  He was losing something!  A priceless treasure was being ripped away from him.  For a second, he almost hated Sehun.

            Sehun was crouching in front of him, at his eye level.

            Wanting to cry, he averted his gaze.  He unlocked his fingers and wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand.  Drool and stuff all over his chin.  He guessed that he looked enough like a slut, now.

            “God, you’re resentful,” Sehun said.

            Of course he was resentful!  What else was he supposed to be?  Sulking, he wiped at his chin some more.

            “We need to stop.”

            It hurt.  He nodded, pressing his lips together.  He tried to take it.  “Yeah, okay.”  His gaze flickered; he risked a glance at Sehun’s face.  “But we can do it again?”  Hope swelled in him.  If-

            “I have no fucking idea.”


            “Maybe,” Sehun said.  “Fuck, no, no, I can’t fucking-”  He got up, turning away.  “I don’t know.”

            Slowly, reality set in.  He hadn’t served his prince as well as he’d thought.  He wasn’t a good enough vessel.  He was only good for taking cum and he couldn’t even get that right.  God, he was fucking worthless.

            He felt like he was going to fall apart.  Moving mechanically, pushing himself through each step, he found his shirt and put it on.  He forced himself to his feet.  He wiped at his mouth again.  His lips felt bruised, sensitive.  He wanted to cherish that feeling, wanted to wear it with pride.  But he’d let Sehun down.

            “God, don’t…”

            Don’t what?  Facing the door, his back to the room, he waited.  Waited to hear what he shouldn’t do, how he was doing the wrong thing, how else he was screwing up.

            Sehun didn’t finish.

            He couldn’t stay here.  He couldn’t take any more of this.  He couldn’t take any more of anything.  He’d met his prince and he’d disappointed his prince, all at once.  It had been the best moment of his life and it still hadn’t been enough.  He wasn’t good enough.  And he didn’t know how to keep trying anymore.

            He walked out.

            The door opened.  Immediately alert, Suho got to his feet.

            Hwanhee walked out.  His jaw tight, his eyes down, he moved towards the door.

            “We’ll need to go,” Jinhoo said, getting up.

            Suho didn’t like this.  He didn’t like this at all.  That wasn’t the look he wanted to see.  He was used to seeing loose, relaxed giddiness or humming excitement.  This grim tension was alarming.  “Sehun-ah?” he asked sharply.

            “You shouldn’t just leave,” Sehun said, coming to the doorway.  He looked anxious, unsure.  Frustrated.

            “I think that it’s time to go,” Jinhoo said.  Hwanhee already had his shoes on and was fidgeting, impatient, obviously eager to leave.

            “Maybe we should talk,” Suho said.  This wasn’t right.  This wasn’t how he wanted to end things.  He was starting to worry about a lawsuit.  What had happened in there?

            “Maybe we’ll call you,” Jinhoo said reassuringly, putting on his shoes.  “Thank you,” he told C.A.P.  “Nice to see you,” he added, and then he was leaving, his arm around Hwanhee, the door closing behind them.

            “Ah, shit,” C.A.P. said, grimacing.

            Suho glared at Sehun.

            “I can’t do this,” Sehun told him.

            “I don’t care what you can’t do, I care about what you just did,” Suho said.  “I don’t ever want to see someone walking away from you looking like that.  What happened in there?”

            “No,” Sehun said hastily, starting to look panicked.  “No, no, it’s nothing like that.  I did - - we did something, but he loved it.  He loved it, I swear to god, I never hurt him.  But we stopped, and he didn’t want to stop, he wanted to keep going, and I told him that we can’t do this again.  I can’t do this again.  That’s why he’s upset, I hurt his feelings, he - - he can’t, shit.”  Pawing through his hair with both hands, Sehun turned in a slow, agitated circle.  “God, I don’t know.  I don’t know, what the fuck, I can’t.  He’s not my responsibility!” he shouted, throwing a hand towards the front door.  “He’s not my problem!”

            “A dom’s responsibility is real,” Suho said firmly.

            “He’s not my responsibility!” Sehun shouted.  “I’m not his dom!  I’m not anybody’s dom!”

            The word “anymore” seemed to hang in the silence.

            Suho didn’t approve of any of this.  But he could only argue so much.  If the situation wasn’t right, then it wasn’t right.  If Sehun wasn’t ready, then that was just how things stood.  He regretted exposing EXO’s private lives to Up10tion for nothing, but he couldn’t take it back now.  He’d needed to give Sehun this chance.  He’d hoped that this was the match Sehun needed.

            “Supposed to,” Suho missed the next words, “aftercare.”  Sehun was mumbling, rubbing his face.  “I didn’t think he’d just walk out.”  When his hands dropped, he looked pained and exhausted.  “What was I supposed to do?”

            “I don’t know, but you sure as hell went wrong somewhere,” C.A.P. said.

            “Please give Jinhoo my number,” Suho said.  “I want him to be able to contact me directly if he needs to talk about what happened tonight.”

            “Yeah, here,” C.A.P. said, putting a hand out.

            Suho handed C.A.P. his phone.  Then he smiled to himself, remembering standing in Andy’s office, handing C.A.P. his phone then.  It shouldn’t have been a good memory - - C.A.P. had tossed the phone to Changjo and then threatened him pretty furiously - - but he cherished it, anyway.  It had been the start of a very deep friendship.  What he hoped would be a lasting friendship.

            It amused him to think how easily he’d let Changjo get those sneaky paws on his phone.  He’d been so innocent, then.

            In the elevator, going down to the van, he patted Sehun’s back.  “I’m sorry.  I know that it’s been hard on you, lately.  I didn’t mean to make things rougher for you.  I really thought that this would help.”  He tried to get Sehun to meet his eyes.  “You need someone, Sehun-ah.”

            Sehun shuddered, looking away.  “Not him.”

            As soon as they got back to the dorm, Jinhoo herded Hwanhee straight into his room and closed the door.  Hwanhee went right for Jinhoo’s bed and curled up.  Before he could get a word out, Hwanhee burst into tears.

            Sighing, he sat on the bed.  He rubbed Hwanhee’s shaking back while Hwanhee sobbed all over his pillow.

            He’d been afraid of this.  He’d tried to trust C.A.P.  He’d thought that he could trust Andy.  If he’d been wrong, he’d never forget it.  He’d never put his faith in them again.

            He waited for Hwanhee’s sobs to subside to sniffling gasps, and then he asked, quietly, “How did he hurt you?”  He needed to know.  He wasn’t going to jump to conclusions - - that wouldn’t help - - but he was braced to hear some very bad answers.

            “He doesn’t like me.”  Curling up tighter, hugging himself, Hwanhee wept miserably into Jinhoo’s pillow.  “He doesn’t want me, I couldn’t be what he wanted.  I messed up, I screwed the whole thing up, he doesn’t think I’m good enough.”

            That was a lot milder than the answers Jinhoo had been dreading.  “What do you mean?” he asked, wanting to be sure.

            Hwanhee sniffled some more.  “He doesn’t want to see me again.  He doesn’t want me.”

            “What did you do together?”  Jinhoo was going to need more specifics before he let this go.  Hwanhee’s lips weren’t that pouty and red from simply talking too much.

            He dragged his hand under his nose.  Jinhoo found the box of tissues and handed him a couple.  He wiped up and blew his nose and finally sat up, red-faced, puffy, crumpling the tissues in one hand.  He looked ashamed.  “We talked, and then.”  He winced, scratching his head, meeting Jinhoo’s eyes only in fleeting peeks.  “He told me to get on my knees, and I blew him.”  His breath caught, his chest heaving for a second.  “It was amazing, he was so sexy, I almost came in my pants.  It’s never been like that, it was everything-”  He caught himself, grimacing, falling silent, looking down again.

            Jinhoo was never going to forgive Sehun for putting that joyful, wondering, brilliant expression on Hwanhee’s face and then replacing it with that look of self-loathing shame.  He took a moment to calm himself down, not wanting to upset Hwanhee further, containing his emotions within himself.  A minute later, he trusted himself to speak.  “And then what?” he asked gently, touching Hwanhee’s arm.

            Hwanhee sniffled, looking dejected.  “I thought that he might have liked it, but he didn’t.  He came, but it wasn’t good enough.  He doesn’t want to see me again.”

            That seemed to be all there was to it.  Jinhoo waited, but Hwanhee didn’t offer anything else.  “You can tell me everything,” he said, just in case Hwanhee was holding onto some last tidbit.

            “Why can’t I get anything right?” Hwanhee demanded, flinging the tissues away.  “It’s a blowjob, I give them all of the time!  I can’t even get that right?  I can’t be good enough?  What does he want?!  I’m not hot enough for him?  Then why’d he let me blow him in the first place?  Why’d he even bother?”  He winced, reaching for the tissues.  “I’m sorry, hyung, I’ll get that.”

            “No, leave it,” he said, pushing Hwanhee back down.  “We’ll let Kuhn get it.”

            Hwanhee smiled, interested in conspiring.  “Kuhn hyung?”

            “I’ll tell him that he dropped them there earlier.  I’ll have to scold him.  He shouldn’t be so messy!”

            Hwanhee laughed with him, then wailed and slumped against him.  At Hwanhee’s dramatic, miserable moan, he put his arm around Hwanhee, petting.  “It was perfect.  It was so perfect.  Everything was perfect, perfect.  And then.”  Hwanhee snuggled in tighter against him, needing comfort.  “He’s such a fucking asshole.  I thought that he was my prince, but he’s not a prince, he’s a jerk.  Why couldn’t he just tell me to get lost if he didn’t want me?”

            “Well.”  Jinhoo didn’t want to be rude, but the answer seemed obvious.  “Maybe he just wanted to get off.”

            “He has a million sasaengs and a thousand members, he can get off any time he wants!  He didn’t have to use me like that.”  Hwanhee squirmed, messing with his own bangs.  “I wanted him to use me, not use me.  Augh, it doesn’t make sense.”

            Jinhoo thought that he understood.  “You wanted your prince to use you for his princely pleasure, not some jackass to take advantage of you just so he could get off.”

            “Yes!  Yeah.”  Hwanhee sighed.  “It was freaking Oh Sehun.  I never even thought about saying no, you know?  He’s all I’ve been thinking about lately.  I thought that he was better than that.”

            “Well.”  He patted Hwanhee’s hip.  “There’s always L sunbae.”

            “No, he hates me, too.”  Hwanhee melted away from Jinhoo, crawling under the pillow, dragging it over his head.  “Can I stay here and never come out again?”

            C.A.P. waited, then checked in with Suho and Jinhoo.

            Suho sounded unhappy that things hadn’t worked out, but said that maybe Sehun needed more time to heal before moving on.  Like Sehun was a freaking widower, or something.

            Jinhoo sounded too polite and refused to take Suho’s phone number.  He’d only say that he was grateful to C.A.P. for setting everything up and that they’d take care of the problem inside Up10tion from then on and that C.A.P. didn’t need to worry about them anymore.

            Andy called and said that if things weren’t working with Sehun, then C.A.P. had better figure out something else.

            C.A.P. really wasn’t sure how this was up to him.  He felt like Sehun, standing in the middle of the dorm and shouting, “He’s not my responsibility!” to anyone who would listen.  “Jinhoo said that he’d handle it,” he told Andy.

            “Then you’d better make sure that he does.”

            Hwanhee felt lost.

            It wasn’t fair!  He’d had everything he’d wanted.  He’d thought that he’d never have a chance at it, he’d been sure that he’d never even get a shot, and then all of a sudden life had handed it right to him.  His own prince, right in front of him.  He’d gotten his chance to serve his prince, he’d finally had the real thing, the real experience.  Prince Sehun’s cock in his mouth.  Prince Sehun’s hand in his hair, cum in his throat.  He’d dreamed of being on his knees a thousand times, but those princes had been fantasies, intangible.  Prince Sehun had been real.  A very real, solid cock in his mouth.  Real pre-cum clogging his throat.  Prince Sehun’s haughtiness, crudeness, it had all been real.

            The way Sehun had looked down at him, so smug.  The way Sehun had looked at VIXX’s Hongbin in the hallway, so obscene.  Sehun was the real thing.

            The problem wasn’t Sehun.  The problem was him.  He wasn’t good enough.

            Wasn’t good enough.

            The words burned in him.  They weighed him down, dragged him down, buried him.  And they fueled him, energized him, riled him up.

            People had tried to tell him that he wasn’t good enough, before.  And he’d never accepted it.

            He didn’t have Wooshin’s visuals, but he’d sung so well, they’d had to take him on as a trainee.  He couldn’t dance like Bitto, but he’d practiced so much, no one could say he couldn’t keep up.

            He could do this, too.  He knew that he could.  This was his purpose in life, wasn’t it?  His prince had told him so.

            Maybe he wasn’t sexy enough.  Maybe he wasn’t experienced enough.  Maybe he was too young or too awkward or too whatever.  He didn’t care.  A good servant didn’t have to be any of those things.  The best servant was the one who was the most loyal, the most obedient, the most dedicated.  When it came to that, no one could out-do him.  He dared anybody to try.

            Sehun kept seeing it.  He didn’t deliberately replay it in his mind; he tried to stay the hell away from it.  But it kept coming to him, anyway, unbidden.  Haunting him.

            Hwanhee, kneeling down on the floor, gazing up at him.  So innocent, so trusting.

            Hwanhee, squeezing his eyes shut, shaking his head, refusing to leave the scene, refusing to let it end.

            Hwanhee, looking rapturously happy with his mouth jammed full of Sehun’s thrusting cock.  He’d looked so ecstatic, so joyful, he’d almost looked serene, like there couldn’t be anything better in his life, like he’d hit some internal peak, some new plane of existence and he was just discovering how amazing life really was.  While he was suffocating on Sehun’s cock.

            Hwanhee, splintering with every step, walking away.

            Sehun could hardly endure the whirlwind of emotions Hwanhee dragged him through.  The exhilarating highs and the unbearable lows.  He’d been struggling to accept that he’d never meet another sub, that he’d never know anyone else whose needs fit so well with his, that there was no one else out there really compatible with him.

            And then he’d met Hwanhee.  Who was needy in some of the most amazing, perfect ways.  Who was new in ways he’d never expected.  Hwanhee was a fascinating blend of traits, of shameful desires and complete shamelessness.  Such bright, hopeful eyes.  Such frank lust.  Hwanhee was a wriggling bundle of happiness, squirming and needy and desperate for it.

            But Hwanhee was too perfect.  Sehun couldn’t interact with someone who pushed every single one of his buttons and just walk away.  He wanted a casual relationship, but there was nothing casual about the way Hwanhee made him feel.  If he got near Hwanhee again, he was going to want all of Hwanhee, everything that Hwanhee had to give.  Sehun was disciplined, but there were limits.  He wasn’t going to be able to keep his distance, not with Hwanhee.  And if it couldn’t be casual, then it couldn’t happen at all.

            There was no room in Sehun’s life for another pet.

            So he couldn’t be what Hwanhee needed.

            But he kept seeing Hwanhee walk away.  So tough, so brave.  Coming apart right in front of his eyes.  He’d kept turning away from Hwanhee because he didn’t want to see it.  He didn’t want to deal with it.  But he couldn’t escape it.  It was there, waiting for him, every time he closed his eyes.

            Hwanhee, walking away.

            Hwanhee, smiling at him, wanting to get along.

            Hwanhee, moaning, aglow with sexual satisfaction, licking Sehun’s cum off of his lips.

            Hwanhee, begging.  So hungry for it.  “Hyungnim, please.”

            And then that little whisper.  “Prince Sehun.”  Where had that come from?  Sehun wanted to know everything about that.

            They’d been practicing a lot, getting ready for their comeback.  They’d changed the choreography, and some of the members were having trouble remembering which version of which steps they were on from one day to the next.  Hwanhee was sick, but they had multiple performances each day, so they wouldn’t let him speak around the dorm.  When Up10tion was actually at the dorm, anyway, the hyungs made him stay in bed with vitamins and medicine, ordering him to get some rest.

            Gyujin checked on him now and then.  Sometimes he was conked out, which was a relief.  Sometimes he was red-faced and sniffling, and he said that his nose was just running, but Gyujin was pretty sure that he’d been crying again.  He cried a lot, lately, and he denied it whenever he could, and when he couldn’t hide it, he said that it was just stress, he’d get over it.  He didn’t really seem to be getting over it.

            Most of the time he was just in there awake, bored, asking if he could get up.  He seemed lonely, in there by himself.  But most of the members wanted to keep their distance so he wouldn’t infect them, too.

            He couldn’t talk, so he had a notepad, and he wrote questions there.  One day, when Gyujin went in to check on him, he pushed his notepad to the edge of the bed, poking at it with his pen.

            “You okay?” Gyujin asked, leaning closer.  Smoothing his sweaty bangs back from his forehead, Gyujin read his question.  Who are Oh Sehun’s subs?  Embarrassed, he laughed.  “Hey, I don’t know that.  How would I know that?”

            Hwanhee glared at him insistently and stabbed at the notepad some more.

            “What?  You want me to find out?  I don’t think there’s like a list posted around KBS, do you?”

            Hwanhee wrote, “Teen Top sunbaenims.”

            Well, yeah.  “I mean, I could ask.  You think they’d tell me?”

            Hwanhee wrote, “Who’s he dating?  What’s his type?  Who does he like?”

            “I can ask around.”  Maybe Seventeen would know.  Maybe he could get Changjo to tell him?  It was worth a shot, anyway.  He patted Hwanhee’s head, pushing it down to the pillow.  “I’ll check on it.  Get some sleep.”

            He went to his room and sat on his bed.  Biting his lip, he studied the list of contacts in the phone.

            He started with Changjo.  No answer.

            He tried Ricky next.


            “Ah, hey, hyung.  It’s Up10tion’s Gyujin.”

            “What’s up?”

            “I wondered, um.  You know EXO’s Sehun sunbaenim?”


            “So, uh.”  This was so awkward.  “Is there anybody he’s close to?”

            “Sure.  His members.”

            “Yeah, but, like, anybody else?”  Unless his members were his subs?  Did he do kinky stuff with D.O.?  Gyujin was never going to be able to keep a straight face in front of EXO if that was true.

            “He hangs out with us, and with Infinite, sometimes.  Why?”

            “No, just, uh, nothing.  Just wondering.”  He’d never get answers this way!  “Look, um.  Hyung?”


            “I don’t know if C.A.P. hyung told you, or anything, but, our Hwanhee kind of met Sehun sunbae at your dorm.  To, like get to know each other.  I was just, uh, wondering if Sehun sunbae met other guys like that.  Or women?”  Did Sehun do that with female idols, too?

            “Gyujin-ah,” Ricky said.  “I’m going to hang up now.”

            He winced.  Shit.  “Sorry.”

            Ricky hung up on him.

            Shit.  Well, that hadn’t gone well.

            He set the phone down.

            He thought about Hwanhee in the next room, sick and pathetic and crying and looking really determined about this.

            He sighed and picked up the phone again.  What kind of hyung was he if he couldn’t humiliate himself for a dongsaeng’s sake?  He called Niel.


            “Hyung, it’s Up10tion’s Gyujin.”

            “Okay.  What’s going on?”

            “I, uh, you know EXO’s Sehun sunbae, right?”


            “Do you know who he’s close to?”


            He raised his eyebrows.  “Could you tell me?”


            Well, that was direct, at least.  “Could I beg or do aegyo or something?”

            “Nope, not good enough.”

            “What if I get Wei hyung to ask you?”


            Oh, god.  If he’d just offended Niel, he was going to wither into ashes.

            “That might work, try that later,” Niel said, and hung up.

            Oh.  Wait, really?  Laughing, he took a minute to absorb that.

            In a better mood, he called Chunji.

            “Hi, what?”

            “Chunji hyung, it’s Up10tion’s Gyujin.”

            “Yeah, hi.”  To someone else, he said, “That looks good, hyung, I like it.”

            “Are you busy?”

            “No.  Yeah.  What do you want?”  He laughed.   “Hyung!  No, no, not that.”

            “You know EXO’s Sehun sunbae?”

            “Sure.  Yeah, mmm, better, good, that’s good!”

            Gyujin was having a hard time being sure of when Chunji was talking to him or not.  “Do you know who he’s close to?  Any other idols, or friends?”

            “He knows a ton of people, why?  Is this about Hwanhee?  How is he?”

            Oh, uh.  “He’s okay.”  No, he wasn’t.  “He’s sick.”

            “Is he contagious?”


            “Tell me when he gets better, and I’ll go over.  Tell him I’ll come to see him soon, okay?”  He burst into laughter.  “No, not that, ah!  It tickles!  Ah, ah, hyung!”

            “Okay,” Gyujin said.  He should probably hang up, but he wanted to know more about whatever Chunji was doing.  “Thanks, hyung.”

            “Wait, wait,” Chunji exclaimed breathlessly, laughing, and he sounded so happy, Gyujin smiled, wanting to be there.  Then, abruptly, the call ended.

            Aw, man.

            He wasn’t really getting anywhere on this Sehun question.  He called C.A.P.


            “Hyung, it’s Up10tion’s Gyujin.”


            He felt like he was reading off of a script by now.  “You know EXO’s Oh Sehun sunbae?”

            “You know, you all are making me wish that I didn’t,” C.A.P. said.  “Why, what about him?”

            “Do you know who else he’s close to?  Who else he meets, maybe, like he met our Hwanhee?”

            “Yeah, I’ve got a pretty good idea.  Why?”


            “Look, don’t worry about it, all right?  He’s not interested, it sucks, we’ll figure something else out.  Okay?  I’m working on it.”

            He felt thwarted, frustrated that he couldn’t help Hwanhee.  But he felt grateful that C.A.P. cared, that C.A.P. was trying to help.  “Okay.”  He felt kind of put in his place, just a foolish rookie who didn’t really know anything about this private world between sunbaes.  “Thanks, hyung.”

            C.A.P. grunted.  “Later.”

            He tried calling Seventeen members, but nobody answered.  They were probably all at practice or something.

            Bitto was in the doorway.  “You got the phone?  Give it to me for a minute.”

            It rang.  “Hold on,” he said quickly.  It was Changjo.  “Hi, hyung?”

            “You called me?”

            “Yeah, it’s Gyujin.”  Bitto was gesturing at him to hurry up, so he rushed.  “Hyung, you know EXO’s Sehun sunbae?  Do you who he’s close to?”


            “I just need to know for something.”  He was forgetting his patter and explanations.

            “Is this about Hwanhee?”

            “Yeah.  He’s kind of - - I don’t know, he wants me to find out for him.”  It seemed like a lot to explain, personal stuff, stuff about Hwanhee he wasn’t even sure that he understood.

            “Is he at your dorm?  I’ll come over.”

            Surprised, he looked at the phone.  “Right now?”


            “He - - he’s contagious,” he sputtered, but Changjo had already hung up on him.  “Wait, now?” he asked the air.  “Changjo hyung’s coming over,” he told Bitto.

            “What, now?” Bitto asked.

            “I just said ‘now!’” he exclaimed.

            “Gimme that,” Bitto said, taking the phone from him and pushing him off of the bed.  “Go tell Jinhoo hyung.  And clean up or something.”

            “Xiao!” he called, jogging into the hallway.  He wasn’t cleaning up by himself!

            Jinhoo was being weird.  Something was up.  He was being nice and everything, but he was kind of tense, too, underneath it.  He kept getting in Changjo’s way, physically, like he was trying to herd Changjo back out the door.  “What’s going on?” Changjo finally asked.  A few of the members were on the couch, hanging back, watching intently but not getting involved.  They knew the mood was weird; they weren’t going to interfere.  Jinhoo’s kids were way too well-behaved.

            “Hwanhee’s not feeling well,” Jinhoo said again.  “He’s contagious, and how would Angel feel if we got you sick?  We can tell him that you stopped by, but I don’t think that now’s a good time.”

            “I just want to see him for a minute.”  And the fact that Jinhoo clearly didn’t want him to do it made him even more determined to do it.  He looked into Jinhoo’s eyes, raising his eyebrows.  “You got a problem?”

            Jinhoo smiled at him.  “How long have we known each other?  If I had a problem, you’d know it.”

            Changjo glanced around innocently, then headed around Jinhoo.  “I’ll just say hi.”

            “Changjo,” Jinhoo said, catching at his sleeve.

            He shook Jinhoo off.  “Hwanhee-ah!” he called, taking long, quick strides forward.  The hoobaes on the couch looked scandalized.  “Hyung’s here, you awake?”

            “Everything cool?” Kuhn asked, getting in his way, all big ears and protective concern.

            “Super cool,” he said, feinting right and stepping left and slipping right past Kuhn like they were dancing.  “Still putting the maknaes beside the bathroom?” he asked, opening doors.  “So rude.”  He walked in, smiling.  “Hey, what’s up?”

            “You don’t say anything,” Jinhoo ordered, right behind him, practically on his elbow.  “He has to be careful about his voice, we have three performances tomorrow.”

            Hwanhee was alone in the room, sitting up in bed.  He looked wide-eyed and a little overwhelmed, and he looked rumpled and puffy, his hair all over his head, his nose bright red.  He swallowed and looked from Changjo to Jinhoo and back, then dredged up a smile and waved hello.

            “How are you doing?” Changjo asked, sitting right on his bed.  He barely pulled his feet out of the way in time.  There was a notepad beside him; Changjo picked it up.  Flipped through it.  There was a lot of complaining about wanting to get up, and questions about schedules, and requests for snacks, and, “Who are Oh Sehun’s subs?” and three whole pages full of “Prince Sehun.”  Changjo ripped the Sehun pages out and tore them into little shreds.  “Sasaengs go through trash,” he explained.  “Don’t leave stuff like this sitting around.”

            Hwanhee nodded, looking kind of embarrassed.

            Jinhoo sat on the other bed.

            “Ignore him,” Changjo told Hwanhee.  “What did you want to talk to me about?  Sehun hyung?”

            “I don’t think that there’s more to say on that subject,” Jinhoo said.

            Hwanhee picked up the pen.

            Changjo handed him the notepad.

            Hwanhee scribbled.  “What’s he like?”

            “Sehun hyung?”  Changjo shrugged.  “He’s all right.”  Then Changjo snorted.  “He’s definitely not a prince.”

            Hwanhee got a stubborn look and wrote, “He’s my prince.”

            “He hasn’t acted at all like a prince,” Jinhoo said.

            Still looking weirdly determined, Hwanhee held up the notepad like he wanted Changjo to be sure to read it, like he wanted it to sink in.

            “Does he know that?” Changjo asked.

            Hwanhee shook his head.

            “Sehun sunbae had his chance,” Jinhoo said.  “He ruined it for himself.  I think that we know what kind of man he is, and it’s not a prince.”

            Hwanhee wrote, “Do you have his phone number?”

            “I think that’s enough,” Jinhoo said, reaching for the notepad.  “You need to rest.”

            As soon as Jinhoo took the notepad from Hwanhee, Changjo took it and held onto it.  “You want to talk to him?”  Hwanhee nodded emphatically.  “What do you want to tell him?” Changjo asked, handing him the notepad.

            He wrote, “I’m good for him.”  Then he crossed it out and wrote, “I can be good for him.”  Then he crossed it out and wrote, “I will be good for him,” and underlined it twice.

            Changjo scratched the back of his head.  This weird hunger for Oh Sehun, he’d definitely seen this before.  He hadn’t expected to see it ever again, so this was definitely strange for him, seeing that stubborn craving in this dongsaeng.  He wondered if he should warn Hwanhee away.

            But Sehun had been good for L.Joe.  And, at the time, good for Teen Top.  So Sehun might be good for Hwanhee, too.  And Hwanhee might be good for Sehun.

            The faster Sehun got over L.Joe, the better.  The faster Sehun moved the hell on, the better.  Watching Sehun grieve was just dragging everything out, a constant reminder.  Changjo didn’t need to be reminded.

            If Hwanhee could fix Sehun’s problems, and that fixed Changjo’s problems, then, yes, thank god, Changjo had to get Hwanhee installed in Sehun’s life as soon as possible.  “EXO’s in Japan right now, but they’ll be back next week.  You want me to get you in front of him?”

            Hwanhee nodded.  He breathed in too excitedly and ended up coughing.

            “You might not be well enough by then,” Jinhoo said.  “Let’s wait and see.”

            “He’d drag himself off of his hospital bed if he could see his prince,” Changjo said.  “I’ll text you about it,” he told Hwanhee.

            Hwanhee wrote, “Thank you,” and circled it.

            “Let’s let him get some rest,” Jinhoo said, getting up.

            “See you,” Changjo said.  Hwanhee was still waving the “thank you” at him.

            In the hallway, he looked at Jinhoo.  “Don’t get pissed off.  I’m not trying to mess with your members.  He wants to see Sehun hyung, he’s going to find a way to see Sehun hyung, I’m just making it easier.”

            “Sure.”  Jinhoo gestured him into the next room.  Curious, he followed.  And then Jinhoo was right up in his space, practically chest-to-chest, staring up at him with unblinking focus.  “When I want your help, I’ll ask for it.  I already let C.A.P. hyung help me, I trusted him, and he set Hwanhee up.  I’d rather trust a stranger off the street than let you and your members ‘help’ me again.  Keep Oh Sehun and leader Suho and the rest of them away from me and my members from now on.”

            Hey.  “C.A.P. hyung didn’t set him up.  We’re not assholes, we wouldn’t fuck around with your members.”  Jinhoo wasn’t buying a word of it.  “Look, you don’t know Sehun hyung.  I know him, trust me, I know everything about him.  I’m sorry that Hwanhee’s upset, but - - damn it, come on!  Don’t get stubborn now!” he exclaimed when Jinhoo just kept staring at him, unmoved.  “Sehun hyung fixes Hwanhee’s problems, Hwanhee fixes Sehun hyung’s problems, everybody’s happy, if they’d just freaking get together, we could all move the hell on!  You don’t want Hwanhee to burn out, C.A.P. hyung doesn’t want to keep playing matchmaker, let’s just hook them up and stop worrying about it.”

            “Sehun sunbae doesn’t want him,” Jinhoo said.  “And I don’t want him around someone so heartless.  The point of this is to help Hwanhee, to find someone who can give him what he needs, not take advantage of him and exploit it.”

            Changjo frowned.  He wanted to be sure that he had this right.  “C.A.P. hyung said that Sehun hyung didn’t do anything to him like that.  They had a good time, he was into it.  He just got his feelings hurt when Sehun hyung said that he didn’t want to do it again.  That’s normal rejection, that’s like what anybody could say after a first date.  That’s not, like, abusive.”

            Jinhoo glared at him.  “They’re not just two guys on a first date.  His prince used him to get off and then tossed him aside.  He was thrown away like trash.  Sehun sunbae doesn’t get to call himself a dom and then claim he’s just acting like any guy.”

            Changjo thought about that.  He thought about the stuff he’d used to do, when he’d stepped in and helped out when Sehun wasn’t around.  He thought about doing that stuff, and getting into that head space, and then saying, “Yeah, well, I don’t ever want to see you again.”  He could imagine how L.Joe would’ve reacted to that, and, fuck.  That wasn’t good.  “Fuck, what an asshole move.”  Baffled, he demanded, “Why the hell does Hwanhee even want to see him, then?  To cut off his balls?  I hope it’s to cut off his freaking balls.”

            “He’s too determined,” Jinhoo said, looking weary of it.  “He wants to get back in there and try again.  He’s like a fighter at the end of a movie, he won’t stay down.”

            “Shit.”  Changjo had to admire that.  “So what do we do?  If we can’t get him to stay away from Sehun hyung, then we have to get Sehun hyung to get his shit together.”

            “He’s not going near Sehun sunbae,” Jinhoo said firmly.

            Changjo snorted.  “Keep telling him that.”  He wondered.  “Did you make him sick so he’d have to stay in bed?”

            “No!  What?”  Jinhoo looked startled.

            Yeah, probably not.  Not with so many performances on the calendar, anyway.

            Jinhoo hesitated.  “Wait, how - - no, no,” he said, and he pushed Changjo away, out into the hallway.  “Don’t tell me, you’re giving me bad ideas.  You’ve never been a good influence.”

            “Don’t talk that way to your sunbae!” he protested, laughing, as Jinhoo shoved him across the dorm.  Jinhoo pushed him hard, and he stumbled, chuckling.  As he passed the couch, he kissed Wooshin.  “Later!”

            Hwanhee had to get better.  He couldn’t do anything like this.  It was hard to get better when he was so tired, so stressed out.  His body couldn’t heal if he couldn’t get any rest, but he had too many schedules to rest, and then he had the comeback to prepare for, and his managers were impatient with him, and the fans had so many different opinions that he couldn’t keep up with what they wanted.  When he was running from one schedule to another, all he could think about was how amazing it would be to sit down and rest for a second, just a second.  But when he was at the dorm, shoved into his bedroom and left alone to die, he couldn’t breathe and he couldn’t relax and he couldn’t get comfortable and his mind kept turning things over, dwelling on the choreographer’s criticisms or his manager’s last comment to him or how dizzy he’d felt coming offstage, what if that happened again, what if he collapsed onstage?

            Wei told him to relax and think about good things, focus on some happy thoughts, instead.

            So he closed his eyes and thought about Prince Sehun.

            Not that jerk who’d rejected him.  Prince Sehun, the one who’d called him “Hwan-ah.”  The one who’d smiled at him like they were in on a secret together.  The one who’d called him cute.  His prince thought that he was cute!  Prince Sehun had asked him to take his shirt off.  Had let him see that hard, sexy cock.  The head had felt so smooth against his lips…

            Changjo was on L’s bed, texting, when his phone rang.  Oh, Suho!  “Thank god, where’ve you been?” he asked.  “I mean, hi, hyung.”

            “What kind of greeting is that?” Suho asked, laughing.

            “Say hi to L hyung.”

            “L-ah!  How are you?”

            L was wrapped around Changjo, nibbling on his thigh.  He lifted his head enough to call, “Hi, hyung!” and then he went back to mouthing Changjo’s leg.

            “He’s fine,” Changjo said, reaching his other hand down and patting L’s hair.  “When are you coming back, tomorrow?”

            “Yes, we’re flying back in the morning.  We have the rest of the day off, it’s good, my members need a break.”

            “I need you to help me with something, okay?  I need you to be like, really cooperative on this, because everyone else is all weird and emotional about it, and like nobody in the world will cooperate with me.”

            L growled.

            He sighed, stroking L’s hair again.

            “What is it?” Suho asked.

            “I need to put Lee Hwanhee in front of Sehun hyung, somewhere private.  Getting them to bump into each other backstage at KBS isn’t good enough, it has to be somewhere they can talk.  I’ll never get Sehun hyung to Up10tion’s dorm, so it has to be yours or mine, but yours would be better.  But I can’t just bring some random hoobae into your dorm without permission, right, you’d get pissed off at me.  So give me permission, okay?”

            L growled again.  So freaking sensitive!  L acted like Sehun was the world’s most dangerous super villain, lately.  Just because he’d been one second away from shoving his cock down Changjo’s throat.  Like it would’ve bothered Changjo if he’d gone through with it, or something.  Whatever.

            “I don’t know,” Suho said.

            Changjo stayed quiet.  He really wanted to burst in with explanations and arguments, but he made himself shut up.  He knew Suho well enough to know that particular, “I don’t know,” meant that Suho was thinking it over, not saying no.

            “I thought that Sehun just needed time, at first.  But time isn’t really helping,” Suho said.  “Then I thought, okay, he needs a new partner, he needs a new friend.  But he says that isn’t it, either.”  Suho sighed.  “But I don’t know.  I think that I’m right.  I think that a new friend would help him.  I know it’s not that simple, it’s not like he’s a little kid whose fish died, and I can just put a new fish in the aquarium and it’s all the same to him.  It has to be the right person.  But there aren’t a hundred people to choose from, we only have one option.  He’s just being stubborn, now, he’s too sensitive, he’s not reasonable anymore.  He used to be the one pushing for someone, he used to be so eager.  Do you remember how he went to your practice room even when I told him not to, just to get a peek?  Now if I bring Hwanhee up, he tries to run out of the room, he’s so scared.”  Suho’s voice firmed.  “He can’t be a coward about this.  He already admitted to me that they had a good time, so I know that’s not the problem.  He’s just being foolish, now, and I’m tired of it.”

            Changjo wanted to punch the air in celebration.  Suho was on his side!  Yes!  It was all done, now, it was all over, Sehun didn’t stand a chance.  “So I can bring him over?”

            “Tomorrow night,” Suho said.  “I’ll make sure that Sehun’s there.”

            He grinned.  “Thanks, hyung.”

            When he got off of the phone a few minutes later, L crawled up his body, looking all sexy and mussed and intent on owning him.  He grinned, totally turned on, and L kissed him.  “Is it really important to you?” L whispered.  L’s fingers brushed the corner of his mouth, and L’s gaze burned into his, searching.  “Would you be upset if Sehun didn’t get Hwanhee?”

            Oh, shit.  “Hyung,” he said firmly, holding onto L’s shoulder.  “Don’t mess this up.  Don’t start fucking around, okay?  Come on, seriously, I’m just trying to get this one stupid thing to happen, this one little thing, and everybody’s screwing it up!  Andy hyung’s breathing down C.A.P. hyung’s neck and Chunji hyung hates Sehun hyung and Jinhoo’s trying to threaten my life and Sehun hyung’s being a complete fucking asshole.  This shouldn’t be this hard!  And now you want to ruin it, too?”

            L licked his lips, sulking.  “I just want to destroy everything that makes him happy.”

            “Not this!” Changjo ordered.  “Destroy the next thing that makes him happy.  Leave Hwanhee alone.  Let him have his sub, okay?”

            L pouted, looking all hurt and frustrated and sexy.

            “You want to get back at him because of me, right?” Changjo asked.

            “And if I want you to be happy, and hooking them up matters to you, then I won’t screw it up,” L mumbled, not meeting his eyes.

            “You said it, not me.”

            L sighed.  “It’d be so easy,” he said to himself.  “There are so many ways I could do it.”

            “Forget Sehun hyung,” Changjo said.  “Who cares about him?  I’m seriously tired of everybody talking about Oh Sehun Oh Sehun Oh Sehun all of the time, I’m so over it.  Come on.”  He ran his hand over the side of L’s neck, trying to get L to look at him.  “Kiss me a little, it’ll make you feel better.  You love kissing.”

            A smile flitted across L’s face.  “I love kissing you,” he murmured, shifting closer.

            “Sure, I’m super sexy,” he said, grinning.

            L made a pleased sound and leaned in, kissing him.

            Hwanhee couldn’t believe this.  He stamped his foot, and it wasn’t enough, so he jumped up and down to get more of his frustration out.  “I have to go!  I’ve been waiting all week for this!  I’m all better, you said that I could go out if I got better!  I’m totally healthy now!”

            “I said that you could go out,” Jinhoo said pointedly.  “I didn’t say that you could go to EXO’s dorm.”

            “I can go wherever I want!  Why can’t I go wherever I want?” he asked, turning to Kuhn for help.  On the couch between other members, Kuhn looked he’d rather be left out of it.  “I’m an adult!  Don’t I have any rights?”

            “You’re eighteen, not a forty-five-year-old with two kids and a mortgage,” Jinhoo said.

            “I’m going,” he insisted.  “You have to let me go!”

            “I don’t know,” Kogyeol said.

            “And no one asked you,” Jinhoo told Kogyeol.

            Kogyeol pressed his lips together and looked away.

            “Um, no one asked me, either,” Wei said.  “For the record, I get that.  But is this like, ‘I have to see EXO’s Sehun!’ like when Sunyoul said that he had to have all of those collector’s edition cups, and we all bought cola every single day for a month trying to get them all for him, and then he got bored and threw them all away?  Or is this like, ‘I have to see EXO’s Sehun!’ like when Bitto said that he had to rim every single member of Teen Top no matter what, and it took him forever to talk them all into it, but it’s been months and he still-”

            “Stop talking about it!” Bitto exclaimed, blushing.

            “I’m just saying,” Wei said, chuckling.  “Like, not every ‘I have to have it, I really have to!’ is the same.”

            “I already told you that I was sorry!” Sunyoul exclaimed.  “It’s just because there’s no space, I didn’t have any room to keep them all!”

            “You can’t compare collector’s cups to rimming,” Kuhn said.

            “Yeah, the cola tastes much better,” Xiao said, laughing.

            “I don’t know about that,” Bitto said, with a sly little smile at Wooshin.  Smirking, Wooshin wriggled deeper into the cushions, putting his feet up.

            “Prince Sehun isn’t a cup,” Hwanhee said.  He was tired of no one taking him seriously.  “I’m not going to throw him away.”

            “He’s not a prince,” Xiao said.

            He felt like he was going to scream at the next person who said that to him.  “He’s my prince!  Shut the fuck up if you don’t understand it, I don’t care what you think.”

            “Hey,” Kuhn said in a warning tone.

            He wasn’t going to cry.  He wasn’t going to punch anybody.  Breathing hard, he stared at Jinhoo.  “I’m going to see him.  He doesn’t want me, I’ll make him want me.”

            “Oh, wait, that doesn’t sound safe,” Gyujin said.

            “You can go,” Jinhoo said.  Hwanhee’s heart lurched in his chest.  “And I’ll go with you,” Jinhoo added.  “We’ll go together.  Whatever he says to you, he can say in front of me.”

            “Whatever he does to you, he can do in front of me,” Kuhn said, getting up.

            Wait, wait, “It’s private!” Hwanhee exclaimed, embarrassed.

            “We’re members,” Jinhoo said.

            “Right, there’s no privacy around here, anyway,” Bitto said.

            “Prince Sehun isn’t one of our members, he’s in EXO,” Hwanhee argued.

            “Yes,” Jinhoo said.  “So I don’t care at all about his privacy.”  He smiled, offering an arm to Kuhn.  “Shall we go?”

            Sehun couldn’t wait to see Woohyun again.  That was what he needed.  To get out of his head, to let someone else be in charge.

            But every time he started to text Woohyun, he faltered.  As soon as he sought out memories of being in Woohyun’s room, of letting Woohyun take over, memories of Hwanhee floated up, overwhelming them.  Hwanhee, who gazed up at him like he was the answer to a prayer.  Hwanhee, who moaned so ecstatically around his cock.  Hwanhee, who knelt in front of him without shame and begged him for it without hesitation.  Hwanhee, who’d called him a prince.

            Hwanhee wanted him to be in charge.  Hwanhee liked it when Sehun was in control.

            And so did Sehun.

            EXO had returned from Japan that morning.  As soon as he’d entered the dorm, he’d crashed.  He’d finally wakened sometime that evening to hear his members moving around, getting dressed, getting ready to go out.  Hoya showed up for Chen, Dongwoo came by for Xiumin, and eventually almost everyone was gone.  No one asked him to go along, which he thought was kind of rude, but he didn’t really want to go out, anyway.  Not that he wanted to stay in alone with his thoughts, either.  He didn’t know what he wanted.

            He was surprised to find that Suho was still around.  Didn’t Suho have one boyfriend or another to meet up with?  When he asked, Suho said, “Changjo’s coming over.  Can’t you get dressed?  A sunbae’s coming over, put some clothes on.”

            It gave him something to do, so after Suho nagged at him eighty more times about how bad he looked, he got dressed.  Then he lost interest in that and just roamed the dorm for a while, wandering in and out of his hyungs’ bedrooms, spinning on Chanyeol’s desk chair.  Maybe he’d go out.  He was dressed anyway, right?

            He tried to text Woohyun.

            He sat there, his thumb hovering over the screen.

            He wanted to text someone else.

            He wanted to text someone who thought that hearing from him was the best thing that had happened all day.  He wanted to text someone who’d reply with such breathless devotion, he could practically hear the panting excitement.  He wanted to text someone who’d be grateful for it.

            He missed that.  Missed having that unique connection with someone.  Missed having a pet.  Missed being able to text someone, “Hi,” and knowing that the simple word delivered an erotic shock.  He missed having that effect on someone.  God, it never got old.

            The doorbell rang.  He waited to see if Suho would yell at him to get it but, no, it sounded like Suho was answering it.  Slowly spinning in Chanyeol’s chair, he studied his phone some more.

            He couldn’t text Hwanhee.  He wouldn’t.  He didn’t even know what the guy’s number was.  But if he did text, what would he say?  Leaning back in the chair, he let himself think about it.  Instead of pushing the idea away, instead of flinching and fleeing, he let it happen.  Immediately, heat flooded him.  Desire quickened in him.  Old desire, familiar desire, new desire.  “Hwan-ah,” he whispered to himself.  Closing his eyes, he let his hand slide between his thighs.  “Hwan-ah.”


            At the call, he jerked upright.  Guilty, disoriented, he just clutched at Chanyeol’s armrests for a second.


            He allowed himself the resentful thought that Hwanhee wouldn’t ever, ever have yelled for him like that.  People who recognized Sehun’s true authority wouldn’t dare to interrupt him.  He got up, adjusting himself in his pants.  Clearing his throat, he called, “Yeah,” to prevent Suho from shouting again.

            “Well, come here!” Suho called impatiently.

            God, what?!  Rolling his eyes, he walked out of Chanyeol’s room.

            He saw that Suho was by the door with more people than just Changjo.

            A split second later, he realized that one of those people was Lee Hwanhee.

            “No.”  He froze, and then he backed up.  “No.”

            Suho marched towards him.  He wanted to get away from Hwanhee, but he recognized from the expression on Suho’s face that it would be better if he didn’t make Suho chase him.

            Reaching him, Suho whispered, “Oh Sehun, you are embarrassing yourself, and you are embarrassing me.  I don’t care how much of a coward you are, you’re not going to cause a scene in front of half of TOP Media.  Go and sit on the couch and behave yourself.  Think about how you want to act from now on, because I won’t tolerate much more of this.”

            Angry, frustrated, mortified, he didn’t move for a second.  This whole thing was so fucking unjust, he felt like he could’ve argued back for an hour.  He almost muttered, “I’ll be in my room,” and walked out, but he was pretty sure that Suho would physically drag him across the dorm and wrestle him onto the couch, right in front of Changjo, and in front of Hwanhee, and in front of whoever the hell those other two guys were, and ultimately, he wasn’t willing to risk that.

            Pressing his lips together, he marched over to the couch.

            While he was there, he had time to notice that one of the other two guys was Hwanhee’s leader.  Jinhoo.  So the other one was probably Kuhn.  He knew all about Jinhoo and Kuhn, because Hwanhee had told him cute stories about them.  What good hyungs they were.  What great leaders they were.  A mom and a dad, hoarding the lube in their room.  Keeping Hwanhee starved for cock.  He felt like he’d never stop resenting them for it, like he’d hold it against them for the rest of his life, like he’d be ninety years old and toothless and someone would offhandedly mention that Up10tion’s Kuhn was in the next hospital bed, and he’d start griping about how Kuhn had never fucked Hwanhee right.

            Why the hell would they sexually neglect Hwanhee?  Just out of pure selfishness, they should’ve given it to him all of the time.  He was such a delicious fuck, why would they not?  How could they resist?

            Were they straight?  Not into anal?  Not into cute, fuckable puppies?

            Hwanhee said something and started off in Sehun’s direction.  Kuhn reached out and caught the back of his shirt, hauling him back.  Whining, he bounced up and down, complaining.  God, what was going on?  Sehun got up, prowling towards him.

            Suho and Changjo ignored him.  Kuhn glanced at him, looking cautious and curious.  Jinhoo, talking, kept a wary eye on him.  Hwanhee gazed at him like he was magnetic.

            “Okay, but you don’t all have to be on top of each other,” Changjo said.

            “They can talk on the couch,” Suho said.  “It’s right out in the open, they’ll be fine there.  We can talk in the kitchen while we wait for them.”

            “You can watch from the doorway if you want,” Changjo said.  “You can listen the whole time.  Just, like, you don’t have to be on the couch with them.”

            “I don’t care,” Hwanhee said, staring up at Sehun.

            “Well, I care,” Suho said.  “Sehun should have some privacy.  Even if it’s fake privacy, I don’t think that we need to intrude that much.  Let’s talk in the kitchen.”

            “It’s an okay compromise,” Kuhn said.

            Sehun couldn’t take his eyes off of Hwanhee.  He wanted to push Hwanhee down and climb on top.  He wanted to whisper into Hwanhee’s ears and make Hwanhee squirm.  He wanted to nibble on Hwanhee’s cheeks.  Yes, that was what he wanted, to sink his teeth into this tempting, succulent treat.  “What are you doing here?  I told you that I don’t want to see you again.”

            “No,” Hwanhee said.  “No, no, you said that you didn’t know.  You said, ‘I have no fucking idea.’  You said, ‘Maybe,’ I heard it, maybe.  That’s not no.”

            “You remember everything I said.”

            “Of course I do.”

            Suho was trying to guide everyone else away.  Jinhoo and Kuhn didn’t want to budge; Changjo started grabbing and dragging.  Sehun barely paid them any attention; he was intent on Hwanhee.  “Then I’ll say it now.  I don’t want to see you.  I don’t want to be seeing you right now, and I don’t ever want to see you again.”

            “What did I do wrong?”

            He reached for the doorknob.

            “Oh Sehun!” Suho shouted.  “You leave this dorm, I’m not letting you back in!”

            “I can’t do this!” he shouted.  If he couldn’t leave, then Hwanhee had to.  “You go, get out!”

            Hwanhee didn’t budge.  “What did I do wrong?” he demanded.  “You have to tell me.  I can do it better, I can fix it.  I can improve anything, I’ll work hard.”

            He didn’t know what to say to that.  Hwanhee hadn’t done a single thing wrong.  He wished that Hwanhee had, he wished that their whole encounter had been a fuck-up, a disaster.  But Hwanhee had been perfect.  Perfect in ways he hadn’t even known to want.

            “Is it because I’m not tall enough?” Hwanhee asked.  “Am I not old enough?  Am I not your type?  But I can learn to do whatever you want.  That’s my job, right, that’s my purpose, to serve you.  I can do it.”

            God.  Sehun could hardly believe what he was hearing.  Who was this guy?  Offering to learn to do whatever Sehun wanted, saying things straight out of Sehun’s fantasies, looking Sehun right in the eye and declaring that his purpose - - his purpose - - was to serve Sehun.  Insisting on it.  In front of leaders and sunbaes and anyone around, without a single hint of shame.  He was so fucking bold, so fucking brave, Sehun felt shocked, heart racing.

            “Sit down,” Changjo insisted to someone in the background.

            It sounded like good advice.  Sehun needed to sit down, get his head together.  He went over to the couch.  Sitting, he ran his hands through his hair.  He wanted to push Hwanhee as far away from him as one human being could go.  He also wanted to hold onto this treasure and never let go.  He wasn’t in control of himself, and he couldn’t think like this, he couldn’t make decisions like this.

            Hwanhee sat down at his feet, tucking up close but not touching, gazing up at him attentively.

            “No, stop it.”  Reaching down, he dragged Hwanhee up, pushing Hwanhee to sit beside him, on the couch.  “We’re not doing that now, just talk to me like a person.”

            “Why do you hate it so much?  Is VIXX’s Hongbin sunbae your type?  I can do it better than he does, I can prove it, just let me try.”

            “Hongbin hyung?” he asked, distracted.

            “I saw the way you look at him.  Does he do this with you?  I don’t mind that, a good prince has a lot of servants, right?  But I can be one of them.”

            “No, no, god, don’t start rumors about me and Hongbin hyung.”  If people were picking up on the way he looked at guys, he was going to have to control his expression better.  “What’s with you and this prince thing?”

            “That’s,” he smiled, looking embarrassed, “that’s what I call it.  My prince.  I guess I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, but that’s how I want things to be.  That’s the kind of relationship I want.  Like a prince, like from the Joseon Era, handsome and powerful and proud of himself.  And I’m his servant, I take care of things for him.  Sometimes he’s nice to me, and sometimes he’s not so nice to me, but it’s okay.  He’s a prince, that’s just how things are, I don’t mind.”  He tucked his feet up, hugging his knees, still smiling.  “I used to think about a lot of different guys as my prince, and for a while I wished it could be L sunbae, but now it’s just you.  Prince Sehun.”  He blinked, turning red.  “Oh, god,” he whispered.  “Did Changjo hyung just hear that?  About L sunbae?”  He glanced over his shoulder, then stared at Sehun with wide eyes.  “Is he still listening?”

            Hwanhee had thought about this a lot.  He’d formed elaborate role-play scenarios.  It sounded like he had rich fantasies.  And he’d settled on Sehun as the key to those fantasies.

            He described it openly.  Not dramatically, trying to impress.  Not with a lot of obscene detail, trying to titillate and shock.  He wasn’t mortified, making Sehun pry for details.  He just talked about it like he was describing something he cared about.  Even his embarrassment was innocent.

            “I can’t be a prince for you,” Sehun said.  “I can’t be anything.  You used the word relationship, the kind of ‘relationship’ you want, but I can’t be in a relationship.  I’m in EXO.  My relationship is with my fans, that’s all I can do right now.”


            “Stop arguing with me and listen,” Sehun said, exasperated.

            He shut up.

            Sehun took a breath, bringing himself under control.  “I tried it before, with someone.  Everything about that is private, you don’t need to know anything about it.  But it was really hard on him.  I’m too busy for this.  I have to cancel dates all of the time.  Stuff happens, personal stuff, professional stuff, and it all gets in the way.  Sometimes it’s me, my life, my schedules.  Sometimes it’s just like, other shit around us.  Like after all that shit happened with Westonic, everyone had to be really careful and discreet, all over the industry, and I couldn’t even speak to him for a month, just because some other idols I barely even knew had screwed up.  You’re thinking about all of the times we can be together, but you have to think about all of the times we can’t.  It’s hard.  It hurts.  I can’t be responsible for you.”

            Hwanhee leaned forward slightly, hugging his knees.  “Can I talk now?” he whispered.

            Sehun rolled his eyes.  “Yes, what?”

            “We can see each other sometimes, can’t we?  Like you said before, we can do it when it’s convenient.  If it’s not convenient, I understand, I can wait.”

            Sehun shook his head.  “I can’t do this casually.  I need it to be constant.  I need it to be intense.  I need to be one of the most important things in your life.”

            “But that sounds perfect!” Hwanhee exclaimed.  “That’s what I want, too, I want intense, I want constant, I want you to be more important than everything!  We want the same things!”

            “We can’t have it!” Sehun shouted.

            “Why not?” Hwanhee demanded.  “I don’t get you!”  He shifted away on the couch, writhed around trying to get comfortable this way and that, then scooted closer again.  “What’s really wrong?  It’s not me?  If it’s me, you have to tell me, so I can work on it.  If it’s just the timing thing, having too many schedules, I don’t care about that.  I already don’t have time to eat or sleep or do anything else, so not having time for you is like, it’s awful, I’ll hate everything about it, but that’s life, right, that’s how it is.  If I couldn’t have a relationship with anything I didn’t have time for, I’d have to break up with my bed, and my family, and like everything else.”

            God, a rookie’s schedule was hell.  Sehun wondered how that would even work out.  Hwanhee would have even less time to see him than he was used to.  “That’s why we can’t do this.”

            “Is this what you’re like?” Hwanhee asked.  “When things are hard, you give up?”  He scratched the back of his head like he was genuinely confused.  “That’s not prince-like at all.”

            “I’m not a prince,” he pointed out.  The accusation irked him, though, and he crossed his legs, annoyed.  “I don’t just give up.”

            “But you are.  You think it won’t be easy, so you won’t even try.”  Hwanhee laughed.  “I thought EXO was better than that!  How do you have so many fans if you’re like this?”  He studied Sehun for a second.  “Is it true about big companies, then?”

            This hoobae was insulting him.  To his face.  “You really want to say that to me?” Sehun asked.

            Hwanhee rubbed his nose but didn’t back down.  “I think it must be true.”

            He couldn’t believe this.  “No one handed anything to me,” he said, indignant.  “I work hard!  I practice, I put effort in!  You think you’re the only one who never sleeps?  I’ve been doing this for years!  We’ve been doing arena shows all week!”

            “Well, now you’re just bragging,” Hwanhee said, laughing.

            “Oh, screw you,” he muttered, but there was no heat in his voice.  God, this kid was adorable.

            “Can I see your room?”

            “I don’t think that we’re allowed off of this couch,” he said, glancing towards the kitchen.

            “I want to see your stuff.  What you like, what you own.”

            “What I own?” he repeated.  “What, like, which labels I wear?”

            Hwanhee nodded.  “Your clothes, your shoes, what you put in your hair, I don’t know, everything.”

            Hwanhee’s interest in him was irresistible.  He could already feel himself growing addicted to it.  “My clothes are mostly sponsored.  I used to use Nature Republic stuff, because we have a contract with them, but then I got into this really good foreign brand with this fruity coconut stuff in it.  Their body wash, mostly.  But then I ran out, so I’ve been sneaking and using my hyungs’ stuff.  I’m waiting for someone to notice.”

            Hwanhee smiled.  “You’re a bad maknae.”

            He shrugged, grinning.

            “You don’t wear lifts, do you?”

            He shook his head.  “Don’t need them.”

            “Ah, I’m jealous!” Hwanhee exclaimed.  “Which colors do you like?”

            “Black and white, I guess.  I’m not that picky.”

            “What sex stuff do you like, what are you into?  What feels good?”

            “I don’t know, I’m not that picky about that, either.”

            “But do you-”  Hwanhee cut himself off, glancing over his shoulder.  Then he leaned closer and whispered, “But what do you like?  Can I - - not me, okay, not me, but somebody - - somebody else, could he put his hands everywhere, or put his mouth everywhere, or are there places you don’t like to be touched that way?  Are there things you don’t like?  Things you like a whole lot more than everything else?”

            For a moment, Sehun just stared into his face and breathed.  Sehun wanted to show him.  Wanted to teach him everything.

            Hwanhee licked his lips.  “Do I have to ask before I touch you?  Is that how it works?”

            Silent, barely breathing, Sehun nodded.

            Hwanhee was tilting closer, closer.  “Can I touch you?” he whispered, breathing hard.

            Sehun shook his head.

            “But I need to.”

            Sehun’s blood was pumping hot, fast.  “You’re undisciplined.”

            Hwanhee refused to blink, refused to look away, refused to cower.  “Then discipline me.”

            For a moment, Sehun teetered.  He felt like he was standing on a very thin wire, and there was a mountain on one side, a deep chasm on the other.  The great heights of everything he wanted.  The chasm of everything he’d lost.

            And then he made his decision, and he was in control again.  Cool calm descended over him.  He inhaled.  “Go to my room.”

            “Your - - really?”  Hwanhee bounded to his feet, then sat down again.  “Alone?  Which one is it?”

            He raised his eyebrows.  “Are you telling me that you can’t figure it out?  Maybe you don’t really care very much.”

            “I’ll figure it out!  I can do it,” he said, on his feet again.  “Should I just wait?”

            “Sit on the bed,” he said.  “And don’t touch anything, it’ll piss me off.”

            “I will!” he called, hurrying off.  “I won’t!”

            Sehun waited until he’d gone, then got up.  Cool, unhurried, Sehun walked straight into the kitchen.

            The four of them were clustered around the island, Suho looking concerned, Jinhoo and Kuhn looking tense, Changjo looking quietly gleeful.

            “I want him,” Sehun said.  “He’s going to be mine, now.  What do I have to do?”

            “Yes!” Changjo exclaimed.  He tried to high-five Suho; Suho shushed him.  He high-fived himself, instead.

            “Are you sure?” Suho asked.

            That was pretty fucking rich, coming from the guy who’d forced Sehun into this.  “Yes.  I want him,” he told Jinhoo.

            “You can’t have him,” Jinhoo said.

            “Oh my god,” Changjo said.  Taking a knife from the block, he tried to hand it to Suho.  “Stab me with this.”

            “Put that down,” Suho said, taking it from him.  “Don’t play with knives, what if you cut someone?”

            “You want him for what?” Kuhn asked Sehun.  “You want to do what with him?”

            “We have some idea of how this goes,” Suho said.  “You and I talked a little about it, before,” he told Jinhoo.  “We arrange dates.  They get to see each other at those times.  My members know that it’s happening, and your members, but that’s it, no one else.  Besides Teen Top,” he added, glancing at Changjo.  “But that’s where it ends.  We can have the dates here, in our dorm, or in your dorm, if that’s better for you.  I don’t know what kind of place you live in or what the security’s like there.”

            “But what are you going to do?” Kuhn asked Sehun.

            “Give him what he needs,” Sehun said.  “Take whatever I want.”  Hwanhee was waiting for him.  They were wasting his time.

            “You don’t really get to know what they do once the door closes,” Changjo said.

            “I’m going to need to know,” Jinhoo said.

            “You don’t get to know,” Sehun said.

            “Sehun won’t do anything that puts Hwanhee in danger,” Suho said.  “He’s had a very involved relationship before, he’s experienced.”

            “Hwanhee’s not, though,” Kuhn said.

            “What happened to that relationship?” Jinhoo asked.

            “That’s none of your business,” Sehun said.

            “It ended,” Suho said.  “Not because things were wrong between them.  They had to split apart for other reasons.  If other things hadn’t changed, they’d still be together.”

            “Look, what are your alternatives?” Changjo asked.  “Hwanhee’s an adult, he knows what he wants, he’s going to make this happen.  You want to protect him, I get it, but you gotta do what’s best for him, not just what keeps him safest.”

            “It’s hard,” Suho said.  “It’s hard to let one of your members, someone you care so much about, go off and take risks.  You want to protect him and help him and supervise everything.  You don’t know Sehun very well, and he’s acted like a jerk every time you’ve seen him.  I know you want to take Hwanhee and run away.  I don’t know what I can tell you to convince you that you should let Hwanhee do this.”

            “What if everybody gets to know everybody better?” Changjo asked.  “Maybe if you guys spend time with EXO, you’ll feel better about it.  Let all of the members hang out.  You can see Suho hyung around his members, you can meet Lay hyung and Chen hyung.  What’s it going to hurt?  If you get to know them and you like them, you’ll feel better about letting Hwanhee spend time with them.  If you get to know them and you can’t stand them, hey, you hung out with EXO, it’s still a good career move.”

            “In public?” Jinhoo asked.

            “Yes,” Suho said.  “I think in public, and in private, too.  So we can see more sides of each other.  I’d like to get to know you better, too, before Sehun makes any big commitments.”

            Sehun had already made his commitment.

            “Okay,” Jinhoo said.  “We can meet.”

            “Okay,” Suho said.  “Sehun-ah, while we talk about when we have time, you can go say good-bye to Hwanhee.”  He put a hand on Sehun’s arm.  “No touching, please.  We’re still trying to convince people to trust us, let’s try to earn that trust.”

            Hwanhee was sitting on his bed.  In his bedroom doorway, he took a moment to let the sight sink in.  Hwanhee in the middle of his bed, tailor-style, looking patient and comfortable and at home.  Smiling at him, Hwanhee started to get up, but when he put a hand up, Hwanhee subsided, settling back down, looking pleased.  “Stay.”  He liked Hwanhee right there, on his bed.  It would also be a lot easier for him to keep his hands to himself if Hwanhee was stuck in one spot.

            “You took so long!  I thought that you’d make me wait forever,” Hwanhee said.  “I looked in your closet, but I didn’t touch anything.  You have to share a room with two of your members?  Even I only have to share with one!  Why does Chanyeol sunbae have his own room but Suho sunbae doesn’t?”

            He didn’t bother to answer.  “I can’t have you yet.  Our leaders want our groups to get to know each other better first.”

            “What?  I can’t do this until Kogyeol hyung and Kai sunbae hang out?  Why?”

            “They aren’t comfortable with the kind of relationship we’re going to have.  They’re not wrong,” he added.  “But I hate them for it anyway.”

            “We can only see each other if our members get along?”

            “We can only see each other if our leaders respect each other and Jinhoo likes me.”

            Hwanhee ruffled his own hair.  “But I have to see you.  I’m not finished proving myself yet!  I still have so much to do!”  His knees coming up, he crossed his arms across them, resting his chin on top.  He nodded to himself.  “I’ll have to make Jinhoo hyung fall for you, too, then.”

            Needing to be closer to him, Sehun walked over to the bed.  Stood over him.  He didn’t raise his head, just rolled his eyes up, looking up at Sehun.  He smiled.  “They don’t want me to touch you,” Sehun said.

            “Jerks,” Hwanhee said, grinning, breathless.  “They’re all a bunch of jerks.”

            “The word ‘badminton,’ the safe word,” Sehun said.  “We’ll use it to start and end the scenes.  When I say it, that tells you that we’re starting, that I want you to be my sub.  I’ll say it again, to end the scene, when I’m ready for it to be over.  And you can say it whenever you want, as a regular safe word, to cut things off for whatever reason, for no reason at all, any time.”

            Hwanhee nodded.  He unfolded a little, leaning back on his hands.  “Can I say it to start the scene?”

            “You can try, but I’ll probably ignore you.  You don’t have the power to start scenes, only to end them.  Unless I feel like indulging you.”

            “Badminton,” Hwanhee said.  Sehun just looked at him.  “Badminton!” he insisted, laughing.  “Badminton, badminton, come on!  Do it, please?”

            “No,” Sehun said.  He couldn’t help it; without meaning to, he was laughing, loving it.  He couldn’t believe how forward, how eager Hwanhee was.  “God, why are you like this?  I said that so I could explain to you that the rules, the shit like you can’t touch me without permission, that’s only for when we’re inside a scene.  The rest of the time, like now, or when we meet with our members, or if I see you at ‘Music Bank,’ anything like that, we’re just us.  Just a sunbae and hoobae, or a hyung and dongsaeng, just regular people.  No doms or princes.  You don’t have to obey me outside of a scene.”

            “I can touch you,” Hwanhee said, reaching for him.

            “No!” he exclaimed, skittering back.  “No, not now!  I just told you, our leaders don’t want us to touch yet.”

            “No,” Hwanhee said, starting to climb off of the bed.  “You said that they don’t want you to touch me, you didn’t say anything about-”

            “God, why do you always remember what I say?” he demanded, backing out of the room.  “It goes both ways.  No touching, no touching!  I’m trying not to piss your leader off, if he gets mad now I can’t fuck you, later.”

            Hwanhee skidded, flailing to a stop and hugging the doorjamb, staring at Sehun in astonishment.  “But you would?  You will?”  He bounced up and down against the doorframe.  “You’ll fuck me later?”

            “Yes.  Probably.  Yes,” Sehun admitted.  Sehun wanted to be that doorframe.  Wanted to feel Hwanhee wriggle right up against him.  If he couldn’t touch Hwanhee, he could still shove Hwanhee into his room and make Hwanhee sit on his bed and watch Hwanhee masturbate, right?  Yes.  Or, no, he’d make Hwanhee watch him masturbate.  Let Hwanhee watch him masturbate.  It would be a privilege, a reward, and Hwanhee would immediately understand that, would see it as one.

            “Okay.”  Suho’s hand was on his elbow, drawing him back.  He resisted, digging his heels in, needing Hwanhee, but eventually Suho dragged him away.  “You can go, now, your hyungs are waiting for you,” Suho told Hwanhee, gesturing him on.  “Thank you for coming by, I’m glad that you’re so interested in Sehun.”

            “Do I have to go?” Hwanhee asked, clinging more tightly to the doorframe.

            “Go,” Sehun said.  “I’ll see you soon.”

            Hwanhee reluctantly unpeeled himself from the doorframe.  He took a couple of steps away, then whirled around hopefully.  “Badminton!”

            Bursting into laughter, Sehun couldn’t stand it.  “Don’t say it in front of people!”

            “Oh!”  Hwanhee smiled at Suho.  “Sorry!  That’s - - it’s nothing, it doesn’t mean anything.  Bye!”  He waved and hurried away.

            Sehun didn’t mind seeing him go.  They’d be together again.  Soon.  Somehow.

            “Wait, give it back, I’m still learning which one’s which,” Baekhyun complained, taking the phone back from Chanyeol.  They were in their vans, heading over to a basketball court to meet Up10tion.

            “Which one’s the good-looking one?” Xiumin asked.

            “Suho,” Suho replied.

            “I don’t know, Kogyeol’s better-looking than any of you,” Chanyeol said, taking the phone back.

            “Wooshin’s the visual,” D.O. said from the front seat.

            “Wait, which one’s Woo - - oh,” Lay said, and showed his phone to Xiumin.  “Must be that one.”

            “I’ll take him,” Xiumin decided.

            “Which one does Niel like the best?” Lay asked.

            “Wei,” Baekhyun said.

            “I’ll take that one,” Lay said.

            “Members,” Suho said.  “Things like that don’t matter.”

            “Who’s your boyfriend again?” Baekhyun asked, laughing.

            “Don’t speculate, and don’t say ‘boyfriend’ in public,” Suho said.  “If you all can’t behave, you don’t have to come along today.”

            “Good, I wanted to take a nap, anyway,” Xiumin said.  When Suho looked at him, he said, “Okay, it’s okay, I’m just kidding.”

            “We need to support Sehun,” Suho said.  “He-”

            “He’s going through a hard time, he’s been a wreck ever since the divorce, this is his first chance at true love, we got it,” Baekhyun said.  “We’ll be good, promise.”

            “Which one’s C.A.P.’s favorite?” Chanyeol asked.

            “I don’t know,” Baekhyun said.  “I didn’t ask.”

            “But you asked about Niel’s favorite.”

            Baekhyun grinned.  “Yeah.  I care about what I care about.”

            As the members got ready to go, Bitto asked, “Are we supposed to pretend that we don’t know about Teen Top and EXO?”

            “We don’t know about Teen Top and EXO,” Sunyoul said.  “I mean, not really.”

            “But we kind of do,” Wooshin said.  “I mean, we’re not stupid.  Changjo hyung and Suho sunbae are ‘just friends’ and C.A.P. hyung and Baekhyun sunbae are ‘just friends’ and Chunji hyung and Xiumin sunbae are ‘just friends’ and-”

            “Okay, you don’t have to do the finger quotes things every time,” Kogyeol said, laughing.

            “They’re not all ‘just friends,’” Wooshin said, doing it again.  Kogyeol smacked his hands down.  Grinning, he smacked back.

            “But not all idols who are close are doing it,” Sunyoul said.  “Like, Ricky hyung’s close with Onew sunbaenim, and they’re not, I mean, come on.”

            “I think we should pretend we don’t know about it,” Kogyeol said.  “Like, it’s not really going to come up, anyway, is it?”

            “Oh my god, what if it does?” Sunyoul asked, blushing.  “What if, oh, god, imagine if we just stood around the basketball court talking to them about sex with Teen Top?”

            “Ooohh, we could compare notes!” Wooshin suggested, grinning.  “I wonder what they think of C.A.P. hyung’s cock.”

            “I wonder what they think of Niel hyung’s mouth,” Kogyeol said.

            “I wonder what they think of Chunji hyung’s everything,” Bitto said.

            Xiao walked in and spun in a circle, his arms extended.  Once he had everyone’s attention, he posed with a smile, his hands framing his face.  “How do I look?”

            “Not as good as me, stop trying,” Kogyeol said.

            “Aw, you look pretty,” Wooshin said, patting Xiao’s cheeks.  He kissed Xiao, a light peck.  “Let’s go, everybody ready?”

            “Do you think Chanyeol sunbae will like it?” Xiao asked as Wooshin guided him out of the bedroom.

            Kogyeol and Bitto exchanged a puzzled look.  “I thought that D.O. sunbae was his favorite in EXO,” Bitto said.

            “I know,” Kogyeol said.  “Xiao,” he called, raising his voice.  “What about D.O. sunbae?”

            “He’s too short,” Xiao called back.

            “Ah.  Sehun sunbae’s tall,” Bitto said, gesturing above his head.

            “Chanyeol sunbae’s tall,” Kogyeol said, nodding.  “Got it.”

            “Sehun sunbae’s a rapper, Chanyeol sunbae’s a rapper,” Bitto said.

            “If Hwanhee started dating a short vocal?” Kogyeol asked.

            “Back to D.O. sunbae,” Bitto said.

            “Yeah.”  Kogyeol sighed, rolling his eyes.

            “If tall rappers are in, should I start dating Wei?” Bitto asked as they left the room together.

            “What about me?” Kogyeol asked, smiling.  “I’m not tall enough?”

            “You’re not a rapper,” Bitto said.

            Kogyeol gave him an amused, astonished look.  “Haven’t you heard my sick flow?”

            Rolling his eyes, Bitto laughed, pushing Kogyeol towards the other members gathering by the front door.  “We don’t have time.”

            “One verse!” Kogyeol insisted.  “We have time for one.”

            Suho’s van reached the basketball court first.  He jogged around the court, challenging his members to one-on-one shoot-outs.  They were horsing around, mocking each other for missed shots, when a pair of vans pulled up.

            “Quick, quiz me,” Baekhyun whispered.

            “Go in age order,” D.O. said.

            “Jinhoo, Kuhn, shit,” Baekhyun said.

            “Kogyeol, Wei, no, Kogyeol, Bitto, no, Kogyeol, Wei, Bitto, Wooshin, wait, what about Sunyoul?” Lay asked.

            “Screw it, they’re all in the same year, let them sort it out,” Xiumin said.

            “Then Gyujin,” Baekhyun said.  “Then Hwanhee and Xiao.”

            “Jinhoo’s the short leader, Kuhn’s the leader with ears,” Suho explained quickly as idols spilled out of the vans.  “Kogyeol’s the fancy one, Wei’s the tall one, Bitto’s the one with the deep voice, Wooshin’s the visual, Sunyoul has the high voice, Gyujin has the eyebrows, Hwanhee’s the Baekhyun one, and Xiao’s the maknae.”

            “The fancy one?” Chanyeol repeated, laughing.

            “Shut up, you’re the one with the ears,” Baekhyun said.

            Looking injured, he put a hand to one ear.  “I’m the tall one!”

            “Sehun’s the tall one, sorry,” Lay said.

            “Sehun’s the maknae!” he objected.

            “Can you tell that by looking at him?” Xiumin asked.

            “Tall one with shoulders, tall one with ears,” Baekhyun said.

            “I have shoulders!” Chanyeol exclaimed, clutching one protectively.

            “I call dibs on Wei,” Baekhyun said.

            “You can’t call dibs on people,” D.O. said.

            “We can if Kai’s not here yet,” Xiumin said.  “I call dibs on Wooshin.”

            “Can you make friends without using your hormones?” Suho asked.

            “No,” Chanyeol said.  “Dibs on the fancy one.”

            “What makes him fancy?” Lay asked.  “I think I want dibs on that one.”

            Hwanhee didn’t see Sehun.  He waited while everyone greeted everyone else, while they all bowed and smiled and introduced themselves.  While the others arranged themselves into teams, he approached Suho.  “Uh,” he said, and Suho turned to him with a patient look.  “Where’s Sehun sunbae?”

            “Oh!  Sure, sorry,” Suho said.  “The other van’s coming, they had to wait to pick up Kai.  They’ll be here any minute.  Go ahead and play with the kids, Sehun will be here soon.”

            “Oh, okay.”  Immensely relieved, he went to join the others.  He’d thought that Sehun had decided not to come!  He’d thought that his prince was busy, or ignoring him, or off screwing VIXX’s Hongbin, or something.

            Sehun had said not to spread rumors about Hongbin, and he wouldn’t.  But he knew what that look meant.  Until he could get Sehun to look at him like that when he just walked by in the hallway, he had competition.

            He was on Kuhn’s team, but he couldn’t focus.  He was too distracted!  He kept looking for the other van, kept peering around, hoping to see it.  Suho had said “soon,” right?  After he missed three passes, and completely forgot to guard Gyujin twice, Kuhn told him to go sit down somewhere.

            He wandered over to the small set of bleachers on the side.  He climbed up to the fourth row and sat down.  He watched the road.  Glanced at the game once in a while.  It looked like everybody was getting along.  Good.  He needed them all to be close, so Jinhoo would approve.

            Jinhoo and Suho were standing on the other side of the court, just holding onto a basketball, talking.  He wondered what they were talking about.  They were laughing and gesturing a lot; that had to be a good sign.

            Everybody was getting along.  It was all going great!  But where was Sehun?

            Getting out of the van, Sehun frowned.  “Where is everybody?”

            “I don’t know, they should be here by now,” Kai said.

            “I’ll text them,” Chen said.

            “I’ve gotta go pick up your outfits for tomorrow,” their manager said.  “Call me when you’re ready to go.”

            “Sure,” Kai said, and he drove off.

            “I thought they’d be here already,” Sehun said, wandering onto the court.

            “We don’t have the balls or anything,” Kai said.  “What are we going to do?”

            “Well, we could sit in a circle and talk about our feelings,” Sehun suggested.

            Chen laughed.  “We could sit and look at our phones and ignore each other.”

            Kai gestured across the court.  “Bet I can get there and back faster than you can.”

            Immediately, Sehun liked the idea.  It was pointless competition, but it would help to distract him, keep him from getting tense about seeing Hwanhee again, keep him from being agitated.  He was about to open his mouth to agree-

            -but Chen had already taken off, sprinting away.  “You’re on!”

            “Hey, wait,” Kai said, dashing after him.

            “Shit, wait, wait, not fair!” Sehun called, trying to catch up.

            Hwanhee stretched out on his back.  Ugh, too bright.  He closed his eyes to block the sun.  Then he sat up quickly, eyes popping open again.  If he closed his eyes, he might miss Sehun!  He scanned the area, but, no.  No Sehun.

            He stretched out on his stomach.  Crossed his arms in front of him and rested his cheek there.  Watched the game.  Boring.  He’d never thought that he’d find EXO boring, but how could he care about Park Chanyeol’s terrible jump shots when he was worried about his prince?

            The basketball game was getting embarrassing.  Baekhyun wasn’t playing so much as flirting around the ball, spending more time being cute and funny than actually trying to score.  He’d decided that he had to guard Wei, which was hilarious for everyone on Wei’s team and humiliating for everyone on his team, since Wei’s reach was about twice as long as his was.

            When Xiumin invited Wooshin to walk down the street and get something to drink, Chanyeol decided to go with them.  He went to grab his phone from where he’d left it with the other members’ at the edge of the court.

            Hey, he had a thousand messages.  Not bothering to read any of them, he called Chen.

            “Chanyeol?” Chen asked.  “Where are you guys?”

            “Where are you?” he demanded.  “We’ve been waiting for,” he had no idea, “two hours.”

            “We’re waiting for you!” Chen exclaimed.  “Are you mocking me?”

            “Where are you?” he repeated.

            “Who is that, is that Sehun?” Xiumin asked.

            “It’s Chen,” he said.

            “We’re at the basketball court!” Chen exclaimed.  “Where are you?”

            “At the basketball court!  You’re not here.”

            “I’m right here!” Chen argued.  “Wait, which court?”

            “This is such bullshit,” Sehun said, panting.  With Kai and Chen on either side of him, he jogged down the street.

            “Should’ve asked for the van back,” Kai said, sweating.

            “Why did we spend so much time running around?” Chen asked, out of breath.

            “Kai’s fault,” Sehun said.

            “Carry me,” Chen told Kai.  “This is your fault, carry me.”

            “Can’t,” Kai said, staggering to a stop.  He bent over, his hands on his knees.  “Give me a second.”

            Sehun couldn’t wait for him to keep up.  “I’ll carry you.  Hop on, hyung,” he said, leaning down for Chen.

            Xiumin, Chanyeol, Wooshin, and Xiao had gone to get drinks.  Kuhn, Wei, Baekhyun, and Lay had gone to get snacks.  Gyujin, Bitto, and Sunyoul were still playing basketball.  Suho, D.O., Jinhoo, and Kogyeol were seated on the grass, talking.  Everybody said that Sehun would be there any minute.  There had been some mix-up about which basketball court was which.

            Seated on the bleachers by himself, Hwanhee was a loyal servant.  He was a devoted servant.  He’d wait for his prince no matter what.  No matter how long it took.  Time could pass, the weather could do whatever it wanted, he didn’t care.  Okay, so he was kind of hungry, and he wished he’d gone with Kuhn to get something to eat, and he was so focused on his prince that he was missing his one big chance to hang out with EXO.  But it was okay.  It was worth it.  He was a good servant.  He didn’t mind what he had to endure for his prince.

            He saw a couple of guys jogging along the street.  Two side-by-side, and one on the other one’s back.  They looked kind of funny; he wondered if it was a punishment or something.  Or maybe one had twisted his ankle; were they okay?

            Instead of passing by the court, they veered towards it.  Suho waved at them, and the one being carried waved back.

            Sehun!  That was Sehun and Kai and Chen!  Immediately, Hwanhee was on his feet.

            Then he sat back down, remembering how Sehun had told him to sit before, in Sehun’s room.  His prince liked for him to stay in place.

            Sehun was walking right towards Hwanhee.

            Hwanhee surged to his feet, eager.  Then he made himself sit down again.

            Sehun dumped Chen on the grass and kept coming.

            He got up; he wanted to run to his prince!  He sat back down.

            Sehun stepped right onto the bleachers.  He was tall and handsome, like the perfect prince.  His hair was messy and sweaty, and he was breathing hard, and he blinked sweat out of his eyes when he smiled.  “Hey.”

            “Hi.”  Hwanhee felt breathless, felt kind of giddy, like everything was too good and he had to laugh.

            “Sorry I’m late.”

            “It’s okay.”  His prince was here.  Everything was okay.

            “I’m going to kill my members and some of my managers later.”

            He smiled.  “Okay.”

            Sehun sat down on the riser in front of Hwanhee, stretching out his legs like he was exhausted.  He glanced up at Hwanhee.  “You haven’t just been sitting here, waiting, have you?”

            He nodded.

            Sehun laughed, looking exasperated.  “You didn’t have to do that.”

            “I wanted to.”  He smiled.  “I never had a prince to wait for, before.”

            “Don’t say ‘prince’ in public.”

            Oh.  “Nobody can hear us,” he said, looking around.

            “Don’t use that word in public,” Sehun repeated.  “Save it for private.”

            “Okay.  And,” he mimed badminton, “too, right?”

            Sehun stared at him, eyebrows slowly quirking.

            “Badminton!” he whispered.

            “Oh.”  Sehun burst into laughter.  Snorting, he shook his head.  “God, I didn’t know what that was.  Right, none of that word in public, either.”  He thought about that.  “Well, unless you’re actually playing badminton.”

            “Why is that the word?” he asked.  “How’d you choose that?  Does it have some other meaning I don’t know about?”

            “It’s just a word we won’t mistake for anything else, that I won’t miss if you say it,” Sehun said.  “It’s not so common or so weird that we’ll forget what it is.  And it’s not a word that’s going to come up a lot, while we’re doing things.”

            “Okay.”  That made sense.  It seemed like an odd word to use - - it didn’t have anything to do with anything - - but he guessed that was the point.  “Are you thirsty?  Can I go get you a drink?  Do you want me to rub your shoulders?  Are you tired?  Do you want me to get a towel for your sweat?”

            “Where are you going to get a towel?”

            He hadn’t really thought that one through.  “You can use my shirt,” he offered.

            “Do you have anything on under that?”

            He peeked down the front of his shirt.  “An undershirt.”

            “Okay, yeah.”  Sehun reached out a hand.  “Give me your shirt.”

            Happy to do anything for his prince, he pulled his shirt off.

            Sehun took it from him.

            He smoothed his tank top and fluffed his hair, watching avidly.

            Sehun looked so sexy, so manly, with beads of sweat running down from his temples.  He used the hem of Hwanhee’s T-shirt to wipe sweat from his face, and then he blotted sweat from his long, taut neck.  He was really using Hwanhee’s shirt to do it!  He swiped at the back of his neck, and then he carelessly dropped the shirt into his lap.

            Hwanhee knew that move!  That was the cock-covering move, the one Hwanhee used whenever he had a hard-on or was even just afraid of suddenly getting a hard-on, and wanted to cover up his lap so nobody would notice his cock sproinging up.  But Sehun couldn’t have a hard-on now!  It had to be just a coincidence.  Hwanhee was turned on, but Sehun was too cool, too experienced.

            “How are our members doing?” Sehun asked, glancing around.  “Is everybody getting along?”

            “They’re great.  I think everybody’s okay.  A bunch of them went that way for drinks and a bunch of them went that way to get snacks.  Do you want something?  I can go get you anything.  Have you eaten?”

            Sehun rested his elbow beside Hwanhee on the riser.  Leaning his head on his hand, he looked up, posed like a model, so cool and handsome like a fantasy.  “Are you trying to get away from me?”

            “No!” he exclaimed.  “No, not ever.”

            “Thinking up excuses to go away?”

            “No!  Stop teasing!  I’m staying right here,” he announced, patting at the seat under him.  “Right here!  With you.”  He hesitated.  “Unless you want me to do something.”

            “I want you to stay and talk to me.”

            He smiled.  He felt breathless again, felt like he might melt all down the bleachers.  “Okay.”

            “Tell me about Jinhoo and Kuhn.  If I want them to like me, how should I act?”

            “Just be nice to them.”

            “Should I be formal, should I be respectful?  Should I flatter them and bring them gifts?”

            “Gifts!  What kinds of gifts?”  He hadn’t expected that question.  “I don’t think so.  Just be nice to them.  It’ll help if he likes your leader.  He says that the leader reflects on the members, and the members reflect on the leader.  So if he likes Suho sunbae, he’ll have a better opinion of you.”

            Sehun turned his head, watching their leaders talk on the grass.

            Swallowing, Hwanhee stared at the back of his head.  His hair looked so thick.  He looked like such an idol with blond hair; anyone could tell that he wasn’t an average citizen.  Hwanhee could see his roots, and it was really cool, how confident he was, not even bothering to cover them up.  Hwanhee wanted to touch his hair, feel how soft it was.

            “I guess they’re getting along,” Sehun said.

            Hwanhee tucked his hands under his thighs, plastering on a smile as Sehun glanced up at him.  “Mmm.”

            Sehun gave him an amused look.  “What are you doing?  What are you sitting there thinking about?”

            He laughed.  “You.”

            D.O. gradually made the rounds, talking to each of the Up10tion members.  They seemed nice.  They were good hoobaes, polite, friendly.  They seemed to have pretty happy dispositions; they smiled a lot, and it looked like they got along well with each other.  When his members ignored them, they amused themselves with their own games, and when his members paid them attention, they were always bright, interested.

            They were good-looking, and his members had definitely noticed that.  Baekhyun and Chen were all over Wei, flirting and teasing.  Lay seemed to be sticking close to Gyujin; he was going to have to ask what that was about.  Chanyeol kept tickling Sunyoul, and all of that high-pitched gasping and giggling was making Chanyeol’s eyes gleam.  God, he was probably already working on how to play out his “oppa” fantasies.  D.O. needed less predictable members.

            Up10tion seemed really wholesome.  Hardworking, well-meaning.  Either a huge shoe was about to drop, or they’d found a batch of happy, healthy idols to make friends with.

            After he’d checked on everyone else, he walked across the basketball court to the risers.  Everyone else had left Sehun and Hwanhee alone, but he figured that somebody should check on them.  When he approached, Hwanhee, facing his direction, noticed him first.  Sehun glanced over and looked annoyed.

            “Hi.”  He walked up the risers and sat beside Hwanhee.  Sehun gave him a narrow, territorial look, like if he sat too close Sehun might have to shove him off the risers altogether.

            “Hi.”  Hwanhee looked nervous but happy to see D.O.  Then he glanced at Sehun and visibly faltered, like if Sehun didn’t like this, maybe he shouldn’t, either.

            D.O. didn’t have much to say.

            “Uh.  We were talking about photo shoots.  About good photographers and trying to find a good pose, and everything,” Hwanhee said.  “It’s so hard, sometimes!  There’s weird music playing and the lights are popping right in your face and there are all of these people around and the make-up artist is darting in for touch-ups and the clothes are never comfortable!  And the photographer’s telling you to look sexy but your members are acting so freaking goofy - - or mine do, anyway, my members always make me laugh when I’m supposed to look serious.”  He smiled at D.O.  “But you’re a professional, you’re a sunbae, you must be great at photo shoots.”

            “No, I hate the clothes, too,” D.O. said.

            “Hyung,” Sehun said.  “Where’s Kai?”

            “I don’t know,” he said frankly.

            Sehun’s lips tightened.

            “Why does it matter?” Hwanhee asked.  “Do you want me to find him for you?”

            Sehun glared at D.O., and then his expression softened and he smiled at Hwanhee.  “No, it’s nothing.  I just thought that D.O. hyung would rather hang out with him than here with us.”

            “Why?”  Hwanhee grinned.  “Is Kai sunbae more interesting than you?  I don’t think he can be.”

            “No, he’s way more interesting than Sehun is,” D.O. said.

            “Oh,” Sehun said, pulling his phone out of his pocket.  “Suho hyung texted.”  His thumb flickered over his screen.  “He wants to talk to you.”

            “No, he doesn’t,” D.O. said.

            “Yeah, he texted.”  Sehun showed D.O. his screen.

            It was an old photo of Sehun crossing his eyes and giving the middle finger.

            D.O. grabbed the phone and hit him with it.  “Get that shit off of your phone.”  Shoving the phone back, he got up.  “Bye.”

            “Bye,” Hwanhee said, watching D.O. walk away.  It was so funny to see Sehun’s members treat him like he was any foolish maknae.  It didn’t seem right to let them treat his prince that way, but there wasn’t really anything he could do about it.  “Are you okay?” he asked.

            “God, he’s annoying.”  Sehun slid his phone back into his pocket and tossed his hair back.  He was so cool all of the time.  He looked good no matter what he did.  “Photographers tell you to be sexy?”

            “Hmm?”  Remembering that he’d said something about that a minute ago, he nodded.  “It’s so awkward!  Who can be sexy just on command like that, when nothing sexy’s going on?  I’m not you!”                      

            Sehun laughed at that.  “So cute.”  He studied Hwanhee with interested eyes, propping his head on his hand again.  “Look sexy for me.  Show me.”

            “What?”  No!  “This isn’t a photo shoot.”

            “Show me,” Sehun said again.  He said it sexy, soft and smooth.  He had this knowing, restrained look on his face, like there was a ton of stuff going on under the surface and he was only letting a little bit out.  This wasn’t the young, happy, handsome prince who laughed and practically fell backwards out of doorways when Hwanhee tried to touch him.  This was the dark, cold, powerful prince who liked it when Hwanhee acted like a greedy slut.

            Licking his lips, Hwanhee tried to remember what his best poses were.  “Uh.”  He laughed self-consciously, shifting around on the riser, not sure where to put his hands.  “I don’t, uh.”  He could do this.  He could be sexy for his prince.  He could be sexier than some stupid Lee Hongbin, that was for sure.

            He tried for rude, careless sexy.  Spreading his knees, he leaned forward, ruffling his hair and pouting his lips, trying to look sullen.

            Sehun’s lips parted.

            Hwanhee gave Sehun a cool, dismissive look, then shifted.  Drawing one leg up, planting his foot beside him on the riser, he licked his lips and smirked, tugging on the front of his tank top, letting it slip off one shoulder.  He tilted his head to one side and gave Sehun a saucy look, a silent little “come here.”

            “Shit.”  Sehun was staring at him, not looking anywhere else.

            He was doing it right; he was doing a good job.  It was so much easier here, for Sehun, than for some old photographer he didn’t even know.  He had to keep going; if Sehun liked it then he wanted to do more of it.  He tried to think of more poses, more looks.  Oh, soft sexy!  He moved slowly, not wanting to roll off of the riser or anything.  He lay down, stretching out on his side.  He scooted a little so his shirt would ride up, and he relaxed, one knee bent, his head on one arm.  Gazing at Sehun, he blinked once, slowly.

            “Don’t move.  Don’t, just don’t move.”

            Okay.  He could stay there as long as Sehun wanted him to; he didn’t mind.  It was really nice, with his prince’s attention on him.  Sehun was still, really focused, just staring at him.  He tried to keep his expression the same, relaxed, but it was really hard not to smile.  He liked this so much.  It made sense for him to enjoy looking at his prince, that was the way things were supposed to be, but now his prince wanted to look at him.

            He wished that he looked sluttier.  He couldn’t undo his fly in public, though.  Sehun had told him not to move, but what if he moved just a little, just a tiny bit?  With one arm under his head, his other arm was relaxed across his body.  He shifted his hand slightly and, a tiny bit at a time, twitched his fingers.  Slowly, he teased his shirt up, exposing more skin.  His lips parting, he watched Sehun’s face, waited to see if Sehun would like it.

            “Fuck,” Sehun whispered.

            He knew that sound.  That was how Sehun had cursed before, when Sehun had come in his mouth.  He’d never be able to forget it.  The same word, but the same sound, too.  Turned on, and disbelieving, like something way too hot had just happened and Sehun couldn’t handle it.  Like maybe it shouldn’t even be happening at all, but it was, and Sehun was just trying to deal with it.

            He’d thought maybe that was just how Sehun reacted to getting off?  Guys made some funny sounds when they came, in his experience.  But maybe - - maybe that was how Sehun reacted to him.

            He grinned, savoring his victory.  He was doing it!  He was proving himself.  See, he could be the kind of servant Sehun liked.

            “Go away for a minute,” Sehun said.  “Ten minutes.  Just don’t be around me for a while.”

            Disappointed, he pushed himself up on one elbow, frowning.  “Do I have to?”  Nobody had said “badminton,” right, so he didn’t really have to listen.  “It’s not a real order, you can’t make me.”

            “Just, fuck, go,” Sehun insisted.

            “But I don’t want to.”

            “Fine, shit, I’ll go.”  Sehun twitched upward for half a second and then didn’t go anywhere.

            Hwanhee grinned.  Holy shit.  “You can’t get up, can you?”

            “Fuck you,” Sehun muttered, adjusting the shirt over his lap.

            God, god, he was turned on!  He was hard.  “Let me see,” Hwanhee whispered, relishing it.  How had he turned Sehun on that much without even doing anything?  Wow, maybe Sehun was really horny and oversensitive.  Or maybe he was just way hotter than he thought?  “Does this happen to you a lot?”

            “Fix your clothes,” Sehun ordered him.

            He tugged his tank top the whole way back down and fixed the strap over his shoulder.  “Can I have my shirt back?” he asked, reaching for it.

            Sehun shoved his hand aside.  “Go away.”

            “But I don’t want to,” he said again.  That should be pretty clear by now!  “Is it like really bad, really obvious, or is just kind of-”

            “God, don’t talk about it!”

            He grinned.  “You’re blushing.”  This was great.  He’d imagined all kinds of things that might happen between him and his prince, but he’d never pictured this.  “Are you shy about it?”

            Sehun glared at him.  “I’m going to get you for this.”

            He laughed, loving it.  “I didn’t even do anything!”

            “Bugs,” Sehun said.  Turning to face the basketball court, he leaned back beside Hwanhee, closing his eyes.  “Bugs, bugs.”

            “Sex, sex, sex,” Hwanhee whispered.

            Sehun’s cheeks were pink.  “Shut up,” he muttered, shifting uneasily.  God, Hwanhee loved the way he mov