Warning(s): Mild recreational and perscription drug use.
Word count: 15.6K
Summary: Canon. Junmyeon agonizes and craves all in the same breath.
A/N: Written for aideshou's 6th challenge.
"Our Kai is so handsome, right?"
Smiling, Suho reaches over and cups Kai's chin with his hand, holding his face out to the crowd. The fans scream, titillated by the contact, but Suho, pressed flushed against Kai’s side, feels the way he stiffens and knows when he's starting to pull back.
The longer Suho has Kai held and the longer the other EXO-K members play along, talking loudly over the crowd gathered at one of their largest fan meets, the longer it feels as if Kai would rather be anywhere else than here, close to him.
At last, Suho drops his hand, satisfied, and Kai steps back from him and into Sehun's arm, who, only for the fans, teases and pokes at the skin of his bare arm, mouthing, "handsome, handsome."
Suho, now feeling a bit cold, smiles until his cheeks hurt.
It's not that Jongin hates it when Junmyeon touches him; Junmyeon knows it isn't that. Jongin doesn't mind when Junmyeon, at the end of a long day, pulls him into a brief hug, pats his hair down to his forehead, and tells him to go on to bed with a small smile, fully aware of his droopy eyes and the crumpled way he holds himself.
In the dorm, in the van, and in between changing clothes backstage, when Jongin’s shirt has accidentally tucked itself into his pants, Jongin allows Junmyeon to touch him.
Kai hates it when Suho touches him – it’s the only thing Junmyeon can understand. Kai doesn't mind Sehun's hands, or Chanyeol playfully pulling at the hem of his shirt, or Kris wrapping an arm around his middle and pulling him back. But when Suho, under orders and assertions from the managers, curls his hand around Kai's wrist, more often than not, Kai flinches and has to hold himself still, not allowing himself to pull away.
He knows they are different people on stage than they are at home, creating a dichotomy that's hard to live with between the hours of muscle aches and heavy, lonely hearts. Junmyeon also knows he used to come on a little strong as Suho, as told by one of the managers, and he's learned, in the past months, how to soften the edges of his on-stage incarnation, smoothing himself out until he's not as "uncanny," as the manager had said, and more "real."
His improvement had been slow and a little reluctant, because he hadn't cultivated a facade for seven years only to lose it because the rest of the members had little to no time to create theirs, but it had happened. Idols are meant to be aesthetically perfect but also humanly attainable, and that creates a desire in their fans nothing can truly satiate.
In the past months, Kai still hasn't warmed up to Suho. Junmyeon hasn't talked to him about it. He thinks it's a bit silly of him to get so worked up over it when he knows, and he can feel it too, that Jongin likes him as much as he likes his other band members.
(Well, Junmyeon thinks, maybe a little less than Sehun but, then again, there aren't many people who are growing up with Jongin in the limelight.)
On a night after a large Seoul fan meet, in which Kai, steadfastly and then with embarrassment, shrugged off Suho's arm and curled further into Baekhyun, Junmyeon finds Jongin in the kitchen. The old, loud ticking clock on the wall reads a little past three in the morning and Jongin sits at the kitchen table with his head in his arms, looking as if he's sleeping. Junmyeon had seen him go to bed five hours ago, claiming exhaustion, and yet here he is, in the kitchen, not even eating like he usually is.
He feels a bit weird staring, but he can’t seem to make himself stop.
Jongin is uncomfortably asleep, hair mussed by his own long fingers, and Junmyeon's heart aches for him. His heart aches for Jongin many times a day, usually when he's upset or overworked, but it's rare for his heart to ache when Jongin is asleep.
"Hey," says Junmyeon, carefully setting down his empty water mug. "Jongin?"
Jongin groans and opens his eyes, squinting. If the redness on his cheeks is any indication, he's been picking at his face again. Inflamed pores curl along the length of his jaw and down to his neck. Seunghwan is going to have a fit.
“"What are you doing here? It's late.” Junmyeon frowns. “Go to bed."
"I can't sleep," he mumbles through heavy lips, lowering his face down to his arms. "I can't. I tried."
"The table won't help you sleep," says Junmyeon. "Let's go back to bed. I'll help you."
Jongin shakes his head, cheek pressed against his arm. He looks like a wind-up toy left to ruin.
Junmyeon knows a little about having trouble sleeping, but he's not too fond of the sleeping pills Sehun shares with the rest of them.
They, coupled with the caffeine pills passed down from their seniors, make for terrible nights hugging the toilet, emptying fluid ounces upon fluid ounces of stomach acid while experiencing painful tension headaches. Against the advice of a few more than unscrupulous managers, Junmyeon has been trying to wean EXO off those kinds of medications, fearing their side effects. He can't recommend any to Jongin, not that he would want to, though he understands how convenient they are and how easily accessible they have recently become.
Out of options and knowing they have to enjoy the precious hours of sleep they can get, Junmyeon throws out a random suggestion. "Jongin," he says and then stares at his mug, avoiding Jongin's dark, tired eyes. "Come sleep in my bed. Like... like old times."
“Old times”, in this case, is the time they spent together before debut. Neither Junmyeon nor Jongin had lived in the trainee dorms on their road to debut. When they were tired, they didn't have many places to rest. If, on the off chance they found a bed, they usually only found one, in a far away dorm none of the Chinese or American trainees used, and they had to share it.
At first, it had been uncomfortable. Junmyeon and Jongin hadn't been close: Junmyeon spent most of his time with his old trainee friends and Jongin, already having been chosen as the "key" to EXO's debut, lived constantly busy and had little time to forge many friendships. Junmyeon hadn't had much rest the first time he shared a bed with Jongin, but, like all things in life, time softened them to each other. After learning of their debut, they had known they would become either, at the very least, colleagues or, on the other end of the spectrum, brothers and continue suffering together toward their common goals.
It had been nice. Jongin had been, and still is, a calm bedmate. He doesn't toss or turn during the night. He doesn't snore. He doesn't hum in his sleep, like Sehun, and the only time Jongin ever makes noise is when he's waking up. He's warm and sweet, kind of like his grandmother’s pup that had liked to nap in Junmyeon's lap and then nuzzle at his fingers upon waking. But Jongin is not a pup and there was something odd about the way Junmyeon felt when he had woken up to find Jongin staring at him. It had felt a little dangerous, it still does, and this danger makes Junmyeon hope Jongin will refuse his offer.
Junmyeon slides in first, praying Sehun isn't woken by the creaking of his bed. He also prays Sehun doesn't wake up to see them in bed together. There isn't anything going on between Junmyeon and Jongin, at least not anything Junmyeon wants to be aware of, and it's not too strange to find EXO in bed with each other, tired and craving warmth, but this. Feels a little different. More dangerous. Jongin slides in after him; his body and the bedroom wall trap Junmyeon in place.
"Hyung," Jongin whispers, pulling the blanket over his shoulder.
Half blinded by the darkness of the room, Junmyeon reaches for where he thinks one of Jongin's hands is and squeezes it with his own.
Jongin squeezes back and then drops his hand, "Thanks."
Junmyeon swears it's only the heat of Jongin's body that warms his face. "Go to sleep," he says instead, slowly scooting back until he's pressed against the wall. He hopes he doesn't regret this tomorrow.
For someone like Junmyeon, who still remembers when Jongin had been everyone's (cute) younger brother, Jongin’s maturation is an agonizing process.
It's hard to reconcile the memories of little Jongin, barely a teenager and shyly avoiding curious eyes by hiding in his hooded sweatshirts, with tall Jongin now lying in Junmyeon's bed, eyelashes brushing the tops of his cheeks. Junmyeon’s sheets are tangled around his bare legs, as if holding him on Junmyeon’s command.
This Jongin who pulls up the hem of his shirt and reveals a body still tinged by the softness of boyhood, but slowly begins to firm under Junmyeon’s eyes.
This Jongin, so close to being a man, already has a man's needs and a man's eyes, and the realization of both startles Junmyeon. They hear each other through the thin walls of their dorm and, in some ways, the knowledge Jongin also does those mature things, watches mature videos on his laptop when he thinks no one is paying attention (but Junmyeon, although he's quick to deny it, is always paying attention to Jongin), only serves to make Junmyeon's life more distressing.
He wants to keep Jongin small and young, as if he’s an eternal pup. Junmyeon doesn’t want to unwillingly dream about his lithe body dancing in an empty practice room or curling in his lap, wrapping his arms around Junmyeon’s shoulders and pulling him in for a warm kiss. Jongin had been anything but a pup then. His actions had been too man-like, eerily similar to the faceless men Junmyeon often dreams about – the shadows that kiss him and want to "take care" of him. Junmyeon doesn't want to think about "taking care" of Jongin in this way.
As luck would have it, Junmyeon, who slept fitfully during the short night, is first to wake up the next morning. The bedroom is slowly filling with trickles of sunlight; Junmyeon's eyes burn, his eyelids sticking together, when he tries to open them.
One of the things he notices is the strange warmness surrounding him, enveloping him even, and the puffs of hot air against his shoulder. Junmyeon sniffles, confusion heavy as the first tendrils of consciousness stir his brain, and goes to roll over when he realizes he can't -- he's trapped.
On closer inspection, and once he's sure his eyes will stay open more than a few, fleeting seconds, Junmyeon looks down at the source of his stagnation, seeing little through his stinging eyes.
In sleep, Jongin has thrown his arms around him and he holds Junmyeon close, so close he breathes against his shoulder. He must be exhausted, Junmyeon thinks, consumed by that familiar heartache Jongin's existence perpetuates in him. It's then he notices the telling hardness pressing against the side of his hip.
His face flushes. He should've expected this, at least on some level. He remembers being Jongin's age and unable to control the bodily effects of his own hormones. It's natural, he tells himself. It happens to everyone. It happened to him. Hell, sometimes it still happens to him, and they're such a bother. There are only a few things worse than waking up with an ache between your legs on the day you have a six am schedule.
Then Jongin shifts, dragging the heat along Junmyeon's leg. Junmyeon shuts his eyes, knowing Jongin can awake at any moment. He can hear Sehun softly snoring on the other bed.
Jongin shifts some more, huffing, and then, almost instantly, his entire body stiffens. His arms twitch and he slowly pulls them back from Junmyeon's body.
Junmyeon already feels a chill and then he also feels, rather than sees, Jongin turn to his erection. He's not prepared for Jongin to moan, as if it hurts to move.
Flustered, Junmyeon bites down on his tongue, stressing to keep his breathing deep and steady. In a few heated seconds, Jongin retreats from his body entirely, his body pulling at the sheets around Junmyeon's own. He swears and Junmyeon imagines him standing over the bed, frustrated with his own body, and he wishes he could soothe--
He swallows when he feels Jongin tuck the blanket in around him and then softly brush Junmyeon's hair away from his forehead.
Then there are footsteps. A more muffled moan. The opening of the bedroom door and its closing.
Alone, Junmyeon feels another ache, sharper and more intimate, remembering the heat of Jongin's own against his thigh.
If anyone notices Junmyeon spends more time in the shower this morning, they don't mention it.
For that day and the rest of the week, Suho avoids touching Kai. It's not a move made out of spite -- he's tired and confused, and he knows touching Kai only for him to recoil, even when Junmyeon himself knows they're good friends, won't help him.
Junmyeon doesn't avoid Jongin, but Jongin starts making himself scarce whenever Junmyeon is around. He finds little excuses to avoid being alone with him (homework, dishes, extra practice Junmyeon knows he doesn’t have) and holds himself back when they pile into the van so, at least in Junmyeon's mind, there's no room for them to sit together. Junmyeon thinks he's allowing his paranoia to increase to uncomfortable levels and reins himself in, but a conversation with Baekhyun shines a light on the situation.
"Jongin's been weird around you lately," Baekhyun whispers next to him in the van.
Jongin is sitting in front of them, his head on Sehun's shoulders, with earphones plugged in. Junmyeon knows this, because he hasn't stopped staring at Jongin all week.
(But then again, chimes in his annoying inner voice, does Junmyeon ever stop staring at Jongin?)
"I don't know what's wrong," Junmyeon replies.
A weird tension surrounds them ever since the morning Junmyeon woke up with Jongin's hard-on against his leg, but Jongin should know not to be embarrassed about that. It's natural.
"It's weird," says Baekhyun, narrowing his eyes on Junmyeon's face. "Because you two are doing that thing where you look at each other, but only when the other isn't looking. So either you want to talk to each other or..."
"Or?" Junmyeon, knowing Baekhyun, is hesitant to respond.
Baekhyun often comes up with his own share of bizarre theories. "Or you want to kill each other and are waiting for the perfect time to attack," he says, nodding. "I've seen this in a drama before."
Of course. Junmyeon sighs, exasperated and they haven't even started their schedule yet. "I don't think we want to kill each other."
It's lucky most of the other members are in various stages in their sleep cycle, with Kyungsoo sleeping with his cheek pressed against a window and Chanyeol, face deep inside his hoodie, softly snoring.
"Stop being assholes and just talk then," says Baekhyun, elbowing Junmyeon's side. "Kiss and make up, or whatever."
A few nights later, unable to sleep and refusing to take the solitary sleeping pill wobbling on his nightstand, Junmyeon is making himself some tea when Jongin stumbles into the kitchen. He pauses in the doorway, bottom lip held tightly in his mouth, and looks so young in his Spiderman pajama pants, a gift from his noona, and thin white undershirt.
Junmyeon looks up from his tea and smiles. "Can't sleep?"
Jongin shakes his head and, slowly scraping the legs of a chair on the floor, takes a seat at the table.
"Want some tea?" Junmyeon offers. "It always helps me sleep."
Still silent, Jongin looks up at him, eyes big and luminous, and nods, turning his eyes down to his hands.
They're a man's hands, Junmyeon realizes. Jongin's entire body is a mosaic of youth and growth, expressed in the muscular lines of his arms, the stubbornness behind his eyes, and the boyish tenderness of his bottom lip. Junmyeon is so wrapped up in Jongin's entire existence he almost misses his hesitant nod.
They drink their tea in silence and Junmyeon's eyes drop, yet again, to Jongin's hands and the way he holds his cup. Those are the same hands that have helped pick Sehun off the floor when he's fallen during a bad turn; the same hands that touched Junmyeon's forehead, not too long ago, and then cocooned him in the warmth of his blankets.
"I'm done," says Jongin, tipping his cup over to show its emptiness.
"Why don't you try going back to bed?" says Junmyeon, taking Jongin's cup from him. "The tea should help you relax."
"I think..." Jongin wets his lips, averting his eyes. "I think there's something wrong with my bed. It's... uncomfortable."
"We'll check it out soon," Junmyeon nods. "In the meantime, do you want to... sleep in my bed?"
Junmyeon is careful about it this time. Jongin raises his eyes and then lowers them again, nodding in slow, little head bops. Junmyeon's heart aches and he's consumed by the desire to wake up in Jongin's arms again, warm and full of tremors, but he can't.
"Okay," he says, smiling as he stands. He places their cups in the sink and then, still smiling, walks Jongin to his bedroom. "Goodnight," he says, opening the door and, with a gentle hand on Jongin's lower back, ushers him inside.
Jongin stops walking and half turns when he notices Junmyeon isn't in the room with him. "Aren't you--"
"I'll sleep in your bed," he whispers. "Don't wake Sehun up. He has a bit of a cold. I'll see you in the morning."
Junmyeon disappears before he can somehow convince himself it's safe to sleep in the same bed as Jongin. He doesn't want to want that.
Jongin's bed smells like him so it helps, and it hurts. Junmyeon feels a bit...strange, though he’s growing used to this creeping bizarre feeling, because he's holding Jongin's pillow as if it were Jongin, to his chest and under his mouth. His chest aches and fear's sharp claws dig into the soft skin of his belly.
He's not supposed to want to sleep in the same bed with Jongin. He's not allowed to want to make it so Jongin doesn't have to ache. He's not supposed to be this obsessed with his dongsaeng, a dongsaeng he's supposed to think of as his younger brother, nay, almost his grandmother's sleepy puppy, but more than hugging Jongin, Junmyeon wants to touch him, smile with him, and maybe, if Jongin wants to, kiss--
Junmyeon shoves the pillow away, gasping. It's too early in their careers for him to want to suffocate himself over errant thoughts.
Kyungsoo makes a face. "Hyung, you look terrible."
Junmyeon half glares at him in the bathroom mirror, almost finished brushing his teeth. "You're so sweet to me," he drawls. He raises his eyes to the mirror he’s been avoiding, taking in the sickly pallor of his skin and the redness around his eyes, and looks away, down to the toothpaste foam swirling down the bathroom sink.
"Sorry," says Kyungsoo, his face still frozen in shock. "But you really do look sick. Did you sleep at all last night?"
So Kyungsoo hadn't noticed Junmyeon in the room with him last night, squirming this way and that. He had been surrounded by Jongin's scent on all sides and, toward early dawn, began to think of Jongin lying in bed with him, nosing the back of his neck, and that's how Junmyeon had gotten an ill fated forty five minutes of rest. They have a thirteen-hour schedule today.
"Here," says Kyungsoo, pulling a small pill out of the medicine cabinet.
"No," says Junmyeon, shaking his head. "I don't want drugs."
"It's not a drug," Kyungsoo insists. "Our sunbae said it helps them when they're really tired. “Come on, you need it."
"Eat it, Suho," says a manager as he steps into the bathroom for a quick leak. "And get out of here already. You two are the last ones left."
"Sorry!" says Kyungsoo, disappearing out of the bathroom.
The manager glares at Junmyeon until he takes the pill, eyes closed, and swallows it down with a quick swig of water.
"See?" The manager wraps an arm around Junmyeon's shoulder. "Don't you feel better already?"
Because of the caffeine pill, Junmyeon rides out his entire schedule feeling as though he has all the energy in the world. He laughs at the fan meets when a fan wears a mask of his face and imitates his voice. He sings, right on cue, when another fan wishes to hear him sing an English song and he does his favorite, Bruno Mars’ "Just the Way You Are."
He's livelier than he usually is, especially at the recording of Shim Shim Tapa with their seniors, joking around with Sungmin and Shindong. He makes an effort to keep his eyes off Jongin, but even that's a bit hard when Baekhyun doesn't stop fussing over him, which, in turn, makes the sunbae fuss over him as well.
"Kai," says Shindong into the microphone. "Dancing machine Kai, why do you look so tired? Did you practice hard last night?"
Junmyeon lowers his eyes to his script and keeps them there.
"Ah, I did," says Jongin, no, Kai, nodding his head. "I was working on a dance for our comeback."
"Whoa! Comeback?" A producer inserts an applause track. Smiling, Shindong compliments Kai on being so hard working. Sungmin chimes in and tells the audience how, whenever he stops by EXO-K's dorm, Kai is never there because he's out practicing. A few of the other members agree, saying Kai is one of the most hard working people they've ever met, and when it comes turn for Suho to say something--
"Kai is really such a good kid. We're lucky to have him."
Junmyeon pretends he doesn't feel Jongin's eyes on his face.
No one questions Junmyeon when he trudges to bed early that night, on a downswing from the “medication.” He barely makes it to his bed before the oppressive fatigue sets in and he crashes into his pillow (it smells like Jongin) with the day's makeup still on his face, still in his stage outfit.
He dreams of long arms wrapping around his waist and lips to his ear, wishing him a good night.
Incited by claims he can't sleep in it, the managers check out Jongin’s bed. They make Sehun bounce around a little on it, trying to find the problem areas, but to no avail. Jongin says he can't sleep on the entire bed and he doesn't know why, but the managers don't find anything that would impede him in sleep.
Sehun, perched on the end of the bed, looks up to Jongin with something like suspicion in his eyes. He looks like he wants to say something more, but holds himself back, licking his thin lips.
Junmyeon, surveying the entire situation, sees Jongin softly kick at Sehun's leg with his foot and then shake his head.
"The bed's good," says Seunghwan. "Is it your back that's bad?"
"My back's fine," says Jongin, at bit defensive. "Are... “ His eyes flicker down to the bed. “Are you sure the bed's okay?"
"It is," says one of the other managers. "I don't know why you would have trouble sleeping on it. Let us know if it bothers you again, okay?"
And when Junmyeon finds Jongin in the living room, at an hour so late he has trouble believing it, he sighs. "Your bed's fine," he says, a little exasperated. Jongin isn't wearing a shirt. It's not even that hot in here. Sanity balances on her tightrope. "Go to bed."
"I can't sleep," says Jongin, fiddling with the remote in his hands. The TV isn't on. The only light on is that from the kitchen and it doesn't reach Jongin, allowing him to blanket himself in the surrounding darkness.
"Did you sleep well when you slept in my bed?" Junmyeon steps forward, taking a seat next to Jongin on the couch. It sags under his weight.
Jongin is silent; Junmyeon thinks he didn't hear the question. He opens his mouth to ask it a second time when Jongin, now sitting so close their thighs are brushing and Junmyeon, if he wanted to, can look down and see the faint ridges of Jongin's abdominal muscles, speaks.
"Which... which time?"
"Which time?" Junmyeon frowns.
Jongin doesn't look at him. "The first time or the second...one? Because they were different."
The first time they slept together; the second time they hadn't. Neither had slept well that second night. Junmyeon remembers the pillow in his arms.
"Ah," he says. A flush creeps up his ears. "The... first time. Like old times. Was it good?"
Jongin's hardness pressing up against his thigh in the early morning. The flush spreading down Junmyeon's body. The numerous aches, making him want more than he should. Later came the fear.
"The second time... the second time was worse. I didn't really sleep." Jongin idly hits the remote against his leg. "I don't know why that was."
"Yeah, I didn't sleep that night either. How... strange." Junmyeon swallows. He hopes he's projecting his delusions, and Jongin didn't sleep fitfully because they didn't sleep together.
It makes no sense, he tells himself. Jongin has slept well without Junmyeon before. There's no need for him to have suddenly become unable to sleep without Junmyeon. It doesn't make sense--
"Hyung," says Jongin, lowering the remote to the couch. "Hyung...I don't...I don't understand and...don't, don't hate me but can I..."
"I don't hate you," says Junmyeon, weighed down by the ache in his chest. I could never hate you.
"I thought you did," Jongin admits. "The second time. When we didn't... I thought it was because of... something I..." He coughs, clearing his throat, and then starts fussing with his hair. Classic Jongin Avoidance-of-Topic behavior.
Junmyeon would chastise himself for knowing that if he wasn't so captivated. "Jongin," says Junmyeon, softly bringing Jongin back to the point at hand.
Jongin freezes, hand still in his hair, and looks up to Junmyeon and then down to his lap. "I thought I did something that made you hate me," he says, lowering his hand from his head. "And that's why you didn't want to sleep with me anymore. I'm sor--"
"Don't apologize," says Junmyeon in a rush. The ache in his chest hinders his breathing. Jongin's eyes, Jongin's entire body, and the little flush over the bridge of his noise are conspiring to draw the life right out of Junmyeon's lungs. "I don't hate you," he says again. His hand finds Jongin's knee in the dark. "I just thought..."
I wanted to sleep in bed with you, like old times, but I scared myself. I wanted to sleep with you that much. Sleeping without you was equally frightening because the desire kept haunting me and I still don't know what to do.
He can't say that. He's sure some of those words would void certain sections of his contract.
Instead he asks, "You like sleeping in…bed with me?"
Jongin flushes, lowering his face. "It's...it's not so bad. You... you make it sound like we're... doing something wrong. We're not." He picks his head up, cheeks still ruddy. "Right?"
Could it be Junmyeon doesn't see what they do, but what they could be doing? Sleeping is innocent, he rationalizes.
Waking up to Jongin hard against his hip and having to "take care" of himself later because the heat has branded itself into his thighs and he can't think of anything else... is less innocent.
"Right," says Junmyeon. "We're not. So let’s...let's go, okay? You really haven't been sleeping as much as you should."
And Junmyeon would loath to take a sleeping pill, not when he can sleep with Jongin and have the same effects.
Though he goes to sleep not too far away from Jongin, almost sharing the same breathing space, Junmyeon wakes up without him, left with only the imprint of Jongin's body in the sheets.
Still cushioned by the bone deep contentment of a good night’s rest, Junmyeon rolls over, reclining against the residual warmth left behind, and tries for a few more minutes of sleep surrounded by Jongin’s imaginary arms.
Their little ritual continues and the other members are quick to pick up Jongin's new sleeping habits. Chanyeol jokes, "Baby bear needs to be with his mama, always."
Sehun hits him, insisting that the two are secretly in love, much to Kyungsoo's disgust.
"That's weird," he says, shivering. "They're like brothers. Ugh."
Because of Jongin's new sleeping habit, Sehun and Kyungsoo trade rooms, as a measure of keeping the managers out of this suspicious situation. Junmyeon knows the majority of them wouldn't approve of shared beds, so, with Junmyeon and Jongin now sharing a room, it's easier to come up with an excuse why they might happen to be in the same bed together. The "I was trying to wake him up" excuse can go a long way in a tight situation.
It's not as weird as it should be, Junmyeon thinks later, watching Jongin get ready for bed.
By the light of the lamp on Junmyeon's nightstand, Jongin's skin is smooth and healthy. His muscles ripple when he takes his shirt off.
Flushing, Junmyeon tries his best to avert his eyes, feeling a throbbing in his gut he has come to associate with Jongin.
Jongin climbs into his bed, eyes heavy, and half falls on Junmyeon's body, not expecting him to be this close. Junmyeon yelps and then laughs a little when Jongin's hand trails down his side, tickling.
"Sorry," he mumbles.
Junmyeon moves over, but it's no use – their legs are almost entirely tangled under the blankets. They're almost into the second week of sharing the same bed (not that Junmyeon's counting) and little things like this aren't as weird as they should still be.
He still feels fear, especially in the early morning when Jongin's long arms are thrown over his body and he holds Junmyeon to his chest.
Sometimes, but not every day, Junmyeon feels the return of Jongin's hardness and he hears, in the back of his mind, that forgotten moan Jongin had uttered on their first night together since the bed-sharing of their trainee days.
It stirs something in him he actively suppresses and banishes to the deepest part of his being, because with that feeling comes the paralyzing fear his feelings for his dongsaeng aren’t as innocent as he hopes they are. There isn’t a puppy in bed with him. There isn’t even a boy in bed with him. Jongin’s long legs, his arms, and his breath fanning Junmyeon’s weary face cultivate a fear in Junmyeon. A fear that gnaws on the ache in his chest. The ache he had thought was only for Jongin on a strictly platonic level—
Another ache, different from the ache in his gut, surfaces when, he, on the cusp of sleep, touches the curve of one of Jongin’s cheeks, intending to soothe. The motion only inflames his gut when Jongin leans into his touch, lips parted. He trusts his hyung. Junmyeon would have to be a thing below the scum of the Earth to abuse his trust.
For the most part, they don’t act too differently toward each other. Junmyeon and Jongin still mostly hang out with their respective friends and the groups only widen when EXO-M comes over for a visit.
The tiny apartment explodes with noise, loud laughter, and music as Sehun and Yixing try to have a dance off in the hallway and Minseok, looking on, keeps trying to jump in between them.
Lu Han, Jongin, and Wu Fan are engaged in a serious game of Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii and Lu Han is losing, if the way he tries to grab Wu Fan’s controller out of his hand and sit himself in Jongin’s lap is anything to go by. He’s always been a bit of a sore loser.
On the couch behind them, Zitao clicks away on someone else’s phone, probably Baekhyun’s, taking pictures of himself and laughing at the swears Wu Fan lobs at the television screen.
In the corner, Jongdae, Chanyeol, and Baekhyun laugh uproariously about something on Jongdae’s hand phone. Chanyeol almost falls on Baekhyun and Baekhyun pushes him back, knocking him into Jongdae.
Junmyeon loves it when they’re together like this, but he knows his reason is almost a little selfish. With everyone gathered around, laughing and picking on each other, there’s almost no time for him to retreat into his head and think about Jongin or how he feels about Jongin.
“Hyung,” Zitao calls to him from the couch.
Junmyeon stands up from the wall, dusting himself off, and walks to join Zitao on the couch, smiling. “Yes?”
“Picture. Okay?” Zitao holds up Baekhyun’s phone.
“Okay,” says Junmyeon, squeezing into Zitao’s side. He laughs in surprise when Zitao’s hand tickles at his sides.
A little while later, after this round of Super Smash Bros. Brawl is over, Jongin pops up on Junmyeon’s other side, chin on his shoulder. “Another picture,” says Jongin.
Junmyeon, despite himself and cursing all the gods he knows, flushes, but doesn’t move away from Jongin’s body. The flash of Baekhyun’s phone washes out their face, tingeing everyone with a sickly glow, but Zitao is satisfied, and then beckons Jongin over for one with him.
Lu Han, who had been observing the three, tugs Junmyeon down to the ground and gives him Jongin’s former controller. “You can be Kirby,” he says, smiling.
“Wow, what an honor,” Junmyeon rolls his eyes and makes sure his character whacks Lu Han’s across the face.
Lu Han gasps, scandalized.
With a playful guffaw, Wu Fan continues the damage done to Lu Han’s character and the match ends amid Lu Han calling “shenanigans!” and Junmyeon’s unable to keep a straight face.
He doesn’t even think about Jongin at dinner, when they’re all gathered around the television watching one of those unfortunate B-rated movies Baekhyun says he likes “ironically” but Jongdae, in a stage whisper, tells everyone Baekhyun honestly likes them because he has bad taste.
And, Junmyeon remembers only later when a few of the members are left in the living room while the others enjoy a night out, donning such impenetrable disguises as “a baseball cap” and “a large scarf,” the rooming arrangements are always a little different when EXO-M come home.
Then it’s not awkward or strange if two members throw themselves into the same bed, wanting to catch up on all the events they’ve missed in each other’s lives. Just last month Junmyeon and Wu Fan talked for hours, about things Junmyeon doesn’t presently remember, but he does remember telling Wu Fan to stay and sleep in his bed, knowing the other beds had to be occupied.
Junmyeon thinks this’ll happen again, maybe with Yixing, who he hasn’t spoken to in a while, or Jongdae, who, inspired by Baekhyun and Chanyeol, has recently tried to ruin Junmyeon’s life with off color jokes and witty quips. He’s convinced they all share one large, perverted brain.
But it’s, and of course the universe wouldn’t let him off so easy, Jongin and Jongin alone that, on crawling into Junmyeon’s bed, wakes him up in the middle of the night.
“Sorry,” he says, reaching in the direction he thinks Junmyeon’s face is. He pinches one of Junmyeon’s cheeks; his fingers smell like limes.
“Have you been drinking?” Junmyeon hisses, fear and anger sloshing in his gut. If Jongin gets caught—
“Only a little bit,” says Jongin, collapsing on his side of Junmyeon’s bed. “Hyung,” he whispers loudly. “Hyung, your face—“
“This is my face,” Junmyeon whispers back, mocking his tone.
Jongin doesn’t notice. “Hyung. Hey, hyung.”
“Yes?” Junmyeon pulls Jongin’s hands away from his face. “What is it?”
“Hyung,” Jongin throws his arms over Junmyeon and starts climbing on him, still in his street clothes. He reeks of cigarette smoke, the burn of alcohol, and more limes, and Junmyeon doesn’t think he’s supposed to have this kind of worried headache at two in the morning.
“Jongin,” he hisses again. “What are you—“
He thinks Jongin is going to do something crazy, like continue pulling at his face or, maybe even crazier, kiss him (not that Junmyeon would want that), but he does neither.
Jongin hides his face in the curve of Junmyeon’s shoulder and inhales. “Hyung,” he says again in a tiny voice, fisting his hands in the oversized shirt Junmyeon uses to sleep. “I really…” He pauses, huffing. “I really like you—“
“I really like you, too,” says Junmyeon, now a bit nervous and flushing where Jongin’s skin is pressed against his. “You know hyung does.”
“No,” says Jongin, shaking his head. “You don’t understand, but it’s okay. I don’t think… I don’t think hyung would want to understand.”
He makes to pull away and lay back on the bed next to him, but Junmyeon holds him steady, wrapping his arms around him. “Explain it to hyung,” he urges, hoping the buzzing in his stomach has nothing to do with how close Jongin’s face is to his.
“No,” says Jongin. “I’m not drunk enough for this.” He pulls away and lies down on the bed, still facing Junmyeon, and Junmyeon thinks he can taste the acidity of his breath. “We’re weird now,” he continues. “And I don’t know… I don’t know if it’s okay to be this weird or if… if, maybe, I’m the only one feeling this weird. It feels like that sometimes—“
“Jongin,” says Junmyeon, sighing through his teeth. He doesn’t think he wants to have this conversation now, or possibly ever. “We can talk about this in the morning, okay? Okay, I promise.”
He smooths Jongin’s hair back from his forehead and, as he often does, Jongin leans into his touch, dark eyes riveted on Junmyeon’s face. Junmyeon can feel them and he swears, in a sharp second between an inhale and an exhale, Jongin can see right through him.
“We won’t talk about this in the morning,” says Jongin. “We won’t talk about this ever again, will we? Do you think…I’ll even remember this conversation, hyung? Do you—“
“I do,” says Junmyeon and he, though night blind, finds both of Jongin’s hands and then, following the line of his arms, pulls him back to his chest.
Jongin scoots over, embracing him back, and Junmyeon feels a minute tremble run through his body.
Don’t be afraid, Junmyeon thinks and falls further back into the pit of his hypocritical feelings. He might not have known everything Jongin had been speaking of, but he thinks he understands and that, coupled with his fears, keeps him up long after Jongin has drifted off to sleep.
In the dark, Junmyeon amuses himself by pressing close to Jongin’s chest, listening to his strong heartbeat, and adjusting his breathing, so his own heart beats at the same rhythm. He used to do the same in his mother’s embrace, synching their hearts together and feeling closer to her than he had understood as a young boy.
Now, with Jongin, Junmyeon feels close to him in a way that yields not the peace his mother’s heart had given him, but chaos.
He hopes Jongin’s arms can keep him together until morning.
Proceed to part II