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Seungcheol ?” Jihoon’s voice whispered. “You awake ?”

“Obviously,” Seungcheol grumbled into the phone, rubbing his fingers into his eyes. He glanced at his phone to check the time, and his screen glared ‘1:42 AM’.

“I wouldn’t answer the phone if I wasn’t,” he said with a sigh following after. He loved his friends, really, he did, but he had to start teaching them boundaries, especially when he had classes the next morning.

On the other line, there was the sound of movement before Jihoon’s voice came back again. “Listen, I need you to do me a favor .”

Seungcheol held his breath, basking in the chance to use this favor against Jihoon in the future. “What is it?” he asked.

Jihoon hesitated before saying, “I need you to pick up Jeonghan .”

“Jeonghan?” Seungcheol repeated.

Yoon Jeonghan was Jihoon’s new roommate who had come in late in the semester. So far, Seungcheol had only met him twice, and in those two times it was only because he was hanging out with Jihoon. They’ve spoken less than three words to each other. Both of those words were, ‘Hey’. He remembered the only physical factor that stood out the most about him was his long hair. 

He didn’t know much else about the man except that.

“And why do I need to pick him up?” Seungcheol wondered dangerously, having a bad feeling about where this was going.

More noise in the background before Jihoon explained, “He went out about 3 hours ago without telling me, until he called me just a few minutes ago saying he was drunk and needed a ride .” It started to sound more like whining on Jihoon’s end. “Cheol, please , you know you’re the only person I know who has a car, can you just pick him up ?”

Boundaries. Seungcheol really needed to start lecturing them on that. But then, he’d also have to lecture himself on how to say ‘no’ to his goddamn friends for once.

He breathed in and let it out in a long whoosh to let Jihoon know that he’s not entirely willing to pick up a complete stranger in the middle of the night. “Fine,” he said, getting up from his warm, comfortable bed. “Text me the address.”

 


 

Driving downtown at around 2 AM, Seungcheol noticed things. His thoughts were more scattered and more irrelevant as the seconds went by trying to squint in the darkness to look for what he somewhat remembered Yoon Jeonghan looked like.

He noticed that traffic was surprisingly really light. He noticed that the bars downtown all had funky and creative names. He also noticed that god hated his ass this very moment, and decided it was a good time for a short downpour of rain, making it even harder to search for Jeonghan in the crowded street.

He had circled the block twice now and rang Jeonghan’s number, which Jihoon had texted him, only once. That conversation had been brief; Seungcheol had said that he was parked outside to pick him up and Jeonghan had only replied with a soft, “Okay,” before promptly hanging up on him. He was parked on the side of the road behind the bar’s entrance, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel to an unknown beat, thinking about leaving if Jeonghan didn’t show up within the next 10 minutes, when suddenly, there was a knock on the passenger door.

Seungcheol squinted. It was Jeonghan and he let him in.

He tried to ignore the fact that Jeonghan was dripping water onto the leather seats of his car. He also ignored how Jeonghan’s shirt was clinging to his body for dear life. A fleeting worry of this man catching pneumonia entered his mind, but he ignored that as well.

It was silent with nothing but the rain in the background when Seungcheol started the car and said, “You look awful.”

Which was mostly true, though it was probably not the right thing to tell a person he hardly knew. But Seungcheol didn’t care because it was 2 in the morning, damn it. Jeonghan reeked of alcohol, his long hair was a wet and tangled mess, and his eyes were bagged like he hasn’t slept in days.

“Thanks,” Jeonghan replied, and Seungcheol praised his sarcasm. He was about to shift gears when Jeonghan caught his arm. Seungcheol felt the shiver of cold rain drops on his skin.

“What-”

“Don’t,” Jeonghan stuttered. “Don’t take me back to Jihoon’s, please .”

Seungcheol moved his arm back, wondering briefly why Jeonghan called his own apartment ‘Jihoon’s’, but decided not to mention it. “Why shouldn’t I?” he asked, trying to hide his genuine worry. “Did something happen?”

This time the silence was intense when Jeonghan did nothing but stare back at him. It made his chest hurt, and Jeonghan broke the eye contact, looking down with hard eyes.

He sighed, knowing he was not going to get an answer tonight. “Okay, where am I supposed to take you then?”

Jeonghan bit his lip for a while and Seungcheol made sure not to stare.

“Can’t I just…” he started to wince. “Crash at your place for tonight?”

For Seungcheol’s friends, he’d yet been able to say ‘no’ to. But this was different. This was a complete stranger that he didn’t know nor trust at all, it should have been an easy ‘no’.

But Seungcheol took in Jeonghan’s shivering form, his tired eyes and half-hoped attempt at a smile. He realized he was in no state of mind to make better decisions at this hour.

He shook his head before finally shifting gears, cursing himself silently for making a stupid choice. He pulled out of the parking space and into the empty road before saying, “Okay,” glancing briefly at Jeonghan, who exhaled out a relieved sigh. “But just for tonight.”

“Thank you,” Jeonghan replied quietly, this time with no sarcasm at all.

 


 

It was very, very distracting knowing that there was a stranger using his shower.

After a quiet drive, Seungcheol let Jeonghan into his apartment, cringing at the realization of how messy his place actually was seeing that he hasn’t had another human being stay the night in his place since New Year’s when Mingyu, Wonwoo, and Hansol thought it was a good idea to start the year off by getting trashed. It was one of the benefits of renting out a two-bedroom apartment, even though it was a little pricier than he could afford, he was making sure it worked out well enough.

It also made it easier when he told Jeonghan he could use the spare room instead of awkwardly lending his couch to sleep on- or worse, his own room.

But when Jeonghan asked if he could use the shower, Seungcheol’s mind went blank trying to answer. The only thought that rang in his head was, this guy does not have any spare clothes . But he nodded anyway, grabbing a fresh towel and shuffling through his closet to find some shorts and a clean shirt that he hoped would fit on the man.

Now Jeonghan was in his shower. And Seungcheol was sitting on his couch, trying very hard not to think about that.

He opened his phone and, after cursing the fact that it was now past 3 in the morning, sent a quick text to Jihoon.

‘i let jeonghan stay at my place tonite’

A reply came far too quick.

‘Why?’

Seungcheol watched the line blink for a while trying to come up with a reply that didn’t sound like he was screwing Jihoon’s roommate.

After too much hesitation, he typed out, ‘my place was closer plus its pouring out’ .

He then sent another message saying, ‘you owe me btw’ .

A couple minutes passed before he received a, ‘Fine, see you in class, don’t forget 4pm @ the studio tomorrow.’

Seungcheol swallowed his groan, completely forgetting that he had practice with Jihoon and Soonyoung after class. For the past month, the three of them have been working on this side project, creating a few new songs together. Soonyoung had come on board for only a few weeks now, giving input and suggestions whenever he could. Some days took longer than others, trying to record things perfectly or put samples together.

Seungcheol sighed. He needed at least another 4 hours of sleep right now to deal with the rest of the day.

He’s about to get up from the couch when the bathroom door opened.

There Jeonghan stood peeking from the doorway, looking better and fresher than earlier, his long copper hair shining a bit underneath the cheap fluorescent lights. He pursed his lips when their eyes met and Seungcheol looked away immediately.

His shirt looked a bit big on him, and Seungcheol knew he’s never gonna wear those shorts again.

Scratching the back of his neck he said, “Sorry, I was about to go to bed, just wanted to make sure you're alright.” He made himself believe that that was the true reason he waited on his couch for Jeonghan to be done in the shower.

Jeonghan gave him a small smile. “I’m alright.”

Seungcheol politely smiled back, “Good.”

“I didn’t know where to put my clothes so I’m letting them dry in the bathroom, I hope that’s okay.”

“Oh, yeah that’s fine.” He swallowed down the knot in his throat and stood up to go back to his room when Jeonghan stopped him for the second time that night.

“Thanks again, by the way,” he said. It was said softly, in a timid voice.

His smile grew without him knowing. “No problem,” he told Jeonghan.

Jeonghan pursed his lips again and said with a nod, “Good night.” He went into the guest room, glancing back at Seungcheol again before finally closing the door.

Seungcheol let out a sigh before burying his face in his hands. The way he looked at him felt too tense, and he knew he was going to see those eyes in his dreams.

Jihoon owed him more than this.

 


 

“So, how was Jeonghan?”

Seungcheol rolled his eyes at Soonyoung’s smirking face that was just begging for details, preferably anything gossip worthy. After recording for an hour, they sat together in the small music studio Soonyoung’s friend owned while Jihoon was busy on his laptop.

“Nothing happened,” he muttered, gathering his papers together.

It was true, though Seungcheol didn’t know why that fact wasn’t settling in yet. He had woken up to a gray morning sky and an empty apartment. If it wasn’t for the clothes he had lent Jeonghan that had been folded and laid neatly across the couch, it would have seemed like there wasn’t anyone who stayed the night at all.

He’d never let Soonyoung nor Jihoon know that it had hurt a little to wake up alone without so much as a goodbye.

“Nothing happened yet he was 45 minutes late to class,” said Jihoon without looking up from his laptop.

“Hey,” Seungcheol defended. “I didn’t sleep until, like, 4 in the morning!”

Oh -“

Not like that, Soonyoung,” he shook his head before turning back to Jihoon. “I’m serious Jihoon, you owe me big time.”

Jihoon sighed and looked up. “I know,” he said it seriously this time. “And I’m sorry, I really am. I didn’t think he’d do something like this.”

Seungcheol grumbled again anyhow, “What was he even doing out there so late? Did he say anything?”

“Nope,” Jihoon frowned. “He didn’t even come back to the apartment this morning. He hasn’t returned my texts yet either.”

Seungcheol kept himself from mentioning that Jeonghan had made it clear last night that he did not want to go back to his apartment at all. Still, it was something that plagued his mind. Why was he out so late, drinking when he knew he had classes the next morning, and so vehemently avoiding going back home? Wherever Jeonghan was now, Seungcheol hoped he was safe.

He also hoped he’d never see Jeonghan in person again, considering he couldn’t get the mental picture of Jeonghan wearing his shirt out of his head.

“Did he mention anything to you?” asked Jihoon, shaking Seungcheol out of his reverie.

“No,” Seungcheol lied, deciding it wasn’t his place to gossip or meddle in Jeonghan’s life. “We hardly even talked, it was late and we were both tired.”

“He’s probably sleeping in class,” Soonyoung piped up. “You know how he is.”

Jihoon hummed, but the frown didn’t leave his face. “Let’s just work on the track one more time,” he said instead. “Then we can finish up and get something to eat.”

 


 

After another half hour or so, Seungcheol walked from the studio back to his apartment, his thoughts filled with nothing but his soft blankets on his cozy bed in his quiet room. It was tiring, recording his own voice over and over again.

The streetlights near his apartment shined bright now as the sun set behind the tall, city buildings. The storm had passed during the day, and the coming night was left slightly warm as he walked.

Although the sky was dimming, he almost did a double-take when he saw Jeonghan sitting on the bench right next to the entrance of his apartment complex. There’s no denying it was Jeonghan though. His copper red hair was tied back, and he was staring at his phone with a wary look. Every few seconds or so, he’d look up as if he was waiting for someone. In between his legs on the ground was a backpack.

Seungcheol didn’t know what to do. He’d have to pass Jeonghan to enter his apartment of course, but he knew he can’t do that unseen, and that Jeonghan would catch him anyway.

At that moment, Jeonghan glanced up from his phone and their eyes met. Crap , thought Seungcheol. Jeonghan gave him a shy smile.

“Hi,” he said when Seungcheol finally approached him.

“Hey,” Seungcheol greeted back. “What’re you doing out here? Isn’t your apartment on the other side of the university?”

“Yeah, um, just this side is where the science building is, and I just got done with class, it’s a bit of a walk and,” Jeonghan paused his rambling and looked elsewhere. “I’m not really in a rush to go back home is all.”

“Ah,” Seungcheol hummed, trying his best not to say anything stupid. He’s about to make his excuses to leave when he noticed Jeonghan glancing around like earlier.

“Are… Are you waiting for someone?” he asked him.

Jeonghan hesitantly met his eyes once more. “Actually,” he said, his fingers fidgeting. “I-I was waiting for you.”

Seungcheol blinked, not expecting that. “Me? Why?”

Jeonghan hesitated again, then winced, like he was afraid of what he’s about to say.

“I was… wondering if I could stay at your place for another night?” he asked softly.

 Seungcheol opened his mouth and emitted a very stupid, “Uhh… what?”

Jeonghan continued, “I mean if it’s no trouble or anything.”

“Uh…”

“Just for tonight, really.”

“Um…”

“Seungcheol-ssi? Are you okay?” Jeonghan cringed. “Or am I asking for too much?”

No, it wasn’t that Jeonghan was asking too much from him. It was just that Seungcheol’s dumb mind couldn’t form straight sentences and decided that now was a perfect time to remind him of the mental picture of Jeonghan fresh out of his shower wearing his clothes.

Like hell he could spend another night of that happening again.

Seungcheol swallowed down the thickness in his throat and looked at Jeonghan again.

“Why?” he finally asked him.

And he got about as much of an answer as he did last night. A soft mumble, “I just… I don’t wanna be in the apartment tonight, that’s all.”

Really?  Seungcheol wanted to ask, but he bit his tongue instead.

It didn’t settle right in his head. He knew Jeonghan and Jihoon were close enough, but maybe they were having problems that Jihoon hasn’t mentioned to Seungcheol. This was the second time he’s hearing Jeonghan say that he doesn’t want to go back to his own apartment, after all. The only difference being last night Jeonghan said it with alcohol tied in his system. 

Right now, Jeonghan was sober.

He sighed before making a dumb decision, “Do you drink coffee? Let’s get some coffee. There’s a café right on the corner, c’mon.”

Jeonghan’s eyebrows rose, then he frowned, and Seungcheol knew it was because he’s avoiding an answer. “Oh, um, okay.”

Jeonghan grabbed his bag from the ground and they proceeded to walk together in silence. It wasn’t much of a walk to the corner coffee shop, and Seungcheol opened and held the door for Jeonghan, who thanked him in a small voice. The place had a classic vintage vibe that Seungcheol thought would never grow old. He loved coming here to cram his papers while the relaxing smell of coffee waded through the air. They placed their orders and Seungcheol offered to pay, but Jeonghan beat him to it.

“I wouldn’t feel right if you treated me,” he said on their way to a table. “You did let me stay the night after all.”

“Mm,” Seungcheol felt his face heat up slightly at how that sounded, and when they sat down, he took a much needed huge swing of his coffee before talking. “Listen, Jeonghan, about that…”

“Ah,” Jeonghan looked down, sheepishly. “I’m sorry. It was pretty rude of me to ask if I could stay the night again.”

Seungcheol shook his head, “It’s not rude, I’d let you stay the night again, I don’t mind really.” Jeonghan relaxed at that. Although he knew if Soonyoung could hear what he was saying he’d be bumping Seungcheol’s shoulders trying to make double-entendres and more suggestive comments about what ‘spending another night’ might mean. He also knew Jihoon would probably disapprove of whatever Seungcheol was testing here. Which reminded him,

“I just have one question though,” Seungcheol asked carefully. He didn’t continue until Jeonghan looked up. “What’s really the reason why you don’t want to go back to your apartment?”

“I already said-“

“I have a feeling it’s more than that,” Seungcheol interrupted before Jeonghan could make the same excuse again. “Just tell me already, I won’t judge, I just want to know.”

He knew he hit a mark there when Jeonghan avoided his eyes again.

“How well do you know Jihoon?” he asked instead of answering. He fidgeted his fingers and Seungcheol was more than confused.

He thought about it for a second, deciding to play along for Jeonghan’s sake. "I've been friends with him for almost 5 years now.”

 He felt a small wave of nostalgia, thinking about his junior year of high school when he first met Jihoon. When he accidentally walked in the wrong homeroom class on the first day, Jihoon's laughter was the loudest from the class. Of course, he was first annoyed with the boy, but then he found him in his music class later that same day and was surprised how much they got along, their love of music being their common thread. They've been friends ever since. Seungcheol was there for Jihoon when he needed him, and Jihoon did the same for him.

But that wasn't what he should be focusing on.

"Why?" Seungcheol asked, curious where this was going.

Jeonghan avoided answering again. "How long has Jihoon... been going out with his boyfriend?"

Soonyoung? This kept getting less and less to the point. Seungcheol thought about it, racking his brain for the first time Soonyoung was introduced into his life.

Soonyoung was in Jihoon’s Music Appreciation class in his first year of college when they had met. It was a random afternoon when he was introduced to Seungcheol; Soonyoung was loud but fun for his first impression, and Jihoon had sat beside him blushing the whole time they hung out.

He answered, "Almost a year now, why?"

Jeonghan bit his lip, pausing for a moment. Seungcheol waited patiently this time. Finally, Jeonghan rushed out in one breath, "Have they always been so loud ?"

That was when his mind went blank for a while trying to catch up with what seemed to be Jeonghan's final question.

“Loud?” Seungcheol repeated. Jeonghan raised his eyebrows at him pointedly and that was when it hit him. “Oh- Oh .”

A laugh escaped him and he felt a weight lifted. Seungcheol almost thought it was something serious, but this was more hilarious.

“Are you telling me,” he said in between his small puffs of laughter. “That you don’t want to go back to your own apartment because your roommate is too loud in bed?”

Just saying it out loud almost made him laugh harder. The thought was so amusing since, most of the time, Jihoon was such a quiet and serious guy. He knew there was usually only one exception to his quietness, and that was when he laughed. Soonyoung was the only person Seungcheol knew that made Jihoon laugh any louder than anyone else.

Now there’s two exceptions. He sucked his lips to hold back his laughter.

“You don’t get it,” grumbled Jeonghan, whose ears were turning a light shade of red. “Those apartment walls are pretty thin. I just ignored it when it started happening once or twice a week, but lately it’s been almost every night, and I can’t get any sleep.” He rubbed his eyes in frustration. “My midterms are coming soon, and they’re really distracting.”

Jeonghan sighed when he saw Seungcheol still watching him with an amused expression. “I didn’t want to say anything because I know he’s your friend and all, plus it’s so awkward to bring up.”

Seungcheol understood that. He’d probably feel the same way if he had to bring up something so personal to someone he hardly knew.

“No, I get it,” he reassured Jeonghan. “But why don’t you just tell Jihoon about this? I’m sure he won’t mind.”

“I was going to but…” Jeonghan hesitated. “It’s kind of useless. I’ve been saving up and looking at other apartments, anyway. It’s just that I’ve been so busy studying I can’t check these places out.”

Seungcheol snorted and said without thinking, “Busy studying or drinking?”

Jeonghan glowered. “Okay, I admit last night I got pretty pathetic. They were really going at it and I just couldn’t take it anymore, so I left. I’m new to this part of town and I don’t know anyone else who lives nearby, so I just-“  he took in a shaky breath. “I can’t live there anymore.”

The way he said it made Seungcheol think it was more than just that. And though he didn’t judge Jeonghan’s bad decisions, since he himself was known to make dumb, pathetic mistakes just like anyone else, he couldn’t help but feel bad for the guy. He knew what it was like to have too many distracting factors and how stressful it was, especially with the test week being near. And although he’s never had a stable roommate, he felt terrible that Jeonghan was having this much trouble with his own roommate, kicking himself out of his own apartment just to get away.

He guessed he could just talk to Jihoon himself. But something bothered his mind.

Maybe it was the caffeine already hitting his system, or the way Jeonghan’s soft eyelashes accented his cheekbones too well. Maybe it was the hopeful, sad glint in Jeonghan’s eyes. Or maybe it was the small, lingering thought of Jeonghan in his clothes, sleeping just in the other room of the place that he lived in as well. It was so selfish to ask.

But he said it anyway.

“If you’re looking for a place, you can move into my spare room.”

“Really?” Jeonghan stuttered, blinking slightly.

Seungcheol gulped, realizing it was too late to take it back now. “Y-Yeah, I mean I’ve been looking for a roommate to pay half anyway.” Which was technically true, since his savings was almost running out soon. The pay at the records shop wasn’t exactly the best, after all.

Jeonghan huffed a smile, lifting a hand to cover his mouth, which Seungcheol thought he didn’t need to hide. “Yeah of course, I will,” he said. “But Seungcheol, I can’t thank you enough for offering me your place. I…” Jeonghan looked at him seriously and Seungcheol willed himself to stay still. “I don’t want to impose or anything. I know we’re not really close and all, but… you're just saving me right now.”

Seungcheol bit his lip, but smiled anyway, trying to steady his pulse. “It’s really no trouble at all.”

He silently prayed that it wouldn’t be.

Chapter Text

“How much of an idiot are you?”

Seungcheol rolled his eyes at Soonyoung’s comment, an action he found himself doing more often around his friends. They were currently in Jihoon’s apartment, helping Jeonghan pack his stuff, which in all honesty, wasn’t as much as he had expected. Jeonghan was in his old room, packing the last of his items, while Seungcheol, Jihoon and Soonyoung hung around in the small kitchen.

Seungcheol had let Jeonghan stay at his place last night, lending him his clothes once more out of selfish want. He had called up Jihoon to explain what had happened, which had been met with a reserved sigh.

“I kind of had a feeling he’d leave soon,” Jihoon had told him over the phone last night. “That’s the third roommate this semester, Cheol.”

It was true. Jihoon’s parents technically owned the apartment complex, but he still had to pay rent like everyone else, which was tough to do since Jihoon didn’t have a stable job. The apartment was nearer to campus than Seungcheol’s, which was why most students tended to rent out there.

But Jihoon has had two different people come and go within half the year. The first roommate had stayed for about a week. His name was something Seungcheol couldn’t quite remember, but he did remember that he was a Chinese exchange student. Jihoon told him he had left after finding out his boyfriend had found a place for both of them to stay in the city.

The second roommate Jihoon had was his classmate from his Music Theory class, Lee Seokmin. They bonded for a while before moving after less than two weeks, choosing an apartment that was closer to his other classes. They still get together and hang out every now and then, but Jihoon was a bit sad when he left. However, the vacant room wasn’t empty for long and Jeonghan had moved in quickly after.

And now, he was moving out, leaving Jihoon roommate-less once more.

Of course, Seungcheol had comforted his friend through it all. Though his tongue burned with the thought of bringing up a question that Jihoon had yet to mention to him.

“I’m not an idiot,” he grumbled, almost on the brink of pouting. “I was… just being nice.”

“Right,” snorted Soonyoung in disbelief. “Like how I’m being nice by stealing food out of Jihoon’s fridge.” He then crunched loudly on the chips he had stolen.

Jihoon shook his head at his boyfriend. “Seungcheol, I think I have to agree with Soonyoung here.”

Seungcheol sighed. “Say what you want, I know my own intentions. I’m being nice. Besides, it’s not like anything is gonna happen, anyway.” That last sentence twisted Seungcheol’s stomach way too fast, but he ignored it.

“You say that now, but who knows what might happen,” Jihoon chided, crossing his arms. “You never really get to know someone until you start living with them.”

Soonyoung glanced at Jihoon, but Jihoon didn’t notice it. Seungcheol, however, did notice, but decided to keep quiet.

“Seungcheol-ssi, I got the last box,” Jeonghan chimed in, coming out of his room, a small box in his arms.

Seungcheol smiled at him, “Great, I’ll meet you in the car.”

Jeonghan nodded, then turned to Jihoon. “Thanks for being such a great roommate, Jihoon. Let’s try to hang out and stay in touch, yeah?”

Jihoon’s grinned, his eyes bright. “Yeah of course.”

“Jeonghan, what about me?” said Soonyoung with a playful pout.

Jeonghan chuckled. “Oh, we’ll hang out too Soonyoungie!”

“Yay! Bye Jeonghan!” Jeonghan turned to leave while Soonyoung muttered under his breath, “I’m sure Seungcheol will take good care of you.” He instantly got elbowed by his boyfriend right after he said it. “Ow! What I’m just telling the truth!”

Jihoon glared at his boyfriend, but continued talking, “In all seriousness, Seungcheol, this is dangerous. You’re in closed corners, you’ll be seeing each other a lot more often,” Jihoon leveled his steady look towards Seungcheol. “If something happens and it doesn’t work out, what are you gonna do then?”

Seungcheol returned the stare and stated as much as he could without his voice shaking, “ Nothing is gonna happen.”

 “I’ll take that bet,” retorted Soonyoung with a mouthful of chips. “10,000 won says something will happen between you and Jeonghan.”

Seungcheol shook his head. “Fine, whatever, just get off my case already.” He grabbed the small box of Jeonghan’s stuff from the table, when he paused, remembering.

“By the way,” he mused, his eyebrows high. “the real reason Jeonghan wanted to move out is ‘cuz you guys are too loud in the sack.”

Really? ” beamed Soonyoung. Jihoon on the other hand squirmed quietly as his face turned a scarlet red.

Seungcheol laughed. “Yep, thank you so much Soonyoung,” he clicked his tongue and winked at Jihoon.

Jihoon buried his face in his hands and grumbled in defeat, “Yeah, thanks Soonyoung.”

Seungcheol left, but not without cooing with Soonyoung over Jihoon’s cute and shy attitude.

His car was parked at the front of the building, and in it waited Jeonghan. It was a nice enough Sunday morning, the sun hanging slightly over the tall apartment buildings. After placing the last box in the trunk, he circled around to the driver’s seat and started the car. He glanced quietly at the guy in his passenger seat and couldn’t believe it had been only less than a week since the last time Jeonghan was in his car.

Jeonghan blinked up at him and he focused on the road instead, his cheeks heating slightly at getting caught.

“I hope I won’t be an awful roommate,” he heard Jeonghan say shyly.

“I’m sure you won’t be,” he reassured. Though, as they drove back to Seungcheol’s apartment, he glanced back at Jeonghan one more time and was graced by his signature small grin.

Cute , thought Seungcheol, smiling back. Then he froze. Shit .

 


 

Over the next few weeks, Seungcheol got to learn a lot about his new roommate.

He’s never really had a roommate before, well one that paid rent that is. The only exceptions being the times Hansol or Mingyu would crash at his place, but they never stayed long. With Jeonghan, however, he was there all the time, from the moment he woke up till the moment he went to sleep, he would be there, just in the next room.

The first week passed by quickly without Seungcheol noticing it. He woke up the first morning to Jeonghan leaving for class without so much as a goodbye, and when he got home later that day, Jeonghan was already asleep in his room (Seungcheol knew this because Jeonghan had left his door half-open, and by the way he still had the same clothes on as earlier, he must have fallen asleep the minute he had gotten home). That first day left Seungcheol wondering whether he should ask about Jeonghan’s schedule. He decided against it, opting to find out by just letting the week go by.

When it did, Seungcheol learned just how rough a time schedule Jeonghan had.

The next days that followed, their schedules were still conflicted, and when Seungcheol came home on Wednesday he found Jeonghan asleep once more, this time on the couch. Seungcheol had maneuvered around him and spent the rest of the night quietly in his own room. On Thursday, Jeonghan had already left in the morning when Seungcheol woke up late, his classes not starting till the afternoon. When he came home, he was too tired to find out if Jeonghan was asleep or not.

Friday finally came, and with it a change in pace. Seungcheol woke up early to find Jeonghan in the kitchen, eating breakfast and catching up on his work.

“Good morning,” he said, finally the first greeting they shared as roommates.

“Good morning,” Jeonghan said softly, not looking up from his laptop. “I made pancakes and there should be enough coffee left for you.”

Seungcheol paused in the middle of his kitchen. “Thank you,” he replied, and really meant it. Sure, his friends would on rare occasions do kind things for him without any explanation (one moment that came to mind was after his finals for his first year when Wonwoo and Mingyu carried him home after drinking too much).

But Seungcheol’s only known Jeonghan for less than two weeks, and he already did something nice for him without him asking.

It was just surprising.

He got a plate and got his pancakes and coffee, and he ate in silence, the only sound that resonated in the kitchen being the tapping of Jeonghan’s slim fingers on the keyboard. He observed Jeonghan quietly as he finished his pancakes.

At first sight, Jeonghan was incredibly attractive. His long hair could fool anyone, but his features were definitely sharp and masculine, though his eyes were soft and doe-like. If Jeonghan was a stranger at a bar, he probably would have tried to pick him up. But Seungcheol had a strict rule now: No hitting on your friend's friends without their consent. The rule became something important now that his friend's friend became his new roommate. And also because of that bet he made with Soonyoung that hung over his head.

That didn’t mean he couldn’t get to know Jeonghan. He was genuinely interested in him as a person.

Just as he was about to speak, Jeonghan beat him to it. "Seungcheol-ssi, how are the pancakes?" he asked even though he still hasn't looked up from his laptop.

"Just Seungcheol is fine," he told him, dropping honorifics. He felt that they should at least be more comfortable around each other. "And they're pretty good, actually."

Jeonghan smiled and said sheepishly, "Thank you. I don't know how to cook anything else really."

"It's fine, I usually just order anyway," Seungcheol admitted. The last time he ever tried cooking anything was spaghetti almost a month ago and it was so raw and crunchy he threw it out and called for pizza instead. He takes comfort in the days Mingyu visits him just to cook him a meal that could last a month.

"So," he said, and Jeonghan finally looked up. "Jihoon told me you're a business major, that's gotta be tough." A great way to indirectly ask what the hell was going on with Jeonghan’s schedule and why he’s only seeing him at the end of the day, too tired to talk or hang out.

"It is sometimes, but it's pretty rewarding in the long run, especially since I’m gonna take up the family business, which is what I’ve always wanted to do." The way Jeonghan said it with that little twinkle in his eye and the smile on his face. It felt fake, and rehearsed, like Jeonghan had answered this question a million times.

So Seungcheol drawled out, "But...?

Jeonghan blinked, caught off guard. "But what?"

"I don’t know, the way you said it just seemed," he searched for the word. "Impassionate."

When Jeonghan fell silent he was about to take back what he said, but then Jeonghan gave a shaky smile. "Caught that huh?”

He bit his lip in hesitation, a habit that keeps catching Seungcheol’s attention even though it shouldn’t, then asked quietly, “Can you keep a secret?”

Seungcheol nodded and leaned in, like a child, intensely curious.

Jeonghan continued, “I wanna be an actor. In fact I wanna be one so badly I’ve actually been taking an acting class for the first time this sem, and I’m loving it way too much; reading lines with the other aspiring actors and just feeling and becoming different characters, it’s all just… exhilarating.”

Seungcheol hummed, finally hearing the passion in Jeonghan’s words. He tried to imagine Jeonghan as a businessman, maybe a CEO in some big office, but couldn’t see it fit him more than imagining him as an actor on stage. “And why is this a secret?”

“Because I’m still testing it out. And because none of my friends or even my family knows about it, and they’re the ones pushing me to go into business, after all. This acting thing is more like something I want to explore, just for myself.”

Seungcheol’s heart leapt in realization that he was the only one who knew about Jeonghan’s secret passion for acting, even though he wasn’t quite sure what he’d do with that information.

“So why are you telling me about it then?”

Jeonghan shrugged. “You’re my roommate. If I trust you enough to not murder me in my sleep then I can trust you with something as simple as not telling anyone.”

Seungcheol couldn’t keep in his grin. “Fair point.”

“What’s your major? I never got to ask.”

“It’s Psychology,” Seungcheol replied, trying not to sound too dry.

“But…?” Jeonghan mimicked in a teasing tone.

Seungcheol laughed before finishing it, “ But , I work at the records shop almost every day to be close to my actual passion, which is music. I’m also practicing my vocals sometimes with Jihoon after our classes.”

“Mm, so that explains our busy schedules then.”

You noticed it too? Seungcheol wanted to ask.

Jeonghan continued to say, “My acting class is right after my other classes in the middle of the week, I’ve been coming home more tired than I thought. It’s also my midterms that I’ve been trying to get through this week, my last one is today and I gotta say I really need a break.”

Seungcheol, as usual, couldn’t stop himself from slipping out, “Why don’t we head for drinks later tonight then?”

“Really?” Jeonghan blinked at him like he was surprised for even suggesting that. Did Jeonghan really think they’d never be able to hang out as roommates? It wasn’t like Seungcheol was insinuating anything, he usually went out Friday nights after work anyhow.

“Yeah,” said Seungcheol, trying to shrug off what he said like it was casual. “There’s a pub close by here, I can meet you back here after I’m done with work.”

Jeonghan went silent again, thinking it over with that same shy bite of his lip.

“I’d like that,” he answered, grinning, which in turn let Seungcheol relax.

“Great.” Standing up and placing his dishes in the sink, he turned to Jeonghan before leaving, “I’ll see you later then.”

“See you later,” said Jeonghan, still smiling.

 


 

The day passed as quickly as Seungcheol had hoped. He got through his classes without much trouble, spent lunch with Wonwoo after their Psych lecture, and ended his school day at around 3 in the afternoon, starting his job at the records shop soon after. He greeted Hansol when he walked in who was leaning casually against the counter. When Seungcheol first got this job, Hansol was the only one working in the shop, and he found out later on that Hansol’s father actually owned the place. Even though Hansol was in his last year of high school, Seungcheol got to bond with the younger over their love for new music and albums.

“Hey hyung,” Hansol greeted back with a nod. “Have you heard Khalid’s album yet?”

Seungcheol shrugged, idly setting up behind the cashier. “Been kinda busy lately.”

Hansol hummed, eyes still glued on his phone like any regular teenager. “Hey you got any plans for tonight?”

Seungcheol hesitated, though he didn’t know why. He knew Hansol usually liked hanging out with him on the weekends whenever he wasn’t too busy with school or his other friends, but all they usually did was get trashed in Seungcheol’s apartment and play video games. He answered casually, “I’m heading out tonight.”

Hansol looked up from his phone. “With who?”

He thought about lying, but then if he had lied and said it was Wonwoo or Mingyu, Hansol would have still asked to come. “With my new roommate, Yoon Jeonghan.”

“Oh, is it a date?”

“N-No,” Seungcheol spluttered defiantly. “Why would you think that, he’s my roommate!”

Hansol shrugged but his face was amused. “Nothing, just that you’re getting all defensive. Plus you smiled when you said his name.”

He did? He didn’t even realize it, but he shook his head, still denying. “We’re just going for drinks, it’s not a date.”

Hansol huffed a grin and took the CDs to be arranged. “Whatever you say, hyung.”

When he clocked out and got in his car to pick up Jeonghan, Hansol’s words were annoyingly still stuck in his head. As he drove, he thought about what a date with Jeonghan might even be like. He hoped that he didn’t make it seem like this was a date, because it wasn’t. It’s just two people who now live together casually going out for drinks and getting to know each other.

But Hansol’s word still rang through even as he and Jeonghan walked down the sidewalk towards the pub. On a Friday night at 7, the bar already had some good business. The night sky had just settled over the city and along with it came a cool breeze. The walk was sparse of any real conversation and Seungcheol had avoided looking at how Jeonghan’s hair lifted with the wind the entire time. When they arrived, he had opened the door for Jeonghan, who still thanked him in his small shy voice. He led them to the bar where Wonwoo already stood behind waiting other people, though he smiled when he saw Seungcheol come over. Wonwoo worked this shift from time to time when his busy Law studies didn’t intervene.

“Hey man,” Wonwoo greeted, then nodded slightly at Jeonghan. “Who’s this?”

“Ah, Jeonghan this is my friend Wonwoo. Wonwoo this is my new roommate, Yoon Jeonghan.”

“Roommate?” repeated Wonwoo, with a slightly amused face. “Alright. What can I get for you then?”

Seungcheol started them off with two beers and saved himself from any prying questions from Wonwoo by leading Jeonghan to a table in the back where it wasn’t too busy.

They sat for a while, drinking in silence, and Seungcheol couldn’t help feeling awkward. He thought he should at least say something.

He cleared his throat which was unnecessary, but it caught Jeonghan’s attention anyway. “So,” he started. “How was your exam?” A simple question but Seungcheol hoped Jeonghan wasn’t already tired thinking about his tests.

Jeonghan sighed. “I’ve been praying under my breath all day, but honestly, I think I did alright. Good enough to pass, that’s for sure.”

Seungcheol nodded, thinking quickly for other topics. “What about your acting class, what’s it like?”

Then Seungcheol saw Jeonghan relax as he started talking about his class with that same passion he had heard before. “We’re practicing for this play we’ll be putting on by the end of the semester,” Jeonghan mentioned with an excited grin. “I think it’s gonna be really good, there’s a lot of talented people in my class.”

“Like you?” teased Seungcheol.

“Hopefully,” Jeonghan said timidly like he wasn’t sure.

Seungcheol was just fishing for a reaction but he tried reassuring, “I’m sure you are, though.”

Jeonghan smiled. “Thanks.” Then he said as a change, “Have you ever watched any theatre performances before?”

“Uh, I’ve watched movies, does that count?”

Jeonghan laughed and asked him what his favorite movies were, to which Seungcheol asked him as well, and their conversation continued on like this. The awkward, nervous pit in his stomach went away soon enough and he found himself laughing and talking more easily to Jeonghan, as if the barrier had been lifted and they started talking like they’ve known each other for years; Jeonghan would bring up an interest, Seungcheol would agree, or Seungcheol would bring up a drama or an artist he’s been following lately, and Jeonghan would respond enthusiastically.

As their bottles started to empty, Seungcheol ordered them another round, and he observed Jeonghan as he talked on and on about one of his friends in his acting class. He picked up a few things about Jeonghan’s personality and habits here and there as he listened.

He had noticed Jeonghan’s shy and sheepish behavior before, but as Jeonghan continued to talk and drink, he saw that persona slip away, and Jeonghan’s true colors started showing. For one, he laughed and smiled easier now. He didn’t talk below his breath now, his voice loud enough to show his excitement for the story he was telling. He heard his underlying sarcasm more and more each time he described what happened, though Seungcheol supposed he was hardly listening now. But the craziest thing started to happen on their third bottle.

Jeonghan was a lightweight.

He knew this because Soonyoung was the same whenever they went out for drinks. After only a couple bottles or even just one shot, Soonyoung’s voice and emotions would rise to 1000%, something Seungcheol knew Jihoon secretly hated but endured. As Jeonghan approached the last sip of his third bottle, Seungcheol still working on his fourth, he felt more than saw Jeonghan lean closer to him as he spoke, almost feeling his breath and his warmth on his skin but not close enough that he could grasp it entirely.

“Seungcheol,” he said, a little slower now compared to the fast-paced words he was muttering earlier. “Is this… a date?”

Seungcheol’s heart hung in his throat and he willed his cheeks not to flush. “No! No, of course not, I would never-“ he paused, though Jeonghan’s eyes were still wide and curious. “I mean, I would have asked explicitly, just so you know. But, I mean, you’re my roommate now, and I can’t date my roommate. I- I’m sorry if that’s what you thought I meant by taking you out tonight.” He finished his ramble with a quick sip from his bottle, and Jeonghan huffed, amused even though Seungcheol was dying of embarrassment.

“That’s sweet, Seungcheol,” he commented, his smile a little sly. Then he asked, hesitantly, “But… you are single, right?”

Then Seungcheol really felt his cheeks heat up. He nodded instead of speaking up. He didn’t know where Jeonghan was going with these questions, and he tried not to think too hard about it.

He felt a slight warmth on his arm and it took him a second to realize Jeonghan’s hand was on him, because he couldn’t stop staring as Jeonghan leaned in close enough to whisper, excited like a child, “Someone as sweet and as handsome as you shouldn’t be single, you know?”

Seungcheol forced himself to look away, grinning now just because Jeonghan was grinning too and because he was just complimented. Then Jeonghan said, “If you want, I can be your wingman.”

Seungcheol laughed, but when he looked back at Jeonghan he realized he was serious though his expression was amused. “Really?” he said, slightly interested now.

Jeonghan tilted his head, “I’ll have you know, I’m pretty charming.”

That much is true , thought Seungcheol. Jeonghan continued, “I’m a pretty good matchmaker too. I’ve set up a lot of my friends, one of whom has been dating his girlfriend that I had set him up with for three years now.”

Seungcheol’s eyebrows raised. “Impressive.”

Jeonghan shrugged like he was expecting Seungcheol to say that, then he leaned his arm on Seungcheol’s shoulders and his eyes started searching the crowded bar. Seungcheol watched all of this happen and couldn’t help but feel pleased that Jeonghan was relaxed enough to lean into Seungcheol’s space, which Seungcheol didn’t mind. Jeonghan’s eyes were focused, looking from person to person, and he was close enough that the scent of his hair wafted into Seungcheol’s nostrils.

Jeonghan nodded his chin at a girl sitting alone at the bar. “What about her?”

Seungcheol looked. The girl seemed to be about their age, maybe a year younger, long black hair that went past her shoulders and down her back, and even though she was alone, she was clothed in a sleek, little black dress, as if she came out to party and have a good time. In her hand a tall, pink drink that was already half done.

Of course, Seungcheol let his gaze linger a little, he was still a guy of course, and if he had been alone or with his other friends, he might’ve tried to make a move. But there was a weight on his shoulder and the body that was sitting close and personal right next to him that faltered his thinking.

“What do you think?” Jeonghan whispered into his ear.

“I don’t think so,” Seungcheol replied, just as lowly, looking at Jeonghan instead. When he turned his head, Jeonghan’s was only a few inches away and Seungcheol avoided looking anywhere else but Jeonghan’s eyes, which were filled with mirth.

“What,” said Jeonghan, teasing. “Not your type?”

Seungcheol shrugged Jeonghan’s arm off him, suddenly feeling overwhelmed. “I’m just not looking for a relationship right now is all.”

That was the only excuse that always came reflexively into his mind. Since he came to Seoul, he’s only ever slept around, but he really only dated a couple of people, none of which lasted long enough to become anything serious. His other friends tried setting him up, and there were a few first dates that never became anything more either. He told himself he didn’t need that kind of lifestyle right now.

So when Jeonghan leaned back and smiled and said, “That’s something we can agree on then.” Seungcheol almost took his words back. He bit his tongue hard and looked away, downing the rest of his bottle just so he had something to do instead of fidgeting under Jeonghan’s stare.

He’s your roommate , he scolded himself in his head. He’s your roommate .

Jeonghan finished his drink and suggested they should go before he drinks any more. They stood to leave and Seungcheol paid the tab, saying a quick goodbye to Wonwoo who grinned back.

“Do you normally drink a lot?” Seungcheol let that question slip as they walked out the door.

Jeonghan shrugged, “Only when I want to. I usually don’t have that much control over it though, I always need to be drinking with someone, never on my own.”

Seungcheol thought back to the first night he met Jeonghan, drunk and dripping wet from the rain, and he forced himself not to ask if he was alone that night then.

Jeonghan wasn’t so drunk that he couldn’t walk, and his words didn’t slur at all. The only benefit of that bar was that it was close by and Seungcheol didn’t have to drive. They walked the rest of the way, still somewhat silent, but in a comforting way that didn’t feel as tense as earlier.

When they entered the apartment, Seungcheol went to bid Jeonghan goodnight, already feeling somewhat exhausted. But then suddenly, two hands found his face, and right away he felt the slight pressure of soft lips upon his own. He froze, and as quick as it came it was gone.

Jeonghan leaned back, hands landing on Seungcheol’s shoulders. “Thanks for tonight, Seungcheol, I really needed the break,” he said, and Seungcheol could still feel his breath on his lips.

Seungcheol nodded, numbly.

Jeonghan smiled, and it was all Seungcheol was focused on. It was the one Seungcheol saw often, the small shy one where the corners of his lips only lifted the tiniest bit, the rest of his smile was found in his eyes and Seungcheol just couldn’t stop staring, still frozen even as Jeonghan released his grip and turned towards his room. Jeonghan looked at him one last time, all too reminiscent of the first night he stayed over, and said softly, “Good night.”

“Good night,” Seungcheol replied long after Jeonghan’s door had closed. He brought his hand to his lips and felt his stomach turn and his heart beat race, something he couldn’t blame on the alcohol that was already in his system, but something he couldn’t quite blame on the man who had just kissed him either.

He went to bed that night with no other thoughts except for the ghosting touch on his lips of a kiss that didn’t last long enough for Seungcheol to recreate the feeling.

He’s your roommate , he had repeated one more time before his eyes slipped close, because he needed that reminder more than ever.

Chapter Text

Seungcheol stilled when he felt it, that ever slight brush of lips against his own, and he knew this moment, he’s been in this moment before, he knows what will happen next. He knows that after less than a beat, Jeonghan will lean back and he’ll walk away leaving Seungcheol to dumbly stare after him, and that he’d close his bedroom door behind him with a soft ‘Goodnight’.

But Seungcheol stilled. And held on.

He brought his hands up to cup Jeonghan’s face, his touch soft but grip hard enough to let Jeonghan know that he didn’t want this to end, and he carefully and hesitantly moved his own lips back against Jeonghan’s. He heard Jeonghan take in a shaky breath, and he got the message that Seungcheol wanted this too, he wanted this badly. He felt Jeonghan slowly drag his hands upwards on his chest and rest around his shoulders, pulling him even closer. He savored every gentle move of their lips, this back and forth pull like the calm sea waves against the sand.

He opened his eyes halfway when he felt Jeonghan stop moving, and through his eyelashes he saw Jeonghan, his eyes closed and his mouth slightly open, his breaths coming and going in pants and Seungcheol felt a sudden need to taste that mouth once more, but he waited.

With his eyes still closed, Jeonghan swallowed, and Seungcheol followed the movement of his throat with his eyes.

Jeonghan whispered, "Seungcheol."

And that was all it took for his resolve to shake.

Even the sea can become dangerous, and that’s what Seungcheol felt deep within himself. He threw his caution out and held on tightly to Jeonghan’s waist, pushing him so that he walked backwards, and he found themselves walking into Jeonghan’s half-empty room. Jeonghan was trusting Seungcheol completely, not once opening his eyes, though when Seungcheol placed his hand on Jeonghan’s throat to pull him in for another kiss, he felt Jeonghan’s pulse beating wildly and knew that his was doing the same.

Seungcheol wasn’t that much taller than Jeonghan, but when his knees hit the bed, he sat, and Seungcheol watched him spread himself on the bed from above him. He took in the way he looked; his copper red hair strewn on the sheets, his wrists resting easily above his head, his lips pink and swollen only slightly, and his eyes half-lidded. Seungcheol felt his chest become heavier and heeded with want, and when Jeonghan opened his eyes fully, Seungcheol knew their stare was tense and rousing some fire within them.

“Seungcheol,” Jeonghan whispered again like a beckon, and Seungcheol leaned over him and found his lips once more.

Jeonghan let his hands be pinned down as Seungcheol took to sucking on his bottom lip, reveling and memorizing every sound that came out of him each time their bodies moved against each other. Seungcheol gripped his hands and felt them trembling, and he let them stay above Jeonghan’s head as he took to letting his own hands wander where he wanted them to be, his lips moving down and leaving a hot trail down Jeonghan’s neck. Jeonghan tilted his head to the side and Seungcheol pounced on the new skin revealed to him, sucking and biting just below Jeonghan's ear, leaving Jeonghan moaning underneath him. His fingers found the hem of his shirt and as he dragged them up Jeonghan's sides, Jeonghan gasped.

"Seungcheol," he said, breathless, but it didn’t stop Seungcheol’s actions, his hands now on Jeonghan’s thighs, and through the fabric, he felt Jeonghan shudder. He guided Jeonghan’s leg up to rest on his waist just to pull him closer and he could feel Jeonghan’s arousal beneath him, hard and heavy against his own.

“Seungcheol,” Jeonghan whispered again, his breath hot against Seungcheol’s skin.

Suddenly Seungcheol felt hands grasp his shoulders, pushing him fiercely against the bed and when he looked up, he saw that Jeonghan had switched their positions. Something warm stirred in Seungcheol at the thought of Jeonghan dominating him, and Jeonghan wasted no time in meeting his lips again, their tongues clashing hard against each other. Jeonghan’s legs leaned on Seungcheol’s sides and his hands grazed Seungcheol’s face with a new, passionate force that replaced all their hesitancy from earlier. When Jeonghan started to move his body against him they both gasped at the feeling.

Jeonghan leaned back just enough to keep Seungcheol reeling, their nose and forehead still touching as Jeonghan mouthed two words against his lips,

“Fuck me.”

Then reality sank in, hard and fast.

 


 

Seungcheol woke gasping for breath, cold sweat shivering down his temple and an embarrassing hard-on tenting his pajama shorts.

He took in a minute to calm down, looking around his dark room and trying very hard to think about anything else but the man that was probably still asleep in the other room who was also the star of his current dreams. Seungcheol ran his hands on his face in shame, willing the heat on his cheeks and his chest to cool down.

It had been almost a week since they had gone out for drinks and since Jeonghan had kissed him. He had tried his best to push the kiss all the way to the back of his mind, knowing that it meant nothing, that Jeonghan was probably feeling more comfortable with him and was a tad drunk when it had happened. The morning after, Jeonghan acted the way he usually did, not mentioning anything from the night before, and Seungcheol took that as a sign to not bring it up and just let that moment between them pass.

But then the dreams started happening.

At first, they were too faint and too quick for Seungcheol to remember anything, and he would wake up feeling somewhat empty. But as the days passed and he saw Jeonghan more often, his mind started conjuring up imaginary scenes that left Seungcheol waking up more and more breathless. This one that he had just woken up from was the most vivid one yet.

And he couldn’t do anything about it, he couldn’t tell anyone or act on it. He’d spend the rest of the day buried in his studies, and when he’d get home he would avoid looking at Jeonghan as much as possible.

But avoiding Jeonghan was much harder than he thought. Jeonghan might have been shy and closed off during their first week as roommates, but after that night at the pub, he started acting more like they were close friends than roommates who barely say a word to each other. He stopped sleeping as soon as he got home, and was more upfront and voicing about his opinions or complaints from the day. It was nice that they got to talk about this and that, definitely more comforting than Seungcheol coming home to a quiet apartment.

He had noticed that Jeonghan was affectionate when he talked, always softly brushing his hand on Seungcheol’s arm when he’d get too excited or gently touching Seungcheol’s shoulder to get his attention when he needed something. All these small things left Seungcheol tense and distracted, and as those dreams started progressing, he started getting more worried.

Seungcheol had started wondering if he was too obvious, if Jeonghan knew he was now under his spell. How could he not be when he was so damn attractive?

Just the other day, Seungcheol had been relaxing and catching up on a few shows on the couch when Jeonghan had emerged from the shower with only a towel draped around his waist, another in his hands drying his hair. Seungcheol had taken one look, his breath caught in his throat and he looked away immediately, focusing only on the TV. He thought Jeonghan would leave to go to his room but then he heard him ask, “What are you watching?”

“Uh, Goblin,” he answered as best as he could without his voice wavering. “I’m halfway through it.”

Jeonghan hummed and said, “That’s where I am too, I think. Pause it for me.” And he joined Seungcheol on the couch after he had changed into something way too comfortable; shorts that made his legs look long and a thin white shirt that covered that expanse of soft skin Seungcheol had glimpsed at earlier. His hair had still been wet when he sat down and Seungcheol tried focusing on Jeonghan’s questions about the show rather than that nice coconut smell that drifted from his fresh hair.

But after a while it had become suffocating, just feeling Jeonghan’s presence beside him, leaning in and whispering comments each time something dramatic happened on the screen was too much. He had gotten up in the middle of the episode with a quiet goodnight to Jeonghan, who was still engrossed with the show and had barely given a nod back.

Now Seungcheol found himself in the shower, the cold spray welcoming on his bare back, his only thoughts of the dream he had just woken from.

It was 5:45 in the morning, and Jeonghan was thankfully still asleep, leaving Seungcheol about 15 minutes to himself before Jeonghan woke up to get ready for his classes. In truth, Seungcheol didn’t need to get up until 7, but he’d been unable to fall back asleep because of the dream.

It was too much to think about, knowing that Jeonghan was in the other room, the sheets wrapped around his body, lips open just slightly as he breathed. He didn’t know if Jeonghan liked sleeping half-naked, but it didn’t stop Seungcheol’s mind from wondering. He heard his sigh echo against the tiled walls of the bathroom as he felt a heavy weight in his chest.

He needed release. Right now was as close as he could get.

Seungcheol hesitantly brought his shaking hand towards himself, gripping his half-hard cock softly, then firmly, he stroked himself to full arousal in a way he knew was familiar. He knew what he was doing, something like this always felt like taboo, but he needed this release badly.

He tried focusing only on his actions, his pointer finger digging into the tip just enough to let a soft groan loose. Making a ring along with his thumb he made his way down to the base again. He leaned his forehead against the cold tiles, his wet hair sticking to his face. He needed to be quiet, though his own breath was loud and ringing in his ears. With his other hand he increased the shower pressure just to have something to drown the noise out.

As he started to reach his peak, he did the one thing he had forced himself not to: He closed his eyes. And shit, did Seungcheol’s mind start blending reality.

Immediately he was lost with the image of Jeonghan’s hands on him instead of his own, stroking him to completion. He thought of Jeonghan’s body pressed up against him, one hand in his hair gripping and curling his fingers in, the other on top of Seungcheol’s hand, directing his actions. In his ear, Jeonghan would press his lips against his skin and whisper words of encouragement, and Seungcheol could hear his sweet toned voice too clearly in his head,

“Just like that Seungcheol, a little faster, you’re almost there, that’s it. Are you gonna come for me?”

“Fuck, Jeonghan,” he’d say, and he heard himself say it out loud anyway.

“Seungcheol?”

He froze, painfully close.

Seungcheol turned to the closed bathroom door, above the sound of his breath and the shower he called out carefully, “Yeah?”

Jeonghan’s voice came back from behind the door, “What are you doing up this early?”

Seungcheol had already let go of his grip on himself. “Just, uh, couldn’t sleep.”

He heard nothing for a moment, then, “Okay, don’t be too long in the shower, I gotta get ready.”

“Okay,” Seungcheol called out and waited until he heard nothing again.

He hit his head hard against the tile again, this time intentionally.

He was an idiot. He almost got caught doing something like this, thinking about Jeonghan that way when he really shouldn’t be. His body felt hot with shame and the cold water didn’t help one bit. He looked down disappointingly at his now softening cock before turning the shower off.

Seungcheol grabbed his towel off the rack and glanced at himself in the mirror as he dried off. He exhaled softly, fixing his expression to one that didn’t make him look guilty before heading out the door.

He passed Jeonghan who was sitting on the couch, probably waiting, and didn’t look him in the eye as he said, “Shower’s yours.” He felt Jeonghan’s stare on his back.

He closed the door of his room behind him without waiting for Jeonghan’s reply and sank back into his bed, thinking hard about nothing.

 


 

“So Seungcheol’s got a new toy,” was the first thing Wonwoo muttered when Seungcheol sat down. Immediately Seungcheol’s protest is drowned by Mingyu’s dramatic gasp.

“Hyung! Already? What the hell is wrong with you!”

Seungcheol stuttered, “He’s not-!”

“And it’s his roommate, no less,” added Wonwoo, his voice still monotonous though his eyes gave away his amusement.

“You’re fucking your roommate !?” exclaimed Mingyu. “Hyung! I had so much respect for you.”

“Would you fucking keep your voice down,” Seungcheol hissed. Mingyu’s face remained scandalized even as Wonwoo was full on laughing now.

It had been a while since he had gotten to hang out with Wonwoo and Mingyu. Mingyu was usually busy with his fashion degree on top of his job at the café they were currently sitting in for Mingyu’s lunch break. It was a busy café, one of those minimalist hotspots that always show up in Instagram photos; lots of bright light, plants and fancy looking food and coffee. Seungcheol normally didn’t go to this café since it was a bit of a walk from his place, but today was the only day Wonwoo had free, and even though Seungcheol’s been seeing him in his Psych class the past few days, Wonwoo hadn’t brought up the topic of Jeonghan at all.

Only now, when he knew it would garner Mingyu’s comical reaction.

“I’m not fucking him,” he muttered, though his ears felt hot, just remembering what he had done the day before. “I’m not doing anything with him, Jeonghan’s just my roommate, so drop it.”

“Gyu, you should have seen him though,” said Wonwoo with a grin. “Just his type.”

Now Mingyu grinned. “Someone who’ll screw him over?”

“Yep.”

“Will you two, please stop,” Seungcheol interrupted with a grumble, taking a bite out of his sandwich. “I came here to have lunch with you guys and you’re already making me want to leave.”

“Can you really blame us for wanting to know?” said Mingyu, his tone less loud now, still his eyebrows were raised. “You haven’t gotten laid in a long time, hyung, you’ve kinda been on edge. I say, if you got a new roommate, might as well do something with him.”

Seungcheol always tended to tune Mingyu out but when he turned to Wonwoo for an intellectual opinion, Wonwoo merely said, “He’s right you know.”

He shook his head, betrayed. “I can’t believe you’d say that.”

It was probably true that Seungcheol was tenser ever since he stopped fucking around like he did in his first year of college. When he started busying himself with tons of reading and papers to write that he obviously had no fun writing, he lost contact with being intimate with another human being, and the next thing he knew a whole year had passed. Jeonghan was a fresh new presence in his life, but he couldn’t just take advantage of him like that.

“Sorry,” Wonwoo said, shrugging. “But the two of you sleeping together can give you both benefits. Lessens the stress you’re feeling from your classes, alleviates the tension between you.”

“Speaking from experience?”

Wonwoo blushed and stopped talking.

“Look,” Seungcheol continued. “Even if I wanted to, I can’t. He’s Jihoon’s friend, it’d be a terrible thing to even try. Plus, I’d lose 10,000 won to Soonyoung if I did try anything.”

Mingyu shook his head. “What if it was totally Jeonghan’s decision, like if he made the first move, wouldn’t you just go for it?”

Seungcheol froze. A sudden rush of feeling Jeonghan’s arm around him, his voice in his ear, in his head, and his soft lips brushing his own- all of it hit him all at once.

Seungcheol must have been silent for far too long because Mingyu’s eyes widened and he whispered, “He already made a move on you, didn’t he.”

The sound that came out of Seungcheol sounded like a small, denying whine, because words weren’t working for him right now, and Wonwoo laughed.

“Oh my fucking god, hyung ,” said Mingyu, scandalous again. “What did you do?”

“Don’t tell Soonyoung,” he whispered furiously. Then in a rush, “After we came home from the bar that night, he kissed me goodnight, that’s all, nothing else happened.”

He didn’t mention that he hasn’t stopped thinking about that damn kiss, or the fact that he’s even been dreaming about any possible sexual scenario that could never happen between him and Jeonghan. Though, just thinking about it now made him uncomfortable with shame.

“That’s it?” Mingyu almost shouted. “Why didn’t you kiss him back? He obviously wants it!”

Seungcheol grumbled, “He was a little drunk, I’d never take that chance.”

In honesty, Seungcheol was running out of excuses. Of course he didn’t want to know if Jeonghan actually felt something for him, because he knew that if even the slightest attraction was between them, he’d screw it up somehow, and he’d lose Jeonghan.

And that thought left a soft pain in his chest that he couldn’t explain, let alone think about right now.

Which brought him to his next topic.

“It’s not like I’m not attracted to him,” he obviously was. “But it’s a line I can never cross. Which is why I wanted to ask you guys for your help. Is there any possible way I can become… unattracted to the guy?”

“You could try fighting him,” Mingyu suggested with a shrug, stealing some of Seungcheol’s fries. “I mean, he’s your roommate, there’s gotta be something you disagree on. Plus, it’ll distract you from all the damn sexual tension you got pent up.”

Seungcheol stared, confused at Mingyu’s suggestion. He turned to Wonwoo once more for his opinion, and when he finally spoke up he said, “That… is actually not a bad idea.”

Seungcheol blinked. “You’re actually agreeing with him?”

“Not fighting , per se, more like focusing on his bad side. Speaking from experience,” Wonwoo repeated his words sarcastically. “No matter how breathtakingly gorgeous the guy is, if you’ve lived with him for a while, you pick up on his habits.”

Seungcheol knew Wonwoo and Mingyu have been living together for a few years now. He had met Wonwoo in his intro class in his first year, and by then, he was already living with Mingyu. They were high school sweethearts apparently, Wonwoo had told him their story of how they met; how Wonwoo was the shy guy in the year above Mingyu, and Mingyu was the popular kid who liked getting on Wonwoo’s nerves, but above all else they ended up falling for one another, and when they graduated they moved in together. With such a conflict in interests, Seungcheol wondered what it must be like living with your soulmate.

So when Wonwoo didn’t continue, he asked, “Habits?"

Wonwoo rolled his eyes. “Habits. Annoying ones, or disgusting ones even. Like Mingyu has this habit of leaving his clothes all over the place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tripped over his sweaters or his socks.”

“That’s only because I can never decide what to wear,” Mingyu whined at his boyfriend defensively.

“How hard is it to pick up after yourself, really?” Wonwoo retorted. “I always end up picking after you.”

Mingyu pouted. “You have annoying habits too! Like how you keep the whole damn apartment at freezing temperature then you scold me when I try to change the thermostat.”

“That’s ‘cause I can’t stand it when you set it at 27, it’s like the apartment starts boiling Mingyu.”

Mingyu scoffed, “Oh so you do notice when it’s hot! Why do you always burn the food when we cook together then?”

“At least I make an effort to wash the dishes afterwards, unlike the chef who just leaves them around.”

“I do too wash the dishes!”

Seungcheol watched them bicker back and forth like a tennis match and took back what he wondered earlier.

He thought the idea over as Mingyu and Wonwoo complained to each other about their dishes. He never did think about any flaws Jeonghan might have because he just assumed that Jeonghan had none; he just guessed that Jeonghan’s mannerisms must be just as amazing and graceful and flawless as his appearance. He’s also never really noticed if Jeonghan did the dishes or if he took the trash out; they were both so in and out of the apartment and focused on their studies he didn’t have any time to focus on small things like chores. Living alone, Seungcheol thought it was bothersome each time he had to clean, but he had someone else living with him now.

At some point Mingyu and Wonwoo had stopped arguing and Mingyu returned to his shift after being scolded by his boss. Seungcheol left Wonwoo at the café shortly after, saying his next class was about to start, and Wonwoo had told him before he left, “Just try it Seungcheol, there’s no way he doesn’t have any annoying habits, and above all else just try and distract yourself. You’re gonna need it.”

Of course, Seungcheol took that advice with him and made himself stop filtering what he sees in Jeonghan to be pure perfection. He made sure that once he stepped inside his apartment tonight he’d have to see for himself what Jeonghan was really like as a roommate.

 


 

It was dreadful.

Ever since he heard all the awful things Mingyu and Wonwoo pointed out about each other, all of a sudden like he had been blinded for so long he noticed everything.

Everything .

Habits like how Jeonghan liked hoarding stuff. He liked collecting trinkets and receipts, and Seungcheol was sure the man had a hair tie for each day of the week but he doesn’t have a box to place them all in; he didn’t like to organize them, he’d just leave random little things like that all over the place.

Jeonghan also sheds like crazy; on the fabric of the couch, stuck in the drain, little strands were just everywhere. Seungcheol didn’t know how the man didn’t find his long hair annoying, and sure, he might have been entranced by the long, copper locks the first time they met, but seeing it every time he showered, clogging up the drain, was just irritating.

Jeonghan was lazy when he didn’t have anything to do, and he’d find his roommate sleeping on the couch at random times, leaving no place for Seungcheol to sit. Seungcheol never noticed that when that would happen he would cancel watching television and lock himself in his room, watching reruns on his laptop when he really wanted to watch his favorite show live on TV.

Jeonghan hardly liked doing the dishes, letting them soak and leaving Seungcheol to do them, and he never really noticed until the third night he found himself washing and drying all the coffee-stained mugs.

And the worst thing he had noticed of Jeonghan’s annoying habits was that he always ate Seungcheol’s food.

“Seungcheol, you okay?”

Seungcheol looked up from his sad bowl of cereal to Jeonghan sitting right across from him. Eating his own cereal.

Seungcheol probably shouldn’t be as ticked off about it, but Jeonghan’s been staying here for almost a month now, and not once has he bought his own groceries. It was always Seungcheol going out for food, and Jeonghan would always thank him sweetly, but he figured if he kept this up then the younger would never buy anything for himself.

“Yeah,” Seungcheol mumbled, eyeing how Jeonghan liberally added more milk to his cereal. Seungcheol bought that milk. It wasn’t cheap anymore now that he’s buying a carton for both of them to share.

Jeonghan took his answer and shrugged. He ate the rest of his cereal, downing the milk, then stood up and placed his bowl and spoon in the water filled sink, alongside mugs from yesterday and the day before.

Seungcheol knew what came next; Jeonghan would laze about on the couch, lying down with his feet up, scrolling through his phone for a half hour until he had to get up and get ready for his class.

So naturally, Seungcheol stopped him before that could happen. “Hey Jeonghan.”

Jeonghan, who was already halfway to the couch, phone already in hand, turned to him and said, “What?”

Seungcheol swallowed having not thought this through. “Since you have some time before you go, can you maybe… wash your bowl?” Then, to not sound demanding, “Just so there’s no dishes to do, y’know?”

Jeonghan looked at the sink and back to Seungcheol and indifferently said, “I’ll do them later when I get home.”

Then he proceeded to lie down on the couch like the conversation was over.

Only it wasn’t.

Seungcheol got up, cereal forgotten, and he still tried to be as nonchalant about it as possible. Leaning against the frame of the kitchen entrance, he watched as Jeonghan scrolled through his phone. He said, still as gently as he could without getting himself worked up, “Jeonghan, it’s not that much effort to wash a bowl.”

Jeonghan said without looking up from his phone, “I know, but I just lied down Seungcheol.”

Seungcheol felt his skin itch with Jeonghan’s aloof response and he couldn’t help it now, “It’s just, I know you’re not gonna do them later Jeonghan, so could you just get to them now when you don’t have anything else to do?”

Jeonghan looked up from his phone now, eyebrows furrowed. “Seungcheol, I’m gonna get to them, relax. Why are you so hung up on it?”

“Why?” Seungcheol repeated. “Ever since you got here it’s like I’m the only one washing the dishes, I just thought you could help me out around here.”

Jeonghan’s eyes narrowed slightly. “I am helping you out Seungcheol.” He sat up. “Did you know that you only owned like one plate and one mug? It’s a good thing I bought a set.”

Seungcheol rolled his eyes. Just because it was true it didn’t justify or even balance out everything else that Jeonghan did.

Jeonghan kept going, “Also, you know I’m taking the trash out every week, right?”

Seungcheol paused, though he schooled his face to stay neutral. He didn’t really notice that Jeonghan had been taking the trash out. Still that made no sense, because,

“Wait, if you put in the effort to take the trash out then why is it so hard for you to do the dishes Jeonghan?”

“Because I don’t wanna do them right now okay, I already said I’ll do it later.”

“But you’re not gonna do it later, you never do it later!”

Jeonghan glared and got up. “Fine,” he huffed as he passed him. “I’ll do them now.”

Seungcheol let out a breath when the sink started running and the sound of glass clinking could be heard behind him. Small victories, he thought.

“Don’t know why you’re being such a jerk today,” he heard Jeonghan grumble. It almost made Seungcheol feel guilty. Almost.

He needed this, he needed this distraction; to prove to himself that they were just roommates, and roommates fight sometimes, right?

Except what Seungcheol didn’t expect was that sometimes became all the time.

Chapter Text

“Seungcheol.”

“Hm?” Seungcheol hummed, focusing entirely on his laptop. His research paper was half-done but he was definitely not happy about it. This week in particular was filled with due dates that had crept up on him, nothing but rushing deadlines and late night studying, so much so that Seungcheol had been stress eating nothing but coffee lately.

“What is this?” he heard Jeonghan call out from the kitchen. Seungcheol looked up to see Jeonghan standing there with a pinched expression on his face. The fridge door was open and in his hand was the milk carton.

“What?” Seungcheol asked, genuinely.

But Jeonghan rolled his eyes. He closed the fridge and with his other hand he took something off the milk carton and lifted it for Seungcheol- who scoffed when he saw it.

It’s been a full two weeks of fighting between them. At first they were about the small things, like Jeonghan’s annoying hair fall-

“Seriously Jeonghan, you shed like a freaking dog!”

“I can’t help it Seungcheol! I don’t control when and where my hair’s gonna fall, geez!”

Or their fight over who got to watch the television-

“Jeonghan, it’s 5 o'clock, you know I wanna watch Unpretty Rapstar.”

“Seungcheol, I’m right in the middle of this episode!”

“You’re just streaming it! Can’t you just pause it and finish it later?”

“Can’t you just let me finish this now ?”

And every single time they fought, it would almost always end with Jeonghan conceding; Jeonghan would throw away his small hairballs that built up in the drain, or Jeonghan would sulk and watch his shows in his room on his laptop. It would end with Jeonghan’s little huff of a, “ Fine .” and the next day everything would be calm again.

But then the bigger fights started happening between them, and those were the times Jeonghan didn’t want to give in as easily as he did with the smaller things. Seungcheol didn’t like how out of hand they’d get, and the aftermath that it would leave them both in, sometimes too tense to talk to each other for days on end.

Their longest running fight was this one, when Seungcheol had finally gained some miraculous courage to bring up the fact that Jeonghan should start buying his own food. Most of the food in the fridge Seungcheol had bought. He’s rarely seen Jeonghan come home with food for himself, what with a few take outs that he’s mentioned his new actor friends had treated him with, or opened cup noodles Jeonghan bought from the convenience store nearby, both of which Seungcheol has never touched. All the while Jeonghan would eat whatever was open in the fridge that was Seungcheol’s- far too many times Seungcheol would leave leftovers for himself to eat the next day and find them gone because Jeonghan had eaten them. It was a fight that Seungcheol thought would only last a day, that Jeonghan would yield to just like with everything else.

Now, a week later, they still weren't over it.

"It's what it looks like Jeonghan," he said, going back to focusing on his paper.

"So, what?" Jeonghan stalked over to him, throwing down the small sticky note on Seungcheol's keyboard which made him stop typing. His name was written on the note in bold black marker. Seungcheol looked up at him, Jeonghan's eyes glaring at him. "You're just claiming the milk now? What the hell Seungcheol."

Seungcheol mirrored Jeonghan’s narrowing eyes. "I bought it, so it's mine. Buy your own milk and we'd stop having this kind of problem."

Seungcheol didn't like how he became whenever he and Jeonghan fought. He wasn't just more tense, but less controlling of what came out of his mouth. It wasn't a new side. He had had really bad arguments with his older brothers before, but they were always in his life growing up. Jeonghan's an adult and his roommate, he shouldn't be feeling this irrational and petty when they fight, and yet somehow, he did.

On the brighter side, the dreams have stopped. Seungcheol repeatedly told himself that them fighting like this was better than Seungcheol reeking of horniness and desperation.

Jeonghan huffed. “You’re being really childish right now Seungcheol.”

I’m childish? Why don’t you be an adult and pay for your own food and stop fucking eating all of mine!”

“It’s just milk, Seungcheol!”

“Jeonghan we’ve been over this, it’s not just the milk, all the food inside this apartment, I’ve bought. Not once have I ever seen you buy groceries for yourself.”

“I already pay for half the rent, why can’t we just share the food?”

“Why don’t you pay for half the food then?”

Jeonghan groaned. “Seungcheol, you know I don’t have enough money to buy food, I barely have enough to pay rent.”

Seungcheol shook his head, having heard this excuse before. “I’m sorry Jeonghan there’s nothing I can do about that. Until you start paying for your own groceries, I’m labeling what I know is mine.”

Jeonghan’s eyes narrowed again. “I don’t know why you act so high and mighty when you have faults too, Seungcheol.”

Seungcheol wanted to scoff again. “Name one.”

“I can name more than one!” Jeonghan pointed at Seungcheol’s phone charging on the table. “You always use my stuff without asking me, that’s my charger there Seungcheol, not yours.” Seungcheol blinked at that, not knowing he was using Jeonghan’s charger in the first place. Jeonghan continued, crossing his arms. “You haven’t taken the trash out in weeks. Last weekend you were up ‘till 2 in the morning playing your stupid video games, I hardly got any sleep. And how many times have I complained about the ceiling fan in the bathroom, Seungcheol? It’s still broken and annoying as hell, kinda like you getting on my nerves so much lately!”

Seungcheol felt small with Jeonghan yelling at him. He didn’t realize any of these things, it was almost like he was being just as bad a roommate as Jeonghan’s been.

He can vaguely remember Jeonghan complaining to him in the middle of the night last weekend, coming out of his room with his hair a sleepy mess and in nothing but some shorts and a long ass shirt, but all Seungcheol had focused on was Jeonghan’s legs, hair, and sleepy voice telling him to turn it down. He did eventually but Seungcheol fought him on it anyway just to distract himself from Jeonghan’s image, saying something asshole-y like, “ It’s my apartment Jeonghan, I can do what I like. ” Jeonghan had been too sleepy to fight back, and Seungcheol had given into the guilt and turned down the volume anyhow.

He also somewhat remembered Jeonghan approaching him about the fan in the bathroom, about how it’s been making too much noise and not really fanning anything. Then again, the times Jeonghan’s complained to him about it, Jeonghan would be fresh out of the shower and Seungcheol’s brain would short-circuit, and he’d give some kind of crappy excuse like, “ I’ll tell the maintenance guy about it ,” or “ Yeah I’ll fix it when I get the chance ,” all the while staring at nothing but Jeonghan’s wet hair and soft skin before biting his tongue and forcing himself to look away.

Looking at Jeonghan now though, he looked irritated, and that anger was directed at him, and Seungcheol didn’t feel so good about that.

But just like with all their fights, Seungcheol felt that tiny pit of guilt in his stomach and pushed it away, along with any other thoughts that might pop up about how cute Jeonghan looks right now, his eyebrows furrowed and lip almost in a pout.

So Seungcheol said, calmly, though his heart was beating hard, “So we both suck at being roommates. That’s not gonna stop me from trying to stop you from eating my food all the time.”

It felt like the wrong thing to say, because Jeonghan’s voice only got louder.

“Fine!” he said, but it’s not in the form of Jeonghan’s usual huff this time, it was more like a growl. “Then I’ll just do the same!”

Seungcheol watched Jeonghan retreat back to the kitchen, his day feeling ruined. “Go ahead,” he yelled back, trying his hardest to return his focus on his stupid papers. “Sounds fair to me; I won’t touch your stuff and you won’t touch mine.”

A heavy silence and Seungcheol thought it was over. He went back to focusing on his laptop screen, thinking that he’s back to feeling helpless over this situation he’s found himself in and ruing the day he took Mingyu’s damned advice.

Out of the corner of his vision he saw Jeonghan move back towards him, and he almost jumped off the couch when he felt Jeonghan’s hand upon his shoulder. When he looked up, Jeonghan was far too close to his face, his hair down like a curtain, and as he slowly leaned towards him, Seungcheol tensed up instantly, holding his breath.

Not this again , he thought, feeling his progress crumble before him, Anything but this .

There on Jeonghan’s face was a sweet smile, though Seungcheol could see the malice in his eyes. “You don’t wanna mess with me Seungcheol,” he said, low enough that Seungcheol could feel his breath on his ear. “I don’t just stoop down to someone’s level, I make sure I get even.”

Then in an instant he felt Jeonghan’s lips against his right cheek- and just like that, he was gone, making his way to his room and almost slamming the door behind him. Seungcheol gulped as if it would stop his heart from pounding. It didn’t.

Seungcheol grazed his cheek where Jeonghan had kissed him, his skin feeling like it was burning. He glanced down to notice his phone on the table, the charger now missing.

“What…?” Seungcheol muttered confused, staring at his phone.

Had Jeonghan just kissed him as a distraction to steal back his charger? Effective, since Seungcheol clearly didn’t even notice it happen.

Seungcheol glanced back at Jeonghan’s closed door as if it held answers, Jeonghan’s words now more clear in his head than ever-

I make sure I get even.

He had a sinking feeling he was about to find out just what that meant.

 


 

"Oh my fucking god!"

Soonyoung screeched while Jihoon doubled over himself, laughter coming out in short breaths accompanied by continuous seal-like clapping. Seungcheol had already expected these reactions.

He didn't have to meet them. He went to his classes that day and endured the looks he got but it wasn't like he had any close friends in those classes (he dreaded seeing Wonwoo the next day, knowing exactly what the quiet boy's reaction would be), but he could've given some grand excuse to not meet with Jihoon and Soonyoung for their recording session. Honestly, he didn't even want to go out of his house let alone see his friends like this. Seungcheol didn’t have any kind of beanie, and even if he wore his cap (which he did), it didn’t entirely cover his hair. His scalp still stung and he focused on that pain while waiting for Jihoon's laughter to die down, which took a while.

"In my defense," Seungcheol grumbled almost to himself, glaring at his two best friends who haven't stopped staring amusedly at his now bright red hair. "This is all your fault."

Soonyoung became defensive immediately, probably because his boyfriend was still trying his best to stop his laughter. " What , how the hell is your hair getting dyed our fault?"

It was simple, Seungcheol wanted to scream and really, he just wanted to tear his hair out thinking about how the past few days had been absolute torture.

The morning after Jeonghan's warning, Seungcheol had found himself without anything to eat on in the kitchen.

It was an early morning, Jeonghan had already left for his class, and Seungcheol had yet to get ready. When he reached for a bowl in the cupboards, his hand came out empty. He had stared at the empty cupboard where a single sticky note was placed against the cupboard door:

'Since you own the food, I own the dishes. -J'

And Seungcheol had torn up the note out of anger, grabbing his keys on his way out and deciding to have breakfast elsewhere.

In hindsight, he should have anticipated this, that Jeonghan would be so petty as to stoop to his level. The thought had burned into Seungcheol’s mind, a small childish part of himself had wanted to shout at Jeonghan, ‘It’s on. Do your worst.’

Seungcheol felt like he got himself into a battle that could only end in the worst way possible.

For the next few days, one can only describe their fighting like how a cartoon cat and mouse might get back at each other:

After Seungcheol couldn’t find where the plates and cups and utensils were, Seungcheol hid the remote for the television in his room-

“Seungcheol where the hell is the remote!?”

“I don’t know Jeonghan, maybe it’s where you put the plates.”

In retaliation, he had woken up the next morning to two full trash bags next to his bed, the smell was disgusting and overwhelming, and Seungcheol had growled out as loud as he could even though his roommate had already left for class- 

Yoon Jeonghan!

Begrudgingly, Seungcheol had taken the trash out from his room and into the compactor in the hallway- after he had gotten back at Jeonghan by stealing his charger and placing soy sauce in Jeonghan’s open cola drink in the fridge.

And that was how Seungcheol found himself here, his hair a bright red that wouldn’t wash out even after three showers.

Seungcheol didn’t know how it happened, but apparently he had stopped buying shampoo when Jeonghan moved in because Jeonghan always had such great products. He had absentmindedly been using them, not thinking that Jeonghan cared.

It was a big mistake when he came out of the shower, shaking his hair out and glancing at himself in the mirror- and he did a double-take.

Seungcheol’s eyes had widened, not believing, then he blinked hard and ran his hand through his bright red hair, some of his roots were still slightly black, but the overall color was so vivid and annoying. “Oh god .” And he stalked out of the shower to find Jeonghan sitting smug on the couch.

“Wow, it looks better on you than I thought,” Jeonghan had said with a smirk.

It’d immediately set him off. “This isn’t funny Jeonghan! How the hell are my professors gonna take me seriously, how is anyone gonna take me seriously!”

“Really? It’s not funny? You sure thought soy sauce in my Coke was hilarious,” Jeonghan glared before returning to his sardonic smiling. “Besides, I think it’s the best karma for always using my shampoo.”

And Seungcheol had wanted to choke him then and there. Instead, he stomped back into the bathroom to try and rinse off the dye with regular shampoo and soap, regretting ever letting Jeonghan into his life.

When Seungcheol told his friends all this, Jihoon’s laughter died down and he said the obvious, “You two are acting like children.”

Seungcheol huffed, wanting to blame Jeonghan and say ‘ He started it. ’ But that would only prove Jihoon right. Seungcheol knows he was the one who really started it all, he knows that. But what was he supposed to do when Jeonghan was constantly attracting him with his looks, his smiles and his laugh.

Focusing on the fact that Jeonghan was annoying and was acting just as immature as Seungcheol was better than thinking he could ever have a chance with him.

“I think the back and forth fighting and pranking between you two is cute,” Soonyoung piped up, smiling slyly. “Like some strange way of flirting.”

Jihoon grumbled at him, “Stop trying to win the bet, it’s a dumb bet.”

Soonyoung pouted and crossed his arms. “Why don’t you have any faith in me babe? Besides, this isn’t about the bet, this is about Seungcheol and how he can’t just suck it up and ask Jeonghan out.”

Seungcheol’s chest felt heavy. “I’m not going to ask him out Soonyoung.”

“We don’t know that yet,” then Soonyoung smiled deviously. “Jeonghan’s birthday is next week, and I have a strong feeling something’s gonna go down with you two.”

That made Seungcheol pause. “His birthday’s coming up?”

It sent a shock throughout his body that he didn’t know Jeonghan’s birthday was coming soon. It was only because he hadn’t asked. He tried to not take it personally- he didn’t mention his own birthday to Jeonghan anyhow so why should he know? Why should he care? If Jeonghan wanted him to know when his birthday was, he would have said something, right?

Soonyoung looked at him confused. “Yeah, didn’t he tell you? We’re going out for drinks that night with a few of his friends.”

“Actually,” Jihoon said, his voice small. “Jeonghan told me Seungcheol wasn’t invited.”

What?

Then it clicked, in a very painful way.

There in the pit of his stomach Seungcheol felt that guilt again. All because he had gotten so caught up in himself and avoiding whatever sexual tension he was hoarding on the inside, he never really got to be a friend to Jeonghan. It wasn’t an obligation; not all roommates became close friends, and there were probably roommates out there who weren’t close enough to be invited to birthday outings.

Still it didn’t add up with Jeonghan’s fun and outgoing personality that he showed whenever he was around Jihoon or Soonyoung, and even Seungcheol before they started fighting. He guessed Jeonghan would be that way around his actual close friends too; care-free and witty, and kinder in a way he hasn’t been with Seungcheol lately. It made him feel awful and helpless.

“That’s- I’m sure he didn’t mean that,” Soonyoung tried to calm what was festering in his thoughts. “You should come anyway, we’ll all have fun together.”

“No,” Seungcheol shook his head. “If Jeonghan doesn’t want me there, then I won’t be there Soonyoung.”

He kept that sentence and repeated it in his head, bottling up all of his guilt and anger, even when he walked home days later, on what he knew was Jeonghan’s birthday, and entered his apartment to see Jeonghan lounging lazily on the couch.

“You again,” the long haired man drawled, not looking up from the television. “It’s past five so your show is over. Also I already did the dishes so I hope you don’t plan on eating because I’m not gonna wash them again.”

Seungcheol had been feeling heavy the whole day, worrying himself thinking about Jeonghan going out with the others and having fun without him, but he felt even heavier just from Jeonghan talking to him like that. So instead of being an ass, he took his jacket off and placed it on the table with his bag, and he mumbled a quiet, “Thanks,” hoping Jeonghan didn’t hear him.

But he did. He replied sarcastically, “ Wow , Choi Seungcheol’s thanking me for something I apparently never do. It must be the end of the world.”

Seungcheol rolled his eyes, but didn’t say anything about how dramatic and petty Jeonghan was being.

But Jeonghan kept egging on, even though his voice was steady and monotoned. “Seriously, did you hit your head on your way here? Have some kind of heart-stopping epiphany?”

Seungcheol huffed. “What, I can’t thank you now?”

Jeonghan finally looked at him, annoyance evident in his eyes. “You don’t get to thank me for doing a chore you hardly do either.”

“I was just getting you to do the chore. Now you are, so I’m thanking you for that,” Seungcheol was trying to reason, but he couldn’t take Jeonghan’s attitude anymore. “But since you’re being all whiney about it, I take it back.”

“See that right there,” Jeonghan stood up and got in his face. “What I don’t understand is why you have to be such a dick.”

“You say that like I’m the only one being a dick here.”

“Uh, you kinda are.”

“It’s not just me, you’re the one who always goes against what I say, why don’t you just do it when I ask instead of always bitching about it and getting on my nerves?”

“Is it too much to ask me calmly to do it?”

Seungcheol raised his voice. “I fucking asked you calmly, Jeonghan! But you wouldn’t take it so what was I supposed to do!”

Jeonghan raised his voice too, “Because I don’t want to do something if you keep bugging me about it, that’s just what I’m like Seungcheol!”

“Yeah, fucking lazy, I never realized.”

Jeonghan huffed back and crossed his arms. “Whatever! You weren’t like this when I first met you!”

“Neither were you!”

He yelled, and Jeonghan yelled back, and then at some point they stopped. Faintly, somewhere in the back of his mind, he could hear Jihoon’s voice loud and clear, ‘ You never really get to know someone until you start living with them .’

This was the most Seungcheol’s been angry at Jeonghan. Everything had been piling up like this, overwhelmingly. He was mad at the pranks Jeonghan’s been pulling on him, mad at Jeonghan for being just as petty as he was. He was mad at Jeonghan for not telling him about his birthday, making it feel personal in a way he hadn’t felt in a long time. He knew he always had this weakness, that he always wanted to be included, but this was more than that.

Above all, he was mad at himself for letting this situation get so out of control.

If someone were to ask him later on, he probably won’t recall what he shouted at Jeonghan, or what they even fought about, but Seungcheol will always remember this:

Jeonghan looked at him, and in those few seconds he let himself notice everything about Jeonghan; his furrowed eyebrows, the soft redness on his cheeks, and the glint of anger in his eyes- then he looked away and said softly, “Maybe this was a mistake.”

Dazed, Seungcheol said, “What.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t have moved in, Seungcheol,” Jeonghan clarified, gaze downcast. “If our personalities keep clashing like this, maybe I should just move out.”

Seungcheol’s throat tightened at his words. The guilt finally washed over him, and now he was here. He swallowed hard.

“Don’t- don’t say that,” he choked out.

Jeonghan shook his head. “Seungcheol-“

“Look, Jeonghan,” he ran his hand through his red hair, stressed, and almost letting it slip out that he was attracted to the other man, that this was all his fault in the first place. It burned on the tip of his tongue. Instead he said, “This isn’t something we can’t fix anyhow, just don’t-“ Don’t go , he almost said it. “I mean, I’ll drop this if you will.”

Jeonghan sighed, the tiredness in his voice prominent now, “I don’t know, Seungcheol.”

“Why don’t we just pause this fight for now?” Seungcheol tried. “We’ll go out for drinks with the others, we’ll have a good time.”

Jeonghan froze. “Jihoon told you, huh.”

Shit . “Uh, yeah,” he said sheepishly. “I know you don’t want me there, and I completely understand that-“

“No, I-“ Jeonghan paused then said, “No, you’re right, we gotta reconcile somehow. We just need some healing.”

Really? Seungcheol thought silently in his head. This doesn’t sound like a pathetic excuse to spend the night with you?

He nodded. “Alright.”

 


 

“Jeonghan and Seungcheol, here, together,” Jihoon rubbed his eyes jokingly. “I’m not just seeing this right?”

Seungcheol rolled his eyes. After Jeonghan agreed, a couple hours later they both got ready and left together. The cab ride to the downtown club was immensely awkward and silent, they both had a lot of pent up emotions that they weren’t supposed to focus on tonight. No, tonight was Jeonghan’s night, and they were gonna have a good time with their friends.

Jeonghan, who had to dress up in those really tight jeans and loose shirt, who had put just the slightest makeup on his eyes that brought them out, like he wasn’t already incredibly beautiful.

Seungcheol was ready to drown himself in alcohol in the hopes to forget that Jeonghan was so close to him but so far out of his reach.

“We’re not here to fight.”

Jeonghan nodded. “We agreed to set aside our differences and just relax.”

Seungcheol thought the word ‘relax’ was a little out of place for the club they were in. Jihoon and Soonyoung had met them out front, Jeonghan had said his friends were already inside with their reserved table. The loud thumping music could already be heard from outside, and it doubled in its bass when they entered. Seungcheol felt the music resonate within himself. Inside, it was packed; there were a lot of young, hot bodies swaying and dancing and grinding against one another to the beat of the song. On the side there was a purple neon lit bar with people crowding around the distressed bartender rushing to get everyone’s drinks. The four maneuvered their way around the packs of people to the back of the club were the booths were, and they stopped at a booth with a couple of really good looking guys sitting in it.

“Junnie-ah, Hao-ah!” Jeonghan called when he saw them, and immediately ‘Junnie’ and ‘Hao’ got up and hugged Jeonghan enthusiastically.

“Wait,” Seungcheol heard Jihoon mutter beside him.

“Guys,” Jeonghan turned to the three and said over the music, “These are my friends from my class, this is Junhui and his boyfriend-”

“Minghao!” Jihoon said, loudly.

“Oh!” Minghao exclaimed. “You were my roommate for like a week weren’t you?”

Jihoon nodded and smiled. “Small world.”

“Cool hair man!” Junhui exclaimed at him.

Seungcheol grumbled a “Thanks,” while Jeonghan grinned like he was proud of his own work. It made Seungcheol want to give up.

The group introduced each other and all sat down, and right away Soonyoung shouted out, “As per tradition!-”

“What tradition?”

Soonyoung ignored his own boyfriend’s comment. “-We shall all have as many shots as the years Jeonghan has lived to this day!”

“We’re not downing 21 shots each Soonyoungie,” laughed Jeonghan.

Soonyoung shook his head like the idea was ridiculous though Seungcheol knew that that was exactly what Soonyoung had wanted everyone to do in the first place. “Okay, okay, 21 shots for the whole table, we’ll have like 2 shots each, but Jeonghan you have to down four, it’s tradition!”

Beside Seungcheol, Jihoon rolled his eyes. “I’ve literally never heard of this tradition my entire life, Soonyoung.”

“Well I’m making it a new tradition then!” Soonyoung called for a waiter, “We’ll have 21 shots of tequila for the table please!” The waiter nodded like it was a normal order and went to get their drinks.

Junhui and Minghao were both giggling like crazy and whispering to each other in what Seungcheol thought was Chinese. “You’re fun Soonyoung!” Junhui grinned while Minghao kept a hand to his mouth to hide his own laughter.

Soonyoung, being the most sociable in the group, wiggled his eyebrows at him and smirked in the way that made his eyes squint.

When the shots came, everyone did the first at the same time, Junhui and Soonyoung hollering loudly afterwards. Seungcheol enjoyed the warm feel of the alcohol hitting his throat. He normally took a while to get totally drunk, but he could already see the effects of one shot on Soonyoung, and even Junhui.

They downed the second shot not shortly after, then the third, and Seungcheol was laughing and chanting with the rest when Jeonghan was resisting the fourth one just for himself. After much shouting for Jeonghan to “ Just do it, chug it Jeonghan! ”, he finally acquiesced and downed the last one, all five of them cheering on the birthday boy.

“I’m feeling this song!” yelled Junhui when the club speakers started booming out an EDM. “Jeonghan, let’s dance!”

“Count me in!” Soonyoung grabbed onto Jeonghan who wouldn’t stop giggling now and the three, along with a shy but smiling Minghao, made their way onto the dance floor, leaving Jihoon and Seungcheol alone.

“Aren’t you gonna join them?” Jihoon asked.

Seungcheol shook his head and ordered a few more beers for the table anyway, needing something to drink and hold in his hand. Jihoon glared at him. “What are you doing Seungcheol?”

“What?”

Jihoon huffed. “You two couldn’t have just somehow made up just for tonight, you’ve been fighting non-stop for weeks. What’s your endgame here, Cheol?”

He answered as honestly as he could, “I don’t have any endgame Jihoon.”

Jihoon didn’t look shaken. “Are you gonna get plastered? Gonna try something on Jeonghan? Both are bad ideas, so don’t even think about it. Last time you were piss-drunk I had to deal with your sobbing ass whining about your last one night lover, please tell me Jeonghan’s not gonna be that too.”

“He’s not! And I’m not gonna try anything, god you're just as bad as Soonyoung,” Seungcheol griped.

Though Jihoon’s words had him worrying. They’ve been close friends for a long time now, and Jihoon has always been able to read Seungcheol like he was some kind of open book. He couldn’t lie to Jihoon; ever since the cab ride, Seungcheol’s been doing nothing but staring at Jeonghan, his eyes just gravitating towards him, and even now, looking at nothing but Jeonghan in the distance, his body moving with the music, his eyes closed and his grin easy and honest on his face.

Seungcheol missed that grin, having seen only glares and pouts from Jeonghan these past few weeks. Feeling his chest ache, he took a long sip of his beer, his eyes not leaving Jeonghan’s figure.

“You’re basically eye-fucking him right now Seungcheol.”

Seungcheol finally looked away, “And why aren’t you out there dancing Jihoon?”

“‘Cuz I’m not drunk,” Jihoon answered smoothly. Seungcheol had almost forgotten Jihoon had opted out of drinking heavily for the night, just in case anything happened. His two shots sat idly on the table.

“Doesn’t excuse you from grinding on your boyfriend,” he bit back just as smooth, or what he thought was just as smooth, the alcohol slowing his tongue a bit already.

Jihoon went silent, which was normal whenever he didn’t want to talk about something. But Seungcheol caught the way Jihoon glanced to where the four were, and he looked over too, spotting Soonyoung dancing wildly with Minghao, their arms raised in the air and heads bopping to the beat, laughs plastered on their faces. 

Now that he thought about it, the couple hadn’t bantered as much as they usually did. Comments had come more from Jihoon’s end than Soonyoung’s and Soonyoung had deflected each one, which was normally the opposite. Whenever they went out to drink and dance like this, at some point during the night, Jihoon would give in to his boyfriend’s incessant whining about how they hardly danced together anymore. This time, Soonyoung had gone out to the floor without even asking his other half.

Seungcheol connected the dots. “What’s going on with you two then.”

“Nothing,” Jihoon sneered, then reached out for one of the beers before quickly retracting his hand like it was a bad idea.

Being friends with Jihoon for as long as they were, Seungcheol picked up on the small stuff like that, and could read him just as well as Jihoon could read him.

“Jihoon, what is it.”

“Don’t wanna talk about it,” Jihoon’s voice was low and threatening, so Seungcheol left it at that. “Besides, you have other things to be worrying about.” And Jihoon nodded at their friends.

Seungcheol looked and saw Jeonghan leaning heavily against Junhui, almost suggestively, and he blinked. He looked back at where Soonyoung and Minghao were, wondering why Minghao wasn’t doing anything about his boyfriend and Jeonghan dancing together, but Seungcheol shook his head.

“They’re probably just fooling around,” he said, and paused when it sounded exactly like what he hadn’t meant to say. “I mean , they’re probably just close, it’s not like they’ve got their tongues down each others’ throats.”

“Geez Cheol, just admit you’d rather be the one up there pressed up against him.”

“I could say the same fucking thing to you,” he muttered before finishing off his beer and standing up. “At least I’m gonna do something about it.”

Seungcheol was already walking up to Jeonghan and Junhui, bumping shoulders with other people and barely hearing Jihoon’s “ Don’t fucking do anything you idiot!

“Cheollie!” Jeonghan exclaimed, his cheeks flushed a bright red. Seungcheol blinked and almost regretted coming here, never before hearing Jeonghan give him a cute-ass nickname like he did his other friends. “You stopped being such a killjoy and made it onto the dance floor, huh.”

Behind him, Junhui laughed.

“Yeah just,” Seungcheol started before raising his voice over the music, “Junhui, I-I think Minghao was calling for you.”

“Ah alright, he’s always wanting to dance with me,” chuckled Junhui before he winked at the two and left to go find his boyfriend.

“Wah, you’re really like this Cheol, even on my birthday,” Jeonghan whined, though he was still swaying slightly. He pouted. “Why’d you send Junnie away, hm?”

Seungcheol kept quiet. He had half a mind to be amused at Jeonghan’s attitude, reminiscent of the first night they spent out together; Jeonghan’s carefree and playful nature showing more than ever from just four shots of tequila.

“What is it, Cheol?” Jeonghan’s gaze was deeply curious, cutting through him like a blade. “Jealous?”

One word, but it had him frozen up, even though the atmosphere around him was intense and aflame.

Seungcheol shook his head, but even drunk Jeonghan had caught him, and his expression turned sly. “Really, Choi Seungcheol, jealous ?”

When he said nothing, Jeonghan giggled. “If you were wanting to dance with me so badly, you could’ve just asked.” Suddenly all at once he felt Jeonghan’s arms around his shoulders, twinning around his neck, the distance between them shortening, and he felt himself swaying along with Jeonghan without even thinking.

Vaguely he could hear the song changing to a slower R&B, and Seungcheol felt his throat close up looking down at Jeonghan. They weren’t chest to chest, but Seungcheol could still feel him and his warmth. Jeonghan’s eyes were lidded, but filled with mirth, his face aglow by the soft neon lights. Then, like his head was too heavy, he leaned against Seungcheol’s shoulder, pushing their bodies closer. Seungcheol almost couldn’t breathe, and his hands hovered over Jeonghan’s waist.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Soonyoung smirking at him still dancing though alone now, and though his brain was addled, Seungcheol could still read his lips mouth, “ 10,000 won.

Right away, it all felt like too much.

Seungcheol grabbed at the arms on his shoulders and pulled Jeonghan away from him.

“What-”

“Yeah I can’t do this,” Seungcheol mumbled painfully, and he didn’t know if Jeonghan caught it so he said louder, “I’ll go sit back at the booth.”

Jeonghan looked at him confused. “Already? The song’s not over!”

“It’s just something we shouldn’t do Jeonghan.” He hadn’t meant the dancing but all the wild scenarios his brain was imagining, being this close to holding Jeonghan, this close to feeling him and what his lips would feel like again.

Jeonghan’s expression turned sour, “Yah, you’re still like this? On my birthday?” He said again but wasn’t joking anymore.

Seungcheol sighed, knowing the other was upset now. “C’mon, Jeonghan, I thought we weren’t gonna fight.”

Jeonghan shoved him weakly, “Fuck you Seungcheol, you’re just always out to ruin my day.”

Seungcheol didn’t respond, and turned to go back to the table only to be stopped by Soonyoung. “Dude, what the hell was that! Did you make your move?”

Seungcheol shrugged Soonyoung’s arm off, deciding not to answer that, he’s had enough of that question already for one night. He turned and walked to the table, seeing Jeonghan had already made his way back there, and Seungcheol saw him down one of the other shots, Jihoon protesting lightly.

Seungcheol grabbed Jeonghan’s arm, “I think you’ve had enough.”

“Stop fucking telling me what to do Seun’cheol,” Jeonghan slurred slightly, pushing away from him.

Jihoon piped up, “He’s right, you should pace yourself.”

“Jihoon not you too,” Jeonghan whined as Jihoon took the other shot from his hand. “Whatever, I don’t need this.”

“Where are you going?” Seungcheol demanded.

“I don’t know, fuck off.”

Seungcheol watched his retreating figure go back into the crowd, and immediately he couldn’t find him.

Jihoon stood up, “I’ll get him, stay here.”

Seungcheol sat down without protest. He was still having a hard time processing what had just happened, but he picked up one of the beers on the table and decided it wasn’t best to dwell on it.

That he shouldn’t think about Jeonghan, how it felt so right with his arms around his shoulders, how Seungcheol wanted nothing more but to close that distance between them-

“Where’d they go?” Soonyoung asked when he came back to the table, his face damp with sweat from dancing.

Seungcheol shrugged and took a swing, blocking all train of thought. He watched Soonyoung drink his own beer silently, which threw him a bit off. Soonyoung usually had a lot to talk about, especially when he was drunk, which he had become easily tonight. Now though, Soonyoung pursed his lips and kept his eyes on the crowd, quiet.

“You’re acting weird,” he muttered aloud. Soonyoung glanced at him.

“I’m fine, just getting tired.”

Seungcheol didn’t get a chance to reply when Junhui and Minghao came back to the table, their faces flushed and happy, and Soonyoung’s expression changed as well, laughing along with their new-found friends. The four of them started talking and got to know each other better. Minghao was getting his B.A. degree with a focus in dance, while Junhui was an aspiring actor. He had moved from China to Seoul before Minghao did, though the two had met online and had been dating for a couple years. Minghao was more talkative and better at forming sentences than Junhui, who couldn’t take his eyes off his boyfriend.

Seungcheol could see how in love they were. When Minghao was ending his story he looked back at Junhui who nuzzled his forehead against his, and Seungcheol looked away from how intimate they were. He caught Soonyoung doing the same, his expression distant.

The four looked up when Jihoon came back, a dazed looking Jeonghan clinging onto him. Seungcheol wondered what Jihoon said to the man to get him to come back.

“I think we should take him home Cheol,” Jihoon said.

Seungcheol nodded, only because Jeonghan was looking at him, his expression indistinct and cloudy, and it was hard to look away, it always was, but this time it was different.

Jihoon mentioned the tab was paid, and they all squeezed themselves out of the club and into the fresh cold October air. Junhui and Minghao mentioned walking back to their place since it was nearby, and they made their goodbyes to his friends.

“Sorry the night ended early,” Jeonghan mumbled to the two.

Junhui grinned, “We still had fun though.”

“Really, we hope you did too, Hannie,” Minghao said, hugging the long-haired man.

“Yeah,” Jeonghan said quietly, and bid them goodbye.

Jihoon hailed them a cab, and the ride was insanely quiet. Jihoon sat up front while Soonyoung sat between him and Jeonghan, already falling asleep against Seungcheol’s shoulder. A few times during the ride he caught Jeonghan glancing at him, but each time he met his eyes, Jeonghan would turn away.

They got dropped off at their apartment first, and when Jeonghan got out Jihoon said, “Cheol, wait.”

He stopped, his hand on the handle.

“Don’t do it,” Jihoon said.

“Do what?” he asked, glancing at Jeonghan waiting for him at the entrance of their apartment building.

“Seungcheol,” Jihoon said, serious. But his voice sounded too far away.

Jeonghan met his stare through the window this time and it stirred something within him. Seungcheol didn’t want to hear what Jihoon had to say anymore. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” he told Jihoon and a half-awake Soonyoung as he got out of the cab.

The two headed inside and silently decided to take the elevator instead of mustering up whatever balance they had left in them to climb up three flights of stairs. Seungcheol could feel it in the air between them, in the dim light as they both watched the monitor ping with each change in floor, and at the third level, the doors opened and Seungcheol got off first, still feeling Jeonghan’s eyes on him.

Seungcheol opened the door for them and they entered. He felt a bit lost at what to do next, his judgement was clouded by the darkness of the living room.

He should sleep, he knew that. The night was over now, that was all that should be. They’d wake up the next morning, Jeonghan’s hangover probably worse than his would be, and he would listen to Jeonghan’s complaints about some chore he doesn’t want to do, and they’d fight all over again, letting this night accomplish nothing.

“Seungcheol,” Jeonghan called out to him in the darkness.

He looked back at Jeonghan, who stared at him the same way he had earlier. It was tense, and Seungcheol couldn’t describe what he was feeling.

“What,” he answered.

The other stumbled closer and Seungcheol without thinking caught him by the waist.

“Seungcheol,” Jeonghan said again, looking at him through soft lashes. “Did you not want to dance with me earlier?”

“What? No, that wasn’t it,” he defended, though he wasn’t sure why he was doing it. Maybe because at this distance, he could finally see the shy hesitation in Jeonghan’s eyes.

Jeonghan hummed, then said slowly, “Can we continue where we left off?”

And Seungcheol was confused for a second, before he realized.

“Dancing?”

Jeonghan nodded.

It wasn’t something Seungcheol could disagree to, not now when all decisions were void. Jeonghan was just drunk enough that he didn’t know what he was asking of him, and Seungcheol was just drunk enough to agree to anything.

All sense of breathing left his system. “Alright.”

And just like earlier, Jeonghan wound his arms around his shoulders and rested his head on Seungcheol’s chest, but this time Seungcheol finally let his hands rest on Jeonghan’s hips, and it took all that he had to stay in one place. They swayed, but only a little bit. It didn’t matter that there was no music, or that, instead of neon, the soft shine of the moon through the small window was their only light in the room, or that his heart was probably beating loud enough for Jeonghan to hear. What mattered right now was the moment, and how intimate it felt.

“Seungcheol,” Jeonghan whispered into the darkness. “Do you hate me?”

“What? No I-” he paused, knowing Jeonghan was referring to how they’ve been acting lately. “I don’t hate you Jeonghan,” he assured.

Just the opposite , he wanted to say. This right now is as close as I’ll ever get.

“Why do we keep fighting then?” Jeonghan asked like he’s been wanting to know for a while now.

Seungcheol shrugged even though he knew the answer. It took a lot of willpower not to let it all out in the open.

Jeonghan took his shrug as is. “I don’t like it when we fight,” he said quietly, and Seungcheol could feel his breath on his neck. “I don’t wanna move out.”

“Yeah,” he replied just as quiet. “I don’t want that either.”

They stopped moving, and Jeonghan leaned back slightly. Seungcheol watched the other stare at his lips and in that moment he knew.

“Jeonghan,” he said, wanting it to come out as a warning but it sounded more like a breath. “Don’t.”

Because he can vaguely remember Jihoon telling him not to do this exact thing.

Their eyes met and he couldn’t look away.

“What,” Jeonghan asked, and he looked so honestly confused. “Do you not want this?”

And instantly Seungcheol felt like he should be telling himself something important, something that would stop all of this from happening. He tried remembering all the excuses; how he’d lose 10,000 won easily to Soonyoung, how Jeonghan was drunk, how they were somewhat friends and how Seungcheol didn’t wanna ruin what they somewhat had. How they were roommates.

He’s your roommate, damn it .

At that moment, however, he couldn’t remember any of it.

“Jeonghan,” he mumbled stupidly instead, at a loss of what to say.

Jeonghan drew in closer this time and he knew he was only a few centimeters away.

“If you don’t want it,” he said, hovering against his lips. “Don’t kiss me back.”

Seungcheol closed his eyes, and couldn’t take it anymore.

“I can’t,” he said, and closed the distance.

Chapter Text

If someone were to ask Seungcheol if he remembered much of last night, he’d probably lie.

The night came to him in glimpses and cut off memories, like a bad television show’s flashback; Seungcheol remembered kissing Jeonghan that night, he remembered Jeonghan’s fingers tangling in his hair and hands grasping onto his clothes lightly. He remembered one of them saying into the darkness, “ I’ve been wanting this for so long .” He couldn’t really remember who had said it though.

It started to get a bit hazy after that. The two of them stumbling into whichever room was open and was closest, clothes being shed in a graceless manner, Seungcheol sucking onto whatever skin he could grasp and Jeonghan digging his nails into his back as their bodies had slid perfectly against one another against the sheets, like two young lovers discovering themselves.

And then nothing.

Nothing but the morning after, of course.

Seungcheol’s woken up with worse headaches and with different people before, some of whom he still couldn’t recall their names being, just how the sex felt with them. That was during his first year of college, when he still couldn’t decide on a major and could care less about it. Each time something like this had occurred, he usually handled it with grace and ease, spinning lies if he had to. Never having to see the other’s face again comforted him then.

This time, when he had woken, he knew he couldn’t act the way he did in his first year again. Not with Jeonghan’s arm around his waist and his head against his shoulder, his breathing soft and slow, sleeping as if nothing was wrong even though everything was.

Seungcheol didn’t dare move a muscle. Because it was one thing waking up next to a stranger he hardly knew, it was something else entirely waking up with his roommate in his arms, bare skin against the other’s.

He knew if he moved, Jeonghan would wake up, and they’d have to deal with… whatever this was that transpired between them. He didn’t even want to begin to think about how that conversation would most likely go, but he knew it wouldn’t end well.

The sun was still rising, his eyes wandering around the half-lit room- and he suddenly realized they had stumbled into his room. Seungcheol regretted that now, amongst every single other thing they did that night, but this the most. Now he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing his bed was where they’d fallen into, his sheets smelling of them, of Jeonghan, and this, like the shirt he had borrowed the first night he stayed at his apartment, Seungcheol would have to discard somewhere deep into his closet and not think about it.

Jeonghan made a soft noise in his sleep and he tensed up again. He waited until he knew the other was still sleeping, and couldn’t help himself now, looking at him in the dim light.

Jeonghan, this close up, was still breathtaking, and even more so in his sleep. His long copper hair was a mess, some of the make up he had on last night was smudged, and his eyelashes fluttered in his sleep. Jeonghan’s nose was nuzzled against his shoulder and Seungcheol could feel his breath. He realized that his hand was resting comfortably on Jeonghan’s hip, and that their legs were tangled together. They had probably fallen asleep in this position. In this soft sunlight pressed against his flawless skin, Seungcheol wondered how a person could look so beautiful.

He wanted to be selfish once more, wanted to reach out and touch as freely as he had last night, wanted to curl his fingers in Jeonghan’s hair, down to his neck and his chest and lower. He wanted to hold on and not let go of this.

“Mm…” Jeonghan breathed softly.

Seungcheol got himself out of his reverie instantly. He had to get out of here, he needed to be by himself and gain some kind of courage to face something inevitable.

He leaned away from Jeonghan’s warmth and sat up, waking the other in the process.

He couldn’t help himself again and watched Jeonghan blink sluggishly. His deep brown eyes were hazy, then he took in a long shaky breath, meeting Seungcheol’s gaze slowly.

“Oh,” he mumbled.

Seungcheol looked away because it became too much to handle.

He got up finally this time, pushing down knots in his throat and his stomach. He found his clothes spread on the bed and the floor, and he dressed without showing his haste.

“Oh god …” he heard Jeonghan whisper from behind him. Seungcheol wondered if he felt the shame as much as he did. He also thought about Jeonghan rushing to move out after this, but he tried not to focus on that.

“Seungcheol,” he said, and repeated it again when Seungcheol ignored him, but he didn’t wanna turn around and face him just yet. So he got up and left the room, even though it was his room, leaving Jeonghan on his bed.

He went to the kitchen, got out two glasses and filled them with water. He searched for the aspirin bottle and took one pill before placing it down on the table. He sat there, and just waited.

He didn’t know what he was waiting for, but he was expecting the worst. Maybe for Jeonghan to storm out of his room and pack up all his stuff. Maybe for Jeonghan to accuse him of taking advantage of him, of the situation they were in. Maybe Jeonghan regretted this as much as he did.

That thought left him with an ache he couldn’t explain.

The door to his room opened with a quiet creak. Seungcheol looked over and saw Jeonghan. He was wearing one of his sweaters, and what looked like his boxers.

What the hell is he trying to do to me? , Seungcheol complained in his head.

“I couldn’t find my shirt…” Jeonghan mumbled then glanced at the couch where his light button-up shirt laid crumpled up on the cushions. He picked it up and came towards the kitchen table, and Seungcheol thought he'd never seen the man look so small and timid.

He sat down and said, “Seungcheol,” just like earlier, hesitation evident in his voice, like he wasn’t sure if he should bring it up, and Seungcheol shook his head because now wasn’t the time for that discussion. He rattled the small pill bottle in front of him.

Jeonghan took it with a quiet, “Thank you,” and he downed two pills with the water, wincing.

In the better light of their kitchen, Seungcheol’s attention was drawn to only one thing- well, more like several marks actually. Littered across Jeonghan’s neck and collarbones were faint red-purple hickeys that Seungcheol knew he was the cause of. 

Fuck , he thought. What the hell was wrong with him?

His mouth went dry remembering the night again, and he drank another gulp of water just to distract himself.

It was ironic how last night he couldn’t keep his eyes off Jeonghan. Now he couldn’t even look at the other without feeling a pang in his throat from what they did.

Jeonghan started, “Should we… talk about it?”

No , Seungcheol wanted to answer. Let’s never bring it up. Let’s act like it never even happened, like we’re still roommates who can’t stand each other.

But he wasn’t dumb. He knew what acting like that would bring; a tension unspeakable that would always stand heavily between them, so much so that it would eventually lead Jeonghan to move out and be out of his life for good.

Which would be best , some part of him thought, suspiciously in Jihoon’s voice. It would serve him right for screwing around with his own roommate; the perfect punishment.

Seungcheol sighed. “Yeah, we should.”

Jeonghan nodded, and remained silent, like he didn’t know where to start.

“Do you,” he tried. “Remember much from last night?”

Seungcheol thought back to lying if he was ever asked that same question. Looking at Jeonghan now, the sad guilt on his face and the marks on his neck, he thought he wouldn’t be able to lie at all. He nodded, not quite meeting Jeonghan’s eyes.

He was a terrible liar anyway.

“All of it,” he confessed, even to himself.

Though he didn’t at first, it came to him now, fast and haunting, like a dream he was trying to escape. Only unlike the dreams he’s had in the past, this one was real, and it was here to stay in his mind forever.

Jeonghan whispered, “God, did we…?”

Seungcheol only stared at his glass of water.

He recalled the night more vividly now that his mind was clearer; he had been the one to kiss Jeonghan first, and from there the two hardly left each other’s lips. He’d been the one to undress Jeonghan, first here in the living room then in his room, where he took to tasting each expanse of skin he could latch on to. He’d also been the one to come first, something he’ll never admit to.

But what overpowered all of that were the amount of things Jeonghan initiated. It was Jeonghan who pushed them into Seungcheol’s room, letting them stumble onto his bed. It was Jeonghan who led Seungcheol’s hand onto him, then lead his fingers inside him, breathing explicit encouragements into Seungcheol’s mouth, and then when Seungcheol had hesitated, it was Jeonghan who tore open the condom and rolled it onto his cock.

It was Jeonghan who had whispered to him that he had wanted this. Seungcheol refused to believe it, nor did he even want to bring it up.

It was overwhelming, thinking of all of it now.

He looked up to Jeonghan’s wide eyes awaiting an answer he probably already knew.

“You don’t remember?” he asked instead, because he needed to know, now more than ever.

“I usually handle my alcohol well but, last night, I didn’t, and I know what I’m really like when I’m drunk I-” Jeonghan bit his lip, because it wasn’t the answer Seungcheol wanted to hear. “I remember… a little bit.”

Do you remember kissing me the first night we went out? He wanted to ask, but didn’t.

“Like what?” he questioned instead.

Jeonghan took a while to answer, his expression conflicted, as if he was trying his hardest to remember.

“Up until the cab ride kinda and then,” he paused, then quietly, “Then you and I, um, but… it’s too hazy, I-I don’t remember exactly, what we did or even what I said.”

I’ve been wanting this for so long .’ He couldn’t help but hear it clear now in his head. Jeonghan’s voice had been breathy and he had moaned right after he said it because Seungcheol had been pushing into him.

Me too ,’ Seungcheol had whispered back before getting lost in the deep heat of him.

He tried taking comfort in the fact that Jeonghan couldn’t remember that.

“We did,” Seungcheol clarified, his face heating slightly. “Um, but we were safe, so…” he trailed off when he realized he wanted to assure Jeonghan that there was nothing to worry about, but that wouldn’t be the truth.

Suddenly, Jeonghan covered his own face with his hands. “Shit, I’m sorry Seungcheol.”

You ?” he said, incredulous.

“Yeah, I shouldn’t have drank so much,” Jeonghan shook his head trying his best to make eye contact but kept looking down in what could only be embarrassment. “I know I get reckless, and I knew you were there and…”

He looked like he had more he wanted to say, instead he just repeated, “I’m sorry.”

Seungcheol was shocked. He was expecting some anger, for Jeonghan to lash out and blame him, because he knew he had started all of this. Why Jeonghan was blaming only himself fazed him.

“Jeonghan, it-it wasn’t just you” he tried to be reassuring but he was shaking. “I understand if you blame me for this too because I also shouldn’t have,” he swallowed the lump in his throat. “I shouldn’t have done anything to you either, I wasn’t thinking clearly.”

“I don’t blame you though,” Jeonghan said like he wanted to reassure Seungcheol too. “I don’t.”

Silence hung between them for a while before Jeonghan spoke again, warily, “Do you regret it?”

Seungcheol looked at him now and couldn’t read Jeonghan’s eyes.

“Do you?” he asked.

“Should I?” Jeonghan responded back.

He didn’t know how to answer that.

Because secretly, beyond the guilt and the shame, there came that selfish part of him that sinfully didn’t want to regret a thing. He didn’t know where they’d go from there if he was honest about it.

“I don’t know…” he stammered instead.

“Seungcheol.”

“What do you want me to say Jeonghan?” he exasperated, feeling helpless as his heart clamored in his throat, constricting. “That what we did was wrong? That we shouldn’t have done it? I think that goes without saying.”

“But it’s different if you believe it,” Jeonghan’s stare was heavy. “If you mean it then say it.”

Seungcheol’s voice caught, as if the universe was pushing for him to let it all out at that very moment. And it should be so easy to do.

“I… don’t,” he said it quietly, not looking away from Jeonghan’s eyes. He just couldn’t. “I don’t regret it.”

Jeonghan blinked, looked away, and then nodded.

“Me too,” he said, just as quiet as Seungcheol did.

They sat there, their admissions between them. Seungcheol was shocked into silence, he was sure he wouldn’t be able to fully function mentally after this. He didn’t know what to say, but Jeonghan didn’t stop there.

“Seungcheol I-” he paused, shy and hesitant still. “I have to confess something to you.”

When he didn’t say anything, Jeonghan stuttered to continue. “Honestly, I… I’ve been attracted to you ever since you let me live here.”

Seungcheol took in a shaky breath. “What?” he said, breathless. He felt like those words should have been coming out of his own mouth.

Instead, here Jeonghan was, saying them for him.

“Yeah… I swear it’s just like a small crush, I wasn’t supposed to act on it. I just got out of a relationship, I’m still a wreck, and then you came and I-“ Jeonghan cut himself off, shaking his head, “I’m sure it’ll go away but,” his cheeks were a dusted pink, and he twisted a strand of his hair out of nervous habit. “I-I can understand if you want me to move out, I don’t want to make this…” he gestured between them. “Awkward.”

Seungcheol couldn’t think of what to say. This was the first he heard of Jeonghan’s romantic past, and it still wasn’t any kind of information besides a passing mention. He also thought they had well been past the point of being awkward around each other as roommates since they’ve been living together for almost two months now, but he didn’t know Jeonghan had been harboring the same tension he’s been.

Only Seungcheol had decided the best form of action was to bicker with Jeonghan about every single little thing instead of ignoring it in silence, like the other had apparently been doing. 

Suddenly, everything made sense. The small touches, the playful flirting, the kiss, all of it. He thought it was just Jeonghan’s personality, since there were times he’d act that way around Jihoon and Soonyoung as well. But now, Seungcheol thought, Jeonghan might have actually been going out of his way to make whatever he had been feeling obvious.

Still there were questions to be answered that Seungcheol couldn’t even answer for himself. He knew for sure his attraction to Jeonghan was purely sexual, but did Jeonghan want more out of that? And if so, would he even be able to give that to him? To have some kind of romantic relationship with him? And what would become of them if it didn’t work out? Would they still even be roommates if they bothered pursuing this?

Seungcheol’s head hurt just thinking about all of this, and it worried him to no end.

“I don’t want you to move out,” he answered honestly, because he was sure about that. He thought about how he couldn’t say it then, when Jeonghan had been so doubtful about their dynamic as roommates and how they contradicted each other too much with how they’d been fighting. He thought about how he felt now, and how badly he had wanted it, and still did. “I just… I’ve also been…” he couldn’t even say it out loud without stumbling on his words.

He thought, if any one of his friends were in the room right now, they’d probably be smacking the back of his head and yelling at him to just say it straight out and be honest, not babble on with all these vague sentences that Jeonghan didn’t deserve to hear. 

Though each time he wanted to, the words clogged in his throat, so he rambled instead, “I mean I obviously feel some kind of attraction to you, with the way I acted last night… but like you said it’ll probably just go away, right?”

His voice trailed off on the last part of his question.

He looked at Jeonghan steadily who nodded again, slowly this time.

“So…” Jeonghan started. “We’re just gonna go back to normal then?”

He nodded, because that was what they should have done at the start. Still, it made his chest ache knowing what he could have said instead. He could have told Jeonghan he wanted more, that they could have kept doing this and just see where they’d go from there, roommates or not.

But he was too afraid of the unknown, afraid of not knowing what Jeonghan might even have to say about his stupid attitude and selfish want.

So it felt safer this way, hiding in denial, letting the fear of what was, and will now always be, an unknown future wash over them.

“Okay,” Jeonghan nodded one more time before standing up, his shirt bunched up in his hands. Seungcheol watched him walk to the bathroom before pausing and turning around to face him again.

“And just so I know,” Jeonghan said, serious. “We’ll never bring this up; we’ll never do this again, right?”

Seungcheol couldn’t read his expression. Jeonghan must be one hell of an actor on stage.

He couldn’t understand himself and what he wanted. All he knew was he wanted Jeonghan, wanted to kiss him one more time, be with him one more time, but he knew that they couldn’t- shouldn’t . Not now, not ever again.

“No,” he said, trying his best to hide the shakiness in his voice. “I think it’s for the best.”

Chapter Text

When Seungcheol handed Soonyoung his 10,000 won the following afternoon, the first thing out of the other’s mouth was, “No fucking way.”

Seungcheol didn’t say anything and looked at Jihoon, who’s reaction was to simply shake his head at him in disappointment.

The three were at the studio for their regular recording session. Seungcheol had spent the night not sleeping easily. He had changed the sheets on his bed, but to no avail, the way the mattress felt against his back only reminded him more of Jeonghan lying next to him, a naked disheveled beauty. He couldn’t get the picture of the two of them out of his head now, couldn’t just forget about how Jeonghan’s bare skin felt against his own. It haunted him now, just like how Jeonghan had kissed him the first time, only this time it was much worse.

It wasn’t something he could just throw to the back of his mind and block out, and it wasn’t something he could just ignore by arguing with Jeonghan about everything he did wrong. He couldn’t do that when seeing Jeonghan and being around him was the actual problem. Now that they had agreed to remain as roommates, he realized he was always going to have the other in his life. They were always going to be in close proximity, even if Jeonghan was in the other room, it wouldn’t stop Seungcheol from wondering if Jeonghan was thinking about him too, if he was thinking about the time they’d been together.

Of course, he didn’t know what to do about it. He woke up this morning and saw Jeonghan sleeping on the couch, in just his boxers and a sweater that wasn’t Seungcheol’s, and moaning softly in his sleep. His throat had constricted tightly and his mind was filled with a want that he couldn’t explain. When Jeonghan had stirred from his sleep and looked up at him, a slight blush on his cheeks, he had felt like he wanted to hide in his room for the rest of his life.

“What time is it?” Jeonghan asked him sleepily, as Seungcheol casually went back to making his breakfast.

“Almost seven,” he answered, not looking at him anymore and focusing only on his cereal. That had been the end of it, and Jeonghan had gotten ready with haste, leaving Seungcheol to eat alone, helpless.

He had thought about not telling Jihoon and Soonyoung, but he was a man of his word, and he needed help and support even though he knew he wouldn’t get it.

Which is how he ended up here, with Jihoon glaring at him. “I can’t believe you Seungcheol. After all I said you still wouldn’t listen.”

Seungcheol looked away, shame hitting him much harder than it should have. He didn’t just selfishly go after Jeonghan even though he specifically told himself not to, but he also betrayed Jihoon as his friend.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice tired. “I didn’t mean for it to happen, we were both drunk and he-”

He was the one that came onto me , he wanted to say.

He remembered how Mingyu had asked him if Jeonghan was the first one to make a move, if he would be selfish and take it, and this time he did, and he regretted taking that plunge.

“Jihoon,” he tried saying steadily. “Jeonghan told me that he’s just as attracted to me as I am with him. It wasn’t just me that night, it was mutual. I didn’t take advantage of him, okay?” Even though he himself found it hard to believe, it stood true.

“Fuck, really?” Soonyoung huffed, grinning.

Jihoon, however, was still upset. “So what, you guys are dating now, is that what you're trying to tell me?”

Seungcheol shook his head. “We dealt with it like adults. We’re just putting what happened aside. We’re roommates first, above what we feel, and those feelings can’t get in the way of that.”

He’s gotten good at convincing himself that that was the case between him and Jeonghan.

But Jihoon wouldn’t take it. “You realize how stupid that sounds, right? You two are just gonna go on living together and forget that you even hooked up? I know you, Cheol, you can’t seriously be thinking you'd actually be able to survive that.”

Seungcheol took the beating, and hearing it out loud, coming out of his best friend’s mouth, he felt his hope shatter. He tried imagining months, maybe years on end with this same unbearable tension between him and Jeonghan, and the thought alone felt like torture.

Soonyoung spoke up before he could. “Go easy on him, there’s still a chance they can work it out. If anything, it’s better now that they’ve got everything out in the open.”

Jihoon turned his glare towards his boyfriend. “Don’t encourage him about this, what he did was obviously a mistake.”

“Maybe it was a mistake they needed to make,” Soonyoung said just as steadily. “Just because they fucked doesn’t mean they can’t go back to being friends, Jihoon.”

Jihoon threaded his fingers through his hair, annoyed, and didn’t say anything.

Seungcheol looked at them both before turning to Jihoon, “It’s not like I’m going to get hung up on what happened between us. I can be civil, I’ll get over it.”

Jihoon stared back at him, unbelieving. “Look me in the eye and tell me you're not gonna hook up with him again.”

Seungcheol looked at him, ready to say it, ready to convince himself he could do it. It seemed so simple to say the words, there didn’t need to be any meaning behind them. He didn’t need to think about the fact that if he said it out loud, he would have to live up to it as truth. That he would never know what it would be like to have Jeonghan in his arms again. Never get to know the feel of Jeonghan’s lips again. 

Never see that long, wanting look in his deep brown eyes, calling him on to dive into something so dangerous, and yet so fucking tempting -

It all became too much in the span of seconds. He swallowed heavily and turned away. “I can’t just promise that Jihoon,” he admitted quietly, looking down to the floor.

“Exactly,” Jihoon said, as if his point had just been made. “You don’t think I know what’s going on in your head right now, Cheol? You're like a kid who got one taste of sugar, was told he couldn’t have any more, and now he wants the whole damn cookie jar. You’re saying you can live with what happened between you two for the rest of your lives as roommates? That’s bullshit.”

Seungcheol shook his head, feeling more and more irritated with how right Jihoon was. Just because he was right didn’t mean he wanted to hear it out loud.

“I don’t know,” Soonyoung spoke up again, “If you and Jeonghan make it work, then just let things happen, I don’t see why not.”

Jihoon turned to him and said lowly, “Why aren’t you taking my side on this?”

Soonyoung looked back at him pointedly. “Because he’s my friend, and I like being supportive to my friends. Besides, we don’t always have to agree on everything, right?”

The two stared at each other for a while, almost like a challenge, and neither of them backed down. Seungcheol started to get uncomfortable being in between. He recalled this same kind of attitude Jihoon and Soonyoung had that night at the club and just had to ask, “What the hell is going on with you two?”

Jihoon looked away first and muttered, “Nothing.” He started hastily packing away his stuff into his bag and said, “If Jeonghan moves out, don’t fucking cry to me about it.” He got up and stalked right out of the studio, shutting the door hard behind him.

Seungcheol looked to Soonyoung for an explanation, but his expression was strangely blank. Then he looked back at Seungcheol with a smile that didn’t quite meet his eyes.

“Don’t listen to him, I think you two could really be something.” Then he shrugged. “Even if this was just a one night thing, if you both want more out of it then just go for it.”

Soonyoung patted his shoulder, grabbed his own stuff and left as well, leaving Seungcheol alone in the silence of their studio with nothing but his festering thoughts to keep him company.

 


 

Seungcheol’s grip tightened on the milk carton, almost to the point of crushing it.

“Jeonghan,” he muttered to himself.

It had been a few weeks since they slept together. Keeping up with their promise of never bringing up what happened was a lot harder than Seungcheol had thought it would be, and Jihoon’s words were finally taking a toll on him.

He tried everything to distract himself. He’d lock himself in his room, hung out more with his friends, and took over Hansol’s shifts at the record store. The most effective distraction was studying until his eyes would strain. Even Wonwoo has never seen him dive into his studies this hard before. He spent so much time studying anywhere but in their apartment to the point where he would stay at the library or at the café until closing time. He did all of this just to not see Jeonghan, to not think about him.

But even he couldn’t avoid the wandering of his mind, when he’d lay awake in the middle of the night, staring up at the ceiling.

The dreams, of course, had come back, more vivid than ever. He’d not only replay that night in his head, but imagine different scenarios that were so overwhelming, he’d wake up harder than he’d ever been. During those mornings he’d take his time to get up, his hand already going down under the waistband of his sweatpants and his face heating with shame.

Jihoon was right. He had gotten one taste of Jeonghan, and now he craved for more. But he could never have it.

There was one upside to all of this, and it was that their fighting had stopped. Suddenly, everything had completely stood still, quiet than ever before between them.

Seungcheol was either too pent up busying himself with his studies, or he wasn’t around to argue with Jeonghan. Before he knew it, he was back to tolerating Jeonghan’s habits in silence and back to doing the dishes again. He hated doing this chore more than ever now, after the multiple arguments they’ve had over this. Jeonghan had stopped doing his part in helping out entirely. He supposed it was either this or have Jeonghan pranking him again. The annoyingly red color in his hair was dying off but there were still too vivid tints of it in the tips.

But because they had stopped fighting, the same habits Jeonghan had were still there, more painfully obvious than ever. Like this, an empty carton of milk in his hand even though he swore there was still enough left just the day before. It was Saturday, and Seungcheol just wanted to eat his cereal in his room and go back to sleep, but he couldn’t do that without milk, which was apparently gone.

He looked at the culprit now, the man lounging lazily on the couch in the living room watching television. He cleared his throat, and Jeonghan looked up at him, indifferent.

“You drank all the milk,” he stated like it was a fact.

Jeonghan shrugged, looking indifferent. “So?”

Even though they’ve had this discussion before, gone through this whole argument before. Seungcheol couldn’t understand it, why nothing ever stayed calm between them.

“Jeonghan, you know I bought this.”

Jeonghan sighed like he was already tired. “Again with this?”

Of fucking course Seungcheol was going to bring this up, how could he not when everything else had happened between them, all of that just to not change their habits, to not change anything.

Seungcheol said nothing and looked at him expectedly as if Jeonghan was going to give in, maybe go to the store nearby and save Seungcheol the trip of buying more milk.

But Jeonghan just crossed his arms and said, “You’re actually gonna blame me for wanting to drink milk this morning?”

Seungcheol shook his head because that wasn’t just it. “Why the hell did you put it back in the fridge when you knew it was empty?”

“The garbage was full, I didn’t want to make it worse.”

Seungcheol wanted to yell, “Just throw the fucking garbage out.”

“It’s Saturday, Seungcheol, can’t you just let me relax?”

Seungcheol scoffed, “You used to complain about me not taking out the trash all the time, and now you don’t even want to do it?”

Jeonghan’s glare challenged him. “Maybe I just wanted to give you a reminder to buy more milk.”

“But you can just tell me that Jeonghan.”

“Maybe I drank it ‘cuz I didn’t see your name on it this time, and I wanted to annoy you,” he exasperated, but it didn’t sound true enough. 

“Jeonghan,” he set his foot down and became serious now, sick of the ridiculous excuses. “What is it, really?”

Because after arguing for weeks, there was no possible way Jeonghan didn’t learn anything. There was no way the other had just forgotten all of it, forcing Seungcheol to go through all of this once more.

Jeonghan bit his lip, and Seungcheol hated how he still noticed that. The younger looked at him, resolution shaken. “Maybe I just missed talking to you,” he mumbled, sounding small. “Even if it’s like this, us fighting again.”

Seungcheol blinked, caught off guard. “What?” he asked, dumbly.

Jeonghan turned the TV off and stood up. He made his way to where Seungcheol stood, more than an arm’s length away and said hesitantly, “Seungcheol, I know you’ve been ignoring me. This is the first time I’ve seen you or even spoken to you this week.”

He felt numb standing there holding an empty milk carton, connecting the dots. “So, what, you deliberately finished the milk just so we could fight?”

Jeonghan shrugged again, but it was more like he was nervous. “It’s better than you not talking to me at all.”

Seungcheol felt taken back at Jeonghan noticing, but even more so about the fact that Jeonghan had missed talking to him so much that he had to resort to starting an argument between them.

Seungcheol didn’t know Jeonghan missed the way they’d been before everything happened; being able to talk to him about his day or watch TV with him comfortably. Some part of him wanted that back too, but the other part of him screamed of the tension of even breathing the same air as Jeonghan.

“The only thing I don’t understand is why,” Jeonghan piped up when Seungcheol remained silent. “Is what happened between us really bothering you so much?” 

Seeing him now like this, his eyes downcast and confused, like he’s blaming himself for what happened, made Seungcheol’s head hurt.

“I-” he paused because he wasn't really sure what he was saying anymore. “I’m over it, it’s behind us now.”

Jeonghan’s eyes narrowed. He asked slowly, “Is it?”

He huffed, taking a step back only because Jeonghan was taking a step forward. “ Yes , Jeonghan, it is, so just drop it.”

“C’mon Seungcheol,” he stepped closer, and Seungcheol couldn’t move any further. “Be honest with me.”

“I am,” he lied, his grip tightened on the milk carton until it finally started to crumple in his grasp.

Jeonghan shook his head. “Then why have you been avoiding me?”

“Because-” Seungcheol felt caught. He was confused and anxious and just being within Jeonghan’s presence sent his mind spiraling, remembering how they felt together. He hoped his face wasn’t heating up as he said, “I’ve just been busy with- with studies and my shift at the store-”

Seungcheol saw Jeonghan’s eyebrows furrowed. Suddenly he felt like he was way too close to him, and when Jeonghan reached for his hand that was crushing the carton, he jerked back instantly, feeling his heart skip way too quick.

It was the wrong thing to do, since Jeonghan looked like his suspicions were confirmed.

Jeonghan took in a breath, and when he reached out again, Seungcheol didn’t jerk back. The touch of Jeonghan’s fingertips were cold and the feeling tingled on his heated skin.

“Jeonghan,” he said, carefully, meant to be a warning but it didn’t really sound like one. Jeonghan didn’t look like he wanted to listen to any kind of warning anyway.

He thought about what might have happened if he had been the one to stop it all from happening; if he pushed away now, or if he had pushed away the first time, used any one of the many excuses he had prepared over and over again in his head. But he was defenseless against Jeonghan, utterly helpless when Jeonghan would look at him that way, heady and determined.

And Jeonghan knew how weak he was. Looked at him now the same way he did that night, only this time, he was completely sober.

He said softly like admitting a secret, “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it either, Seungcheol.”

All the breath rushed out his lungs, his throat constricting. “Really?” he choked out.

Jeonghan nodded, closing tightly around his wrist. He knew Jeonghan could feel his pulse racing.

He watched Jeonghan’s eyelashes flutter. There was some hesitancy in his voice that could only be heard if Seungcheol focused clearly enough, which was becoming harder to do at the moment. “I can’t be the only one thinking about it. Right?”

Fuck , Seungcheol swore in his head and probably out loud too. Because everything was crashing again, he could feel it, in the air between them, that tension that could only be solved by one thing, one form of release.

He leaned in first because he knew Jeonghan wasn’t going to. When their lips touched, he vaguely felt himself let go of the carton and hardly registered the sound of it falling to the ground. How could he think of anything anymore, when Jeonghan was lifting his hands to his face and kissing him back, meeting him with that same addictive want from before.

Seungcheol moved forward until Jeonghan was pinned to the wall. Jeonghan chased his kiss when he leaned back. “Are you being serious with me right now?” Seungcheol asked against Jeonghan’s lips.

Jeonghan thumbed his cheek. “I want this, Cheol.”

That was all he really needed to hear.

Everything he had dreamed of about Jeonghan and what he would be like in bed dimmed in that very moment, as Jeonghan took his hand and led him to Jeonghan’s room. He felt like he was in some sort of trance, like he was somehow reliving what had happened that night more vividly than ever because it was actually happening now , and when Jeonghan pushed him back on the bed with a searing kiss, nothing else felt rational anymore. 

There were no more excuses. Not now, not with Jeonghan pinning him down from above and palming his crotch.

“Fuck, this isn’t real,” he moaned as Jeonghan unbuttoned his pants and spread his thighs. His cock strained against the fabric and even more so when Jeonghan slid down to his knees before him. None of his dreams had him even anticipating this.

“Feels pretty real to me,” Jeonghan smirked, letting him out of restraint, closing his hand around the base of his cock. 

Seungcheol fisted the sheets, fighting back a smile. “I knew you’d be a tease in bed.”

Jeonghan chuckled and Seungcheol had to hold the urge to thrust, Jeonghan’s lips and breath edging closer to him.

He felt Jeonghan’s other hand rest on top of his own, relaxing him until he stopped clenching the sheets. Jeonghan led his hand to the top of his head, like he was silently allowing Seungcheol this privilege, and he felt soft locks thread through his fingers.

Immediately, his fingers flexed in his hair when Jeonghan’s lips closed around the tip of his cock.

Shit .” He threw his head back. He wanted to tug and pull on his hair, because damn the fact alone that Jeonghan was going to do this for him had him reeling. Jeonghan’s mouth on him was cautious; he went down slowly, mouth slick and sounds obscene. He could feel Jeonghan’s hesitancy at times, but Jeonghan’s determination to take him all the way in got him off.

When Jeonghan hollowed his cheeks, he felt like he was in high school again; just wanting to come already, wanting to release down Jeonghan’s throat or at least just on his lips. He wondered if Jeonghan would even let him do it. He wondered if Jeonghan would even swallow.

He tugged hard enough on his hair to make Jeonghan moan softly around him at the thought. It blew Seungcheol’s mind that Jeonghan liked it, having his hair pulled, and he saved this fact in the back of his mind just in case. He eased Jeonghan off his cock before he could even get any closer, and stopped any retort Jeonghan might have with a kiss. He could taste the saltiness of himself on Jeonghan’s tongue.

Seungcheol pulled back, cupped his jaw, and asked hesitantly, “Do you want to-?”

Jeonghan bit his lip and nodded.

Seungcheol let go of him to stand up and fetch what they needed from his own room, but Jeonghan stopped him and said, “There’s lube and condoms under the bed.”

Seungcheol blinked, then raised an eyebrow, badly wanting to joke about his roommate being presumptuous. Instead, he reached underneath the bed as he was told and was met with a box, and when he looked at the contents, Jeonghan had said the truth. A box of condoms, unopened, a tube of lube, and- the most shocking of it all- a blue dildo, its length a pretty respectable size.

Seungcheol glanced back at his roommate who was blushing slightly. His own ears felt like they were on fire.

“I have questions,” he joked.

Jeonghan rolled his eyes. “Don’t ask them.”

He took one of the condoms out, as well as the lube, and shoved the box hastily back under the bed. He sat beside him on the bed and kissed him senseless. It was hard to argue with Jeonghan’s tongue moving against his own, and Seungcheol pinned him down onto the bed, slipping his hands under Jeonghan’s shirt.

“Fucking knew you liked being on top,” Jeonghan chuckled as Seungcheol licked down his jaw to his neck. He grinned before nipping down, making Jeonghan hiss. He threaded his fingers through Seungcheol’s hair. “Just so you know, I had to wear turtlenecks for a full week just to hide your hickies. I only own two turtlenecks, Cheol.”

Seungcheol smirked against his neck and those same fading marks. “I’ll be careful this time.”

Jeonghan’s grip tightened in his hair. “I’m not saying I didn’t like it.”

Seungcheol bit his lip, but felt himself smile anyway. He’s never felt this bubbly, never laughed or grinned this much with someone in bed before. Jeonghan met all his expectations, all his dreams, and even more so, he was everything he didn’t expect.

Jeonghan was this sweet mix of sexy and fun, something Seungcheol had been craving for in a partner for years. He had a snarky mouth but a bashful face. When their clothes were shed, Jeonghan ran a hand down his chest and whispered, “Are you still thinking about the milk?”

Seungcheol had his hands on smooth thighs, spreading his legs, taking in the sight of him. The long haired man looked like a wreck waiting to happen, chest flushed and dick hard.

“I’m thinking of how to shut you up,” Seungcheol growled in response.

With one hand Jeonghan grabbed the lube, and his other closed around his own throbbing member. “I can think of one way.”

Things got hazy after that. Seungcheol prepped him, half rushing, half taking his time. Because as much as he wanted to explore every single inch of Jeonghan and learn everything he liked to do in bed, Jeonghan kept clinging onto his shoulders and gasping, “ Now , Seungcheol.”

He didn’t need anymore convincing.

He rolled the condom on and positioned himself, one hand firm on Jeonghan’s stomach. Jeonghan moaned as Seungcheol pushed into him, an intense heat filling him. He didn’t linger long, Jeonghan was quick to command him.

“Do it,” he gasped.

Seungcheol groaned, taking his pleasure by holding onto Jeonghan’s hips and fucking into him, starting slow before building up a hard rhythm. Jeonghan shivered and tightened around him with every hit.

There had been so much tension to relieve, and in that single moment, he had this. Jeonghan was in his arms again, finally, his hands gripping at his back as he whispering in Seungcheol’s ear, “ Yes .” The shakiness in his voice making his skin crawl with want.

It was over too quickly. Jeonghan came before he did in a fierce shudder. Seungcheol came into the condom with one last push inside him, skin sticky, hot and close. He collapsed on Jeonghan’s side, panting slightly.

Jeonghan was equally as breathless. “Fuck that was…”

“Yeah,” Seungcheol panted, hiding his smile behind his hand.

It made Jeonghan chuckle, bringing his forearm to his sweating forehead.

Seungcheol looked at him now, and Jeonghan had the perfect after-sex glow; he was grinning, his cheeks were a bright red and his hair was a mess. Seungcheol felt honored to see the man in this state, knowing he was the cause of it.

Jeonghan met his gaze, his eyes shining with mirth. “I can’t believe we did that.”

“Me either.”

Jeonghan bit his lip and Seungcheol was starting to like that distracting habit of his. “Do we… talk about this?”

He hummed, sitting up on the bed. “I think we have to.”

This was so much more different than waking up in shame of knowing what he did with an inebriated and out of control mind. This was real, and physical, with the comfort of knowing they both wanted this. But there was still one thing that needed to be addressed.

“Where do we stand now,” he asked calmly, though his heart was still pounding wildly. “After... this?”

Jeonghan took his time to think about his answer before saying, “I don’t know… I don’t want to rush into a relationship. I don’t know if I can do that again.” He talked as if from experience, but Seungcheol didn’t ask about it. He wasn’t the type of person to judge another’s romantic history when his own was such a mess.

Then shyly, Jeonghan met his gaze and spoke up again, “I do know I don’t want to stop…” he gestured to the small space between them, “ This .”

He felt honest replying, “Neither do I.”

Jeonghan blinked, eyebrows raised. “Really?”

Seungcheol nodded without hesitation. “This… I mean, it’s too good.”

It was so damn good. Too good to give up.

“Look,” he said sitting up, the decision forming firmly in his head. “We both don’t want something serious, right?”

Jeonghan nodded slowly.

“Then why should it be too complicated?”

Jeonghan's gaze was downcast before looking back at him with interest. “What are you getting at?”

He knew what all the consequences were to having casual sex, and he’d expected how much worse things would be between them because Jeonghan was his roommate. All the efforts he had made in trying to place distractions for himself from the tension paled to now.

Because here they were, lying in the aftermath, all tension gone just by doing a simple act. Seungcheol thought they could get used to that.

“I’m thinking,” he answered slowly. “We keep this casual and between us. We both don’t want to stop having sex, we don’t need to overcomplicate some kind of arrangement where both of us can get what we want.”

Still, he felt something needed to be clarified, so he continued,

“But we’re roommates first above that. If we’re gonna keep doing this, we should probably set some ground rules.”

“Okay,” Jeonghan said, a little unsure. The bedsheets rustled around them as he sat up too. “What kind of rules exactly?”

It didn’t take too long to figure out pretty much the only rule they’d need to keep if they wanted this to work out at all.

“No feelings,” he told Jeonghan. “That means no cuddling or anything like that afterwards; this is strictly sex, no attachment.”

Saying it out loud sounded restricting, but it was too important that it seriously needed to be heard, even for himself. He couldn’t allow himself to fall in love with Jeonghan. He couldn’t let Jihoon be right about him, falling too fast for someone who’s just gonna leave him. Jeonghan wasn’t a permanent presence in his life; he could leave any time he wanted.

So, the best thing for both of them was to not get attached.

Jeonghan took a second to think it over before nodding. “Alright.”

He had that unreadable expression on him, but Seungcheol couldn’t focus on that when he felt too relieved that Jeonghan was even agreeing to his terms

“Also,” he added as an afterthought, wincing a little. “Maybe we shouldn’t tell anyone about this.” He couldn’t bare Jihoon’s glares anymore.

“Aw, I can’t tell my friends you’ve got a large dick?” Jeonghan joked, batting his eyelashes.

Seungcheol rolled his eyes and huffed. “You’re lying.”

Jeonghan smiled slyly, shrugging. “Okay, fine, we won’t tell anyone.”

“Good,” Seungcheol breathed. Their agreement was final.

He got up with a sigh and put his clothes back on.

“Where are you going?” Jeonghan asked, watching him.

He said, like it was obvious, "Going out to buy more milk." Before shutting the door on Jeonghan’s laughter.

Chapter Text

It was distracting him, how easily Jeonghan agreed to his terms.

Was this some trick? Some kind of dream come true? Had he finally found someone he could fool around with no consequence, no commitments? Thinking of it now sounded too good to be true.

After yesterday, he felt a kind of liberty he couldn’t explain; almost like they could do this whenever they wanted. It made him feel excited to see Jeonghan, to feel him again, discover his body and everything that turned him on.

These were his thoughts, as the shower’s water heated up on his skin. It had only been a day, but he felt like he wanted Jeonghan every second-

Seungcheol ! Hurry up!”

Okay, maybe not every second.

He could’ve sworn Jeonghan had left for his class already since he hadn’t seen him in the living room this morning when he woke up.

“Jeonghan?” he called across the bathroom door. “What are you still doing here I thought you left already!”

“I woke up late, idiot,” he heard Jeonghan say back, then the sound of the door opening-

Jesus , Jeonghan what the hell!” he choked, quickly grabbing the shower curtain to cover himself up.

Jeonghan rolled his eyes, amusedly. “Oh c’mon it’s nothing I haven’t already seen.” He paused before he started to take his shirt off.

Seungcheol’s heart raced instantly. “What, what are you doing?” he stuttered.

“Cheol, seriously I’m gonna be late for my class,” Jeonghan replied instead of answering his question, stripping down his jogging pants and everything else, and Seungcheol couldn’t look away.

“Move over.”

It was already too late for him to connect the dots, Jeonghan was jumping in the shower with him. With him . In all his naked glory, his back was to him, giving Seungcheol the best view. His long, copper hair started getting soaked as Jeonghan took some shampoo to lather into his locks.

All the while, Seungcheol felt like he couldn’t move. And the worst (or probably best) part of it all was he knew he was awake. Instead of how he daydreamed this scenario in his head, here Jeonghan stood before him, real as ever. He pinched his arm just in case.

Jeonghan glanced at him over his shoulder with a small smirk, foam gliding down his neck. “Stop staring.”

Seungcheol felt his face heat up and hoped he could blame it on the steam of the shower. “I can’t help it when you’re right in front of me.”

Jeonghan scoffed, washing the foam out of his hair. “I’m not gonna help you with that .”

He knew Jeonghan was pointedly referring to his growing arousal. It ticked him off, how annoying Jeonghan could be even at times like this. “I wasn’t asking,” he grumbled, trying to hide his disappointment that this wasn’t going to be just like he imagined it would. “Are you just gonna hog the water? I haven’t gotten to wash yet.”

Jeonghan moved out of the way for him while he took the soap to his skin, and Seungcheol tried focusing on washing his hair. It wasn’t long before Jeonghan started complaining about how he needed the water.

Seungcheol wondered how actual couples could do this when they couldn’t stop bickering back and forth like this and could hardly fit in the confined space together. Some deep part of himself was kind of turned on by it, and each time Jeonghan opened his mouth just encouraged it.

While Jeonghan washed the facial foam off his face, he mentioned, “Yah, you see how fast the floor floods, ‘cuz your hair clogs up the drain.”

Jeonghan looked down to where their feet were sunken in about a few inches of water, then back at him unamused. “You get annoyed by small things way too easily.”

“So do you, I’m just telling you to do something about it.”

They hadn’t touched at all until this very moment, as Seungcheol reached for the soap. It was a compromising position; Jeonghan’s back touching his chest, and lower, their skin pressed up against each other. He felt the other tense up instantly from the contact.

Immediately, Seungcheol pulled back, embarrassed. “Sorry I didn’t mean to…”

He trailed off when he felt Jeonghan lean back against him, flush to his chest and stiffening cock. Suddenly, everything felt far too hot.

Seungcheol tested the waters and slowly placed his hands on Jeonghan’s waist, pulling him closer. “I thought you weren’t gonna help me out,” he teased in Jeonghan’s ear.

Jeonghan turned to face him, his face red from the steam of the shower, and he sighed. “I’ve since changed my mind.” He brought his hands to his shoulders as their lips met, heatedly, wet skin against wet skin.

Seungcheol felt the cold tiles of the bathroom wall on his back as he was pinned against it, the pressure of the shower felt intense on his skin as things escalated between them.

It probably wasn’t a good idea to do anything else but make out like this. Still, that didn’t stop Seungcheol from letting his hands roam and grope Jeonghan until the man was shuddering against him. He wanted to take whatever little amount of time they had to explore at least one thing about Jeonghan’s preferences.

With his one hand, he gripped Jeonghan at his base, eliciting a sigh that turned into a whine when Seungcheol dug his thumb into the tip.

He took note of every reaction that came out of Jeonghan; every breath and bite of his lip. Even with his past bed partners, Seungcheol liked giving his partner pleasure more than receiving it. It made him feel good too, and if he and Jeonghan were going to be doing this often, he’d like to know what made Jeonghan’s toes curl or what made him arch his neck just like he did now.

The slower he went, the more labored Jeonghan’s breath became, and he smirked in realization.

“Like it slow?” he teased, lips pressed against Jeonghan’s skin.

The other huffed a short laugh in response before tightening his grip on Seungcheol’s shoulders as Seungcheol tugged back the foreskin as slowly as possible. Jeonghan felt so hard and heavy in his hand, and he looked so good, like something out of an explicit movie; his eyes were dark and heady, his skin was wet and flushed bright pink, drenched hair flowing down his back.

He felt Jeonghan drag his hand down his chest and his gaze followed it. “What about you?” Jeonghan said lowly before the soft pads of his fingers grazed Seungcheol’s cock, gentle enough to tease before fingernails raked down his length, making Seungcheol throw his head back in pleasure.

Oh ,” Jeonghan said with something like curiosity in his voice though he seemed just as close as Seungcheol was. He couldn’t tell over the pressure building in his stomach just from Jeonghan stroking his cock roughly. Each tug sent spikes of bliss up Seungcheol’s spine. He could hear the sound of their breaths echo off the walls.

It didn’t take much time after that; Seungcheol came with his forehead resting comfortably on Jeonghan’s shoulder. Jeonghan followed soon after, a long drawn out moan in his ear as the spray of the shower wiped away all the evidence.

After a few breaths, Jeonghan leaned down and picked up the hair that was clogging the drain. He threw it in the trash saying, “Next time, just do that yourself.”

Seungcheol watched him dry himself off so casually, as if they didn’t just fool around in the shower. “It’s your hair,” he said weakly, like that was his only argument. He was still leaning against the tiled wall, the water from the shower feeling much colder on his skin now.

Jeonghan huffed and gave him a sly smile over his shoulder before waltzing out the bathroom. And that’s when Seungcheol realized Jeonghan had said ‘next time’. Because there was going to be a next time, of small moments like these, in the shower, exploring their tastes. Seungcheol bit his lip but knew he was smiling too.

Needless to say, they were both late to their classes.

 


 

“You’re looking incredibly happy today.”

Seungcheol looked up from his Psychology book to Wonwoo’s smirking face and shook his head.

“What are you talking about?”

Wonwoo shrugged. “There’s just something about you today.”

Seungcheol’s phone vibrated at that moment and he glanced at the notification, half expecting Jihoon, but instead it was a couple texts from Jeonghan.

cheooolll, i’m boreeed

prof aint making it easy on us today (-__-   just wanna sleep hhh’

He closed the messages and went back to his textbook.

“You're grinning, Seungcheol.”

“I am not.” Even though he knew he was, could feel his face making the expression, he just wanted to keep ignoring it.

“Maybe he’s finally getting laid,” Mingyu piped up from beside him.

Seungcheol tried his best to look casual and continue reading his book, but he knew his friends could see right through him.

Mingyu noticed right away, “Oh my god , you are!” he said, eyes wide and voice raised.

Wonwoo shushed him before the librarian could get to them, but his face was just as curious and devious as Mingyu’s.

He wanted to deny it even more, after all he was the one who told Jeonghan that they shouldn’t mention their hooking up to anyone. He bit down hard on his bottom lip.

But there was some part of him that didn’t want to deny it anymore. Ever since they started sleeping together, Seungcheol felt lighter, less stressed out about every single thing. He’s been getting better sleep, been more focused in his school work instead of constantly being distracted.

Because Jeonghan made everything work, made everything so much better.

They’ve been going at it almost everyday for the past week now. They had fallen into each other so naturally and each time after that, and it was comforting to know that it didn’t take too much effort to get Jeonghan or himself in the mood. He had found out easily enough, after what happened in the shower, that sex was a pretty good alternative to arguing over their bad roommate habits. It had gotten to the point where he’d anticipate the sex after a fight or even during a fight, that he even started getting turned on whenever Jeonghan would raise his voice at him.

Just the other day, Seungcheol was pissed after they ate dinner about how the dishes just ‘somehow’ piled up during the week. Jeonghan had lazily whined as per usual about how he didn’t want to wash anything and Seungcheol had kept pushing him to do it until he was backed up into the sink with a kiss.

“Forget about doing the dishes,” Jeonghan had gasped and bit on his lower lip. “Don’t you think we can do something else?”

Seungcheol couldn’t argue with that logic, and they had ended up making out against the kitchen counter, Jeonghan’s leg pressed against his back and dishes long forgotten. Of course, Seungcheol washed them later on, but he wasn’t as annoyed anymore.

The day after that, Jeonghan had scolded him for borrowing his earphones again, which made Seungcheol feel guilty because he had actually lost Jeonghan’s earphones at some point after taking them out of his bag one time. Of course, he had to be honest with Jeonghan, who didn’t take it well.

“So you lost your earphones, borrowed mine, and then you lost mine? Geez , Cheol, what the hell is wrong with you?”

Seungcheol had pouted and went for the Hail-Mary pass by kissing Jeonghan, who had been surprised but melted into it anyway.

“I’ll buy you new ones,” Seungcheol had mumbled, lowly against his neck.

“You better,” Jeonghan had replied before cupping his nape and making their lips meet once more.

It sounded toxic in his head, how they were using sex as an otherwise means of distraction. But he couldn’t see a more perfect solution to their problems.

“Is it Jeonghan?” Mingyu asked eagerly, bringing him back to reality. “Did you finally take our advice?”

“No,” he lied. “It’s not Jeonghan, and quite frankly your advice was terrible. I now hate every single thing about him that annoys me.”

Mingyu’s brows furrowed and he stayed silent, like he was deep in thought, then said, “But doesn’t that just make you want to jump on him even more?”

“Mingyu, don’t be crass,” Wonwoo scolded. “What he and Jeonghan do isn’t our problem and we shouldn’t have tried to fix it.”

Seungcheol sighed in relief. “Thank you, Wonwoo.”

“That being said, you are sleeping with him now, right?”

Seungcheol looked at Wonwoo, unamused. “I take that back. And I am not sleeping with him.”

“Seungcheol, you realize we’re both taking Psychology. We both know that you're a horrible liar because you have the tendency to have your knee shake unconsciously.”

Seungcheol noticed his knee bouncing up and down and stopped it, before going back to Wonwoo’s smug face. “ I am not sleeping with him ,” he said again, forcibly enunciating each word. “Why can’t you two just leave it alone?”

Wonwoo grinned and threw his hands up, defensively. “Fine. But you are more relaxed than normal. It’s just nice seeing you that way again.”

Seungcheol had been friends with both Wonwoo and Mingyu long enough for them to see pretty much every side of him. Back when he was in his first year of college, Mingyu had always mentioned how cool he was, how laid-back he seemed just because he was sleeping around and not focusing too much on anything. It did feel good to not be stressed out again.

So Seungcheol humored them a bit. “Fine. I am… seeing someone.” He tried to be as vague as he could, though he knew his friends were already suspecting it was Jeonghan, he just didn’t want to say it explicitly and break the rule he made with Jeonghan.

“I knew it,” Mingyu said cheerfully before twisting in his seat. “Hyung, if it’s another fling, don’t get attached this time.”

Seungcheol winced. He hated the fact that his friends have also seen some rough sides of him that he’s not proud of.

“It’s-” he hesitated to say it wasn’t a fling, because really he couldn’t explain how their relationship worked. “I won’t get attached,” he said instead, trying to steady himself. “We’re casual, we set up ground rules.”

Wonwoo and Mingyu looked at one another, and when Wonwoo was about to speak up, Seungcheol’s phone vibrated again. It was another message from Jeonghan that simply stated, ‘ home early, come over already ;) ’.

“I gotta go,” he mumbled, packing up his stuff. Anticipation bubbled in his stomach.

“Booty call?” Mingyu joked.

“Fuck off,” Seungcheol mumbled, though he knew he was still smiling.

“You are so getting dicked,” Mingyu huffed but he looked one comment away from applauding Seungcheol. He rolled his eyes at him before he finally left the two. 

 


 

“What are you doing?”

Seungcheol looked up from his spot on the floor. Jeonghan was leaning against the door frame of his room, his eyebrows raised like he was curious when it was all so simple really to guess from the mess of clothes surrounding him.

“Laundry,” Seungcheol answered.

Jeonghan rolled his eyes. “I can see that,” he smiled. “Why are you separating your clothes?”

Seungcheol felt like he might have been joking, so he asked, “Are you joking?”

But Jeonghan just blinked and shook his head.

“This is how you're supposed to do it,” Seungcheol explained. “Wait, have you never done your own laundry before?”

Jeonghan shrugged, sheepishly he admitted, “I usually just take it all down to the cleaners and they do it for me.”

The idea of it was laughable. Jeonghan must have grown up with everyone catering to his whim just because he had a pretty face and charming demeanor. He didn’t know what kind of family he had, though he knew Jeonghan’s father wanted him to take up business. Judging from that, he could have grown up with a rich kind of background. Of course, these were just guesses, but it made him feel like he was in on a trick or some kind of secret.

Seungcheol grinned up at him. “Yoon Jeonghan, the laundry virgin. I knew there must have been something.”

Jeonghan covered his mouth though he was laughing. “You caught me,” he joked. “Don’t tell anyone, I might lose my reputation.”

Seungcheol chuckled, and said impulsively, “Bring your laundry here then, we can do it together.”

He went back to sorting out his own clothes and could hardly hear Jeonghan’s soft voice, “Together?”

He glanced back at him, and Jeonghan wasn’t looking back, instead his eyes were on the clothes on the floor. “Yeah. Is that a problem?”

Jeonghan shrugged again, like he didn’t know the answer, and in the next few minutes found him next to Seungcheol on the floor separating his own clothes into the same piles in comfortable silence. Seungcheol noticed how many branded and designer clothes Jeonghan owned, but decided it was best not to comment on it though his suspicions nagged in his head even more.

They took some detergent and a basket full each down to the laundry room in the basement. There were two washing machines and two dryers in the small space, but they only had two loads anyhow, so they placed their piles into the washer, Seungcheol paying with the change he brought after Jeonghan admitted he didn’t have any coins on him.

“How long will this take?” Jeonghan asked, genuinely curious.

“A half hour for the wash, then an hour for the dryer,” he replied, leaning against the folding table on the side of the room.

Jeonghan leaned into the space next to him and they watched the turning of the washer together. He thought they were comfortable just the way they were, but that he should probably say something to break the silence. This seemed like a good time to bond with Jeonghan instead of just fucking around, though that also seemed like a good way to waste time.

Right when he opened his mouth to suggest something, Jeonghan beat him to it.

“I didn’t buy them, y’know.”

He started softly. He said it without taking his eyes off the washer and when Seungcheol gave a questioning hum, he met his gaze.

“Those high-end shirts,” Jeonghan clarified, nodding at the washer. “I saw you looking at them.”

“I wasn’t gonna ask,” Seungcheol defended like he got caught.

Jeonghan simply smiled at him. “I know. Just wanted you to know.” Then he looked away, and his face seemed distant. For a while, Seungcheol thought that was it, just a random statement that Jeonghan wanted to make, when he finally spoke up again.

“My ex bought me those shirts,” he said. Seungcheol’s eyebrows raised, mostly because Jeonghan’s ex must have been filthy rich, but also because Jeonghan was confiding in him. Over the hum of the washing machine, all he could focus on was Jeonghan’s soft, timid voice.

“He always liked those expensive brands,” Jeonghan continued with an indifferent shrug. “I never really wanted him to buy me anything too expensive, but he’d never listen to me. But, now that we aren’t dating anymore, I keep wondering whether I should give them back to him or not.”

Seungcheol glanced at the washer, then back at him. “Looks like you made your decision with that.”

Jeonghan smiled again, but it was more secretive now. “They’re nice shirts. They look good on me,” he stated, like that was the real reason he kept the shirts.

Seungcheol chuckled, only because he would probably do the same thing in Jeonghan’s situation. Whoever this guy was that spent all that money on him, Jeonghan either didn’t give a crap about him or was too attached to the guy to give the clothes back. Some selfish part of him hoped it was the former, but he simply couldn’t tell just by looking at Jeonghan.

He could never figure anything out about Jeonghan.

He felt the shift in Jeonghan’s smile turn into something playful when he looked at him, leaned in closer and asked, “So, what are we gonna do for the next half hour?”

Seungcheol hummed. “I can think of a few things.”

He tilted his head to the side slightly and could feel Jeonghan’s breath on him, and just as he was about to kiss him, Jeonghan leaned back abruptly.

“Here?” he said, incredulous, though there was a glint in Jeonghan’s eyes like he already knew the answer to that.

Seungcheol took a look around the small, dingy room and casually shrugged. “Why not?”

Jeonghan raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t this a public laundry room for the whole apartment?”

“No one usually comes down here at this hour, or even on this day.” Seungcheol scanned the corners of the ceiling. “No cameras or anything either.”

He moved back from the folding table to close the door and pushed the lock on the handle. When he turned around, Jeonghan’s lips were pursed but he looked excited.

“Well?” Jeonghan teased after Seungcheol simply stood watching him in the dim fluorescent light of the room, his back against the door. Jeonghan looked like he wanted a mess to happen between them, just like always, and Seungcheol thought the expression just looked so beautiful on him.

Seungcheol nodded his chin at the dryer machine not being used. “Hop up there,” he said.

He almost thought Jeonghan wouldn’t do it, or that he would twist the scenario on him and he’d somehow be the one to end up on the dryer machine himself (it wouldn’t be the first time Jeonghan’s turned things around on him). But Jeonghan complied, probably just as eager as Seungcheol was.

He placed himself in between Jeonghan’s legs and loved the fact that Jeonghan towered him a little bit, the dryer machine giving him some height. It made it easy for Jeonghan to wrap his arms around Seungcheol’s shoulders, their noses bumping before their lips connected. Jeonghan deepened it immediately, and when he pulled back they were both short of breath.

“I didn’t bring anything,” Jeonghan mumbled, his forehead pressed against his own. Seungcheol saw him through his lashes and thought he liked this view. So they didn’t have any condoms or lube, didn’t mean he couldn’t get Jeonghan off.

Or , he thought impulsively, maybe even-

Seungcheol started kissing down Jeonghan’s jaw to the skin of his neck that arched for him, fingers slipping under his soft sweater and finding purpose on the waistband of his pants.

“S-Seungcheol,” Jeonghan stuttered when Seungcheol started unbuttoning his pants. “Did you not hear me-“

He trailed off when Seungcheol leaned down and placed a tentative kiss on the tip of his still clothed cock. He felt it twitch under his lips and when he looked up, Jeonghan had his hand to his mouth, his eyes wide.

They’ve never been in this position before, it was usually the other way around between them. He’s only really done this once or twice, but it wasn’t enough experience to feel confident. Jeonghan wasn’t protesting one bit, and the thought that Jeonghan would let him do this spurred him on, his own arousal growing by the second but he disregarded it. He just wanted to do this.

As he dragged the fabric of Jeonghan’s boxer down just enough to release his cock, he thought silently, I hope I’m not bad at this .

He nosed at the taut skin of him, and could already taste the saltiness of it just by one whiff. He let his tongue finally be the judge and licked up the side until he reached the head and gave it another kiss. He felt Jeonghan jolt at the action, and when he looked up, the man was blushing, hand still on his mouth like he didn’t want any sound to escape him.

Seungcheol took it as a challenge.

He opened his mouth, letting it slide in, and he took caution with his teeth. What Jeonghan lacked in thickness, he definitely made up for in length, and Seungcheol almost choked from taking him all in. He played it off casually, cupping Jeonghan’s base as he pulled back.

“You don’t do this often, do you?” Jeonghan asked, sounding breathless.

Seungcheol knew he was speaking based on experience of giving, since Jeonghan had dangerous ways with his mouth that kept leaving Seungcheol seeing stars, but from the way he was gripping onto the edge of the dryer so tightly, he wasn’t speaking from the experience of receiving.

Did your ex ever give you head? , he wanted to ask, but he felt like he already knew the answer to that.

Seungcheol eased off him with a slight popping noise and said instead, “I don’t do things I don’t want to.”

“And now?” Jeonghan asked on an exhale, like it probably didn’t matter, but Seungcheol knew it did.

He grinned before sucking hard on the head of his cock, the explicit sound of it echoed against the walls along with Jeonghan’s not so well-kept, “ Ah!

After a few more moments of this, Seungcheol finally replied, lowly against slick skin, “I obviously want to suck you off.” Before promptly putting his mouth back on him.

That had been it to set Jeonghan off, and he let his head fall back with a soft hiss, “ Fuck .” Right away, Seungcheol’s mouth was filled with the taste of him, and he swallowed as much as he could, taking victory in this moment.

Instantly, hands were on his shoulders hastily dragging him upwards by his shirt and lips met roughly against his own. Jeonghan’s tongue prodded like he was trying to chase his own taste and Seungcheol was willing to give it to him.

Jeonghan thumbed the corner of his lips, wiping off some of what he missed. “Seems like we made good time,” he whispered. Faintly, Seungcheol noticed the washers had stopped humming. 

Jeonghan didn’t let go of him easily though, grip still tight on his shoulders as they kissed a little bit more.

When they finally pulled away, Seungcheol opened up the washer and started to take clothes out to transfer. Jeonghan, after zipping himself up, watched him from on top of the dryer machine.

“Don’t want me to help?” he asked. When Seungcheol glanced at him, he found Jeonghan didn’t mean help with the clothes.

It made him smile, almost shyly. “Don’t worry about it,” he told him. His cock was only slightly aroused but he could handle it.

Jeonghan tilted his head, brows furrowed. “What was that for then?”

He knew he meant Seungcheol sucking him off and not wanting him to do the same. He could have easily asked Jeonghan to get him off, but he decided that didn’t really matter.

So Seungcheol shrugged. “Think of it as…” he thought of the word and said it without a second thought. “A reward.”

Reward ?” Jeonghan repeated with a laugh.

“Yeah, y’know. Do the laundry with me more often, there’ll be more where that came from,” he winked at him.

Even after their laundry was finished, Jeonghan was still smiling at him like he was ridiculous.

Chapter Text

He was quick to notice the change between them.

He supposed it was him that started it all, with what he said about doing the laundry together. Because it wasn’t long that their distractions turned into something else.

He noticed it one day, when he impulsively felt like fixing the ceiling fan in the bathroom. He was meaning to fix the damn thing anyway- when he was using the bathroom he did notice how it didn’t really work and how annoying it sounded, besides the many times Jeonghan had complained to him about it- and so he finally got to work on it on a weekend with the free time he found in his schedule. Jeonghan had passed by him kneeling on top of the sink once he got home. He stopped at the doorway and watched him work for a while.

“The maintenance guy wasn’t available?” he asked.

“He probably is,” Seungcheol mumbled with a few screws in his mouth. He took them out before speaking again. “I just wanted to do it myself. It’s a quick job anyway.”

“Didn’t know you owned the tools to do that,” Jeonghan commented. “Actually, didn’t know you knew how to fix anything, really.”

It wasn’t an insult, more of an observation. Still, it made Seungcheol pout. “What did you take me for, some kind of preppy boy that only knows how to fuck?”

Jeonghan scoffed amusedly. “Please. That sounds more like a description of me.”

Seungcheol hummed in agreement before placing a screw back in. “Not entirely true. You know how to make pancakes.”

Jeonghan chuckled before asking, “Who taught you how to fix ceiling fans then?”

“Ah, Youtube mostly,” Seungcheol admitted, sheepishly. Jeonghan laughed again. “Like I said, it’s an easy job anyway. Working with tools though, my brother taught me growing up.”

“Brother?” Jeonghan repeated. “Not your dad?”

Seungcheol glanced at him through the mirror, and it was a little reassuring to see Jeonghan was just genuinely curious.

“Nope,” he answered, and quickly wanting to change the topic to forget how heavy his chest started to feel, he screwed the last screw shut. “All done. Can you try switching it on for me?”

He saw Jeonghan’s furrowed eyebrows, his unasked question left unanswered, but he didn’t seem to mind. Jeonghan turned the switch on the wall and the fan started turning normally without much of a noise. 

Seungcheol let out a breath. “Thank god, wasn’t sure I did it right.”

Jeonghan grinned, “Well congratulations, you did it.” And then when Seungcheol was about to get down from the sink he stopped him, “Wait, stay there.”

Seungcheol looked at him through the mirror. The position they were in and the way Jeonghan stared back at him made his breath catch in his throat.

Jeonghan slowly brought a hand up the back of Seungcheol’s thigh and he could feel the warmth of it through his pants. “What are you doing?” Seungcheol stuttered when Jeonghan brought himself closer, fingers suddenly on the button of his jeans.

Jeonghan didn’t break their gaze in the mirror. “Giving you your reward,” he said cheekily, then raised an eyebrow. “Complaints?”

He felt that exciting thrill pump in his abdomen and lower. “ No , hell no, please go on.”

Jeonghan laughed before zipping him down and getting to work with his mouth, leaving Seungcheol reeling, watching him in the mirror until his breath fogged the glass.

At that moment, he realized he should have known he started something uncontrollable. He should have known Jeonghan would play his games, and even try to beat him.

When he came home one night to find Jeonghan doing the dishes, he almost tripped over his own feet that stumbled to a halt.

“What the hell,” he mumbled, walking towards the kitchen slowly, feeling like he was dreaming. “Am I going insane already? Knew I shouldn’t have drunk so much coffee today.”

Jeonghan had heard him and glanced at him over his shoulder with a smirk. “You’re not crazy. I was just bored.”

“That’s really dangerous.” He made his way to the sink just to clarify he wasn’t seeing things, and sure enough Jeonghan was washing a plate, a few mugs and utensils already cleaned off to the side.

Jeonghan looked at him with a sly grin and Seungcheol felt hard. He didn’t have to scold or plead Jeonghan to do the dishes, he just decided to do it himself. But from that look alone, he knew what Jeonghan really wanted from doing this.

“So?” Jeonghan asked, playing innocent while he placed the plate to the side and turned the sink off. “Did I do a good job?”

Seungcheol kissed him hard because he couldn’t take it anymore, pinned him against the sink while Jeonghan’s hands slid into his hair, still wet with suds but Seungcheol couldn’t find it in himself to care.

The unspoken arrangement became a reward system that Seungcheol knew neither of them blatantly mentioned, and that neither of them had any control over it, especially him.

But there were some perks.

Like when Seungcheol stared at an empty fridge on a Sunday night, he realized he couldn’t remember the last time they had fought about one of their biggest issues, nor did he feel like making it a problem anymore.

That was a relief in itself, how the fights between them had started to resolve themselves or be forgotten entirely. He took it as a sign that they were on better terms with each other. He even took it as far as coming into the living room, where Jeonghan was seated on his usual spot on the couch, working on his laptop, with one idea in mind. 

“We’re out of food,” he started, and Jeonghan looked up at him.

“So?” Jeonghan retorted, instantly defensive, as if Seungcheol was going to start up that fight again.

But Seungcheol didn’t feel that fire anymore. He felt something entirely opposite. He couldn’t quite describe what quelled it, or maybe, replaced it. Whatever it was, it’s what compelled him to suggest, “Wanna go grocery shopping with me?”

Jeonghan blinked at him and Seungcheol knew he caught him off guard. “Really? Do we do that now?”

Seungcheol shrugged even though he couldn’t explain why he wanted Jeonghan to say yes so badly. “I’m paying anyway. Don’t want us to starve.”

Jeonghan’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “So you’re sharing your food now?”

Despite how Jeonghan kept deflecting his excuses, he got his keys from the small table next to the door and said, “I’ll share if you go with me.”

Of course, he knew Jeonghan wouldn’t disagree with that. So they spent the night together shopping to restock their food supply. The grocery was nearby and small, but in a calming way, with hardly anyone there this late at night except for a few other students who lived in the area. Jeonghan was in charge of pushing the cart around, and Seungcheol could see he was hesitant to get anything for himself.

“Jeonghan,” he spoke up calmly when he saw the other staring longingly at some bags of chips. “Just get whatever you want. I don’t mind paying for it.”

Jeonghan still looked unmoved, eyes kind of narrowed in the way that didn’t just mean he was unsure but also like he wanted to challenge him. He reached out and grabbed a bag of chips and placed it gingerly into their cart without breaking eye contact.

“Just one?” Seungcheol egged.

Jeonghan didn’t get another bag but instead tilted his chin and eyed him warily. “You’re acting weird,” he stated like he’s only coming to that conclusion now.

“How am I acting weird?” Seungcheol defended, playing curious.

Slowly, like he might be wrong, “You’re being… nice.”

Seungcheol looked at him innocently. “I can’t be nice and expect nothing in return?”

He knew that’s when Jeonghan finally caught on. He knew that struck with Jeonghan about his own behavior as of late. Jeonghan looked away and pursed his lips like he’d been caught. When he made no comment, Seungcheol turned and continued shopping like nothing happened.

But then, right when they were about to check out, Jeonghan left him with the cart and came back with a box of condoms and a bottle of lube.

“We’re almost out,” was his only excuse as he dropped them unceremoniously into the cart, but he was smiling that smile Seungcheol had seen so much lately. The one that usually- no, always led to something else. It made Seungcheol bite his tongue to try and calm his thrumming heartbeat. The cashier eyed them but said nothing. Seungcheol didn’t care, he just wanted to get home already.

When they finally made it back, Jeonghan dropped their grocery bags on the floor without a care, pulled Seungcheol towards him with one hand on the back of his neck and took them to the couch where he proceeded to climb on top of him, knees on Seungcheol’s sides and his hair shrouding their faces as they kissed.

He didn’t mind, Seungcheol thought as he brought his hands up Jeonghan’s sides to bring him closer, their hips meeting making Jeonghan gasp sharply into his mouth. He liked Jeonghan on top of him, and the long haired man was being ever so bold tonight, sliding off him to get the condoms and lube they had just bought because it was closer than going into his room, and promptly going back to pinning Seungcheol down onto the couch.

He helped Jeonghan out of his jeans before saying, “I want you like this.” Rubbing his palms down his bare thighs.

“What,” Jeonghan teased, breathlessly against his lips. “Me on top, doing all the work?”

“No,” Seungcheol corrected, sliding his hand slowly beneath Jeonghan’s shirt and up his spine. He shivered from the light touch. Seungcheol thought of his dreams and whispered softly in Jeonghan’s ear, “You on top, taking control.”

Jeonghan swallowed and looked away, heat spreading on his cheeks. He looked shy suddenly, like he didn’t even consider it. Seungcheol didn’t get a chance to ask him about it, their lips meeting more heatedly now on Jeonghan’s end, his hands gripping hard on Seungcheol’s face and jaw, and they got lost in each other just like that.

Seungcheol ended up taking the initiative later on instead of how he wanted Jeonghan to; he was still on top, but holding onto Seungcheol’s shoulders as Seungcheol prepped him quick, then after, pushing his hips up to fuck into him. Jeonghan was moaning right into his ear and grasping onto him so tightly, cursing on every exhale matching the sound of their skin coming together.

It all felt so careless and raw, and after, when they were both sated and sweaty, Jeonghan leaned into him and mumbled against his shoulder, “Next time.”

“What,” Seungcheol questioned after a few seconds of breathing and processing what he said. Jeonghan moved off him gingerly and stood from the couch.

“Next time,” Jeonghan repeated, stalking off into the bathroom. He glanced over his shoulder, and even with just his shirt on, Seungcheol thought he looked beautiful. “I’ll take control next time,” he clarified, his cheeks tinted red.

Seungcheol felt himself warm up. “No rush,” he called out with a cheeky grin before Jeonghan closed the door.

 


 

It took almost 3 weeks for Jihoon to finally call him.

He hadn’t heard from him at all since the last time they were all together at the studio, when Jihoon had stormed out. He had texted him constantly, asking if the other was okay or if they were going to be back to recording any time soon. Jihoon had clipped and short replies to his texts. ‘ Yeah i’m ok ’ and ‘ no not today ’ were pretty much all he’d gotten in return.

They did share one class together, though Seungcheol hasn’t really seen him attend these past few weeks.

He had tried not to dwell on it, which was easy enough since Jeonghan proved to be a constant way to take something off his mind. He knew whatever Jihoon was going through he could handle on his own, and that if he truly needed anything from Seungcheol, he’d call.

And he finally did.

It was on a late and lazy Friday afternoon. He was laying on the couch, catching up on a few shows, a reward to himself for finishing up all his essays. He heard the door unlock, and when he glanced up, he was faced with a tired looking Jeonghan closing the door sluggishly behind him. Without another word, the long haired man plopped down beside Seungcheol, head immediately leaning against his shoulder.

“Long day?” Seungcheol asked him, bringing a hand to thread his fingers through his hair.

Jeonghan sighed, leaning into his touch. “So long I can’t even figure out how it started,” he replied, his snark not dead yet, and Seungcheol chuckled.

These past few days were once again stressful for them both. Their finals were approaching in the next month, so professors were cramming projects and assignments. Seungcheol knew Jeonghan had even more of a workload than usual due to the play he was practicing for. He wondered how Jeonghan was able to balance it all when lately he himself could barely get through one subject a day.

As Jeonghan ranted off mindlessly about his day, Seungcheol took notice of their comfortable position together.

He had been noticing that in the other lately, how Jeonghan’s been more freely affectionate with him, especially after they’d have sex. He didn’t think of it as the other being clingy, in fact Seungcheol didn’t mind the additional touches and cuddling nowadays.

“... and Jun kept forgetting his lines today, it was a mess,” Jeonghan ended with a sigh. 

“Mm,” Seungcheol hummed, noncommittally. He was half paying attention to Jeonghan and half watching his show.

“Yah, you’re not even listening to me,” he heard Jeonghan start to whine.

“Of course I am,” Seungcheol mumbled back. He didn’t need to look at the man beside him to know that Jeonghan was probably pouting.

But of course, he wasn’t expecting the slow graze of a hand on his inner thigh.

Seungcheol tried to remain calm, though his heart started to race a bit. Even though they’ve been fooling around for a while, he still wasn’t over the excitement he’d feel when Jeonghan would make the first move.

This kind of playful fooling around wasn’t anything new between them anymore. These past 2 weeks, sleeping with Jeonghan, he had started to learn what his habits were in bed. It was slowly becoming a growing list of what Jeonghan liked and disliked during sex, whatever could turn him on and what didn’t, and that list was hidden away in the back of his head:

Jeonghan liked having his hair pulled back.

Jeonghan didn’t like it when Seungcheol left too many visible marks on his skin.

Jeonghan liked their banter and longer foreplay.

Jeonghan hated playing too rough and going too fast.

But it wasn’t just a list of dos and don’ts, it meant adjusting himself to Jeonghan’s habits. It meant making sure his grasps weren’t too tight on Jeonghan’s hair, it meant catching himself before he could bite down harder on Jeonghan’s neck. He didn’t mind having to keep these reminders to himself, it was something he had simply gotten used to when it came down to Jeonghan’s preferences.

Sometimes there would be hesitant times on Jeonghan’s end that would make Seungcheol wonder if he was doing something wrong. Each time Seungcheol sucked him off, Jeonghan would turn a dark shade of red and ramble nervously. The face he’d make when he’d climax, Seungcheol had seen various versions at this point. And after, when they’re both spent, he’d notice how affectionate Jeonghan was, always running his hands through his hair and down his chest as he’d try and regain his breathing.

But there was one specific habit of Jeonghan’s that kept Seungcheol on his toes, always wanting more.

Jeonghan liked to tease.

That was obvious enough in his personality. He had seen Jeonghan interact with other students and friends, where he’d egg people on to the point where he’d get what he wanted. His end goal was to rouse up for a reaction, and it was almost always just for his own amusement. Seungcheol didn’t realize that that trait of his followed him to the bedroom too.

It was during this slow Friday afternoon that this habit played out before him.

“If you were listening to me,” Jeonghan whispered in his ear, the hairs on his neck raising slightly. “What was I talking about then?”

“Y’know,” Seungcheol shrugged, leaning into Jeonghan’s teasing. “Your theater class, or something.”

Jeonghan shoved him playfully. “Tsk. You’re just focused on that stupid show.”

“So what if I am?” he replied back, not looking away from the television. “You know I love this show.”

Jeonghan hummed beside him. And before he could think twice, he saw Jeonghan reach for the remote fast enough that he couldn’t grab it. The channel was changed instantly to some random drama.

Seungcheol scoffed. “Jeonghan, c’mon, I was watching.”

He made to reach for the remote, but Jeonghan grasped it firmly in his hand and held it up high above his head. He looked at Seungcheol with raised eyebrows like a challenge.

Jeonghan ,” he repeated, half exasperated and half amused. “Give it.”

“Make me,” he pouted like a child. He had that glint in his eyes.

Seungcheol smirked. He went to grab Jeonghan's wrist, then he tried prying his fingers open but they wouldn’t budge despite Jeonghan laughing below him like the whole thing amused him.

“Since when did you get so strong?” Seungcheol muttered.

“Maybe you’re just getting weak,” Jeonghan tittered, sticking his tongue out.

“Han, stop acting like a little kid and just let me watch TV,” Seungcheol whined. He’d already stooped down to his level.

“Fine, fine. I’ll let you watch, if you can get the remote from me,” Jeonghan said in a sing-songy voice that egged Seungcheol on. But Seungcheol knew what he was really after, he knew just how easily it meant to get the remote out of his hands. 

And he couldn’t believe he was willing to do it.

Seungcheol casually placed his other knee on the couch, across Jeonghan’s waist, placing him on top like a straddle. He heard Jeonghan’s breath hitch as he leaned back, and when Seungcheol grazed his fingers down Jeonghan’s sides, in the dim light coming off the television, he could see the other man’s eyes dilate.

“I won’t give it up this way,” Jeonghan mumbled, looking back up at him. Seungcheol glanced at his hand and saw his grip tightened on the remote, the skin of his palm turning red.

He’d stooped so low that he didn’t think twice in his next action: he let his fingers slide under Jeonghan’s shirt, very lightly tickling the other, and instantly Jeonghan jolted underneath him with a huff. The remote had almost slid out but Jeonghan wouldn’t allow it.

Cheater ,” Jeonghan accused wryly, wiggling slightly beneath him, as if he wouldn’t try to play dirty if their positions were reversed.

Seungcheol felt like whining again, but opted for staying calm and leaning in closer. Jeonghan looked like he was expecting something, and when he was close enough for their noses to touch-

He got distracted. They both did.

It was from the sound of his ringtone piercing through the moment.

It really didn’t help that his ringtone was an upbeat American hip hop song that Hansol had recommended him, the hard beat and cursing English words ruining the moment right away.

“Please don’t pick that up,” Jeonghan said lowly, hefting himself up on his elbows to look at Seungcheol with a glare. His hair fell messily down his neck, ponytail undone, his face still flushed red. He could feel Jeonghan aroused on his thigh.

“It could be important,” Seungcheol said, meeting his glare after finally taking his gaze off Jeonghan’s body.

His phone continued to ring on the coffee table.

Jeonghan whined as he started to pull away. “If you answer that, I’m really not gonna let you watch TV,” he mumbled against his lips.

Seungcheol snickered at him. “Like you were really gonna let me anyway.” He sat up and Jeonghan followed along, his hand clinging onto Seungcheol’s shirt. Seungcheol glanced at his phone, and when he saw Jihoon’s name, he immediately answered it.

“Jihoon? What’s up man, I haven’t heard from you in a while,” Seungcheol spoke carefully. Jeonghan sat beside him with his hand still roaming slightly on his chest and his nose close to the skin of his neck.

“Hey, yeah sorry I haven’t been in touch,” Jihoon’s soft voice answered through the phone.

He was sidetracked from what was supposed to be a conversation with his friend by Jeonghan’s hands lowering to his sweatpants once again, and Jeonghan’s teeth slightly grazing his earlobe. He pulled his phone away from him for a second to scold Jeonghan but he didn’t really sound mad at him and his actions. “I’m trying to talk on the phone here.”

Jeonghan simply smiled at him, wickedly. “Go ahead, just act like I’m not here.” Then proceeded to kiss his cheek and down his neck. Seungcheol huffed at him, but brought a hand to the back of Jeonghan’s neck just to silently let him know he wasn’t against this.

When he placed his phone back on his ear, Jihoon was still talking. “-been a rough couple weeks, but-”

“What, sorry Jihoon, can you say that again?” Seungcheol cut him off mid sentence and tried to play it off like he had had trouble hearing him but was really focusing on Jeonghan. His face started to heat up as it finally sunk in that he was in this kind of situation.

Jihoon didn’t sound like he had noticed it, but he did sound hesitant when he said, “I said Soonyoung and I are moving in together.”

It was enough for Seungcheol to freeze up. “Wait- wait what ?”

Jeonghan’s actions stopped from his reaction.

“Yeah. Is it that hard to believe?” He almost couldn’t recognize his best friend’s tone. “We decided to get our own place, kinda midway to campus and affordable. We were wondering if you or Jeonghan- hell if both of you can come and help us out with the moving, cuz you’ve got your car. We can pay for pizza afterwards if you need more incentive.”

Seungcheol swallowed down a stutter, “Uh, yeah we’ll check our schedules. Just…” He didn’t want to talk about this while Jeonghan was right beside him but he felt like this was his only chance. “Moving in together... That’s kind of a big step, don’t you think?” he asked his friend, his voice getting soft and hesitant.

He felt Jeonghan stiffen beside him and his hand gone from his chest. When he glanced at him, Jeonghan was silent, though his eyes were wide.

“Had to happen at some point, right?” He could practically see Jihoon shrugging. He wished they were having this conversation in person so he could assess if Jihoon was even okay.

Seungcheol bit his lip in slight worry. It all sounded rushed and off, not adding up with the behavior he had seen from his friends the last time they had met. He didn’t get the chance to comment on it, Jihoon continued without letting him say another word about it.

“Anyway, it’s mostly my stuff we’re moving, all of it is packed, we just need a little extra help. Maybe tomorrow, if you’re both free?”

“Okay,” Seungcheol agreed slowly, but he felt dazed.

“Great, thanks again Cheol.” He heard the dial tone and it took him a few seconds to realize Jihoon had hung up on him.

Jeonghan had moved off him, his hands placed on his lap. The mood was gone.

“Sorry about that,” he started. Jeonghan glanced back up at him. “That was Jihoon.”

Jeonghan nodded understandingly. “You were right, it was important,” he commented. “So they moved in together, huh?” he asked, though it sounded more like a wonder than a question.

“Yep,” Seungcheol confirmed, even though he himself still couldn’t wrap his head around it. “He asked if we could help them with the moving tomorrow.” The television was still on, but he didn’t feel like watching anymore.

“Oh,” Jeonghan mumbled with another slow nod. “Yeah of course, we should help them out.”

Seungcheol narrowed his eyes at him. Jeonghan looked like he had something on his mind. He wasn’t looking at him, but at the TV.

Seungcheol took a moment before asking, “Do you... think they’re rushing it?”

Jeonghan hummed, but still didn’t meet his eyes this time. “I can’t answer that for them,” he commented diplomatically. He yawned after. “I’ll head to bed, you should too if we’re gonna get up early to help them move.”

And with that, Jeonghan placed the remote on the table, patted his shoulder and got up to go to his room.

Seungcheol watched his bedroom door close. He sat still on the couch, trying his best to drop the topic of Jihoon & Soonyoung moving in together even though it kept itching in his mind.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t his place to meddle in his best friend’s relationship. He knew that from day one.

He knew it because Jihoon had straight up told him after his third date with Soonyoung, when he marched through the front door of his own apartment uninvited, “Please don’t overanalyze it, Cheol. You may have picked Psych as your last choice of a major, but I know you secretly like it.”

He had jokingly defended himself at the time, “Hey, I hate Psych-“ Jihoon had scoffed. “But, for your sake, I won’t look into it too much. If anything, I think you two are really great together.”

Jihoon’s smile was small and hesitant. “Yeah, I think so too,” he had said quietly.

And Seungcheol had really meant it at the time.

Which was why these past few weeks had been really hard to grasp in his mind.

He thought of it all now, as he held a box of what appeared to be Soonyoung’s workout clothes, walking into the frame of his friends’ new apartment. It was roughly the same size of Jihoon’s old apartment; a somewhat small living room, a kitchen that connected to it that included enough room for a small table. The only real major difference was the one bedroom instead of two.

They’ve been moving things back and forth all morning, already making a total of two trips. Most of the furniture had already been moved. That had been the short work of dismantling a few tables and chairs that they’ve yet to reassemble. They did have to get more help for the one couch and the one mattress that Seungcheol had never seen before.

“It’s from Soonyoung’s place,” Jihoon had told him after they settled the mattress down in the bedroom. “He had the bigger bed so we decided to keep his.”

Seungcheol had nodded, though he still couldn’t get over this weird feeling settling into him. He felt like this was all out of place.

And Jeonghan definitely wasn’t helping.

Since they left the apartment, Jeonghan had been acting strange. He stayed silent through the car ride, only speaking up when Seungcheol asked if he slept okay, a soft “Yeah, I slept alright” in reply.

Once they got to Jihoon’s apartment, Jeonghan was all smiles in greeting the couple. He became energetic and playful as usual with Soonyoung, but Seungcheol didn’t miss the subtle twitch of his eyebrows into a worrisome expression, or the stutters he’d give when Jihoon would tell him what to carry. It irked him to know what Jeonghan didn’t want to tell him.

“I’ll get the last few boxes,” Jihoon said, putting a box down on the couch. Seungcheol nodded, balancing the box he was holding on his knee so he could reach for the keys in his back pocket. He handed them over to Jihoon who thanked him and left.

Seungcheol dropped the box he was carrying in the bedroom, and walking out, he found Jeonghan in the kitchen, taking out a few plates from a box. He didn’t meet Seungcheol’s gaze when he entered the kitchen.

“Hey,” he said lowly, since he knew Soonyoung was in the other room assembling one of the furniture. Jeonghan smiled at him in reply before going back to the plates.

Seungcheol wanted to roll his eyes. He placed a hand on the plates and Jeonghan finally looked at him.

“What?” Jeonghan said, eyes slightly wide.

“What is going on with you?” Seungcheol asked, cutting straight to the point.

Jeonghan blinked, then shrugged. “Nothing’s going on. Why?”

“You seem a little tense.”

Jeonghan let out a short breath of laughter. “I’m fine, Cheol.”

Still, Seungcheol didn’t let go of the plates. “I know you are.”

Jeonghan raised his eyebrows. “But?”

 “But if you knew something was up, you’d let me know, right?” Seungcheol asked, before deciding being vague about it wasn’t the right way to go. “Like if you knew… if something was going on with Soonyoung and Jihoon?”

But Jeonghan didn’t budge. Instead, he sighed. “Cheol, I don’t know what’s going on with them. But I think them moving in together is a great idea.”

If it weren’t for the strong grip Jeonghan had on the plates, Seungcheol would have believed him without any other suspicion.

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“I don’t have to,” Jeonghan shot back, leaning in dangerously close. “‘Cuz I know you’ll drop it.”

Seungcheol caught on right away and eyed him. “You can’t do that,” he accused.

“Do what?” Jeonghan asked innocently, his voice just as low.

“Distract me from the topic by being all,” he paused. “Attractive.”

Jeonghan smiled coyly. “Cheol, I’m not doing anything right now but talking to you. Are you saying that’s all it takes to turn you on?”

Seungcheol felt Jeonghan’s fingers slightly brush his own on top of the plates.

Damn him, Seungcheol thought bitterly. Of course Jeonghan knew how to persuade him.

“That’s not fair, Han,” he complained, even though he knew his lips were slowly turning up at Jeonghan’s antics.

And by the way Jeonghan glanced down at his own lips, he knew the other was affected too.

“I don’t play fair,” he whispered, before letting their lips touch softly, teasing just like their words.

And it was so easy to get caught up in Jeonghan’s teasing that he entirely forgot where they were.

Oh my god !”

Instantly, Seungcheol tore himself away, accidentally knocking the plates together in the process. They didn’t break, but the sound was enough to jolt them both-

Besides, of course, Soonyoung standing at the door frame of the kitchen, eyes wide and mouth wide open which was slowly turning into a very wide grin.

Shit , Seungcheol cursed in his head, glancing nervously at Jeonghan who stood frozen and shocked, cheeks starting to turn pink. Shit, shit -

“Soonyoung-“

“I knew it. I fucking knew it!” Soonyoung interrupted, loudly almost shouting now. “Why didn’t you guys tell us! More importantly, why didn’t you tell me ! Oh my god this is incredible -“

“Soonyoung-“ Seungcheol tried, but just got cut off by Soonyoung rushing to them, hands already on each of their shoulders.

“You know how long I’ve waited for you two to happen? Months , man! You two have more chemistry than most reality shows!”

Soonyoung ,” Seungcheol tried again, raising his voice over his friend.

Soonyoung finally paused, though the grin was still strong on his face. “What? I’m happy for you two, alright? I’m a hardcore supporter, sue me.”

“We aren’t anything, Soonyoung,” Jeonghan blurted out, face still heated and eyes averted.

Soonyoung’s grin fell from his face quick. “ What ?”

Seungcheol slowly registered that he hadn’t been planning to say that, even though it was technically true. He just didn’t realize that he was supposed to confirm that.

So, despite the strange wave of guilt settling into him as Jeonghan glanced up at him, he spoke up, “He’s right. We’re not dating.”

Soonyoung crossed his arms, accusatory but confused. “What the hell was that then?”

Jeonghan was still looking at him, eyebrows raised slightly, and Seungcheol answered for them. “We’re just… fooling around.”

Some part of him wanted to feel embarrassed for even saying that. He wasn’t in high school anymore, but the words made him feel like he was. But there was no other way to define what he and Jeonghan were.

Even if Jeonghan’s gaze fell from his and didn’t look back up again.

“Listen, Sooyoung,” Seungcheol cut him off before he could question them even further. He knew his chest was aching from all the tension, but he didn’t have the time to figure out exactly why. Right now, he needed damage control. “ Please , I’m begging you, don’t tell Jihoon, okay?”

“Why shouldn’t I?” Soonyoung bit back. “He’s gonna find out anyway.”

“If he does, I’d rather it’s ‘cuz I’d told him myself. Can you keep this to yourself until then?”

Soonyoung gave him a pitying look. “Oh Cheol. You really don’t know me that well, do you?”

 


 

“You two are sleeping together ?”

Seungcheol sighed. Jihoon’s arms were crossed as he leaned against the car, looking all levels of disappointed.

It really didn’t take long for Soonyoung to spill it. He tried his best to promise not to tell but once Jihoon got back with the last boxes, only a few tense minutes of silence had passed before Jihoon immediately realized that something was wrong.

“What,” Jihoon had asked, genuinely curious as he placed a box down. Seungcheol had shot glances at a very obviously nervous Soonyoung. “Why do you have that look on your face, Soon?”

“Nothing, nothing,” Soonyoung had shook his head. And then he had muttered in one breath, “I was just wondering if you’d get mad that I moved the bed beside the window and also these two are sleeping together now.”

“... What ?”

And that had done it.

Soonyoung made up some quick excuse to go back into the bedroom and keep working on putting together the furniture there. Seungcheol didn’t want to know what Jeonghan’s reaction was, feeling like Jihoon’s pointed stare at him was something that froze him over. Instead he asked Jihoon if they could talk away from this.

Here the two were now, standing next to Seungcheol’s car, and Seungcheol still couldn’t process how he felt, nor what one of his closest friends was about to tell him.

He took a while before replying to him, “Does it matter if we are?” Because he’d been meaning to ask him that for a while now.

Jihoon shrugged, but his expression gave away the fact that he already knew the answer to that question. “I don’t know, Cheol. Are you two dating? Is it serious?”

A heavy feeling weighed in his chest that he chose to ignore. “No, we’re not dating, and it’s not serious Jihoon,” he answered, and it started to sound repetitive saying it out loud.

“Then of course it matters,” Jihoon said like it was the most obvious thing.

Seungcheol bit down his will to fight and took his time to say as civil as he could, “We set up boundaries and rules, it’s all mutual.”

Jihoon waited expectedly for him to say more about it, and so he did.

“Look I know what you're gonna say, okay,” he continued, not able to stand Jihoon’s silence. “But Jeonghan’s not like that, we’re both not looking for something serious anyway, we just want to relax a bit from all the stress this term. I know you’re worried I’m gonna fall too hard for him and-”

“That wasn’t what I was worried about,” Jihoon cut him off, his voice surprisingly the most patient Seungcheol has ever heard him be.

“What is it then?” Seungcheol asked, knowing his voice raised a bit because he couldn’t hold it in anymore. “Why are you so upset about all of this?”

Jihoon paused, looking back at the entrance of his new apartment. Then, slowly like he was talking to a child, “Cheol, I’m afraid Jeonghan’s gonna get hurt from this.”

Seungcheol felt a strange wave of what he could only call betrayal wash over him.

What ? You’re worried about me hurting Jeonghan?” Seungcheol finally scoffed out. “Jihoon, I’m being so careful, both of us are. Hell, we don’t even fight anymore. And he has the choice to just leave or end it if he wants to, I’m not gonna stop him.”

Jihoon sighed like this conversation had been a long time coming. “You don’t get it, Seungcheol. I know the kinds of people you fall hard for, and I know when you deny they’re falling for you too. And you wanna know how I know? Because you always break it off as soon as it becomes way too obvious to you. They start getting really clingy because they think you’re serious about them, and when you realize that, you become so cold and distant that they’re the ones that break it off with you. You have the gall to come to me and wonder what the hell you did wrong and how you could have made them stay. And then you go off and find someone else, and the cycle repeats itself.

But it seems to me that Jeonghan doesn’t know any of that. It seems like Jeonghan’s not going anywhere anytime soon.”

Seungcheol felt his heart pounding from all of the unresolved memories and emotions he thought he had hidden away, from his one-night stands to people he had dated, now brought back up to the surface again just from Jihoon’s accusations. It made him wonder whether Jihoon should write his Psych papers for him if he was this observant.

But he didn’t want to believe it. He didn’t want to overthink any of this. Because it should be easy.

Being with Jeonghan made it feel so fucking easy.

So he ignored the fact that his voice was shaky as he finally said, “You don’t know that he has any serious feelings for me, Jihoon.”

“He’s wearing your shirt, Cheol!” Jihoon points out. “Don’t think I didn’t notice when I know you got that shirt at the concert we both went to.”

“That’s not-“ Seungcheol paused, pursed his lips hard only because he himself didn’t notice Jeonghan wearing his shirt. He didn’t notice anything that would make him even think in the slightest that Jeonghan was developing any feelings for him.

Jihoon continued, “I just don’t want Jeonghan to get so attached only for you to turn him down. He may not want to be friends anymore if you do.”

“I can’t believe you have such little faith in me and in Jeonghan,” he muttered. “You’re assuming so much of us when none of that might even happen.”

Jihoon looked at him, tired, pity in his eyes. “I’m not telling you what to do, Cheol. I’m just worried about him and you. I mean, I’m more upset that you were both keeping this a secret from me.”

And from that, Seungcheol felt it in him break, like a twig snapping.

He glared back at his friend. “Really. You're saying that right now?”

“What do you mean?”

He felt the weight of these past weeks, the radio silence from Jihoon, how hypocritical it was for Jihoon to say that to him, all become too fucking much.

“Jihoon, you can’t honestly tell me you’re seriously moving in together with Soonyoung.”

Jihoon blinked, caught off guard by this sudden change in topic. “ What ?”

Seungcheol ran a hand through his hair, frustrated. “You haven’t spoken to me about whatever’s been going on between you two in weeks. And now, just out of nowhere, you’re alright and moving in together? I know for a fact that’s the last thing you want, Hoon.”

Seungcheol knew not to meddle, he knew that.

He also knew, after years of being familiar with Jihoon’s struggle of opening up to people, that if he didn’t push Jihoon, nothing would be said at all, and Jihoon would end up trying to fix things on his own. 

So it didn’t come as much of a shock when Jihoon pursed his lips, as if he was holding back from lashing out. “You don’t know what I want, Seungcheol,” he muttered, finally. “And I don’t need you breathing down my neck, ready to jump at the chance to fix every single problem Soonyoung and I have. We’re doing just fine.”

Jihoon didn’t give him any time to respond and defend himself. Instead, he grabbed the last box from the trunk, slamming it shut. “Thanks for all your help, but I think you and Jeonghan should go. Soonyoung and I can take it from here.”

He turned to Seungcheol one last time before stalking off. “Enjoy it while it lasts, Cheol.”

Seungcheol watched his friend go, his heart still beating wildly from anger and frustration. He wanted to punch something, his fingernails dug into his palm as he kept clenching his fist. He hated fighting with Jihoon because their fights never got resolved easily, both of them too prideful to take the first step to apologize. 

But he didn’t want to let go of his ground either. He and Jeonghan had every right to do whatever the fuck they wanted. They didn’t need feelings, they didn’t need to get attached.

Yet, as he saw Jeonghan pass Jihoon by at the end of the steps of the apartment complex, Seungcheol took in the sight of him, and couldn’t stop thinking.

Jeonghan stood there, his shirt hanging on his shoulders, the faded print of Super Junior’s concert logo contrasting slightly against the black color. Seungcheol doesn’t recall giving Jeonghan his shirt, and that alone should probably worry him.

But Jeonghan looks back at him, concern in his eyes.

Seungcheol watched him and thought bitterly, He’d tell me if he ever started to feel anything from us sleeping together, right?

He wasn’t sure of the answer. And that brought about a fear he didn’t want to focus on. Not when Jeonghan was walking up to him now, rubbing his arm almost nervously.

Jeonghan started slow, like walking on a tightrope. “Is everything.. alright?” he asked softly.

Seungcheol didn’t even know how to respond. He wanted to be honest, because he knew he should be to Jeonghan. Instead some instinct of his made him shake his head.

“They don’t need our help anymore,” he sighed out, suddenly feeling very tired. “Let’s just head back h-” he stuttered on the word. “-back to the apartment.”

Home , he thought, and he was about to say it so easily. But he shouldn’t, it wasn’t something to dwell on right now.

Jeonghan nodded without another comment and got into the car. Seungcheol did the same and they drove off. He didn’t turn on the radio, his thoughts louder than any music that could have drowned them out.

Once they entered the apartment, Jeonghan finally voiced out his concern.

“Seungcheol,” he said into the quiet, tense air, still so careful. “Does it really matter if they know?”

Yes , Seungcheol thought, painfully.

Because having people know meant that what they had, what they were doing, was real. That he couldn't hide inside that small bubble of denial that he had been in these past three weeks.

“No,” he lied, his voice strange and just as quiet. “I guess it doesn’t.”

Jeonghan’s look was a foreign mix of pity and confusion, eyebrows furrowed as he cast his eyes to the floor in thought. Then, like a switch, he came closer to him, hesitant but with something in mind.

“I’m sorry you and Jihoon got into an argument about this,” he mumbled, hand meeting his own wrist, his touch gentle. “I hate seeing you so upset.”

It wasn’t a hug or a kiss, but somehow Seungcheol felt so much comfort of having Jeonghan in his space, already much lighter than earlier. He returned the touch, curling their fingers together.

“Don’t worry about it,” he told him. It was his own burden to carry, not Jeonghan’s. He was the one that got them into this whole thing in the first place.

Jeonghan shrugged one shoulder like he was still nervous. “Still… I wanna do something to make you feel better.”

“Han,” Seungcheol halted, heart pumping as Jeonghan raised his other hand to his chest. Knew where this would lead, and selfishly wanted to take it.

But he paused, because it needed to be said.

“You don’t have to,” he whispered into their close space.

Jeonghan simply smiled, shyly. “I want to,” he replied. He raised his hand to Seungcheol’s cheek, gaze not wavering. “Can I?”

Seungcheol knew he was helpless, drawn in by that smile. Leaned into Jeonghan’s touch because he knew he could.

He let Jeonghan lead them to his bedroom, an already familiar walk. Closed the door behind him and met Jeonghan’s bright eyes.

It was all autopilot from there; hands dragged down Jeonghan’s waist slowly as their lips met, Jeonghan’s lips so soft against his own.

They moved in sync together. Seungcheol buried his hands in Jeonghan’s hair making him gasp. He deepened their kiss at this chance, Jeonghan’s grip around his neck tightening.

Jeonghan pulled away to catch a breath, and Seungcheol took that to gradually latch onto as much skin as he could, kissing down from his jaw to his neck with the trained patience of having done this so many times. Grazed his hands down Jeonghan’s shirt, and when Jeonghan was about to help him take it off, he stopped his hands.

Jeonghan looked at him, puzzled. But Seungcheol didn’t care to explain himself, and instead was the one who led them to his bed.

He didn’t want to have a plan in mind. He just wanted to be here, Jeonghan warm and right in his arms. Slow kissing leading to flushed cheeks and bright red lips. Intimate, close enough that their breaths mixed with every soft exhale.

“Mm,” Jeonghan reacted to his touch, down his chest and lower, he began unbuttoning his pants. Jeonghan toyed with the hem of Seungcheol’s shirt. “Aren’t I supposed to be the one making you feel better?”

Seungcheol nipped at his bottom lip. “You are.”

Jeonghan stifled his laugh, cut short by Seungcheol’s grasp on him. He kissed him again, swallowing any other comment Jeonghan might make.

Seungcheol knew Jeonghan’s preference by now; light touches on taut skin. He lubed up his hand with his spit so that his touch was less painful. Jeonghan moaned into his shoulder when he put his hand back on his cock, stroking him slow in that way he knew Jeonghan liked.

“Cheol,” Jeonghan breathed against his shoulder. Seungcheol felt him quiver in his arms, one hand clutching onto Seungcheol’s shirt.

Seungcheol took his time with him, working him up to climax, and Jeonghan gave that time to him.

And when it was over, spent on Seungcheol’s hand, Jeonghan sighed against his lips. His own hand wandered to Seungcheol’s navel, but Seungcheol caught it with his clean hand and brought it to his lips, grazing against the soft skin of his fingers. He didn’t need any more than this.

Jeonghan viewed him through the haze of his eyelashes, brows furrowed slightly like he couldn’t understand it.

“You’re always so good to me, Cheol,” he whispered, fingers tightening in his grasp. “I don’t know why you don’t want more from me.”

Seungcheol kissed him instead of answering, because no words came to him that could ever explain why. He was aroused but he didn’t want sex, didn’t want to feel good about any of this.

All he wanted was Jeonghan in his arms, happy and pliant. All he wanted was to hold onto him a little longer.

But as Jeonghan rested his head back onto his chest, his breathing evening out slowly, Seungcheol realized that may not always be the case between them. He had no idea if this should go on any longer, and if anything Jihoon accused him of today was true, then it won’t be long until either one of them falls.

I can't have this , he thought painfully, closing his eyes and letting the tiredness of the day finally wash over him. I can't have him.

Chapter Text

Seungcheol couldn't figure out when their unspoken rules started getting broken.

Maybe it all started when he woke up the next morning. They had both fallen asleep after fooling around that day they had helped Jihoon and Soonyoung move. Seungcheol had woken up in the middle of the night to Jeonghan trying and failing to slip quietly out of his arms.

“What…” he mumbled, still half-asleep.

“Sorry,” Jeonghan whispered back, starting to sit up. “I fell asleep here, I’ll just head back to my room.”

“Why bother when you’re gonna get up in a couple hours?” he said instantly without thinking, not letting go of Jeonghan’s hand. “Stay here, I don’t mind.”

“I…” Jeonghan trailed off. Seungcheol couldn’t see his expression in the dark. “Okay.”

He laid back down beside him, but kept some distance between them. Seungcheol went back to sleep, too tired to comment on it.

But he should have.

He didn’t realize until later, when he woke up again with Jeonghan completely gone from his bed and already out of the apartment to his classes, that up until that moment, not once had they ever slept together since they started sleeping together.

To him, it should have been an unspoken rule, one that he followed to the dot when he was in his first year of college: Never spend the night.

Spending the night with someone that was only meant to be a hook-up meant that you’re either completely exhausted and drunk or you’re sober enough to know that there was at least one thing you couldn’t let go of. He’d fallen victim to breaking that rule, and had had the same happen to him too.

But it was easier then. He’d wake up the next morning, leave and not call, or he’d let his hook-up know not to linger around too long in his apartment. It was harder to follow now that the person he’s sleeping with lived in the same apartment unit as him.

So he ignored how much the rule irked him. He just got carried away by how tired he was, emotionally and physically, by what had happened the day before. So what if they had fallen asleep after fooling around in the same bed? That wasn’t going to change anything.

He convinced himself of that, just like with anything when it came to Jeonghan.

But then, a few days later, he came back to the apartment after a particularly stressful day. He had gotten back a low grade on his essay and got upset with his professor about it, and once he opened the door, he found comfort in Jeonghan far too quickly. He met his lips just as eagerly, and they both said nothing when Seungcheol led them to his room.

It was different than their other times together. He went a lot rougher than he should have, pulled on Jeonghan’s hair a little tighter than usual, but Jeonghan didn’t speak up, didn’t use their safeword to stop him if it was all too much. And after, Jeonghan stayed laying beside him on his bed.

He didn’t question why he was stressed out, or why he wasn’t telling Jeonghan to go back to his own room. Instead he leaned into Seungcheol’s touch in his hair, combing through his locks gently just ‘cause he felt guilty for being so rough on him. He needed something to hold onto to ground him from his high. Jeonghan had one hand on Seungcheol’s chest, as if he was trying to calm him down.

They had fallen asleep just like that.

When he had woken up this time, Jeonghan still hadn’t left. And Seungcheol got the chance to reminisce to the first time they slept together, full of regret and drunken thoughts. But this time when the sun slipped slightly through the curtains, he didn’t feel that same guilt within himself anymore. He took his time to savor the serene appearance of Jeonghan, still stolen away by sleep, his long locks of hair spread across the pillows and his eyelashes brushing his cheeks as he breathed in slowly.

Jeonghan stirred awake immediately from the soft sound of his alarm. Seungcheol didn’t know he was such a light sleeper. He watched Jeonghan rub his eyes with his hands, stretching slightly before turning to Seungcheol.

“Good morning,” he whispered, smiling slightly.

Seungcheol felt his chest clench and couldn’t figure out why.

Ignoring it, he brought a hand to graze the soft skin of Jeonghan’s cheek, and Jeonghan leaned into his touch.

“I gotta get to class soon,” he continued to whisper, but didn’t make any move to get up. Seungcheol hummed in reply, knowing what he wanted from what went unsaid.

Their lips met unhurriedly, hands roaming lazily down his chest. They really didn’t have much time, Seungcheol knew from Jeonghan’s messy schedule, but he didn’t stop the other’s actions. He didn’t stop mouthing at his neck and lower down. He didn’t stop Jeonghan wrapping his lips around his already hard cock, taking his time sucking him off.

Seungcheol moaned from the pressure building in his lower region. Took one hand to fist the sheets under them, and the other to thread through Jeonghan’s hair. Jeonghan’s tongue was slick with spit as he went, and he used his own hand to stroke himself in that slow gradual way that Seungcheol knew he liked.

He gave into all of it, let himself enjoy this languid morning of sex, and tugged one last time on Jeonghan’s hair as a warning for when he felt himself go over the edge.

He watched Jeonghan get himself off, letting out a soft groan as he climaxed. Jeonghan laid his head atop Seungcheol’s thighs as he caught his breath, and when Seungcheol petted his hair, softer this time, Jeonghan laughed, his eyes opened with clear mirth.

He leaned over and they kissed, and Seungcheol could taste himself on Jeonghan’s lips. He couldn’t help but grin. Jeonghan’s amusement was always contagious to him.

“I really gotta go now,” Jeonghan mumbled, still smiling. “I’ll see you later though.”

Seungcheol nodded, and he watched as Jeonghan quietly got out of bed, picking up his boxers and whatever shirt was on the floor. He knew his smile slipped a little when he realized it was one of his own shirts yet again, but he still ended up not saying anything. He just watched Jeonghan slip out the door.

Once he was alone, he thought about what just happened. He had never woken up this way before, even with his past relationships; with someone in his bed, warm and comforting, giving him head to ease away the tiredness from the night before. Strangely enough, he thought, he liked it.

Seungcheol knew he should have stopped all of it. Should have told Jeonghan to go to sleep in his own room, on his own bed, and that they had boundaries. But he really couldn’t find it in himself to care that they were playing with these boundary lines like they were jump ropes.

So he let Jeonghan sleep beside him that night and the next, and so on. He let this one unspoken rule be broken and told himself it didn’t mean anything.

 


 

“Dude, can you knock it off.”

“Sorry,” Seungcheol muttered to his seatmate. The pen in his hand now stilled from being hit on the table, but his fingers still fidgeted. It wasn’t out of nervousness, but more of not being able to focus on anything else.

He could see Jihoon sitting a couple rows down from him.

It was the first time he'd seen him back to class. He had entered a little late, coffee in one hand and black hair more ruffled up than usual. Seungcheol wasn’t too far away to notice the bags under his eyes. The seat on his right had been vacant, but Jihoon didn’t meet his glance and chose to sit elsewhere instead of next to him like he normally did.

Seungcheol had watched him do that, felt that hurt sink in, and now he couldn’t concentrate on whatever math equations were being talked about. 

He was torn. He was still upset over what Jihoon had said, but he didn’t want Jihoon to think he didn’t care about whatever issue was going on with him and Soonyoung. It had been building up and avoided for far too long now, and he knew he raised the topic up at the wrong time with the wrong words.

As if there was a better way to phrase that Jihoon rushing to move in with Soonyoung was just out of character, and probably too soon for both of them. Still, he could have chosen a better time to bring that up, but since Jihoon kept provoking him, he just couldn’t hold it in any longer.

And now they’re here, at a painful stalemate.

His professor’s voice cut loudly through his thoughts, “Please put your books away, we’re going to have a quiz.”

Just his luck. The equations and process already erased on the board before he could even get a chance.

He put all his focus on his quiz and answered as much as he understood. He needed to talk to Jihoon after this class was done. He knew he wouldn’t get Jihoon’s approval over his and Jeonghan’s arrangement, or even get his forgiveness over what he had said, but he still felt they needed to at least talk about it. It took so much of a toll on him not knowing what Jihoon was going through.

When the quiz was done, and the professor dismissed them, Seungcheol scrambled to get his stuff together before trying to find Jihoon in the dispersed crowd of college students. He saw the back of Jihoon’s head, far ahead of him in the hall, and as he was about to call out his name, his phone started ringing in his pocket.

“Shit,” he muttered to himself, checking the number. It was Jeonghan. He never called, only ever talked to him through texts, so immediately Seungcheol thought this may be important.

He answered it without thinking. “Hello?”

Jeonghan’s hesitant voice cut through static. “H-Hey, is this a bad time?”

Seungcheol looked at the crowd again and realized he had lost sight of Jihoon. His heart sank at the missed chance.

“No,” he lied into his phone. He moved away from the middle of the hall to lean against the wall next to him. “What’s up?”

“Um,” Jeonghan hummed. Seungcheol could hear other voices talking in the background, in what almost sounded like a coffee shop. “Are you gonna be at work today?” he asked.

“Yeah class just let out so I’m heading over there,” Seungcheol answered, and something about the tone of Jeonghan’s voice made him ask, “Is something wrong?”

“No… er, maybe, I don’t know yet,” Jeonghan answered cryptically. “I-I’ll tell you later. My break’s over so I gotta get back to class. I’ll come by the records shop after, is that okay?”

“Yeah of course,” Seungcheol replied right away, and Jeonghan hung up with a quick ‘ Okay, bye ’.

That was strange. Something felt off about Jeonghan, and it irked him as he walked to his car. Before he started up the engine, he tried contacting Jihoon, still not giving up on talking to him. But each call he tried didn’t reach.

He couldn’t believe Jihoon was ignoring him to this extent. It was almost petty, but something Seungcheol already knew was his own defense mechanism too. He typed up a message as his last resort,

saw you in class today. can we please talk?

He waited a few minutes for a reply, but none came. He started up his car and drove off, trying his best not to think about it.

 Already this day was filled with too many things to worry about, and the day was only half done. Jeonghan, Jihoon, his classes, and now work.

He greeted Hansol who was stacking up albums onto the shelves, and got to work on checking inventory. The menial work made his worries lessen after a while, but as much as he wanted to not look at the clock, he did glance at it from time to time, wondering if Jeonghan would still show up. What in the world was bothering him that he needed to meet with him in person right away?

Then, after an hour behind the counter, the small bell hanging from the door rang, and Jeonghan was there.

The first thing Seungcheol noticed was the look on Jeonghan’s face; his eyebrows were furrowed and his eyes were glancing around the place. Seungcheol knew he was nervous about something.

“Hey,” he greeted him. Jeonghan approached the counter quietly.

“Can you take a quick break for a few minutes?” Jeonghan asked. Seungcheol nodded instantly, wanting to get this over with so he could stop worrying about it.

He told Hansol he was taking a five minute break, and led Jeonghan to the storage room, which was the only room in the shop where they could talk privately.

Once the door closed behind him, he was pinned to the wall.

Seungcheol froze up from the rough and sudden contact of lips moving against his own. Jeonghan’s eyes were shut hard, and his nails were digging into the skin of his wrists.

If they were anywhere else, if it were any other time, Seungcheol would have enjoyed this. He would have loved to go a lot rougher with Jeonghan during sex, to have no limit to what they could do together, to get sloppy and needy.

But Seungcheol knew his roommate better now after all that’s become of them these past few months.

He still overpowered Jeonghan in strength, so he grabbed onto Jeonghan’s forearms and pushed him away before things got uglier. His teeth hurt from the strong impact and knew if he let Jeonghan continue, his lips would have been bleeding by now.

“Jeonghan,” he almost scolded, trying to control the volume in his voice. “What the hell.”

Jeonghan, eyes wide open now but not meeting his gaze, just looked incredibly upset, his lips were pursed and he exhaled roughly through his nose, “Seungcheol, please just- don’t question this right now.” His voice shook a bit at the end.

Seungcheol stopped him from pushing himself again. “Han- come on, what’s going on?”

Jeonghan glared at him now. “What, you don’t wanna fuck? That’s all we do right?”

“Not like this,” he defended immediately. He wasn’t one to take advantage when Jeonghan was clearly trying to force this to happen.

Jeonghan backed away from him, shoving Seungcheol’s grasp off him. He sat on one of the boxes, shoulders slumped, and brought a hand to his eyes. He looked defeated and troubled by whatever was going on with him. 

Seungcheol felt lost. He’d never seen Jeonghan this upset before. He tried urging him gently, “Just talk to me, what’s wrong?”

Jeonghan pressed his palm to his eyes before shaking his head. “It’s nothing.”

Seungcheol wanted to roll his eyes. “It’s obviously something if you’re acting out like this.”

“It’s stupid.”

Jeonghan .”

The man in question ran a hand through his long hair. He waited a while before finally admitting quietly, “... I’m failing.”

“You’re failing?” he repeated.

Yes ,” Jeonghan grumbled, probably annoyed more than anything. “It’s this damn Economics class that I didn’t even want to take. My prof told me I’ve been slacking in my grades and that I might fail the entire course if I don’t get at least a B-grade on my next assignment.”

“Oh,” Seungcheol blinked, still confused. “Is that all?”

From the way Jeonghan was acting, he’d figure it to be something a little more drastic to get him so upset. Jeonghan had a flare for the dramatic at times, he was an aspiring actor, after all.

Is that all ?” Jeonghan repeated with a scoff. “My stupid ex cornered me today during my break. I got this whole speech about how irresponsible I was being, as if he was the one who broke it off when clearly I did, and the whole point of me moving out here wasn’t just to waste my parents’ money and-“

Jeonghan cut himself off abruptly. One hand on his mouth as if he needed it to stop from continuing his rant. He finally met Seungcheol’s gaze, and Seungcheol knew he was looking back at him with amusement and pity.

“Sorry,” Jeonghan mumbled, a stark difference from his earlier escalating voice. “Just- this day sucks.”

Seungcheol sighed slightly. At this point in their ‘relationship’, if he could even use that word without its implications, he only knew three things about Jeonghan’s past life before he moved in with him: 

First of all, his parents own a business and are probably rich, at least rich enough to afford his whole tuition.

Secondly, his ex-boyfriend is rich and used to buy Jeonghan’s love with expensive gifts.

And now the third fact: that Jeonghan was the one who broke it off with his ex.

He didn’t know why or when they broke up, and he probably shouldn’t want to know. It bugged him though, not knowing much about Jeonghan’s personal life, but then again, their ‘relationship’ wasn’t personal to begin with.

Pushing down his aching curiosity, he said, hopefully as a comfort to Jeonghan, “I can’t tell you it’s gonna get better, that’s just how it is sometimes. And whatever happened with your ex is none of my business, but it sounds like he’s a piece of shit.”

Jeonghan’s lips, finally, tugged upwards in a small smile, and it eased him knowing he wasn’t too upset.

Seungcheol continued, “But, if I can be of any help with your class, I’ll try my best. Maybe I can help you study for your next assignment?”

Jeonghan’s eyebrows raised. “You’d really do that for me?”

Seungcheol shrugged, though there must be some reason why he shouldn’t have offered to do that, shouldn’t be getting closer to Jeonghan at all. It was a reason he just wasn’t seeing now. He simply wanted to help Jeonghan out.

“Why not?” he asked instead.

Jeonghan grinned, and it was a refreshing sight to see instead of the nervous, worrying expression he had moments ago. He stood up and wrapped his arms around Seungcheol’s shoulders in a short embrace.

“Thank you Cheol,” he said softly. Seungcheol’s hands held onto his waist like an impulse he couldn’t control. 

“Sorry again, about earlier,” Jeonghan continued, voice still hesitant, “My mind was all over the place and I just wanted to see you.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Seungcheol reassured him.

Jeonghan gave him a quick but soft peck, almost like another apology. No gnashing of teeth or pain in his lips this time, just the gentleness he knew and liked about Jeonghan.

“I’ll see you back at the apartment,” he said, fully pulling away. Seungcheol nodded, and he watched as Jeonghan grabbed his stuff from the floor and made his way out.

It took a little while later, when he was already closing up the shop, for Seungcheol to realize that Jeonghan, as upset as he was, chose to see him just because he wanted to see him. Jeonghan could have gone and ranted off to any one of his friends, but for whatever reason, Jeonghan chose to come to him.

It was a thought he didn’t know how to feel about.

 


 

“The percentage change in quantity demanded or supplied as a result of a 1% change in price.”

“... Fuck.”

Jeonghan collapsed back onto the bed, frustration clear on his face.

They’d been going back and forth for about an hour now, the time on his phone reading past midnight. They had chosen to study in Jeonghan’s room and took their dinner there too; microwave cup noodles already finished and still sitting on Jeonghan’s desk. Seungcheol’s eyes were starting to strain from the late hour and reading Jeonghan’s writing on his index cards.

So far, the studying hadn’t been going well. Not only did Jeonghan have to memorize formulas and their equations, he needed to be familiar with terms and definitions. Seungcheol learned that while Jeonghan may be stronger in the former, having to remember terms was his weak point.

“I give up, Cheol,” Jeonghan whined as he threaded his fingers through his hair, getting caught in all the knots. “I’m obviously not ready for this exam.”

“C’mon Jeonghan, it’s too soon for you to give up now,” he scolded, rubbing his eyes slightly. “Do you want me to skip this one, or do you want to see your cards again?”

Jeonghan sighed deeply, but opened his palm for the cards.

Seungcheol watched him go through his cards again. He could see the tiredness in Jeonghan’s eyes, but he also saw his persistence. His lips moved but made no sound as he read the words on the cards. He could easily kiss him, and he wanted to. He didn’t know where thoughts like that were coming from, but he was beyond the hour of caring.

Jeonghan caught his gaze and sighed again. “I’m sorry it’s getting late. If you wanna go to sleep already, I understand.”

Seungcheol breathed out through his nose, slowly relaxing himself. “It’s okay, my class doesn’t start until 10 anyhow. I’m more worried about you staying up since you’re waking up earlier.”

Jeonghan shook his head. “I need to get this completely covered. I can’t half-ass this class anymore. I’ll stay up another hour until I get it all memorized.”

“Then I’ll stay up with you,” Seungcheol decided with a nod.

“You don’t have to, Cheol,” Jeonghan insisted weakly.

“Yeah, but I want to,” he replied with more conviction.

Jeonghan gave him that smile that made Seungcheol want to kiss him even more. “You’re weird,” he said.

The comment made him grin. “C’mon, one more round.”

Jeonghan gave him back the deck of index cards, and they got back to studying.

They spent another half hour grinding into the terms, this time switching so Jeonghan had to answer with definitions instead. Every time he got one wrong, he could see Jeonghan’s strength deflate, and it took getting three terms wrong in a row for Jeonghan to give up again.

“Maybe you just need more incentive to memorize,” Seungcheol suggested as Jeonghan groaned into his pillow, suffering. “Let’s make it a game, how’s that sound?”

“A game ?” Jeonghan snorted. He lifted his head to look at him. “How can you make memorizing microeconomic terms and their definitions a game?”

He hummed, thinking it over. “We’ll tally how many you get right and how many you can’t remember. If you get more wrong than right, then you have to let me dye your hair.”

Jeonghan glared at him instantly. “No way, I’m not letting you get dye anywhere near my hair.”

“Ah see, but that’s how high your stakes are,” Seungcheol chuckled, running his hand through Jeonghan’s hair playfully. He imagined that if he got the chance to dye Jeonghan’s hair, he’d definitely choose to bleach it a bright blond. He knew he’d probably have to suffer Jeonghan’s claws and scolding remarks, and of course risk the chance of ruining the man’s hair completely, but it’d be worth it to see him in a different color than his usual brunette.

Jeonghan huffed, allowing the affection. “Well if I get more right, then my reward has to be just as high.”

“Alright, alright,” Seungcheol hummed again, thinking about what could match his stakes.

There has been something itching in his mind for a long while now. Ever since Jeonghan said he’d take control ‘next time’, though nothing like that has ever happened between them since he had said it.

It was a thought he continuously disregarded, only ever coming up whenever they were having sex, or in the middle of the night when he couldn’t fall asleep right away. It was something he truly didn’t know how Jeonghan would respond to, and though that gave him a slight fear, it also put him on edge to find out. 

This moment here, though ridiculous to even suggest, may be the only way to bring it up.

“If you get more right,” he started slowly, still toying with Jeonghan’s hair, though more out of nerves than anything. “I… I’ll let you fuck me.”

He didn’t know what to expect, but nothing could prepare him for the burst of laughter coming out of Jeonghan’s mouth.

“What the heck Seungcheol,” he said in between his giggles.

He tried his best not to pout, but he really couldn’t help it, “Why are you laughing, I’m serious.”

“Yeah right,” Jeonghan’s chuckles became weaker. “As if you actually want to do that.”

“I wouldn’t have suggested it if I didn’t, Han,” he replied, his voice not wavering.

Jeonghan blinked, laughter coming to a full stop.

When he didn’t say anything, Seungcheol spoke up again, “You’ve never even thought about it?”

Jeonghan sat up, suddenly nervous. “ No , no, never,” he stuttered, gesturing to himself. “Seungcheol, I’ve never… I’ve always just been… in this role.”

“Oh c’mon, not even with your ex?” Seungcheol asked, the question finally slipping past his lips.

Jeonghan shook his head minutely. He was looking down at the bedsheets, face starting to heat up slightly.

Seungcheol waited for him to speak, and he did, hesitantly. “He wasn’t the type to…”

“Switch?”

“... communicate,” Jeonghan finished, throwing him off guard. Jeonghan continued with a self-conscious shrug. “We never really talked about what we would do in bed. I’d just go along with whatever he wanted, so he was always taking the lead. I guess I just got used to that and never questioned it. I didn’t really have the chance to think about what I’d want to do.”

It felt strange and almost sad to hear that coming from Jeonghan, someone he thought was so confident in his actions and his words. Sure he was often shy at times, but he never took him as always being a submissive type. Not even in bed, since time and time again Jeonghan’s been bold in showing what he likes in bed. But apparently, that’s not what Jeonghan believed about himself.

He brushed his hand with his own, a gesture only to comfort, and asked him softly, “And would this be something you’d want?”

Jeonghan lifted his eyes from the sheets. He looked almost lost. “I-I don’t know,” he answered, shakily.

Seungcheol felt the guilt wash over him. He squeezed the other’s hand. “That’s okay,” he insisted. “I’m not gonna make you do something you don’t want to.”

Jeonghan still looked unsure, biting on his lower lip slightly, but he nodded. He returned the sentiment and squeezed his hand back.

Seungcheol let the moment happen and pass. He knew Jeonghan was uncomfortable, but he didn’t want him to end the night that way. So he shifted back to their task.

“You wanna keep studying?” he asked, then added quickly, “I’ll drop the whole game thing, I promise.”

Jeonghan nodded again, a slight smile on his face. He took his cards back and studied them again, and Seungcheol let him take his time.

When Jeonghan was ready, they did their final round of both the terms and their definitions, and surprisingly, Jeonghan didn’t get a single one wrong this time.

“Wow, I’m impressed Han,” he praised, giving Jeonghan his index cards back. “See, I knew you could do it! You’re gonna be fine tomorrow.”

“Yeah…” Jeonghan grinned, turning bashful. “Thanks again, Seungcheol, really.”

“It’s no problem,” he replied. Even though it was already almost 2 in the morning, even though he shouldn’t have taken the chance to hang out with him, even though he slightly embarrassed himself by bringing up the topic of switching. It was all worth it in the end, helping Jeonghan and seeing him feel accomplished.

Jeonghan leaned in and kissed him unhurriedly. Slow and unintentional, not leading to anything more than this. He hummed against his lips, enjoying it.

When Jeonghan pulled away, he still had one hand on the back of Seungcheol’s neck. He bit his lip again, looking like he really wanted to say something, before finally he asked, “Have you really bottomed before?”

Seungcheol chuckled, caught off guard from the question. “Yeah, I have. Is that so hard to believe?”

“Have you seen yourself, Seungcheol?” Jeonghan shot back, ridiculously. “I don’t know, you just don’t seem like the type.”

“But I have, I’m not kidding. My first was with this personal trainer at the gym I used to go to, maybe a couple years ago.”

Still shy, but incredibly curious, Jeonghan asked him, “And, um, how was it?”

Seungcheol grinned, knowing and liking that Jeonghan was at least entertaining the idea of them switching.

“It felt strange at first, but then it felt good,” he answered honestly, reminiscing about that first night. His name was one he couldn’t recall correctly, but he remembered seeing him in the gym while he was lifting weights. He had stared a little too long, only because his arms were bare and muscles just the right kind of bulge even at rest. So when the guy finally noticed him, it was pure carnal attraction from that point on.

“He had come up to me at the gym to give me a tip on my form for my weights, I complimented his knowledge, and of course his body too. Next thing I know, I’m going home with him.”

Jeonghan gaped. “Wow.”

Seungcheol took it as a compliment, even though his past was something he never liked dwelling on. The sex was always the only memorable thing that stood out to him from those days. He didn’t like thinking about the bad break ups, the ‘ why haven’t they texted me back ’s. According to Jihoon, he’d already complained enough about those.

“Didn’t know you got around like that,” Jeonghan mumbled, before his face started heating up.

Seungcheol immediately assumed. “Are you worried? I’m clean, I tested.”

“No, no ,” Jeonghan shook his head, cheeks turning even more red. “It’s just that I didn’t realize you were so… chill.”

He furrowed his brows, confused. “What do you mean?”

“You’re always so comfortable with everything you do in bed, but you also know what you want,” Jeonghan clarified, eyes downcast and shy. “I’m just impressed. Maybe a little jealous.”

Seungcheol looked at him, remembered Jeonghan’s drunken confidence the first time they were together, and told him carefully, “Jeonghan, you can do that too, I know you’re capable of it.”

Jeonghan shook his head. “I overthink things,” was all he said. He toyed with Seungcheol’s hand, obviously nervous. Seungcheol understood that; alcohol was called liquid courage for a reason. Jeonghan probably thought that without alcohol, he had no other way of being bold.

“Then don’t think too hard about it,” Seungcheol concluded, letting their fingers intertwine. The answer seemed obvious enough. When Jeonghan didn’t reply, he asked him again, gentle as if stepping on glass, “What is it that you want?”

Jeonghan paused. He watched in silence, took in every detail of him. He thought, he’s never seen Jeonghan look so young, so conflicted, chewing on his bottom lip. When he finally answered, he took in a breath before meeting his eyes, looking up at him through his lashes.

“... I want you,” he whispered. “I want to know how it feels…”

He’d never heard Jeonghan sound more sure.

“Right now?” he asked, just to be safe. Jeonghan nodded, his lips now forming a slow smile. 

Seungcheol knew he was still shy, but he wanted to indulge him in this. He was actually excited about getting to do this; exploring what Jeonghan wants instead of always taking the lead.

Their lips met, soft and hesitant. A stark contrast to just moments earlier where there were no undertones of a second agenda, their kiss changed to something more soon enough. He felt it build up in him, the underlying desperation to keep going, knowing what was coming next.

He let himself get pinned down, his head hitting the pillows. He felt Jeonghan adjust himself on top of him, hands on his face and knees brushing his. His tongue slid against his own, their breaths coming short and heated, needing to pull away to catch more, distance never breaking apart.

“So…” Jeonghan breathed against him. “What now?”

Seungcheol let his hand roam down Jeonghan’s chest and brushed the skin under his shirt. “You got me underneath you,” he told him, grinning. “I think you know what comes next.”

He felt more than saw Jeonghan bite his bottom lip, obviously flustered. So he helped Jeonghan lean back and take his shirt off, having to position himself to sit up so he could take his own shirt off easier. 

He took to kissing down Jeonghan’s neck, finding a nice spot on his collarbone to nip on. He felt Jeonghan shake, felt his hands grip tightly onto Seungcheol’s shoulders. It didn’t take much to realize the man was tense, could sense it in the strain in the muscles on his back. Seungcheol dragged his hand down slowly, in the hopes to calm him.

When it didn’t work, he said against Jeonghan’s skin, “Relax, Han.”

Jeonghan let out a soft scoff. “Easier said,” he mumbled. Still, he took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly. Seungcheol felt fingers comb through his hair, out of nerves more than anything.

“Close your eyes, and don’t think,” he repeated, this time a whisper near Jeonghan’s ear. Seungcheol leaned back to see him, his eyes closed but expression still worried. He asked him again, “What do you want, right now?”

“Want…” Jeonghan shuddered as he brought his hand back down his chest, passing over his nipples that were sensitive to his touch. “I-I want your lips on me,” he stuttered out.

Seungcheol’s fingers grazed the waistband of his jogging pants, down to his crotch. “Here?” he asked, coyly.

Jeonghan nodded, and Seungcheol didn’t continue until the man opened his eyes. He could see all the want and lust in his darkened pupils.

The sight of him only spurred him on to keep going. He dragged the waistband of his jogging pants down, along with his boxers, and helped him take them off completely. Jeonghan’s cock fit warmly in his hand, half-hard from touch and teasing. Jeonghan craned his neck back, moaning slightly.

Since the first time Seungcheol took him in his mouth in the laundry room, they’ve done this only a handful of times. He had gotten a little better at it, taking note of what Jeonghan liked. The man never asked for it directly, so Seungcheol would only suck him off if he felt like it, which wasn’t all the time.

But it was different now. Jeonghan, as much as he could, told him what he wanted. So of course, he was more than willing to do it.

He licked up his shaft, from base to tip, starting off slow. He felt Jeonghan’s fingers back in his hair, nails slightly scraping his scalp, sending pleasing tingles down his spine. Bobbing his head, he swallowed as much as he could and sucked as hard and slow as he could.

Fuck , Cheol,” Jeonghan moaned. A sudden spur of his hips made his cock slide deeper down his throat, and he tried his best not to choke. Seungcheol relaxed, letting Jeonghan thrust in his mouth, savoring the pull of his salty skin on his tongue. He moaned when he finally took him in all the way to his base, nose brushing the soft tufts of hair below his navel.

His eyes had closed without him realizing it, so he sneaked a glance up at Jeonghan’s face and found the man already staring down at him, lips open and panting slightly.

“Touch yourself,” Jeonghan muttered to him. Seungcheol felt his heart stutter, his cock straining at how confident Jeonghan’s voice sounded, as if he was commanding him. 

He couldn’t just disobey an order like that.

He brought a hand to his pants to tug them off before grasping his own cock, stroking himself roughly. He had to pull back until the head of Jeonghan’s cock rested comfortably on his tongue, just so he could gain control of his breathing. He knew Jeonghan was watching him as he dragged his fingers down to the skin below his balls, and lower where he hadn’t been touched in so long.

“W-Wait,” Jeonghan stopped him. He leaned away fully, and Seungcheol watched him bend down to reach for his box under the bed. In his hand appeared the same bottle of lube, now half empty after so much use, and a condom.

Seungcheol couldn’t help but grin, laying back amongst the pillows, knees up as Jeonghan situated himself in between his legs. He could feel Jeonghan’s cock resting hard and taut against his thigh, still wet with his saliva. There were nerves bundled in the pit of his stomach, but the anticipation overpowered it all.

Jeonghan’s hands trembled slightly as he doused two of his fingers with a liberal amount of lube. He hovered over where Seungcheol’s hand still rested below his cock, still hesitating.

Seungcheol pushed himself up by his elbows and leaned in to kiss his cheek. He told him gently, “You’re not gonna hurt me.”

“It’ll hurt a bit,” Jeonghan disagreed, not meeting his gaze. Seungcheol nudged his chin with one finger until Jeonghan faced him.

“I can take it, Hannie,” he assured, using that kind of pet name he knew Jeonghan liked. He hardly ever called him that, and so he knew he got through when Jeonghan started grinning back, though slightly bashful.

Seungcheol took his hand in his and guided him, felt Jeonghan’s lubed fingers prodding against him. He let go, let Jeonghan do it, and when he finally did, he shuddered against him, his forehead resting against Jeonghan’s shoulder.

One finger in, then the next, opened him up slowly but surely. Seungcheol made sure to let Jeonghan know it felt good, that he was doing well, in soft hushed tones as if it was a secret just for him. He knew he was more than ready to feel Jeonghan’s cock inside him, filling him even more than his fingers could.

When he told Jeonghan this, all he got in reply was a reserved moan against his lips, “ Seungcheol .”

They kissed because he knew they couldn’t help it at this point. Knowing and aching for what came next.

Seungcheol gasped when he felt it, the slide of Jeonghan’s cock entering him.

He couldn’t help the groan, couldn’t help all the whispered profanities spilling out of his mouth as he was stretched out. Jeonghan instantly fussed over him about it.

“Are you- Is it-“

Han ,” he shushed. He looked up at him through hooded eyes, grounding his hips against Jeonghan’s and letting him slide in deeper. Jeonghan moaned at the suddenness and he stopped stuttering over his words.

“It’s good,” he assured quietly, like it was a secret. And he didn’t stop assuring him of that, even when he started to moan as Jeonghan moved, his thrusts immensely slow but still enough to make him eager to want more.

He let Jeonghan take over, let him set the pace at his own pleasure. It felt so overwhelming to be filled again, to feel this sort of warm body on top of him.

“Cheol, you’re so-“ Jeonghan panted into his neck. Seungcheol lifted his hips up to meet his thrusts, letting him in even more. “I-I’m so close.”

Seungcheol couldn’t take it. He dragged his fingers around where they were connected before bringing his hand to his aching cock. As if they weren’t already close enough, Seungcheol pulled him closer by his nape, lips on his like he wanted them to share breaths.

And this, this moment, how Jeonghan’s lips felt against his own, how Jeonghan looked as he came, all of it felt incredibly different than any other moment they’d shared before.

There was no time to dwell on it as the full impact of his climax washed over him.

 


 

Sudden movement woke him from his deep and peaceful sleep. It took him a while to focus in the half-lit room, but when he did he finally registered in his head that it was just Jeonghan rushing to get changed.

Seungcheol knew it was still far too early in the morning to get up yet. So he stayed laying upon the cotton sheets, watching Jeonghan move around his room. The soft sunlight started to wave through the curtains, making Jeonghan’s figure look almost ethereal.

He couldn’t quite stifle his yawn, which led to Jeonghan finally noticing him.

“Hi,” he said, placing his backpack down on the floor. He sat on the edge of the bed beside him. “I was just about to leave.”

Seungcheol couldn’t help but smile at him. “Good luck on your assignment.”

Jeonghan blinked. He bit his bottom lip, that same old habit Seungcheol knew signaled something he was too nervous to say out loud.

“Thank you,” Jeonghan said instead. By the way he said it, and the way he was looking at him, Seungcheol knew he wasn’t just thanking him for wishing him luck. He felt warm at the thought, and warmer still when Jeonghan placed a hand on his cheek and leaned in to kiss him.

He let Jeonghan go not shortly after, and fell back asleep.

When he woke up again, this time to the familiar sound of his alarm, he realized he was still in Jeonghan’s room.

He hadn’t really visited the inside of Jeonghan’s room much since he moved in. It was always about having sex and falling asleep in his own room. He didn’t really find the need to go into Jeonghan’s room, that was his own personal space.

He took the time now to see that Jeonghan didn’t really change much about the room since he moved in. The walls were still white and bare of any posters or photographs. His closet door was closed, unlike Seungcheol’s open closet where most of his clothes were spilled out. Even his desk was neat and orderly, papers and books stacked to the side, their cup noodles from last night already thrown away.

He couldn’t help but feel comfortable, still laying in Jeonghan’s sheets that smelled like him. There was a subtle ache in his lower back, and he pursed his lips remembering the night.

Jeonghan was… different from the times he had been fucked in the past. Just like how Jeonghan loved it slow when he was on the receiving end, in that same way, he gave him back that slow dragging pleasure. With his past lovers, it had always been rough and fast, and that would be it.

Jeonghan once again proved to be a refreshing change in pace. It felt incredibly good, but definitely something to get used to.

His chest felt something at the thought that they might do it again in the future.

It was a pressure that didn’t leave him despite getting up and getting ready for the day. He made sure to fold Jeonghan’s sheets as neat as he could before showering and changing, stopping at the nearest cafe to grab a bagel and a cup of coffee.

He sat down in his class, though somewhat gingerly shifting in his seat. He greeted Wonwoo, and ignored any comment about Jeonghan (though he knew his ears heated up at the question). He glanced at his phone only once to see that Jihoon still hadn’t replied to him, and so he ignored that and focused on his class.

He focused on the menial work when he got to the record shop, and enjoyed chatting with Hansol about the latest idol news. 

And by the time he closed up shop and got back to the apartment, he still couldn’t stop thinking about it. Not even when he prepared instant noodles yet again, turned on his usual show, and lounged on the couch.

His mind, without any will of his own, couldn’t stop wandering back to last night.

He almost wanted to get off to it, just thinking about how Jeonghan looked on top of him, having his way with him. But why do that when he could just wait for Jeonghan to get back from his classes and give it to him again. He bit his bottom lip, glancing at the front door.

He was startled when it unlocked and swung open. As if he summoned him, there was Jeonghan, already taking his jacket off and closing the door behind him.

“Hey,” Seungcheol greeted, ignoring the heat in his ears and muting the TV. “So? How did it go?”

Jeonghan sighed, and Seungcheol felt his heart sink.

“I took my assignment online today for my class, so I got the results right away,” he said, face fallen and voice sad.

Seungcheol prodded carefully, “And?”

Suddenly, Jeonghan broke the facade and started to grin. “I passed.”

Seungcheol let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “Yah! You scared me! You had me thinking you failed!”

“I’m an actor Cheol! What did you expect?” Jeonghan chuckled, sitting beside him. “Just wanted to mess with you. I’m actually really happy I passed.”

Seungcheol smiled. “Well, I’m happy you’re happy. I knew you could do it.”

“Thank you Cheol,” Jeonghan told him for the second time of the day. He was expecting the kiss that came with it, sweet and slow, filled with way too many possibilities.

Jeonghan pulled away before it could lead to more. “Do you wanna go out tonight?” he asked. “Get drinks and celebrate?”

He didn’t know why his breath shortened at the question. “Sure,” he answered instantly.

“Great,” Jeonghan said, getting up and grabbing his phone from his bag. “I’ll call up Jun and Minghao, see if they wanna join.”

“O-Oh, yeah sure, of course,” he stammered. Jeonghan didn’t notice, already heading to his room with his phone to his ear.

He didn’t know why he thought it would just be the two of them. He really shouldn’t have thought that at all.

A knock on the door broke his train of thought.

He didn’t know who was knocking on their door, in the late afternoon on a Friday. It could have been anyone; probably a package Jeonghan had ordered online, or maybe their landlord with some kind of complaint or this month’s rent.

When he opened the door, it wasn’t someone he thought of.

“Soonyoung,” he greeted, startled by his appearance.

“Hey,” Soonyoung replied with a grimace, leaning against the doorframe.

He looked sluggish, his clothes and hair a mess, and his eyes slightly red. In one hand, a backpack.

Seungcheol felt it in his stomach before it could connect in his head. That waving of red flags, like a loud alarm clock finally going off. “What are you doing here?” he asked him, cautiously. “Are you okay?”

Soonyoung looked up at him, then back to the ground. He didn’t get a chance to reply.

“Soonyoungie!” Jeonghan suddenly exclaimed, coming back into the living room. “ I was just about to message you and Jihoon if you wanted to go out with us tonight-“

He stopped himself when he saw Soonyoung’s fallen face. “What’s wrong?”

Soonyoung pursed his lips. “Can I… crash here tonight?” he mumbled.

“Why?” Jeonghan asked. Seungcheol didn’t have to guess.

Soonyoung took a breath before answering, uttering the words Seungcheol thought he’d never hear.

“Jihoon and I broke up.”

Chapter Text

“Here you go.”

“Thanks,” Soonyoung replied tiredly, hands cupping the mug of tea Jeonghan served.

Jeonghan sat down across from Soonyoung, face openly worried. Soonyoung tentatively took a sip of his tea and said nothing.

Seungcheol leaned against the doorway to the kitchen, watching the whole exchange happen between them. He felt like he wasn’t in his own body, like he was watching this all unfold from somewhere else.

Soonyoung looked like such a wreck. He had never seen the always so cheerful man look so out of it. He was quiet, not saying anything else. They knew better than to prod him for more information on what happened, even though it burned in his mouth, begging to be asked.

What the fuck, he couldn’t help screaming that thought in his head. What the fuck happened?

Seungcheol shouldn’t be here. He knew where he had to go. He knew what he had to do. Didn’t mean he felt good about it. He just never imagined this day ever coming.

He caught Jeonghan’s gaze and tilted his head towards the door.

Jeonghan got the message and nodded. He turned to Soonyoung and said delicately, “I’ll just get my room ready. You can sleep there tonight, okay?”

Soonyoung nodded and took another sip of his tea. He was so fucking quiet.

Once they were back in the living room, Seungcheol took Jeonghan aside and let him know under his breath, “I’m gonna go check on Jihoon. I don’t know how long I’ll be. Will you be okay here taking care of him?”

“Yeah of course,” Jeonghan whispered back with a nod.

Seungcheol grabbed his keys from the coffee table, and paused. “I’m sorry we’re not out celebrating,” he felt the need to apologize.

Jeonghan shook his head. “It’s not your fault. You wouldn’t have known,” he assured, glancing at the kitchen where Soonyoung still sat at the table, pretending he couldn’t hear them in the deathly silent apartment. Jeonghan placed a hand on his shoulder. “Just go.”

Seungcheol took it as a comfort, though his chest was still heavy.

He got into his car and drove to Jihoon and Soonyoung’s new apartment, and like a stone, that heavy feeling sat still. And it only grew worse once he climbed up the stairs and stopped at the door to their unit. He hesitated in knocking.

He couldn’t believe this was happening. He couldn’t believe it had been less than a couple weeks since he was last standing here.

He didn’t even know what to tell Jihoon, let alone what he should be expecting from him. So he knocked, with no plan whatsoever in his head.

And Jihoon opened the door almost instantly.

Seungcheol’s instincts kicked in fast enough and blocked the door from swinging close again with his hand, the slight bang noise echoed in the hallway. He stared Jihoon down through the gap.

He looked just as bad as Soonyoung did. Probably worse. He had a blanket draped across his shoulders, and his whole figure was hunched. His hair was sticking out in random directions, and the bags under his eyes looked so defined up close. Seungcheol knew he had been crying.

Jihoon didn’t greet him. He simply said, like a curse, “Seungcheol.”

He could hear his spirit deflate in a short amount of seconds. Jihoon had probably expected Soonyoung to come back already.

“Let me in,” Seungcheol urged him, hand still struggling to keep the door open.

“No,” Jihoon fought, weakly.

“Jihoon,” he pushed against the door harder, though he knew his voice was soft. “C’mon.”

He waited. Jihoon breathed out slowly, and let go of the door.

The living room felt so cold when he entered. There were scattered tissues on the couch, amongst all of Jihoon’s books and laptop. Seungcheol thought, even after all this, even completely drained, his friend still tried to work. Music was his outlet, he couldn’t deny that.

Jihoon stood in the middle of the living room, away from everything, his arms crossed like he was trying to hide himself. He looked smaller than ever, lost like a child.

Seungcheol schooled his expression. “Have you eaten yet?” he asked him.

Jihoon shook his head, not meeting his gaze.

“Okay,” he assured. “Let’s go get ramen.”

Jihoon blinked at that. “What?”

“Yeah, let’s go. I haven’t eaten anything since 11 in the morning, I’m starved as fuck over here.”

Jihoon furrowed his brows, looked back at him like he was suggesting something crazy. Seungcheol could see a little bit of Jihoon’s spirit return in him.

He purposefully avoided talking about anything. They didn’t need to right now. Right now, his priority was to make sure Jihoon was physically and mentally okay.

“Fine,” Jihoon acquiesced, dropping the blanket from his shoulders onto the couch.

They left the apartment and got into his car. Seungcheol didn’t ask him where they should eat, knowing it was a lost cause since Jihoon would most likely avoid answering. He took them to their usual ramen shop right off campus. They used to come here a lot after class in their first year of college. It was a small shop, usually filled with loud college students, and tonight was no different. Fortunately, there was a secluded table in the back, away from most of the crowd and noise.

It didn’t matter in the end though. Seungcheol knew Jihoon wasn’t in the mood to talk. He ordered for the both of them, and he made sure not to order any alcohol even though he felt they both badly needed it.

Jihoon hadn’t said anything. He didn’t speak during the ride, didn’t say anything after he ordered, not even when their ramen was served.

It was only when Seungcheol was half finished with his bowl did Jihoon finally speak up.

“What are we doing here, Cheol.” He sounded so tired.

Seungcheol swallowed down the noodles in his mouth before answering. “Eating,” he responded, obviously. He knew it annoyed Jihoon, but he’d take annoyance over nothing.

Well, at least he was eating, but he didn’t clarify that. He didn’t point out that Jihoon hadn’t touched his food since it was placed on the table.

“Why aren’t you...” Jihoon trailed off. He didn’t complete his sentence, but Seungcheol knew. He should be acting out, getting mad like the last time they spoke. Or maybe he should be forcing Jihoon to talk about what happened, about why Soonyoung showed up at his doorstep with dried up tear streaks down his cheeks.

Instead he pointed at Jihoon’s bowl and said, “If you’re not gonna eat that, I will.”

Jihoon looked confused, still blinking like he couldn’t process it. And he shouldn’t, not right now at least. Seungcheol held his breath and didn’t let go until Jihoon picked up his own chopsticks and started eating what was probably already cold noodles.

It was better than nothing. Seungcheol had forgotten how easy and nostalgic it was just to be in Jihoon’s presence again. It felt like old times, despite all the lingering tensions and unspoken arguments.

So he didn’t bring anything up, selfishly trying to just relax in this moment. He ignored the fact that Jihoon had started crying a bit, sniffling softly as he ate. He watched him wipe his eyes with the sleeve of his hoodie before continuing to eat in silence.

Seungcheol paid for the bill after their bowls were empty and finished. Jihoon didn’t comment on it. They got back into the car, and Jihoon was still quiet. So, against his better judgement, Seungcheol drove them to the nearest park.

“Why?” Jihoon asked, again, already realizing he wasn’t driving them back to his apartment.

“I wanna take a walk,” Seungcheol told him calmly, parking into a slot and turning the engine off. “There’s an ice cream vendor here that makes pretty good ice cream.”

“But—”

Seungcheol cut him off by getting out of the car. Jihoon didn’t need to follow him, but he did, which is good. They walked in silence to the ice cream vendor, the crisp night air only cool enough but not so freezing that they couldn’t eat ice cream. Seungcheol bought himself a scoop of chocolate, and though Jihoon didn’t say that he wanted any, he bought the man a scoop of plain vanilla. Jihoon took it with only slight reluctance.

They sat side by side on a park bench where they could see the river in the distance. The moonlight reflected in the waters, amongst the city lights of tall buildings and park lamps. If Seungcheol didn’t know better, this would be a peaceful scenery.

“Was he mad?” Jihoon asked, breaking the peace. He didn’t clarify who he was talking about, it was obvious enough.

Seungcheol took a bite of his cone and thought about it.

“No,” he half-lied. He actually didn’t know if Soonyoung was mad or not. He sure didn’t look mad. But Seungcheol didn’t get to hear his side of the story, too worried about Jihoon to find out. Some part of him hoped Jeonghan was getting Soonyoung to talk, getting his side so they could discuss it later when he gets back.

Jihoon nodded, though Seungcheol knew he wasn’t satisfied with that answer. They finished their ice cream with the remaining peace that returned back to them.

The calmness of the waters didn’t stop all the raging thoughts in his head. He could’ve been out right now, possibly at another club or bar with Jeonghan and his friends. They could’ve been drinking and dancing like they had on Jeonghan’s birthday. He could’ve been back in bed with Jeonghan, enjoying each other like they did last night.

All of that seemed like possibilities that could’ve happened ages ago, when in reality it had only been a few hours since they were all possible.

Now it was like everything slowed down to a halt, and all he could focus on was the situation at hand.

They finally drove back to the new apartment a half hour later. When he parked, Jihoon kept staring at the building, not making a single move to leave the car. Seungcheol observed him in the quiet darkness.

Saying Jihoon was a reserved man was an understatement. His best friend was a pretty private guy, he didn’t like to give much of himself away, and Seungcheol respected that.

But every once and awhile, he wished he knew more about whatever was going on in Jihoon’s head.

“I’m sorry,” he spoke first, because he couldn’t handle it anymore. Jihoon turned to face him, his eyes widening.

Seungcheol continued, “About what I said before, really. I had no right to assume things about you and Soonyoung.” 

Jihoon took a moment, looking away again. He shrugged. “It’s my fault. I didn’t confide in you about what was happening.”

Seungcheol pursed his lips. It was now that the moment presented itself.

“So what has been happening, Jihoon?” he asked with caution. His voice cut through all the silence within the still car.

This time, Jihoon took much longer to respond. He watched patiently as the smaller man played with the stray threads on his hoodie.

His voice was so small when he spoke up, “We had been fighting… for a while.”

Well, Seungcheol guessed that much.

“Since Jeonghan’s birthday?” he prodded, trying to confirm his suspicion.

“... Since August,” Jihoon corrected.

It was Seungcheol’s turn to be shocked. “That long ?” he exasperated. Jihoon winced.

All he could think of was, How ? And also, what in the world were they even fighting about that could go on for months without resolution?

Jihoon still wasn’t looking at him. A somewhat sad smile took place on his face.

“Soonyoung is so… overwhelming,” he whispered. “Most of the time, and I never know what to do. At first it was okay; we barely saw much of each other in our first year of college to begin with. I never really expected anything of him or this relationship.

“But then his sched got looser this year, and mine just got worse. These music projects have been draining me, and Soonyoung really doesn’t understand that I… I can’t always be there for him…”

Jihoon trailed off. He sounded like he was about to rant about that, but he must have realized that wasn’t what Seungcheol was asking about. His gaze went back to the apartment building.

“Soonyoung has so many ideas of what the future looks like. What our future could look like,” he said instead of continuing his earlier sentence. His voice sounded so strained. “And I just can’t keep up anymore. It’s too much. Soonyoung doesn’t see practically or logically, he’s a dreamer. Moving in together was just the start, and I had agreed to that just so we could stop arguing about it. But he also wants me to reconcile with my parents, Cheol.”

That made him pause. “Jihoon-”

“I-I know okay,” Jihoon cut him off. “I know how that sounds. I know Soonyoung just- cares a lot about me.”

Then, quietly, he heard him admit, “I know I’m the problem.”

Seungcheol bit his lip from saying anything.

Jihoon, an only child, had a pretty strained relationship with his parents, that much he knew. Seungcheol knew the music major barely visited them, rarely ever called them, and never talked about his relationship with them until he had drunkenly brought it up one night in their first semester of college.

“They may as well have kicked me out once I told them I was taking up music,” he had told him.

They didn’t literally kick him out. They put him in a two-bedroom unit in an apartment complex that they owned. But Jihoon had told him their house was actually not far from the university. There was no reason to place him in an apartment that was just as far as his house. Seungcheol couldn’t fault Jihoon for coming to a conclusion like that.

Over the 5 years they’ve been friends, Seungcheol’s yet to really get to know Jihoon’s parents, having met them only a couple times in passing. But he knew their relationship was bad enough that Jihoon didn’t even want to visit them in their 1st year of college during winter break. He had forcibly taken Jihoon with him to visit his mom in Daegu that year, too sad to see his best friend alone for the holidays.

Not once has he ever asked Jihoon about why he had such a bad relationship with his parents. Topics like that they both generally avoided. But Soonyoung probably knew his best friend better than he did at this point.

Seungcheol let it go. He couldn’t just tell Jihoon he wasn’t the problem when they both knew it was true. “What happened earlier then?” he asked instead.

Jihoon shrugged weakly. “Half the time I never remember how our fights get to that point, but earlier… It did. And I just couldn’t take it. I told him to leave, that I needed some time and some space to think about what I want.”

Confused, Seungcheol couldn’t help but tell him, “He thinks you broke up with him.”

Jihoon froze, then breathed a shaky laugh. “Shit.” He brought a hand to his face, and Seungcheol knew he was crying again. This time he couldn’t take seeing his best friend like this.

Though awkward in their position, he unbuckled his seat belt and pulled Jihoon into a tight hug.

“I swear I didn’t say that to him,” Jihoon muffled into his shoulder, sniffling slightly. “I don’t want him to think that.”

Seungcheol nodded. He comforted him as best as he could, stroking his back to calm him down. It hurt to see his friend like this.

When Jihoon’s crying died down, he had to let him know, “You’re gonna need to tell him that, Hoon.”

Jihoon, thankfully, nodded in agreement. After a while, he pulled away. “Tomorrow,” he added, wiping his tears yet again with his sweater sleeve. “I’m too tired now.”

“Okay,” Seungcheol agreed, though he knew he shouldn’t have. He didn’t want to push his friend anymore.

Jihoon glanced back at the apartment, then again at him. “I’m sorry too,” he mumbled. “What I said about you and Jeonghan, it wasn’t my place.”

Seungcheol knew it was coming. Still it caught him off guard that Jihoon even wanted to apologize. “D-Don’t be,” he told him, though he almost had to choke it out. “You were right.” 

Jihoon furrowed his brows. “I was?”

Seungcheol felt like he was still dazed. He knew everything was crashing down on him now that he finally couldn’t avoid thinking about it; that it wasn’t just about Soonyoung and Jihoon at this point, but what’s been going on within himself.

“Things have been… weird,” he finally admitted out loud. “I can’t describe what it is. But I feel like it’s becoming too different now than how it was when we started this whole casual fling thing.”

Different was the only exact way of putting it. It was like it was more than just sex that Seungcheol wanted from Jeonghan, but he couldn’t describe exactly what he wanted. These thoughts raised a fear within himself that he didn’t know what to do with.

He couldn’t help but be completely honest, “I feel like I’m gonna ruin things with him, just like you said.” Then, sighing, “But that’s how it always ends up, right?”

Jihoon spoke up and reasoned with him, “It doesn’t always have to be that way, Cheol.”

It sounded so obvious in Jihoon’s own words. It should be that simple. And yet he knew something inside him wasn’t communicating it well. He knew his mind disagreed with what his heart has been yearning for years: intimacy; letting someone into his world and truly knowing him.

He shook his head. That all sounded like a dream, not reality. From what had happened in his past, he knew it’s something that can’t truly be achieved.

“I don’t think that I’m ready for that just yet, Jihoon.”

Jihoon nodded in understanding. “That’s fine,” he said. “But I think you owe someone some clarification.”

Seungcheol told him, “Jeonghan knows I don’t want to be in a relationship.”

“Yeah, but do you ?” his friend bit back. “Seungcheol, you should start opening up to the idea of it.”

Seungcheol huffed, slightly hurting from the accuracy of Jihoon’s bluntness. “Yeah okay, and how exactly would I do that? There’s so many things Jeonghan doesn’t know about me. There’s still things that I don’t know about him. I have textbook abandonment issues that I’ve never dealt with, nor do I want him to know about. And I don’t need a therapist to remind me of all of that when I’ve got you, a music major who’s never even picked up a psych book.”

Jihoon smiled, the first sign of a positive emotion he’d seen from him all night. “I know all those things ‘cuz you’re my friend, Cheol.”

“Well, as your friend, I need to personally tell you: thanks for caring about my sucky, non-existent love-life, but I can handle myself just fine.” Seungcheol tried to end this topic as a joke, but he knew he still sounded upset about the whole thing.

Okay ,” Jihoon stressed, only because both of them were tired, having been through this argument before. Still Jihoon suggested softly, “I’m just saying, a good place to start would be to get to know Jeonghan more .”

Seungcheol raised an eyebrow at him.

“As a person,” Jihoon added. “Outside of sex. Okay, that’s all I’ll say.”

Seungcheol pursed his lips at the thought. It should be that easy.

And yet. That fear of Jeonghan not wanting him that way, of him leaving him for good, lingered like a dark cloud in the sky.

“I’ll think about it,” was all he could tell him.

Jihoon smiled, though it turned somber fairly quick. “Are you gonna head back to your place?” he asked weakly, though Seungcheol knew he meant something else.

“I won’t leave you alone until you feel okay,” he affirmed.

Jihoon shook his head. “Seungcheol, you don’t have to.”

“I know I don’t have to.”

Seungcheol eyed him, daring him to say anything. Jihoon glared back, but didn’t go against him.

“Okay, how about this,” Seungcheol backed down, just so Jihoon could rest. “I’ll just stay with you until you fall asleep. So long as I never get to hear the word ‘sex’ come out of your mouth ever again.”

“Fine,” Jihoon said with a snort. But then, quietly added, “Thank you.”

 


 

Jihoon didn’t end up falling asleep until midnight. They had ended up spending the night playing video games on Jihoon’s Playstation. It was halfway through Seungcheol playing Hitman 2 that Jihoon had nodded off.

Seungcheol didn’t wake him, letting him sleep for another half hour just to be sure. When he heard Jihoon snoring slightly, he gave up on his game and tried his best to not jostle him, before carefully carrying the small man back to his room, laying him down on his bed so he could sleep more comfortably. Jihoon didn’t wake up the entire time, probably the most exhausted out of all of them enduring the night.

Because he was still worried, he wrote a note reminding Jihoon to call in the morning, placing the note on top of Jihoon’s laptop before leaving as quietly as he could.

When he got back to his car, he felt the overwhelming exhaustion of this incredibly long day wash over him. He couldn’t help but sigh, leaning his forehead on the steering wheel. He didn’t want to think about Soonyoung and Jihoon. He didn’t want to think about Jeonghan. He didn’t want to think about anything. He just wanted to sleep.

He found that may be slightly impossible once he got back to his own apartment.

The lights in the kitchen and living room were off. In the dark, Seungcheol quietly opened the door to his room, and there Jeonghan laid on his bed, already asleep. In the moonlight, he saw the man was hugging one of Seungcheol’s pillows, and Seungcheol couldn’t help but smile.

As much as he wanted to avoid thinking, he also wanted to avoid conversation. So, he quietly got out of his jeans and slipped under the covers next to Jeonghan.

But sleep didn’t come as easily as he had hoped. Instead he watched Jeonghan breathe slowly and deeply as he slept. Instead his thoughts and fears burst onto him like cold rain pouring down from storm clouds, no longer able to escape it.

He wondered what it would be like to finally ask Jeonghan out on a proper date. Would it be too weird to ask at this point? Seungcheol knew pretty much everything about what Jeonghan liked in bed, so there would be no surprises or expectations anymore, but shouldn’t that be one of the goals in dating?

He knew what Jeonghan was like as a roommate, as a lover, but what would Jeonghan be like as a boyfriend? A shiver ran through him at the thought of having to deal with feelings, with a future that he knew didn’t even exist.

Yet , he thought, his mind betraying him.

It wasn’t impossible, but he knew he was trying his hardest to make it so. It was such an awful thought that made him hate himself even more. He knew why he was holding himself so tightly, why he never let himself fall anymore. He’d been through the pain of rejection, of heartache, far too much to go through it one more time.

Still, he stole one more look at Jeonghan before finally feeling the exhaustion of the day take over him. Closing his eyes, he thought, almost hopeful, This is different .

 


 

He woke up later in the morning, at around 9 AM, from his phone’s ringtone.

Groggily, he answered it. “Hello?”

“Hey,” Jihoon’s voice came through. He sounded the same as the night before; tired and a bit upset. “Soonyoung’s not answering my call.”

Seungcheol processed that sentence as he sat up. His neck and back ached slightly, and his eyes felt sore. Jeonghan was still asleep beside him, a constant reminder of where his thoughts were spiraling through the night.

“I’ll check on him,” he told Jihoon, just to get out of the room.

He heard movement in the kitchen and went there first. There Soonyoung sat at the table, already awake, a glass of water standing still in front of him. If possible, he looked worse than yesterday, like he hadn't slept at all.

“Jihoon wants to talk to you,” he said, and before Soonyoung could protest, “Please just hear him out.”

He handed his phone over to him, and Soonyoung took it with hesitance.

Seungcheol left the kitchen so he could have a little more privacy, making his way to the living room and landing himself on the couch. Though he shouldn’t be, he just couldn’t help but worry, and so he listened in as best as he could on a little bit of Soonyoung’s end of the conversation. 

“Yeah… okay,” he heard Soonyoung say softly. “No, it’s fine. I understand… yeah, I’ll come over later and get some of my stuff.”

Seungcheol winced. He didn’t know what that last sentence meant. Maybe Jihoon had changed his mind and actually ended things.

But that couldn’t possibly be it. He knew Jihoon just needed to take his time, away from Soonyoung.

Maybe Soonyoung needed somewhere to stay. He knew the dancer’s mom lived in Namyangju, but that was way too far from campus. He’d let Soonyoung stay here at his place if he needed to, but he’d need to run it by Jeonghan at least-

”—He’s here,” Soonyoung’s voice cut through his thoughts. “Yeah, he’s eavesdropping.”

Shit . “I’m not listening I swear,” he yelled jokingly from the couch.

He heard Soonyoung snort, and it was nice to see some emotion return to him. “Just come back in here.”

Seungcheol got off the couch and came back into the kitchen, faking his grin as best as he could, though he knew it probably looked more like he was wincing. Soonyoung had already hung up with Jihoon, passing his phone back to him.

“Alright?” he asked cautiously.

Soonyoung eyed him warily, but he sighed anyway and nodded. Seungcheol couldn’t help but feel relieved.

“So you probably heard-”

“I did not, I promise,” Seungcheol interrupted.

Soonyoung rolled his eyes. “I know you heard that. I’m gonna go get some of my clothes and my books from the apartment. I’ll get out of your hair, maybe stay with my sister.” He stopped talking and groaned instantly. Seungcheol knew why.

“Didn’t she move in with her boyfriend and his kids?” he absently asked, remembering the dancer complaining about that more than once.

“Yeah, but she’s the only one that’s kinda nearby,” Soonyoung shrugged like he had no choice. “They’ll make room, even if I’m just on the floor. It’ll suck taking the train back and forth though, but, hopefully, I won’t be staying with them for too long.”

Seungcheol knew Soonyoung was just telling himself that, and he couldn’t help but feel just as hopeful. Still, Seungcheol wanted to help in the only way he knew how.

“You can stay here, Soonyoung,” he told him, making the decision right away.

Soonyoung blinked up at him, surprised at his offer. “Really?”

The whole point of the extra room was so that his friends had somewhere to stay whenever they needed it. In the past it had always been Hansol, who liked partying and staying away from home, or Mingyu, who had worked night shifts with little to no cash to get a cab to head back to his own place. Even Wonwoo and Jihoon had crashed in that room at least once. And though Jeonghan pretty much owned that room now, didn’t mean he still couldn’t care about his friends.

“Of course, Soonyoung. I mean I’ll have to tell Jeonghan, but obviously he wouldn’t say no to you.”

Soonyoung stared at him, his expression strange and his brows furrowed. “I don’t wanna bother you two,” he started.

“You won’t,” Seungcheol shook his head, even though it was a lie. Sure, having Soonyoung around for a week or two would switch things up around the apartment, but at the end of the day, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t like they were taking sides in this whole situation, knowing both Jihoon and Soonyoung were probably blaming themselves for everything that had happened. What mattered was damage control, making sure both of them were alright on their own for a while.

Soonyoung pursed his lips. Seungcheol beat him before he could say another excuse, “Just take the offer. Staying here is closer to campus than your sister’s anyhow. And like you said, it won’t be for too long.”

Seungcheol would make sure it wouldn’t be for too long. That meant keeping a closer eye on Jihoon, making sure he wasn’t bottling himself up and making things worse. He tended to sabotage himself that way, and since Jihoon’s always been the one keeping Seungcheol in line, he knew it was his turn to return that to his friend.

Soonyoung finally accepted, “Okay. I’ll stay here.”

Then, as if he had read his thoughts, he asked him quietly, “You’re gonna make sure he’s okay, right?”

Seungcheol nodded, and he meant it.

Soonyoung smiled, and though it didn’t reach his eyes, it was a relieving sight to see. “You’re a good friend, Cheol.”

 


 

Jeonghan, just as he thought, agreed to take Soonyoung in without hesitation.

“For how long?” Jeonghan asked him while they ate a late breakfast. Soonyoung had already left to get his things and visit the dance studio to practice.

“If I know Jihoon, he wouldn’t want to make this any harder than it should be,” he told him. “Maybe a week, two at most.”

Jeonghan hummed, then commented casually with a shrug, “I’ve practically been sleeping in your room this past week anyhow. It’s not like it’ll change much.”

Seungcheol felt his throat close up at that. Jeonghan acted like that fact was nothing when to Seungcheol it meant everything. It meant that there were no boundaries anymore between them. It meant that asking him out became even harder to get the exact words past his lips.

He blamed no one but himself for letting things get this far.

“About that,” he started saying. “I’ve been thinking…”

He trailed off when Jeonghan looked up at him. Shit, was he hooked on this guy. The way his hair fell down to his collarbones, how his eyes were always soft and curious. His whole mind started to protest from saying anything more.

“Thinking about what, Seungcheol?” Jeonghan prompted when he didn’t continue.

“About, um,” he stuttered, swallowing down his chance. “I-If Soonyoung can still stay in your room? Just so he has somewhere to sleep, y’know? I kinda don’t want to make him sleep on the couch, even though he said it’s fine.”

“Oh,” Jeonghan replied, slightly confused because it was probably obvious that Soonyoung would stay in his room, but he nodded anyhow. “Yeah, of course. I don’t mind.”

If Jeonghan thought his behavior was weird, he had the courtesy not to comment on it.

It didn’t ease Seungcheol’s anxiety of asking him out. If anything, it made things worse. There was a pit in his stomach that kept him on edge throughout the rest of Soonyoung’s stay.

Over the next several days, he continuously made plans in the afternoon after his classes to get Jihoon out of his room and into his studio. He’d bring his friend food, and they would work in their familiar silence. No questions about how Soonyoung was doing, even though he knew Jihoon wanted to know. Seungcheol tried his hardest to focus on his lyrics or his research for a paper, while Jihoon dived into his music production.

Afterwards, he’d drive Jihoon back to his apartment, and was proud that his friend vehemently kept refusing his offer to sleep over again.

“I can handle myself,” Jihoon had stated once.

“Aw, he’s all grown up,” Seungcheol cooed, which promptly led to Jihoon elbowing him hard in the ribs.

When he caught his breath, he still told his friend seriously, “Don’t get too lost in your head, alright?”

Which, in code, meant that if Jihoon started spiraling, he could always call Seungcheol, and he’d be there for him.

Jihoon had nodded, a silent thank you, and got out of the car.

Back at the apartment, Seungcheol would be on his best behavior for Soonyoung’s sake. He’d order them pizza for dinner, and he’d make sure the dancer wasn’t staying cooped up in Jeonghan’s room. He felt pretty glad that he could balance watching over both Soonyoung and Jihoon, even though it all still felt strange that any of this was even happening. And though it had only been a week, Soonyoung was starting to look more hopeful. That hopefulness didn’t waver as the days went by.

He wished he could say the same for himself.

For whatever willpower he had, he tried his best not to mess around with Jeonghan while he stayed in his room. It just didn’t feel right now that he had different intentions. But it was incredibly difficult to when he was right there lying next to him, and a few nights later, it was Jeonghan that made the first move.

Seungcheol tensed up when Jeonghan shifted beside him on the bed, his head nearing his shoulder, and a hand came up to rest on his chest. The action felt almost innocent, like Jeonghan was testing something out.

Then he heard him whisper in the darkness, “We haven’t fucked in a while.”

He pursed his lips to stop himself from replying impulsively. He felt hot that Jeonghan didn’t even bother to ask if he was awake or not. Just a fact stated between them. He said it so straightforward too, like he had been meaning to point it out for a while now.

“We haven’t,” he confirmed stupidly.

They haven’t had sex since the night he helped Jeonghan study for his exam, the night they switched. 10 days ago, but he really shouldn’t be counting.

Jeonghan’s hand slowly dragged down to the waistband of his boxers- a sobering reality, and Seungcheol stopped him.

“We shouldn’t,” he winced, still keeping his voice low. “At least, not while Soonyoung’s staying with us.”

A pause. “Okay,” Jeonghan replied, removing his hand.

He couldn’t see his roommate’s expression, rather he just felt Jeonghan retreat back to his earlier position, his back towards him.

That should’ve been it. That should’ve put his mind at ease. It was a logical enough reason why they really shouldn’t be doing anything. He had no idea how loud they could be, nor how thin the walls were. He didn’t want to make Soonyoung feel uncomfortable staying here. Perfectly sound reasoning.

So why did it feel like he screwed things up?

Sleep didn’t come to him that night, and it never really did as the days, sadly, kept passing by.

 


 

Seungcheol came home from class one afternoon to Soonyoung crying on the couch.

“What the hell,” he couldn’t help but say out loud. Soonyoung glanced at him through his tears as he picked up another tissue.

Seungcheol didn’t know what to do with himself, so he set his bag down and sat on the coffee table across from Soonyoung, placing a, hopefully, comforting hand on his shoulder.

“What happened?” he asked, not expecting a straight answer, but Soonyoung replied anyway.

“I saw a couple walking their dog down the street earlier,” he started explaining, bottom lip pouted out. “And it made me want to get a dog with Jihoon, and now I’m miserable ‘cuz I can’t just ask him that ‘cuz we’re on a break, and now I’m crying ‘cuz I miss Jihoon like hell.”

Seungcheol cringed the whole way through his explanation. He didn’t know Soonyoung was so sensitive. He almost didn’t understand why he would suddenly breakdown like this over something so small since he had been doing so well the past couple weeks.

But maybe that had been it. Maybe his hopes were set on this whole ‘break’ thing being only two weeks long. It was starting to become a little over three weeks, and his hopes were probably wavering.

He brought this topic up with Jeonghan later that night in his room, after taking care of Soonyoung’s messy sobbing.

“I was afraid that’d happen,” Jeonghan commented, brows furrowed in worry. “Last night, I watched him stare at his blank phone screen for half an hour.”

“Wow,” he winced.

“What about Jihoon?” Jeonghan asked, genuinely caring. “How’s he been?”

Seungcheol pursed his lips. “He’s been… getting by.”

He didn’t tell Jeonghan about how Jihoon was trying to get on better terms with his parents, visiting them twice already these past few weeks. Both times, Seungcheol had driven him to his parents’ house and back, and both times Jihoon had come out the front door looking more frustrated and angrier than he was when he entered.

He knew Jihoon was trying his best for Soonyoung. And hearing how somber his beats had been getting, he knew he missed Soonyoung just as much as Soonyoung’s been missing him. It’s not as obvious as how Soonyoung showed his misery, but subtle enough that it was still there. Still, he said nothing about talking to Soonyoung, probably still not confident to do so.

“At first I didn’t want to force Jihoon into an uncomfortable confrontation,” he told Jeonghan that much. “But now I’m thinking maybe he needs a bit of a push.”

“We can try and arrange it somehow. Give them a chance to just be in the same room and sort it out already.”

“Jihoon’s birthday is coming up really soon,” he suggested absently. “We normally get our friends together here for pizza and games.”

“That’d be nice,” Jeonghan agreed with a shrug. “Even if it’s awkward, at least Jihoon will get something out of it.”

So, that’s what they ended up planning.

Jihoon agreed to come, even though he didn’t know Soonyoung would be there too, though he was probably suspicious of it. It didn’t show, but Seungcheol knew Jihoon was too smart for his own good. Still, him agreeing was a good sign.

Seungcheol had only invited Wonwoo, Mingyu, and Hansol, as they’ve only ever been the ones that Jihoon was also good friends with. Jeonghan took this event as a chance to get all their friends together, finally, and invited Junhui and Minghao. He didn’t mind, only because Jihoon knew them already and seemed to enjoy their company too.

Jihoon’s birthday landed on a Friday. It was perfect since Soonyoung tended to practice late at the dance studio after his classes. They didn’t tell Soonyoung about the small party, even though they’ve celebrated Jihoon’s birthday this same way every year. Seungcheol had no doubt the dancer was very aware of what day it was.

Soonyoung used to go all out even though it was always a small gathering. He was always the one to buy a small cake and a few balloons because, to quote the dancer, ‘ it ain’t a birthday without cake and booze, and I’m way too broke to buy booze’ .

Now though, Seungcheol bought the cake and the alcohol. He didn’t buy balloons just because he didn’t want to put in the effort of blowing them up. They were always a cheesy gimmick he knew Soonyoung loved to annoy Jihoon with.

He picked Jihoon up from the studio after closing up the records shop, Hansol already seated in the backseat.

“Hey hyung, happy birthday,” their dongsaeng greeted as Jihoon buckled up in front.

Jihoon smiled, though tiredly. “Thanks.”

Hansol didn’t give the music major a single shroud of pity, which Seungcheol silently praised him for.

The rest of them were already relaxing at his apartment, and when they all entered, Jihoon was greeted once again in different ways. Jeonghan and Mingyu instantly crowded him for a hug, while Wonwoo simply waved before going back to his Mario Kart match with Minghao. Hansol immediately made his way to join in.

“Jihoon,” Junhui cooed as he exited the kitchen, an open can of beer in one hand. “Happy birthday!”

“Thank you,” Jihoon replied, genuinely. “Glad you and Minghao could make it.”

Junhui shrugged. “Beats staying in and doing nothing,” he said, his grin becoming cheshire. “Let’s get a drink in your system, man.”

Though all of them knew, one way or another, about what had happened, they spent the rest of the night as though it was just another party. Hansol, being the youngest in the group, had the most energy and was the one who kept the pace going in every single game they played. Junhui and Mingyu ended up being great moodmakers, being both loud and brash drunks. Even Jeonghan chimed in with that charm of his when everyone lost to him at Uno.

“Yah, you cheated!” Junhui had hollered. “There’s no way you can just put all the colors you have down!”

Wonwoo had explained that, though it isn’t an official rule, yes, you can put all the colors you have in your hand down, and Jeonghan had stuck his tongue out at Junhui in triumph.

The absence of Soonyoung was barely felt as the night went on, but Seungcheol took note of it as it started to get late into the night. Far too late for Soonyoung to still be at the dance studio.

When he noticed the time on his phone read ‘9:55 PM’, he started to worry.

Jeonghan’s expression mirrored what he thought as well. After the cake was half-eaten, everyone started to calm down, talking and relaxing on the couch. Jihoon was trying his best to beat Hansol at whatever game they were playing on his PS4, while the two couples were in a deep discussion about recent fashion trends. 

Seungcheol took it as a chance and led Jeonghan into the kitchen.

“Tell them I’m just buying more beer if they ask,” he said to him, his keys already in his pocket. Jeonghan nodded, though he didn’t look too pleased that their plan didn’t turn out as they’d hoped.

Seungcheol thanked him before making what he hoped was a quiet, graceful exit. He closed the front door of his apartment, lifted his phone up to his ear to call Soonyoung’s number— and stopped in his tracks.

It was obvious enough that it was Soonyoung sitting atop the last three steps of the staircase. He still had his cap on, as well as his workout clothes. His chin was in his hand, and he had a faraway look to his expression.

Nonetheless, he looked up when Seungcheol approached him.

“Hey,” he said, carefully.

Soonyoung’s reply was a short acknowledgement, “Seungcheol.”

Soonyoung didn’t say anything else, and he didn’t protest to Seungcheol sitting beside him on the steps.

He couldn’t quite tell if Soonyoung was sad or upset, but if he were him, he’d probably be feeling everything right now.

He didn’t really know what to say. He could tell him something cheesy, tell him to come inside and have a good time despite the lingering tension of Jihoon being there too. It’d be difficult, for both of them, but the point of arranging this was so that Jihoon and Soonyoung would get a chance to finally talk and figure things out.

When he couldn’t decide, Soonyoung beat him to it.

“Is he having fun?” he asked, softly.

He wasn’t quite looking at Seungcheol, instead his gaze was downcast, like he had been thinking about it for a while now. 

“Yeah,” he answered honestly.

Soonyoung nodded. “Good.”

A dose of silence followed, and Seungcheol could hear the sounds of the night; the hushed rustling of the leaves and crickets in the distance.

He asked finally, “Why are you just sitting here?”

Soonyoung took in a breath. “Listen, Seungcheol, I really appreciate you and Jeonghan doing this for him,” he said instead of answering his question. “And, for trying to get us back together.”

“I don’t like seeing you both like this,” Seungcheol told him honestly. “The sooner you work things out, the better it would be for all of us, right?”

“Yeah…” Soonyoung nodded, but the spirit of hope that Seungcheol had thought returned over the week seemed flamed out.

Then, suddenly, the dancer’s expression fell. “Can I be honest with you, Cheol?”

Seungcheol swallowed whatever pit wanted to form. “Of course.”

Quietly, Soonyoung spoke like a confession, “I said some pretty hurtful things to him. I… I hate when I get all worked up ‘cuz then I really say just, stupid awful shit. The worst part of it all is that I can’t just unsay the things I said to him. He has every right to break up with me.”

“But he doesn’t want to.”

Soonyoung smiled, though it looked pained. “But he doesn’t want to,” he repeated.

Then, Soonyoung whispered, his voice cracking, “I love him. A lot.”

“I know.”

“I just want him to be happy.”

“... I know,” Seungcheol sighed. “Soon, I’ve known Jihoon for a pretty long time and I can honestly say, I’ve never seen him happier than when he’s with you.

“I don’t know what you told him specifically, and maybe you’re right. You both hurt each other, both of you have every right to break it off. But you’re both hurting even more like this. Wouldn’t it be better to just settle things?”

Soonyoung took a while to answer. Seungcheol knew the situation was… tough, for both of them. But at the end of the day, they both seemed to really want to make things work.

“Okay…” Soonyoung finally said into the still night. “You’re right.”

Seungcheol let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding, a weight lifted off his chest.

Before he could say anything, Soonyoung furrowed his brows at him. “You’re a walking contradiction, Choi Seungcheol,” he said, half-jokingly. “Do you ever take your own advice?”

“What?”

Soonyoung blinked. “... Nothing,” he started to grin, which turned back into his somber smile. “I’m ready to talk to him if he is.”

Ignoring whatever thoughts wanted to emerge from his earlier comment, Seungcheol nodded. “I’ll go get him.”

 


 

“They’ve been out there a while.”

Seungcheol glanced at his phone before looking back at Jeonghan. It had been a solid hour since he walked back into the apartment after speaking to Soonyoung. Everyone had looked up at him when he did, but Jihoon’s look was the only one that he focused on. He didn’t even need to tell him; Jihoon had simply gotten up and walked straight out the door.

He and Jeonghan were in the kitchen, waiting for anything. He expected whispered shouts coming from the stairwell, but so far, there was nothing but silence.

His phone vibrated, and a text from Jihoon appeared on the screen.

soon and i will leave, sorry to leave you guys hanging. you can keep the party going if u want’

Then, without prompting, another text appeared: ‘ thank you, cheol.’

Seungcheol couldn’t help but smile. “I think they’ll be just fine,” he told Jeonghan, showing him his phone. Though it didn’t necessarily mean everything was magically fixed, this was definitely a step in the right direction. And Seungcheol could finally let that constant worry lift off his shoulders.

It was closing in on almost midnight, though the others didn’t really want to leave right away. Hansol was still up and trying his best to beat Minghao and Junhui in what looked like poker. Wonwoo had his head resting against Mingyu’s shoulder, already half-asleep despite Mingyu watching and reacting loudly to whatever drama he turned the television on to.

“Are you getting tired?” Jeonghan asked him, leaning over to touch his hand on the table. “I can ask them to leave if you want to turn in early.”

Seungcheol stared at Jeonghan’s hand and felt a different kind of tiredness wash over him.

It was one that threatened his entire existence if he didn’t just simply act upon it. Jeonghan was right here in front of him, a constant existence that hasn’t left him yet.

Soonyoung was right. He should just take his own damn advice.

“What are you doing tomorrow?” he asked stupidly instead of answering Jeonghan’s own question, his heartbeat advancing loud enough now that he could hear it in his own ears.

Jeonghan blinked. “Tomorrow?” he repeated, clearly caught off guard.

“Yeah. Tomorrow.”

“Um, I’ll be out tomorrow,” Jeonghan answered, not meeting his eyes. “Why? Did you want to go somewhere?”

Go somewhere, do something, he didn’t give a fuck, just so long as it’s with Jeonghan.

“When will you be free then?”

“Uhm…”

“Hyung.”

Both of them looked up to see Mingyu, a sleepy Wonwoo hanging off his side.

“I think we should get going,” he said, gesturing to his boyfriend. “This idiot didn’t get much sleep last night either, stayed up reading those huge ass law books.”

Strangely enough, Mingyu turned to Jeonghan and said, “Have fun tomorrow. I think you’ll like Minhyuk, Jeonghannie-hyung. He’s a great guy.”

Seungcheol instantly looked at Jeonghan, who only nodded at Mingyu with pursed lips.

Mingyu bid them both and the rest of the guys goodnight and left. And Seungcheol didn’t take his eyes off Jeonghan. Suddenly the sound of his heartbeat felt meaningless.

“Since when are you and Mingyu so close?” he wanted to laugh, but he knew the question didn’t quite come off right.

“Ah, he and I spoke a bit while you were out talking to Soonyoung,” Jeonghan explained, still not looking back at him. His fingers were idly scratching the table surface.

Seungcheol knew he’d regret asking, but he did so anyway. “So… who’s Minhyuk?”

Jeonghan shrugged, but it looked tense. “Just this guy in one of Mingyu’s fashion classes.”

Seungcheol hummed, but he wanted to scream.

Without faltering, Jeonghan continued talking. “Mingyu set me up. That’s why I’m busy tomorrow.”

“Oh.”

Oh.

Like an anchor halting a ship, Jeonghan finally looked up at him, and all the sounds of the TV still on, of Junhui cursing the other two in Chinese, seemed to just stop. And for all the credit he’d already given him, he still wished he could read Jeonghan’s expression as he asked, “I can do that right?”

It was a question that could only be addressed to what they were: just two roommates who liked to screw around. Nothing more.

Though it hurt, Seungcheol put on his best smile, because there was nothing else left for him to do at this point.

“We’re not dating, Jeonghan," he said. "Do whatever you want.”

Chapter Text

Seungcheol had only ever been sick a handful of times in his entire life.

The furthest back he can remember was when he was around 14 years old. He had gotten sick randomly, though he had a suspicion as to why. At the time, his eldest brother had suddenly moved out, and his other brother was attending college, leaving his mother to be the only one left to take care of him.

His mom had a strict regimen for him to get better: suffocate him in blankets, a cold towel on his forehead, be fed her special ramen, and plenty of water and rest.

The next time he got sick was during his last year of highschool, right in the middle of finals season. He had denied that he was sick at the time just so his mother wouldn’t worry, and took his exams with a sniffling cold. It had gotten to the point where he passed out during one of his exams and had to get sent to the nurse’s office. He got an earful of scolding from his mother when she picked him up later that day.

After that, he swore to his mom and himself to never get so sick to that point ever again.

As he grew older, he tended to do the same routine any time he’d get sick, though he didn’t have the kind, loving touch of his mother to keep him company anymore.

The last time he can remember getting sick was sometime during last year, and he knew exactly what triggered it.

It was during a time of a lot of changes happening in his life all at once. His mother was selling the house he grew up in to move somewhere cheaper and closer to her job in Daegu. His eldest brother had just gotten engaged. Jihoon and Soonyoung had just gotten together.

For whatever reason, he felt overwhelmed from everything happening all at once, and had fallen ill with a fever for a few days. He didn’t tell anyone he was sick, except for a few classmates so they could give him notes on classes that he missed.

That time, he truly spent alone.

But getting sick was still rare for him now, and only ever happened because of something else.

So when he fell sick a couple weeks after Jihoon’s party, he denied the very reason he knew why.

It started with waking up with a headache, one that wasn’t induced from any drinking session the night before. He had ignored it and continued his day, really needing to focus on his classes with finals season coming soon. And even though he was in pain, he still made it through the day relatively okay.

But that strange heavy feeling that weighed him throughout the rest of the day only got worse by the time he got back to the apartment, an ache in his body and colds in his nose already making it hard to breathe.

He went to the bathroom and turned the lights on with slight nausea, and glancing at the mirror, he was glad Jeonghan wasn’t home yet to see him in his state. He looked a bit pale, his forehead slightly sweating. That sight was what threw him off, and he searched the medical cabinet for the thermometer. When he took his temperature, his guess was confirmed: 37.9 C. Not too high, but on the cusp of getting higher.

He sighed. Now of all days his body was betraying him.

He got into the routine as best as he could; made himself some instant ramen, curled into the couch with a blanket to cover him, and felt miserable with how much he missed his mother.

He fell asleep at some point, after the pain in his head was too much to handle, and when he woke up, it was to the feeling of a hand on his forehead.

“Oh, sorry I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Seungcheol blinked, though it was hard to do, and it felt like he was still dreaming.

Jeonghan was above him, leaning slightly, his hand withdrawn from his face as if he was burned from the touch. Seungcheol sat up, slowly, the room dizzying slightly as he did.

Jeonghan winced. “You look… Bad.”

No shit , he wanted to bite back, but the only sound that came out of him was a groan from how heavy his limbs felt. He didn’t feel much better than he did before he slept.

“Do you have a fever? I felt your forehead, I hope that’s okay. Your skin feels pretty warm.”

Jeonghan idly rearranged the small pillows behind him. Seungcheol wondered why he was still talking.

“Are you nauseous? I see you ate something though. Did you take any medicine-”

“You’re back early,” Seungcheol interrupted him.

From what he could see from the dark blue clock Mingyu forced him to buy that was hanging on the living room wall, it was only 6:30 in the evening.

“Yeah,” Jeonghan agreed.

“I thought you had a date.”

Ever since Mingyu had set Jeonghan up with his classmate, Jeonghan had been in and out of dates with the guy every other day these past couple weeks. Seungcheol had been trying his best not to count the days he’d be out, but just like his body was betraying him, so was his mind. It had been 4 dates in two weeks.

Jeonghan was kind enough to not tell him how any of those dates went, but the way he’d come back to the apartment with a smile on his face was already agonizing enough without any words. Every time he was out felt more painful than the pounding in his head at the moment.

Jeonghan blinked in reply. “Ah. Yeah, I cancelled.”

That threw Seungcheol off. “Why?”

His roommate hummed. “I thought I had rehearsals, but my director cancelled at the last minute. By then I had already told Minhyuk that I couldn’t go out tonight,” he shrugged. “I thought I may as well go home and practice my lines, or study, or… something.”

He didn’t seem very sure of himself. Seungcheol didn’t have the energy to comment on it, his mind still feeling like mush trying to understand what Jeonghan was even saying at this point.

“Anyway,” Jeonghan smiled, though his eyes were filled with worry. ”You shouldn’t sleep here. Let’s get you back to your room so you can rest properly.”

Seungcheol felt at a loss on what to say, only because Jeonghan was subtly pushing him up off the couch. He felt too exhausted just from falling asleep, but he knew Jeonghan was right, he really needed more rest. So he let himself be led to his own room and crawled under more blankets on his bed.

Jeonghan left briefly after and Seungcheol was on the brink of falling back asleep when he came back into the room, a mug in one hand and pills in the other.

“I remembered I still had these Tylenol pills,” he said, placing the mug down on Seungcheol’s bedside table. “You should take one before you sleep.”

Seungcheol blinked, but did as he was told. He sat up slowly and took the warm mug in his hands, but paused once he realized that it wasn’t water.

“Ah, that’s tea,” Jeonghan clarified for him. He smiled. “Whenever my little sister would get sick, I’d make her this tea. Ginger with a bit of honey.”

Seungcheol took a tentative sip, mulling over that newfound information. They had been roommates for almost four months, and it was only now that he found out that Jeonghan had a little sister. He chose not to say anything about that. Jeonghan didn’t know much about his own brothers besides his mentions of them in passing.

Jeonghan still sat at the foot of his bed, quietly watching him drink his tea. Seungcheol couldn’t take it anymore, so he asked, “Why are you taking care of me?”

Jeonghan instantly pouted. “I can’t take pity on my sick roommate?”

Really? , he wanted to tease. Pull that card when I’m the one that’s sick .

“I can handle myself, Jeonghan,” he said instead. “I’ve been sick before.”

“I know, I just,” Jeonghan paused, but didn’t continue. He looked down at the sheets like he didn’t know what to say.

Seungcheol sighed. “You have nothing else to do now, right? You should call Minhyuk, tell him you still wanna go out.”

That made Jeonghan look up in surprise. “Why?”

It was so stupid. But he’d rather be stupid than selfish.

“I’m no fun when I’m sick,” he reasoned, half-lying. “I’ll probably just sleep some more.”

“But-”

“I’ll be fine,” he smiled, and hopefully it came off as reassurance rather than how painful it actually felt. “Besides, I don’t want you to get sick because of me. You should go out, have a good time.”

Jeonghan, on the other hand, still seemed unconvinced. His brows furrowed as he gazed back at him. However, he didn’t fight back.

Instead, Jeonghan told him, “If you need anything or if you’re feeling really bad, just call me, okay?”

Seungcheol resisted rolling his eyes, since he knew he’d only feel dizzier. “I’m not gonna die Jeonghan.”

“Still.”

“Stop worrying and just go,” he insisted with whatever energy he had. “Please?”

Jeonghan pursed his lips. “Okay,” he said quietly. “Thank you.”

His roommate made his leave, and even after the door was closed, and the apartment fell silent, he still waited and watched if the door would ever open again, that Jeonghan had changed his mind yet again.

But the door never opened again. So Seungcheol slept.

 


 

He got back on his feet quick enough, only a few days under the blankets, drinking way too much water and eating nothing but soup. And when he finally did feel better, he focused his damned best on studying.

Finals were coming in about three weeks. He didn’t worry about his minor subjects; he had a good enough grade in most of them to get by with just passing the exams. It was his major subjects that he needed to study up on, knowing he’d need to write essays for most of them.

He copied notes from Wonwoo for the days he was absent, and had study sessions with Jihoon, who was failing and needed help in their shared math class.

It felt nice to be back in the studio with Jihoon and Soonyoung again. The couple now had a strange energy between them, but in a good way. They had reconciled, Jihoon had told him, but there were still things they were both figuring out. Even so, they stayed in the same apartment, and there were no more major arguments between them. Instead of fighting, they both worked on solutions or compromises. Seungcheol couldn’t help but feel very proud for his friends.

And being able to step foot in the studio added to his growing list of ways to distract himself. He felt like he was back to square one: ignoring all problems and emotions he didn’t want to face.

It wasn’t entirely bad. It made for some good lyric writing, something Jihoon had eyed him warily for when he asked for feedback one day.

“So,” his friend started gently, even though it was just the two of them in the studio, Soonyoung being caught up in his dance class. “Jeonghan’s really going out with Mingyu’s classmate, huh?”

Of course Jihoon would want him to talk about it. Still, he just shrugged it off as something casual. “He seems to be having a good time with him.”

Jihoon glanced at the sheet of paper with the lyrics he had shown him. “And how do you feel?” he asked, as if it wasn’t obvious enough.

Seungcheol humored his denial. “Jihoon, like I told you before, we’re not serious, we never were. He’s allowed to see other people if that’s what he wants.”

And from what he’s seen, that’s what Jeonghan wants.

He didn’t know where the sudden change came from. Last time, Jeonghan had told him he wasn’t looking for something serious, that his ex had left him not wanting a relationship. He didn’t know if their arrangement had left Jeonghan feeling otherwise.

But he’s not an idiot. If Jeonghan wanted to date someone, the mature thing for him to do would be to keep his distance. 

Timing was a real bitch, and he knew that now more than ever. If he had just mustered up the courage to ask him out long before any of this had happened, then he probably would have been the one going on those dates with Jeonghan.

But he missed his shot. And now he was here.

In a weird way, it was probably good that he didn’t do it, that he missed every opportunity he didn’t take. He had absolutely no idea what he would have done if they were going out. He had no idea how they would even act still being roommates if they did. Jeonghan was already a good roommate, and though they had fun together, this was enough for now.

This was okay, really. And any other day, he’d convinced himself of that much.

Though he couldn’t deny feeling more lonely than ever before, somewhat more than before he had even met Jeonghan.

Without thinking, that loneliness was creeping up on him, enveloping him wholly, and suddenly he had the need to find someone to be with, to satisfy himself physically, even for just a minute like how he used to in his first year of college.

That was how he ended up at the nearby bar later that evening, nursing a shot glass of soju and scanning the crowd.

It didn’t take long to spot someone, drinking alone at one of the tables. He knew the man was alone since his phone wasn’t on the table, so there was no constant checking for a text. He wasn’t glancing at the door either, an indicator that’d mean he was waiting for someone. Instead the man was going back and forth between looking at the wall and looking towards the crowd, just like Seungcheol had done.

He could only see the side of the man’s face, but even in the dim lighting of the pub, the man was relatively attractive nonetheless; mussy dark brown hair, thin eyes, and a shadow on his chin that showed he hasn’t shaved in a while. He had a rugged aura to him, probably a few years older than Seungcheol, washed-out jean jacket hanging on his shoulders and black pants down his legs. On his wrist, a black watch that reflected the bar’s lights every time he lifted his beer to drink. The man drank very slowly from the bottle, and the way his lips looked wrapped around the rim was an enthralling sight to see.

Seungcheol wasn’t one to assume, but he just somewhat knew the man probably liked sucking dick.

All thoughts like that was what really made him sign up for Psychology after not knowing what to truly major in for two years- a fact no one, not even Jihoon, knew about. He knew how to read people, and even more so when he’d get to know them. And sex was an interesting factor that showed a lot about a person’s character.

It didn’t take long, either, to catch the man’s attention. A simple slide of eye contact, a tilt of his head and a smirk. Pretty soon he was sitting at the table with him, sharing a drink together and talking. 

“So, you’re a student around here?” the man, whom he didn’t bother learning the name of, asked.

Seungcheol nodded, taking another sip of his own beer, bottle of soju gone and over with. He knew the small talk was just involuntary, a precursor to something they knew they’d both rather be doing. His experience with that normally meant that one of them had to just be direct if they were already on the same page.

So, Seungcheol casually said, “I live right around the corner.”

It was a bold statement that, on its own, had no double meaning unless you were looking for it. He offered it because he knew he could have it.

He offered it because he knew Jeonghan wasn’t going to be in the apartment tonight.

A 10 minute walk later and he was opening the door to the apartment, the guy walking inside with him. Not much for conversation, he simply said, “Nice place.”

Seungcheol shut him up with a rough kiss that was greatly reciprocated. He opened his mouth up for the man’s tongue to slide in.

Seungcheol could already tell what this guy was like; he tasted like gin and cigarettes, very aggressive though not physically. 

The man raked his hand through Seungcheol’s hair and rested at the base of his neck, pulling him even closer. Seungcheol hitched a knee between his legs, feeling his cock harden up in his pants.

“Fuck,” the man moaned. Boldly, he started unzipping Seungcheol’s pants, palming him roughly through the fabric. “Lemme suck you off man.”

Crude but direct, and proved his earlier assumption true. Seungcheol willingly agreed.

Making their way to Seungcheol’s bedroom felt like he was running into ghosts; he couldn’t tell what it was, but the apartment felt colder than it should.

Ignoring the strange feeling, he sat back on his mattress, leaning his weight against his hands as the man pulled his pants down enough to release his cock from his boxers. Seungcheol shivered in response to the cool air on his sensitive skin, and the man wrapped a calloused hand around him, tugging sharply.

The man grinned, his teeth sharp like a shark that smelled blood. He watched his body react to his lips nearing the tip of him. Seungcheol couldn't help but blink at the strange feeling coming over him, trying his damn best to focus on only the pleasure of another man’s mouth on his cock—

Only to feel the haunting memory of Jeonghan’s lips on him.

When he finally figured it out, he tensed up, fingers instantly clenching the sheets. He knew his heart was pounding, and suddenly all he could see was Jeonghan on him, grinning up at him before taking him back into his mouth, gently sliding his tongue on him. He could vividly hear Jeonghan’s laugh and tease after he’d pull back to comment about how red Seungcheol’s face would be. He could vividly see Jeonghan shyly biting his own bottom lip and looking away after Seungcheol would tell him, “ You’re so good at this —”

“Thanks,” huffed a voice that wasn’t Jeonghan’s— it was the man, the scruffy looking one he picked up at the bar. He was still trying to stroke a reaction out of him.

Fuck, fuck , Seungcheol swore in his head like an alarm going off. He glanced at his ceiling as if it could help him out.

The one time he goes out and does this, of course his mind wouldn’t let him pass easily.

When the man placed his lips back on him, Seungcheol scrambled to push him off, “S-Stop, stop, shit—”

“The fuck man?” the man scoffed, standing up from his kneeling on the floor.

“Get out,” Seungcheol snapped, still reeling and breathless.

What ?”

Seungcheol grabbed the man’s jacket that had fallen off him and onto the floor during this whole fiasco, and threw it at his chest.

He stressed every word, “Get. Out .”

The man, looking like the fact was sinking in, put his jacket on like he was more upset than Seungcheol was.

“Fucking cock-tease,” the man muttered at him. “Should’a just said you didn’t want it.”

Seungcheol whispered tiredly, “Just get out man.”

The man did leave with one last shake of his head, and Seungcheol was left with an eerily silent apartment.

He zipped his pants back up sluggishly, feeling worse as the seconds kept passing. He hung his head in his hands, feeling his own shame cover him like a blanket, and collapsed back against his bed.

Why couldn’t he do something as simple as this, find a quick fuck like he used to in his first year of college?

He’d been in long casual relationships before, one lasting a month even, and sure, he’d get attached to the other person, but he’d move on quick enough at least to not think about them anymore during sex with someone else.

But he and Jeonghan had been screwing around for almost two months. Not to mention all the pent up attraction he felt when Jeonghan first moved in four months ago. All of that combined, it was no wonder Jeonghan was taking up a lot more space in his mind than he thought. All of their times together were far too vivid and fresh to forget so soon.

He sighed, staring at his white ceiling that still wasn’t helping him. 

The sound of the front door opening caught him off guard, and for a split second, he worried the man had come back in again. His bedroom door was open enough that he could see the front door fully open, revealing that it was just Jeonghan.

He got up from his bed and leaned against his bedroom door, staring at his ghost who was very much alive. 

“You’re back,” he stated lamely. “I thought you weren’t gonna be here tonight?”

Jeonghan shrugged where he stood, looking torturously good with his hair styled back in a ponytail, simple make up on his eyes, and a black button down tucked into his faded jeans. He didn’t meet his eyes, but Seungcheol could see the slight frustration on his face.

“Last minute rehearsals,” he simply answered, passing by him as he went to his room.

“Han,” he called out. Jeonghan stopped and turned to him. He looked irritated somewhat, but there was more to his expression than Seungcheol could guess, so he asked, “Are you alright?”

Jeonghan blinked, pursing his lips before replying with a shrug, “Sure. Whatever.”

The door to his room closed shut soon after, and Seungcheol was left stunned, the apartment once again shrouded in silence.

 


 

Driving to pick Jeonghan up was far too familiar of a scene. 

Ever since the first night he picked him up, half-sober and dripping wet from the rain, giving Jeonghan rides seemed to be an unspoken agreement out of letting him rent the spare bedroom.

Well, it was an unspoken agreement with all his friends, really. He was the only one in his group of friends that owned a car anyhow, so him driving his friends anywhere was the golden rule. And he didn’t mind doing it, really.

He wasn’t a chauffeur, first and foremost, and his friends knew that they couldn’t just call him for a ride whenever they felt like it. But in the small times that he did offer rides, or swoop in whenever there’s an emergency, his friends would always have the need to return the favor to him in any way possible, usually in the form of repaying him in gas money, or in Mingyu’s way, free coffee at the cafe.

But his old car has gotten to see a lot of highs and lows of his friends. Highs like when he had driven Wonwoo to the airport to see his brother, who he hadn’t seen in years. Lows like how he’s picked up Hansol, who liked running away from home, from random places in the city to drive him back home far too many times.

A high time like driving Jihoon around the city so he could feel better after his big argument with Soonyoung. A low time like Jeonghan stopping him from driving him back to what was his and Jihoon’s apartment, simply because he was a mess.

But Jeonghan asking if he could pick him up after his 6th date with Minhyuk felt like a huge slap in the face. He couldn’t tell if this was a high or a low, but he definitely felt lower than he should.

Confusing feelings aside, of course he agreed to do it, only because it was late and he didn’t want Jeonghan to take a cab.

Driving downtown late at night once again, it felt like nothing has changed much since the first time he picked Jeonghan up, not knowing he would later become his own roommate and more. It felt like ages ago, but it truly wasn’t.

It was early December now, so instead of August showers, frost was starting to form on the windows of the bars and restaurants from the cold. Seungcheol didn’t mind the cold weather that much. Some days, when it would be too cold, it would bring around bad memories. Other times, it was just an annoyance, but one he simply tolerated.

Jeonghan, on the other hand, physically didn’t seem to agree with the cold weather. There he stood waiting by the entrance of a popular Italian restaurant, smothered in a giant puffy black jacket and cotton gloves, arms crossed like he was trying to warm himself up.

Seungcheol honked his horn slightly to get his attention, and he saw Jeonghan’s shoulders slump in what could only be relief. A rush of cold air greeted his face when the door opened, only to be quickly shut as Jeonghan climbed into the front seat.

“Hey, sorry there was a bit of traffic on the road,” Seungcheol rushed to explain.

Jeonghan shrugged as he took off his gloves and unzipped his huge jacket, bringing his hands to the heated aircon.

“I didn’t wait outside long,” he said, though the rough redness on his cheeks and nose seemed to say otherwise.

Seungcheol didn’t think much of it, and drove off back to the apartment.

After a while though, everything seemed too quiet, and Seungcheol could almost taste whatever tension Jeonghan was giving off. He eyed him slightly when they reached a stoplight. Jeonghan was slumped in his seat, his eyes on the road but not really focusing. He looked deep in thought about something, his fingers grasped together like a vise.

It wasn’t the first time he’s seen this troubled expression on Jeonghan before. In fact, he had caught him staring off like this more and more recently. Though their schedules were becoming busy once again, overlapping with studies and work and Jeonghan’s rehearsals, the rare times he’d see Jeonghan in the apartment, he’d have that same far-away look on his face as he stared at the TV or at his phone. He’s yet to ask Jeonghan if everything was fine, and right now seemed like the best opportunity.

“Are you okay?” he asked, his voice quiet and careful. The last time he had asked this, he didn’t get a good response.

Jeonghan exhaled a sigh, and his breath could be seen. “Yep,” he replied shortly, and Seungcheol waited for him to say more, but nothing came. It seemed like nothing has changed since the last they’ve spoken like this.

Against his better judgement, he felt like he needed to prod a bit more, and so the question just slipped out, “How was your date?”

Jeonghan took much longer to answer this time, the light already turning green and Seungcheol went back to focusing on driving, eyes fixed on the road, when he heard the whispered reply, “…He stood me up.”

Seungcheol almost fully pulled the brakes in surprise. “ What ?” he stressed, needing more details.

Jeonghan, now looking fully frustrated, glared to particularly nothing outside the car window. “I waited for him for over an hour or so ‘till he texted that he couldn’t make it,” he explained in a mutter, letting the silence of the car fill the gaps of that story.

“Wow,” Seungcheol replied lamely, at a loss of words. “That… sucks.”

He really wanted to be more of a comfort to Jeonghan, really he did. But he couldn’t help that selfish spark inside him that wanted to ignite a full flame.

Jeonghan snorted, and said nothing more. Seungcheol let him be alone with his thoughts, and when he finally parked the car next to the apartment, Jeonghan spoke up again.

“I think,” he started slowly, unsure. “There might be something wrong with me.”

Seungcheol was thrown off guard. “Don’t say that,” he objected, turning in his seat to face him. “It’s just this one time, Han. It’s not something you should be blaming yourself for when you didn’t even do anything wrong.”

Jeonghan rolled his eyes, but his furrowed brows made him look so troubled. “It’s not the fact that he stood me up. It’s the fact that no matter what I do, whenever I date someone, I always tend to be so-”

Then he cut himself off, his lips pursed hard. He said slower, like he’s thought of it carefully, “I always tend to be… someone I’m not.”

Seungcheol felt a little confused at that statement. “What do you mean?” he asked gently.

Jeonghan shrugged, though he tugged his jacket closer to himself. “I never feel comfortable when I’m dating someone new,” he explained, then shook his head. “Hell, I’ve never felt comfortable with my ex either. It’s like I always have to act like someone else to even think I’m good enough to be with these guys.”

Then Jeonghan brought a hand to his face and let out a hollow laugh. “Why do I keep doing this to myself?” he asked in a whisper.

Fuck , Seungcheol thought, and pitied his roommate instantly. He couldn’t quite understand what Jeonghan was going through exactly, but it seemed simple enough that he couldn’t help but feel empathetic towards him.

Without thinking, he raised a hand to pull back a strand of Jeonghan’s hair behind his ear— and prayed to any god out there that this played off as a comfort rather than him making any move, because he wasn’t. He genuinely felt terrible for Jeonghan.

His roommate looked up at him, a little surprised at the touch, but didn’t protest it. Seungcheol let his hand rest on Jeonghan’s shoulder.

“Han, if you feel that way, then these guys just aren’t worth it,” he told him softly. “You shouldn’t have to act like you’re someone else. You should be with someone who likes you the way you are.”

Jeonghan blinked at him like he was shocked.

And who wouldn’t like the real you? He wanted to continue. You’re incredible, you’re kind hearted and sweet, but you’re also so playful and sly. You’re so much more than how you look. Those guys just don’t know you like

He wanted to say, desperately. But he couldn’t.

Jeonghan had him caught in his gaze. He leaned into Seungcheol’s touch, and Seungcheol was mesmerized with how long it had been since they’ve been in this kind of close proximity, let alone the last time he’s touched Jeonghan like this, so intimate and tender and full of possibilities. He felt Jeonghan’s nose bump his own and he felt lost, closing his eyes because he was too overwhelmed with this moment.

It just seemed so easy to fall into this again. To lean in closer and feel the press of Jeonghan’s lips against his own. To feel the warmth of his body like he could at the moment, to pull Jeonghan in and get lost in him once again, like all the times they’ve had before. It felt so fucking easy

And yet.

Against his own will, he stuttered out before that moment in his mind could ever become reality, “You’re dating someone, Jeonghan.”

He felt Jeonghan exhale slowly and softly, breath against his skin. When he opened his eyes, Jeonghan’s lips were pursed hard and he pulled back. Just like that, the boundaries were built up again like brick walls, and the moment was over.

“Right…” Jeonghan mumbled, and if there was more to that sentence, Seungcheol would never know. His roommate pulled away from him and got out of the car without another word.

Seungcheol closed his eyes again and sighed, hitting his forehead against the steering wheel.

It was a misstep. That’s all he seemed to take around Jeonghan lately. Missteps.

He knew he should say something to him. Apologize for letting his selfishness take control of him, letting the boundaries crumble down and get out of hand. Maybe he should finally explain to him how he’s been feeling and just say to hell with all the consequences.

Seungcheol swallowed it all down, got out of the car, and did none of that. When he entered the apartment, Jeonghan was already locked in his own room.

So instead, he laid alone in his bed that night, staring at the dark ceiling of his bedroom, wondering about what could have been.

 


 

He knew, at this point, he should have gotten used to Jeonghan being a mess whenever he’d drink. The man said it himself; he knew how he became when he was drunk, unhinged from his inhibitions.

But Jeonghan rarely ever drank now, or at least he didn’t drink in the apartment, not that Seungcheol’s ever seen him do so. He knew where he kept his own stash of soju bottles, and last he checked, none of them had been opened.

Jeonghan never came home drunk either. Apart from the first night he stayed at the apartment, and the night of his birthday, Jeonghan’s never done anything stupid like what he’s done before.

That’s why getting a call from Wonwoo past 8 in the evening on a Thursday night was worrisome. Nothing could have prepared him for what was to come that night.

Seungcheol was in the middle of closing up at the records shop when he got the call. He paused in rearranging the stack of CDs, his one hand gripping his phone a little tighter at the sound of Wonwoo’s voice.

“Your roommate’s here,” he had said once he answered the phone, no pretext of greeting or anything. “You better come over, fast.”

He hung up quickly after. Wonwoo’s voice sounded troubled, and it put him on edge just enough to rush in closing up.

Jeonghan had texted him sometime earlier in the day when he had just started his shift saying he had left his key inside the apartment, only realizing it when he was already at the front door. Seungcheol had texted him back that, though it was pretty far, he could walk to the records shop and he’d let him borrow his key, but he never got a reply after that, and Jeonghan never showed up at the shop.

Thinking back on that now as he got into his car, that should’ve been a warning sign of some kind. He probably should have followed it up with Jeonghan, but he got too held up at work that he simply forgot about it.

He got to the pub less than half an hour later, parking in his usual spot by the apartment and walking the rest of the way. When he entered, he didn’t have to scan the crowd to find Jeonghan.

His roommate was sitting at the bar, his head faced down onto the table like he was passed out, hair in disarray. There were far too many empty bottles of beer scattered around him.

“What the hell ,” he said aloud to no one in particular. He nudged Jeonghan’s shoulder, and his roommate gave a small groan, eyes opening slightly.

He saw Wonwoo coming out of the kitchen and going behind the bar, and when he met his eyes, Wonwoo simply shook his head like he was the one that was disappointed.

“He came in earlier when I wasn’t on my shift,” Wonwoo explained to him. “When I got here, he was already on his fifth drink.”

Seungcheol pursed his lips, taking in that information with a heavy heart. “Did you cut him off?”

“I did, but he ended up getting other people to buy him a few more bottles,” Wonwoo shook his head and sighed. “I spoke to him when I realized he was doing that, and he stopped.”

“Did he mention…” he started to ask, but trailed off.

He didn’t know where that sentence was going. Did he say something about Minhyuk? His parents? His ex? He couldn’t figure out what spurred this sudden moment for Jeonghan, and it troubled him. But something must have happened, within the span of hours, that was so bad that Jeonghan needed an immediate clutch that was nearby.

Wonwoo looked a bit uncomfortable. “He didn’t really say anything specific.”

Seungcheol glanced at Jeonghan again, who still hasn’t gotten up. His eyes were open, though a little red and dazed over.

He couldn’t understand what was going on, why Jeonghan was here getting trashed when it wasn’t even that late at night, even more so that he had classes the next day. It felt far too much like a familiar scene, but even worse. He had a terrible sinking feeling pushing down on his chest, but he ignored it and turned back to Wonwoo.

“Thanks for doing what you can,” he said softly. “And thanks for calling me.”

Wonwoo nodded, though his face still showed his worry.

“Han, hey,” he called out in a whisper, gently helping Jeonghan lift his head up. He brushed some of his long strands of hair out of the way, not caring about boundaries any longer when all he cared about at the moment was making sure Jeonghan was okay.

“Mm…” Jeonghan blinked very slowly in reply, his eyebrows creasing. “... Sshh olie?”

Seungcheol tried his best not to wince from how strong the smell of alcohol was coming out of Jeonghan’s mouth. “Do you wanna go back to the apartment?” he asked, but it wasn’t really a suggestion.

Jeonghan sniffed, nodded his head though a little lethargically.

“Okay, c’mon,” he said, and Jeonghan offered his hands and arm up for help like a child.

He helped Jeonghan stand up, letting Jeonghan lean against him and putting his arm around him to steady him. He hadn’t been this close to Jeonghan in a while, not since he fucked things up between them in the car a week ago, and he felt awful that this kind of situation was what brought them to even being in the same breathing space again.

He somewhat carried Jeonghan as best as he could back to their apartment, minus the occasional stumbling from Jeonghan over his own two feet. He was mumbling the entire walk home, and Seungcheol couldn’t understand any of it until they were finally at the door.

“I fff-f orgot,” Jeonghan slurred. “My ke yyy ?”

“I know. You messaged me earlier,” Seungcheol said, unlocking the door. “Sorry I made you wait.”

He felt like he needed to apologize for more, but he didn’t know what to say.

“Are- will you,” Jeonghan stopped and shook his head, starting his sentence over again. “S’Not your fault.”

Seungcheol sighed, feeling even heavier than he should.

They were halfway to Jeonghan’s room when Jeonghan stopped walking forward and started walking backwards out of Seungcheol’s grasp on him.

“Wait- wait,” he stuttered. “I’mm drunk.”

“No shit,” Seungcheol chided, feeling far too overwhelmed with frustration that Jeonghan was in this mess of a state.

“So don’t-” Jeonghan said, waving his hand out, repeating, “D-Don’t.”

Don’t what? ’, he was about to ask, but the flushed and panicked look on Jeonghan’s face made him freeze up when it clicked in his head right away, far too fast than ever before.

“I’d never do that Han,” he said gently, even though he felt sick to his stomach that Jeonghan would even think he’d take advantage of him like this, and after all they’ve been through.

“Okay,” Jeonghan nodded- but shook his head again right after, like he was still confused. “I mean, no, o-of course you wouldn’t- I-I know. You’re not— Seungcheol, you’re—”

Then, Jeonghan stopped talking and brought a hand to his mouth.

Seungcheol shook his head, “ Nope , no—”

Immediately, he knew what was about to happen next, and he pulled Jeonghan by his arms as quickly as he could to the bathroom. His roommate instantly crumpled to the ground in front of the open toilet, vomiting whatever drinks he had in his stomach.

It was a disgusting and sad sight to see, one that Seungcheol never thought would happen in a million years.

What the hell , he thought for what could only be the hundredth time that night. He felt like he was far away from reality and simultaneously too aware of what was going on. He wanted to wake up, but everything was too vividly real.

He kneeled down and helped Jeonghan by holding his hair back- a bizarre contrast to the times he’s done this when they would have sex. He patted Jeonghan’s back gently, like one would to a sick child, as his roommate continued to retch.

The smell was awful, the bathroom ground felt cold, but the worst part of it all were the tears streaming down Jeonghan’s face. He’d never seen Jeonghan so distraught, had never even seen him cry before until now.

“Fuck,” Jeonghan groaned, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He let out a few coughs, before leaning away from the sick that was left in the toilet.

Seungcheol helped him sit up properly and rest his back against the wall. He rose to quickly get Jeonghan a glass of water from the kitchen, handing it to him right away. While Jeonghan drank the water with shaking hands, Seungcheol flushed the toilet and got a couple of tissues for Jeonghan to use.

Seungcheol sat beside him on the floor, leaning his back against the tile, feeling thoroughly exhausted. The rush of everything happening all at once hadn’t sunk in yet, until he felt Jeonghan lean against him, his head falling onto his shoulder.

“I’m s-sorry,” Jeonghan muttered into his shirt sleeve.

Seungcheol brought a hand up to stroke Jeonghan’s hair, bringing him in closer. He replied gently, because that’s what he was supposed to do, “Hannie, it’s okay.” 

But it wasn’t.

He felt every silent sob and shiver Jeonghan gave off, and he held onto him through it all. He seemed like he was still too drunk to talk straight and give him answers he desperately wanted to hear, so Seungcheol didn’t push it. Instead, he calmed all the burning questions in his head, and focused on only comforting him.

He knew Jeonghan was starting to drift off when his sniffling was dying down. And yet, in the deathly silent bathroom, he could hear him mumbling in his sleep, “You’re a… good friend, Cheollie.”

His heart sank deeper than he thought it could tonight. It hurt to hear that sentence come out of Jeonghan’s mouth when they were on the floor of the bathroom looking very much miserable. And it wasn’t that he didn’t want to be Jeonghan’s friend, but rather, at this moment, he didn’t feel like a good friend at all. He felt terrible. He felt for Jeonghan so fucking badly.

And that was because he could see nothing but himself in Jeonghan tonight.

The fact that this wasn’t the first time this cold tiled floor of his bathroom had witnessed someone kneeled, broken and vomiting. The fact that it wasn’t the first time these walls had seen tears before. Those low points in his life where he’d get wasted simply to get wasted, because it was so much easier to forget that way, were embedded memories in these four walls.

His intentions didn’t matter anymore. He knew that now more than ever. He saw the dried up tear streaks down Jeonghan’s face and his chest clenched.

None of it mattered, but at least he was here.