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Two Sugars

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Kyungsoo pulls his car gently up to the leafy curb and puts it into park. The suburban street around him is peacefully silent at this early hour of the morning, only the occasional dog walker braving the chill to pound the pavement. Kyungsoo looks at his watch face as it peeks out from the sleeve of his suit. Five am.

The door to the house he’s parked in front of cracks open and a blonde-haired figure emerges, trench coat over one arm. He makes his way to the car, footsteps swishing the fallen autumn leaves away as he walks. The passenger side door opens and Kyungsoo feels the rush of cold air that accompanies his friend.

Minseok settles into the seat beside him, thunking the door closed. “G’morning.”

Kyungsoo smiles. “Morning. Where’s Jongdae?”

Minseok slips on his seatbelt, clicking it onto place. “Coming. He just had to finish putting his stuff in the dryer.”

Kyungsoo nods. “If he hurries we might beat the rush. I’ll pay for the coffee today.”

“You know,” Minseok folds his trench coat across his knees, the dark brown fabric mixing gently with his own suit. He stifles a yawn. “We wouldn’t actually need the coffee if we weren’t up at this ungodly hour to go get it in the first place.”

Kyungsoo flushes, guilty. “I’m sorry.”

Minseok’s smile is teasing. “No, you’re not. But it’s a good thing we’re your friends. No one else would be up at this stupid hour several times a week to go with you.”

The back door of the car opens and Jongdae slips inside, chased by a crunchy orange leaf. “Oh, is it an appropriate hour to pick on Kyungsoo for his crush already? I thought we agreed to not do that until at least breakfast.”

“It’s Friday.” Minseok laughs. “All rules are off on Fridays.”

Kyungsoo pulls away from the curb. “Shut up, both of you.”

* * *

It’s faintly raining by the time they pull into the parking lot at the end of the café strip. Soft, light smatterings of drops that all three of them ignore as they pull their collars up and make their way towards the shop they’re specifically there for. The whole street smells delicious at this early time; croissants and cakes and bagels being baked before most customers are yet to appear, but only one store at the very end beckons with the smell of home-brewed coffee.

A gentle, electronic meow chimes out as Kyungsoo opens the door in place of the usual bell. Must be a halloween addition. The smell of coffee intensifies, thick and almost physically warm. A few people have beaten them there and are milling around the counter for their orders. No one else at this hour usually stays to eat, too busy on their way to work. But never too busy to stop into The Paw Print for their morning caffeine, apparently.

The simple shop is so much more than it seems which is what drew Kyungsoo to it in the first place. Hidden away down the back of the café strip, it means each potential customer must first walk past half a dozen other enticing stores to get to it. But those who are regulars all have come to understand that it’s really, really worth it.

The cosy little place is half coffee shop, half bookstore; a perfect mix of dark brown tables near the open brick facade and tall cream shelves, of soft couches by the windows piled high with pillows and recessed alcoves full of comforting novels. Tiny strings of fairy lights run up along the awnings and little glass jars of silver sugar cubes are dotted about the place. You can read while you drink and most often than not, the patrons end up buying the book. There’s something magical about the store. And it’s not just how amazing the coffee is.

Lately the new barista might have something extra to do with it. At least for Kyungsoo anyway. And while his friends tease him mercilessly about it, they faithfully wake up at the crack of dawn several mornings a week to accompany him before they get to work because Kyungsoo is hesitant to go alone. Which is the ultimate irony because in no other aspect of his life is Kyungsoo anything other than perfectly calm and in control. So he might just love them for it. No, scratch that. He does.

“Look at him.” Jongdae mutters, closing the door behind them and unwinding his scarf. “Did I make puppy eyes that big when we first met?” he asks Minseok, who snorts.

“Bigger.”

Kyungsoo elbows Jongdae. “Busted.”

Jongdae laughs, shoving back. “Hey just remember who chased who.”

Minseok won’t be cowed. “You were the cutest understudy I’d ever seen.” He states airily. “And the most helpful. I just knew you’d make a good wife.”

Jongdae is in the middle of attempting to smother him with his scarf when the crowd thins a little and a voice ahead of them calls out.

“Next please.”

Kyungsoo looks up. And promptly forgets how to speak. He’s greeted by the warmest, gentlest set of eyes and oh, fuck. He’s wearing his glasses today. Fine golden circles that should look far too preppy but somehow on the barista… suit him perfectly. Kyungsoo smiles faintly, swallowing and stepping forward when Minseok pokes him none too gently in the kidneys.

“Hi.”

The nametag pinned neatly to the oversized cream sweater flashes as the barista turns from the machine to the register in front of him. Jongin. Kyungsoo has glanced at it every day that he’s come for coffee these last few weeks but has yet to say it out aloud. Is it too informal to call the guy who makes your coffee by his name? How and where is the line exactly? Kyungsoo madly wishes he knew. So instead he feels warm and a little like an idiot when Jongin recognises him and visibly brightens.

“Hey! Kyungsoo.” Jongin flicks his eyes over the three of them. “Minseok, Jongdae. Good morning!”

Of course, Jongin knows his name. The amount of times he’s scrawled it on the side of a styrofoam cup and gently handed it over in a brush of fingertips should have made it easy to memorise. However, Kyungsoo has passed through a million coffee places over the years and knows just how many people the poor staff see every day - so the fact that Jongin has such a good memory is just another thing about him that makes Kyungsoo soft. It gives the illusion that they’re special. Valued customers. And even if it’s a gimmick, it’s a cute one.

There’s a tiny, sparkly pumpkin sticker pressed high onto Jongin’s tanned cheekbone today, almost hidden under the lowest curve of his glasses and that small detail… Kyungsoo can’t. He feels like such a dork but all he can do is mumble out a hello. Jongin’s plush mouth curves into a happy smile and he ducks his head, prepping the filter handle.

“The usual?”

Minseok pops around Kyungsoo’s shoulder with an exasperated roll of his eyes. “Yes please. To go.”

Kyungsoo goes to open his mouth. To say something. Anything. But Jongin interlocks the filter handle with the tampering head and flattens the coffee grinds, sliding the basket onto the group head in a practised move and fishing three empty cups off the top of the machine with his other hand. He opens the shot extraction to allow the hot water to run through the grinds and turns to the nearby cash register, flicking off his plastic gloves and ringing up the order. When he’s finished he glances up through the falling strands of his dark fringe and relays the tally to Kyungsoo. All up it takes him a total of about thirty seconds. Kyungsoo painfully wishes it were longer. God he’s such a dork.

Sometimes when he has the free time, Kyungsoo is able to stop by and have an in-house coffee. Then he can sit and pick a book, read a chapter and enjoy the magic of the place. It’s during those periods that Jongin will bring him over a coffee and hover a moment to talk quietly. It’s how Kyungsoo knows he’s not a barista by trade, just a self-taught college student. That he’s here in the last few weeks to help his sister who owns the shop. That he’s majoring in a Bachelor of Arts with a focus on dance with the hopes of becoming a choreographer one day. Tiny snippets of information that Jongin happily relays in quiet, shy sentences before he has to go and serve another table.

And other times, Kyungsoo has only enough time to grab a quick takeaway. Like today. Kyungsoo digs his wallet out and slides a card across the reader, paying the total. Jongin neatly hands him the receipt and finishes adding the steamed milk to their cups, topping them off with the final whips of foam from the jug. He adds the correct amounts of sugar that each of them prefers (again, helluva memory), snags two of the sweet cups and dusts the fluffy tops with chocolate and a hint of cinnamon. Then he caps them carefully and scribbles the names on the sides in black marker. Jongdae is waiting on the other side of the bench to collect them in a cardboard container and offers his thanks.

Kyungsoo bites his lip. Another customer has already shouldered around him and is waiting at the counter and Minseok is nearly at the door, ready to open it for them. Jongin passes behind the machine again and heads for the register, glancing past the hovering customer to Kyungsoo. His eyes catch and hold and maybe it’s the change in the seasons, maybe it’s the fact that any day now Jongin could be gone again, but Kyungsoo is tired of feeling nervous. The tiny pumpkin sticker glitters in the low lighting.

Kyungsoo raises his chin. “Thanks Jongin.”

That earns him a brilliant, startled smile. Then Jongdae grabs him by the shoulders as Kyungsoo gawks too long, turns him and physically pushes him out the door.

“This is more painful than a cheap romance movie.”

Kyungsoo looks back over his shoulder but past the closing door Jongin has already turned to the other fellow. “What? Why?”

Jongdae pulls his coffee cup from the holder and shoves it at Kyungsoo. Next to his name where the full stop should be is a small, awkward squiggle.

Kyungsoo angles the cup slightly sideways, trying not to spill the contents. “Did his hand slip?” Is that supposed to be a cauldron or something?

Minseok takes a not-so-subtle sip of his drink and walks past them both, eyebrows raised. “Looks like a heart to me.”

* * *

Kyungsoo finishes the coffee and keeps the styrofoam cup on his desk for the rest of the day. Jongdae looks far too amused every time he comes into the office to hand Kyungsoo some fresh invoices, but apart from dropping a handful of candy corn onto the lid he kindly doesn’t say anything.

Minseok pokes his head around the door to Kyungsoo’s office just before lunch. “Don’t forget drinks after work. We’re still trying to figure out the bucks’ night venue.”

Kyungsoo nods and gives a quick thumbs up, a pencil held between his lips as he reviews the latest draft autumn spread for the magazine’s upcoming issue. Jongdae and Minseok’s bucks’ night before they officially tied the knot. Right. He hadn’t forgotten, he’d just been… slightly distracted as of late. Kyungsoo’s eyes dart to the object that represents that distraction.

The cup with the squiggly could-be-heart stays where it is for the remainder of the afternoon, right next to the assistant editor’s plaque on Kyungsoo’s desk.

* * *

A long arm slithers around Kyungsoo’s waist later that afternoon as he’s standing at the microwave watching his little lunch packet rotate. He startles so badly he nearly knocks over his cup of water.

“Ohh, skittish?”

The arm and voice are creepily familiar and Kyungsoo immediately knocks the roaming hand away.

“Shut up.”

It belongs to one of the other assistant editors on the floor above and Seungwon angles his rattish face around to look down at Kyungsoo. One eyebrow climbs.

“No need to be so coy, Soo. You should relax. It’s only a touch.”

Kyungsoo angles himself away. “I don’t have to do anything.” He snaps. “You know I don’t like it.”

Seungwon shrugs, forever letting Kyungsoo’s rebuttal wash off him. It creeps Kyungsoo the hell out and nothing he ever does seems to dissuade the other, slightly older man. He took a more than professional liking to Kyungsoo from the day he started and at this point shy of making an official complaint and rocking the corporate boat here at the magazine, Kyungsoo just usually avoids the guy. It works most of the time.

Today isn’t one of those days.

“One day.” Seungwon sighs dramatically. “One day you’ll stop playing hard to get.”

Kyungsoo pulls a face and ignores him, eyes trained on the painfully slow countdown timer on the microwave. It had been such a nice day so far, dammit. C’mon, c’mon…

Seungwon reaches above Kyungsoo’s head for the spare plates that are kept in one of the top cabinets, brushing far too close. Kyungsoo grits his teeth and counts slowly to ten to keep from shoving an elbow back into the other man and instead angles closer to the counter, creating an illusion of space. Don’t make a scene. The kitchenette area is a small, thin room at the best of times so he knows space is at a premium, but this is ridiculous… But before Kyungsoo can jab Seungwon in the ribs and possibly lose his job he finally, finally retrieves his plate and steps back.

“You know now that we have a private moment to talk, I’d like to request you for my team for the winter competition. Whadda ya say, Soo?”

Kyungsoo frowns, only half listening as the microwave completes its cycle and cheerfully dings at him. “What competition?” He mutters, lifting his half-nuked meal out and barely paying attention. At this point he’ll take it cold just to get away before he loses his temper.

Seungwon sounds far too smug at Kyungsoo’s confusion. “Aha so that means you don’t have a team already? Fantastic. I’ll contact Mr Oh and put in my recommendation. I think that’ll secure us the top spot this quarter-”

“Kyungsoo!” Minseok takes that moment to appear around the door, half out of breath as if he’s been running down each hallway in the complex looking for him. “There you are!”

Relief washes over Kyungsoo as Minseok grabs his arm and tugs him close, away from Seungwon. Minseok takes a steadying breath, shaking his head.

“I thought you were only going to be five minutes! We still need to come up with a team concept.” He looks pointedly at Kyungsoo, eyes flaring wide.

Kyungsoo knows that look. It’s the kind that often starts plots and gets them out of trouble. “A team concept…” He squints at Minseok. “For the… winter competition?” he hazards, hoping he’s following along correctly.

Minseok pulls a ‘perfect, shut up and follow my lead’ look. “Yeah.” He grits out. “You know. The one head office just announced.”

Seungwon tries to angle himself between Minseok and Kyungsoo. “Wait. I thought you didn’t have a group organised already.”

Minseok tugs Kyungsoo around nearly behind himself and angles them away just as Jongdae appears and shoves past, forcing the older man to take a step back.

“Oh! Didn’t see you there.” Jongdae smiles coldly. “Just came to get our teammate. Right, Kyungsoo? Fantastic, let’s go.”

Between the two of them they collect Kyungsoo and his lunch and manhandle both of them out down the hallway and back into Kyungsoo’s office. The door closes with a slam.

Kyungsoo sinks into one of the chairs in front of his desk. “Jesus, thank you. He’s such a pain. But… what the hell is this competition everyone is talking about?”

“Winter fashion issue.” Minseok replies smoothly, as if that answers everything. At Kyungsoo’s shrug he rolls his eyes. “You really need to check your e-mail more than once a day. Head office just launched it.” He ticks the points off on his fingers. “We have four weeks prep, the whole design theme is up to us, we have full photo shoot access time for a mock up and a temporary loan of any requested concept-specific clothing to present to them an idea by mid-October. The winning team idea earns the partner spot with Gucci for the whole centre spread in the final quarterly for the year.”

Kyungsoo’s eyes go wide. “Well holy shit.”

Jongdae crosses his arms, smile soft. “Yeah. And we figured you didn’t want to be stuck with rat-features for it. So I sent Minseok to find you the moment we heard.”

Kyungsoo rubs his eyes tiredly, leaning his head against the high leather back of the chair. “I owe you both big time.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Minseok pats his shoulder kindly as he makes to leave. “Put it on my tab.”

Kyungsoo smiles underneath his hand. Outside the rain starts to thunder down.

* * *

Saturday morning rolls around with something less than a hangover from the after-work drinks the night before, but just shy of a decent headspace. Kyungsoo unanimously decides it can be improved with coffee. After all a weekend is a perfectly acceptable time to just go in by himself, right? He keeps coming back to how creeped out Seungwon made him feel the day before, which may have led to a few too many drinks while planning Minseok and Jongdae’s final night of frivolity before tying the knot. Yeah he definitely needs hot caffeine and a shy, comforting smile.

The rain has lessened overnight, letting the crisp autumn morning unfold and Kyungsoo decides to take the bus. Parking is always hell on a weekend anyway. He throws on dark jeans and a warm shirt, dragging over it a grey jacket and a scarf. It’s getting too cold outside to just layer shirts like he prefers. Umbrella in hand he walks to the bus.

It drops him off half a block away and Kyungsoo enjoys the final short walk in the rain, glancing into shopfronts as he passes to try and get inspiration for the winter edition. Gucci is nothing to be complacent about and to have his team’s work partnered with such an esteemed name… Kyungsoo thoughtfully chews on his lip and racks up ideas to tell his friends on Monday the entire way to The Paw Print. No way are they going to lose to Seungwon.

Warmth and the now-expected meow welcomes his arrival and Kyungsoo can see that perhaps the cold weather is keeping people in bed on a lazy weekend morning. There’s only a few tables occupied and it’s not far off midday. It makes the cosy nooks by the window stand out invitingly and Kyungsoo moves for one of them, dropping onto the plush couch cushions in a puff of pillows. The fairy lights lend everything a soft glow and there’s a stack of books balanced on a low shelf nearby. Kyungsoo peers down the pile and pulls one out from about halfway.

The menu stands on one corner of the table and Kyungsoo folds it over, twisting to look at the back. Maybe he’ll try something new today… He’s pretty predictable and boring with his coffee choices so maybe he should-

A light shadow falls across the corner of the wooden table and Kyungsoo glances up. Jongin hesitates there, a steaming cup in one hand, looking suddenly extremely embarrassed. He’s not wearing his glasses today.

“Oh. Oh, you were looking at the menu. Did you… not want your usual?” Jongin runs a hand through his hair and makes it fall haphazardly over his forehead. “Shit I’m sorry. I just saw you come in and made it up without thinking, I-”

Kyungsoo snaps the menu closed, incredibly touched. “Its fine. Honestly.” Kyungsoo smiles warmly. “You made it so of course I’ll have it.”

Jongin hesitates, looking ridiculously adorable in his baby blue long-sleeved shirt, apron tied over the top. There’s a smudge of icing sugar streaked across one eyebrow. Kyungsoo thinks he might be crushing stupidly hard over the little details.

Jongin slowly places the cup down in its little saucer, almost as if waiting for Kyungsoo to change his mind. So Kyungsoo takes a chance and shuffles over on the couch, drawing the cup towards himself and leaving a very obvious space along the length of pillows. He offers a small incline of his head and Jongin glances around. There’s no one waiting at the counter.

Jongin folds his apron and slides in beside him, settling his longer legs in so that their thighs are brushing under the table. Kyungsoo’s heart is beating so stupidly fast he thinks caffeine is probably the last thing he should be having right now. But Jongin made it for him with care so Kyungsoo takes a long sip. It’s perfect, as usual. Dark coffee with a gentle reminder of something sweet underneath. Kyungsoo smiles against the porcelain, savouring it.

Jongin’s face lights up, even if he doesn’t say anything. Kyungsoo notices that too. And it’s been a week or more since he’s had a chance to talk to Jongin so he asks how his studies are going.

Jongin excitedly relays his progress, keeping Kyungsoo updated on how he’s in the running for an understudy apprenticeship at one of the leading dance studios in the country if he can finish top of his class next year.

“You’ll do it.” Kyungsoo replies gently. At Jongin’s gentle tilt of his head, he elaborates. “I don’t know the first thing about dancing but you’re focussed. I can see that much in what you do each time I’m here. You take your time to make things perfect yet you’re not slow, you have an awesome memory and you’re methodical.” He shrugs. “You’ll ace it.”

Jongin drops his gaze, nodding. “I hope so.” His voice is small, serious. “It means everything to me. When I’m dancing I’m…” he lifts his head and searches for something in the rain-streaked window behind them both. “Free. More than myself. Maybe all of myself. I don’t know.” He laughs quietly at his own words, nudging Kyungsoo’s knee with his own. “It’s probably stupid. I can’t explain it properly.”

“Who knows.” Kyungsoo offers raised eyebrows over the coffee cup he’s still drinking from. “Maybe I’ll buy a ticket to one of your shows one day. Then I can see it in action and understand.”

Jongin laughs at that, eyes crinkling. “No way.” He shakes his head. “I’d get you in for free. Friends and family discount.”

Kyungsoo feels warm in a way that has nothing to do with the coffee. He takes a deep breath and gathers his courage. God he used to be so much smoother at this. At the whole flirting thing. The coffee cup feels like a shield so he moves to place it down. His voice is quiet.

“Maybe more than friends?”

Jongin’s gaze softens and for some reason his eyes dart down to the saucer resting on the tabletop. He opens his mouth that’s curving into a smile - but a call from the counter makes him look away. There’s a customer waiting and his sister is waving in their direction. Jongin unfolds from the small table with an apology and darts over, smoothing his apron back into place. Kyungsoo feels that same warmth sink out of his chest. Crap. How’s that for timing. Well it was worth a try…

He looks down into the dregs of his coffee, mentally kicking himself. But the receipt sitting tucked under the saucer catches his eye. Jongin had been looking at it before. Kyungsoo picks it up, noticing the black marker layering over the total, crossing it out. There’s a phone number scrawled next to it. And this time yeah, that squiggle in the corner is definitely a lopsided heart.

Kyungsoo sinks back against the cushions and can’t stop smiling. He picks up the book he’s chosen and reads a chapter. By the time he leaves, receipt tucked carefully into his wallet, he doesn’t remember a single word of the plot. Only the taste of the coffee.

* * *

Sunday is spent clearing fallen leaves from his front porch and sending competition ideas back and forth with Jongdae and Minseok in the group chat they have (which is all kinds of ridiculous because his two friends often pick up each other’s phone as they move about the house they’ve shared for the last few years so Kyungsoo is never quite sure who he’s talking to, but it doesn’t matter in the end anyway).

The text box for Jongin sits empty in comparison because Kyungsoo isn’t sure how soon is too soon to be texting (god he’s rusty) and he ends up second-guessing himself at some point over his takeaway on Sunday evening and wondering if maybe Jongin gave him his number as a friend and… fuck.

So Kyungsoo texts. Before he overanalyses it and has a minor freak out over his burger and cold beer. Asks Jongin how he is because what could be simpler than that? Then Kyungsoo realises after he’s hit send that he’s not said who he is and that his message will come up as just a random number. In a flurry he types out a second text explaining that he’s not a stranger-- but midway through his phone vibrates. A happy emoticon and a few words have returned.

Jongin: Double shot espresso, two sugars?

Kyungsoo grins at his phone screen. He types back a reply.

Kyungsoo: How did you guess?

The rebuttal is quick and Kyungsoo can almost hear Jongin’s soft laugh in the words.

Jongin: Because I don’t give out my number very often. But I did yesterday to a cute customer I know who never changes his order.

Kyungsoo rereads the sentences until he feels giddy and a little lightheaded.

* * *

Monday means a return to the shop before work, this time with Jongin’s number in his phone like a lightning bolt. Both of his friends have been left carefully in the warm idling car as Minseok fights off the beginnings of a cold. Kyungsoo had offered to veto their bi-weekly predawn coffee run but the other two had insisted and still got up early to meet him. So Kyungsoo had left the car running for the heater and made a dash in the chilly breeze for the shop. He intends to get them both the biggest comfort-food pastry he can find. And maybe a matcha tea for Minseok today, for the jolt of antioxidants.

Kyungsoo hasn’t quite told Jongdae or Minseok about the number yet, still holding that detail tight to his chest. He wants to be brave enough to ask Jongin out first. Cute texts are one thing but Kyungsoo genuinely wants more than ten minutes in the other man’s company; wants to hope for maybe dinner, a movie… hell, he’ll be happy with just walking up and down the block with him so they can talk and he can watch those tiny laugh lines that fold up around Jongin’s eyes when he finds something particularly hilarious. He wants whatever Jongin will give him.

As it turns out, that happens to be a heavy box nearly as soon as Kyungsoo enters the shop, the gentle doorbell meow trailing in his wake. He barely has time to grab the cardboard square before it topples off the wobbly pile stacked in a set of arms in front of him. A female voice calls out from behind the counter.

“Nini! Don’t try to take too many at once. I’ve told you before!”

Jongin’s head pops up from behind the remaining three boxes in his arms, dark hair askew and glasses fallen to the end of his nose. He grins at Kyungsoo, surprise evident in his tone.

“Oh hey. Thanks! Good catch.”

Kyungsoo mouths ‘Nini?’ and Jongin ducks his head, chuckling. He hoists his armful and makes for the back of the store. Kyungsoo follows into the shelves, placing his box down when Jongin stops at an open section bare of books. He takes the rest off Jongin’s hands and stacks them neatly. When he turns back he’s greeted with a grateful smile. God, sometimes Kyungsoo forgets because most of their interactions are at a table that Jongin is half a head taller than him. In amongst the small shelving pathways he should feel claustrophobic like the kitchenette at work but somehow… he’s more than okay.

Jongin glances between Kyungsoo and the boxes, running a hand across the back of his neck in a sheepish gesture. He’s dressed in a knitted sweater today, auburn coils of wool that trail up his chest and across broad shoulders. The move exposes a faint trail of skin along his belly as it rides up. Kyungsoo doesn’t look. He doesn’t.

“Sorry for nearly squashing you as you walked in.” Jongin pushes the golden frames back up his nose to perch properly. There’s a tiny cauldron sticker pressed against one earlobe like a pretend sparkly earring and Kyungsoo swallows at the sight, shoving down the urge to reach out and touch it. Instead he shrugs.

“It’s okay. Is this new stock?”

Jongin crouches down and reads off the labels against the invoice sticky-taped to the bottom one. “Yeah most of the bestselling authors release new books in the months before Christmas. Perfect marketing.” He tugs off the glasses that Kyungsoo has figured are only for close-up work and stands again. It’s then that Kyungsoo notices the dark powder along the bridge of his nose. He squints playfully.

“How do you manage to get messy every time you work?”

Jongin swipes at his cheeks. “What? Did I get flour on me again?”

“No,” Kyungsoo laughs, reaching out without thinking and brushing a couple of fingers lightly down Jongin’s nose. “Chocolate dust.”

Jongin’s hand comes up and he snags the cuff of Kyungsoo’s sleeve as his hand falls away. He holds on for a moment, fingers curling into the material. Then he flicks his eyes up to Kyungsoo and without breaking their gaze raises both their hands to his mouth. Kyungsoo’s heart stops.

Jongin presses his full lips against the side of Kyungsoo’s fingers that have brushed the dust, collecting it in a kiss. Time seems to stop, like even raindrops could have frozen. Then Jongin lets go and with the shyest of smiles (far too shy for a guy who has just pulled one hell of a move like that) turns away and licks his chocolate-smeared lips, motioning with a flick of his head towards the front counter.

“The usual?”

The outside world returns like rain after passing under the silence of a bridge with that softly-voiced question. Frozen to the spot Kyungsoo nearly says yes automatically, only remembering at the last moment to order a tea instead. He doesn’t think he’s ever wanted to kiss someone more in his whole life. Jesus.

Jongin makes the order up quickly, cheeks the most adorable shade of pink the entire time. Kyungsoo stands to one side as he does and holds his coat folded over his hands in front of him, trying to look for all the world like he wasn’t just half-hard in the middle of a public store.

He ferries all the cups and a cardboard box of pastries back to the car not long after, dodging the puddles on the sidewalk in a daze without really noticing. Jongdae and Minseok take one look at his face and tease him mercilessly the entire drive to work.

* * *

“Invite him along.” Minseok says simply, perched on one corner of Kyungsoo’s desk. He swings one foot like it’s the simplest thing in the world. “Why not?”

Kyungsoo doesn’t look up from the pile of folders he has in front of him. “That’d just be weird. He doesn’t need to tag along as an extra to a… where did you guys decide on again?”

“Booty bar.” Jongdae calls from his cross-legged spot on the carpet, surrounded by past editions of the magazine and the remnants of several pastries.

“Gentleman’s club.” Minseok corrects him instantly and Kyungsoo rolls his eyes.

“It’s still a fancy strip joint with food. He won’t know anyone besides me and doesn’t need to bear witness to you two making out over the tapas and ogling dudes in hotpants.”

Minseok shrugs like it’s going to be Jongin’s loss. “The food is really good.”

Kyungsoo is already slightly regretting having told them on the drive over that he was going to ask Jongin out. But at this point his friends would have figured some of it out and he loves them too much to not be honest. It’s a distraction that he doesn’t need at the moment though, because they’re still no closer to a concept for their mock up shoot and time is ticking. They’ve been at it all afternoon since the production meetings were finished. “Is anything jumping out at you from those past spreads?”

Jongdae makes a noncommittal noise. “Nothing stands out but we don’t want to be too heavily influenced by the standard stuff we’ve done before anyway. We need a fresher idea. Something that stands out.”

Minseok pushes off the desk and drops down to crouch next to him, flicking a few glossy pages over. “I like the idea of something raw. You’ve got a thousand different variations on the fluffy sweater and cosy fireplace backdrop. I think we can risk going a little off that.”

Kyungsoo closes the first binder of catalogue reference shots and puts it aside, picking up another. “Might make us stand out. You thinking sexy?”

“Yeah.” Minseok hums, “What do you guys think?”

Jongdae rests back on his arms, stretching. He looks up at the ceiling and the afternoon shadows sliding across them as the grey clouds change position outside. “I think that might work. If we can par it with the fall theme.” The phone by his knee rings and he picks it up. It must be one of the production managers because Jongdae gets to his feet and trots out immediately.

Minseok gazes after him fondly. “He’s always so obedient.”

Kyungsoo snorts and turns back to his binders. “Whatever kinky shit you two get up to behind closed doors can stay there.”

Minseok’s smile is wicked. “Hey don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. There’s a great place downtown that used to have this amazing do-”

Kyungsoo throws a pen at him.

* * *

Jongin texts Kyungsoo pictures of the cats that seem to like perching on the windowsills of the store, shots of silly things customers have drawn on napkins and other random things throughout his day that he finds entertaining. Kyungsoo saves every one and sends him a picture of the view from his office window down to the nearby park with its plethora of orange leaves in every shade imaginable.

He gathers his courage by mid-week to send a message asking Jongin out on a date. He hears nothing back that day or night and doesn’t sleep nearly as well as he’d like.

But his coffee cup the following morning has one word scrawled on it. Jongin silently hands it over amid the morning rush with the fondest look.

Yes.

* * *

Chapter Text

Arms crossed, Kyungsoo frowns at the monitor in front of him. He glances between the previews of the first part of the shoot displayed there and the current shots still being taken by the photographer and model in front of him. None of what he’s seeing is helping his mood.

Jongdae walks up from behind, a thin clipboard in his hands. He looks about as tired as Kyungsoo feels. “What are you thinking?”

Kyungsoo pulls a face. “I don’t think the model is working for what we want. I’m just not seeing the output angle we envisioned. Look,” he points between the first few previews the photographer has loaded for them. “He’s too hard with his body language and gaze each time. We want warm and sexy, not blue steel.”

Jongdae bends at the waist to take in the small monitor bank shielded behind a drape of cloth. His eyebrows fold. “Yeah…” he drawls slowly. “We’ve told him but either he’s not taking it in or he’s not versatile enough. I mean he looks good in the clothes but this wasn’t what I was hoping for. I can get Minseok to try and get them to start again? Give him another set of instructions?”

Kyungsoo runs a hand over his mouth, shaking his head. “No he’s been doing that since we started this morning. Nothing is working so we need to rethink. The photographer can pack it up and email us the rest of the shots. Who knows, maybe there’s something we can salvage from it.”

Jongdae nods, waving for the photographer. “What do you say we have a look at all of it over lunch? I’ll order in.”

Kyungsoo agrees. It’s too cold to trek to one of their usual nearby restaurants for something to eat and the grey day isn’t going to cheer any of them up either. What a failure of a morning. He has a quick word with the photographer and gives him his email address as he breaks down the lighting rigs. Jongdae who is eternally more polite than him when annoyed thanks the model they’ve hired and sends him on his way.

Minseok meets them at the door to the studio. His tone is flat. “The beers are on me.”

Kyungsoo nods tiredly. Jongdae’s clipboard makes a ringing sound as he drops it on the table.

To top it all off, Seungwon‘s thin shape is looming in the antechamber outside, awaiting his turn and selecting from the extensive prop clothing racks with his team. His eyes light up when Kyungsoo appears and he immediately moves to talk to them.

Minseok snags Kyungsoo’s arm and drags him past. “Not today, satan.”

“It’s Seungwon.”

“Exactly what I said.”

* * *

Because the whole competition is a side-project, Kyungsoo finds as the week progresses that they’re all more often than not too busy with the regular duties of the magazine to devote as much time as they’d like to fleshing out their idea, much less organise another shooting session. It irks all three of them, not in the least because rumour has it that some of the other teams are well ahead in their development. One has even submitted.

It’s that thought that Kyungsoo has been mulling over as the weekend rolls around and he finds himself at The Paw Print on a cool, blustery Saturday afternoon, waiting at a small table to one side for Jongin to finish his shift early. The gentle, magical mood of the tiny shop has been helping to calm his mind since he arrived with plenty of time to spare before their date. That might have been deliberate on Kyungsoo’s part; the shop is one of those places that seems to welcome you like an old friend, no matter how long it’s been since you last visited.

Amber leaves are dancing past the windows outside as Kyungsoo toys with one of the sugar containers on the tabletop, sitting back and watching the other customers lazily. The tiny tea lights dotted about in glass jars like captured fireflies make everything feel somehow cocooned from the chill outside. Almost as if in here different worlds could pass by without disturbance.

Several of the other faces are familiar in a way regular customers at a favourite hangout can become and Kyungsoo looks between them silently. Jongin had even pointed a couple out to him once or twice before.

There’s a little old lady with the coolest blue tint to her perfectly-coiffed white hair who comes along every day and sits at one of the tables nearest the shelves, always reading Hemingway with her tea. Jongin had said that she had told him it was because before he passed, her husband had always loved his works and this was her way of feeling close to him.

Nearby is a young bundle of girls who on any weekday could be found in uniform after school but who are now in casual clothes, counting out allowances for hot chocolates and pouring over their phones as they instagram them, screens angled artistically for the best shots.

To one side sits a pair of men Kyungsoo has seen a few times now. He’d guessed that they were a couple by how gently close they always seem, even before Jongin had revealed not long ago that he knew them and that they’d been together for a few years now. The smaller of the two grins at something the other says, head tilted back to look up at him. The string-thin, decorative looking choker always just below his adam’s apple looks hipster to Kyungsoo, but his partner seems to like it because the quiet redhead occasionally rests his hand against the back of it when they’re sitting there reading.

Kyungsoo is startled out of his peaceful observation by Jongin appearing at his table, untying his apron.

“Sorry, just had to wash up. Jung Ah said I can go now though. There’s only a couple of hours left to closing and she’s covering it.”

Kyungsoo nods, picking up his coat. It’s warm enough in the store that he knows the first step outside is going to be a shock to the system. He stands, pulls it on and turns towards the front of the shop but a light hand on his forearm stops him.

Jongin tilts his head the other way. “Um, out the back.”

Curious and silent, Kyungsoo falls into step as he’s led out through the bookshelves to a small door behind them marked ‘staff’. It’s a spotless little kitchen full of silver counters and deep blue walls. Jongin hangs his apron on one of the hooks beside the fridge and keeps moving. Kyungsoo follows.

At the back Jongin opens another door and ushers Kyungsoo out into the fresh air in a puff of chilly breeze that tickles down their collars. It’s the back alleyway that brackets the line of shops and in one corner leaning against the brickwork is something unexpected: a sleek black motorcycle. Jongin glances at Kyungsoo and quietly lifts a matching helmet from where it dangles off one handle.

Kyungsoo gapes. “This is yours?”

Jongin smiles, lifting one shoulder. The afternoon light glitters off the tiny black cat sticker he has just to the side of his eyebrow. “Yeah. Is it okay? I have a spare helmet if you want.” He pauses, hesitating. “If you don’t like the idea I can order us a cab or we can take your car or something-”

“No no, it’s fine. More than fine.” Kyungsoo hurries to reassure him, eyeing off the shiny beast. “I guess I just never pictured you for a motorcyclist, that’s all.” He grins. “It’s cool. Way cool.”

Jongin looks instantly relieved. “Okay.” He swaps to the back end of the bike where there’s a small carry pack strapped behind the seat. Unbuckling the flap he withdraws a second helmet and tosses it to Kyungsoo.

Still a little stunned, Kyungsoo catches the bulky object and clutches it as Jongin pulls out a set of black leather driving gloves and slips them on. The contrast between those and the soft, worn grey jacket and jeans he has on does something to Kyungsoo’s insides. Damn, that’s hot.

Jongin slips the helmet on over his hair, flipping the visor up. The tiny arched cat above his eye suddenly looks edgy and dark, highlighting his soft eyes in a way that Kyungsoo finds is comfortingly still the Jongin he knows, only now with an edge that he likes.

Jongin steps forward while Kyungsoo stands there like an idiot and takes the helmet he’s still holding, lifting it and placing it gently on Kyungsoo’s head, sliding it home with the same care he places full cups onto tables. He doesn’t break eye contact, slender leather-encased fingers pulling the buckle below the chin into place. Kyungsoo swallows against the pressure.

Jongin smiles. “You look good.”

Kyungsoo pulls a face. “I probably look like a mushroom.”

Jongin uses one hand to pull the visor down, tinting Kyungsoo’s vision. “A cute mushroom.” He flicks his own down and Kyungsoo can’t read his eyes suddenly. He doesn’t need to though. The blush on Jongin’s visible cheeks give his expression away. How he can manage to be so smooth and yet so soft at the same time is impossibly, overwhelmingly endearing.

Kyungsoo looks away, clearing his throat and feeling his own cheeks heat up. For fuck’s sake. He’s not twelve. Maybe he finally understands a little of Jongdae’s eternal bemoaning about trashy romance movies. Jongin giggles.

“Hop on. Have you ever ridden before?”

Kyungsoo shakes his head. So Jongin holds the bike steady as Kyungsoo swings a leg over the back portion of the seat and then follows, settling -oh god- so close that Kyungsoo doesn’t know what to do. Where to put his hands. Does he… Kyungsoo feels the backs of Jongin’s warm thighs curl against the front of his own as he settles into the footrests. He smells like cinnamon up this close. Crap. Kyungsoo might laugh at himself for being this corny if he weren’t mildly close to hyperventilating.

Jongin looks back over one shoulder, igniting the engine. It growls impressively. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Kyungsoo hopes his own visor hides just how spellbound he is right now. Jongin’s lips curve up kindly.

“Hold onto me. You won’t have the balance to use the back handhold just yet.”

Kyungsoo inhales. Reaching out he winds his arms around Jongin’s hips, settling his hands against the base of the jacket resting there, trying not to grab anything he shouldn’t. He looks to Jongin for reassurance that this much is okay but he’s already turned to face forward again. One wrist arcs back on the handle. The engine revs up a notch, vibrating everything.

Jongin kicks the stand back and the bike jumps forward, accelerating immediately. Shit. Without thinking Kyungsoo hunches forward to stay in place as they curve out of the alleyway’s shadows, pressing tight against Jongin’s back. His brief, gentlemanly grip on Jongin’s hips makes him feel unbalanced, like any moment he’s going to fall away. Kyungsoo doesn’t quite know how to adjust himself now that they’re in motion. If he lets go…

Just as he’s starting to worry, one of Jongin’s hands silently drops from a handlebar as he approaches the intersection of alley and street and slows down to check for cars. He takes hold of Kyungsoo’s hand as he scans both lanes and tugs it around to settle further forward onto his stomach. Kyungsoo exhales sharply and brings the other to join it, settling into place and hugging Jongin from behind. This feels better. So much better. He’s in place now.

When Jongin peels out into a gap in the traffic, Kyungsoo can feel muscles under that shirt he has on bunch as he uses his core to guide and turn the front wheel of the heavy machine. Holy shit. There’s… there’s definite abs under there. Under all those soft shirts and fluffy sweaters he sees each week. Kyungsoo closes his eyes. Jesus. He’s not strong enough for this. How could someone like this be possibly interested in him?

The only thing that pulls his nervous thoughts back down to Earth is what he can feel against his chest through his own jumper and the soft jacket in front of it.

Jongin’s heart is hammering just as hard as his own.

* * *

Kyungsoo doesn’t remember much of the journey, too busy holding on carefully and enjoying the warmth of Jongin’s stomach against his hands, keeping them from freezing as the cold air cuts over them. Unlike Jongin he doesn’t have any gloves so it’s much appreciated. He rests his head against Jongin’s back and watches the road spin by below their tires. Each puddle that they slice through at top speed flares up around them like miniature diamonds.

Finally the motorcycle curves over a bumpy sidewalk and into an open carpark that buffets a row of buildings and a behind a railing, a lengthy set of walking trails. A seagull caws overhead. Kyungsoo pulls his head back from where it had been pretty much stuck behind one shoulder blade and looks out.

“Are we at the beach?”

Jongin cuts the engine and tugs his helmet off. The salty wind catches his hair and sends it whipping about his grinning face as he looks back over his shoulder.

“Yeah.”

“It’s…” Kyungsoo feels a little like laughing. “It’s the end of autumn!”

Jongin swings a long leg off the bike and stands there, one hand extended. Kyungsoo snags it briefly and hops off as well. Stray whisps of white sand that have been blown up into the carpark crunch under his shoes.

Jongin shrugs, still looking endearingly happy with his choice. “It’s the best time to come. There’s no crowds.”

“For good reason.” Kyungsoo pulls his helmet off and places it in the carry pack. “It’s about ten degrees out.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Kyungsoo squints out at the circling seagulls, mouth curving despite himself. “Everything is a positive with you, isn’t it?”

Jongin looks down, biting his lip. Eyes still silently on the pavement he holds his hand out again. The one Kyungsoo had just thought was assistance to get off the bike.

Jongin waits there, arm out until Kyungsoo glances around and snags it quickly. Jongin laces their fingers and Kyungsoo can feel the leather glove warming up against his skin. Jongin swings their hands.

“Can I buy you some fairy floss?”

Kyungsoo huffs a laugh and shakes his head at the whole thing. At this beautiful, daft boy. “Sure. Why not. Are we going to take it down to the pier?”

Jongin immediately tugs him into motion, moving them both along the sidewalk. “Yeah. The deck chairs should still be set up down there. They don’t pack those up until winter.”

Jongin buys Kyungsoo the biggest stick of fairy floss he can find from the stalls along the broad-walk and they walk the long length of the pier, giggling like kids most of the way because the silly thing is peaked in the shape of a bent feather. They eat most of it by the time they get to the very end. Jongin sticks the last stray wisp onto Kyungsoo’s nose and nearly doubles over with laughter as he tries to reach it with his tongue.

The deck chairs are damp from the recent rains so Kyungsoo lets Jongin dangle happily over the railings on the pier’s side instead and keeps one corner of his jacket subtly clasped in his hand so he doesn’t fall when he excitedly spots a school of fish down in the water. Kyungsoo finds himself watching Jongin more than he watches the pretty fish. Jongin catches him twice and Kyungsoo blames the embarrassed red flush on his ears on the wind.

On the way back Jongin finds a seashell on the decking with a hint of pearl to it and slips it into Kyungsoo’s pocket. The clouds overhead start to trickle faintly, raindrops pattering the wood. Kyungsoo wonders silently if this is what being in love could perhaps feel like.

The beach itself is nearly deserted. Jongin takes them down to the grey shoreline and when Kyungsoo abjectly refuses to take his shoes off because of how cold it is, Jongin takes off his gloves instead and puts them on Kyungsoo’s hands, tugging them into place.

“I’m not saying I am cold.” Kyungsoo rebuts kindly, wiggling the fingers that are a little too big for his own. “Just that I’m not walking in that freezing water.”

“I know.” Jongin slips his now-uncovered hands into his jacket pockets and backs up ahead of Kyungsoo. “I just like seeing you in my gloves.” He drops his gaze, turns around and continues walking.

Kyungsoo wonders if Jongin actually knows how suave he can be or if it’s possibly all a gigantic cosmic accident designed to drive him crazy.

Still, the gloves are incredibly soft and pliable with the heat from Jongin’s skin. Kyungsoo curls his fingers in against his palms.

* * *

Kyungsoo doesn’t look at his phone the whole afternoon. It’s only when they’re sitting up on the benches that dot the sidewalk, watching the sun slowly sink behind the water that he glances and realises he has at least a dozen missed messages. Damn.

Jongin is playing with the loose leaves that have gathered around their feet, tapping them to make them crunch so Kyungsoo flicks through them. Of course they’re from Minseok and Jongdae. At least ten of them are checking in and asking how his date is going.

Kyungsoo pecks out a quick reply and then closes the group chat, looking back up in time to catch Jongin resting back on his hands, eyes turned out towards the ocean. The sunset backlights the beautiful curve of his jawline and Kyungsoo without thinking flicks open the camera app and takes a photo.

Jongin turns and smiles contentedly. “Making a memory?”

Kyungsoo starts guiltily, looking down at the phone in his hands. “Sorry. I can delete it if you want. I mean I didn’t ask before I took it so-”

Jongin’s eyes crinkle, cheeks plumping up with the curve of his lips. “It’s okay. But on one condition.”

Kyungsoo squints at him. “What?”

“That you take another one. With me this time.”

Kyungsoo’s heart squeezes up. “Sure. Yeah we can do that. Um, how do you want…” he trails off as Jongin shuffles over on the bench and closes the gap between them, hunching down. His chin comes to rest on Kyungsoo’s shoulder and a gentle arm sneaks around his waist, carefully enough that Kyungsoo can brush it off if he wants to.

He doesn’t. Kyungsoo instead tilts his head back so their faces are side by side and swaps the camera to the front mode on his phone. He holds it up at arm’s length. Both their faces flick into view on the screen, just enough of the sunset left behind them to provide some lighting.

Jongin tips his temple against Kyungsoo’s, hugging him from behind and smiling like he couldn’t be happier. Kyungsoo looks at him through the screen and grins back, unable to help it. Jongin always makes him want to smile. He must be too distracted though because Jongin pretends to be exasperated and reaches forward with his spare hand, pressing his finger down on the shutter button.

The added pressure makes the phone wobble in Kyungsoo’s hand and the selfie taken is slightly blurry. Kyungsoo swats his hand away and tries again but it turns into a tussle for the button and they’re laughing too hard to straighten up and make it perfect, tangled together in a lump of giggles and bad angles until the last of the sun sets and they realise they’ve run out of usable light. Kyungsoo checks the camera roll with Jongin’s chin still hooked over his shoulder.

“I think maybe one turned out.”

Jongin laughs, squeezing him softly. “Send it to me?”

Kyungsoo is in the middle of dropping the best one into a text when Jongin inhales slowly against his ear.

“Soo?”

Kyungsoo hums, a faint tingle sliding down his spine at the nickname. No one has ever made it sound so good. “Yeah?”

“There’s something I’d like to talk to you ab-”

The screen in Kyungsoo’s hand lights up like a Christmas tree against the dark beach backdrop. Nearly dropping it, Kyungsoo hits the answer button without thinking. It’s a video call from his own extension.

Jongdae and Minseok’s faces are squashed into the screen of the video call. Kyungsoo laughs and swears at the phone.

“What are you two doing in my office at this hour?”

“Having sex on all your furniture.” Minseok quips. “Hello Jongin!”

Kyungsoo tries to angle the phone away from his nosy friends but Jongin smiles and waves bashfully from behind his shoulder.

Jongdae’s eyes look in from one side of the screen, comically huge and Kyungsoo can’t do anything except admit defeat. He lets them both see properly. Jongdae looks instantly pleased.

“Hey have you two kissed yet? I have a bet on with Mins-”

Mortified, Kyungsoo smacks off the video portion of the call and brings the phone to his ear. “Shut up both of you. What did you want?”

Minseok’s voice floats out, tinny now. “We got called in because the pre-print edition got knocked back. Just making adjustments and we’ll go home again. But we’re bored so we thought since you’d been ignoring all your messages that we’d call and say hi. We knew you wouldn’t ignore this number.”

“Hi.” Kyungsoo deadpans. “And bye.”

“Hey!” Jongdae’s voice cuts back in. “Listen if you kiss him before midnight I still win-”

Kyungsoo yanks the phone away from his ear and ends the call. Hanging his head he breathes out, “I’m so sorry about them.”

Jongin is grinning like it’s the funniest thing he’s ever seen. “Don’t be. They’re adorable.”

Kyungsoo straightens back up. Without the phone’s glare it’s harder to see in the twilight. “I thought I was adorable.”

Jongin stretches and stands, slipping off the bench. He tugs Kyungsoo up and turns him in the direction of the bike. A streetlight has come on above it, slicing through the freezing air. “No you’re cute. There’s a difference.”

Kyungsoo stops by the side of the machine when they reach it. Water droplets have beaded beautifully on the black metal. “Oh. Sorry. What did you want to tell me before?”

Jongin’s fingers hesitate above the helmet he’s reaching for. “It’s nothing that can’t wait.” He replies finally. “I really enjoyed this afternoon.”

Kyungsoo’s chest fills with warmth. “Me too. Would you… like to do something again?”

Jongin has picked up the helmet and is at the back of the bike as Kyungsoo asks this. His head comes up and he looks so happy at the question. Almost like he wasn’t expecting it. “Really?”

“Of course.” Kyungsoo tugs off his borrowed gloves and hands them back, laughing. “I mean it was completely crazy to come here in the middle of one of the wettest months but I don’t know… it was kind of perfect too. I had a lot of fun just being with you.”

And wow. That’s probably the most he’s ever admitted out loud in a short space of time. Kyungsoo pauses, his breath starting to fog in the cold night air. Jongin suddenly turns away from the bike and steps up to him, pulling the driving gloves back on as he does. Caught off guard Kyungsoo backs up a single step and his back hits the freezing lamppost.

Jongin follows. The tiny adorable kitten sticker is still in place. Kyungsoo doesn’t know where to look; trapped in the warmest eyes he’s ever seen that suddenly seem to contain something more. Something intense. Their frozen breaths mingle between them and for a heart-stopping second Kyungsoo can’t think. Jongin looks like he desperately wants to say something. But then he drops his head with a huff of white air and the peculiar, sexy aura about him recedes like a cloak tucked back securely. His nose is pink from the cold. Jongin toes the ground and his hands come to the base of Kyungsoo’s jacket where the zipper sits holding the bottom half together.

Jongin tugs the zipper all the way up to keep him snug and pats Kyungsoo’s chest with both hands. “Thank you for today. I liked being with you too.” His hands slide away, falling to his sides. “I like everything about you,” he adds in a faint whisper.

Kyungsoo’s fingers twitch in place with how badly he wants to reach up and take Jongin by the back of the neck and pull him down into a kiss. He wants. He wants to tug on that peculiar cloak now that he knows it’s there, to find whatever switch he flipped to toggle that side of him back on again because something was there. Just for a second. Something more than the shy boy Kyungsoo has seen so far.

But Kyungsoo blinks a couple of times and Jongin is already turning away, nervous confession given. Without thought Kyungsoo reaches for Jongin’s shoulder, turning him back.

“Hey…”

Jongin turns, lips parted like he’s confused and Kyungsoo takes the moment. Stops overthinking everything. Just… for the first time in his life he does what he wants to do.

Stretching up on tiptoes, Kyungsoo kisses Jongin softly. He closes his eyes, presses his lips to those full, stupidly inviting lips that he watches far too often and kisses him. Jongin makes the tiniest sound like he’s just been squeezed. Time falls away.

Kyungsoo drops back after a moment, feeling a little like he did back in highschool when he kissed his first crush. Wow. Is he… he shouldn’t be dizzy. Should he? This is crazy.

Jongin blushes straight up to the tips of his ears so fast that Kyungsoo is half expecting him to pass out. Oh god.

Pulling his bottom lip into his mouth, Jongin doesn’t know where to look and holy shit, it makes Kyungsoo want to gather him up and keep him safe and never let go because how could a grown ass man reach this age and be so adorable?

Jongin actually looks like he’s a little overwhelmed so Kyungsoo kindly takes him by the hand and fetches his own helmet from the pack at the back of the bike. He places it on and then does the same for Jongin, tapping his nose when he’s finished.

“You okay to drive or did I short-circuit you?”

That breaks Jongin’s daze. He grins sheepishly and nods, immediately turning for the motorcycle and swinging a leg over. Kyungsoo falls into place behind him and this time doesn’t hesitate to slide his arms around Jongin’s waist, tucking in tight. Jongin’s hand fumbles on the ignition.

Kyungsoo smiles in the direction of the dark beach, unseen. He interlocks his fingers and rests against Jongin’s back as the motorcycle engine roars to life, exhaust scattering the orange leaves nearby as the wheels spin and curve them in a tight arc.

* * *

The department meeting seems to take forever. It might be the Monday effect but Kyungsoo swears it’s disproportionally long. This is probably why he’s more focussed than usual on how many times his phone silently buzzes along the top of the long boardroom table.

Jongdae who is sitting to his left also seems to notice it because he teasingly kicks Kyungsoo under the chairs every time it’s a random message from Jongin that he can’t answer. Kyungsoo glaring back at him doesn’t seem to have any effect because his lockscreen just might now be that picture of Jongin he took on the weekend. And Jongdae can see exactly that because it faintly lights up each time.

The moment the meeting ends Minseok vaults up and declares the next hour free for both food and competition planning. With the mention of that Jongdae gets strangely thoughtful as they trickle out of the meeting, not joining in with Minseok who is none-too-subtly trying to see which one of them has won the bet.

Kyungsoo isn’t telling. Instead he pokes Jongdae as they return to his office. “What’s up?”

Jongdae hums thoughtfully, pulling one of the binders they’ve poured over a thousand times already from one of the shelves in Kyungsoo’s office. He then goes and collects the printouts Minseok has run of the last, disastrous photoshoot. He brings them together on Kyungsoo’s desk while his fiance orders takeout from one of the nearby restaurants, pacing by the raindrop-smeared window with his phone to his ear.

The heavy clouds outside rumble as Jongdae sets the objects out on the desk. He looks at them while Kyungsoo checks his messages. Jongin has sent him a picture of an entire tray of deflated Halloween cupcakes with a silly emoticon. Then one of a tiny bird that’s flown in accidentally and taken up a contented spot in the rafters, fluffing itself after hiding from the rain. Kyungsoo smiles at his phone until Jongdae smacks him across the back of the head with one of the rolled-up printouts.

“Put your phone down.”

Kyungsoo obediently pockets it but to his surprise Jongdae shakes his head and points at the desk. “No, there.”

Confused, Kyungsoo slowly withdraws the phone and places it on the desk next to the spread photos. Jongdae looks to Minseok but he’s still on hold with the sandwich place. Shrugging, he crosses his arms and looks over the spread. Kyungsoo is still confused as to why his phone needs to be there.

As he’s waiting for an answer the screen flashes again and another message appears. Kyungsoo reaches to answer it but Jongdae beats him to it, swiping the message away and leaving the background image only.

“Hey,” Kyungsoo goes to pick up the phone but Jongdae’s hand clasps his, holding it just where his fingertip touches the screen, keeping it lit. “What’s going on?”

Jongdae looks between their set notes and the photoshoot shots. “What are we missing?”

Kyungsoo’s hand goes lax in Jongdae’s hold, tired before they’ve even started. “Like we said before. The model wasn’t the right fit. We want warmth and sensuality. An edge to-”

Kyungsoo looks down. Each time he’s spoken Jongdae has tapped his fingertip against the screen. Underneath it is the hastily-taken photo of Jongin as the wallpaper, backlit against the setting sun; all angles and soft features. Jongdae smiles.

“Like that?”

Kyungsoo withdraws his hand and Jongdae lets it drop. “What, you mean Jongin?”

Minseok finally finishes his call and Jongdae waves him over. “Let’s get a second opinion. What do you say to trying out Kyungsoo’s boyfriend as our model?”

Minseok cheerfully ignores Kyungsoo’s mumble of ‘not my boyfriend yet’ and looks between the photo on the phone and the stage setup they attempted before. “This photo was taken on the weekend? He wasn’t posing for it or anything?”

Kyungsoo runs a hand against the back of his neck. “No, it’s candid.”

Minseok’s eyebrows climb. “Soo, the kid is photogenic as all hell. Look at that profile. With only a crappy iPhone camera shot at dusk. And we already know he’s as soft as a marshmallow when he’s around you. Do you think he’d be interested in trying?”

“I… don’t know. I’d have to ask.” Kyungsoo picks up the phone and looks at Jongin’s picture there. Minseok wasn’t assistant art director for nothing… He had an eye and it was very rarely wrong. Kyungsoo shrugs. “I’ll see if he’d be interested in doing that sort of thing.”

“Wonderful.” Minseok looks at Jongdae like they might have just found the missing piece to their puzzle. “But save it for tomorrow. We’re going to need hangover coffees and you can ask him then.”

Kyungsoo groans. Of course. The bucks’ night. It’s tonight. Jongdae collects some of the printouts and spreads them on the floor; his preferred working spot when in Kyungsoo’s office and pats him with one piece as he passes. “Eight pm sharp. Smart casual. The taxi will pick us up first then we’ll stop by yours.”

Kyungsoo nods. Minseok gets an alert on his phone to say the food is on the way and starts to head downstairs to pick it up from the courier. “Still time to ask Jongin along,” he singsongs as he passes.

Kyungsoo pushes him that last step out the door.

* * *

The establishment is… well Kyungsoo can’t say he has a huge repertoire of gentleman’s clubs to compare it with (see: none), but it’s actually quite nice. Fancy. Bedecked tables and low lighting in silver and blue undertones that kind of remind him of any number of nightclubs from his university days. With the low bass and glittering servers in far too little clothing flitting through that slowly pulsating lighting it’s a little bit like being underwater by about the fourth or fifth drink.

Kyungsoo keeps his head down and simply eats the meal, ignoring the topless dancers that keep sashaying about on the low stages nearby, both male and female. If he discretely has his phone out on low lighting to message Jongin, Minseok and Jongdae are kind enough not to call him on it. He hasn’t got a reply since he sat down though, so he’s forced to watch Minseok hand-feeding Jongdae grapes until Kyungsoo throws a straw at them when they graduate from using hands to mouths.

Minseok sniggers into whatever blueberry cocktail he’s managed to have the bar make up. “Hey we’re allowed. It’s our night.”

Jongdae waves away a boy bedecked head to toe in glitter who coyly attempts to sit on his lap. “By Christmas I’ll officially have made an honest man out of him. He can enjoy tonight.”

“Neither of you two will ever be honest.” Kyungsoo calls over the music which has slowly risen as the night progressed. He grins when Minseok flips him off and hooks a casual leg over Jongdae’s lap.

Jongdae orders another round from a sweet, topless girl with the perkiest boobs Kyungsoo has yet seen. She seems to be favouring their table, probably because they’re the only ones in there tonight who haven’t tried to grab her at some point. Minseok had explained when they arrived that the place has very strict rules on the fact that while the employees may do what they please, patrons were not to touch the staff and Kyungsoo has already watched two groups of young guys be thrown out already for violating that. He smiles kindly at the girl when she returns with the glasses and she ruffles his hair as she walks off.     

“Now see if you were still single,” Minseok scans the dessert menu. “I’d buy you a lap dance. But seeing as you’re not…”  

“I don’t know what I am yet.” Kyungsoo swirls his drink to watch the red syrup inside it dissipate. “But I like where I’m going.”

Jongdae looks tipsily, fondly happy for him. “I feel like the sappy movie we’ve been watching for the last month is finally getting to the good part.”

Kyungsoo rolls his eyes. “Shut up. He’s sweet. I don’t want to rush him. He nearly passed out when I kissed him-”

Jongdae hauls Minseok’s leg off his lap as the music reaches a crescendo, the beat swapping over to another song. He leans over the table, pointing a finger. “Wait, when was this?”

“None of your business.” Kyungsoo replies smoothly. “Neither of you.”

“It was at least fifty bucks.” Minseok whines petulantly in the way he only gets when drinking. “At least give us a hint.”

“Nope.”

Minseok aims for him with an ice cube. Kyungsoo ducks it and has to apologise to the table beside them when it hits a trio of girls. Laughing, they wave him away as the next song starts and oh, this one is an actual song. Not a trance techno beat like the rest of it. Kyungsoo actually knows it. Night Train by Guns n' Roses. He’s tapping along when the sound of a motorcycle engine makes him smile faintly and check his phone.

Hang on. That’s not on the backing track.

Kyungsoo looks up. There’s a lump on the main stage that wasn’t there before, covered by a thin sheet. As Kyungsoo watches the sheet falls away and a figure lays there on his back along the length of the bike’s jet black frame, one black leather knee bent up and a hand draped low to one side. As the lyrics kick in and Axl Rose’s gritty voice comes across the club speakers the figure sits up and swings around in one smooth move, gliding off the bike and standing up.

Kyungsoo drops his glass.

Jongin spins the move into a twirl and lands on his knees, both hands coming up to cross at the wrists above his head as he bodyrolls, hips thrusting into open air and Kyungsoo suddenly feels like he can’t breathe, like his chest is on fire because Jongin is blindfolded, a thin mesh of fabric across his eyes. The move pulls the open jacket he’s wearing apart, drawing everyone’s eyes down to the thin gold body chain that drapes down from each shoulder and into a single trail that hugs the abs that crunch and release with each fluid move. There’s a tiny mic stretching around one cheek that captures the breathy moans he's making and Jesus that should be obscene.

Jongdae’s hand smacks into Kyungsoo’s arm and yeah, Kyungsoo isn’t taking his eyes off Jongin to acknowledge that his friends have noticed as well, too caught up in the spectacle that Jongin makes as he fluidly rocks to his feet and pulls the jacket down to his elbows, tongue coming out as he grins and licks his lips as the crowd goes… yeah Kyungsoo can hear it. They lose their shit.

Jongin flicks the jacket back up and strides back to the bike, slinging a leg over to press his hips down against the leather in time to the music and holy fuck Kyungsoo is suddenly hard. That’s the bike. That’s Jongin’s actual bike. And he’s grinding against the seat Kyungsoo rode on. Kyungsoo doesn’t know where to look. The room has shrank several meters in the last minute and his entire focus is Jongin and his beautiful, blindfolded face as he slides off the other side of the bike and dances a few twirling, well-timed steps towards the edge. It's like the most erotic contemporary Kyungsoo's ever seen. If dancing could be close to porn... He’s all grace and power and some part of Kyungsoo’s brain that still has blood vaguely remembers Jongin once telling him how dancing made him feel more than himself. Well holy god.

Jongin saunters down the steps perfectly and trails past the first few tables at the front, navigating expertly everyone who tries to touch him. He hooks one thumb into his belt loop as the chorus peaks and thrusts, biting his lip and tossing his head back. His hair is already wet from the lights and Kyungsoo can see he’s sweating through that gold-embossed black jacket but he never stops moving, never stops dancing as he holds the crowd in sway and finally, finally…

Kyungsoo forgets how to breathe as Jongin reaches their table. He’s immobilised as Jongin spins around and-

The blindfold is mesh silk. It’s see-through. Of course. How else would he be able to stay safe while moving if he couldn’t see but… Kyungsoo knows his eyes are huge, stuck on Jongin’s face as he pauses, recognising Kyungsoo immediately. His impeccable rhythm falters. He misses a step and for the first time bumps into a table leg.

Without thinking Kyungsoo immediately reaches for him, not wanting him to feel… shocked? Frightened? Kyungsoo doesn’t quite know, just that Jongin has frozen on the spot, bare chest heaving and everyone is looking at him. So Kyungsoo reaches out. Like he did on the weekend.

Jongin takes the initiative and folds before he can be touched, sinking onto Kyungsoo’s lap. He hovers and Kyungsoo, remembering belatedly that there was a rule on not touching, drops his hand immediately and doesn’t know where to look.  A few wolf whistles sound out as the song ends and folds back into the nameless sensual beat from before.

Jongin reaches up behind his head, unties and pulls the blindfold off his damp face, dropping it onto the table. Kyungsoo follows the move to find that both Minseok and Jongdae have very conveniently vacated their spots and mercifully given him some privacy. They’re probably at the bar with their backs turned like good friends but Kyungsoo doesn’t care. Can’t care. Because Jongin sinks into his lap and wraps both arms around his shoulders. And Kyungsoo is embarrassingly, woefully hard.

“Jong-”

Jongin flicks his mic off and leans forward, placing his mouth beside one ear. “Kai.” He murmurs, running the fingers of one hand through the back of Kyungsoo’s hair. “They don’t like real names in here. Safety.”

Kyungsoo rolls the name across his tongue. “Kai,” he finally manages. “I’m sorry. I don’t- If you stand up I’ll-”

“It’s okay.” Jongin leans back, pressing down on Kyungsoo’s cock and oh fuck. “It happens a lot. It’s a normal reaction.”

Flushed, Kyungsoo drops his gaze but all that does is bring Jongin’s chest into view and… Kyungsoo's trapped dick pulses. Fuck. Jongin ducks his head and tries to capture Kyungsoo’s gaze, tone wicked.

“You like them?”

Kyungsoo swallows, overheating and so fucking turned on he’s probably going to come. Slid through both of Jongin’s nipples are two tiny rings that match his body chain. Kyungsoo can’t. This is too much of an overload. He wants to disappear. He wants to lick and bite on those piercings. He wants to grab Jongin and fuck him over the table. He wants…

Jongin’s voice returns beside his ear as he locks his thighs, presses close and undulates against him mercilessly, using the gentle handholds he has on Kyungsoo’s shoulder and head to writhe in place for the lap-dance. “Grip the chair if you think you’re going to touch me. I don’t want you tossed out.”

Kyungsoo’s hands fly to the chair seat and he sinks his hands around the metal. This is torture. He scans Jongin’s face as one of the girls from the table next to him cheers when Jongin grinds his ass down against him, his own face going that familiar shade of... is he blushing?

Jongin presses his forehead against Kyungsoo’s and pants softly, the first sign that this is actually getting to him through his stage persona. His hair is in his eyes again and Kyungsoo has the strongest urge to brush it back into the neat wave he wears it in the coffee shop with his fluffy sweaters and beautiful glasses and silly little halloween stickers and…

Kyungsoo groans. “I want to touch you.”

Jongin rolls his forehead back and forth against Kyungsoo’s, pained. “You can’t.” he manages. “Rules.”

Kyungsoo wants to say screw the rules. But he’s rapidly losing any sense of coherence as Jongin is all but fucking against him for the show and no one knows that this is just one side of him and outside of this he’s the sweetest, most bashful boy… Kyungsoo groans, wrecked at the contrast. This was what the cloak he had glimpsed before had been hiding. Kyungsoo can’t hold his own hips still and they’re… yeah they’re all but fucking with clothes on at this point. Oh god-oh god.

“Can I kiss you?” Kyungsoo grits out. “Or-or you kiss me? I don’t know-” he doesn’t know. There are apparently rules and they’re fucking absurd. Jongin gives a shaky moan at his words and he’s too hot, too perfect with his piercings in those pink nipples and bitten-red lips and miles of sinful, sweat-soaked skin and this is too much, too fast and Kyungsoo is too turned o-fuck. He comes against Jongin’s warm thighs with a gut-punched sound that he tries to muffle because they’re in public for god sakes and no one has ever taught him the proper etiquette for when your normally gentle maybe-boyfriend is also an insanely hot dancer and…

Jongin rides him as he comes, pushing him down with gentle rolls of his ass and thighs that match the music and disguise the fact that Kyungsoo is a goddamn mess, shaking in the aftershocks. He holds onto him as the beat finishes and Kyungsoo comes down, blinking back to reality to find that he hasn’t imagined all that and… fuck. Jongin’s smile is melancholy.

‘I’m sorry’ he mouths as he stands up, letting his hand trail along Kyungsoo’s cheek and there. Right there. Kyungsoo spots the softness return to Jongin’s face. It reminds Kyungsoo of the look he had given when he'd been about to tell Kyungsoo something on their date. This... must have been it.

Jongin plucks the band of silk from the table and quickly reties it to hide that expression, turning away before Kyungsoo can reach for him. He ascends the steps to the stage and raising two fingers to his lips he blows a kiss to the crowd, chin lifted in a cocky grin. The gold of the body chain across his chest catches the stage lighting. Kai.

Kyungsoo remembers how to breathe, holding a shaky hand to his mouth. Fuck, he’s a wreck.

* * *

Chapter Text

“Modelling?”

“Yeah. Like a photo shoot.” Kyungsoo tugs the collar of his jacket up a little higher against the cold breeze, trying to button it up. He should have worn something heavier for the chill. “We think you’d be perfect.”

Jongin blinks as they follow the faint walking path through the park. “We?”

“Minseok, Jongdae and I.” Kyungsoo glances away, taking in the deciduous trees that follow them along like two lines of cheerful soldiers. “From the photo I took of you. And... even more so after the other night.”

Jongin’s hands that have been ever so fluttery and expressive since they combined their lunch breaks an hour ago and snuck out for a walk, side slowly into the pockets on his long tan coat, nervous. He ducks his head. “Did you finally want to talk about it?”

Ah. Yes. Since Kyungsoo had skilfully avoided the entire topic from the moment Jongdae had lent him his dinner jacket for coverage and they’d left the club for the evening two nights ago, his friends’ teasing continuing on a record-breaking streak the whole way home. Kyungsoo swallows and Jongin’s voice cuts back in, faint like a whisper.

“Because I was really worried that I’d screwed everything up, you know.”

Kyungsoo immediately looks up. To Jongin and his honest, open face. He looks… genuinely anxious. Kyungsoo immediately reaches for him; this habit of wanting to touch is new and seems almost borrowed from Jongin himself who loves to pluck shirts when he wants attention and link hands when he’s feeling brave. Kyungsoo stops their slow meander with a hand to Jongin’s exposed wrist, just above his pocket.

“Because of the other job?”

“Yeah. Because of the… lap dance.” Jongin’s eyes are on their shoes, his cheeks high with colour and Kyungsoo is so endeared by the fact that the same boy who gave him that very lap dance like some kind of incubus out of a fairytale can’t even say the word now without becoming bashful. Kyungsoo squeezes the wrist in his grip and Jongin slips his hand out of the pocket and holds on tight like Kyungsoo is an anchor in a rough ocean.

Kyungsoo shakes his head. “No way- listen. You told me that dancing made you feel alive, feel more than yourself and while I guess pictured you in some kind of academy-”

Jongin looks up at that, eyes wide. “I am.” He hurries to confirm. “I am studying. I didn’t lie about that.”

Kyungsoo runs his thumb across Jongin’s knuckles in an attempt to soothe him. “I know. I believe you. I just… it took a little adjusting. I thought about it. A lot.” Kyungsoo deliberately doesn’t elaborate just where he thought of that evening the last few days or how hard he’d jerked himself off at the memory of Jongin on top of him again, this time with a lot less clothes on them both… Kyungsoo carefully doesn’t want to push Jongin when it’s plainly obvious that his stage persona is only a part of him and outside of it… he’s still as adorable as ever. “I still think of you the same way. Nothing has changed.” He drops his voice teasingly, shrugging nonchalantly. “I just know what’s under those sweaters of yours now.”

The pink hits Jongin’s ears and he ducks, laughing. “Shut up.”

“You blush too easily. It’s fun.”

Your face is red.”

“It’s just the cold.” He really should have worn something heavier.

That earns him an exasperated look from under soft bangs. Jongin flicks that same fringe back and glances around, stepping casually backwards off the path they’ve been following. He keeps hold of Kyungsoo and tugs him along, towards the tree line. Bemused, Kyungsoo follows for the few paces it takes for Jongin to round one of the redwoods and press his back against it.

Jongin leans back against the bark, out of sight of the other midday walkers and lets go of Kyungsoo’s hand. “You’re freezing. I can feel it on your skin. Come here.” He tugs open the sides of his own long coat and holds them apart invitingly. Body warmth.

Kyungsoo looks up those arms and along the length of broad shoulders, so much wider than his own. He thinks of those same shoulders spreading apart a sparkly black jacket to reveal a bare chest. Right now they’re draped in fluffy cashmere and Jongin is looking hopefully down at him. A miniature fall leaf sticker is pressed to his jaw, just in front of one ear. Kyungsoo wonders how he got so fucking lucky and steps forward, sliding his arms around Jongin’s waist as the taller folds the big coat closed around them both. Instantly everything warms several degrees.

Kyungsoo tucks his hands into the small of Jongin’s back, feeling the blood flow slowly return to his fingertips. His head fits rather cutely under Jongin’s chin while standing like this and Kyungsoo snuggles close, eyes closing. Everything smells like Jongin. He lets himself drift, enveloped in warm material against Jongin’s chest. Underneath one ear that same chest puffs out slowly, expanding with a long, in-taken breath. Jongin hums thoughtfully.

“I’ll do it.”

Kyungsoo blinks his eyes back open blearily. Several twigs whirl past in the chilly updraft. “What?”

Jongin hugs him close, tipping his head sideways to look down at Kyungsoo. He smiles and it makes him look so, so beautiful.

“The photo shoot.”

* * *

The week spins by as fast as the twigs from the park. Jongin texts Kyungsoo all his sizes for various items of clothing and shoes, but its Thursday by the time any of them can reserve the studio. Minseok finally dashes into Kyungsoo’s office with a phone to his ear, an armful of drafts cradled in the crook of one elbow and smacks the email down on Kyungsoo’s desk with a thumbs up before zooming out again.

Kyungsoo scans it, picks up his phone and sends two messages: one to the group chat as a reminder of the window of usable time tomorrow afternoon and another to Jongin to let him know the shoot is going ahead.

He receives a picture of a freshly made cappuccino with a smiley face drawn into the foam on the top in return.

* * *

Jongin comes straight to the magazine headquarters from work on Friday afternoon and Kyungsoo can tell the moment he arrives by the commotion in the lobby.

He’s ducking between offices on the ground floor in search of the director’s secretary to pass on a memo before he knocks off for the day when the twittering from the lobby increases exponentially. Kyungsoo pokes his head out.

A familiar tall figure stands in the foyer, motorcycle helmet in one hand, sheepishly fending off the cloud of assistants who have all but climbed over their desks to offer help. Kyungsoo smiles. Jongin looks flustered, one hand to the back of his head as he turns between the women, politely trying to explain what he’s there for as they coo over him unhelpfully.

After about ten seconds Kyungsoo takes pity and steps out. Jongin’s entire face lights up as he spots him and he points. Several of the women detach their eyes long enough to follow his hand. Most don’t. Kyungsoo walks across the marble lobby flooring and squeezes through the gathering. He places a calm hand on Jongin’s back and apologises to the assistants.

“It’s okay. He’s with me.”

He can see several sets of eyes flicking between them, assessing his words beyond the basic meaning and Kyungsoo doesn’t give any of them the time to be nosy. He gently pushes Jongin out from the throng and over to the elevator. Murmurings follow. Kyungsoo ignores them.

The elevator takes its time to get down to them and when it does Kyungsoo smacks the button for his floor once they step inside. “Did you find the place okay?”

Jongin grins, leaning a shoulder against one of the mirrored panes. “It’s the tallest building on the block. They gave me a few funny looks when I asked if I could park my bike though.”

Kyungsoo snorts at the thought of their nervous concierge out front having to deal with a motorcycle suddenly mounting the curb and Jongin’s long-legged self swinging off. It entertains him all the way to the end of the ride. That and Jongin’s fingers which have sneaked under the back of Kyungsoo’s suit jacket to hold onto a corner of his shirt.

Jongdae nearly bowls them over when they exit the small box, throwing an arm around Jongin’s shoulders and herding him happily up the hallway and into Kyungsoo’s office. The tiny grip Jongin has on Kyungsoo’s shirt is yanked away in the process and Kyungsoo tells himself that he’s stupid to miss such a small thing.

Minseok pretends to be horrified that Jongin didn’t bring them any pastries from the shop. Jongdae pinches his helmet and searches inside it like a puppy looking for food, popping it on his head when he discovers there’s nothing inside. God his friends are such children. Jongin smoothly plucks the helmet back and hides it behind himself out of reach, countering instead that the next coffee for each of them is free whenever they do choose to redeem it. But they have to order something they’ve never tried before and drink all of it.

Kyungsoo checks his computer and listens quietly during the banter because he was wondering how they’d all interact; serving someone and hanging out with them for an extended period more informally were two very different things and he’s a little nervous, desperately hoping that they all get along. Teasing is a good chunk of Minseok and Jongdae’s social vocabulary and seeing that Jongin can give it back just as fast is reassuring. Kyungsoo relaxes the more he hears. He’s going to be just fine around the two of them.

Several emails that are sitting there can wait until the weekend; two revisions and a department-wide reminder of the company dinner coming up. Kyungsoo sorts them all for later, collects the concept folders from his bookcase and shoos everyone out, herding his little bundle of humans down towards the studio. He doesn’t miss the way Jongin is peeking around his office, trying to take it all in. Kyungsoo quietly promises him a tour afterwards and that earns him a truly beautiful smile. Jongin’s hand sneaks back under his jacket as they walk.

* * *

The photographer is running a little late on his setup so that gives Kyungsoo time to get Jongin settled into the change room off to one aide. Racks of clothing are set up along each available wall and Jongin eyes them with more than a little surprise. “That’s… a lot.”

“You won’t be using them all. Maybe only three or four sets depending on how they look. We over-ordered deliberately so you have a range to pick from and if something doesn’t work, we just try another style.”

“Ah, okay.” Jongin hesitates, huffing a laugh. “I’m not really used to this.”

“You’ll be fine. Minseok thinks the camera loves you already. And I’ll be here the whole time just off the set. If you become uncomfortable or want to stop for any reason just let me know and I’ll call it. You’re doing us a huge favour and we want you as happy and comfortable as possible for it.”

Jongin looks relieved at that and Kyungsoo realises his beautiful dancer is genuinely nervous at this. Guess the stage persona really only is for dancing, Kyungsoo muses. He glances out to see the others conferring with the photographer and takes the moment to step close, raising up to peel the miniature, glittery candle sticker off one cheek and place his lips there instead. He pecks Jongin quickly and that earns him a startled laugh.

“What’s that for?”

“Luck.” Kyungsoo spins away and plucks the first labeled set off the rack, peering at it thoughtfully. “How do you feel about Gucci?”

“No idea.”

“Then we’ll start there. We-” Kyungsoo turns back and chokes on his own sentence. Jongin has reached behind his head and hauled his peach turtleneck off, sticking his hair up sideways and… Kyungsoo blinks hard to keep his eyes respectfully above neck height. Jongin quirks a soft smile and folds the fabric. “You can look, you know. You’ve already seen them.”

“Did they…” Kyungsoo swallows as Jongin comes within touching range again. The twin golden piercings flicker in the light. “Hurt?”

Jongin glances down at his own chest. “At the time? Hell yes.” He laughs. “Now? Only if you pull on them.”

A jolt of something dark runs through Kyungsoo at those words. Jesus. He curls his fingers into his palm to stop himself lifting his free hand. It feels like the club all over again. Jongin drops his shirt onto a nearby chair and straightens back up, bare-chested and effortlessly stunning. He takes one look at Kyungsoo and breaks into a grin like he can read his mind.

“I’m not at work.”

Kyungsoo guiltily flicks his eyes up to Jongin’s face. He doesn’t move, hesitating until Jongin extends a hand and gently cups his cheek, sliding up to him. “You’re allowed. Did you want to touch?”

Kyungsoo nods more rapidly than he’d intended, feeling like an idiot. “Please?”

Jongin looks really touched by that single polite word and brings his other hand up, cupping both cheeks and leaning in. Kyungsoo catches a flash of something in his eyes just as Jongin’s voice slips into that half-growl he’d used at the club and oh. Hello. Perhaps he can call on this side of him when necessary.

“Close your eyes if it helps.”

Kyungsoo obediently slips his eyes shut as Jongin closes that final gap and draws him into a kiss. Still clutching the hanger of clothing, Kyungsoo automatically drops his free hand to steady himself on Jongin’s hip. His skin is so, so warm. Kyungsoo lets out a soft sound and squeezes his handful, releasing to drift gently higher. Jongin’s plush lips are the world’s biggest distraction though and Kyungsoo gets caught up in just kissing him; in the rhythmic soft push and pull movement as Jongin faintly sucks and releases his own mouth in the most perfect counterpoint. It’s lippy and perfect and Kyungsoo floats until Jongin’s mouth curves up under his own and he guides Kyungsoo’s hand into movement again.

A golden ring warmed by permanent contact against Jongin’s skin hits Kyungsoo’s fingertips and he automatically brushes around it, feeling where the metal slides through the dusky flesh of Jongin’s peaked nipple. Instantly the skin there pebbles and Jongin inhales. Kyungsoo swallows the sound, emboldened. He slips a fingertip through the ring and tugs gently.

Jongin shivers, tearing his mouth away. “Sensitive,” he gasps, pupils blown out. “Sorry.” Kyungsoo opens his eyes and loves that look on him. Loves that he’s been the one to cause it. God.

Jongin glances down at Kyungsoo’s hand, finger still entangled with his pretty piercing. He lets out a shaky breath as Kyungsoo daringly brings his thumb up and brushes it across the nub of his nipple. “It’s the first ti-”

“Incoming!” Minseok swings around the doorway and frightens the life out of them both. They break apart like guilty teenagers. “Stop making out and get your boyfriend dressed for god sakes. We’re ready.”

Jongin goes bright pink, ducks his head and runs a hand through his mussed hair, straightening it as best he can. Kyungsoo swallows and glances away. Minseok looks like the cat that ate the cream. He waves a playful finger between them both.

“Two rounds. You each owe me one next drinks night. The photographer was supposed to be the one to check in on you. I headed him off.”

Kyungsoo takes his friend by the arm and turns him around, clearing his throat. “Thank you and please shut up. Jongin we’ll see you out there. Shoes are under the racks.”

When Kyungsoo looks back over his shoulder Jongin gives him a wink.

* * *

Jongdae leans in to bump a shoulder with Kyungsoo, his voice lowered so as not to disturb the photographer and his muse. “Serious question. How the hell is he not contracted to an agency?”

Kyungsoo shrugs, genuinely just as mystified. Jongin has aced the shoot. The photographer is practically cooing every time he tilts his head a different way and Kyungsoo has never heard him call a model ‘darling’ before. Minseok is looking over the previews like he wants to marry them. And after the first half an hour Jongin had settled his beginner’s nerves and was now lounging about the set like it was second nature to pose for the camera.

Everything they’d tried on him he had somehow pulled off wearing. Relaxed Jongin was exactly as Kyungsoo knew him; subtly sensual in the warmest way. He flirted with the camera in a soft, natural manner and when instructed to look away, his eyes always found Kyungsoo in the background to look at instead. Minseok was right. He was photographic as hell. Kyungsoo was going to buy him as much fried chicken as he could eat for a week.

Minseok finally ends his love affair with the previews and comes over, bracketing Kyungsoo’s other side. “You know… we might have a chance at winning this. An actual, genuine chance.” His voice is awed, watching the photographer instruct Jongin to move to another part of the large set they’re using. “And if we do, I’m getting this kid anything his heart desires for Christmas. We wouldn’t be anywhere without him.”

Something warm settles in Kyungsoo’s stomach. “Yeah he’s certainly something special.”

Jongdae coughs none-too-subtly into his sleeve just as the photographer lowers his camera and calls back to them.

“Can I have a bracketing body? I want to finish up with some duo close-ups.”

Immediately (and almost perfectly in sync) Jongdae and Minseok take a step away from Kyungsoo, leaving him standing alone. Jongdae waves a hand towards him. “Here you go.”

Kyungsoo tries to scowl at his friends but Minseok just laughs and shoves him in the direction of the changing room. “Yeah like it’s such a hard life, you poor thing. Go hug your boy for the next fifteen minutes and then we can call it a day.”

Kyungsoo stumbles into the dressing section and quickly grabs the nearest set of clothing. It’s all in Jongin’s sizes though, so he has to roll up the pants and sleeves, but he’s only a secondary body in these next shots; the focus and cropping will still be on Jongin. Kyungsoo doesn’t have to look perfect. He just needs to stand there.

When he walks out, folding the collar down over his sweater, Minseok pats his butt on the way past. “Go get ‘em.”

“I hate you.” Kyungsoo deadpans quietly. Minseok sniggers.

Jongin brightens from his sultry model pout when Kyungsoo appears and walks over to join him amid the bright lights of the set. The photographer directs the pair of them the way he wants. Which means Kyungsoo ends up with his back to the camera, Jongin up close with one arm around his back, peeking over Kyungsoo’s shoulder at the camera. Kyungsoo tries to hold very still and let the model and photographer work their magic, but he’s ever so conscious of Jongin’s other hand which has snuck under the fashionable sweater Kyungsoo is wearing to press several fingertips against his hipbone, out of shot. It’s unbearably sweet.

Jongin hooks his chin over Kyungsoo’s shoulder when directed, reaching up to tangle his fingers in a generous handful of hair at the back of Kyungsoo’s head when Kyungsoo hears Minseok’s voice. Instantly the photographer passes along the instructions.

“Darling can you pull his sweater out of the way along his neck? And back up a couple of paces until you reach the couch. I want the corner of the painting in the shot.”

“The red one?”

“Yes.”

Jongin obediently tugs Kyungsoo with him and meanders them both along until a nearby velvet couch comes into contact with their legs. It’s long and looks like something Kyungsoo would have stuffed into an attic years ago but it works for this set somehow. So he lets Jongin push him gently down onto the springy fabric and Kyungsoo shuffles back so he’s half lying along the length, shoulders propped up against the armrest.

“Leg off.” Their photographer calls out. “Drape it please.”

Kyungsoo immediately let one leg fall off the couch, making it look like he’s lounging. Jongin then comes into play, leaning down until he’s on all fours above Kyungsoo like a big cat. Unable to help it, Kyungsoo shivers and Jongin grins down at him, entertained by this whole thing and one hundred percent aware of his effect on Kyungsoo. Kyungsoo flicks his nose gently.

“No, no.” The photographer singsongs, changing his angle and stepping closer, camera raised. “Flip around. I want your back to him.”

Jongin complies, changing position and settling between Kyungsoo’s spread legs. He leans his full, inviting weight back against Kyungsoo’s chest, lounging like royalty and Kyungsoo immediately turns his head away from the camera, leaving Jongin in the spotlight. But he feels a hand at his collar and Jongin is doing as instructed earlier; tugging the material away from his craned neck. A moment later he feels warm lips run up his jugular and pause as the photographer squeaks to hold that pose. Jongin’s lips curve into a secret smile against his skin and Kyungsoo breaks out in goosebumps, something hot coiling in his belly. Jongin’s silent laughter is hot air against his neck

Hidden from the camera angle, Kyungsoo feels bold, feels cheeky under the warm weight of Jongin’s whole body stretched out against him like Kyungsoo is comfier than the whole couch. He slips his hand up underneath the oversized pastel pink hoodie emblazoned with Gucci in stencilled letting and skims quickly up the side of Jongin’s ribs until he can graze a pierced nipple. He pinches it lightly between two fingers.

Jongin’s head arcs back, his whole body clamping tight with the effort not to bow upwards into the sensation and wreck the shot. His mouth drops open and distantly, out of Kyungsoo’s awareness the camera flashes one last time.

“Perfect!”

Jongin’s muscles unfreeze and he sinks back against Kyungsoo. His head lolls against Kyungsoo’s shoulder and when he looks up at him, his eyes are blown out, pupils huge and dark. Kyungsoo can't help himself. He winks.

* * *

The offices are nearly deserted by the time they pack up so Minseok orders them Chinese, gleefully stealing several beers from the minibar fridge their boss keeps stocked upstairs to accompany it and together the four of them pile into Kyungsoo’s office to camp out on the floor and eat their fill.

Kyungsoo takes a moment somewhere more than an hour later to just... sit outside the conversation. Jongdae is telling Jongin a story of how in his first days as an intern he’d managed to lock Minseok’s car keys in the car when he’d taken it for an errand and had panicked, thinking his job was over before it began. Kyungsoo sits back, resting on one hand to observe the growing little knot of humans he’s so fond of. The clouds outside are growling, heavy and full of autumn rain and Kyungsoo remembers the weatherman saying squalls were coming. But it’s sheltered in here, in the warm amber light of desk lamps and empty, silent cubicles outside. The beer fizzles along his veins.

Jongin is one-upping Jongdae by telling him about some ride he’d once had in a fire truck of all things when Kyungsoo gathers the cheap plates he scrounged from the kitchen and white containers, tiding up. He leaves them all to it and quietly takes his armful to the tiny kitchenette area. He dumps the dirty containers in the bins, stacks the plates to one side of the sink and starts to fill it. As he’s spacing out warming the water and adding the dishwashing liquid a chin comes to rest on his shoulder. Kyungsoo smiles as Jongin hugs him from behind, a soft octopus.

“I’ll be back in a minute. I wasn’t going anywhere.”

“I know.” Jongin yawns, tucking himself in tighter. There’s a pout in his tone. “I missed you.”

Kyungsoo laughs, lifting a hand dripping in bubbles from the sink and tapping Jongin’s ear, leaving a smear of suds on the lobe like a fizzy earring. Jongin unwinds, giggling, to wipe it off against one raised shoulder. Kyungsoo returns to filling the sink.

“Can you get me the bottles once they finish with them? There’s a recycling bin in here.”

“Sure.”

Jongin pads out and Kyungsoo starts methodically washing everything. A few seconds later he hears footsteps return and Kyungsoo laughs.

“Jongin, you can’t miss me that much.”

A sickly sweet voice simpers from far too close, one hand dropping to lean on the benchtop. “Is that his name?”

Kyungsoo jumps a foot, nearly upending the sink’s contents. He spins and Seungwon’s tall, ratty figure is filling the entrance to the kitchenette. He looks shrewd, a half-filled coffee mug in one hand. Kyungsoo immediately leans back, hands stuck in the sudsy water as Seungwon looms ever closer in the small space. “What are you doing here? I thought everyone had gone for the day.”

Seungwon lifts a thin shoulder. “I’m a busy man.” He glances back the way Jongin had gone and Kyungsoo’s chest squeezes. It’s one thing for their company’s resident sleaze to have his sights set on him but Kyungsoo would be damned if he let him know anything about Jongin or who he was. Seungwon would be just the type to try to follow Jongin to the club in an effort to push himself onto the younger man, rules be damned. Kyungsoo had already been witness to his harrassment of another magazine member in his early days before he himself had become the unfortunate focus of Seungwon's unrelenting advances. And Kyungsoo would keep Jongin as far away from that as he possibly could.

“So who’s your pretty friend?”

Kyungsoo tries to inch away as Seungwon shuffles in beside him to reach the microwave. He places his mug inside to reheat the contents and the move squashes them together in the cramped space.

Kyungsoo’s skin crawls. “He’s no one,” he mutters. "Some guy."

Seungwon’s singsong tone is smug. “Didn’t look like that to me.”

Kyungsoo’s insides freeze. Just how much had he seen before Jongin walked out? Kyungsoo squares his shoulders. “He’s just some clingy upstart of a model we hired for the day. You know how they are.” He states firmly, raising his voice and shoving the rinsed plates into their rack with a loud clang. Please leave him alone, please don’t go after him. “He’s nothing. I don’t care what you think. We needed a piece of ass for the shoot because my team is going to win this stupid competition. We’re paying him and then he’ll fuck off again.” The microwave dings and Kyungsoo looks up, feigning a laugh that sounds cruel to his own ears. “He’s useless outside of being a pretty face-”

Kyungsoo’s heart stops. Jongin is standing frozen in the open doorway behind Seungwon, a trio of empty bottles clutched to his chest like a stuffed bear. His face is filled with so much hurt. Between them Seungwon smoothly retrieves his mug, bumping the door shut with his hip, but Kyungsoo isn’t paying attention, isn’t looking anywhere but Jongin’s wide eyes and trembling mouth. Fuck. No…

Before Kyungsoo can move, Jongin turns and dashes away. Kyungsoo tears his arms out of the mess of bubbles and running water and tries to move around Seungwon but the taller man blocks the way.

“Why the rush, Soo?” Seungwon purrs, “We hardly have time to talk these days.”

Kyungsoo frantically moves on the balls of his feet, unable to get past. Seungwon takes a sip of his drink.

“The company dinner is coming up. And anyone would think you were avoiding me…”

Fuck it. Kyungsoo takes a deep breath and glares up at the other man. “I don’t have time for your games. Either you move out of my way right now,” he growls. “Or I will make you move.”

Seungwon starts, looking highly affronted and Kyungsoo takes the opportunity to shove past, out of the tiny space and into the hallway. It’s deserted except for three lonely glass bottles now placed onto the corner of a nearby desk. Kyungsoo breaks into a run, cubicles flying past until he can reach the bank of elevators. He scans the readouts on all three. A single red dot is descending on one of them, floor after floor.

Kyungsoo spins and makes for the stairwell, shoving the fire exit door open and bolting down the flights of steps. His heart slams itself against his ribcage and his entre brain is a litany of nononono… as he nearly trips over his own feet, spinning around and around on the downward path. He can’t have done this. If he can just get to Jongin in time and explain… That anguished look in Jongin’s eyes keeps replying in his head like a nightmare as his lungs strain for air and he drops through each storey until his feet finally hit the ground floor and Kyungsoo shoulders the door open into the back of the lobby. It bangs off the wall.

Starlight pours through the huge glass front doors. Breathless, Kyungsoo runs out across the marble floor in time to see the taillights of a motorcycle peel across the curb and out onto the road.

* * *

Jongin doesn’t reply to any of Kyungsoo’s calls. His texts go unread in the days that span the weekend and by Monday Kyungsoo is absolutely terrified that he’s ruined everything. That Jongin took his lie to Seungwon as truth and thinks Kyungsoo truly believes him a useful plaything and a waste of space otherwise. Kyungsoo can’t eat, he disassociates at work and by the end of that first day it’s only Minseok cancelling his entire schedule for him that makes Kyungsoo realise just how useless he’s being in his anxiety.

“I’m sorry.” He mutters into the pile of paperwork on his desk, head sinking onto them. “I don’t know what to do.”

Jongdae sighs and pats his head, making Kyungsoo feel simultaneously comforted and vastly babied. “It’s not us you need to be apologising to.”

“I know.” Kyungsoo tells his invoices, muffled. “But he’s not talking to me. I really, really hurt him.”

Jongdae’s soft hand disappears and Minseok’s takes his place, pinching one ear. Hard.

“Ow!” Kyungsoo recoils, sitting bolt upright at the pain. Minseok looks exasperated.

“Then stop moping and go tell him. Find him. It’s not like you don’t know where he works. Day or night.”

Jongdae tidies up the teetering piles of unsigned paper that Kyungsoo has been aimlessly shuffling around his desk. “We’re not above beating your ass for your own stupidity if you let him go like this.” He states firmly. “We’ll cover for you for the rest of the afternoon. Just… try and make it right.”

“I want to more than anything.” Kyungsoo rubs his stinging ear sadly, voice small. “But I don’t think he wants to speak to me.”

Minseok levels him with a hard stare. “We won’t ever speak to you again if you don’t try and fix this. You’ve basically had the world’s biggest puppy in your care and you’ve damaged him. Even if your intentions weren’t to do that.”

Kyungsoo didn’t think he could feel any more miserable at this point but the hollow, sunken feeling in his chest doubles at those words, threatening to swallow him whole. He nods.

Jongdae looks pleased. “Good. Go. Now.”

* * *

Kyungsoo desperately doesn’t want to turn up empty handed. And Jongin works around sweets all day so a box of chocolates seem vastly underwhelming which is how Kyungsoo finds himself pacing the windblown streets until dusk starts to fall, trying in vain to think of what he can bring.

He’s about to give up and just go straight to the The Paw Print when a pile of orange leaves swirls about his feet in a tiny twister, gusted along by a sharp breath of wind. Kyungsoo follows them with his eyes and finds they stop in front of a pastel-coloured storefront.

A florist. Kyungsoo takes a deep breath and prays he’s right about this. Walking over to the door he sees that it’s still open for another hour. He ducks inside. A pleasant voice calls out from somewhere near the counter as a single musical note signals Kyungsoo’s arrival.

“Welcome to Blooming Days. If you need any help just ask.”

Kyungsoo looks over at the owner of that voice. He’s slim and about Kyungsoo’s height, head bent over a couple of books, jotting notes quietly in between customers it seems. Maybe studying. Kyungsoo approaches the counter, lost as to where to start and that same head raises, bringing the figure’s face into view for the first time. Kyungsoo blinks.

The tiny choker around the boy’s neck shifts as his mouth falls open. Kyungsoo knows him. It’s one of Jongin’s friends from the café. Instantly the young man drops his pen and stands up straight, pushing off his casual lean on the countertop. “You!”

Kyungsoo stands frozen to the spot as the figure ducks under the partition in the counter and comes over to Kyungsoo. A pair of expressive brown eyes widen and Kyungsoo notes the nametag clipped to the top of his neat shirt. Baekhyun.

In a couple of steps Baekhyun reaches Kyungsoo and a slim finger pokes him sharply in the chest. “What’s going on?”

“Uh, hi.” Kyungsoo fumbles, thrown off track. Baekhyun shakes his head, ploughing on.

“Is everything okay between you and Jongin? He’s been moping like a kicked kitten all weekend.” Baekhyun’s gaze is sharp. “You two are dating, right? Did something happen?”

“Woah, slow down.” Kyungsoo brings both hands up, taking a step back. “Yes, we are… we were dating.”

Baekhyun’s eyes narrow. “Were?”

Kyungsoo slumps. “I’d like it if we still were. I just…” he sighs, one hand coming to rub the back of his neck awkwardly. “I messed up. He heard me say some things that weren’t true and I did it to protect him but it was so stupid of me and now I can’t fix it and…” Kyungsoo knows he’s rambling. To this young half-stranger with his cute choker and connection to Jongin and Kyungsoo can’t seem to stop. His heart hurts at the thought of how badly he’s messed up. “I want to fix it. I need to explain to him why I was saying those things. But he’s not talking to me and-”

Baekhyun immediately brightens, rocking back on his heels. “Right! Okay so you’re not an asshole. Thank god. I can work with this.” He grabs Kyungsoo’s arm and drags him swiftly over to a bright display of multi-coloured flowers tied neatly into bouquets. “Here.” He snags a big bunch of stunning red roses, placing them into Kyungsoo’s hands with care. “I don’t know all the names of the flowers here yet because I’m only working part time during college but I do know this. Roses are Jongin’s favourite.  Mine are lilies but his have always been roses.”

“Um,” Kyungsoo is becoming swept up in the sheer, bubbly energy Baekhyun exudes. But he still eyes the buds warily. “Red?”

Baekhyun nods. “The most romantic. Trust me.”

Kyungsoo takes a deep breath and nods. As if that were the sign he was waiting for, Baekhyun immediately hauls him over to the counter and takes the bouquet back, gently laying it onto a holder shaped like a cone so he can add a ribbon around the paper-covered stems. “Did you want a card?”

Kyungsoo shakes his head, feeling a little like the leaves in the whirlwind. “No. I want to talk to him face to face, not write something down.”

“Okay.” Baekhyun ties the sparkly material into a bow and rings up the amount, shoving his textbooks to one side to make room. Kyungsoo hands over his card without looking at the total.

Baekhyun scoops up the gift and hands it over one last time. “It’s nice to finally meet you.” He says softly. “Jongin really likes you.”

Kyungsoo takes the bouquet and cradles it carefully. “Thank you. And I like him. I promise.”

“Good. Show him your heart.” Baekhyun returns to his study corner, hunching down over his work again. He flicks a last, long look up from under his bangs, friendly eyes growing dark. “Because if you break his heart I’m the least scariest person out of all of us that you’ll have to deal with, trust me. I have backup. And he's big.”

Kyungsoo leaves the store both incredibly endeared with Jongin’s friends and mildly terrified in the same breath.

The streetlights have winked on by the time Kyungsoo reaches the tiny café, sitting like a beacon of warmth in the bustling street. The glow from the windows falls across the pavement outside and Kyungsoo hovers there for a moment, feeling a few light raindrops start to patter down.

Inside Jongin is wiping down tables, apron on and his glasses hiked up on top of his head. Kyungsoo stands there, heart in his mouth, unsure of whether to go inside or not. Was he even welcome? He spots Jongin’s sister serving the last few customers who are there for takeaway and decides perhaps it would be better to wait for Jongin outside. Kyungsoo knows the shop will be closing soon and he doesn’t want to intrude. After all Jongin’s bike will be out the back, so Kyungsoo takes the little walkway between the buildings that leads to the alleyway.

He shields the petals of the roses as he waits in the faint drizzle beside a tall skip bin, rehearsing over and over in his head what he wants to say until he’s shaky with nerves. Finally the door to the shop opens and Jongin emerges, changed from his shop clothes and into his club wear. From one job to another. Kyungsoo makes to step forward out of the shadow of the skips but another figure follows out the door, attached to Jongin by the hand. Kyungsoo freezes.

The second figure is as tall as Jongin, dark haired and long-legged like he is. Kyungsoo’s breath catches and squeezes his throat closed as the guy tugs Jongin back around to face himself, drawing the other man into a hug. Jongin instantly complies like it’s the most natural thing in the world, folding into his embrace in a way that makes Kyungsoo’s entire chest burn. It’s familiar and sweet and everything Kyungsoo thought Jongin did with him and him alone. They look like they’re… Kyungsoo can’t move, he can’t look away as they unfold like two halves of a beautiful whole and the other man presses a tender, lingering kiss to Jongin’s forehead, murmuring something Kyungsoo can’t hear and running a hand through Jongin’s carefully-mussed stage hair. Kyungsoo wants to scream, wants to cry but all he feels is horrifyingly numb as Jongin nods to whatever is being said and offers a small smile. He takes the man’s hand again, leading him to the bike.

The clouds finally crack open in earnest as Jongin and the stranger get onto the motorcycle, shielding themselves with the helmets in time. Kyungsoo isn’t as lucky and stands there in the shadows of the alleyway as the two of them disappear with a roar of exhaust, the rain soaking him to the skin. Kyungsoo doesn’t feel it. He's really ruined everything after all.

The bouquet in his hands drops to the wet pavement, splitting open.

* * *

Chapter Text

“It can’t have been what you thought you saw.” Jongdae states firmly. “I refuse to believe it.”

Kyungsoo curls his cold hands around the mug in his grip, trying to pull some warmth back into them. “I know what it looked like.”

Jongdae and Minseok’s artistically styled kitchen is bright and cheerful and Kyungsoo feels so, so out of place right now, sitting dripping and hunched in a blanket at the kitchen bench. But he hadn’t known where else to go.

“There has to be another explanation.” Jongdae sinks onto one of the stools beside him. “I’ve seen how besotted Jongin is with you.”

Minseok returns to the kitchen with a small towel which he smoothly dumps over Kyungsoo’s sodden head. “Does he have a brother?”

Kyungsoo shakes his head, scrubbing the towel through his hair. He feels more than a little pathetic right now but his friends hadn’t hesitated when held turned up on their doorstep soaking wet and miserable. He loves them, he really does. And company was what he needed right now more than anything. To be left alone with his thoughts was beyond unbearable. “Only a sister.”

Minseok rounds the bench and picks up his own mug. “I’m with Jongdae on this one. If Jongin is the type to string along multiple partners then I’m next in line for the throne. Just not possible. He’s too kind.”

Kyungsoo slowly folds the towel and places it on one knee. There’s a crushed petal stuck to his shoe. He sighs. “Maybe he wasn’t dating us both at the same time. Maybe he found this guy after I-”

“After you were an idiot.” Minseok cuts in. “Okay but still that’s… the world’s faintest possibility. It’s been three days, Soo. I still don’t see it happening.”

The instant coffee is bitter against Kyungsoo’s tongue and a painful reminder of the smooth flavours they’ve become used to from The Paw Print in the last few months. “Maybe we didn’t know him as well as we thought.” God, that notion hurts.

Jongdae singlehandedly pulls the most exasperated face Kyungsoo has ever seen aimed at him and stands up. He moves for the briefcase he usually carries between meetings and withdraws a thick manila folder. Striding back he smacks it down on the bench. The impact spills the contents.

Three dozen photo prints slide out, jumbling onto the desk in a mess of high-gloss paper. Kyungsoo looks down; Jongin’s face covers them all. Jongdae reaches over and spreads the pile apart further until they’re all clearly visible. “Look. Look closely at these and then tell me he isn’t head over heels in fucking love with you.”

Kyungsoo looks through the shots. The first prints were all Jongin the model; poised, collected and faintly aloof. The last dozen however were different. Kyungsoo didn’t know the photographer had been shooting surreptitious extras from the moment he had joined Jongin on the set.

Jongin’s face in the set shots Kyungsoo blocked for are still sultry as instructed but the ones in between… Kyungsoo picks up the last couple.

Jongin, eagerly reaching for him like a favourite teddy bear when Kyungsoo had first walked over, playfully poised on all fours above him with the biggest grin, settled back against him as Kyungsoo looked the other way-- Kyungsoo pauses.

Jongin is watching him in that shot, unseen and unnoticed by Kyungsoo at the time and his face… Kyungsoo swallows. Jongin is gazing at him like he’s precious. Dressed in thousands of dollars of designer clothing, Jongin is still looking at Kyungsoo like he’s the most valuable thing in the room.

Kyungsoo forgets how to breathe. Jongdae plucks the photo from his lax grip and slides one more under his nose. An extreme close up, angled entirely differently from the others. Kyungsoo thought the photographer hadn’t been able to see it while they had been standing on the set.

An elegant hand, fingertips tucked under Kyungsoo’s cream sweater. Touch. Skin on skin. Anchoring. Reassuring.

Minseok leans his elbows on the counter beside Kyungsoo. “I’ve made the guest room up. No, don’t argue. You’re staying here tonight. It’ll give you time to think about everything.” He pats Kyungsoo’s soggy shoulder, voice quiet and firm. “Go take a shower. Then decide what you’re going to do.”

* * *

Kyungsoo dreams fitfully. He knows he’s dreaming because Jongin is there, bright and playful and laughing in the way he does when he finds something unbearably funny; all breathless giggles until he gently topples to one side, into Kyungsoo. They’re sitting in one of the soft booths at The Paw Print surrounded by the ever-present strings of fairy lights and Kyungsoo wants to stay dreaming forever, Jongin’s head against his shoulder as he hiccoughs faintly in between his giggles. Kyungsoo plays fondly with the fluffy mop of Jongin’s hair and watches as outside the dreamscape weather slowly turns from sunny to bleak and painfully cold. Thunder rolls.

Jongin lifts his head and looks Kyungsoo in the eye. Rain starts to lash the windows. “I’m sorry.” Jongin whispers, prying himself out of Kyungsoo’s grip and standing. “You’re too late.” His eyes are impossibly sad and for the first time Kyungsoo can’t reach for him. A handsome figure coalesces from the same fairy lights and rainy shadows, hooking Jongin gently by the arm. Kyungsoo wants to do something -anything- but can only watch as Jongin willingly lets the figure lead him away. Only when they’re gone can Kyungsoo scream.

He jolts awake.

The torrential rain that started the night before seems to have, rather like Kyungsoo’s state of mind, decided not to slow down. It’s pounding on the roof as Kyungsoo’s door opens and his (now washed and dried) set of work clothes sails in to land on the foot of his borrowed bed. Minseok’s voice follows.

“We let you sleep in. Get dressed and we’ll grab breakfast on the way.”

Groggy from lack of any decent, deep rest, Kyungsoo manages a series of grunts that he thinks Minseok must have interpreted satisfactorily because his head withdraws. Kyungsoo sits up and paws for the garments.

Without much attention he gets dressed, autopilot taking him to the spare bathroom on half-closed eyes to wash his face and try to make his hair look presentable. If he has to go to work in yesterday’s suit, at least he can fake the rest. His rumpled reflection judges him silently.

By the time he’s in the backseat of Minseok’s car Kyungsoo is beginning to become more aware and only then does the actual hour register. It’s barely light outside. Slowly, trying for nonchalance, Kyungsoo clips his seatbelt on. “We didn’t sleep in. What time is it really?”

Jongdae jumps in last and Minseok smiles into the rear-view mirror.

“Early enough for breakfast. Or coffee… if you prefer.”

Kyungsoo takes a deep breath, coming to a decision. “Coffee. Please.”

* * *

“Okay.” Minseok puts the car into park and swings an arm over the back of Jongdae’s seat, turning to look Kyungsoo in the eye. “You still right to go through with this?”

Kyungsoo nods slowly. The horribly empty feeling from the dream has chased him the entire way to The Paw Print like a ghost, snatching sharp fingertips against his mind and pulling the fear Kyungsoo had felt in the final moments of the dream to the forefront of his mind. He has one shot at this.

Kyungsoo reaches for the handle. Above and beyond everything else, he owes Jongin an apology for what he said. And if this is the last time they speak because Jongin has already happily rebounded then Kyungsoo will have to accept that. But this is the least he can do. He needs to make this right. Apologise.

Minseok tosses him an umbrella. “Make it count.”

Kyungsoo nods, trying to stop the way his insides are starting to twist of their own accord. He steps out of the car, flicks the umbrella open and feels the heavy weight of the rain on it like a physical hand pressing him down. It’s a short walk to the café but it feels like not enough time for Kyungsoo; not nearly enough minutes to organise his thoughts, not nearly enough steps to stop his hands shaking…

The door to The Paw Print is clear glass like the windows and Kyungsoo wants desperately to stop before it like last time, to check who and what is going on inside but he forces himself not to. He’s walking in there anyway. Nothing will change that, no matter how nervous he is.

The miniature cat’s meow rings out as he pushes the door past the sensor and despite everything that still makes Kyungsoo feel at home. The smell of coffee welcomes him like the shop knows his nerves need calming. Kyungsoo looks up, glances around the store for the first time and-

He stops cold. Jongin is standing behind the corner of the counter where people wait for their coffees, using the empty bench space and lack of customers at this early hour to… Kyungsoo can’t take his eyes away.

Jongin, with infinite care is pulling single red roses from a familiar broken, crushed bouquet and placing them into a series of tiny, thin vases. He carefully wipes the sodden petals down as he goes, putting aside the occasional flower that is too damaged to be usable. Kyungsoo feels something sharp and wet sting the backs of his eyes as he watches Jongin try to salvage what little is left of the roses. He manages to find about six or seven small buds still clinging to life and arranges them in their new individual glass homes. He’s in the process of carefully adding a little bit of water to each when he must realise he’s not alone because Jongin looks up.

For a singular moment his face is exactly as Kyungsoo always sees it; bright, open and welcoming. But in a heartbeat those same eyes recognize him and Jongin immediately looks away, his shoulders hunching.

Kyungsoo feels like the worst human being on the planet to ever cause that reaction. He takes a half-step forward and opens his mouth but Jongin scoops up some of the vases and moves out from behind the counter. He walks to the tables nearby and places a rose on each. His voice is very soft.

“I found these this morning when I parked my bike. It made me so sad. Someone had left these little things out in the rain all night.” Jongin moves between the tables one by one. “I guess they’d thrown them out like they were nothing. So when I saw them I thought that even if they never reached who they were meant for, they could at least make some customers happy today.”

The warmth behind Kyungsoo’s eyes is building, misting his vision. He blinks it away. Don’t cry. “I need to apologise. Jongin I’m so, so sorry for what I said the other day. I didn’t mean any of it. It was a lie you were never meant to hear.”

Jongin straightens up from his last vase. His cheek is smudged with flour. “Then why did you say it?”

Kyungsoo inhales. Time to come clean. “The man I was talking to? He’s a very persistent, very dangerous individual. Possibly the most out of anyone I’ve ever worked with at the magazine. He… fixates on people. Right now that’s me. So I needed him to think that you were no one of interest because if he thought for a second that I knew you, he’d have tried to find out everything about you. Including where you work. And I didn’t want him turning up and harassing you. Or paying to force you to dance for him.”

Jongin pauses. “So all those things you said, one after the other…”

“Weren’t true. I didn’t mean them.” Kyungsoo follows Jongin’s longer steps as he crosses back to the counter. “And I know they hurt you and I can’t take them back. I wish I could. I wish I’d thought quicker; thought of a better way to keep him away from you because he’s harassed three other staff members before this who quit and I don’t care if he keeps creeping on me but I couldn’t-” Kyungsoo comes up short as Jongin finally turns back around and Kyungsoo nearly bumps into him. “I couldn’t let him stalk you,” he finishes quietly. “But the way I went about it was rushed and stupid. And thoughtless. I panicked. I’m sorry.”

Jongin looks like he’s working through that confession with great care. Kyungsoo gazes up at him as the raindrops batter the windows into smeared waterfalls and the whole world outside keeps turning but in here… all that matters is Jongin. With his messy cheeks and clean apron and soft hair. Kyungsoo holds his breath as Jongin finally speaks.

“What… do you think of me? Truly?”

Kyungsoo nearly trips over his own tongue. “Everything. You’re amazing.”

Jongin waits patiently.

Words aren’t his thing but Kyungsoo tries; with everything he has he tries. “You’re gentle and kind and you have the best laugh and I want to keep you warm all the time even though you do that for me and I’ve never had better coffee and you make my heart race every time you hold onto my shirt and I can talk to you about anything and I want to spend so much time with you and hear all about your past and your crazy friends and I’ve never seen anyone dance like you. You took my breath away.” Kyungsoo drops his eyes down to his shoes, still going. “From the first day I saw you. I couldn’t even talk to you the first time we met because I’d never seen anyone so beautiful and now I’ve fucked it up and if this is the end I just want you to know how much I wish I hadn’t said those things. And how sorry I am. You’re too special to deserve to be hurt.”

Kyungsoo’s chest is heaving as he runs out of breath, unable to raise his head because this is it. The door kitty meows distantly as the first customers start to enter the shop. He’s done it now. Everything he wanted to say. More than he thinks he’s ever said to someone he’s been crushing heavily on in his life. But there it is. Laid bare. And all too late.

For a heart-stopping second Jongin says nothing. Then Kyungsoo sees the shoes in front of his turn and move away. Kyungsoo closes his eyes, pulling oxygen back into his lungs. So this is how it will be. He didn’t expect to feel so much pain under his ribs. His next breath feels damp as he inhales and he clears his throat to swallow the moisture. Don’t cry.

Murmuring, happy voices of different customers have filled the shop, soaking up the warmth and shaking off their umbrellas. Kyungsoo can hear Jongin’s sister serving them. Time ticks on, unmeasured.

The shoes finally reappear. Kyungsoo looks up.

Jongin holds out a cardboard box containing three coffees, each scrawled hastily with his, Minseok and Jongdae’s name. In his other hand is the final rose in it’s glass vase. Jongin’s shoulders expand and lower in a soft sigh.

“You know that a good portion of my other job involves dealing with people who overstep their boundaries just because they think they can. I could have handled your colleague.”

Kyungsoo nods, miserably guilty. It was insultingly presumptive to mistake Jongin’s sweetness for a lack of strength. The door to the back of the kitchen opens distantly behind Jongin and Kyungsoo’s aching heart drops even further when he spots the handsome stranger emerge, carrying several trays of pastries that he places on the nearby bench. Wow. He’s already made himself at home, apparently. Kyungsoo’s chest squeezes.

Jongin follows Kyungsoo’s stricken gaze and turns around to catch the other man returning to the kitchen. When he looks back to Kyungsoo, Jongin squints like he can’t quite follow what’s going on. But he picks up and places the last rose on the nearest table quietly.

“As for what I deserve? I’ll be the judge of that.” Jongin finishes kindly. “Just give me a little time to think about what you’ve said.”

Kyungsoo nods. It’ll come down to who Jongin wants to be with more. Kyungsoo… totally deserves that. “I can do that. Of course. Take your time.” He straightens up and meets Jongin’s eyes, taking the container of coffees carefully. “Whoever you choose.”

Jongin’s whole brow scrunches at that and he opens his mouth to say something but it’s cut off.

“Nini! A little help?”

Jongin calls out a quick apology to his sister and turns to slip behind the serving counter. Kyungsoo juggles the coffees, places enough cash on the counter to cover the drinks and shakes out his umbrella, prepping to unfold it outside. “Jongin?”

Jongin pauses and looks back over his shoulder. Kyungsoo glances at the roses on the tables. “Don’t be sad about these. Maybe they did get to the right people after all.”

Jongin gives him a puzzled look. Kyungsoo shrugs.

“Because you saved them.”

* * *

The following day Kyungsoo is knee-deep in emails from two very impatient editors who each have a different outlook for the next edition when his phone rumbles along his desk. He picks it up while still looking at his computer screen, putting it to his ear. “Hello?”

The sound of tinkling glassware and faint background voices fills the line for a second before Jongin’s voice comes in.

“Hi.”

Kyungsoo’s heart gives a single, fast jolt. “Hey.”

“Am I disturbing you?”

Kyungsoo’s answer is immediate. “Not at all.”

“Oh, okay. Um, I forgot to ask yesterday. Did the pictures turn out okay for you guys?”

Attention elsewhere now, Kyungsoo sends the last of his email without even proof-reading it. “They turned out amazing.”

“Good. That’s…” Kyungsoo can hear the faint smile in Jongin’s voice; it lilts the ends of his words up. “That’s really good.”

Kyungsoo pauses, noticing the background sounds receding slightly. “Are you on a break?”

“No,” Jongin replies. “But you are on the kitchen bench.”

“I am?”

“Yes- hang on.” Shuffling sounds follow and then Jongin’s voice is slightly clearer. “That’s easier.”

Kyungsoo smiles down at his desk. He didn’t realise just how much he’s missed something as simple as a phone call. “What are you doing?”

“Checking on the eclairs.” There’s a muffled clanging sound. “So you’re in my apron’s top pocket now.”

“Ah,” Kyungsoo listens as Jongin fiddles around the kitchen, just hearing him breathe and mutter about chocolate fillings in between the occasional rattle of bakeware. It’s soothing. “Did you… want to see them? The photos from the shoot?”

“Please.”

Kyungsoo cradles the phone between his cheek and shoulder and brings up the scanned versions Jongdae had sent him the night prior. His cursor hovers over pulling the entire file into an attachment and at the last moment Kyungsoo selects only the single shots of Jongin. “What’s your email?”

Jongin tells him. Kyungsoo flicks the email off and hears when it dings on Jongin’s end because the tiny tone reverberates in the space of his pocket. Where his phone is apparently.

“Thank you.” Jongin settles what sounds like a series of plates onto a hard surface. “Let me just-” Running water pours out and then the flick of possibly a towel. Kyungsoo realises with no small amount of warmth that Jongin didn’t have to call him for any of this; didn’t have to carry Kyungsoo around in his pocket as he went about his mundane afternoon tasks… but he wanted to. He didn’t just text or send a picture. He wants the company. Kyungsoo allows himself to feel lighter than he has since the week prior.

There’s a pause and gentle silence as Jongin must withdraw his phone and open the email. Kyungsoo has the abrupt jolt of hoping that Jongin likes what he sees. That he likes the way he’s been captured.

Jongin’s voice when it returns is awed. “Wow.”

“Are you okay with them?” Kyungsoo crosses his fingers, unseen.

“They’re… I’ve never seen myself like this.” Jongin is knocking faintly away on the screen, flicking through the shots. “It’s amazing. Where’s the rest?”

Kyungsoo flicks his eyes to the folder on his desktop. “I didn’t know if you wanted to see the ones with me in them too. We’ll use your solo shots and the tightly blocked ones for the submission but I have the others.”

“Can I?”

Kyungsoo sends the second half of the shoot. He knows when Jongin opens the attachment because there’s an inhale from his end. Kyungsoo closes his eyes, waiting.

Jongin lets out a faint, sheepish laugh. “I can really see it.”

Kyungsoo cracks an eye. “What?”

“How obvious I am.”

The warmth in Kyungsoo’s chest expands, flooding his limbs. “It’s your choice as to if we still use your solo shots. I didn’t know if you still-”

“You still have my permission.” Jongin saves him from having to mention anything. “I want to help you. That never changed.”

Kyungsoo has the strongest urge to ask something then; to try and push and poke at this hidden moment and ask Jongin if he still feels that way about everything. But he promised space. And he’s clearly still welcome in Jongin’s if being carried sweetly around as electronic company is any indication. So Kyungsoo doesn’t ask. He listens to Jongin finish checking on the pastries until he has to hang up and return to serving customers. Just before they say goodbye though, Jongin takes Kyungsoo off speaker.

“I missed you.”

* * *

Kyungsoo’s happy mood lasts as long as it takes for the photocopier on the top floor to jam mid-way through him printing the first edits of the shoot that Minseok has put together. It’s not the machine that punctures his bubble though, it’s who corners him as he’s trying to fix it. Kyungsoo has his head in the guts of the huge machine, trying to tug loose a piece of crumpled paper when he hears the one voice he hates most in the world right at this moment.

“Soo…” Seungwon’s elbow comes to rest on the top of the copier, leaving his long, thin legs far too close to where Kyungsoo is crouched down. Unnecessary and overconfident as always. Kyungsoo randomly bangs around in the machine a few times and pretends not to notice him. It doesn’t work.

“I know you can hear me.”

Kyungsoo finally yanks his head out of the side of the machine and glares up at the other man. “Don’t you have work to do? Isn’t that what you were telling me the other day?” He stands up. “Busy man?”

Seungwon’s eyes narrow until all that remains are dark slits. “It’s time you showed me some proper respect. I am your senior.”

Kyungsoo doesn’t back down. After all the harassment he’s put up with over the last year, trapped between the wall and Seungwon he finally snaps, “Respect is earned. I don’t have to give you shit.”

The colour drains from Seungwon’s face, leaving it a pasty, enraged white. “You arrogant upstart!” He extends a hand to snag Kyungsoo’s wrist and only grows angrier as the move is dodged. “You think you’re someone worthy of taking to me that way? No one disobeys me.” His eyes trail slowly up and down Kyungsoo’s body, making his skin crawl. Seungwon slides closer, tight enough to force Kyungsoo against the wall. “Cute as you may be you’re just an assistant editor after all. Either you learn your place or you might just not have one.”

Kyungsoo’s lip curls. For the first time ever he presses towards Seungwon instead of away. “If that place is anywhere near you, I’d rather find another job. Leave me the fuck alone.”

He pushes past Seungwon, shaking, forgetting the stupid photocopier jam entirely. Forgetting even the usb containing his photos that he had balanced on the top.

* * *

The heavy, oppressive storm clouds of the past couple of days seem to have decided to become a permanent fixture over the whole area with no sign of reprieve so by the time he gets home, Kyungsoo only has the energy to make something simple for dinner and stay in. The idea of reading in a warm bed to the sound of rain on the roof is immensely appealing.

He showers, makes a neat little stack of toasted sandwiches and checks his emails and group chat while he eats. Nothing urgent jumps out so Kyungsoo flicks his friends a quick message to let them know that Seungwon is on the warpath and that he’ll see them in the morning meeting to explain why. Something needs to be done before he goes even further, Kyungsoo just isn’t sure what.

Jongdae sends him a hug emoji. Minseok sends him a collection of multicoloured hearts and a quick message as Kyungsoo is drying the dishes asking if he can look over the edits of Jongin’s photos tomorrow.

Kyungsoo has a hunt in his bag for the usb stick as he’s getting changed but for some reason it’s not there. Must have left it at the office, he thinks tiredly. He had it with him that morning after all…

He picks up the last book he bought from The Paw Print and takes it to bed with him. The lamp he flicks on is gentle, filling the room with a cozy snugness that seems to be a shelter all of its own as Kyungsoo tucks himself between the covers, wiggling down until comfy. God, he’s tired. The rain never lets up, drumming in a solid rhythm that gradually lulls Kyungsoo under until the words on the pages blur, fuzz and eventually darken behind longer and longer blinks.

Kyungsoo falls asleep, book still in his grasp.

His phone trills sharply a few hours later, wiggling itself across his bedside table until Kyungsoo snatches it up, not even looking at the display. He squashes a palm into his eye, rubbing away the sleep.

“H’lo?”

“Soo?”

Kyungsoo sits up against his pillow. “Jongin? It’s-” he pulls the phone away and squints at the screen as it lights up. “-nearly midnight. Is everything okay?”

He can hear the stress in Jongin’s tone and the sound of… is that water? Or just the rain outside?

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry to call you like this. But I need-” there’s the sound of a splash. “-some help.”

Kyungsoo is immediately awake. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s the shop. It’s taking on water damage.” Jongin’s tone gets quicker, more harried. “The stupid rain from the past few days caused a portion of the roof to fail as I was about to go to the club and the electricity shorted out about an hour ago. I’m trying to save the books and some of the food but my sister is away for a couple of days and we can’t-”

Kyungsoo swings his legs out of bed and moves for his wardrobe. “It’s okay.” He tries for reassuring and calm. “It’s okay. I’m on my way.” He can hear the rain still buffeting the house around himself and the thought of Jongin struggling through it is enough to make his movements faster. “I’ll be there as soon as I can. Can I get in the front way?”

“No that’s where the first leak was. I’ll let you in from the back. And Soo?” Jongin pauses and Kyungsoo does the same, unconsciously hovering with his shirt in his spare hand. “Thank you. So much.”

“It’s what friends are for.” Kyungsoo grabs a set of jeans and hears a quiet inhale.

“Or a boyfriend?”

Kyungsoo smiles into the dark room, unseen. “Maybe that too.”

* * *

The rain is blinding to drive in so Kyungsoo takes longer than he would have liked, but it’s either slow down or risk fishtailing and crashing. He makes it to the little café strip just before 1am and instead of using the usual public carpark, he goes around and takes a turn up the alleyway that leads to the back of The Paw Print.

It’s a short distance from the car to the shop so Kyungsoo pulls his jacket up over his head in lieu of an umbrella and gets out. His engine must have been an indicator of his arrival because the back door swings open the moment he gets close and Kyungsoo ducks inside, shaking the water off like a dog.

It’s dim inside without the power. Kyungsoo looks up when he’s done drying off… and stills on the spot. It’s not Jongin who let him inside.

Dressed in a black shirt and jeans both soaked through in large patches, the handsome stranger cocks his head to one side. “You must be Kyungsoo?”

Kyungsoo feels rooted to the spot, his heart sinking. The guy looks like sex on legs, tall and stunning with line after line of muscle visible through his clinging shirt. He’s… he’s stupidly hot. Kyungsoo nods, feeling vastly small and insignificant all of a sudden. Who in their right mind would choose him over this guy? Kyungsoo knows in comparison he’s short, occasionally grumpy without caffeine, tends to squint a lot when he’s thinking and isn’t that great at expressing himself. And this guy…

What an idiot, thinking Jongin had asked only him here to help. Of course he’d have asked others too. Kyungsoo goes to say something. Anything-

At that moment Jongin swings into the kitchen from the main store, hair plastered back from his face and just as sodden. “Soo! Thank you so much for coming.” He pulls up between the two men. “Have you met? I don’t think so. Kyungsoo, this is Yixing.”

Kyungsoo sticks out a hand sadly. As he does Jongin throws an arm around Yixing’s shoulders. “Fair warning, he’s my best friend. So don’t take anything he says seriously. Ever.”

Kyungsoo falters, nearly dropping the elegant hand that meets his. “Y-your friend?”

“Since we were kids-” Jongin pauses, cutting himself off. He looks between them both and his dark eyes are assessing, putting two and two together until they widen. Kyungsoo doesn’t know where to look or what to say, suddenly feeling like the world’s biggest idiot and Yixing is now looking confused and…

Jongin, bless his heart, slides off Yixing’s side and smoothly steps over to Kyungsoo. Without missing a beat he turns back to Yixing. “And this is Kyungsoo. The guy I’ve been telling you about for the last month.” Jongin’s hand tentatively lifts, fingers hesitantly taking hold of a corner of Kyungsoo’s shirt under his jacket. “My boyfriend.”

Kyungsoo’s breath catches. Yixing eyes Kyungsoo in a way that makes him feel like a very significant specimen under a microscope. It takes him a long time and Yixing’s eyes finally land on Jongin’s fingers. He squeezes Kyungsoo’s hand that remains locked with his in a very, very solid grip. Kyungsoo knows a warning sign when he sees one. Yixing finally releases his grip and crosses his wet arms.

“So you two have resolved what was going on?”

Kyungsoo speaks up before Jongin has to. “It was entirely my screw up and Jongin’s decision in the end.” He turns to Jongin beside him as the little grip on his shirt adds a few more fingers, becoming happier. “If he says we have, then that’s the truth.”

Jongin inches closer like it’s been hard keeping his distance thus far. Knowing his subconscious need to touch for reassurance and comfort, Kyungsoo can believe it. Jongin’s arm brushes his, damp and cold. Kyungsoo immediately reaches up his opposite hand without thinking and rubs some warmth into it. Yixing’s eyes follow the move carefully and he waits for Jongin. They both wait.

Jongin runs his free hand through his wet hair, mussing it entirely. He addresses Yixing first. “Kyungsoo explained why he said what he did. I asked for a little time to get my head around it. It never fit with what I know of him, which is why it hurt so much.” Kyungsoo drops his gaze at that because Yixing’s eyes harden. Jongin rushes ahead.

“But I believe him. I do. I just haven’t had the chance to tell him yet. Soo?”

Kyungsoo looks up. Jongin offers a small half-smile. “I forgive you.”

Kyungsoo’s heart stutters to a stop. He’s unable to keep the look off relief off his face. “I- can I hug you?”

Jongin’s laugh is kind. “Any time.”

Kyungsoo opens his arms and Jongin fits himself between them like he’s meant to be there, arms around his neck and against the back of Kyungsoo’s head like he never intends to let go. Kyungsoo presses his face against Jongin’s damp shoulder and murmurs apologies into it until Jongin shushes him, finally peeling back to look at Yixing.

“Thank you for always looking out for me.”

The hard tint to Yixing’s eyes has slowly faded. “As long as you’re both okay.”

Kyungsoo lets Jongin go slowly. “We will be. It was my fault and I’m never going to fuck up like that again. I promise.”

Yixing finally smiles, a move that lights up his whole face, softening it into something far less intimidating. “Okay. I-” A loud crack sounds out from behind them all and everyone jumps a foot. Yixing turns. “Shit, the ice in the freezers is melting. Jongin do you have any portable cooler boxes? I’ll try and put some of the ice in with the milk cartons to keep it all cold.”

Jongin heads for the storage room and Kyungsoo abruptly remembers that oh. Yes. They’re all in the café in the middle of the night for an actual, important reason. He sheds his jacket and rolls up the cuffs of his sleeves. “What can I do?”

Yixing opens a wall freezer and jumps back as a chunk of ice slides out, shattering on the floor. “There’s still a whole section of books that need to be raised off the bottom shelves in case we can’t contain the leaks. Watch your footing in there.” He adds as Kyungsoo moves for the front room.

A pair of storm lanterns has been set up on two of the tables and the rest of the tiny tea lights in their cases have been lit to try and provide visibility. Everything reflective in the room glitters in gold and silver and Kyungsoo thinks it would look magical under any other circumstances. But the series of overflowing buckets set up under the numerous leaks in the ceiling shows the reality.

Several thin waterfalls of drops are leaking steadily from a puncture in the roof, plopping onto well-placed containers and buckets. The flooring is still wet and slippery in huge patches that must have accumulated before Jongin called them for help. Kyungsoo quickly bends and grabs the nearest full bucket, taking it around to the sink behind the counter and emptying it out. He does the same for the rest of them, replacing each container underneath its corresponding leak. Then he goes to the bookshelves and pulls out handfuls of books from each bottom shelf, stacking them anywhere higher he can reach. Some of the bases of the editions are damp already and Kyungsoo tries to place them so they don’t warp too badly.

Jongin walks past with a plastic tub of slushy ice that he dumps into the sink. “Guess we’ll be having a half priced sale soon.”

“I hate seeing damaged books.” Kyungsoo looks at the waterlogged ones morosely. “It makes me sad.”

Jongin finishes with his tub and crouches down at the shelf opposite Kyungsoo’s. Their backs brush in the small space. “Someone will love them.” He replies, hauling tomes from his bookcase higher. “Even damaged things eventually find their home.”

Kyungsoo’s fingers pause on one of the spines. He doesn’t turn around. “Jongin…”

“The roses were from you, weren’t they?”

Kyungsoo’s voice is small. “Yeah.”

Gentle thumps indicate that Jongin is still saving books. “Did you come by to give them after work that day?”

Kyungsoo nearly drops the book he’s holding. He knew Jongin had figured it out earlier. “Yes.”

A shuffle of clothing happens behind him and Jongin lays a hand against Kyungsoo’s back. “That’s why you’ve been talking about me making some kind of a choice isn’t it? You thought Yixing and I-”

Kyungsoo drops the book onto a higher shelf and spins around. “I thought that day that I’d lost you. Completely. Through my own stupidity.”

Wet strands of Jongin’s hair are hanging almost into his eyes, too heavy with water to stay pushed back. He’s soggy, disheveled and still the most beautiful thing Kyungsoo has ever seen. Jongin smiles, his cheeks plumping up in that gentle way they do whenever he doesn’t show teeth.

“You didn’t. So thank you for my roses. Officially.”

Kyungsoo huffs a laugh. He shakes his head. “I can do better. Officially. I will do better, next time.”

“You don’t have to buy me things.” Jongin leans across the small distance, pressing their foreheads together. “Just… kiss me?”

Kyungsoo can do that. More than anything else in the whole world right now he can do that. Angling his head down he presses their lips together. Jongin makes one of those tiny sucker-punched sounds that he does whenever Kyungsoo does something tender and Kyungsoo can’t wrap his head around the fact that he can make Kim Jongin sound like that. Of all the people Jongin could choose from, it’s him; short, grumpy, occasionally squinty Kyungsoo that makes Jongin weak. Kyungsoo still can’t quite believe it.

Jongin shuffles until their knees bump together, reaching up and taking a generous handful of Kyungsoo’s hair. His grip is tight, needy and Kyungsoo obliges, deepening the kiss until Jongin is purring against him, a contented low hum that would almost be a moan if Jongin were aware he was doing it. Kyungsoo doesn’t think he is. He pulls back and presses close again and Jongin follows him with his mouth, not letting him go too far each time. It’s ridiculously cute.

A cold, wet object is placed on Kyungsoo’s head. He jerks away and spots an identical cupcake on Jongin’ hair just in time to catch it as it topples off. His own he misses. Jongin grabs it before it hits his leg and they both look up, confused

Yixing grins down at them. “Can we save the store before you two have your reunion make-out session?” He lowers a small box of cupcakes onto a chair near them, taking one for himself. “Might as well eat while you go. The power won’t be on again in time to save everything.”

Kyungsoo take a bite of his cold cupcake, hoping the low-lighting hides his red cheeks. Yixing doesn’t miss it though. He turns to pick up a mop from behind the front counter, pointing at Kyungsoo before he goes.

“Pretty sure it goes for all of us, but you hurt him again and-”

“Got it. I’m a dead man.” Kyungsoo smiles. “Baekhyun already gave me the lesson.”

Yixing lights up. “Oh you’ve met Baekhyun? Awesome. He’s the final corner of our trio. And he may be small but he brings the big guns with him.”

“He mentioned something about that.” Kyungsoo finishes the rest of his cupcake in two big bites. “The redhead?”

Yixing nods. “Chanyeol. Can’t miss him. Six foot of happy puppy until he has to protect something.”

“Duly noted.” Kyungsoo looks between them both. “Jongin is lucky to have you three.”

“Four.” Yixing corrects. At Kyungsoo’s head tilt he elaborates. “There’s actually one more. Get Jongin to introduce you to Junmyeon one day.”

“There is a gang,” Kyungsoo stage-whispers as Jongin collapses into him, laughing quietly. Kyungsoo strokes his hair. “You’re all terrifying. I knew it.”

* * *

They’re sandbagging the lowest power points near the front door with spare bags of flour as the water starts to seep in under the gap when Kyungsoo remarks, “I’m surprised Baekhyun didn’t tell you about the flowers.”

“Nope.” Jongin drags over the last bag and plops it into place. “He’s actually quite good at keeping secrets when he wants to.”

“That sounds ominous.”

Jongin laughs. “I promise it’s not.”

“Why didn’t you call him anyway?” Kyungsoo tries to dust the flour off his hands but it’s clumped up on his wet fingers. He’d been wondering all night. “I thought he’d be right over to help.”

“He would be.” Jongin moves for one of the taps in the tiny sink behind the counter and waves Kyungsoo over. “But he and Chanyeol had a scheduled playdate last night so I didn’t want to disturb them.”

Kyungsoo is confused at that. “But he’s your friend. They both are. Surely they’d drop everything to come here. It’s just a date.” He slips his hands under the water and starts washing the gloop off.

Jongin reaches in beside him to rinse his own hands. “It’s… not your regular date and I wouldn’t do it to Baekhyun. The two of them schedule time for this and it wouldn’t be fair to pull him away abruptly.” Jongin tangles his wet fingers with Kyungsoo’s under the tap. “Which is why I called you and Yixing instead.”

Kyungsoo looks up at Jongin. “Do I want to ask any more or not?”

Jongin interlocks their fingers, sliding and squeezing Kyungsoo’s as he washes them both. “Baekhyun confided in me last year and if you want to ask any more it’s really his place to tell you if he chooses. Just know that there are some nights when I know not to disturb them. Not because they wouldn’t help immediately if I needed them, but because I know they would and it might be a bit disorientating for them both. So if it’s not life or death, I can handle it another way.”

Kyungsoo brings both his and Jongin’s hands out of the sink and snags a couple of pieces of paper towel to dry them off. “Okay that does sound more intense than your average date.” He drops the paper into a nearby bin. “But I think I’m too vanilla to understand much more.”

Jongin grins, shrugging. “So was Baekhyun once.”

Kyungsoo is about to reply when Yixing reappears, slinging a towel around his neck. “Looks like the whole block is out of power so it’s not an electrical short on our end. Good news in a way. At least it means the water didn’t get to our cabling in the roof.”

“If the rain clears I’ll put a sign up on the chalkboard outside to say we’re not going to be open for a while.” Jongin looks out the front windows and then back to his watch. “It’s nearly 4am. You’re going to have to catch your train soon.”

Yixing nods. “Yeah it leaves at five. I’ll still make it.” He turns to Kyungsoo and sticks out a hand. When Kyungsoo takes it Yixing pulls him forward, into a hug. “Be kind, both of you.”

Kyungsoo gives a squeeze and pulls back. “You’re not staying? I thought you were from around here?”

“I was.” Yixing’s smile is melancholy. “I can’t be around all the time like I used to in years past. But I’m never far away. They always know how to reach me.”

Jongin opens his arms and Yixing steps over, enfolding him in a hug. He drops a gentle kiss onto Jongin’s wet hair. “Message me if you need.”

Jongin nods, clinging for a second before letting go and breaking the hug. “Thank you for all your help. We miss you, you know.”

“I know. But it won’t be forever. I’ll be back sooner than you think.” Yixing points through the kitchen. “My Uber shouldn’t be far away. I’ll wait out the back for it. Be safe.”

Kyungsoo slips his hand into Jongin’s as they watch Yixing walk off. Instantly Jongin’s fingers cling on. Kyungsoo runs his thumb across the back of his hand soothingly. When the door clicks shut Jongin’s face drops.

Kyungsoo tries to keep his mind off having to say goodbye. “The buckets need changing again.” He tugs Jongin over towards the nearest. “Then we can take a break.”

Jongin nods and shadows Kyungsoo as they move about the room. “Yixing received a scholarship to a different college than I did after we graduated.” He dumps the first bucket Kyungsoo hands him. “It meant he had to leave a couple of years back. We always kind of thought we’d all be together.”

Kyungsoo methodically works through the rest of the overflowing containers. “Growing up is never easy. Sometimes it means making the hard decisions.”

Jongin nods. “It was for his future. We all knew and understood. But I called him on the weekend after what happened. He came because I asked.”

“I’m glad he did. Tell you what,” Kyungsoo replaces the last of the buckets, nudging it into place under its drip with his shoe. “How about we see if he can visit for Christmas? Classes will be over and everyone will have a break and you can all get together. A reunion.”

Jongin looks overjoyed at the prospect. It makes Kyungsoo warm inside to see that look on his face.

“Is it too early to message him that idea now?”

Kyungsoo laughs, meandering over to one of the few dry patches in the back of the store. He finds a warm spot on the floorboards in between the back shelves and clears a space from the debris. “I’m sure it’d make his trip home much happier.”

Jongin goes to check on the last of the food in their little cooler bags the kitchen and returns a few minutes later. Kyungsoo has relocated both himself and a couple of the cushions normally on the window seats to the floor, making a soft pile. Jongin spots it when he comes back out and all but throws himself down, miles of long arms and legs. Kyungsoo swats him with one of the cushions.

Jongin flips over into his back, nestled up against Kyungsoo’s side. He tugs a cushion out of the way so he can hook a leg over Kyungsoo’s calf.

“No wonder Yixing is so tolerant.” Kyungsoo murmurs, lifting an arm so Jongin can press close. “You love cuddles.”

“I’ve always been demonstrative. More so with my friends.”  Jongin replies quietly. “But I really missed you this past week. I didn’t realise how much I liked touching you until I couldn’t.”

“That makes two of us.” Kyungsoo curves his arm up at the elbow, running his fingers through Jongin’s hair. It’s started to dry out and Kyungsoo combs through it without thinking. “You can come to me any time you like. I promise.”

Tiny shivers are running through Jongin’s body each time Kyungsoo’s fingers pass over his scalp. “If you just keep doing that,” he murmurs, looking up at Kyungsoo. “I’ll be happy.”

“What? Petting your hair?”

Jongin nods, eyes half-mast. “I like it. Maybe I just like it because it’s you doing it.”

Kyungsoo’s smile is fond. “You’re adorable.”

“Hey,” Jongin cuts off mid-yawn. “That’s my line.” But his ears are pink so Kyungsoo dips down, brushing his lips against the tip of one.

“You’re going red.”

“Shut up.”

“It’s the cutest thing when you do. Never lose that.” Kyungsoo feels safe; like in here, behind the dark rain-smeared windows they have their own little bubble full of a million twinkling gold and silver lights and tiny waterfalls dripping in slow motion. The smell of coffee and books still lingers when Jongin looks up at Kyungsoo from his shoulder and pushes up on an elbow, kissing him. He really has missed this so much, Kyungsoo realises with a jolt. The open affection in everything Jongin does.

It feels like the most natural thing when Jongin wiggles closer until he ends up half lying on top of Kyungsoo. Jongin licks into Kyungsoo’s mouth slowly, like they have all the time in the world because without the shop opening perhaps they do. Kyungsoo lets him guide the kiss, deepening it steadily until they’re firmly making out, panting, pressing steadily tighter against each other until the movements become rhythmic. Jongin’s faint, adorable sounds have become deeper and Kyungsoo braces his thigh, giving Jongin a little leverage for his tiny thrusts.

That seems to register though because Jongin pulls away, their slick lips parting with an audible pop.

“There’s something-” Jongin ducks to one side and buries his face in Kyungsoo’s neck, breath heavy. Kyungsoo can feel how hard he is against his thigh and tries to recollect his thoughts as Jongin evens out his breathing. Kyungsoo shouldn’t find that as hot as he does.

“Hmm?”

Jongin’s face remains tucked in against Kyungsoo’s neck. “Remember when we- when I was getting changed for the shoot?”

“Yeah.” Kyungsoo runs a hand down Jongin’s back and slips it under the shirt he’s long forgotten to tuck into his jeans. The skin on skin seems to settle Jongin because he continues.

“I was... about to tell you that you were the first person to touch me there.”

“Ah,” Kyungsoo scratches his nails lightly along Jongin’s waist and enjoys the way his whole body shakes. He remembers the piercings. “Since you had them done?”

“Since… ever.”

Kyungsoo pauses. He cocks his head to one side but Jongin is still hiding. He can’t see his face. “Hang on. Like-“ Kyungsoo sits up slightly so he’s braced back against the cushions, still keeping hold of his oversized armful. “Ever, ever?”

Jongin nods, silent. The back of his neck is flushed. Kyungsoo considerately withdraws his hand from under Jongin’s shirt. “And your other job…”

“I’m a stripper.” Jongin smiles against Kyungsoo’s neck. “That doesn’t give automatic consent for anyone to touch me. I just dance.” A single, breathy giggle hits Kyungsoo’s skin. “And for the record I nearly lost my job because I got caught up in the moment when we were there. There are designated boys at the club for that and I’m not one of them.”

“Damn, I’m sorry.” Kyungsoo is taking a moment to get his head around this. Jongin is… the most gorgeous, provocative dancer. Undeniably, ridiculously good looking. With a body to match and the most endearing personality. And he’s- Kyungsoo swallows.

“Can I ask?”

Jongin finally lifts his head and looks Kyungsoo in the eye. It takes a couple of tries and he sinks his teeth into a corner of his bottom lip. “It’s my first time.”

Kyungsoo exhales. “Oh.”

The flush has spread across Jongin’s cheeks and nose, although from arousal or shyness, Kyungsoo can’t tell. Probably a good mix of both. He immediately drops his leg, much to Jongin’s soft whine.

“Are you sure you want to- this isn’t exactly…” Kyungsoo gently strokes Jongin’s hip. “You should have a proper bed for this.”

Jongin actually laughs for a moment, his whole head tipping back. He then flops himself forward, tucking his head somehow against Kyungsoo’s opposite shoulder and looking out into the room. “Don’t you think this is kind of perfect though? I have you, the candles and only the books as witness.”

“God,” Kyungsoo groans, sliding his hand back under Jongin’s top to run it up and down his spine. “You’re such a sap.” He cradles Jongin close, ignoring how hard he is in his own jeans. “Are you sure?”

Jongin nods, his hair ticking Kyungsoo’s neck. He slides a sneaky leg over Kyungsoo’s waist and straddes him properly. Kyungsoo immediately locks his knees so as not to buck up against him and Jongin rolls his eyes. He reaches behind his head and tugs the shirt off, dropping it nearby.

“Soo…” Jongin sits up to his full height and braces both arms on the shelf behind Kyungsoo’s head, trapping him perfectly. Kyungsoo looks up the length of the beautiful cage he’s in, to all that tanned skin. Jongin drags himself closer by his grip on the shelf, executing a perfect, slow motion body roll in Kyungsoo’s lap, every muscle in his torso contracting and releasing flawlessly. “Do I have to convince you that I really, really want my first time to be with you?”

Kyungsoo’s heart squeezes at the directness. Jongin flipped his own switch and… Jesus. That’s sexy.

Jongin is a heavy, delicious weight on his hips and everything Kyungsoo has ever wanted. He lets himself explore, stops holding back and finally, finally grabs the handfuls of skin he’s holding. Hard.

Jongin keens. He drops one hand and takes hold of Kyungsoo’s head, curling his fingers until he has a good enough grip to tug Kyungsoo’s face forward. Kyungsoo flicks his eyes up just in time to see the pink on Jongin’s cheeks as he tries to keep the persona going.

“Suck me?”

Kyungsoo’s cock pulses inside his jeans and he lets his mouth fall open, dragging in a breath as he follows Jongin’s guiding hand and seals his lips over one peaked nipple. The tang of the metal hits his tongue and Kyungsoo sucks. Jongin’s hands clench, the one in his hair drawing a wince of pain from Kyungsoo as he flicks the piercing with his tongue, curling around it. Jongin moans sharply, the sound higher pitched and breathy.

“Oh my god.”

Kyungsoo’s lips curve but he keeps the contact, pulling the ring between his teeth and then more, closing his teeth against the nipple itself, bringing his other hand up to pinch the peaked flesh of its twin. Jongin shakes, thighs clamping down against Kyungsoo’s hips as he tries to stay upright. He can’t seem to stop talking.

“Oh god-oh fuck. That- please don’t stop.” Jongin’s hips are rolling of their own accord, stuttering in small, mindless thrusts as he clenches and releases his handful of Kyungsoo’s hair like he doesn’t know what to do with the sensations. Kyungsoo runs his free hand down Jongin’s spine, tugging him closer by the small of his back, wanting as much of that bare skin under his touch as he can get. Jongin obliges, nearly wrapped around him like a trembling, twitching limpet as Kyungsoo tongues and nips at his piercings, swapping between both until Jongin’s nipples are shiny and peaked, red flesh puffy against the spit-slicked metal.

Almost unconsciously Jongin has been grinding down against Kyungsoo, pushing and pressing with the movements of his mouth and Kyungsoo is trapped inside his jeans, hard and aching. But it’s worth ignoring his own arousal because Jongin looks like he’s slowly losing himself and when Kyungsoo stops he cries out, a lost little sound. Kyungsoo reaches for him because of course he would. Always. Now and forever.

“Shh,” he cups Jongin’s flushed cheek. “It’s okay. I’m going to take care of you. But I want you to do something for me.”

Jongin nods, pupils blown out and fuck, they haven’t even started yet.

“Okay,” Kyungsoo reshuffles his grip until he can take hold of Jongin and he manages despite his much larger armful to turn them both around, depositing Jongin back on the cushions. “I need you to tell me what you want. What you like.”

Jongin looks like sin, shirtless and aroused, splayed back against the cushions. Kai has vanished again and only Jongin is left, shy and licking his lips like he’s a little dazed. Kyungsoo knows how overwhelming it can be to be intimate for the first time, how the sensations are magnified and how easy it is to become overloaded. He doesn’t think Jongin will last long but that’s okay; Kyungsoo wants to make every second perfect. “Hey,” he takes hold of Jongin’s chin, running his thumb over his lower lip. “Just name it.”

Jongin suckles on the fingertip within his reach for a second. “I want,” he nips it and lets go. “You naked. Can I?”

Kyungsoo grins. “Of course. That’s easy.” He unbuttons his shirt and finds a second set of hands there, trying endearingly to help but mostly getting in the way as Jongin’s eagerness to see him naked comes forth. Kyungsoo finally shucks the material back off his arms, for the first time not letting himself feel ashamed of the width of his shoulders or the softer line of his stomach because Jongin looks like he’s just laid eyes on all his Christmas presents at once. He immediately runs his hands across every part of Kyungsoo’s chest he can reach and there’s a heady rush in this, in Jongin’s adoring gaze as he plucks and squeezes and Kyungsoo is so hard…  He gathers Jongin’s happy, wandering hands and brings them to his mouth, kissing the knuckles. “Next?”

Jongin’s bottom lip disappears again, but a hint of a smile is curved up on one side. “That’s not naked.”

Kyungsoo raises his eyebrows, giving him a look and Jongin bucks his hips playfully, raising and lowering Kyungsoo an inch. Kyungsoo drops his hands to the button on his jeans and is about to open them when Jongin darts in, tangling their hands.

“I want to do it.”

Obligingly, Kyungsoo raises up on his knees to make it easier,  letting his hands fall away. He can’t not touch Jongin any more than the other can seem to resist either though, because he places a hand on the back of Jongin’s neck within a few seconds, grounding himself as Jongin pulls away the denim from the button and lowers the zipper. Kyungsoo can’t hold his hips entirely still as Jongin tugs the jeans down to mid-thigh, leaving only Kyungsoo’s  underwear to do a really, really poor job of hiding just how turned on he is. Jongin’s eyes widen and he drags a thumb across the damp patch where the head of Kyungsoo’s cock has pressed up against the cotton. The touch is fleeting but Kyungsoo groans. Maybe Jongin isn’t the only one worked up.

Jongin doesn’t play. He peels the underwear down and Kyungsoo closes his eyes at the thick bead of precum that leaves a faint trail from the cotton to his cockhead until it breaks and drips down his length. Jongin’s hands slide around and sink into the cheeks of his ass. “Is this okay?”

Kyungsoo snaps open his eyes. Jongin has sat up a fraction and is looking up at him and so Kyungsoo nods, running his hand up Jongin’s neck and into the base of his hair. “God yes. But I thought this was supposed to be about what you wanted?”

“It is.” Jongin’s expression flashes past something Kyungsoo would have expected to see on stage. Wicked. “This is what I want.”

Kyungsoo bites back a groan. “Okay babe, okay. Whatever you want to do.”

Jongin narrows his eyes at the endearment that’s slipped out and Kyungsoo widens his stance, getting better purchase on his knees. “What? Babe? Baby? Little bear-” Kyungsoo’s teasing is cut off as Jongin leans in and kisses the slick head of Kyungsoo’s cock, dirtying his lips with all the moisture there. “Fuck.”

Kyungsoo can feel Jongin’s smile against his dick. He kisses up and down Kyungsoo’s length, learning his shape until in a bout of confidence he takes Kyungsoo in slightly, suckling steadily around the head as if he doesn’t quite know what else to do but he’s excited at all this and it’s a good thing Kyungsoo has locked his knees because holy god yes. Little kitten licks inside a warm mouth as Jongin figures out the heavy cock on his tongue, pulling back and playing with the pink head like it’s a lollipop. Hnngg. Kyungsoo’s toes curl at how sinfully sweet it is.

His hand clenches automatically in Jongin’s hair and Kyungsoo doesn’t push, just lets him decide that he likes the weight in his mouth and on his tongue and Jongin eventually sinks down further, cheeks hollowing as he experiments with how far he can go. Kyungsoo may not be long but he’s thick and Jongin’s beautiful lips are stretched in the most obscene way around him. He manages about halfway down Kyungsoo’s cock, cheeks hollowing as he sucks before he makes a small choking sound and rears back off with a pop, spit trailing wetly between them both as he pulls in a breath and clears his throat. His eyes flash shame at his own gag reflex so Kyungsoo scratches his nails gently across Jongin’s scalp in reassurance. He’s fucking impressed at that for his first time.

“God, you did so well. Come here, you don’t have to take it all at first. Give me your hand.”

Jongin does and Kyungsoo guides him where to place it, curling his fingers around the base of his dick, creating a ring that Jongin doesn’t have to go past with his mouth. Jongin immediately takes him in his mouth again, eager little moans vibrating along Kyungsoo’s cock as he gets to play safely, fucking his mouth with no danger of choking again. God. Pleasure shoots up Kyungsoo’s spine as Jongin bobs, making a beautiful mess, his hand firm around the base of Kyungsoo’s cock and applying the most beautiful pressure in counterpoint to the bobbing, wet movement of his mouth.

Jesus. Kyungsoo can’t stop his hips, no matter his self-control and Jongin whimpers at the first thrust Kyungsoo makes into his mouth, unable to hold back any longer.

“Sorry,” Kyungsoo gasps, muscles in his thighs trembling with an effort not to choke him.

The hand Jongin still has on his ass squeezes silently and Kyungsoo takes it as permission to be careful. He makes shallow thrusts, panting, feeling each slick slide of Jongin’s tongue against the vein on the underside and oh, god. Jongin pumps him, learning how to move his hand in counterpoint and his inexperienced enthusiasm is just the most amazing mix, Kyungsoo is weak.

The sight of his cock pushing through those full, perfect lips and the soft litany of sounds Jongin is making as his mouth is being used is eroding Kyungsoo’s control. Jesus. He wants to tumble over the edge. He’s close. He can feel sweat beading along his overheated skin, pleasure sliding down his spine and pooling in his balls but god, no he can’t, not yet. This is so much more than a quick fuck and the sad sound Jongin makes as Kyungsoo grits his teeth and pushes him gently back nearly breaks him. Kyungsoo needs to clench every muscle and drag himself back from that singular brink of orgasm. He takes hold of his dick, squeezing the base firmly. It makes him grunt, trembling.

Jongin immediately nuzzles in, pressing into the skin of Kyungsoo’s hip and looking up at him, confusion marring his features. His lips are wet, eyes unsure. “Not good?”

“No, no.” Kyungsoo drags him up until Jongin is sitting opposite him at eye level. He kisses him, speaking breathless words against his lips. “It’s amazing. You were perfect. Fuck, I was going to come if you kept that up.” He kisses Jongin’s cheek, his nose, trying to regain some air as Jongin shifts from worried to proud. God, Kyungsoo’s fingers are tingling. “But I want to make you feel good too. Please?”

Jongin nods shyly. He drops back to lie down again and Kyungsoo can feel his own heartbeat ricochet against his ribcage as he wriggles his jeans and underwear the rest of the way off and tosses them away. Jongin has his own undone when Kyungsoo turns back and he laughs at the frustrated eagerness on display. Jongin pouts at him as he kicks the clothing off finally, flopping back and reaching both arms out. Kyungsoo immediately comes to rest above him on all fours, nudging a stray cushion aside.

Jongin winds all his limbs up around Kyungsoo and it makes him laugh. “You are a bear.”

Jongin tries to glare at him but his eyes are dark and the full body shiver gives him away. Kyungsoo grins and sinks down, finally lining their bodies up with nothing but skin on skin. Jongin wraps him up and wriggles luxuriously, whimpering.

“Little bear.” Kyungsoo murmurs against Jongin’s neck and feels the goosebumps spread across the skin beneath him. “You like that, huh?”

Jongin doesn’t say anything, cheeks bright pink but his hips press up against Kyungsoo, cock hard and sure, okay, Kyungsoo can take that. He grins against Jongin’s neck and drops a hand between them, pressing against where Jongin has their hips flush. He traces the seam where their bodies meet.

“I think you do like it. What else does my little bear like, hmm?”

Jongin’s head falls back against the cushions and Kyungsoo lifts his own, looking at him. Jongin’s flush has rolled down his face and onto his neck and chest. He looks agonised at the endearment and so, so turned on. Kyungsoo hunches his shoulders and bends lower, flicking his tongue across Jongin’s nipple. The ring twitches as Jongin’s pectoral clenches. His arms and legs tighten around Kyungsoo.

“I-I don’t know.”

Kyungsoo presses his body down, lining up their trapped cocks and sliding them together, revelling in the friction against Jongin’s abs. “I can rub you off like this if you’re so needy and don’t want to let go. Or I can use my hand or my mouth?”

God he wished they had lube. But a hard wooden floor, no matter how many cushions isn’t going to be enough comfort for prep because Jongin would need all the time in the world to be stretched carefully or… the sudden thought strikes Kyungsoo; or he might want to be the one on top. Kyungsoo is fine with either and just the thought of opening his legs for Jongin, guiding him, teaching him how to fuck… Kyungsoo’s cock pulses, smearing more stickiness between their stomachs. Jongin can feel his trembling and how suddenly he twitches and thickens against him.

“You’re thinking dirty thoughts.”

Kyungsoo laughs. “God yes.”

Jongin grinds them together eagerly. “Tell me.”

Kyungsoo wriggles a hand between them and wraps his fingers around Jongin. God, he’s long. Just like the rest of him. How perfect. Kyungsoo strokes as best he can with the angle, pulling at the wet flesh from root to tip. “Wondering what you’d like best.” It’s so slippery where they meet, both leaking and Kyungsoo slides down lower, tugging on Jongin’s tight balls, pulled close to his body. “If you want me to hold you down and fuck you…” he spreads the precum everywhere, making them both filthy with it. He sneaks one finger down, sliding along Jongin’s perineum until he can faintly feel the tightly furled muscle below. “Push in here and see if you can take me. Some guys can’t.”

Jongin whines. “Oh. Fuck.”

“Or,” Kyungsoo goes back to stroking him, trying to fit his thumb around himself too, holding both of them in one hand. “If you’d like to be on top.” He returns his lips to Jongin’s neck, kissing and licking up it until he can reach Jongin’s jaw, then along that until he can whisper against Jongin’s lips as he pumps them in sync. “Stretch me out and split me open. You’re so long.” He pants. “I’d feel you in my stomach if you bottomed out.”

Jongin groans, slamming their mouths together as he brings both hands to Kyungsoo’s head and holds him sharply there by the hair, spreading his legs and fucking up into Kyungsoo’s tight grip and oh. Yes. Jongin likes this idea. Kyungsoo moves his wrist faster, elbow beginning to protest as he kisses Jongin within an inch of his life and keeps up his dirty talk, both their mouths slick.

“I could show you how. Teach you just where I want it and how hard I like to be fucked.” Jongin’s movements are growing sloppy and desperate, riding Kyungsoo’s words as much as his hand. Kyungsoo pushes his thumb firmly against Jongin’s slit and plays his ace card. “Do you want to see if I can come untouched from that, little bear?”

Jongin spreads his knees and arches his back, nearly lifting Kyungsoo up as he chokes on a cry and rolls through his orgasm hard, shaking from head to foot. Kyungsoo feels the ribbons of wet come burst and slide over his hand as Jongin slams his eyes shut and covers his face with an arm, wracked with shivers and blushing across every part of him. That’s so fucking hot, Kyungsoo’s toes curl. Just the feel of Jongin’s come against him, dripping down his thighs and back onto Jongin’s own abs makes him tingle. He’s close again. So close now that Kyungsoo can feel how good it’s going to be. Jesus.

Kyungsoo takes the freedom as Jongin goes lax to sit up and jerk himself, pulling away Jongin’s arm so he can see his face. Once he’s obeyed he reaches down and gathers Jongin’s come, sluicing his wet handful up Jongin’s stomach to ring his nipples in creamy white. Jongin’s cock twitches feebly against the back of Kyungsoo’s moving knuckles and he mewls. Kyungsoo slides the fluid through the rings, pinching them sharply. Jongin jerks, crying out, oversensitive and frayed. Kyungsoo likes that sound so much he pushes his thumb into Jongin’s mouth, layering his tongue with what’s left.

“Gosh, look at you. Don’t be shy babe, you’re beautiful like this.” Kyungsoo can feel the pleasure curling in his spine as he fucks his own fist and he’s struggling to hold back now but Jongin is looking at him like he hung the goddamn stars and suckling his own come off his thumb and fuck- Kyungsoo locks up and comes, streaking across Jongin’s chest and up to his neck, coating him again and again and Jongin purrs through it, revelling in the marking even as he drops his gaze. The mix of bashfulness and arousal is fascinating to Kyungsoo. Much like everything Jongin does. Kyungsoo shudders long after he’s stopped, aftershocks making him twitch.

He’s not blissed out enough to miss the way Jongin gathers a streak from near his jawline and sneaks it into his mouth. Kyungsoo drops down to his arms, bracing himself with a hand just above each of Jongin’s shoulders. “I saw that.”

Jongin ducks, pulling a cushion over his face. Kyungsoo wrestles it from his grip. “Let go you silly thing. You’ll dirty them.”

That finally makes Jongin give it up and Kyungsoo can look down at him clearly. He takes his weight on one hand and brushes a strand of sticky hair back past Jongin’s temple. “You’re so beautiful.”

Jongin quirks a smile, looking down at himself. “I’m a mess.”

“A beautiful mess.” Kyungsoo tips his forehead down until he touches Jongin’s. “My mess. My little bear.”

Jongin covers his face with his hand, curling slightly to one side. “Oh god shut up.”

Satisfied, Kyungsoo reaches around for his shirt. He has just enough range if he gets to his knees to dunk it in one of the nearest buckets. Ringing it out, he wipes the mess from Jongin and then himself. Once they’re passably clean he flops to the side of Jongin, stretching out his legs much to his knees’ displeasure.

Jongin immediately rolls into his side. Kyungsoo can feel the chill on his skin. “We can’t stay here. We’ll both end up with colds.”

Jongin yawns. “There’s a fire blanket in the kitchen.”

Kyungsoo squints. “You do realise you’re rationalising sleeping on the floor of the shop?”

“It’s a nap.” Jongin yawns, then looks embarrassed by it. He takes a look at his watch. “I was planning to stay here anyway and go home in the morning for shower and to call the insurance company and my sister. Then come back.”

“You need sleep. And dry clothes.” Kyungsoo cranes his neck to look out the window. “Did you want to drive back to my place? It’s too wet for you to be on your bike.”

“You’re across town, right?”

Kyungsoo nods. Jongin shakes his head.

“Mine is closer. Plus none of your clothes will fit me.”

“Hey,” Kyungsoo pokes Jongin in the ribs which produces a fit of giggles. Jongin squirms neatly out of reach and stands, holding out a hand. Kyungsoo takes it, using the leverage to get to his feet. Jongin winks at him when he’s upright, sidling closer.

“Maybe I want to see you in my clothes too.”

Kyungsoo’s heart does a backflip. “Lies,” he mutters, turning away to hide his expression. “You’ve just discovered sex and want it again.”

A slim palm cracks lightly against Kyungsoo’s ass. “That too.”

Kyungsoo takes aim for Jongin’s bicep but he’s smoothly dodged. Jongin dances between the strewn clothing, picking it all up in swooping, graceful movements. Kyungsoo watches the twinkling lights layer his bare skin in gold and silver and feels his heart do an altogether different, stronger sort of move.

He really is in love.

* * *

Chapter Text

Jongin carefully cracks the front door to the house they’ve arrived at and lets them both in quietly so as not to disturb the neighbours at this early hour. It’s a pretty duplex set against its companions and Kyungsoo glances at the miniature flowerboxes along the windowsills that they pass by in the pre-dawn light. Lots of begonias. Jongin’s voice is respectfully hushed.

“My sister will be back in a day or two. I’m staying with her while I’m helping out.”

That explains the cute décor. Kyungsoo smiles at the neat little furniture pieces dotted artfully about the small space. There’s a pretty potted plant on nearly every surface. “How long do you have left?”

Jongin flicks on a few lights, moving for the kitchen to turn that on as well. “Until she hires some extra staff mostly, but I think she likes having me around a little too much to be honest.” He laughs. “She hasn’t tried very hard since I arrived.”

Kyungsoo slowly meanders over to a sideboard that sits below the large, flat screen television mounted against one wall. “She’s not the only one who likes it,” he murmurs, nudging aside some leaves to look at the framed collection of photos that dot the surface. There are shots of what have to be a tiny Jongin and Jung Ah sitting on some playground equipment, one of what must have been a big family Christmas when they were a little older and a few more as the siblings have grown up, adult smiles big and matching and bright. They’re warm and cosy and Kyungsoo finds he likes seeing another corner of Jongin’s life that he never knew about.

A different kind of warmth drapes against him as Jongin returns, sliding a pair of arms around Kyungsoo’s chest. He presses kisses to the back of Kyungsoo’s neck gently, moving from one side to the other just below his hairline and Kyungsoo allows himself to lean back, holding onto those arms with his own. Jongin trails up behind one ear as he hugs him from behind.

“So about those showers we need…”

Kyungsoo laughs, tilting his head to gently dislodge that wandering mouth. “Neither of us will get to work today if we have the kind of shower you’re thinking about. Go on first.”

Jongin’s chin hooks over Kyungsoo’s shoulder and he can hear the pout in Jongin’s little ‘hmpf’ that he lets out. Kyungsoo with a little bit of shuffling manages to turn himself around in the circle of Jongin’s long arms so that he’s facing him instead. He tips his chin back so he can look up at the pushed out pink lips Jongin is displaying full force. He looks so playfully petulant that Kyungsoo nearly folds. Nearly. But not quite. Kyungsoo wants the next time -Jongin’s real first time- to be as special as possible; wants to lay Jongin out, take all the time necessary and treat him the way he abjectly deserves until Jongin is a soft mess of sensation underneath him. No more quickies in rushed places. And unfortunately, they only have a short window of time right now.

“How about this.” Kyungsoo tries. He stretches up and matches his lips to Jongin’s, pressing slow, lingering kisses against them one after the other until Jongin’s mouth opens on a happy little sound and Kyungsoo can take his bottom lip and suck on it gently. He presses the flesh between his teeth teasingly, nipping without pain. Jongin’s full lips always make him want to bite and suck. When he pulls back he’s greeted with dazed eyes and Kyungsoo smiles. “Go shower before you catch your death of cold, I’ll have one and then we might have enough time for a nap before I have to drive home and get changed for work.”

Jongin laughs breathlessly, tipping his head down so he can bump their foreheads together. He’s trying to pout again as he speaks but his words are gentle. “Fine, fine.” He shivers suddenly, betraying just how cold he must be after being soaked for half the night and then getting undressed later. He butts Kyungsoo’s nose with his own. It’s ridiculously cute. “I’ll be quick.”

Kyungsoo smiles. It’s a little absurd how much he likes this side of Jongin; at over a head taller he’s nearly six foot of impressive dancer’s muscle and yet Kyungsoo gets the impression that he could wrap Jongin up in a blanket and plushies and spoil him every day and that would be more than fine with his fluff of a boyfriend. He reluctantly steps back and lets Jongin’s hands fall away. Showers are important. “Off you go.”

Jongin suddenly looks like something has occurred to him because he lets go of the pout and smirks. “I’ll set you out some clothes.”

Kyungsoo’s eyes narrow faintly.

* * *

“This is…” Kyungsoo steps out of the bathroom and turns the appropriate corners until he finds Jongin in the lounge room. “Not exactly ‘some clothes’.”

Jongin, splayed out along the length of the couch on his side, looks up from the book he’s been entertaining himself with. His grin is bright and beautiful. “You don’t like it?”

Kyungsoo bites the inside of his lips to keep from smiling, looking down the length of himself. Jongin’s oversized, long-sleeved pyjama top barely manages to stay put on his shoulders without sliding off a collarbone and easily covers him down to below his butt. Which would be fine if there were the corresponding pants, but that was all Kyungsoo found waiting for him in the bathroom after his shower. Now he knows why. The rest is out here.

Jongin sits up, the other half of Kyungsoo’s borrowed pyjamas riding low and comfortable on his hips. The whole set is a faded mint green and at least against Jongin’s tanned skin looks amazing. Kyungsoo glares, trying for reproachful and missing the mark entirely by the way Jongin’s grin widens. He puts the book aside and holds out a hand, beckoning with wiggling fingers. Kyungsoo rolls his eyes at himself and crosses the room to take it, feeling like he stepped out of a lifetime movie somewhere.

Jongin tugs him down onto the couch. The heater must have been turned on because there’s no bite to the air now. He looks immensely proud of himself. “We match.”

“I don’t think giving me half your clothing quite counts as matching.” Kyungsoo allows himself to be arranged lengthways onto the couch in front of Jongin, back to his bare chest and is immediately enveloped by a long leg and an arm. The absurdity of the whole of Jongin’s plan hits him and Kyungsoo sniggers despite himself. “Even if it is cute.”

Jongin’s nose nuzzles against Kyungsoo’s temple. “I really, really like seeing you in my clothes,” he breathes.

“You couldn’t have given me all your set of clothes?” Kyungsoo teases, tipping his head to one side, soaking in the warmth of Jongin’s skin.

“Then we wouldn’t match.”

“You’re going to be one of those boyfriends who buys us couples’ designer shirts for Christmas aren’t you?” The term slips out and Kyungsoo, as much as he can think the word now in his head, pauses, realising he’s accidentally said it out loud. It’s still so new, this whole concept. Boyfriends. Officially. Jongin though, purrs at the suggestion.

“Maybe.”

Kyungsoo gently elbows him in his bare ribs. “Don’t you dare tell Jongdae and Minseok. But if it’s from you I’d wear it.”

That produces a pleased sound from Jongin and Kyungsoo is dragged further vertical until they’re lying down completely. He’s spooned happily and Kyungsoo expects this is Jongin getting his recharge fill of touches and cuddles after their time apart. And truth be told, Kyungsoo would be lying if he also said this wasn’t the best thing ever. Just to be around Jongin again, to be held by him like he’s something precious and loved… yeah, Kyungsoo can’t imagine anywhere else he’d rather be right in this moment. He lets himself drift, eyes closing until all he hears are Jongin’s soft breaths behind him, chest rising and falling against his back like a steady lullaby. One sneaking hand sinks two fingertips between the buttons on Kyungsoo’s borrowed shirt.

Kyungsoo vaguely recalls that neither of them has had much sleep the night before but by the time he does, he’s so far under he can’t bring himself to do anything about it. The other of Jongin’s hands links with Kyungsoo’s against his stomach and Kyungsoo is out like a light.

* * *

His phone going off from somewhere on the floor is what jerks Kyungsoo back into the land of the living. Jongin, half on top of him and face buried in Kyungsoo’s neck at this point makes an aggravated sound and swats a hand down off the side of the couch to push it away. Kyungsoo barely beats him to it, fumbling for the annoying thing before Jongin can batt it out of reach. He puts it to his ear and soothingly pets Jongin’s hair with his free hand as he does. It makes Jongin huff and return to nuzzling sleepily as a voice comes across the line when it opens.

“Soo?” It’s Jongdae.

Kyungsoo clears his stuffy throat. “Hey,”

“Is everything okay?”

Kyungsoo squints open an eye. There’s definite daylight in the room. Oh hell. “What time izzit?”

“Nine am.”

“Shit,” Kyungsoo breathes. Jongin snuggles closer. “I’m sorry. There was- Jongin had an emergency at the shop last night. We only got back just before dawn.”

“We?” The phone must be on speaker because that’s Minseok chiming in. “As in we’re in the same bed right now? As in we fixed things?”

Kyungsoo tries to blink the sleep from his eyes. “Mostly yes to all of that.”

Jongdae exhales. “Well that’s the one piece of good news I’ve heard all day.” There’s something off about his tone and Kyungsoo frowns, threading his fingers through Jongin’s hair because it makes him hum faintly.

“What’s going on?”

Jongdae pauses. “There’s…” He seems to rethink his words. “You should probably come in pretty quickly. Upstairs wants to see you.”

That works as well as a douse of cold water. Kyungsoo is suddenly very awake. Upstairs means… “You mean Mr Oh? Why is he asking for me?”

Minseok cuts in. “Just get in as quick as you can. We don’t know much but we’ll brief you before your meeting.”

“There’s a meeting?”

Jongin’s sleepy head lifts from Kyungsoo’s shoulder at his raised voice. Leaning closer he scrunches his face up in the most adorable way and speaks loudly enough for the phone, voice gravelly. “He’ll be there in under an hour.”

“Jongin?” Jongdae trills as Minseok butts in.

“Congratulations lovebirds!”

Jongin smiles with his eyes still closed and Kyungsoo ends the call. Jongin flops his head back down against Kyungsoo’s shoulder. “Did we only get about two or three hours?”

“Yeah,” Kyungsoo groans, trying not to think too much about the gnawing knot in his stomach. Something is going on and he needs to drop Jongin off back at the shop, get home, change and head into work to find out what. None of which he wants to do right now. He lets out a frustrated noise that sounds far too much like a whine to his own ears and wraps Jongin up, hugging tightly and breathing in the scent of soap and warm, washed skin and sleepy Jongin in a single deep breath before he lets go and wiggles out from underneath him, standing.

“I’m going to need pants.”

Jongin, left face-down on the couch, sniggers into the cushions.

* * *

Kyungsoo gets changed back into his old street wear while Jongin rings the insurance company. He remains on hold listening to elevator music for most of the drive back to the shop so Kyungsoo fills him in on the strange happenings at his own work while they travel. It seems like a good time to reveal the extent of Seungwon’s escalating pestering too, so Kyungsoo adds that in. Jongin looks more than a little concerned by the end of it.

“You know you can take this to your HR department if he’s starting to threaten you.”

Kyungsoo sighs, switching lanes. “I know but I’ve seen what happens to those who try. They just end up leaving in the end. Seungwon has a… twisted little history with the company.”

“What do you mean?”

“Mr Oh? Sehun?” Kyungsoo pulls up behind a small knot of cars that have slowed. A light drizzle of rain drums against the roof and windows, constant and thin. It makes everything he’s saying sound a little hollower. “He doesn’t own the magazine. His father does. Sehun just manages it on his behalf. He’s a trust fund kid with a heart of gold but it’s ultimately his father’s word that’s law around the place.”

Jongin looks like he’s struggling to make the connection. “And?”

“And Sehun’s father has been friends with Seungwon for the better part of the last ten years.”

Jongin sinks down into his seat with a despondent air. “Ah.”

“Yeah. Nothing goes past Mr Oh senior’s desk. No complaint ever climbs higher. Seungwon has managed to get away with everything up until now because he effectively answers to no one. And Sehun’s father is never around to witness anything first hand, so who do you think he’s more likely to believe?”

Jongin lifts the phone to his ear temporarily, telling the operator that yes, he’s still willing to hold. Then it switches back to the lyric-less music and he looks to Kyungsoo. “Surely there must be some channel that you can use.”

“I wish there was. At this point I just want to keep my head down and ride it out. I want him to leave me alone and fixate on someone else. He will eventually. He always does.”

Jongin looks vastly unconvinced. “And what about this meeting? Has he done something to cause it? Are you in trouble?”

Kyungsoo shrugs, fingers tapping on the top of the wheel as they wait for the traffic light. His stomach tightens. “Sehun rarely calls anyone in to see them for just a chat. It has to be something. And Jongdae sounded worried. I wouldn’t put it past Seungwon to have tried something.”

“If that rat has orchestrated anything to hurt you I’ll-” Jongin swallows his angry words as his phone sparks to life. “Uh, hello yes. I’m still here. Claims please.”

Kyungsoo smiles as the light blinks green and the traffic starts to flow again, placing his hand on Jongin’s knee. He appreciates the concern, he really does. But this is a more complicated problem than most. He doesn’t know what Jongin can do to help, if anything.

Jongin covers the hand with his own as he’s transferred to the claims department and doesn’t let go until they reach the shop.

* * *

It’s close to midday by the time Kyungsoo returns home, gets changed into a suit for work and then drives back across town to reach the office. He pulls into the underground parking garage and slides the car into his marked spot, feeling jittery. Jongdae hasn’t rang again so Kyungsoo hopes that means he’s not exceptionally late and in danger of missing the meeting. Nothing else particularly urgent had been scheduled for this morning so at least he hasn’t skipped anything else vital.

It’s only as he’s grabbing his bag from the back seat, shutting the door and locking the car that Kyungsoo spots the reflection in the window. He spins around and Seungwon is there, wiry frame folded into a lean against a nearby cement column. He looks like a smug spider.

“You know we don’t have to do all this.”

Kyungsoo presses the button on his key fob and locks the car. “Do what?” he sighs, feeling that eerie sense of dread from before drip back into his stomach. He’d genuinely hoped today didn’t have anything to do with this creep. Seungwon shrugs, hiking up a bony shoulder.

“You don’t have to go through any trouble. No one needs to know about you and your little… moment the other week.”

Kyungsoo scowls. “What are you talking about?” He tries to push past but Seungwon detaches himself from the column and bars his way.

“All it would take is a simple little yes from you, you know. That’s all.”

Kyungsoo can feel his temper bubbling up and if he’s not careful he’ll be out of a job on account of hitting a senior employee. So he doesn’t punch Seungwon’s incredibly irritating face right at this second. But it’s a close call. “I don’t know what the fuck you’re on about. Now get out of my way.”

It’s like his words fall of deaf ears. Seungwon smoothly ignores him and places a hand on Kyungsoo’s shoulder, voice sickly sweet. “Come on. You do know. You, me, dinner.”

Kyungsoo actually laughs. It’s a hard bark of a sound. Incredulous. “A date? Never in a million years.” He yanks the hand off his shoulder in disgust, knowing that whatever happens now, he’s sealed his fate by the murderous look that flashes past Seungwon’s eyes. “And I have a boyfriend.”

Kyungsoo doesn’t wait for the rebuttal; the anvil he has a dreadful feeling he just knocked loose over his own head. He darts around Seungwon and strides for the elevator, bag clutched in one clammy hand. Thankfully the twin doors slide open the moment he smacks the button because he can hear Seungwon’s slow, sauntering footsteps behind him. As he hurriedly steps in and turns around, Kyungsoo hears something else that sends a faint chill up his spine.

“I know you do.”

The last thing Kyungsoo sees before the doors close is Seungwon palming something small and black into his pocket. Kyungsoo can’t quite make out what it is.

* * *

Minseok nearly bowls into Kyungsoo as soon as he reaches his office door. “Oh thank god you’re here. Meeting’s in ten. Jongdae was about to call you again.”

“Sorry,” Kyungsoo dumps his bag. “Jongin left his bike at the shop last night. I had to drop him off again before I went home.”

Minseok’s smile turns sly. “Oh, I see.”

Kyungsoo swats him. “It’s not what you think. Well not all of it. The shop sprang some leaks last night in the storm. He called for help.”

“How romantic.” Minseok neatly steps out of range of Kyungsoo’s next aim. “Did you find out the identity of the mystery man?”

Jongdae leans around the doorframe and motions for both of them. He steps in, reaches for Kyungsoo’s tie and fixes it as Kyungsoo answers.

“Did one better. I got to meet him. He’s a childhood friend of Jongin and Baekhyun. Built like something out of a wet dream but just an old friend.”

“Told you.” Jongdae gently pats Kyungsoo’s cheek. “Now stop thinking of your past fuckups and go find out what the hell is going on.”

“Wait,” Kyungsoo bats the teasing hand away. “You’re both not coming too?”

Minseok shakes his head. “No. Private meeting. We weren’t included.”

Kyungsoo frowns as Jongdae turns him by the shoulders and pushes him back towards the elevator. “What the fuck.”

His two friends practically bundle him back into the elevator and hit the button for the top floor for him as Kyungsoo stands there dumbfounded. This is sounding more ominous as each hour passes. The doors close on their worried faces and it’s all Kyungsoo can do to square his shoulders as the floors zip past, because within seconds he’s left stepping out again and looking down the long hallway to the final office suite at the end. Great.

The secretary glances up as Kyungsoo approaches, waving him through. “Go right in. You’re expected.”

Kyungsoo swallows and obeys, rapping lightly once on the wood of the door before opening it. His heart sinks completely as he sees Seungwon already sitting in one of the elegant chairs before the desk. He must have headed straight up. The gold-embossed nameplate nearby cuts a sharp silhouette.

Oh Sehun - Editor in Chief.

Behind it, poised in an impeccably cut suit, Sehun looks up at Kyungsoo’s arrival. “Please come in. Sit down.”

There are three chairs lined up in front of the desk and Seungwon is in the far left so Kyungsoo immediately takes the furthest right so as to put some space between them both. It’s a small gesture and it feels petty but it’s all he can do.

Sehun closes whatever he’s reading and sits back, one elbow on the desk. A hand goes to his mouth and he does nothing except look at both the men for a moment. Kyungsoo is abruptly reminded of Sehun’s age; when he first took charge on the singular appointment of his father, no one on the board respected the kid. His predecessor had been in charge for the last nearly twenty years, only finally retiring due to poor health. And to replace him had been announced Sehun – barely halfway through his twenties and fresh from university. It had been a bumpy road. But with no shortage of brains and on a mission to prove himself, Sehun had swiftly become as business-savvy as his father. Kyungsoo knows no one who dares question his abilities now. He’s a good guy, despite the bumpy road it took for everyone to acknowledge that he has earned the right to sit in that chair. If there’s one thing Kyungsoo admires, it’s street-smarts. And Sehun has them in spades.

Right now though, he’s looking at Kyungsoo like he can’t quite figure something out. Finally he collects his thoughts.

“Do you know why you’re here?”

Kyungsoo allows his bewilderment to show. “No idea. I just got the call his morning.”

Sehun nods. “Allegations have crossed my desk that I’m forced to take rather seriously. I-”

“Sorry,” Kyungsoo interrupts. “What allegations?”

Sehun frowns at the rudeness on display. He removes a piece of A4 paper from the file he’d been reading and slides it across the desk. Kyungsoo snatches it the moment it’s within reach. It’s a simple piece of printer paper, not glossed like the originals but still clearly visible.  

“Allegations of inappropriate conduct with an individual in one of our photographic studios.”

Kyungsoo stares down at the page dismally. It’s one of the photographer’s shots from Jongin’s shoot; the pair of them are on the couch, Kyungsoo with a hand very clearly underneath Jongin’s clothing producing that very breathless, aroused look on Jongin’s tipped-back face that the photographer captured as they both laid stretched out. It looks… Like they’re both doing a lot more than they actually were in that very second. “Where did you get this?” Kyungsoo whispers. All the photos from that shoot were private and even the ones they had selected for submission had yet to be sent off.

“I’m not at liberty to say.”

“Did someone get into my computer?” Kyungsoo looks up, voice rising. The photo crumples as his grip tightens. “Is that how you got this? Did you-” he spins to Seungwon. “-have anything to do with all this? Is that why we’re here? Is that what this whole thing is all about?”

Sehun raises a hand. “Kyungsoo, calm down.”

“No I’m not going to calm down! Answer me.”

Seungwon preens and folds his fingers primly like he has an invisible, winning hand of cards in his lap and Kyungsoo with great horror thinks he just might. Seungwon opens his mouth to say something, but whatever it is is cut off by the door behind them opening. Kyungsoo turns. The secretary barely manages to peek inside before a figure brushes calmly past.

“I’m sorry sir! He said he was expected but I’m not seeing him on the list and-”

The figure crosses into the room and to Kyungsoo’s surprise Sehun holds up a quiet hand and the secretary retreats with a mutter. Kyungsoo looks at the new arrival; the man doesn’t appear to be that much taller than himself and Kyungsoo watches him approach the desk like he’s oddly familiar with the space in here. Sliding the black briefcase he’s holding onto the corner of Sehun’s desk, the stranger takes the seat between Kyungsoo and Seungwon. He straightens his suit jacket out and smiles at everyone. It makes his cheeks puff and his eyes crescent happily.

“Sorry I’m late. Traffic was murder.”

Kyungsoo barely holds a steady poker face. The traffic hadn’t been backed up in the slightest and Kyungsoo knows this for a fact; he’d just driven through it not half an hour ago himself. But he stays silent as the man turns to Seungwon and sticks out a hand.

“Hello.”

Seungwon looks like he’s about to be presented with a snake. With a sour expression he takes the offered hand. “Who are you?”

“Kim Junmyeon.” The man’s voice remains entirely pleasant but his eyes are wickedly sharp. “I’m Mr Do’s lawyer.”

Kyungsoo nearly swallows his tongue. Seungwon drops the hand like it burns. “What?”

Junmyeon nods. Kyungsoo snaps his eyes to Sehun and to his great surprise the other man appears to be taking this without question. Between them Junmyeon continues smoothly.

“Now before the proceedings continue I’d like to remind you that any and all instances of defamation of Mr Do’s character will be dealt with accordingly and should he need to begin the proceedings to file a complaint of harassment I will be instructing him to do so.”

The myriad of contortions Seungwon’s facial features are doing right now are a delight to behold. Kyungsoo doesn’t know where to look or what to say. This is… what the hell is going on? Junmyeon looks to Sehun.

“Any objections so far?”

Sehun looks like he’s actually biting the inside of his cheek. Silently, he shakes his head. Junmyeon seems satisfied.

“Wonderful. Do you want to continue?”

Sehun looks to Seungwon who opens and closes his mouth like a drowning fish. Kyungsoo knows a little of how he feels. Finally Seungwon seems to gather his wits because he shoots to his feet with an angry snarl and strides out of the room.

Kyungsoo turns to Junmyeon the moment the door slams. “Wow. I-I’m sorry, who... on earth are you? How do you know me?”

Junmyeon smiles. He seems completely unfazed and Kyungsoo loves him a little for that already. “Jongin sent me,” he replies as if that answers everything. And perhaps it does. “I’m a friend. And Baekhyun’s legal guardian.”

Kyungsoo knows enough now to understand that reference. “You know… all the others?”

Junmyeon nods. “Jongin thought you might need some help today. I came as quickly as I could.” A second later out of nowhere an eraser smacks into his temple.

Junmyeon turns and Kyungsoo has never seen anyone level Sehun with that kind of a look. Nor seen Sehun sink back into his seat like a sulky child. Kyungsoo would actually laugh out loud if he thought he wouldn’t get immediately fired for it. Junmyeon continues smoothly on as if he didn’t just have his imaginary pigtails pulled.

“I think we managed to avoid this mess for now, but I’d like to talk to you about your options later if that’s okay. Jongin wants to meet at the shop.” Junmyeon glances down at the photo and Kyungsoo hastily folds the paper. A brightly-colored paperclip sails through the air and Junmyeon snatches it without looking. “About five if that’s enough time for you after work-- are you done?”

Sehun pouts. Kyungsoo is beginning to think that he might have actually been hit on the freeway this morning and this is all a very strange, coma-induced dream. Junmyeon stands and Kyungsoo follows, shaking his hand when he really, really wants to hug the guy right now instead. “Okay. Um, I’ll see you tonight.”

“Bring your friends. The more the merrier.”

Kyungsoo smiles for the first time in what feels like hours. “Yeah they’re going to want to meet you.” He glances at Sehun. “Am I uh, free to…”

Sehun waves a hand. “Yes. Dismissed.”

Kyungsoo ducks out gratefully, closing the door just in time to hear Sehun.

Why didn’t you return any of my calls?”

…Yeah, that was definitely a whine. Kyungsoo is one hundred percent in a coma.

* * *

Catching up on the latest edits before they go to print for the fortnight takes time and it’s all Kyungsoo can do to send a quick, still-in-shock group text to Jongdae and Minseok to let them know they have unexpected plans tonight before he’s swamped. It’s nearly the end of the afternoon before Kyungsoo has enough time to even make himself a coffee. And that’s where he finds to his great surprise, none other than Sehun. Who never uses the communal kitchen to Kyungsoo’s knowledge. He stops short of entering.

“Ah. Hi.”

Sehun looks like he’s had a longer day then even Kyungsoo. His tie is wonky and his smile is tired. “Do you have a moment?”

“Sure. Anything.” Kyungsoo realises he’s standing awkwardly rooted to the spot so he makes himself move, covering the tiny distance to the coffee machine just for something to do. Sehun inhales like even that takes effort.

“Your photos came across my desk anonymously. I don’t know who sent them. But it was Seungwon who first came to me with his concern. He said they were making the rounds of the office.”

Kyungsoo crumples the coffee pod he’s taken hold of in reflex, the movement startled out of him. “What?”

“I don’t know if that’s true or not.”

It takes a conscious effort for Kyungsoo to unclench his hands. “That was a private shot of my boyfriend and myself. No one else was supposed to see it. We were there for the competition shoot but that photo and several others weren’t for submission. He was modelling for us on my request.”

Sehun is quiet for a long moment. The machine hums as Kyungsoo adds another, unbroken pod. Eventually Sehun speaks.

“You know that my father will at bare minimum rule the photos as inadmissible. The entire set. Especially if they really are being distributed around.”

Kyungsoo turns around. Sehun looks… sorry. Kyungsoo sighs. “I know there’s no point in arguing but I really wish you could talk him out of it. There’s some really amazing stuff in the collection.”

Sehun’s smile is frustrated at the edges. “You and everyone else in this building knows there’s no way he’ll listen to me on that kind of a matter. Especially if Seungwon is involved in any way.”

Kyungsoo’s lip curls but he holds his tongue, switching topics. “You seem to know Junmyeon.” The coffee machine trickles it’s bitter offering into the paper cup. Sehun to his great surprise goes bright pink, raising a hand to the back of his neck. Kyungsoo averts his eyes and politely watches the drizzle instead so as not to make him uncomfortable. Sehun eventually replies.

“He tried a case for my father a long time ago. Very high profile. He did exceptionally well. Occasionally my father still has him around for dinner. It’s the only time I really see him.”

Kyungsoo plucks the warm cup out and deposits it on the bench. “I see.” The milk in the fridge is only skim and Kyungsoo pulls a face at it but takes it out regardless. “He seems like a genuinely lovely person.”

“He is.”

Kyungsoo wonders briefly, crazily for a single second if he should mention the fact that Sehun for once knows exactly where the lawyer in question is going to be tonight. Is that what he’s been wanting? To see Junmyeon outside of the confines of his father’s looming presence? He seems to have been trying to get into contact with the guy. But Sehun is… still his superior and Kyungsoo doesn’t know if it’d be inappropriate or not to bring it up. He’s learned an awful lot in the past day and he’s still digesting it all. So he says nothing.

Sehun’s melancholy voice from behind Kyungsoo’s turned back changes position as he moves for the exit. “Kyungsoo?”

Kyungsoo turns. Sehun is silhouetted in the empty doorway. He drums his fingers thoughtfully on the frame for a second. “There’s still a few days left until submissions are closed. Our studios will be fully booked by now.”

Kyungsoo nods sadly. “Yeah I know.”

Sehun squints into the thin air around them, looking anywhere but Kyungsoo. He addresses the nothingness between them as if he’s thinking out loud. “I feel I should note that nowhere in the submissions conditions of entry does it specify that the photos have to be studio-shot. The winning shoot will be professionally done with Gucci, but as far as I’ve been instructed the entries that we’re picking from can be taken any way you see fit.” Sehun lifts one shoulder. “Just... so you know.”

Kyungsoo’s eyes widen. Sehun quirks his lips in a smile, turns and disappears in a whisk of expensive suit.

* * *

Jongdae and Minseok take one look at Kyungsoo’s face when they see him at the close of business and offer to buy beers on the way to the shop. It means they can all take one car (Minseok and Jongdae’s it’s decided as it’s easily the biggest) and it adds extra time onto the trip for Kyungsoo to explain everything that’s happened.

Minseok nearly rips his seatbelt out of it’s brace when Kyungsoo starts with the story of the meeting and the stolen photos. By the time they arrive at the shop Jongdae is halfway into calling an Uber to take him back to string Seungwon up by his fingernails and it’s only Kyungsoo dovetailing him into distraction by filling them in on Junmyeon that stops him. They both listen in silence just as stunned as Kyungsoo had first been.

Minseok still looks like he’s two seconds away from committing a murder though, so Kyungsoo finishes up with Sehun and his frankly adorable crush to try and take their minds off what can’t be changed right at this moment. They all… need a break. A breather. And the sight of The Paw Print’s large windows glittering at sunset feels like… coming home. Kyungsoo lets out a breath and feels a hundred times lighter at the faint lantern glow he can see pulsing from inside.

The closed sign and Jongin’s hastily-scribbled, apologetic chalk note on the blackboard standee outside shows they’re still not open for business but Kyungsoo can see cheerful movement inside amid all the makeshift lights that have been rigged up. Lots of it.

He pulls into the car park in one of their usual spots and decides to knock on the front door. It seems only right since it’s not just Jongin present. Jongdae loads his arms with the cold drinks and they make their way across the damp asphalt.

Minseok’s polite knock rouses a lot of noise from the crowd inside and there’s a series of thumps that grow energetically closer until a person pulls opens the door. Kyungsoo looks up in surprise.

He’s… wow he’s tall. Kyungsoo abruptly realises that he’s never actually seen this particular guy standing up, only sitting quietly at one of the tables in the shop. The man grins at them all like Kyungsoo, Minseok and Jongdae are long-lost friends he hasn’t seen in forever and Kyungsoo feels abruptly warmed from something he can’t quite explain. It’s familiar and comforting all at once.

“Hey!” The figure holds the door wide to usher the three of them inside. “Come on in, we’ve all been expecting you.” The last rays of sunset catch his hair and set the beautiful color on fire. “I’m Chanyeol.”

* * *

Chapter Text

Tables and chairs that would normally have filled the centre of the coffee shop section of the store have been rearranged and moved off to one side. In their place an impromptu picnic has been set up on the floor with blankets and pillows, bottles and cups, a hundred different types of leftover Paw Print cakes and takeaway containers still steaming next to their corresponding plates. Kyungsoo notes all of this as Chanyeol closes the door behind them, shutting out the cold. The glow from the storm lanterns bathes everything in gold.

There’s still one or two buckets sitting around the shop space but with the rain that’s been deluging them for the past week finally stopping they’re mostly empty now. The impromptu sandbags are still by the doorway, having saved the power points from sparking and Kyungsoo vaguely thinks that thank goodness there’s no carpeting in here. It means someone has been able to mop up the spillage from the night before. Actually several someones he amends, taking in the number of handles leaning against the wall beside the front counter. Looks like a group effort.

They’re waved over by a very enthusiastic Baekhyun who is perched on a cushion next to Junmyeon and the vacant spot that must belong to Chanyeol. Jongdae takes his armful of beers and adds them to the pile of drinks in the middle of the picnic.Minseok, looking at Chanyeol like he’s some kind of small celebrity from the moment they walked in, claims a spot on the blanket for himself and Kyungsoo begins introductions.

Jongdae plonks himself down too and as Kyungsoo finishes, Jongin wanders out of the kitchen with another plate of biscuits and some napkins. He pecks Kyungsoo’s cheek as he passes and settles down to lounge amongst the others, dragging Kyungsoo down with a tug on one sleeve.

It’s Junmyeon who leans away from Baekhyun as the younger starts opening the takeout containers and dishing their contents out onto the plates. “How did the rest of the afternoon go?”

Kyungsoo cracks one of the bottles and accepts his plate of noodles from Baekhyun with a smile. “Far better than it might have been if you hadn’t been there. Thank you again.”

On his other side Jongin grins as he reaches out to snag a biscuit, poking Baekhyun repeatedly with one foot until he’s handed his own plate. “Junmyeon is the best. I’m glad he got there in time.”

The takeout is warm and savoury and just what Kyungsoo’s nerves need after today. He swallows before speaking again. “I owe you big time, really I do. You might have just saved me my job.”

Junmyeon is handed his own plate over Baekhyun’s head by Chanyeol who is half in conversation with a far too excited-looking Minseok. Something to do with wrists since Chanyeol returns to demonstrating something by circling his own with one hand. Junmyeon settles himself cross-legged and continues his talk with a mildly confused Kyungsoo. “Glad to help. From what Jongin told me he’s not likely to stop without some kind of direct action. Did you give any thought to making an official complaint?”

Kyungsoo snaps back as Jongdae sniggers and smacks Minseok’s ear , shaking his head at whatever is going on. Baekhyun falls back against the cushions in a peel of laughter. Kyungsoo takes a sip of his beer before answering. “I really, really don’t want to have to do that.”

“He’s gone too far.” Jongin looks halfway between concerned and angry. More towards anger since Kyungsoo had briefly explained the leaked photo in a rushed text before work had become too overwhelming that afternoon. “He’s blackmailing you!”

“It’s not going to end in my favor.” Kyungsoo returns to his noodles. Somewhere nearby half a cookie goes flying. “Seungwon knows Sehun’s father. They’re very old friends.”

Junmyeon sits back. “Ah,”

Kyungsoo’s mouth twists sourly. “This makes Seungwon the rot in the company tree. An infection too deep to get out. So as much as I’d like to try, it’d cost me everything.”

Jongin is still angry enough to speak around a mouthful of his own food. “Vere haff to be an opffion.” Junmyeon shoots him a look and Jongin swallows sheepishly. “He can’t just get away with this.”

Junmyeon shrugs. “You have legal recourse. You have official channels in your company. But if both are closed to you because of mitigating outside factors then we need another plan. Your pest won’t be bluffed by me for too long.”

On the other side of Jongin, Jongdae pipes up, leaning around far enough to be heard. “Can you talk to Mr Oh again? Or I don’t know… can Junmyeon? That crush sounds pretty damn big.”

Baekhyun, ears like a freaking bat, perks up from the other side mid-conversation with Chanyeol. “Wait, what?”

Junmyeon immediately sinks back into his cushions. “Nothing.”

“Nonono.” Baekhyun all but climbs over Chanyeol and makes a beeline on all fours for Junmyeon, plonking himself on top of the other’s outstretched legs. “What is this I near about a crush? Who’s crushing on you?”

Junmyeon shovels noodles into his mouth and glares at Baekhyun. Twisting, Baekhyun looks back at the others. “Someone spill. I’ve been trying to get this lonely fluffball a boyfriend since I started college. Who is Mr Oh?”

Kyungsoo takes a sip of his beer, stalling. But Minseok is the one that pipes up. “Our boss. Ask Kyungsoo. He saw the most.”

Baekhyun’s imploring gaze instantly flicks to Kyungsoo, head snapping around. The thin little choker on his neck bears the movement well and somewhere in the background Chanyeol laughs quietly.

Kyungsoo freezes, trapped between not wanting to embarrass Junmyeon who has been so kind to him and thinking that Baekhyun’s efforts really were kind of sweet. He doesn’t speak for long enough that Baekhyun slips off Junmyeon’s shins and crawls over to him. Before he can reach Kyungsoo though, Chanyeol leans out and places a hand on the cuff of his jeans.

“Baekhyun, stop. Let Junmyeon have his private life.”

Baekhyun settles back onto his haunches, eyes wide and pleading, jittery like a live wire with a desperate need for answers to his little mystery. He’s almost bouncing on the spot. But he obediently doesn’t keep prying and Chanyeol tugs him back to sit down beside himself.

That’s what makes Junmyeon unfold. “Sehun is just the son of an old client.” He swallows some of his beer but Kyungsoo can see the blush on the tops of his ears clear as day. Vastly different to the professional tone he’d heard in the office when the two of them had had their brief exchange earlier that afternoon. It makes Kyungsoo take a thoughtful bite of his dinner. That blush matched Sehun’s from earlier today in the work kitchen. Perhaps the feelings went both ways, even if Junmyeon was keeping his distance.

“Do you like him?” Baekhyun blurts out. Chanyeol’s hand comes to rest against the back of his neck and Baekhyun falls silent again, wiggling. Junmyeon’s blush expands from his ears to the peaches of his cheeks.

“The Oh family are powerful and complicated,” is the only answer Baekhyun gets. Junmyeon takes a moment, eyes on the floor. “But Sehun is a good kid.”

That’s enough to make Baekhyun squeak in delight, even if he says nothing further, kicking back to flop against the cushions behind him. That seems to unravel the mood in the room like a bound string, returning it to supple and playful. Everyone falls back into conversation and blessedly leaves Junmyeon’s love life alone.

The food keeps coming (Jongin is definitely emptying the reserves of the slowly-melting freezers) and the beers are joined by another carton that Chanyeol fetches from the kitchen. Jongin doesn’t drink Kyungsoo notes, but that’ll be because of the need to drive to his second job later.

The collection of friends -old and new- meander into smaller groups that interchange as the evening rolls on and the lamps grow brighter against the starlight outside, chatting and learning and sharing in-jokes that need far too much explaining. Kyungsoo helps clear up the plates when they change from dinner to dessert and Minseok ferries the empty bottles as they accumulate into the bin behind the counter, using the break from everyone else to snap photos on his phone that Kyungsoo knows from experience will end up in a beautiful Christmas album that Minseok gives out every year. This one will now have more faces in it than years prior and that’s somehow a wonderful thought. It’s cosy in here and full of the sound of laughter and Kyungsoo on his return takes a moment just to watch everyone sitting in the glow, leaning against the counter that Jongin always places their coffees on.

The Paw Print looks different like this. Not just the rearranged furniture, but the whole shop. It has the secret atmosphere that places have when you wander into them outside of the regular hours; a familiar school at night-time, a parking lot of a shopping centre before dawn, galleries in art museums that are empty except for you… time feels magical and otherworldly in them and Kyungsoo loves it. There’s no customers, no coffee machines whirring, no door kitty meowing, there’s just… all of them. And this space feels like their own. Like they all belong to it and to each other.

Jongin comes up behind him, shoulders bumping. His voice is soft. “I wish Yixing were here too.”

“Soon.” Kyungsoo supplies. “We have a date set, remember? It’s coming up.”   

“Yeah,” Jongin breathes, sounding fond. “It’s been too long since he’s been with everyone.”

Kyungsoo looks out as a car drives past the window, tires shushing in the water left lying around. Far beyond their lantern-lit bubble. “Did you get in contact with a repairman?”

“He can come mid-week at the earliest.” Jongin sounds pleased. “My sister can follow up with the claim going with the insurance company when she gets back tomorrow, she has more details than me. But the process has started.” Fingertips navigate under the tail of the suit jacket Kyungsoo is still wearing, into the side pocket of the matching pants. “We should be okay.”

Kyungsoo looks down at Jongin’s fingers, smiling. He slides his own into the pocket alongside it, stretching the material as wide as it can go to wind their fingers together. “I’m glad.”

Jongin settles against Kyungsoo’s side as Minseok takes a photo of Baekhyun with Jongdae behind him, both making adorable bunny ears. “They all get along. I’m so pleased.”

Kyungsoo sounds fond even to his own ears. “I think your gang just expanded.” He laughs. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Jongin’s voice takes on a melancholy twist and Kyungsoo can make an educated guess that he’s looking at Junmyeon lounging with Chanyeol against an arrangement of cushions they’ve piled up against the end of one of the bookshelves, bottles in hand, talking. There’s a bare spot beside Junmyeon’s opposite flank, big enough for another person. “There might be room for a little more.”

* * *

The night has settled firmly in when Kyungsoo finds that he has unexpected company. Jongin has brought the chalk board standee inside and is scrubbing his hasty message from earlier off, replacing it with a more thorough apology and a possible re-opening date of next week. Kyungsoo is perched on one of the booths near the window, ready to jump up and hold the front door open for Jongin to take it outside again once he’s finished, when the soft seat reacts to another body sitting down nearby. Kyungsoo turns.

Chanyeol nudges a small cookie topped with pumpkin frosting across the table. “You didn’t have dessert.”

Kyungsoo smiles, touched that he had been paying attention to all of them enough to realise that small fact. “Thank you.” He scoops it up. “Although I’m pretty sure we’re all going to end up halfway to diabetic after tonight.” Between the seven of them they’d managed to polish off the last remaining unspoiled food in the cafe.

Chanyeol grins, tongue poking between his teeth and Kyungsoo notes absently that that move changes his whole face. It softens him somewhat, making him a great deal less imposing. Kyungsoo isn’t quite Minseok level, but Chanyeol still intimidates him a little. Speaking of…

“Can I ask you something?” Kyungsoo wolfs down the cookie, sucking the last remnants of the icing off one thumb. “Do you know Minseok from somewhere?”

Chanyeol’s smile changes shape, hiking up one corner of his lips in a  smooth move. He looks down at the tabletop. ”No. But he may have seen me around town at a few places. I stick out a little.”

“No kidding.” Kyungsoo replies and that makes Chanyeol laugh. When he recovers, Chanyeol takes a deep breath and offers serious, friendly eyes in Kyungsoo’s direction.

“I heard what was happening at your work through Baekhyun. Jongin talks to him a lot. Always has. I wanted to say that if there’s anything we can do, just ask.”

The warm feeling that’s been nestled inside Kyungsoo’s chest all night expands a little more. “Thank you. I know you will. I just wish I knew how he got his hands on the photos in the first place. The only place I had them was on my computer, the copies I sent to Jongin’s phone and the-” Kyungsoo pauses, then raises his voice to call out across the room. “Minseok?”

Detaching himself from the animated discussion he’s having with Junmyeon over something on his phone, Minseok gets to his feet and wanders over. “Yeah?”

Kyungsoo pats down his pockets. “Did I give you that usb stick you were after the other day?”

“No.” Minseok looks just as confused as Kyungsoo. “You had it in your bag?”

“No…” Kyungsoo remembers looking through that bag -god it feels like a week ago- the other night before the shop flooded. “I checked there when you asked.”

Minseok clues in because his tone changes to concerned. “Where did you have it last?”

Kyungsoo scrambles his mind back to remember. “The office.” His words quicken as he follows the memories. “I was making hard copies. I took it from my computer, went to the photocopier upstairs and--fuck.”

“What?”

“Seungwon found me there. I lost my temper when he made a pass at me and I left. But I didn’t… I don’t remember taking the usb stick back from there. Shit.” Kyungsoo looks up, pained. “He has all the photos, Minseok. The whole shoot. Everything was on there.”

Jongin lifts his head at Kyungsoo’s raised voice, hands covered in chalk. “What does that mean?”

Kyungsoo thinks fast. “He can’t submit them for his own team. Sehun says he had to rule the whole shoot inadmissible on account of the… outtakes.” Chanyeol raises his eyebrows and Kyungsoo flushes. “They look a lot kinkier than what was going on. But that still means he could distribute more. Print whatever he wants. If they get to Sehun’s father he could put forward the same bullshit concern he tried with Sehun. And Mr Oh senior is far more likely to believe that and just fire me.”

Jongin sits back on his heels. “Fuck.”

Kyungsoo must have been loud enough that Junmyeon overhears because he approaches too. “So you’re saying Seungwon stole the usb.”

Kyungsoo’s shoulders slump. “Yeah. But I can’t prove it.”

Chanyeol sits a little higher in his seat. “Is there any way your boss’s father would believe your side of the story?”

“God no.” His laugh sounds bitter to Kyungsoo’s own ears. “Not in a million years. He’d have to freaking have Seungwon standing in front of him and admitting it out loud.”

“Hold on, hold on.” Minseok looks like he’s just had a lightbulb go off over his head. He waves his hand at Kyungsoo, clicking his fingers and pointing. “Where’s the one place a year that we still see Sehun’s father? The only time he ever might just be in the same room as all of us since he stepped down and left Sehun to run things?”

Kyungsoo blinks. “The end of year company dinner?”

“The one coming up in a week and a bit. Haven’t you seen the emails?” Minseok’s hands spread in a sharp gesture that Kyungsoo knows by now means he’s being dim-witted.

Kyungsoo vaguely remembers something about the upcoming dinner. He’s clicked past the email reminders a few times but his mind has been so far elsewhere lately that he’s not paid it much attention. He scrunches up his face. “And?”

Looking like he’s sorely tempted to smack him, Minseok reins himself in. “We have one chance at this. If we could just get Seungwon to show his vicious, creepy self, do something directly in front of Mr Oh senior that he can’t worm his way out of then we’d have a chance.” Minseok turns smoothly to Junmyeon, hands folding innocently behind his back. “We just need to guarantee that both the Ohs will be in that room a week from now.”

Junmyeon gapes. Eyes wide, he opens his mouth but only manages a few sounds before settling rather shakily on, “You know I have no legitimate reason to be there. I don’t work for your company.”

Minseok smiles brightly. “You’re a guaranteed favourite of Mr Oh senior from what Kyungsoo tells me. And,” he adds as Junmyeon gives a small groan. “Everyone at the dinner is allowed to bring a plus one. Jongin can be Kyungsoo’s. That’s guaranteed to drive Seungwon up a tree to start with. And you…”

Junmyeon covers his face with a hand. His ears are pink again.

“…Can be Sehun’s.” Minseok finishes with a flourish. “There’s a snowflake’s chance in hell that he’ll turn you down if you ask.”

Nearly all the skin Kyungsoo can see behind Junmyeon’s hand is an endearing shade of pink. Kyungsoo doesn’t dare move, wondering if Junmyeon will agree to this crazy plan. Finally with an inhale Junmyeon raises his head again. Gone is the lawyer who stared down an editor in chief and smoothly lied to both his and Seungwon’s faces without breaking a sweat. Here… is Junmyeon. Totally charming in his ridiculously obvious crush and it makes Kyungsoo want to suddenly to wrap him in a hug. But he also recognises something else that Minseok in his brashness hasn’t.

Kyungsoo stands and takes Junmyeon by the elbow. He makes him look directly at himself, eyes pulled away from Minseok, from Jongin and Chanyeol. And Kyungsoo asks him the one thing no one else has so far. “Would you be okay with doing this?” Kyungsoo knows he looks serious; chin down and tone gentle. Because this is important. “I know you’ve been keeping your distance from Sehun and you have your own reasons. We won’t ask this of you if it makes you uncomfortable in any way.”

Junmyeon gnaws on his bottom lip. His eyes are bright but he’s still shy at the thought of going on what would amount to a date with Sehun, Kyungsoo can see it in his face. And he takes pity because he genuinely likes the guy.

“The decision is up to you. We can figure something else out if need be. Only agree if this is something you want.”

“I do. I mean--let me just… Can I think on it?” Junmyeon’s tone becomes less embarrassed as he settles himself, thinking the offer through seriously. “Because if I start this I’m going to go through with it. I won’t use Sehun and then not speak to him again. That’d be cruel.”

Privately Kyungsoo thinks it might just break Sehun if Junmyeon were to date him just once and then disappear again. He knows strong feelings when he sees it and these two idiots seem to have that in spades, even if they’re not acting on it. The fact that Junmyeon realises the importance of this and cares about Sehun enough to want to be careful makes Kyungsoo’s heart ache in a happy way. Sehun could certainly do a lot worse than this big softie. “Okay. Sure. Take whatever time you need.”

“Thank you.” Junmyeon’s words are stronger now. “I said I wanted to help you. And that still stands. I just need to think this through first.”

Kyungsoo smiles. “Yeah. I understand that.” He takes a small chance as Minseok gives a happy little fistbump and goes to help Jongin with the finished board. “Sehun would be lucky to have you.”

Junmyeon smiles shyly, pulling out his phone. With a little nod he returns to the group still lounging on the cushions and Kyungsoo lets him have his space.

Chanyeol makes a pleased sound, watching him wander back. “Junmyeon has a heart of gold. Baekhyun and Jongin can attest to that.” After a pause he subtly adds, “This Sehun of yours is a decent guy right?”

Kyungsoo knows that tone well enough by now. Everyone in this group seems to do it and he laughs, unable to help himself. Chanyeol looks startled.

“What?”

Jongin comes back in with Minseok in toe as Kyungsoo is still giggling to himself. “What’s so funny?”

Kyungsoo controls himself. “You’re all so overprotective. It’s kind of wonderful. But yes,” he adds, smiling. “Sehun is a good soul and trust me when I say he’s got it just as bad for Junmyeon. I saw as much.”

“Good.” Chanyeol stands, seemingly satisfied. “I’ve seen the kind of movie nights he and Baekhyun have; Junmyeon is a total romantic at heart and he deserves the world. If neither he nor Sehun know where to start then maybe this might just be the nudge they need. If they both want to take it.”

Jongin smirks at Chanyeol, sliding up to Kyungsoo’s side. “Not like you and Baek ever had that problem.”

Chanyeol sniggers, covering his mouth with one hand to control his expression. “We’re terrible examples on how to first start a relationship. Don’t follow us.” His gaze shifts out across the room and Kyungsoo knows when he finds Baekhyun because his expression softens. Kyungsoo follows his look.

Across the room Baekhyun is sitting cross-legged on the floor, fascinated by something Jongdae is saying and Kyungsoo feels Jongin’s chin rest on his shoulder as Chanyeol stands and wanders over to them, running a hand through Baekhyun’s hair as he passes. Without pause Baekhyun tips his head right back and boops Chanyeol’s palm with his nose, then returns to listening to Jongdae. Kyungsoo smiles as one of Jongin’s arms comes into view in front of his waist and his boyfriend uses his height to peer over and down at his watch.

“I should get going soon. Did you want to come?”

Kyungsoo pauses. “The club?”

That same arm wraps around Kyungsoo’s waist and Jongin hugs him from behind, watching the others. “Yeah. You didn’t drive here?”

“No I had a lift. My car is still at the office.”

“Cool. Then come to the club with me?” Jongin’s soft hair brushes Kyungsoo’s temple as he raises his head a fraction and nuzzles the side of his face. “Watch me dance.”

“It’s mid-week. Will there be much of a clientele?”

“Not really. This is mostly a practice night. Weekends are the busiest.”

Kyungsoo finds he likes the sound of that. “Sure. How do you plan on clearing everyone out of here and closing up first?”

“They’re well trained.” Jongin replies cheerfully. “They know I need time to get to the club. Let me get changed first.”

“Okay.” Kyungsoo lets Jongin detach and watches him return to the group to explain. He uses the spare time to pick up all Jongin’s chalk and place the box back behind the counter. As he does he notices something. Sitting there on one of the back benches is a tiny opened packet of Halloween stickers with Nini scrawled over the top. Kyungsoo picks it up and turns it over. On the back is a badly-drawn stick figure and From Yixing on the back.

So that’s where he gets all his stickers from. The thought is really adorable and Kyungsoo is still looking at the packet when Jongdae comes over, pulling his jacket back up one arm.

“We’re all going to head home. Did you want a lift?”

“I’m good.” Kyungsoo thanks him. Everyone else is packing up, tidying and re-shuffling the last of the rubbish to the kitchen. “I’m going with Jongin to the club.”

Jongdae’s eyebrows lift and his mouth does that wonderful kitty smile, curving up at the corners. Kyungsoo shoves him lightly before he can make any comment. “Go collect your fanboy fiancé from Chanyeol and take him home.”

Jongdae grins. “Maybe it’s a good thing you’re not coming with us after all. Minseok’s so excited. He’s going to be wanting to talk about everything that’s been recommended to him.”

Kyungsoo opens his mouth to ask but Jongin reappears, t-shirt swapped out for a beautiful long sleeved, wine-red silk top tucked into his regular black jeans. It buttons only once somewhere around his abs, leaving a long trail of open skin. Kyungsoo badly, badly wants to touch. Jongin, hair quickly slicked back into his signature dance style, spots the sticker packet and makes a delighted sound, plucking one off the paper and pressing it to the top of his cheek with a fingertip. It’s a miniature glittering apple. He looks so goddamn cute.

Kyungsoo’s heartrate doubles at the charming contrast to that sexy getup. “You looks beautiful,” he offers. The resulting brilliant smile makes Kyungsoo so soft. But he’s still mildly confused enough to ask as Jongin steers him towards the back of the shop. “So is Chanyeol some kind of salesman or something?”

* * *

The gentleman’s club is pretty much as Jongin described it. There’s a few patrons at the bar since it’s still before midnight when they arrive but most of the seated dining area is deserted, chairs tipped up against the quiet tables. The performance areas and larger dance stages are roped off with several dancers in everything from stage wear to casual lycra practicing their routines. Kyungsoo admires the core strength apparent in one girl doing steadily faster twirls up and down a pole as Jongin gets him settled and meanders off to get himself set up.

They’d agreed on the ride over that after this they’d head back to Kyungsoo’s place since he really, really needs not to appear in the same suit more than twice in the same week and that way Jongin can get a full night’s rest. Both of them badly need sleep since they’re still existing on the few hours they’d managed to catch on the couch that morning.

Kyungsoo checks some of his emails on his phone while the faint bass pumps through the club, echoing a little more with it’s emptiness. He scrolls back far enough to find the last reminder about the company dinner from a while back. He vaguely remembers seeing it while at his desk. Thumb hovering over the RSVP link at the bottom where they can add their partners, he wonders again what Junmyeon will decide. Eventually he flicks the screen off without opening the link. Best not to jinx anything.

Kyungsoo settles back into his chair, acutely reminded of the last time he was here. Looking around he watches several of the other dancers for a little while. They’re fluid -both the boys and girls- but as Kyungsoo lets himself drift, he thinks faintly that none are a patch on how natural Jongin is. None have that star quality…

Kyungsoo opens his eyes with a jolt. Fuck. He must have dozed off. Snapping his eyes to his watch he’s relieved to note that it’s only half an hour past when he saw the time on his phone, but still… Kyungsoo guiltily looks up.

Jongin is laughing silently, twirling in a spin that ends with him dropping to one knee, smacking a palm on the floor for balance. He must have been watching Kyungsoo. That only feeds his embarrassment and Kyungsoo quickly wipes the tiredness form his eyes and sits up straighter. Jongin looks highly amused as he stretches out his arms and glides to his feet on a turn. The stage lighting and his own exertion has made him sweat and Kyungsoo can see how his stylish shirt is starting to stick. It’s stupidly sexy for such a small thing. He feels incredibly disappointed that he’s missed the very start of the practice so Kyungsoo is now determined to give every ounce of his attention. And Jongin in the guise of Kai doesn’t disappoint.

Kyungsoo watches as Jongin works through his routine three whole times, interchanging between slick rolls of his hips to spins that take him across the stage, swapping from contemporary to sexy and back again with dizzying ease. His long arms shield his body as he arches his chest, sliding his hands up into his hair to grip and pull like an impatient lover. Sweat pools against his collarbone and leaves a trail between his pectorals. Kyungsoo swallows.

The beat changes and Jongin turns in a circle, dropping down to one knee with the other outstretched, running an elegant hand down his whole body from neck to groin as he thrusts into his own grip. The way he pulls his lower lip between his teeth and smiles around biting it does really, really dark things to Kyungsoo. This was… perhaps not the cleverest idea. But Kyungsoo will be damned if he’ll stop watching now. Not with Jongin looking like sin up there.

Kyungsoo glances back behind himself. The patrons who were at the bar are no longer there. Only a few dancers, one or two staff and the two of them remain.

Jongin follows through with the move, flipping himself over to grind sensually against the stage and Kyungsoo lets out a slow breath, feeling his pants tighten. Jongin’s eyes fall closed like he can’t stand how good it feels and Kyungsoo can just picture his head arching back like that somewhere that isn’t an open stage. God. He can’t decide if it’s his own imagination or the idea that since Jongin has had his first taste of sex that he’s become even more provocative? Kyungsoo can almost see the switch, the edge of sensuality that Jongin embodies as Kai having grown… stronger. Or maybe Kyungsoo just has it really, really bad for his boyfriend.

The open neck of the red shirt shifts aside as Jongin rolls over onto his back and a single nipple ring catches the light. Fuck. Kyungsoo doesn’t think he can take a fourth run-through of the routine. Not without a repeat of how hard he got last time. Because this is the part that… yeah. Jongin pulls himself to his knees to face the audience again like a plaything on invisible strings, tugs open that wide shirt and winks, flashing his pretty decorations for all to see. Kyungsoo none-too-subtly shifts in his seat. He knows how those taste now. How the salt from Jongin’s skin makes the metal tangy and sharp against his tongue. The kind of noises that Jongin makes when Kyungsoo sucks his sensitive nipples.

Kyungsoo crosses his legs. Jongin the little shit, glances over and laughs silently again. He knows. He damn well knows the effect he has on Kyungsoo. This time though, he stays firmly up on the stage and leaves Kyungsoo to his slow torture.

Both hands leave the shirt and skim down his stomach to cup the insides of his thighs as Jongin makes a couple of thrusts in time to the heavy base beat, fucking empty air. His eyes are trained on Kyungsoo’s face now as he does and the intent there is unmistakable. Kyungsoo feels a pulse of heat, remembering just how Jongin reacted when Kyungsoo revealed that he’d be willing to let his little virgin bear top him. Because for all his slick stage moves that make the girls in the audience squeal, Jongin is an eager to please, fumbling bundle of enthusiasm when it comes to real sex. And Kyungsoo gets to teach him. Gets to show him how good it can feel. And…  okay, he can admit that he’s hard now. Kyungsoo is fucking whipped, no two ways about it. And everything he has belongs to that long-legged, gliding boy on stage.

Kyungsoo swallows again, clearing his throat and trying not to look like he’s some kind of pervert. But then Jongin slows down a fraction towards the end of his set and Kyungsoo sees- he does a double-take. No, he didn’t imagine it. Holy shit.

Jongin drops to his knees for the signature move that has to be done torturously slowly  and Kyungsoo trails his eyes down his heaving chest as Jongin breathes through the luxuriously long body roll, crossing his arms above his head at the wrists to accentuate the move and… Kyungsoo licks his lips unthinkingly.

Jongin is hard too. He’s fucking straining at the zipper on his perfectly tailored jeans and Kyungsoo clenches his jaw in an effort to pretend he at least has some control left. It’s a lost cause. Jongin brings his wrists down, still crossed and finally slumps a little, sides working hard as he sucks in breaths while still on his knees, legs spread. His hair is flopping in damp trails across his forehead and his eyes burn hotly as he looks up from under his lashes. Jongin -Kai- grins on one shaky exhale like there’s nowhere else he would rather be right now than horny and on his knees in front of Kyungsoo. On display in something close to a very, very public setting. Kyungsoo can hear the bar staff moving around behind him for fucks sake. Jongin ignores that. He waits, evening out his breathing.

Kyungsoo slowly glances around. There are still dancers present but none are paying attention.  When Kyungsoo turns back Jongin is still there, strung tight on the endorphins from dancing. Watching.

Feeling so turned on, feeling reckless and punch-drunk Kyungsoo slides his own hand down and uncrosses his legs. He cups himself through the suit pants he’s wearing.

Jongin goes very, very still. A pink tongue pokes at the corner of his plush lips, licking up a bead of sweat. Kyungsoo firmly trails his fingers up the length of himself through the pants. He knows the sight his dick makes even in clothing and Jongin’s eyes snap to it obediently. A deeper flush than exertion slips down his neck and Kyungsoo wonders what the fuck they’re doing, edging along this dangerous game. He can feel the inside of his underwear start to grow sticky with precum, so fucking turned on with watching Jongin watching him teasing.

Kyungsoo’s never done anything like this before. For all his experience he’s had ordinary encounters. Vanilla positions, lights off sometimes, partners who never once thought about anything outside the bedroom, let alone the house. But something about Jongin makes Kyungsoo do crazy things like have sex on the floor of a flooded bookstore and  dream stupidly wild things - like fucking Jongin on that very stage or hiking him onto a counter at The Paw Print and jerking him off just after the last customer leaves. Jongin makes Kyungsoo want to make a mess of him, and let Jongin do the same right back. It’s intoxicating. Kyungsoo squeezes the bulge of his cock, letting his lips fall open at how good it feels to finally have some pressure. The build up to sex was never this hot before. Not with anyone. Kyungsoo lets his legs fall completely open, lets Jongin see just how hard he makes him.

Raising his thumb, Kyungsoo flicks at the tab of his zipper, toying with the very notion of opening it. The reaction is instantaneous. Jongin slides forward, long legs unfolding to drop off the stage and he crosses over to Kyungsoo, grabbing that same hand and yanking him to his feet. Kyungsoo nearly stumbles, thrown off balance. But Jongin catches him and turns around. With a sharp tug Kyungsoo is hauled along, down around past the stage and through one of the doors beside it that he’s never bothered to pay attention to.

Jongin closes it behind them and Kyungsoo’s world lurches again as he’s pushed backwards a step, his back hitting the wood. Jongin crowds close, hands everywhere, eyes wild. He slots a knee between Kyungsoo’s own and drags his lips up Kyungsoo’s jugular. “You tease.” Jongin’s voice is wrecked, his words shaky. “I don’t want to wait. Please tell me I get to have you now. Please.”

Fuck. Kyungsoo pants, head spinning. Jongin’s thigh rocks against his balls, derailing his thoughts but Kyungsoo manages to make his own hands work, taking hold of Jongin’s forearms and steadying them both. Something is… “Shh, hey I’ve got you.”

Around to one side of Jongin, Kyungsoo can make out the outline of a bed and he vaguely remembers Minseok’s mention of a private lap dance at the bucks night. This must be where they take place. Along with… Kyungsoo can see the copious collections of bottles and other things on the nightstand. Along with whatever else was paid for from those select boys and girls, apparently. Huh. Okay.

Jongin is still pushing against Kyungsoo, little noises riding the tails of his heavy breaths as he nuzzles up to Kyungsoo’s ear. “There’s everything we need in here. I know we were going to go home but I can’t watch you sit there and--fuck.” Jongin’s words trail off as Kyungsoo rides his thigh, small jerks of his hips that he can’t help. “Please.”

Jesusfuck. Desperate Jongin, sweaty and hard and begging in a cracked voice is the most perfect thing he’s ever heard. Kyungsoo is dizzy with how turned on it makes him to be caged in like this against the door as Jongin grinds their hips together like if he stopped it might just kill him… and dammit Kyungsoo knows he was going to wait and make Jongin’s first time candle-lit and perfect and romantic at home (he had all these plans), but maybe it can still be just as special and a little wild at the same time. Kyungsoo’s had vanilla. If Jongin is begging for Kyungsoo to spread his legs in the back room of a strip club then he’ll comply. Because it’s Jongin.  And because Kyungsoo’s life has become one gigantic rollercoaster since he met him. So tonight… Kyungsoo turns his head and kisses Jongin, feeling the slick heat of his tongue as Jongin immediately parts his lips and surges forward, kissing him open mouthed and filthy, biting down sharply on Kyungsoo’s lower lip and hang on, this isn’t like--

Kyungsoo reaches up a hand and finds the slightly longer, sweat-damp hair at the back of Jongin’s head.  He sinks his fingers in and yanks. Hard.

Jongin arches back, keening in surprise. His eyes snap open and find Kyungsoo’s, blinking, panting until they focus again. Kyungsoo keeps him held and despite Jongin’s height Kyungsoo manages a firm grip. Jongin has never kissed him like that and as Kyungsoo runs his tongue across his own swollen lip, still throbbing from the bite, he thinks he knows why.

“Who am I having sex with? Jongin or Kai?”

The question cuts sharply home. Immediately Jongin’s body slackens and Kyungsoo realises what’s going on. “Little bear,” he murmurs and Jongin shivers. “Don’t hide behind what you think I want. I want you. The real you. This isn’t a movie scene; you don’t have to act.”

Jongin’s eyes slip closed and he looks like he’s fighting to keep hold of his stage persona. “But I’m not--I don’t know…” He makes a frustrated, embarrassed sound. “This is how I’m supposed to do it all, right?”

Kyungsoo uses his grip to keep Jongin steady as he stretches onto his tiptoes. “No, no babe. You only have to be yourself,” he whispers. His lips find the tiny apple sticker on Jongin’s cheek and he kisses it. “Nini.”

Jongin breaks. His leg drops and he folds himself over Kyungsoo. His hands start to knead like a kitten instead of roaming like he’s trying to feel up every part of Kyungsoo and Jongin nuzzles behind Kyungsoo’s ear, taking a deep breath. “Say that again?”

The shield of Kai is gone. It’s purely Jongin now. Kyungsoo unclenches his fingers, petting instead of gripping. “Which part?”

“My nickname.” Jongin’s voice is a shaky mix of arousal and embarrassment. He’s still hard against Kyungsoo’s hip. “The… the pet name too. Everything.”

“Anything you want, Nini bear.” Kyungsoo kisses what little of Jongin’s neck he can reach, tasting the sweat he wanted so badly to earlier and feeling the heat from Jongin’s blush radiating against his own skin. He drops his voice down an octave. “Now I want to know what happens when I call you that when you’re inside me.”

Jongin’s hands grip. Kyungsoo grins, unseen.

“Come to bed?”

Jongin raises his head again and Kyungsoo loses himself in the heat behind those brown eyes. Jongin gently tugs Kyungsoo away from the door, backing up with Kyungsoo’s hand in his own until his legs bump the edge of the bed. Then he keeps pulling until Kyungsoo is flush against his front. So much warmth.

Kyungsoo tilts his head to look up at him and Jongin lets go of his hand. He pushes Kyungsoo’s jacket from his shoulders one arm at a time, letting it pool on the floor in a messy heap. Then his hands move to the matching tie, tugging one side from the knot and letting both ends hang open. Kyungsoo would think him so smooth if he couldn’t see how faintly Jongin’s fingers were trembling. He’s overthinking and nervous without his shield. But Kyungsoo knows his way around Jongin and distraction works perfectly.

“Hey,” Kyungsoo takes Jongin’s hands and brings the curled fists to his mouth, kissing the knuckles there. Then when he has Jongin’s full attention he slides them down all the way and places them over his cock, pressing Jongin’s palms over the straining material of his pants. “Look at what you do to me.”

Jongin moans, hands unfurling and instantly kneading at Kyungsoo, feeling along the covered length in squeezing, random patterns that make Kyungsoo’s knees weak. Jongin plays with Kyungsoo’s cock, rubbing and stroking at what he can feel, sending darts of pleasure up Kyungsoo’s spine because fuck, he’s wanted Jongin’s hands on him again so badly and it’s as good as he remembers. Jongin’s voice is breathy.

“Your face when I do this. God you’re so hard.”

Kyungsoo reaches a hand up and brushes against Jongin’s shirt until he can feel a hard bump of metal. It makes Jongin’s whole body jolt when Kyungsoo flicks it and his hands squeeze beautifully on Kyungsoo’s dick, making him gasp. God. Fuck. They could so easily get off like this if he got on his knees right now and sucked Jongin off but Kyungsoo knows he promised so much more. “I want to see you.” Kyungsoo manages, rolling his hips against Jongin’s hands. “Now. Naked.”

Jongin immediately complies with an eagerness that’s devastatingly cute, hands flying to unbutton the low hook on his shirt, tugging it from his jeans and Kyungsoo swallows around a dry throat because holy shit Jongin is always gorgeous. Kyungsoo tears himself away from the impulse to touch that bare chest that is so fucking strong his fingertips almost hurt. Instead he cups Jongin’s cheek, thumb brushing over that little sticker.

“That’s it. Now the rest.”

Jongin turns and kisses along Kyungsoo’s palm, tongue darting out to leave little kitten licks as he follows the instruction, unbuttoning his jeans and peeling them down and-- Kyungsoo can’t help it. He slaps his hands on Jongin’s bare ass because the fucker isn’t wearing any underwear. The whole time he’d been dancing he was bare under his jeans. It’s so unbearably sexy. Kyungsoo squeezes his plump handfuls and his voice doesn’t sound like himself any more, rough beyond belief.

“That’s so slutty, baby. God.”

Jongin kicks his shoes and the jeans the rest of the way off and Kyungsoo hauls them close again, all of Jongin’s bare skin against his own clothing. It feels naughtier this way and Kyungsoo’s words make Jongin mewl. He pushes his ass back into Kyungsoo’s hands and then grinds up against his belt, again and again like he’s so fucking turned on and doesn’t know what he wants more of. That idea burns and Kyungsoo is not going to make it through tonight still sane. Not with nearly six foot of desperate sin in his arms.

Jongin’s eyes are hooded as he chases his pleasure, unashamed and just wanting to keep feeling the sensations. He looks halfway to wrecked already and they haven’t really done anything. Kyungsoo looks down at Jongin’s beautiful cock as he thrusts against Kyungsoo, tanned like the rest of him and starting to leak at the tip, glistening in the low light. Kyungsoo smiles and holds them close, rolling his own hips in counterpoint until Jongin is making broken little sounds of enjoyment, lost in just feeling that slow, delicious rise to orgasm. Stretching up slightly Kyungsoo licks a trail along that stunning cut of Jongin’s jaw until he can reach an ear. He suckles the lobe just to feel Jongin shake and his needy little thrusts lose their rhythm for a second. Then he speaks.

“If I touch you are you going to come?”

Jongin whimpers, little pants of breath that Kyungsoo can feel against his hair. He slides his hands up those slim hips and the length of Jongin’s spine then back down again, giving him the touches Jongin always wants.

“Do you want me to make you come?”

Jongin pulls in one of those little pants he’s making, sucking in an inhale like it’s difficult to think. “I-I want everything else.”

Kyungsoo pats the smooth skin under his hands. “Okay. Get on the bed, little bear. You’re making such a mess all over my shirt.”

Jongin startles, looking down. Where his cock has pressed over and over, sticky streaks of precum have smeared across the bottom of Kyungsoo’s dress shirt. Jongin swallows. “I like how you look.”

“You like making me messy?” Kyungsoo gives Jongin a light push, sending him toppling backwards. Kyungsoo raises a knee and places it on the mattress just beside where Jongin’s legs drape off the edge. He pulls his open tie off and unbuttons his shirt. “What about even more? You could cover me in both our come tonight. Make me so dirty.” The shirt slides back off Kyungsoo’s arms. “You’re so pent up it’ll be such a big load.”

Jongin’s cock twitches, pressed up tight against his stomach. The flush which had started to even out spikes back to his face and he lowers his gaze, chest rising and falling. Kyungsoo loves this. Loves how Jongin craves the dirty talk and the pet names and seems to get off on the embarrassment. Kyungsoo unbuttons his belt and stands back up, sliding his shoes, pants and underwear off. His own cock slaps up against his stomach when he straightens back up and Jongin makes a sucker-punched whine at the sight. Kyungsoo smirks.

The nightstand has enough flavours of lube to fill a rainbow when he crosses over to look at it but Kyungsoo choses a basic one for now. He’s not really sure if Jongin in his overworked state is going to last very long but even if he does there’s no need for boysenberry or watermelon scented stuff. Kyungsoo is practical and Jongin isn’t going to care or expect anything different. He palms a bottle and turns back.

Jongin has let his head fall back, eyes closed as he pumps himself with both hands. The move squeezes his pecs faintly between his forearms as he works and Kyungsoo fucking snaps at the sight of those nipple rings glittering. He returns to the bed and stands between Jongin’s spread legs, tossing the bottle to land beside Jongin’s head. The impact makes him hazily open his eyes, pleasure-drunk.

Kyungsoo huffs a laugh. “You just want to come, don’t you?”

Jongin bites his lip. He mouths something that Kyungsoo doesn’t catch so he drops forward, palms bracing on the cover beside Jongin’s shoulders. “What was that?”

“In you,” Jongin repeats, just louder than a whisper. He looks like he’s about to die from saying that out loud. Kyungsoo grins darkly. Sliding a finger through one of the rings hooked through Jongin’s nipples he tugs until Jongin’s chest rises up, following the move and he cries out, a sharp wordless sound.

“I don’t think you’re going to be able to last that long. Look at you. You could fuck anything and come.” Kyungsoo’s tone is wicked and he can’t help but tease. “There are silicone sleeves over there. I could get you one, slide it down over your dick and you’d fuck it. I know you would.”

Jongin keens, mouth slack. He shakes his head desperately, rolling it back and forth. Kyungsoo takes pity and releases his hold. Jongin slumps back onto the mattress, leaking and so fucking hard that the head of his cock is stained red. Kyungsoo has never wanted anything more in his life than to be here, right now. “Okay,” he soothes, “You think you can do this?”

Jongin opens his eyes with what seems like a great effort and nods, hair sticking to his forehead. Kyungsoo assesses him and then sits back on his heels. He gathers the bottle back up and cracks the cap, shifting up so his thighs are on either side of Jongin’s hips. Instantly Jongin takes hold, kneading again. If it were anyone else Kyungsoo might take slight offense at how squishy Jongin finds him, but Kyungsoo knows he’s in shape, just not stripper-god level. And that Jongin simply loves touching and rubbing and petting - and the fingers squeezing up and down Kyungsoo’s sides and thighs right now are all because Jongin at his most base level, reduced to sensation and need is a big fluff. And Kyungsoo is Jongin’s favourite stuffed toy.

Jongin licks his lips, swollen from the biting he’s put them through. “How do we…”

“I’ll show you properly next time.” Kyungsoo pours some lube out and reaches behind himself; it’s easier to prep while up on his knees than lying down. He brings his other hand to steady himself on Jongin’s stomach. “I wanted to do it to you first so you knew how it felt, but if I finger you you’re going to come so hard.”

Jongin gives a jerky nod. Kyungsoo runs his thumb against one of the sticky trails Jongin’s leaking cock has left near his belly button, pressing against his own hole with the index finger of his other hand. It’s been a while since he’s done this since people generally assume he’s a top based on his size, but fucking Jongin wasn’t an option just yet. They needed a little time and a lot more prep. Right now… Kyungsoo breaches himself, sinking down onto his slick finger with a groan. Taking his weight on his thighs, he raises up, adjusting with a few slow pumps of his hand until he can feel his rim relax enough for another wet finger. Only then does he realise he’s closed his eyes.

Opening them reveals Jongin looking like he’s being tortured as Kyungsoo slowly rides his hand above him. Kyungsoo quirks one side of his lips. “Like what you see?”

“Fuck yes.” Jongin is trembling with the effort of holding still and his hands have white-knuckled their grip on the top of Kyungsoo’s thighs, his tanned hands looking so damn big against him. God the strong contrast of their skin tones is stunning. Kyungsoo feels delicate, feels adored as Jongin peels his hands away and circles them up and back, fingertips feeling around where Kyungsoo is stuffing himself. Jongin’s eyes go wide.

“You’re so wet.”

“Lots of lube,” Kyungsoo laughs. He takes a deep breath and scissors his fingers, the stretch beginning to burn as he holds himself open. One of Jongin’s fingers slips between his own, pushing against the space and Kyungsoo tilts his hips back. “Go on. You can try.”

Jongin’s finger pushes in and Kyungsoo fucking arches, the thickness squeezing in there alongside his own fingers and Jongin swears, eyes locked on Kyungsoo’s face as god it’s good and Kyungsoo groans on each exhale, rocking back and forth. Fuck, he’s full. Just a little more… Kyungsoo licks dry lips.

“Curl your finger down towards my stomach.”

Jongin blinks and does as he’s told. It takes a couple of goes and eventually he has to add one more finger to get his hand twisted the right way but his digits are so much longer than Kyungsoo’s and- holyshityes. Kyungsoo cries out, spreading his thighs as bolts of pleasure swirl up his spine. Jongin gives a tiny cry of surprise and then repeats the move until Kyungsoo is twitching, hips thrusting and muscles spamming as Jongin massages his prostate.

“F-fuck,” Kyungsoo shivers, choking off a moan. “Okay, okay. Stop.” He can’t laugh but the overstimulation might just kill him because at the height of sensation tickling and pleasure are indistinguishable. When Jongin doesn’t comply Kyungsoo drags his own fingers out, grabbing hold of Jongin’s wrist and pulling him away. God, his legs are shaking. Kyungsoo allows himself to sink down, a puddle of fucking amazing sensations. Grinding their trapped cocks between them, Kyungsoo revels in how good everything feels, tingling from head to toe. It’s Jongin who loops an arm around Kyungsoo’s waist and rolls them over.

When Kyungsoo opens his eyes again Jongin is there, shoulder muscles bunched as he holds himself up. Kyungsoo doesn’t even think. He just spreads his legs and tugs Jongin down. The faint hair on Jongin’s calves feels amazing against Kyungsoo’s skin and he flings out a hand, searching he sheets for-

Kyungsoo swears, angry at himself for being such an idiot. “I forgot the fucking condom. Let me up.”

Jongin keeps his weight where it is. “I’m clean,” he laughs. “I mean that’s obvious. You’re my first.”

Kyungsoo pauses. He’d been tested after his last breakup. “…I am too.” He says slowly. “But are you sure?”

Jongin’s grin is eager. “Let me make a mess.”

Kyungsoo giggles and Jongin’s elbows shift up, lowering his centre of gravity and with his height that means he has to sit a little further up Kyungsoo’s frame in this position. He looks down the length of their bodies and hooks one of Kyungsoo’s legs around his waist. “Is this how you want it?”

Jongin is probably taking this position from porn or a movie he saw but something about being manhandled like that makes Kyungsoo wanton. He winds both arms encouragingly around Jongin as he takes hold of his cock and lines up. Kyungsoo is so exposed like this but it’s Jongin and Kyungsoo knows he would never do anything to hurt him. Kyungsoo feels the soft, wet head brush against his hole, slicking through the excess lube and mixing with Jongin’s precum. “Yeah,” he breathes. “Fuck me.”

Jongin takes a deep breath and applies pressure, curling his hips enough that Kyungsoo whines as his head pops past his rim. Fuck yes. Kyungsoo’s own cock twitches, leaking . He’s burning up. Jongin keeps pushing and Kyungsoo steadies him with his hands, keeping him to a slow impale. “Just like that.”

Jesusfuck he’s long. It seems to take forever for Jongin to bottom out and Kyungsoo is about to burst as he finally feels his hips settle flush against his ass. Jongin’s chest is heaving; all the muscles under Kyungsoo’s hands are tensed, coiled tight. Kyungsoo softly calls Jongin’s name until he raises his head again.

“Hey,” Kyungsoo cups Jongin's face and runs his thumb back and forth across his cheek. Jongin’s eyes are huge, his mouth slack at the sensation of being inside. He closes it once or twice and then manages to choke out.

“You’re so tight.”

Kyungsoo grins. “Yeah, baby bear. You think you can move?”

A muscle in Jongin’s jaw works. “I-I’m not going to make it.”

“Yeah you will.” Kyungsoo reassures him. “Start slow.”

Jongin looks down again, almost amazed that he can watch his cock slide out of Kyungsoo. Then he pushes back in, steady and all at once this time. Kyungsoo gasps, one hand flying to his abdomen and Jongin freezes.

“What?”

“No,” Kyungsoo pushes his fingers against his stomach. “It’s okay,” he manages, shaking his head. “I can just… feel you here, god. Keep going.”

Jongin makes a broken sound and thrusts again and Kyungsoo knows the moment he squeezes his legs around him that Jongin is gone. He drops to his forearms and covers Kyungsoo, hauling Kyungsoo’s other leg higher before returning to bracing on both arms. “Fuck,” he breathes, voice cracking. “It’s so hot inside you. I can feel you clenching. Shit you’re milking me.”

Kyungsoo lets his head fall back, hands going to Jongin’s ass again as they rut close and tight like they’re in heat. It’s fast and perfect and Jongin is panting a string of praise like all he’s ever wanted is to have Kyungsoo under him, going crazy with lust at how deep he can feel him. Kyungsoo’s cock is rubbed against the abs Jongin is employing to keep his movements as fast and desperate as he needs, chasing the pleasure as Jongin’s moans become shorter and he squeezes his eyes shut, forehead dropping to rest against Kyungsoo’s shoulder.

“Tell me-” Jongin’s words are tight, choppy and so aroused it’s painful. “How do I do that again? Make you-”

Kyungsoo squeezes Jongin’s ass and pushes down at the same time as he tilts his own hips up a fraction. “From below.” He manages. “Just like with your fingers.”

Jongin braces his knees, changes the angle and Kyungsoo fucking howls as he nails his prostate. Pleasure spins out as he -fuckfuckfuck- bows upwards, hands flying up to Jongin’s thick hair as he grabs hold and undulates mindlessly into the waves that sweep over him, curling like fire in the base of his stomach each time Jongin fucks just where he told him to. Kyungsoo blindly searches for Jongin’s mouth, turning his head by the grip he has on his hair and licking into his mouth. “Harder,” he begs wetly, breaking only for air. “Just like that. Fuck me.”

“I’m gonna come.” Jongin manages, pressing messy, lapping kisses to the side of Kyungsoo’s open mouth. He licks at the tongue that peeks out, catching it long enough to suck. Squeezing a hand down between them he encircles Kyungsoo’s cock, completely uncoordinated and out of time with his thrusts in his inexperience but it’s enough. It’s enough because it’s Jongin. And Kyungsoo keeps his promise as the his orgasm is fucked up and out of him. He bursts, shooting across Jongin’s hand in thick white ropes, hitting his stomach and chest as Jongin rears back and snaps his hips, holding Kyungsoo’s legs wide with his hands behind his knees.

It feels so shameless to be splayed like this and Kyungsoo knows how he must look. “Nini,” he breathes, coaxing, covering Jongin’s hands with his own. “Come in me.”

Jongin freezes mid-thrust when he hears that, coming like he can’t help it. Overflowing hot and wet and so fucking much inside Kyungsoo that it squeezes out alongside his cock each time he drags it out, riding the way Kyungsoo can’t help twitching around him, overstimulated and shaky.

Regaining his breath, Jongin lowers Kyungsoo’s legs and goes to pull out, but to Kyungsoo’s endless amusement he doesn’t seem to want to stop pushing the head of his dick in and out of Kyungsoo’s sloppy hole, enjoying the feeling. It’s adorable and needy and Kyungsoo lays there, letting him have his fun. Finally though, he softens and slips out.

Kyungsoo goes to draw his legs up but Jongin pushes them apart again, a hand going between Kyungsoo’s legs. The touch of his fingers against Kyungsoo’s abused rim makes him jump but Jongin looks awed. He drags his eyes from his come leaking out of Kyungsoo up to Kyungsoo’s own filthy chest, streaked with even more semen.

“I did make you messy.”

Kyungsoo laughs. His limbs don’t seem to want to work properly yet and he knows it’s only his imagination but he feels fucked full of come, sated and happy. Jongin continues playing, scooping up his seed and pushing it back inside Kyungsoo, only watch it overflow again. His smiles like it’s Christmas morning when he looks up.

“You’re mine.”

Kyungsoo holds out his arms in offer of a cuddle. “Yeah,” he replies as Jongin wipes his fingers and stretches up over him, curling slightly to one side so as not to be too heavy. “I am. And you can reinforce that as often as you want. Although I may need to remember how to walk.”

Jongin’s smile widens, puffing up the skin under his eyes. “It was good?”

Kyungsoo looks pointedly down at his chest in lieu of answering. Jongin giggles, winding an arm and a leg over him despite all the fluids and snuggling close for warmth. Their sweat cools. Kyungsoo kisses Jongin’s damp hairline and just listens to him breathe. “It was possibly the best sex I’ve had in a very long time,” he finally murmurs and Jongin’s head shoots right up.

“Really?”

Kyungsoo collects Jongin’s hand and presses their palms together, fingers lined up, showing the difference between the sizes. “Not everyone can reach my prostate so I often don’t come from just penetration. And I have trouble reaching it myself.”

Jongin looks delighted. Kyungsoo taps his nose with a fingertip. “Now we need to clean up. There must be a bathroom here.”

“In just a moment.” Jongin lowers his head back to Kyungsoo’s shoulder. He links their hands again just to look at them resting on the middle of Kyungsoo’s chest. “I want to savour having you full of me.”

Kyungsoo can feel the wetness between his legs soaking into the sheets. “You sap,” he replies fondly. “Okay. And once we clean up I can take you home and put you to bed.”

Jongin yawns. “Your bed. I like the sound of that.”

* * *

Chapter Text

Waking up beside Jongin is all kinds of perfect. Mostly because as he drifts towards consciousness, Kyungsoo’s sheets and pillows still feel like his own so he knows he’s home, but if he looks slightly to the left there’s a mop of messy brown hair just under his chin. Which still makes Kyungsoo’s heart do a startled little flip-flop when he blinks open to the early hours of Saturday morning and sees it.

Jongin’s head is low on the pillow because he sleeps curled up into a small crescent, head on Kyungsoo’s shoulder and legs up tight around Kyungsoo’s thighs like some kind of gigantic pretzel. Even in sleep he’s the touchiest little bear, having dragged Kyungsoo to bed last night with nothing on either of them so he could have as much skin contact as possible. And Kyungsoo at this point wouldn’t deny Jongin the moon if he asked for it, so now they’re naked and intertwined and… yeah. Perfect.

Kyungsoo drops a fond kiss onto the top of Jongin’s head and just breathes in the stillness for a moment. Once they get up the reality of work and the company dinner and Seungwon and the competition will all be real, solid things they have looming ahead to deal with. But right now, if Kyungsoo just closes his eyes again and ignores the rest of the world for another hour or two-

Jongin snuffles along Kyungsoo’s collarbone, leaving a gentle kiss at the hollow of his throat when he reaches it. Kyungsoo laughs, squeezing his big armful. “Hello.”

“Morning…” Jongin mumbles, nuzzling around the base of Kyungsoo’s neck sleepily. Is it possible to die from an overload of adorable? Kyungsoo is very willing lately to find out. Jongin tightens his hold and he’s so warm. The shift and stick of slightly sweaty, clingy skin that’s been pressed together all night should be strange but it’s not and Kyungsoo realises with a start that this is probably… yes, it would be. This is the first time Jongin has woken up beside a partner after sex the night before.

And Jongin is luxuriating in it, wriggling leisurely against Kyungsoo like the living embodiment of a heartbeat, squeezing and kneading and releasing again and Kyungsoo has never felt so loved. It’s like having a big, tanned, sexy cat who happens to be… Jongin pushes his hips against Kyungsoo’s side and Kyungsoo grins. Very happy to see you.

He twists and throws a leg over Jongin to pin him down somewhat. “Someone had a good night’s sleep. You were out like a light.”

“Mmm,” Jongin lips up the side of Kyungsoo’s neck and finds his earlobe. He suckles it for a bit until Kyungsoo squirms with the tickling sensation. “I had the best pillow. Can I keep you?”

Kyungsoo’s chest squeezes tight. “For as long as you want.”

“I keep what’s mine.” Jongin’s voice slides out of sleepy and into possessive and Kyungsoo can’t help his reaction to that, twitching where he’s tucked tight against Jongin’s morning wood. Jongin breathes out like he just felt it and one hand slides down Kyungsoo’s back to grip his plush butt, squeezing. “And all of this is mine now.”

Kyungsoo laughs. “One ride of my ass and you’re turning all alpha male on me? What’s next, handcuffs?”

“No,” Jongin snorts, burying his face in Kyungsoo’s neck as he releases his grip and pats out a happy, nonsence rhythm on Kyungsoo’s butt. “I’m not Mr Park.”

“Who?” Kyungsoo angles his head but all he can see is the side of Jongin’s grin. He sniggers against Kyungsoo’s skin.

“Chanyeol? You met him last night. Baekhyun’s boyfriend.”

“Ah,” Kyungsoo nods, threading his fingers slowly through Jongin’s thick hair to try and tame it out of its morning tangles. It’s a lost cause but Kyungsoo loves trying nonetheless. “He did seem a little imposing at times. But he was so friendly I thought maybe I was imaging it.”

Jongin’s head raises. He smiles and it’s… it’s so full of memories that Kyungsoo’s breath catches. Wow.

“Anything you could imagine about Park Chanyeol is simultaneously both true and also at the same time probably way short of the reality.”

Kyungsoo blinks several times and then twists his head to one side on the pillow. “I don’t follow.”

Jongin levers himself up on one elbow to press a prim little kiss to Kyungsoo’s forehead. “You’re so naive, it’s really cute.”

“Wait I’m naive?” Kyungsoo rolls Jongin over with a sharp, playful push, pinning him onto the bedsheets. He knows he looks befuddled but he can’t help it. Jongin seems so entertained by this, looking up at Kyungsoo like he’s the most precious child ever to grace the earth. He brings up both hands to cup Kyungsoo’s cheeks, sliding them back into his hair to pet him like a kitten.

“Let’s just say that I can belong to you and also call you mine, but I don’t think either of us are ever going to be on Chanyeol’s level.”

Kyungsoo squints down at him and Jongin waits patiently, eyebrows raised. But when Kyungsoo comes up blank Jongin gives an exaggerated ugh and rolls his eyes. “You are so vanilla,” he teases.

And yeah Kyungsoo is… he’s lost. “Am I going to have to ask Minseok? He seemed to recognise him from a while back.”

Jongin settles down at that, a thoughtful look crossing his face in place of the playful one from before and Kyungsoo can see it happening again. Something from a past time crosses behind Jongin’s eyes and he takes a moment to collect his thoughts. “You could,” Jongin finally answers.” And your friend could tell you what Chanyeol once was to a lot of people. But only Baekhyun can tell you what he is now. And that’s the best way to go about it if you can’t figure it out yourself.”

Kyungsoo pauses, taking that in. “You’re a cryptic bunch aren’t you?” he finally replies, bemused.

Strangely enough Jongin looks like that answer relieves him. Kyungsoo doesn’t quite know why he might have been expecting a far worse reaction but he’s immensely glad not to have disappointed. Jongin stretches up and pecks him on the nose.

“We’re protective. Not everyone is going to understand and that’s okay. We tease a lot now but it took some of us a little time too.”

Kyungsoo settles his weight gently on Jongin, lying across his chest because he has an inkling that more touch would be grounding for Jongin right about now. “Whatever it is,” Kyungsoo murmurs to the heartbeat under his ear. “I’m not going to judge.”

A pair of warm arms come up and encircle him, hugging tight. Jongin hums. “Thank you.” He rubs Kyungsoo from shoulder blades to waist, skimming over the swell of his ass and playing bongo drums again. Kyungsoo nudges his head against Jongin’s chin.

“What am I? An instrument?”

“The best kind,” Jongin retorts, leaving one hand tapping and shifting the other to stroke Kyungsoo’s side. “I can get you to make the most amazing sounds when I’m inside you.”

“Ha,” Kyungsoo settles back against Jongin’s chest. “I think you might be a little addicted to this whole idea of topping me.”

Jongin shakes his head and Kyungsoo knows this only because it moves all the muscles in his neck. “I still want to… you know. Swapsies.”

Kyungsoo smirks, poking Jongin in the ribs to make him wiggle. “Now who’s naive?”

Jongin laughs and wraps Kyungsoo up with each and every limb he has, pinning him to his chest like a cocoon. “Shut up.” He snuggles for a beat and then manhandles Kyungsoo up his body so they’re face to face. “Now tell me you love me and I’ll go make you breakfast.”

Kyungsoo dips his head and kisses him. “I love you. Also, pancakes.”

“Ohhh I see. So who do you love more? Me? Or the pancakes?”

Kyungsoo is so head over heels he might be delirious with it. This soft, fluffy feeling and the safety Jongin provides with all the affection pouring off him like it’s second nature to him to just love freely. Kyungsoo wants to feel worthy of that trust and openness; wants to keep it and Jongin safe forever. So he kisses Jongin until they’re both pink and panting, trying to convey just how much this means.

“You. Always you.”

Jongin’s smile could light up a room.

* * *

It’s unanimously decided that Jongin should spend the weekend since his sister flew back home in the early hours of Saturday morning and could resume control of the store and the whole insurance claim after the storm. And as the hours roll past Kyungsoo finds to his delight that that he quite likes having Jongin around, chatting and meandering about his house in nothing but a borrowed apron while his only set of clothes are in the wash.

“I’d say you’re welcome to bring over more of your own clothes for future sleepovers,” Kyungsoo muses later that afternoon. “But I kind of like how things have turned out.”

Jongin pokes his tongue out at him from where he’s brought the clothes basket in with his now-dry set of club gear. He puts it on one of the couch chairs and takes everything out, bare muscles bunching and unfolding with the simplest of moves behind the black fabric of the little apron that really does nothing to hide just how gorgeous he is. Kyungsoo keeps an eye on the work he’s only half doing at the kitchen table and the other on Jongin (who is far more interesting) because Kyungsoo is more than a little soft at just how easily his crazy-handsome boyfriend fits into the areas that had been so very empty of anyone else for a while.

These days Kyungsoo is so used to living alone that he’d privately wondered how having another human being in his space again would feel, but Jongin had slid in there quietly and with no fuss, made himself at home without being pretentious about it all and Kyungsoo kind of already hopes that maybe he’ll never leave. It’s a little silly and makes him feel like a teenager again, but it’s… nice.

“Did you want to do out for dinner tonight?” Kyungsoo asks, just as Jongin’s phone trills from the other end of the table. “Before you have to be at the club?”

Jongin looks thrilled at the prospect and Kyungsoo belatedly realises it’d actually be their first time doing that too. “Sure.” Jongin pads over, picks up his warbling phone and cradles it between his ear and shoulder as he grabs the basket again, resting it on his hip. “Hi Baek,”

“I’ll make reservations,” Kyungsoo calls after him and gets a happy thumbs up as Jongin switches rooms. Kyungsoo swaps tabs on his phone and brings up a really nice Italian place he knows that’s only a few minutes’ walk from his house. As he does an email notification pings for his work account so he quickly jumps back to that in case it’s the confirmation draft he’s been waiting on.

It’s not. It’s a final reminder for the company dinner and to register their preferred partners. They have 48 hours left to confirm. Kyungsoo gnaws on his lip, clicking the link. He figures that if nothing else he can at least add Jongin. The majority of their plan still hinges on Junmyeon though and Kyungsoo can’t help but hope against hope that whatever decision the lawyer and his own boss make, that it’s soon. Because if Junmyeon decides not to go through with the orbit-sized crush Sehun has on him… Kyungsoo is deliberately bringing Jongin into Seungwon’s line of fire with no way out.

By the time he’s finished adding Jongin’s details and making sure Minseok and Jongdae are both on the confirmed list together, Jongin himself wanders back out into the living room, still not dressed properly and beet red in the face. Kyungsoo squints at him.

“What happened in the last fifteen minutes?”

Jongin looks sheepish. “Just Baekhyun being Baekhyun,” he answers which solves nothing for Kyungsoo. “Anyway I should uh, probably change our plans up a bit. I need to go meet him on Sunday so I’ll head back to my place after work tonight. But dinner is still on, right?”

“Oh,” Kyungsoo can’t help but feel a small stab of disappointment. He’d been looking forward to much more time with Jongin but he tells himself not to be so needy. It’s only their first weekend together. The start of many. “Yeah. I’ll just… I got distracted making the reservations. Did you want me to drop you at work?”

“If you do I’ll probably invite you in,” Jongin quips, coming around the table to where Kyungsoo is sitting. The pose is eerily reminiscent of a certain lap dance Kyungsoo once received and just the memory makes him shift in his seat. “And we might be really running the risk of getting kicked out.”

Kyungsoo smirks at the memory. “I’m wondering if I’m accidentally making you cultivate a taste for sex in unconventional places with all this.”

Jongin’s eyebrows go up slowly and for someone who was blushing furiously two seconds earlier he’s somehow flipped that mysterious switch he has because it’s Kai looking down at Kyungsoo right now. He tugs Kyungsoo’s chair fully out from where it’s resting half under the table with a wicked look and sinks down, strong thighs bracketing Kyungsoo’s own until he’s seated snugly in his lap.

“There’s no risk of me getting fired here.”

Kyungsoo grins, hands immediately sliding to Jongin’s trim waist. Unlike the club he can touch today; there’s no rules. And Jongin has so much skin right there, tanned and smooth and-

Kyungsoo’s email beeps again. He closes his eyes, sighs and drops his forehead to Jongin’s. “Are you sure you can’t stay the night?” he whines, subtly bumping against Jongin’s bare ass that rests warmly on his clothed cock, rocking them both with deliberate intent. “Because I won’t be finished this until later and there’s a little something I know you want to try…”

Jongin laughs, breathless. “Oh it’s not little,” he purrs, grinding his hips down until Kyungsoo sees stars. “I know it’s not.”

Kyungsoo’s breath hitches at that dark voice and he’s hard now in earnest, pushing against the zipper of his jeans because Jongin is almost naked except for this token scrap of cloth and riding him in rhythmic, lazy presses of his hips like he has all day, making Kyungsoo ache low and deep in his stomach. He strengthens his grip on Jongin’s gorgeous hips and can’t help thrusting up now in steady counterpoint. He can’t resist this really. He can’t. He’s only human and his normally-soft Jongin is occasionally a demon in disguise-

Kyungsoo’s phone rings, the tone unmistakably a work number. He growls. Jongin actually laughs at the angry sound and picks the device up from the table as Kyungsoo is legitimately considering ignoring it. Because getting to have a slow, delicious afternoon make-out session with his boyfriend is a far better prospect. Kyungsoo sadly motions for Jongin to hand over the phone.

But without pausing in his rocking movements, Jongin swipes to accept the call before Kyungsoo can do anything about it and presses it to his own ear, ignoring the huge, panicked eyes Kyungsoo gives him in return.

“Hello? Yes... No, Mr Do can’t come to the phone right this moment.” Jongin makes a couple of affirmative sounds, reaching down to undo Kyungsoo’s belt as he does. “Oh? Yes he’s indisposed at the moment.”

Kyungsoo shakes off his shock and grabs for Jongin’s forearm, trying to get him to stop but Jongin has already made it past his zipper by the time Kyungsoo remembers how his own limbs work. What-he’s never done anything like this. He’s…

Jongin winks, pouting his lips in the universal sign for shhh. Kyungsoo frantically bites down hard on his bottom lip and glances down as Jongin tugs his dick from his pants, stroking leisurely as he keeps up the casual conversation with… who the hell is he even talking to?

Jongin tucks the phone between his shoulder and his ear. “Yes, I can certainly check. He’s just on the other line.”

Kyungsoo fights not to close his eyes as Jongin jacks him steadily, earnestly now, his movements becoming smoother and wetter and so fucking good as Kyungsoo leaks helplessly, precum beading out in slick droplets. It feels sinful and his dick absolutely doesn’t care if Jongin is on the phone to someone who could overhear, it’s rock hard and aching like this is the best early Christmas present ever. Holygod. Kyungsoo tries to weakly make a grab for the phone with the last of his wits but Jongin leans back with it snug against his cheek, bringing both hands down to work on Kyungsoo. How the fuck is he keeping his voice so steady?

“I believe so, yes. If you’ll just hold for a moment?”

Kyungsoo glares at Jongin but there’s no power in it, not when Kyungsoo has a pair of elegant hands jerking him off in tandem now, pulling pleasure from down Kyungsoo’s spine and making it pool into his stomach in so much heat that he could cry. Fuck. He can’t make a single sound and it’s driving him crazy. Jongin has learned just how Kyungsoo likes it already and that’s goddamn dangerous. God. Yes.

Jongin grins at him, the little shit, twisting both hands in counterpoint every time he moves up or down, corkscrewing perfectly and Kyungsoo is actually going to come from this. Jesus fuck, he’s… Kyungsoo can’t breathe, trying with everything he has not to make any lewd noises because it feels too good, it’s too kinky that there’s actually someone within earshot who could hear him coming…

I’m close, Kyungsoo mouths desperately, legs twitching, shaking his head because no, he doesn’t do this sort of thing; it’s reserved for harmless sexy fantasies and porn at three am, not for real life where he has a mostly naked stripper in his lap and a work colleague on the line who is going to hear Kyungsoo because he can’t stop-

“No it’s actually okay Mr Oh, he’s right here now.”

And Jongin holds out the phone to Kyungsoo. Who just about has a heart attack on the spot because it’s his boss?!

Jongin gives Kyungsoo’s wide, horrified eyes a wicked look and slides back, flicking his tiny borrowed apron to the side and holy fuck he’s hard too and this is not going to end well and Kyungsoo still hasn’t taken the fucking phone-

Trying to fend off Jongin with one hand Kyungsoo dredges up what few braincells are still functioning and snatches the small device, jamming it against his ear. It takes a breath or two to get his voice under control enough that he feels able to speak and Jongin is not helping because he’s taken both their cocks in his big hand. He pumps them both, sticky and dirty, dragging his tongue across his bottom lip and smirking at the mess he’s making. Jesus fuck it’s hot to watch. Kyungsoo swallows around a dry throat.

Sehun’s smooth voice comes down the line. “Kyungsoo?”

Kyungsoo’s thigh muscles ache from holding himself still. “Uh, sir? Hello.”

Jongin tilts his head to one side, watching Kyungsoo’s struggle as he rubs one heavy palm over the heads of their cocks, thumbing at each of their sensitive slits one after the other, mouth dropping open in his own heady pleasure. He's loving this. Kyungsoo is going to kill him. He’s going to-oh god it’s good. It’s too good. Kyungsoo’s head falls forward and Sehun’s voice sounds far away.

“I know it’s the weekend and I apologise for calling you at home but I wanted to check with you as soon as possible. I think it’ll be important.”

“It’s okay,” Kyungsoo manages, inhaling as Jongin starts to rock again, rubbing their dicks together and god he always gets so wet. “What can I…” he takes a breath, dragging his head back to facing forward. “Do for you?”

“It’s about the upcoming company dinner,” Sehun answers and oh fuck his life, why is Kyungsoo dealing with this now? This is so incredibly important and he has Jongin looking so turned on in his lap, fucking their cocks through his tight fist, pumping them both. Kyungsoo is in very real danger of coming on the phone to his boss if he doesn’t die first. Sehun continues as if Kyungsoo’s tiny hitched breaths aren’t audible from his end.

“I wanted to let you know that I’ve registered a partner for the event,” Sehun continues and oh my god Junmyeon did it. He really did. Kyungsoo is so startled that he almost forgets to reply, cutting off a long, desperate moan as Jongin speeds up, jerking them off together. Kyungsoo's orgasm builds to near breaking point as he rides the rush of dangerously perfect endorphins. Fuck. Please. He can't... He's trembling.

Sehun’s tone is inscrutable and Kyungsoo would have tried harder to read it if his brains weren’t being fucked out of his dick right at this moment and he knows he should muster some kind of response -something, anything- but he’s morbidly afraid that if he opens his mouth again he’s probably going to be fired and he’s helpless to do anything except ride Jongin’s hands at this point because he’s about two seconds from-

Sehun doesn’t wait for a response, simply following up with. “So I’ll see you all on the night. As will my father.”

Jongin tips his head back, lush mouth open and gasping silently. He rides Kyungsoo’s thighs as he comes, spurting across Kyungsoo’s clothes like some kind of perverted, unchained minx and that’s it, the image alone--shit.

Kyungsoo bows, back arching as he comes hard, shaking through how naughty this high is, how unconventional and dirty and so, so fucking amazing and he’s drowning in the way his whole body thrums with it. Fuckfuck. He can’t stop. He releases all over Jongin’s cock and hand and himself, nearly biting through his own lip to stay quiet as Sehun finishes talking.

“And Kyungsoo?”

Kyungsoo’s chest heaves, lungs straining for a breath that isn’t going to sound like a wheeze. He thinks he might genuinely pass out with how badly his body needs oxygen versus how silent he’s trying to be. Finally Kyungsoo manages a faint, wrecked, “Yes sir?”

“Last I checked, you don’t have an assistant.”

Jongin ruins absolutely everything by nearly toppling off Kyungsoo’s legs, laughing so hard he has tears.

Sehun hangs up.

* * *

Thankfully Kyungsoo’s personal little demon behaves himself for the rest of the day, allowing Kyungsoo to shower unmolested before becoming the perfectly poised, cute as a button dinner date that has their waitresses fawning over their table all night. Kyungsoo is too amused to mind when Jongin flips over their receipt at the end of the night to find not one but two numbers scrawled there.

He’s pretty sure Jongin’s blush is what gets them the hefty discount when they go to pay and he teases him about it the whole way out. They call for an Uber while on the chilly curb outside and maybe Kyungsoo is just possessive enough to stretch up and kiss Jongin there out on the sidewalk in full view of the huge open restaurant windows, their breaths fogging in the sharp air.

The car arrives not long after that, whisking Jongin off to work and leaving Kyungsoo to take the brisk walk home by himself. And if he dreamily, deliberately crunches all the leaves he can find on the way home, well no one is there to call him a lovesick idiot.

Jongin messages him Sunday afternoon and tells him he has a present for them both. Baekhyun was involved somewhere so Kyungsoo thinks it’s probably flowers.

* * *

Monday rolls around far too quickly and Kyungsoo plans to spend most of it avoiding not only Seungwon but Sehun too, after his… near-miss encounter on the phone. He might have even been successful too, had he not pulled into his parking spot in the underground garage super early with the clever plan to lock himself in his office and only emerge to check the final draft printouts.

Kyungsoo gets out and locks his car, the corresponding beep and flash startlingly loud in the mostly empty cavernous space. It even makes him jump a little but it’s the echoing scuffle and clang from the row behind him that makes him spin around, fingers gripping his keys tightly-

Two figures break apart, coalescing in the shadows and Kyungsoo gapes for a second.

“…Mr Oh?”

Sehun clears his throat and straightens from where he has an arm propped against his luxury vehicle, both hands going to the very crooked tie dangling around his neck. He fixes it smoothly as from behind him, pressed up against the Maserati they’re both beside, Junmyeon smacks him on the shoulder. His own hair is fluffed in about three different directions, lips pink and swollen to match Sehun’s and as they step apart -Junmyeon looking embarrassed, Sehun almost smug- Kyungsoo is struck by the impossible urge to laugh at how precious this sight is; this incredibly private moment he’s accidentally stumbled into. But he manages to tone it down to a grin, flicking a knowing look between the two of them as he quickly walks past.

“Good morning both of you.”

“I’ll-” There’s the sound of a car door opening and muffled, soft words. “Yes, get in. I promise I’ll take you straight to work and then,” Sehun raises his voice to call after Kyungsoo, “I’ll uh, see you later today.”

Kyungsoo very politely waves over his shoulder without turning around, hiding his silent giggles. For better or worse this is already shaping up to be a most interesting week for all of them.

* * *

The elevator ride up to the correct level takes so much less time when there’s no one else in it needing the numerous other floors. Kyungsoo hums along to the nameless tune piped in and thinks about waking up to Jongin in his arms. It’s a short walk to his office from the landing and Kyungsoo sheds his suit jacket when he gets there, hanging it neatly on the tall hook by the door for his meetings later. He rounds his desk, deposits his briefcase onto his chair and freezes on the spot.

There’s a small, precisely familiar black usb stick sitting on the centre of the desk mat.

Kyungsoo snatches it up and looks around, even going so far as to walk back out of his office and peer around at the empty cubicles and dimmed hallways. They’re deserted. He’s alone here; staff won’t start appearing for another hour or more. That was the whole point of Kyungsoo coming in early. The only other two people who were here…

Kyungsoo grips the usb tightly and shoves it into his pocket, not trusting the safety of being able to store it elsewhere and not have it be found and stolen again. He doesn’t know how they did it or where they found it, but the feeling of eerie helplessness that’s been pervading him since Seungwon started his attacks lightens for just a moment.

* * *

Minseok’s eyes widen when Kyungsoo quietly shows him the usb over lunch. It’s the first chance they’ve got to sit down and Jongdae is still busy running errands.

“That’s the one? How did you get it back?”

Kyungsoo picks at his chicken salad. Somewhere along the line he’d decided that after their pastry overload at The Paw Print the week prior he should probably start eating healthy or Jongin would take even greater enjoyment in his squishiness. “I didn’t. It was on my desk when I came in this morning.”

Minseok pulls a hesitant face. “You… weren’t silly enough to put it into your own computer to check the contents were you?”

Kyungsoo gives him a flat look. “No, I thought about viruses too. I went and checked it on one of the administration desktops. It’s definitely my stick and the files haven’t been altered. All our photos are there.”

Minseok’s eyebrows climb and he takes a sip of the boring, percolated coffee they have on tap at work. It tastes like floor sweepings most of the time but it keeps you awake. Kyungsoo hates it because it now makes him miss Jongin’s coffee twice as much.

“Well it didn’t just levitate out of the depths of Seungwon’s ass and onto your desk by itself, so how did it get there? We only figured out it was missing the other night.”

“Yeah,” Kyungsoo reaches for the water bottle he’d bought along with the salad. “And which person overheard you and I figuring that out?”

Minseok looks stunned for a moment. “Junmyeon?”

“Who along with Mr Oh were the only two people here when I arrived at five this morning.”

That takes a second to sink in. When it does Minseok nearly drops his coffee. “Do you think Sehun gave Junmyeon access to Seungwon’s office?”

Kyungsoo shrugs. “They’re all locked by security after the cleaners finish each night. We each have our own office’s keys but the only person with a master key-”

“Is the boss.” Minseok sinks back into his seat like he needs a moment to process that. “You do know that’s highly illegal, right? Even if he is stealing back something already stolen.”

Kyungsoo smirks, disguising it with a swig of his water. “I’m pretty sure Junmyeon would have briefed him on all the legal repercussions before they did it. They seemed to be celebrating when I passed them this morning.”

Minseok sniggers, glancing around the lunch room as if expecting Seungwon to materialise out of thin air and scream at them both. Eventually he looks down at his coffee mug, taking a breath. “It’s good you know,” he murmurs. “To hear that. You needed a win after all he’s put you through.”

A warm knot untangles in Kyungsoo’s stomach. He can even feel his appetite coming back and makes another effort at this salad. “Thank you. Well if your plan also works then-” That pings something in Kyungsoo’s brain and he almost slaps himself. “Wait, I can’t believe I forgot to tell you. Sorry, this kind of took over. Junmyeon has agreed to go to the company dinner. It's all set up now. So this had better work.”

Minseok nods seriously, eyes sharp. “It’ll work. Seungwon is going to be a fiery ball of impotent rage and Sehun and Junmyeon have just lit the fuse.”

Kyungsoo swallows his mouthful, muttering, “Now we just pray we don’t all blow up with it.”

* * *

Jongin texts Kyungsoo as he’s coming out of a production meeting. It’s a single picture of the blackboard outside The Paw Print with the words Re-opening soon! scrawled in multi-coloured chalk across the entire space. There’s about a hundred smiley face emojis underneath it and Kyungsoo has his head down, absentmindedly tapping back a congratulatory reply when he rounds a corner and bumps into someone.

“Sorry,” Kyungsoo mutters hurriedly, altering his course and still typing but a long-fingered hand clamping down on his forearm paralyses him on the spot.

“There you are.”

Kyungsoo immediately yanks his arm back, glaring up at Seungwon, every trace of his happy moment gone. The rest of the meeting staff filter out around them like a moving stream but Kyungsoo stands there with Seungwon, both of them glaring daggers until finally Seungwon speaks when the hallway has emptied out. His words are venomous and sharp.

Where is it.”

Kyungsoo doesn’t blink. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Seungwon growls, stepping forward and looming, making use of every inch of his height until Kyungsoo is forced to take a step back. “I know what you did. I don’t know how you did it but I know.”

Kyungsoo is all of a sudden so fucking angry that he’s nearly shaking with it. Seungwon is all but admitting he had the usb in the first place and that boils Kyungsoo’s blood, erasing the last lingering doubt he’d had that maybe they’d guessed wrong in all of this. So he curls his lip. “Get the fuck out of my face.”

“You arrogant little shit. I’ll have you for trespassing,” Seungwon snarls, features contorting with rage. He invades every last inch of Kyungsoo’s personal space, bringing his ugly, ratty face so close Kyungsoo can feel his spittle. “Breaking and entering. I’ll call the police-”

A set of footsteps rounds the end of the hallway. “And why are the police going to be called? This seems like something I should be informed about.”

Kyungsoo and Seungwon spin. Sehun stands there with his hands in his pockets, looking for all the world like the serious, concerned executive. His suit is pristine, his tie perfect. Kyungsoo bites the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling.

Seungwon backs up like he’s been shot. Throwing a snarl at Kyungsoo he looks desperately like he wants to say something more, but he turns on his heel instead and storms off, brushing past Sehun on his way out.

Sehun thoughtfully watches him go. Then he turns to Kyungsoo who is still gathering himself, coming down from the adrenaline spike and looks him over. “Are you okay?”

Kyungsoo exhales, nodding. He puts a hand to his chest and flicks a glance up at his boss. He can feel his heart hammering. “Please tell me you both wore gloves,” Kyungsoo finally whispers.

Sehun smiles. “Junmyeon knows all the tricks.” he replies quietly.

Kyungsoo covers his eyes and sinks back against the wall. “Getting you two together was either the best or worst idea we’ve all ever had.”

Sehun laughs. It’s a happy sound. “Would you believe it if I said Junmyeon’s always been the more level-headed out of the two of us?”

Kyungsoo snorts. He drops his hand and stays leaning against the wall, looking Sehun over in a new light. Forever his untouchable, aloof boss who reigned over the top floors and issued instructions and business models, now… Kyungsoo sees a young man with a ridiculous amount of responsibility on his shoulders. Sehun seems very human. Fallible. And right now also someone who at great risk to himself, has done something to help both Jongin and Kyungsoo. It softens everything about him. Kyungsoo has the impulsive urge to hug him again. He’s beginning to think it’s becoming a thing.

So Kyungsoo sticks out a hand instead. Sehun looks surprised but he takes it. Kyungsoo smiles when he shakes, trying to convey everything he’s feeling. “You should both come by Jongin’s shop when it’s reopened. There’s quite a few people who I think would love to meet you.”

A bashful look crosses Sehun’s face. His free hand goes to scratch somewhere behind his ear. “Thank you. Uh, I should probably meet Baekhyun first. Junmyeon is going to introduce us soon.”

“You know about Baekhyun?”

Sehun looks down. “I know about everyone. Junmyeon’s been telling me stories for years now. I kind of feel a little like it’s something I’m a part of already.”

Something about that touches Kyungsoo’s heart and makes it ache. To be on the outside of something for so long, looking in… He releases Sehun’s hand and pushes off the wall, opting for a warm smile. “I really do think you’re going to be just fine.”

Relief flashes across Sehun’s face. He nods once, seeming to gather himself. “I hope so. This is important.”

As Sehun turns to quietly leave Kyungsoo remembers something Jongin said the other night, back when all of them were in the shop. Something about there perhaps being room for one more in their group. Kyungsoo thinks he might have been right.

* * *

Deciding that his office is the only safe option because Seungwon often lurks on the higher floors with upper management, Kyungsoo keeps to his desk for the rest of the afternoon, letting only Minseok and Jongdae come and go. Everyone else he sticks to emailing. Because if this is how life is going to be up until the company dinner, Kyungsoo is not above being a hermit for the rest of the week to ensure his sanity. Sehun might not be around to save him every time. So Kyungsoo buries himself in the work. The steady, familiar looming push of a deadline and the occasional messages from Jongin help keep his sanity.

Which is why it’s only after he’s left at the end of the day and nearly home that Kyungsoo suddenly thinks of the one vital thing he needed to do that he forgot. The thing he should have done far earlier if only he hadn’t been so rattled. Shit.

Kyungsoo pulls up his drive and cuts the engine. Thunking his head on the wheel he rests there for a long moment. He’s not messed up the date. He hasn’t. Reaching blindly for his phone Kyungsoo sits slowly back and flicks to the old email. Double shit. Yeah, he wasn’t wrong.

The competition deadline is tomorrow.

In a desperate, faint hope Kyungsoo opens the booking page they use to internally schedule the studios. He remembers Sehun saying they would likely all be booked by now but he still has to check, just in case. There are always cancellations. Always. Surely his luck couldn’t be this bad even if they had to hire a sub-par photographer from outside. They could still make use of the clothing lines…

Scrolling the list of time-allocation blocks takes a few minutes and by the time he’s at the bottom his fingers start to tremble. White hot anger makes a return, spilling over and making his vision blur. So much so that eventually Kyungsoo throws the stupid device onto the seat beside him with a yell, smacking the wheel so hard that the horn honks.

The time-stamp on each new reservation reads from this afternoon. Seungwon has booked up every last slot.

* * *

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo flops dejectedly inside the moment he unlocks his front door. Slamming it shut behind him right now would feel incredibly satisfying but he knows his neighbours likely wouldn’t be as understanding of his current predicament, so Kyungsoo settles for shutting it quietly. God dammit.

Slumping against the door Kyungsoo knocks the back of his head on the wood thoughtfully, staring up at the ceiling and trying to think of any way around the current checkmate Seungwon has managed to navigate him into. The frustrating line of thought keeps spinning around his mind without pause and in the end Kyungsoo pushes off the door and growls his way to the kitchen.

The fridge is empty, which just about sums up the end of his day nicely. This door Kyungsoo can slam and so he does, only belatedly apologising to the poor seal which takes most of his anger. A magnet cracks off with the move and Kyungsoo immediately feels a little foolish for acting out. He scoops it up and puts it neatly back in its place. He needs to calm down. He needs… he actually needs to talk to his boyfriend.

Jongin picks up after several rings and the effect is instantaneous. Kyungsoo smiles into the phone just hearing Jongin’s soft little “Hey Soo,” and he’s alone right now so he doesn’t have to be embarrassed at his sappy reaction.

Jongin is at The Paw Print, helping his sister stock for their re-opening. And he seems to know something is off because he keeps Kyungsoo close as he works, carrying him in the top pocket of his shirt which has become his favourite thing to do when they’re on the phone. He gives an adorable running commentary on what they’re doing and Kyungsoo loses himself in Jongin’s voice; the inflection and tones and just how warm it makes him to hear him speak.

He tells Jongin in turn about the studio and Seungwon as he moves about the house, trying to work up the strength to scrape together something for dinner, even carrying the device into the bathroom to put his phone on the sink benchtop on speaker as he showers -which earns him the cutest whine when Jongin figures out what he’s doing- because the commentary is too nice to let go of. He just needs not to be alone with his thoughts. Jongin keeps him company effortlessly.

He finds the apron Jongin was cheekily using on the weekend, all neatly washed and folded on the end of his bed as he goes hunting for pyjamas and for some reason Kyungsoo hovers over it, fingers brushing the fabric. Jongin’s voice cuts in.

“I think you need a distraction.”

Kyungsoo hums, finally patting the apron and leaving it where it sits. “That would be you, but you’re not here right now.”

“Sorry that I’m busy.” Jongin’s voice sounds genuinely remorseful and Kyungsoo hurries to cover up his selfishly wistful tone. Jongin has important work with the store and Kyungsoo has no right to be this melancholy. He puts the phone down on the bed to change into the most guilty pleasure pyjamas he owns; a soft striped pair that used to be fluffy once upon a time but which now are worn down to a silky thinness. He’s just picking Jongin’s voice back up just as there’s a ping of the doorbell. He knows who it’ll be before he even answers it; Jongdae and Minseok have an uncanny ability to sense when he’s down and usually descend for comfort pizza.

“You know,” Kyungsoo murmurs as he heads out to answer the bell. “Maybe I should just get you a key cut. Then you could surprise me and I’d have a reason to actually have food in the house so I could cook for you-”

He swings the door open and Jongin drops the phone from his ear, standing there looking immensely proud of himself. “Like this?”

Kyungsoo all but slumps on the spot in sheer joy. “Oh my god,” he mutters, still into the phone held by his ear. Jongin grins and hefts a large plastic bag that smells delicious. The motorcycle helmet tucked in the crook of his arm makes the move a little awkward but Kyungsoo doesn’t care. Jongin is here. Kyungsoo could kiss him. He’s never wanted to see someone more in his life.

Stepping aside to usher Jongin in, he’s given a warm peck on the cheek. It makes Kyungsoo finally lower the phone he’s still holding like an idiot. He closes the door behind him and turns it off.

“How did I not hear you were on the road?” He’s sure he’d have known if Jongin was driving. How..?

Jongin moves for the dining table and settles the bag on top. He removes the helmet from where it’s pinned under his arm and taps it. “Bluetoothed. With my visor down you can’t hear the wind. I swapped back when I pulled up.”

“Ah,” Kyungsoo still feels like he’s in a dream. Jongin is here, real and tangible and Kyungsoo is still soft and fluffy from his shower and… he crosses over and  hugs Jongin as he’s placing his helmet on the chair. It’s from behind and he doesn’t care because if he places his nose against the back of Jongin’s riding jacket he can hide inside the scent of leather and baked goods and-

“Hey,” Jongin laughs, lifting an arm and hooking it high over Kyungsoo’s head to turn around in his embrace and hug him back. “Are you sniffing me?”

“Shut up,” Kyungsoo mumbles. “You smell nice.”

Jongin rubs his back. “You sounded so lost on the phone. I couldn’t go home and leave you like this.”

“I think I love you,” Kyungsoo mumbles, pressed against the firmness of Jongin’s chest. That earns him a laugh.

“Always good to know. Now,” Jongin lets him go and Kyungsoo reluctantly untangles. “How do you feel about takeout? I know you haven’t eaten.”

Kyungsoo blinks up at Jongin like the lovesick fool he is. “You’re definitely getting a key.”

Jongin gives him the softest look. “I’ve never been offered that before.”

Kyungsoo brightens. “Then let me be your first.”

“You’re my first in a lot of things,” Jongin retorts with a sly look and Kyungsoo laughs, finally moving for the plates he keeps in the kitchen. He raises his voice as he walks so as to be heard.

“What did you get?”

“Chinese,” is the answer as Kyungsoo stretches up and snags two plates from the top cupboard.

“Between this and everything we ate at the shop I’m going to get so fat,” he calls back.

Jongin drifts into the kitchen and slips a pair of arms around Kyungsoo’s waist as he drops back onto his heels, inching forward to take a generous handful of his hips and then his stomach. He dips his head to nose behind Kyungsoo’s ear.

“I wouldn’t mind. I like you just how you are.”

Kyungsoo shrugs a shoulder to dislodge Jongin, ears burning. “Don’t say that.”

“Why?” When Kyungsoo turns around Jongin looks genuinely confused and that only stokes Kyungsoo’s embarrassment. He waves a plate at Jongin.

“Not when you look like… that,” he finishes weakly.

Jongin glances down at his shirt. “I don’t want you to have to look like me,” he replies quietly, plucking at the material where it sits just below his jacket. “I couldn’t think of anything worse.”

Kyungsoo pauses, plate in mid-air. Jongin takes them gently.

“I love how soft your skin is. I love how it feels to hold you against me and cuddle you. You’re fit and comfortable in your body and you don’t need a six pack. It would be uncomfortable if you were forcing yourself to be a bodybuilder or a gym bunny.” He tilts his head to look Kyungsoo in the eye. “I like you because you’re you. There’s nothing shameful about it.”

Kyungsoo hadn’t realised how fast his heart was pounding until the rush of it hits his ears at the end of Jongin’s words. He swallows, breaking that earnest gaze. “As long as you mean it.”

Jongin places the plates on the countertop and steps close. “Every word. And in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a very tactile person,” he murmurs. “I love to touch and grab and hold. And I love you the most. You know that, right?”

Kyungsoo’s hammering heart trips over itself. For how close Jongin is, his hands are now both hovering just short of touching Kyungsoo and Kyungsoo knows he’s checking in, asking for permission and reassurance. He slowly takes them and lets Jongin do what he adores; hold him like he’s something precious.

Jongin squeezes up Kyungsoo’s sides, kneading happily though the silky pyjamas and he slips a knee between Kyungsoo’s. “You know just how much you turn me on too,” he finishes in a voice that suddenly shifts into sultry, dropping his forehead to rest against Kyungsoo’s. “Just as you are. I’ve never wanted anyone like this.”

Kyungsoo can’t hold out; he sniggers. “Do you charge by the hour when you’re like this?”

Jongin grins, slipping back out of his stage persona just as smoothly as he fell into it. “Did it work?”

Kyungsoo shrugs with pretend nonchalance. “I’d pay.”

Jongin releases him and scoops up the plates again. “You get this for free,” he shoots back, wiggling his butt as he sashays in a circle and Kyungsoo smacks it to get him to walk in the direction of the kitchen.

“I repay you in orgasms,” Kyungsoo calls after him, fetching several napkins.

“Promises, promises.”

* * *

Jongin waves the little pair of wooden chopsticks he’s holding as they both sit curled up on the couch. The table had been vetoed by once for Kyungsoo who is normally very strict on meals being had there, but tonight definitely called for lazy cuddles. Jongin had been extremely enthusiastic about the development and had claimed Kyungsoo’s thighs as a resting place for his own.

“I don’t see why Seungwon would go to all the trouble of being so petty when it’s obvious whatever your team could have put together last minute tomorrow morning would have been haphazard at best.”

“Thanks,” Kyungsoo mumbles around a mouthful of fried rice. Jongin elbows him gently.

“You know what I mean.”

And Kyungsoo does. Realistically even if Jongin hadn’t been needed at the recovering shop and they’d been able to scrounge out a photographer willing to work on zero notice, Kyungsoo doubts they’d have produced anything worthy of entering anyway. It’s a sobering, awful thought and Seungwon booking up the studios to make damn sure they’d not even be able to try… well that sucks like the final nail in the coffin. Kyungsoo sighs.

“You know Sehun told me privately that even photos taken on a regular device are up for consideration since it’s only the final shoot that’ll be done properly with Gucci.” He sounds wistful and he knows it.

Jongin jostles Kyungsoo slightly, pulling out his phone. He holds it up and swipes open the camera. Kyungsoo, having taken a huge bite of his chicken scowls at the device as Jongin holds it above their heads and leans close, pressing their cheeks together.

“We should just submit a selfie. You and me. Screw the rest.” Jongin clicks the shutter button as Kyungsoo turns and buries his face in his neck, swallowing his mouthful so he doesn’t look like a chipmunk. He chuckles into the warm skin there, hiding as he speaks.

“It wouldn’t win but it’d certainly piss Seungwon off.”

Jongin laughs and it’s a deep, throaty sound. Kyungsoo presses his cheek tighter to feel the rumble of it. Jongin snaps a few more selfies from the sound of the phone going off and Kyungsoo blindly swats at where the shutter noise is coming from. Jongin dodges him easily.

“What can I do to make you feel better? I don’t like seeing you worrying over something that can’t be changed.”

Kyungsoo pulls back from his hiding place. His skin feels cold in comparison now. He finishes off his food to distract himself. “Just you being here is wonderful,” he admits bashfully. Jongin makes a happy noise and shuffles closer.

As he finishes, Kyungsoo notices Jongin’s only eaten lightly in comparison to himself as he sets the container aside. “Aren’t you hungry?”

“I ate a big lunch." Jongin’s legs over Kyungsoo’s own  tighten playfully. "The important part was you had dinner.”

Kyungsoo knows he’s pulling a soft, dopey expression so he covers it by leaning over and kissing Jongin. “How did I ever get so lucky?”

Jongin smiles into the kiss, curving an arm around Kyungsoo’s chest. “Stop stealing my lines.”

Kyungsoo aches. For this impossibly kind, gentle boy who seems to hold Kyungsoo’s heart with far more care than his own. So Kyungsoo tries to repay the sweetness, conveying it as best he can with kiss after kiss that he slowly lets deepen. He encourages Jongin to open his mouth and slide his tongue warm and soft into Kyungsoo’s own. Kyungsoo moans faintly because it’s heady how fast Jongin is learning and Kyungsoo couldn’t hope for a better understudy. And speaking of under…

Jongin’s drifting hand sinks down to Kyungsoo’s waist and Jongin uses the handhold to slip himself up, over onto Kyungsoo’s lap. Kyungsoo, lost in the sensations of making out barely registers the added weight until Jongin grinds down; long, insistent pushes of his hips that drag his hardening cock against Kyungsoo’s stomach. Kyungsoo grabs his own handholds on Jongin’s hips and loses himself in the heady, thick trickle of arousal that drips in like a hot tap; filling him from head to toe because Jongin is here, he’s horny and Kyungsoo so badly wants to give his baby what he’s been desperate for.

Kyungsoo leans back, separating their mouths to drag in air. He's filling inside his own jeans, pressing back against Jongin. “I want to fuck you, little bear.”

Jongin groans, hips stuttering in their steady rhythm. His hair is in his eyes with how he’s looking down at Kyungsoo and he sheds his shirt without preamble, yanking it off from behind his head and tossing it somewhere out of sight. His eagerness is so hot, so fucking adorable that Kyungsoo drags him back into another kiss, unable to be without touch, to simmer down the heat under his skin. The soft fullness of Jongin’s lips pressing against his own is irresistible and makes Kyungsoo want to bite. He nips at Jongin’s bottom lip and each dig of his teeth into the wet, pink flesh makes Jongin peep out a needy sound. This is… Kyungsoo needs to find some control. He skims his hands down Jongin’s shoulders, across his pecs and takes both rings in his fingers, flicking the metal piercings just enough that Jongin’s back arches and he pops away from Kyungsoo’s mouth.

“Ah! F-fuck.”

He looks halfway to wrecked already. Kyungsoo doesn’t know what he did in a past life or how many kittens he must have saved to earn such a gorgeous boy twitching and rocking in his lap with hooded eyes and a half-smirk that makes Kyungsoo realise Jongin's come to really like having his nipples toyed with. Kyungsoo drops a hand to tug Jongin forward with a greedy palm to the small of his back and leans in, suckling the nipple he’s abandoned and its accompanying piercing into his mouth.

Jongin’s head drops back and he grabs onto Kyungsoo’s head, raking his fingers through the dark hair. He grips tight, holding Kyungsoo there as he rides the thighs underneath him. “Love when you suck me,” he grits out, voice rough already. Combing Kyungsoo’s bangs off his forehead again and again he drags Kyungsoo back enough that the skin pulls taught and Kyungsoo sucks. Jongin cries out.

“Harder...”

Kyungsoo raises his eyebrows and pinches the twin in his fingers, lapping his tongue until he can hook the ring in between his teeth. He then closes his teeth over the tiny swollen bud and presses down, dangerously tight. Jongin’s hips buck and his nails dig in. He can’t stop combing Kyungsoo’s hair, hands unable to lie still as he thrusts against Kyungsoo’s stomach, thighs fallen open so wide he’s fucking them together with their clothes on. He babbles as he does, a litany of curses and bitten-off words as he takes his pleasure greedily and Kyungsoo would get him off like this in a heartbeat if he hadn’t promised so much more.

It’s Kyungsoo who releases his mouthful -to Jongin’s whine- and laps at the oversensitive flesh a few times before speaking. The swollen buds are so cherry red that Kyungsoo would feel guilty if he didn’t find it so fucking arousing.

“Do you still want-” he has to clear his throat, he’s so turned on, dropping a hand to palm himself to relieve some of the pressure. “Do you still want me to-”

“I bought a toy,” Jongin blurts out. “For this. To help get me used to being full.”

Kyungsoo can’t stop the way his own hips jerk up into his hand at the revelation. Fuck. “You did?”

“Yeah,” Jongin smooths Kyungsoo’s abused scalp with gentle pads of his fingers. He takes a couple of deep breaths. “Takeout wasn’t the only thing in those bags tonight.”

Kyungsoo laughs, full and throaty. He pecks a kiss to the abused nipple in front of him and that earns him a hiss. Jongin squirms, still hard and Kyungsoo is fucking aching with how much he wants to just pull his pyjamas and Jongin’s jeans down and jerk them both off until they're covered in come. But he holds off and takes a deep breath, sitting back to look Jongin in the eye.

“You bought a sex toy?”

Looking at Jongin now, lips bitten red and hair askew, swollen nipples trailing a flush that blooms up his chest and to his neck, Kyungsoo comes to realise just what a monster he’s made. And he couldn’t be happier. Jongin pants around a grin, settling back on Kyungsoo’s haunches. “I had help.”

Kyungsoo closes his eyes on a breathless laugh. “You either have the best friends or the worst ones.”

Jongin closes the distance to kiss Kyungsoo briefly. “They know what they’re talking about when it comes to sex.”

Something suddenly hot and possessive flares through Kyungsoo. “Have you tried it yet?” The thought of Jongin doing this alone in his room, fucking himself with something Kyungsoo hasn’t seen yet until he’s full to burst and whimpering-

Jongin shakes his head, brushing their lips to derail Kyungsoo's jealous thoughts. “No.”

Kyungsoo exhales and he knows Jongin feels it because he pulls back, thumb trailing over where his lips had just been. “You’re my guide,” he says shyly. “I was saving it so you could use it on me.”

Kyungsoo licks his lips, catching the digit as he does, relief a balm to the heat. “And it’s here? Now?”

“Yeah,” Jongin pushes back, sliding off Kyungsoo’s thighs and standing up. He holds out a hand which Kyungsoo takes. Jongin pulls him to his feet and slips both arms around Kyungsoo’s waist, linking at the small of his back just above the swell of his ass. “Fill me up?”

Kyungsoo growls, yanking Jongin down for a fierce, biting kiss. “Go get it,” he murmurs against spit-slicked lips when he can breathe again. “Then come find me in the bedroom. I want to see what it is.”

And Kyungsoo does. He wants to know what Jongin wandered the isles of an adult shop and decided on with them both in mind, what he found and bought. Some primal part of him desperately howls to just sink into Jongin right now, but he knows as he makes his way to his bed that life isn’t porn and no one comes pre-stretched unless they’ve thought ahead which is so very rare. And his baby is a virgin and Kyungsoo is thick. So Jongin is going to need some prep. Some serious prep.

He’s beside the bed when Jongin barrels into Kyungsoo a few moments later, a box clutched to his chest and his mouth searching for kisses. Kyungsoo peels them apart with some reluctance, giggling. “Slow down. Hey. Let me see.”

Kyungsoo sinks down onto the end of the mattress and Jongin discards his white plastic bag by the bed and climbs up and behind him, reaching around to slyly paw at Kyungsoo’s dick through his pyjama pants which is not helping. Kyungsoo batts his hand away and Jongin pouts theatrically, draping over Kyungsoo’s back to point.

“See?” Jongin drags his finger along the packaging plastic and it’s colourful lettering. “It starts out small and gets so much bigger.” Kyungsoo’s stomach spikes deliciously at the image. “You control it for me.”

Shucking the outer box is quick and easy. Kyungsoo lets it drop to the floor. “Do I…” he turns it around, peeling the innocent-looking toy from it’s harder plastic shell of a casing. “Wash it first? I mean I washed my toy when I first-” At Jongin’s raised eyebrow Kyungsoo shuts up. “Right. Let me get up. I’ll rinse it.”

Jongin flops back as Kyungsoo gets up, only flipping over onto his stomach to dangle headfirst off the bed as Kyungsoo makes for the bathroom down the hall. “Wait. Baekhyun suggested a-” he digs into the bag with one arm and tosses a small bottle at Kyungsoo, who catches it against his chest. “For before and…” Jongin blushes. “After.”

Kyungsoo looks down at the spray bottle in his hand. “I’m not going to ask the kind of discussions you two had in that shop for this to come up.”

Jongin’s laugh trails him out of the bedroom. Kyungsoo meanders down the hall into the bathroom and it’s probably a good thing that he’s calmed down a little. He needs a level head for this and there’s nothing like washing sex toys in the sink to make him snigger at how unlike porn real life actually is.

The toy is little and innocuous; a petite dildo with the base attached to a discrete tube and hand pump. Kyungsoo finishes washing the toy with the cleaning spray and water and gives the pump a small, experimental squeeze out of curiosity. The toy puffs up, swelling with each pump until it’s more than three times it’s size and Kyungsoo bites his lip, tracing the silicone ridges and veins that are prominent on the toy like a real cock. Fuck. He’s going to get to fill Jongin up and stretch him out slowly and steadily until he’s begging and only then when Kyungsoo deems him ready will he replace the toy with himself. Sex toys have never really been Kyungsoo’s thing but he can’t deny that this… this is hot. He dries the toy, leaves the spray bottle on the sink and returns to the bedroom. Jongin when he gets there is-

Jongin is naked. Of course he is. Kyungsoo twitches in the confines of his soft pants. Jongin has stripped and is laying back against the pillows, playing with something small in his hands. Kyungsoo releases the tiny valve on top of the pump that keeps the air trapped inside the toy and crosses over to join him, sliding up onto the bed. “What have you got there?”

“Lube,” Jongin smiles, letting the bottle drop onto the mattress. Kyungsoo knee-walks over until he’s at Jongin’s side, settling onto his haunches and running his free hand over all the golden skin on display. He can’t help it; it’s all right there. Irresistible. And sexier somehow with how Kyungsoo is still clothed. His fingers roll over the half dozen soft curls of muscle that make up Jongin’s abs and there must be something in his face because Jongin catches Kyungsoo’s wandering hand in his own and lifts it to his lips.

“I want you,” he reminds Kyungsoo, kissing the digits lightly. “No one else. Now teach me how to take it.”

Kyungsoo drops his hand from Jongin’s stomach and down to his inner thigh. He sinks his fingers into the deep muscle there and squeezes. “It’ll be easier if you’re on your stomach at first. I-”

Jongin shakes his head, curling his own hand down over Kyungsoo’s and using both of them to pull his leg back and all the way up, flashing a tantalising glimpse of his hole. “My one request. I want to see you. At least for this part.”

And Kyungsoo can hear the nerves in Jongin’s soft voice, peeking out for the first time. Kyungsoo stretches up and over him, pushing his own thighs into the open space between Jongin’s spread legs. He snags a nearby pillow and nudges it under Jongin’s hips, angling him up, petting all the skin he can touch as Jongin resettles to the new angle. “Okay, okay.” He gently pushes both of Jongin’s legs up until his knees bend and his feet lay flat on the bedcovers. “M’gonna make you feel so good, I promise.”

Jongin exhales, broad shoulders relaxing from tension Kyungsoo hadn’t even seen. He’s still hard through the newness of this all, flushed and pressed up against his stomach and Kyungsoo can see how much he wants this unknown experience. So Kyungsoo is determined to make this perfect; unforgettable. Uncapping the lube, he coats two fingers generously. “If at any point you want to stop you tell me, okay? I’m not into hurting my partners-" Jongin curls his lip at the plural of the word and maybe Kyungsoo isn't the only possessive one here. "-so you change your mind and we can swap. Or I can blow you without any penetration. Whatever you like.”

Jongin nods, wiggling his hips. “You have no idea how much I’ve thought about this,” he admits in a very quiet, serious voice. “Dreamed about it. Jerked off in the shower imagining it.”

Jesus. A spike of heat rolls through Kyungsoo and he dips his head, exhaling. “If you keep saying things like that I’m going to lose my composure.”

Jongin’s thighs squeeze where they’re draped at Kyungsoo’s sides. “Maybe I want that.”

Kyungsoo growls, dipping down to press a finger against Jongin’s hole and making him jerk, eyes wide and suddenly focused on Kyungsoo. Everything about Jongin is a mix of varied, beautiful shades of sunkissed gold and down here’s no different; where Kyungsoo is pink Jongin is perfect caramel; deep and now with a light smear of lube, almost edible. And Kyungsoo knows with a deep, possessive certainty that before tonight is over he’s going to taste Jongin where no one else has ever even laid eyes and he’s never going to let anyone else even think about touching Jongin so intimately. He’s awash with the need to make Jongin lose his fucking mind. It’s a new and heady sensation. Kyungsoo sinks into it.

Swirling his finger against that tanned furl of muscle, Kyungsoo makes tight little circles until Jongin shudders, overeager. Kyungsoo can’t help the words that tumble out.

“Do you touch yourself here in the shower when you think about me?”

Jongin makes a strangled sound and Kyungsoo thrills at how easily the dirty talk always affects him; brings Jongin’s shyness and arousal to a mixing point where the two combust and he becomes a desperately horny little puddle who doesn’t know whether to demand it stop or beg for it to get worse. So Kyungsoo pushes a fingertip in and demands, voice low, “Do you?”

Jongin arches, lips separating with a silent pop as his mouth falls open. He’s so sensitive. “Y-yes.”

And Kyungsoo burns at that image. “How much? Like this? Do you fuck yourself on your nice long fingers and pretend they’re mine?” He applies pressure and sinks slowly, steadily in up to his knuckle. Fuck, Jongin is so hot inside. “Pretend they’re my cock?”

Jongin’s head flicks back and forth. “No,” he moans softly, once Kyungsoo’s finger sinks home. “No, I-” he swallows shakily as Kyungsoo pulls out, only to sink back in. “I just touch. Only touch. I don’t go in…”

Kyungsoo kneels up, pumping his hand rhythmically in and out, still just his middle finger. “Good.” The words seem to come from that hot, possessive place inside him and Kyungsoo loves Jongin’s answer. “Because a few fingers wouldn’t come close to how much I’m going to put inside you.”

Jongin's mouth falls open. “Fuck. Please.”

Kyungsoo pulls his hand back and strokes his first finger against Jongin’s hole before lining them both up and pushing, sinking in. Jongin’s thighs twitch as he moans and Kyungsoo is so hard he’s straining the front of his pyjama pants, leaking enough to make them sticky. God, Jongin is so beautiful. His dick is dripping, neglected and Kyungsoo bends down to give it a long, luxurious lick. Jongin’s hands fly to land on his head.

Soo…” he draws the syllables out, long and pleasure-soaked. “I’m not… I don’t think I’m going to make it all the way.”

“Yes you will,” Kyungsoo murmurs, giving little kitten licks to the straining vein on the underside of Jongin’s crown, tasting salty precum. The pretty dick thickens, bobbing against his chin as the vibrations from his words make Jongin bounce. “I’ve only got two fingers in you.”

Jongin thumps his head back against the pillow as Kyungsoo starts a steady pace of thrusts with his hand, sliding all the way out only to plunge back in and Jongin whines in a series of long, thin pants, the sound growing peaked and desperate every time Kyungsoo spreads his fingers apart slightly.

“Yes,” Jongin spreads his thighs a little wider. “Hnng yes. You’re-” he moans, thick and heavy. Tries to lift his head to look but can’t manage to see at this angle. “Fuck, it feels like… you’re deep, right?”

Kyungsoo curves his back and stretches right up to lap at a peaked, straining nipple. “You haven’t seen anything yet.”

“Oh god.”

Kyungsoo grins and massages Jongin’s walls as he fingers him, the heat coating his digits driving him to stretch and scissor repeatedly because fuck, Jongin is tight. Kyungsoo is suddenly incredibly glad they have the toy because if he just had to use his fingers he’s not certain Jongin would be able to last long enough to take him. He’d probably just come on Kyungsoo’s fingers because he’s only taking two and already looks blissed out. The power to make Jongin this much of a mess is heady. Kyungsoo flicks the nipple ring back and forth with his tongue, stopping only to suckle at the skin of Jongin’s pectoral, leaving little peaked swells of colour around the nipple. Territorial marks. Woah, who is he tonight?

Jongin pushes down with his hips, sinking onto Kyungsoo’s fingers as far as he’ll go. “I wanna… Please. Use the toy. Keep going.”

Kyungsoo withdraws his fingers with an obscene sucking sound and watches Jongin’s hole clench as he gropes around behind him for the dildo. A drop of lube slips out along that caramel skin and Kyungsoo can’t fucking help it. Toy in hand, he levels himself onto his elbows, pushing Jongin’s thighs firmly apart. It earns him that startled hand back in his hair.

“S-Soo-”

Kyungsoo rolls his shoulder to encourage Jongin to settle one of his legs over it and he does almost instinctively. The other Kyungsoo keeps up and splayed out as he dips forward and flattens his tongue, lapping the lube up and pushing it back inside Jongin with his tongue.

Holy-!”

Kyungsoo growls as Jongin’s hand grips his hair, tight enough to burn. Normally Kyungsoo would shake it off, tell his partner to stop being so rough but this is Jongin and he’s sobbing as Kyungsoo eats him out in long, repeated licks and soft pierces of his tongue into all that warmth. He intersperses it with suckling kisses to the nerve-filled skin around Jongin’s entrance and poor Jongin is starting to fucking shake.

“I can’t-” those same fingers clench and release, like Jongin’s last nerves are misfiring and Kyungsoo is so goddamn hard at the feeling of Jongin’s heel trembling against his back. He shoves his own hips against the mattress as Jongin sucks in trembling breaths and grinds down against Kyungsoo’s tongue, lost.

Kyungsoo lets Jongin ride his face for a little longer, giving him his tongue to fuck against until the moment when Jongin’s thighs lock up, signalling how close he is. Kyungsoo backs off, chin wet with lube and feeling decadently naughty, sliding a hand back to quickly grab the toy. His other hand snags the lube, he slicks the toy in his fist and brings it around, sliding the tiny dildo straight home. Jongin’s hole is loose enough for that and it’s the first time he’s ever felt something go in that easily and god, it makes him hedonistic.

“Oh jesusfuck,” the moan is guttural and Jongin pulls his own thigh up, the one over Kyungsoo’s shoulder slipping free as Kyungsoo sits back and quickly presses on the base of the toy with his thumb to keep Jongin from accidentally pushing it out. It helps him get used to the sensation and from the look of stunned rapture on his face… Kyungsoo twitches hard, the front of his pyjama pants hopelessly tented. He’s never seen a more beautiful sight in his life than Jongin spread out, tilting his hips up with so much want.

When he’s sure the toy is settled Kyungsoo runs the hand not holding the little pump up to join Jongin’s on the inside of his thigh and together they hold him open as Kyungsoo gives the first squeeze.

Jongin chokes out a whimper of surprise, pupils blowing out. “Oh…”

“Nini?” Kyungsoo tries to get Jongin’s dazed eyes to focus on him. “You okay?”

Jongin blinks at him and nods, pleasure-drunk. "God yeah."

Kyungsoo gives another slow squeeze and Jongin gasps. From how he tested it in the bathroom, Kyungsoo knows the size the dildo would be now, creeping up to nearly twice it’s original size. Jongin bites his lip and breathes through his nose, whining on every exhale.

“How does it feel?” Kyungsoo drops his hand to run his palm up and down Jongin’s cock where it strains against his belly. “Tell me.”

Cheeks and chest red from arousal, thighs wide open and stuffed with a rapidly-swelling dildo, Jongin closes his eyes and jerks his hips up to follow Kyungsoo’s hand. “Like it’s stretching me out. I’m… fuck,” he breathes. “I’m full.”

“Not yet,” Kyungsoo slips his free hand up to brush the sweaty strands of hair off Jongin’s forehead. “But you tell me if it gets too much.” He gives another squeeze and Jongin’s mouth drops open. A thin clear line of moisture swells up against his lashes, trembling there. Kyungsoo slips his fingers down, pushing his thumb into Jongin’s inviting mouth. He traces the soft inside of Jongin’s cheek as his lips close and Jongin sucks mindlessly, his whole body rocking down onto the toy, twisting faintly, so turned on he's a bundle of sensation right now. His eyes are wet and Kyungsoo has never been strong to tears.

“Do you think you can handle another inch?” This is important. Kyungsoo presses down on Jongin’s wet tongue so he has to think about moving his head to answer. He nods. It causes those tiny tears to fall and fuck, that sets fire to Kyungsoo’s resolve. He palms the pump and pulls his other hand back, Jongin letting the digit go with a reluctant whine and one last suck.

Kyungsoo looks down between their legs and holy shit. Jongin’s rim is taught with the pressure and Kyungsoo knows the dildo would be almost as thick as he is by now. Almost. He pushes on the base, moving it back and forth inside Jongin until he thrashes his head and his legs drop, too weak to remain up.

“Look at you taking all of it so well, little bear.” Kyungsoo gives a final squeeze and Jongin chokes as the dildo swells and stretches him out fully. “Training you to be such a good slut for me, hm?”

Shameful goosebumps wash over Jongin’s skin in a wave at those words. “You. Only for you. Please,” he tumbles over his own sentence, neglected cock leaking profusely against his stomach as he reacts to the filthy praise. “Oh god just fuck me.”

Jesus. Fingers fumbling, Kyungsoo releases the valve and tugs the toy out the moment it slims back down. Jongin makes a desperate little sound as he’s left empty and Kyungsoo doesn’t care where he discards the dildo to on the bed, he just knows he has to get it out of the way.

His baby bear is a limp, twitchy bundle of arms and legs and Kyungsoo doesn’t think Jongin has the strength left to hold onto him properly so Kyungsoo shoves him over, rolling the beautiful boy onto his stomach. Jongin instinctively humps the pillow so Kyungsoo tugs it away with more than a little jealousy, pulling Jongin onto his hands and knees as he whines and pushes back into the guiding touches. It’s lewd and a little dirtier than Kyungsoo had been planning on but as Jongin wiggles his perfect ass invitingly Kyungsoo shoves his pyjamas down to his thighs and grabs two fistfuls to haul them together.

Jongin’s lower back, just above the swell of his stunning ass has just enough softness to it that Kyungsoo can grip tight and he presses close, the stickiness of his precum mixing with all the excess lube coating the inside of Jongin’s cheeks. Maybe next time Kyungsoo will have the stamina to tease his gorgeous armful before he presses inside but not now, not with sparks dancing under his skin and his cock bumping against Jongin’s wet rim, making him arch his back like a kitten in heat. Kyungsoo slides his dick through the mess of lube and precum, swaps a hand down to cover himself in the mess and finally, finally pushes home.

Jongin hitches, almost like he’s forgotten how to breathe for a single second before a deep keen punches from him as Kyungsoo breaches him. And then… he doesn’t stop choking on his voice, skin burning hot with how he knows he’s unable to stop his mouth while Kyungsoo slowly, steadily sinks in.

“Ah, god I’m-you’re… fuck. You’re so thick. Holy shit.” Jongin trembles, head dropped low between his forearms as Kyungsoo steadies himself and braces his knees, collecting himself. 

“I can stop here and just-”

“Don’t stop,” Jongin all but whines. “I want all of you.”   

Kyungsoo closes a hand around the base of himself and squeezes slightly, putting as much pressure as he can stand. It shrinks him the slightest amount and he bottoms out, hips finally landing flush with Jongin’s ass. Jongin makes a small sound like he’s just got his greatest wish fulfilled and might be close to dying right now. Kyungsoo bends forward and licks a long line up Jongin’s shaking spine. “Take a deep breath and relax a little.”

“Why?” Jongin manages and Kyungsoo nips gently between his shoulder blades.

“Because you’re tense, darling.” Kyungsoo slips his other hand around and down to Jongin’s cock and jacks the straining length, feeling a heavy drop of precum dribble sordidly over his knuckles. So wet. Jesus. “I want you to feel all of me.”

“All of-” Jongin loses himself in Kyungsoo’s strokes, hips pumping in tiny movements as he chases the pleasure. Kyungsoo releases his grip on himself and feels his cock filling out that last inch.

“Holyshitwhat-” Jongin stills his hips, voice cracking on a long, luxurious moan. “How are you…”

Kyungsoo rolls his wet fist over Jongin’s cockhead, massaging with his fingers in a rhythm that sucks Jongin’s voice away. “This is all of me, baby bear. God you’ve done so well for your first time.”

“I-” Jongin spreads his knees and dips his spine, aching his butt up. “I don’t know what to-I’m split in half, fuck.”

Kyungsoo curls over him, wrapping an arm around Jongin's chest from below, up and back so he can grip Jongin’s shoulder from the front. “If you want me to stop-”

“I might kill you if you do,” Jongin pants, half laughing and that’s what finally burns Kyungsoo’s worries away. He adjusts his grip, pulling back and thrusting home again, grinding on the end of each because it pulls longing mewls out of Jongin.

There's miles and miles of slick skin in front of him begging to be kissed and bitten and Kyungsoo is awash with the need to mark. Jongin rides his thrusts, driving Kyungsoo mad because his wickedly perfect virgin bear is taking him so well and Kyungsoo rocks into him, dropping his head to suck at the base of Jongin’s damp neck, harder than he’s ever done before and something inside him loves that Jongin squirms like a button has just been pushed. Kyungsoo realises with a jolt of arousal that for the first time Jongin is discovering what he likes while being taken. So Kyungsoo applies pressure, scraping his teeth over that little patch as he fucks into Jongin, making him louder than Kyungsoo has ever known. But there is still...

Kyungsoo spreads knees a fraction, changing the angle to aim his thrusts better. He knows he finds Jongin’s prostate because Jongin sobs out a startled sound in a key Kyungsoo has never heard before and his legs give out.

“What-fuck. Pleaserightthere.”

Kyungsoo follows him down, pressing him into the mattress. Jongin’s fingers yank the covers into folds, voice wrecked from all the noise he’s been making.

“Do it. Make me yours.”

Kyungsoo sinks his teeth into Jongin’s nape that he's been paying so much attention to, gives him what he wants and finally bites.

Jongin bows his head back and yells, coming sharper than Kyungsoo ever thought possible. He’s shaking, internal muscles squeezing and Kyungsoo loses himself in Jongin's vivid pleasure. He tumbles over the edge with a bitten-off curse and comes buried in Jongin, waves ripping so deeply he’s almost winded. He pulses again and again in little thrusts that he can’t help, pinning Jongin to the bed as he fills him up. Kyungsoo licks at the exquisite mark he’s made and-

He rears back. Jongin, floppy and sated below him, chuckles breathlessly into the covers, rolling his head to one side to rest his cheek on the bed. Kyungsoo runs a thumb over the red and purple bruise swelling on the base of Jongin’s neck, shocked. He knows Jongin begged for it, but...

“Shit I’m sorry, I-”

“What for?” Jongin mumbles, eyes closed. A smile quirks the side of his mouth that Kyungsoo can see and Jongin pants slowly for a few moments, regaining his breath. “I liked it.”

“You should see it.”

Jongin shivers and wiggles his hips, jostling Kyungsoo where he still rests inside him. “I can’t wait.”

Kyungsoo makes a guilty sound, trying to calm the hammering of his heart. His limbs all tingle from his orgasm. “I’m still sorry.”

“Stop apologising.” Jongin bumps his hips back and Kyungsoo, softening now, slips out. Jongin rolls over and he looks like the devil itself, indulged and sex-flushed. “I want you to do it to my nipples next time.”

Kyungsoo goes bright red, ducking his head even as his stomach heats up at that image. “I made a monster,” he mumbles, watching his come slide out between Jongin’s parted legs. It makes the inside of his thighs shiny as he spreads them languidly. His stomach is also thoroughly covered.

“You did. So now you need to take responsibility.”

Kyungsoo bites his lip, pinning a laugh back. "I will."

Jongin stretches, muscle tone flexing and releasing. It still makes Kyungsoo’s heart trip a beat. He can’t help how his hands gravitate between Jongin’s long legs and he touches a fingertip to the slick hole there. Mostly because it makes Jongin yip and blush. God, he’s still stretched faintly.

“You’re likely going to be sore tomorrow.”

Jongin’s smile is so full of sated pleasure and heady adoration that it makes Kyungsoo’s head spin. “Yes. But it just means we’re going to have to practice enough that I get used to you,” he teases in a low voice, cheeks still red from the exertion. “Very, very thoroughly. In lots of different variations.”

Kyungsoo flops down beside Jongin, finally laughing out loud. His back hits the wet spot and he shuffles them both across a bit. “I’m going to need many more sets of sheets for all this future mess.”

Jongin looks slightly guilty. Mostly pleased. “Only with you.”

That stokes a small flame of possessiveness back up again. “Yeah?” Kyungsoo stretches across for a box of tissues on the bedside table and brings the lot back, ripping off a few to slide deliberately between Jongin’s legs. “Is that a promise?”

Even naked Jongin manages to look coy. “I’ve never screamed like that before.” He jumps slightly as Kyungsoo cleans between his legs and brushes against all the overtaxed nerve endings as he chases as much of the come as he can.

Kyungsoo’s heart doubles in size. “Well I’ve never…” he licks his lips, unable to say it.

“Given someone a lovebite during sex?”

Kyungsoo feels his cheeks burn and even his ears grow hot. He cleans up Jongin's chest. “Been that possessive.”

Jongin shrugs a languid shoulder. “I liked feeling you all around me, much like how I loved caging you in when I was on top. It’s… sexy. And,” Jongin smiles lazily. “I liked the toy.”

Kyungsoo smiles, pleased. “Come on,” he crushes up all the used tissues and wills his legs to work. It takes a moment. “You need a bath. It’ll help your muscles.”

Jongin blinks slowly. Innocently, perfectly unconscious of how good afterglow looks on him. “No cuddles?”

Kyungsoo nearly gives in. “Cuddles in the bath,” he negotiates. “Otherwise you’ll be too sore to dance tomorrow night.”

That gets Jongin moving, albeit gingerly. “Will you wash my hair?”

Kyungsoo helps Jongin off the bed and kisses the spot he’s always level with when they’re both standing; the hollow of Jongin's elegant throat. Tonight it smells like the both of them. “I’ll wash everything.”

* * *

Kyungsoo wakes up before dawn to the sound of rain. It’s light, just enough to swish the leaves of the trees as it passes through them. Jongin is a warm comma curled around him and it takes everything Kyungsoo has to break out of that cocoon of blankets and arms to get them both up and dressed. They have a single important stop before Kyungsoo has to get to work and Jongin needs to be there on time.

It’s still faintly dark as they fumble into their clothes, trading kisses and sleepy smiles as they pass through the rooms. Jongin catches up to Kyungsoo in the bathroom and steals a spare toothbrush, arm wrapped around Kyungsoo’s waist as they both use the sink. Kyungsoo silently brushes his teeth with his face half-turned into Jongin’s neck and it feels so incredibly like home.

Kyungsoo checks the deepening bruise on the back of Jongin’s nape before they leave the house, thankfully covered by the collar of the jacket he slides on. Jongin shivers when Kyungsoo carefully brushes it with several checking fingers, on tiptoes so he can get a decent angle to see.

“I’m fine. It’ll heal. And besides,” Jongin turns around in Kyungsoo’s arms as they stand by the front door, about to brave the rain. “People are going to see it when I dance and I love that.”

Kyungsoo covers his face with his hands and Jongin laughs, reaching around him to grab the umbrella Kyungsoo keeps by the doorframe. “You ready?”

Kyungsoo raises his head to look Jongin in the eye. He’s buzzing with excitement, impossibly beautiful when he smiles, pumped for today and Kyungsoo wants him to be this happy forever. So he unlocks the front door and hits the button for his car. Jongin’s bike will stay here for the day and when Kyungsoo collects him tonight they can have dinner and then Jongin will drive it to the club. Just the thought of being able to see Jongin both before and after work today is enough to make Kyungsoo giddy. He’s so perfectly, contentedly whipped. He pops the umbrella the moment they’re outside and they dash for the car like two kids.

* * *

A swirl of red and gold leaves flick inside the door of The Paw Print as Jung Ah opens it to step outside. Crouching down under her own little umbrella she writes the happiest word Kyungsoo has seen in a while on the little blackboard outside by the light of her phone. The reason for Jongin's happiness and why they had to be up early today. 

Open!

Kyungsoo shields Jongin from the rain as they approach the store, sidestepping the little puddles on the sidewalk. The sun will be up soon and Kyungsoo looks down to his watch. Four thirty am. Nearly time for the morning rush. Jongin bounces beside him as they near the door to see Jung Ah chasing the sneaky collection of leaves back outside as he re-enters the store. She spots them and gives a little wave before disappearing inside.

Kyungsoo is about to follow her when Jongin takes hold of his hand and pulls him to a stop. “Wait,” he whispers at Kyungsoo’s questioning look. “This is always my favourite part.”

Confused, Kyungsoo huddles close underneath the umbrella next to Jongin and looks out through the rain to the darkened store sitting there like every other shopfront on the street. Silent and squat. But then he sees it.

The lights inside flicker on, flowing like a hidden wave from the top down as Jung Ah activates them. The overhead bauble globes burst to life first and then the hundreds of tiny fairy lights that drape the inner walls bloom and flicker on like a cascade of stars that chase each other along, finally sparking the lanterns out the front over the door to life.

The glass jars of sugar cubes perched on each table inside sparkle playfully and the windows grow warm. Even the shadows under the awnings dance once more. The books, all back in their rightful places on the cream shelves beckon invitingly. Suddenly the store isn’t the same as every other one here. It’s a whole lot more special and perhaps… even a tiny bit magical. Kyungsoo grins, warmed from the top down by something he can’t explain.

The Paw Print is alive again. Jongin squeezes his hand.

“You get the first coffee. I’ll make three.”

* * *

Tray of coffees juggled on one palm, Kyungsoo navigates the office hallway which is thankfully only home to one or two other early risers and shoulders the door to his office open. He intends to put Jongdae and Minseok’s cups in the microwave and reheat them for when they turn up, only…

It appears he doesn’t have to. Kyungsoo pauses in his doorway as the door swings shut behind him. His office is conveniently full of two bodies already. Minseok is in Kyungsoo’s chair, draped across the desk and Jongdae the other side of it, head pillowed in his crossed arms next to his still-open laptop. Both are sound asleep.

Kyungsoo pulls a confused face, standing in that single spot and trying to figure out what’s in front of him. There’s nothing due and while all-nighters are not unheard of, these two shouldn’t have pulled one last night. Kyungsoo is about to say something when the smell of coffee must have finally drifted across the distance. Minseok’s head pops up, a piece of paper stuck to his cheek. He swats it away and puts a hand over his eyes.

“Fuck, izzit...what time?”

"We fell asleep," Jongdae groans into his arms. “Didn’t we?”

Minseok squints between his fingers and finally his eyes adjust. “Shit. I said I’d wake you and I must have… damn.” He yawns and then suddenly sniffs the air. Jongdae also rises from the dead, hair all over the place. They both turn like the two lovable zombies Kyungsoo knows in the direction of the caffeine. Kyungsoo smiles, crossing over to the desk. He doles out the cups.

“What the hell are you two doing?”

 Jongdae squints just enough to pinpoint the coffee and snags it, downing it with his eyes closed. “Working.”

“On what?”

Minseok loosens his crumpled tie and takes a long, grateful sip. “On the competition entry.”

Kyungsoo’s heart sinks, dropping down somewhere in the vicinity of his shoes. “Guys I… didn’t get to tell you last night. Seungwon booked up all the studio shots and Jongin has the re-opening of the store today. There’s…” he cradles his own cup with Jongin’s squiggled handwriting on it, as if he could draw more than warmth from it. Strength, maybe. “There’s nothing we can submit. We’re out of time.”

Jongdae staggers to his feet and cracks his back. “We know about Seungwon. Minseok checked the studio slots yesterday before we… well before we should have left. We decided to stay.”

“So…” Kyungsoo frowns, totally lost. “What were you working on all night? I had the usb.”

There’s a distinct silence as the two conspirators share a long glance.

“Minseok had an idea,” Jongdae finally hedges.

“Jongdae still had a hard copy set of the shots from the original shoot. The one we showed you when you last came over.” Minseok stands and shrugs on his jacket from where it’s laying draped over the back of Kyungsoo’s chair, flicking him a sly look. “We edited some of the shots that don’t show either of your faces. It was the best we could do on short notice. Maybe it’ll circumnavigate the ban on the shoot.”

Kyungsoo’s eyes narrow. There’s something in Minseok’s too-calm tone that boarders on… Kyungsoo can’t figure it out. He knows if anyone can work magic on a photo it’s Minseok but that’s a hell of a stretch and there’s something slightly charged in the air now that the two of them are awake. They swap a look that crackles with mischief and Kyungsoo might even call them on a white lie but… he doesn’t quite know where the lie is.

Jongdae swigs the last of his coffee in several long gulps and joins Minseok as the two of them sleepily shuffle out. Kyungsoo almost thinks he’s imagined it all and they are somehow telling the truth... but as Jongdae passes he lays a gentle hand on Kyungsoo’s shoulder and smiles. It curls his eyes wickedly.

“Just consider this,” he murmurs, looking impish. “one very big wedding gift to us when we win.”

And with that the two of them yawn their way out of the office and leave Kyungsoo alone.

* * *

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo can’t concentrate on anything for the whole day. His mind is constantly turning over and over the secret Jongdae and Minseok are keeping; what it could mean, what it could be. He even brings up the early copies of the photos he emailed to Jongin. There’s nothing… well there’s nothing special about them beyond Jongin’s beauty. Nothing that would warrant his two friends suddenly being so damn excited over their plan. Whatever it is.

Kyungsoo gives up right around the tenth time Minseok and Jongdae stop talking the moment he enters a room.

Kyungsoo stops dead in the office doorway and eyes them both in exasperation. “Can you even give me a hint?”

Minseok smiles sweetly. “If we did that would ruin the surprise.”

“I hate you both. Here are the weekly subscription statistics.”

Jongdae takes them smoothly. “You can thank us after we’ve won. Have you got yourself a nice suit for it? Has Jongin?”

Kyungsoo vaguely remembers he has a suit somewhere in the back of his closet that he wore once to his sister’s wedding but he’s unsure about Jongin. “I’ll remember to ask him, thank you.”

There’s a faint gleam in Minseok’s eye that Kyungsoo knows all too well. “Not that Jongin needs a reminder to look good, but try to get him something nice if he doesn’t have it already.”

“At least regarding this part I know what you’re talking about,” Kyungsoo mutters.

“Operation Piss Off Seungwon.” Jongdae mutters as the man in question drifts past at the distant end of the office hallway like a bad smell. “Jongin is going to excel at this.”

“As long as it works.” Kyungsoo can’t quite keep the worry out of his voice. He knows what rides on this and the last thing he wants is repercussions coming back at the person he cares for the most.

Minseok shrugs one elegant shoulder, plucking the reports from Jongdae. “We’re going to beat his ass at this competition and make sure he’s cleaning his desk on Monday.”

A faint series of yells comes from down the corridor. Kyungsoo watches as a secretary cowers in front of one of Seungwon’s temper tantrums. “It had better.”

A faint buzz in his pocket signals that Kyungsoo has a text. He flicks it open as Minseok starts to pour over the statistics, Jongdae half-flopped over one shoulder pointing out the relevant parts.

It’s a series of pictures from Jongin, two more coming in even as Kyungsoo is looking at the first. It’s a selfie of an extremely happy Jongin, sparkly red apple sticker beside the corner of his eye, hair mussed from a busy day and looking absolutely thrilled to have the café up and running again. He’s grinning like he could burst. Kyungsoo smiles back at the image and flicks to the next. It’s a slightly-blurry shot of a bunch of people’s backs; customers enjoying coffee at every table and Kyungsoo couldn’t be more proud. Business is back. And the final image when Kyungsoo reaches it is a set of adorably sugar-dusted hands and a countertop with flour spread all over it. In the middle of the mess three words have been sketched by a fingertip.

I love you.

Kyungsoo goes warm from head to toe. He pecks back a quick text.

[Kyungsoo] I love you more

He follows it up a moment later.

[Kyungsoo] And I’m very happy for you and the store. By the way do you have a formal suit?

The message takes a moment to return, probably because of Jongin’s sneaky habit of texting while he should be working.

[Nini Bear] I had one bought two years ago for prom. It might still fit. I’ve filled out a little since then.

Kyungsoo is given a momentary, very vivid flashback at that to miles and miles of Jongin’s sweat-slicked muscle and broad shoulders and perfect abs stretched out on a bed in front of him and-

Minseok’s voice brings him out of the memory. “Is your cutie sending you sexy photos or something?”

“What?” Kyungsoo looks up to find both of them staring at him. “No. Why?”

Jongdae purses his lips, eyebrows flirting with meeting his hairline. “You don’t go that pink for just anyone.”

“Get back to work.” Kyungsoo waves them both off guiltily and their combined laughter chases him out of the room. When he looks back there’s a number waiting for him in a text message.

[Nini Bear] I’m going to get refitted after work. Did you want to come?

Since Kyungsoo isn’t sure if he actually does still fit his mothballed old suit he agrees, adding an addendum to his text.

[Kyungsoo] Is this the number for a tailor?

The reply is instantaneous.

[Nini Bear] No, it’s how we find one. And I think it’s time you had his number anyway.

Kyungsoo blinks down at his phone as he walks back to his own office. Sitting down behind his desk he decides what the hell, he has five minutes. At least this mystery is easily solved. He dials the number on his landline and puts it on speaker. He recognises the friendly voice that answers straight away.

“Hello?”

Kyungsoo sinks back into his seat, smiling. “Hi Junmyeon. It’s Kyungsoo. Jongin gave me your number, I hope that’s okay.”

* * *

Jung Ah gives her blessing to let Kyungsoo ambush Jongin in the small kitchen out the back, waving him through while she dons her coat against the late afternoon chill. It makes Kyungsoo ridiculously happy and he gives her a quick hug as she flips the sign on the front to ‘closed’.

Jongin may have let slip that they were closing much earlier than their usual sundown hours due to nearly running out of pastries and cakes (it seemed that everyone within a hundred mile radius was thrilled they had re-opened and descended on them for the first day). So Kyungsoo gives his congratulations to the weary but delighted Jung Ah and sends her on her way, more than a little touched that she trusts him enough to let him hang around as Jongin closes up. He wonders privately if Jongin spilled the beans on his helpers during the post-storm clean-up because she gives him a knowing look as she disappears. Kyungsoo makes a note to quiz Jongin on it later.

As it is he finds the boy in question in the kitchen, earphones in, humming along to whatever is on his phone as he sways about the kitchen, rinsing the piles of now-empty pastry trays and stacking them in the industrial dishwasher they have on hand. Kyungsoo takes a second to lean against the doorframe and just watch.

Jongin shimmies along to the music, hips bouncing as he works methodically and for a single moment Kyungsoo lets himself smile. Because this sweetheart right here, towel over one shoulder, sleeves rolled up and white apron half untied at the back is all his. And Kyungsoo is so fucking lucky he could scream. But he doesn’t; he just watches Jongin dance, unaware and happy. Kyungsoo stands the cuteness as long as he can take until he has to step forward and pat the shimmying butt.

Jongin spins, eyes wide, one hand going to his ear to tug out the music. “Oh!” He grins when he sees who it is. “You’re early.”

“Mhmm.” Kyungsoo can’t help it; he slides his hands around Jongin’s trim waist, hooking his fingers into the string that (barely) holds the apron together. “I got off work early on account that we’re apparently going shopping.”

Jongin turns off his phone and winds his earbuds up, all while Kyungsoo is hanging onto him. “I see you talked to Junmyeon.”

Kyungsoo can feel how warm Jongin’s skin is underneath his thin shirt. It’s a little distracting. “Yep. He recommended me a tailor we can go see.” Kyungsoo cocks his head in confusion. “Something about being glad it’s not all being done in secret this time?”

“Ah, yes.” Jongin laughs. “We may have pulled a surprise for one of Baekhyun’s birthdays which coincided with our prom. We needed suits for it and Junmyeon organised it for everyone on the sly.” He tucks his now-neat phone and cords back into his jeans pocket. “You should have seen Baekhyun’s face. Pretty sure he cried a little.”

Kyungsoo curls his fingers against Jongin’s lower back, petting because now that he’s allowed, it’ll be a cold day in hell when he doesn’t touch as much as he can whenever Jongin is in his arms. “What did you do?”

“I’ll tell you the full story next time Yixing is around. You kind of need his input because he was the important part. Suffice to say,” Jongin looks mildly proud of himself. “I think Baekhyun may have had the best night of his life.”

Kyungsoo raises his eyebrows. He massages lightly and Jongin shivers, skin prickling with goosebumps.

“Fine, but I’m definitely calling an IOU on this one.”

Jongin drapes his arms around Kyungsoo’s shoulders and there’s something about their difference in height that makes it perfect. “I promise. Next time we’re all together. So in the meantime…” Jongin leans in, bumping their noses together. “What can I do to distract you?”

“From wanting to hear your secret stories?” Kyungsoo nearly goes cross-eyed trying to keep Jongin in focus. He plucks at the string tie, tugging it loose. “I don’t know. Maybe give me something else to think about?”

Jongin bites his lip. The tiny apple sticker is still in place and it catches the light as he tilts his head slightly, peeking out the open kitchen door towards the empty store. “Is Jung Ah gone?”

Kyungsoo grins, lifting his chin to press a soft kiss to Jongin’s mouth. “She left as I came in.”

Jongin squints and tilts them both slowly to one side so he can see out of the kitchen to the sign on the glass front door, reading it. “Did she lock the door?”

“I don’t think so.”

Jongin’s hand cups the back of Kyungsoo’s neck. “But the sign shows closed.”

“Yep.”

The hand tightens and Kyungsoo goes breathless at just how easy this all is. How casually the softness of affection slips into the deeper warmth of desire just from a look or a touch and there’s nothing Kyungsoo quietly thinks, as he lets Jongin walk him back a couple of steps to the centre island bench that sits nearby, that could ever be better than this.

Jongin kisses him, pushing aside several empty bowls on the dark blue benchtop with a short sweep of his arm and Kyungsoo laughs as one goes tumbling to the floor with a sharp clang.

“You’re making more washing up.”

“It was dirty anyway,” Jongin mumbles against his mouth, hands reaching for the belt on Kyungsoo’s work pants. He tugs blindly at the leather, slipping the end free from it’s catch. “Like you’re going to be.”

“You and messes,” Kyungsoo laughs, pulling at the flimsy apron until Jongin has to let go to slip it off himself. Kyungsoo uses the chance to tug at the powder blue overshirt Jongin also has on until he shucks it off to pool on the floor. Following the silent raise of Kyungsoo’s eyebrows Jongin’s grip goes then to the cream tee he has on underneath (so many layers as winter gets closer, god) and every inch of blood Kyungsoo has in his brain disappears south as Jongin crosses his arms, forearm muscles pulling taught and he scoops it off himself, tossing the material away.

“Fuck,” Kyungsoo breathes, hands immediately drawn to the firm arc of Jongin’s pecs, cupping both at once and feeling the warmth of muscle and the hardness of the piercings against his palms. He glances up. “Is it wrong that I’m now really jealous of everyone who gets to see you do that on stage?”

“No,” Jongin swallows, pushing his chest further into Kyungsoo’s eager hands.  “But you know no one else gets to touch afterwards.”

“True,” Kyungsoo grumbles, massaging his perfect handfuls just to hear Jongin’s breath hitch. “I’ll work on it.”

“Let me remind you.” Jongin finally gets back to Kyungsoo’s belt and opens it, then the button on his dress pants and Kyungsoo is already half-hard, pushing into the open space left by his zipper as Jongin drags it down. He wants. And Jongin, the fucking minx he is, slips a hand under Kyungsoo’s underwear to jack him without preamble in long, delicious strokes that make his toes curl.

Kyungsoo’s mouth falls open and he glances down through the bracket of his arms to watch Jongin’s wrist move, thickening Kyungsoo’s cock to rest up against his belly, wet head peeking from the thin material. Jongin presses his mouth to Kyungsoo’s flushed ear.

“It’s so hard to fit all of you in my hand. Do you know how hot that is?”

Kyungsoo has a vague idea. Previous partners have waxed poetical about his dick in many ways but only Jongin matters now; the awe in his voice as he gets a better grip and pulls at Kyungsoo until he’s panting.

“I wanna ride you so bad.” Jongin nips at the top of Kyungsoo’s ear, huffing out a laugh. “I can still feel you from last night.”

“Which…” It feels so good that Kyungsoo drops his chin to his chest, pushing his hips into Jongin’s welcome hand. He groans and then corrects his head, looking back at his resident devil. “Is why we’re not repeating it just yet.”

Jongin honest to god whines. “Please?”

“No,” Kyungsoo manages, trying to sound stern. “You’re sore. We could do some damage.”

Jongin retaliates by stroking Kyungsoo faster, which does the intended job of making him lose a few more brain cells. But he holds firm; he will not see Jongin hurt. Grabbing Jongin’s wandering hand takes a considerable effort but Kyungsoo manages it, pulling him off his dick. Jongin’s palm is sticky with an embarrassing amount of precum and Kyungsoo brings his hand to his mouth, lapping at it. He turns his eyes up to Jongin, making them big the way he knows Jongin loves and smiles against his skin. “There is another option...”

Jongin has so many switches it’s hilarious. One clicks right now at how meekly Kyungsoo is presenting himself and Jongin is suddenly all hands again, grabbing Kyungsoo, squeezing him and crowding so close that the countertop pushes into Kyungsoo’s ass.

“Can I?” Jongin breathes, plucking at Kyungsoo’s plain black work jacket until he sheds it and then pawing at the buttons on the white dress shirt underneath. “I wanna.”

Kyungsoo grins and starts on the top buttons of his shirt as Jongin works at the bottom ones; they meet in the middle. Jongin yanks it off Kyungsoo’s arms and together they toss it somewhere onto the floor amongst the rest. Kyungsoo flicks a dusky peaked nipple with his forefinger; metal and skin. “Do you know how many times I’ve thought about it?”

Jongin exhales like he’s been punched. “I’d like to make that fantasy come true.”

“How hard-” Kyungsoo gasps as Jongin drags him into a kiss, angling his head with both hands to get him right where he wants and fuck, confidence is starting to look so good on Jongin. Kyungsoo burns, barely keeping up with how Jongin suckles at his lips, his tongue. Kyungsoo lets him play and explore and take a bit of control. Jesus. It does look good.

Jongin works Kyungsoo’s mouth until he’s pliant, only slowing down as Kyungsoo begins to let slip needy little sounds. When Jongin does pull away he doesn’t go far; presses their foreheads together. “As hard as you need. So you want me to fuck you,” Jongin breathes, the thrill of arousal making his tone deep. “Right here?”

Kyungsoo could never anticipate how weak his knees would go at hearing that exact offer out loud in that voice. Jongin has so much untapped power; no longer hiding behind the persona of Kai but drawing on it just a little, becoming comfortable with himself. He still waits for Kyungsoo’s permission though, for the little nod and smile that Kyungsoo gives him, his eyes tracking every tiny move. He always watches so much of Kyungsoo that it’s impossibly endearing. And so Kyungsoo gives him what he needs; the permission he’s almost vibrating for.

And Jongin flicks that final switch. His hands scoop under Kyungsoo’s butt, lifting him in one smooth move that seems to take no effort at all and places him on the counter. And something about all that strength on display makes Kyungsoo burn; he grabs at Jongin’s broad shoulders, wanting to -needing to- touch even as Jongin is tugging at his suit pants, yanking them the last of the way down and off, laughing faintly at his own impatience.

Jongin crowds close to one side and bends forward slightly, not letting Kyungsoo spread his legs. “Hold onto me,” he murmurs and Kyungsoo does just that, hauling his arms around Jongin’s neck as Jongin straightens up, takes all his weight -Jesus fuck that’s hot- and pulls Kyungsoo’s underwear down, tossing them aside like an afterthought. Then he settles Kyungsoo’s bare ass back on the countertop and it’s suddenly very, very real.

Kyungsoo widens his knees, leaning back on one hand. A chocolate wrapper crinkles near his fingers and god this is actually happening, they’re here and Jongin looks ready to combust, flicking Kyungsoo constant heated glances from under his fringe as he sheds his jeans, almost as if he’s afraid that if he looks away from Kyungsoo for too long he’ll disappear.

Kyungsoo lowers his weight further back onto an elbow, hooking a leg up to rest his heel on the counter’s edge. Jongin nearly trips over his discarded shoe, all trace of his dancer’s grace gone and Kyungsoo giggles.

“This is supposed to be sexy,” Jongin grumbles, shucking his underwear.

“Everything with the right person is sexy,” Kyungsoo replies, sliding a hand down to cup his aching cock where it sits curved up against his belly. He strokes himself just to watch Jongin’s eyes go dark. “Sex is silly as well as hot. We’re not living in a movie.”

“If we were there would magically be lube,” Jongin quips and Kyungsoo freezes because well, shit. Their stuff is still back at his house. He slumps.

“I don’t have any-”

Jongin darts forward, caging Kyungsoo in where he’s resting. “Don’t you dare get up. Stay right there.”

Kyungsoo blinks up at him. “I am not using olive oil. This fantasy has limits.”

Jongin laughs, reaching down to cover where Kyungsoo is still gripping himself. He gives both their hands a long pull, kissing away the moan that falls from Kyungsoo’s lips. “I keep lots of spare clothes for the club here for when I have to go straight there,” he murmurs against Kyungsoo’s smiling mouth. “A lot of toy promoters give out free samples at work.”

Kyungsoo nips Jongin’s bottom lip. “You pocket the lube freebies?”

“I may have started when I first met you.” Jongin admits, bumping their noses together. “Don’t make that face. I was a very shy, frustrated boy with no other outlet for how horny this one super cute customer made me. My hand was my only friend.”

Something sharp zings deep into Kyungsoo’s gut at those words and he can feel himself pulse, a thick drop oozing out to coat the two sets of fingers stroking him. “Just how early on did this start?”

“The day I very first met you was a weekend. I was cleaning tables in the back when you came in.” Jongin drags his lips along the cut of Kyungsoo’s jaw, nuzzling towards one ear. His breath is a series of warm puffs. “You were wearing a tan turtleneck and a brown jacket with sleeves that came down adorably far on your hands. You kept rubbing them together to stay warm and all I could see was your fingertips. I was smitten.”

“That is-” Kyungsoo smothers a laugh, “-the most boring set of clothes. You should have said I wore bright red or something.”

Jongin’s lips close over his earlobe, teeth making a faint sharp indent as if to reprimand Kyungsoo for thinking so low of himself. He suckles at the faint soreness for a moment before murmuring, “You were the most handsome person I’d ever seen. You asked me for your first drink order on your next visit and I think my heart stopped. I wanted to scribble something on your cup so badly but I thought it would be weird. I finally did it a few weeks later after you called me by my name.”

That’s why the heart had been wiggly. Jongin must have been so nervous drawing it. Kyungsoo’s chest aches at that admission so he repays it with a confession of his own, stringing brain cells together as Jongin lets him fuck his fist.

“If Jongdae or Minseok ever tell you it took me three… fuck… three goes to gather up the courage to make an order with you the very first time, they’re lying.”

Jongin leans back, eyes rounded with surprise. “Oh really?”

“Absolutely,” Kyungsoo replies, tugging Jongin down for a proper kiss, finishing with a faint nip. “It was actually six. Now go get your stolen lube.”

Jongin’s startled giggle against his lips is a thing of sheer delight. He steals one more kiss before straightening up, stepping back. “Freebies,” he corrects, pointing a finger. “Stay.”

Kyungsoo grumbles out a ‘woof’ as Jongin zips out into the small back staff change room, completely naked. When he returns his hands are filled with little multi-coloured sample packets and he looks so excited.

“I didn’t know which one to get so I brought them all.”

Kyungsoo lays back on the counter, totally uncaring that he’s still hard and laughs, throwing a hand over his eyes. He’s still laughing when he feels Jongin’s thighs brush the leg he’s dangling off the edge.

“You taught me to use lots so I’ll open them all to be sure.”

“What-?” Kyungsoo manages before he hears a series of tearing sounds and when he removes his arm Jongin’s hands are covered in a rainbow of lube. It drips down to his wrists and onto the floor. He looks so fucking pleased with his effort. Kyungsoo shakes his head.

“You are not getting all that on me—no, wait don’t-”

But it’s too late and two very sticky, slippery hands are on the tops of his thighs, sliding up and leaving a wet trail towards his cock. Kyungsoo sucks in a breath to tell Jongin that was such a waste when a pair of deliciously slick hands form a ring around his dick and every complaint possible leaves his mind. Kyungsoo groans hard, hitching his hips up, basking in the new sensations. It feels decadent; wet and smooth and with how warm Jongin’s hands are… Kyungsoo exhales slowly.

“Okay. Okay – ah—yeah, just like that.”

Jongin’s smirk is wicked; a kick up of one side of his mouth that makes him look devilish. He wears it on stage most nights but now it’s all for Kyungsoo. He lets the excess lube fall from his hands and drip down Kyungsoo’s balls to run between his cheeks. Kyungsoo is sure some of it is sliding down the side of the bench, there’s so much. He feels… god he feels wet. It’s lewd.

Jongin plays with it all, making Kyungsoo’s lower half slick all over. “You look so good like this. I want to take bites out of you.”

“I’m not a marshmallow,” Kyungsoo shoots back, head spinning at the perfect wet handjob. He’s glad he’s still on his back because he feels there’s a real danger of him sliding off the edge if he sits up. Jongin removes one hand and squeezes plump, generous handfuls of his thighs and hips, slicking him up all over (totally unnecessary Kyungsoo dazedly thinks, but Jongin is loving this) before dipping down, curling his long fingers around Kyungsoo’s balls, rolling them against his palm. Kyungsoo’s head thumps against the countertop and he hitches his other leg up, hooking his arms behind his knees to keep himself spread. Jongin sucks in a breath.

“Fuck. I’m gonna…” He drops a finger and suddenly there’s the most wonderful, gentle pressure circling Kyungsoo’s rim. The pad of one soaking wet finger, then two and Kyungsoo’s nerves are dancing because Jongin spreads all that lube around and around his twitching hole.

“You’re gonna what?” Kyungsoo gasps, hoping to provoke because fuck, now he wants… and Jongin takes the bait, sinking his ring finger into him. Kyungsoo hisses, letting his breath out on a long, happy moan.

“God. Yes.”

“Is this what you wanted?” Jongin murmurs, pumping his hand in and out steadily, giving Kyungsoo what he knows is the very start of that perfect fullness. His first finger twists as he scoops up more of the copious lube with his other tips before pressing that second digit inside, alongside the first. It squelches, there’s so much liquid it’s obscene and Kyungsoo shivers.

Pornos do this kind of stuff, not a guy who just works in an office and his criminally handsome barista boyfriend who also happens to be a stripper—yeah okay, maybe their lives do sound a little like a porn scenario so for once Kyungsoo is going to ignore the sensible, vanilla side of his brain and let himself get fucked on a kitchen counter in a café where anyone could walk in and... oh. Someone could actually see them.

Kyungsoo twists his head to the side as Jongin stretches him steadily, slides home another finger and holy shit the street is right out there past the store’s commercial interior. Kyungsoo can see it. The sidewalk is public property and here he is… Kyungsoo’s eyes flutter shut as Jongin fingers him open perfectly, overflowing and dripping onto the floor as he pumps his hand. Kyungsoo grips his upraised thigh tighter towards his chest, holding himself open and Jesus this is dirty. This is…

“Don’t close your eyes,” Jongin says and Kyungsoo snaps them open, turning back to look up at him as he leans over, three fingers in Kyungsoo’s ass and looking halfway to wrecked himself. The flush meets the apple sticker high on his cheek and Jongin searches Kyungsoo’s face. “You’re still getting what you want, right? No second thoughts?”

Kyungsoo feels goosebumps skitter up his arms. Jongin knows this is his fantasy and he’s checking in. Making sure there’s nothing wrong. That Kyungsoo is still in it for the thrill and the danger and as Jongin lets it show how much it’s affecting him too; how blown his pupils are and how his ever-endearing blush kicks in when he’s aroused… Kyungsoo swallows and nods.

“Yeah,” he manages as Jongin twists his fingers, tugging them slowly apart for the stretch and burn that has Kyungsoo’s grip clenching behind his knee. Fuck. “Don’t you dare stop.”

Jongin’s tongue peeks at the corner of his lips. “I want to fill you up.” It sounds like a confession; dark and hushed. Kyungsoo lets his thighs lower slightly, heels pressing for grip against the countertop as he spreads his legs wide, arousal making him lewd.

“Fuck yes. Please. I can take it.” He reaches down and closes his hand around Jongin’s wrist. “I can.”

Jongin glances down at where he’s knuckle-deep in Kyungsoo. “Are you sure?” He gives a few more deep thrusts, long fingertips finding and grazing Kyungsoo’s prostate. Kyungsoo swears he sees stars, arching. It takes him a second to form words; they come out through gasps.

“Fuck me now or I swear I’m going to do it myself with the new toy tonight and make you watch.”

Jongin’s whole expression changes. He scoops a hand under the small of Kyungsoo’s back and props him upright, bring them level again and withdrawing his fingers. “Don’t say things you don’t mean,” he whispers, angling forward so the head of his flushed cock bumps against Kyungsoo’s hole. “You’d never do that.”

He’s jealous, Kyungsoo realises. He has a split second to enjoy how fired-up a possessive Jongin looks before Jongin settles him forward on the very edge of the counter and splits him open, pushing home in one fucking perfect thrust that curls Kyungsoo’s toes.

“Oh!” The sound is punched out of Kyungsoo. “Oh god. Fuck...”

Jongin keeps his hips steady, sliding so deep that Kyungsoo forgets to breathe until he bottoms out. It’s only then that Kyungsoo realises he’s closed his eyes again. Opening them takes an effort. He’s so fucking full it’s like the perfect puzzle piece has slotted in. He’s whole.

Jongin is watching him from underneath his bangs, eyes scanning his face. Holding himself impossibly still. “You okay?”

For once Kyungsoo doesn’t care how needy he sounds. He’s about to feel so goddamn good. “I will be once you move.”

Surprise and delight flicker across Jongin’s face. “Thank god. Because fuck you’re tight. I want you to feel me for days,” he breathes, eyes dark. He draws back and shoves in, punctuating his words with each deep thrust. “I want you to sit in your office in your nice suit and be unable to stay still.”

Holy shit. Kyungsoo slings an arm around Jongin’s neck, buoyed on the movements and how thick and heavy Jongin is inside him. He holds on, weightless in Jongin’s hold and only able to rock against him as he’s moved just where Jongin wants him to be. The countertop creaks underneath them. “I’d—yeah I’d  love that.” Admitting it out loud makes him flush.

Jongin’s free hand slips down and curls around Kyungsoo’s leaking cock, giving him several long, sweet strokes. “Everyone at the competition presentation night would know too,” he pants eagerly. “Everyone there. That you’re mine. That you’ve been bouncing on my dick.”

“Jesus.” Kyungsoo should have never taught him dirty talk; Jongin is getting far too good at that as well. Kyungsoo can’t take the combination of Jongin’s cock mercilessly pressing against the one point inside that sends him half incoherent and the filthy, naughty images Jongin is putting in his head-

“You look so good,” Jongin groans, eyes hooded. “Taking all of me. I can’t believe I get—I get to have you here, like this. Tight and hot and so wet.”

“I’m-” Kyungsoo manages as every nerve sings. “-not that wet.”

“Baby you’re dripping.”

Kyungsoo shudders, shaking his head. Jongin lets him tuck his face into the crook of his neck and honest to god laughs in the deepest, dirtiest way Kyungsoo has ever heard.

“My wet little marshmallow.”

Kyungsoo keens out a sound he will deny to his dying day, embarrassed to high heaven and so fucking turned on. Jongin is using every ounce of his perfect muscle control to hold him upright and fuck the life out of him and Kyungsoo is going to lose his mind. It’s too good. It’s too much. Kyungsoo wants to press against his abdomen and feel how fucking long Jongin is inside him and just that thought makes him choke on a moan.

“And look,” Jongin gasps hotly against Kyungsoo’s temple. “Look who can see you.”

Every muscle instantly tenses up as Kyungsoo feels arousal blast through him like a forest fire. He shakes his head fiercely because if he looks then he’ll see the-

The hand at Kyungsoo’s back shifts away as Jongin pushes Kyungsoo flat onto the countertop, gripping his hips as he nails Kyungsoo’s prostate too perfectly at this angle and fuck. Fuck. He’s going to come… it’s too much to handle. Pleasure soaks every limb, drugging him, making him dizzy.

Kyungsoo’s back arches, hands scrabbling for something to hold onto and when he can’t find anything he grabs for Jongin instead, clutching onto the tanned, muscled forearms that are keeping him pinned for Jongin to take his own pleasure and hold him right where he wants. Jongin’s skin is beaded with the faint beginnings of sweat and he leans over, folding Kyungsoo nearly in half to fuck him into the surface.

One of Jongin’s hands shifts, latching onto Kyungsoo’s. He entwines their fingers and moves it to press Kyungsoo’s palm flat against his own stomach. “Here,” he pants and slows down a single thrust so that Kyungsoo can feel the deep press of Jongin’s cock against his hand from inside.

“Fuck,” Kyungsoo runs his mouth, the pleasure boiling over in his stomach making him careless. “Oh fuck Jongin, that’s-”

Jongin removes their hands, lets go and places his palm flat on the tabletop for leverage, returning to his fast, merciless pace. “You’re perfect—ah—I can’t believe how well you take all of me.” His head drops as he watches where they join, fascinated, sounding just as stunned as their first time. Kyungsoo secretly hopes he never changes. Jongin redoubles his movements, chasing his pleasure and Kyungsoo manages to feel both treasured and used. It’s unbearably sexy. Kyungsoo is going to come so hard and he knows he’s going to fucking break apart when he does.

The sloppy sounds of their coupling are loud in the small space now and Kyungsoo is so filthily wet; he can feel it everywhere, soaking every point they touch, smeared and making Jongin’s skin glisten too. Jesus. At this angle Jongin is milking his prostate like he was born to fit him so tightly.

“N-nini bear,” Kyungsoo didn’t know he could moan like this. His thighs are shaking with the building tension until he can’t take it any longer. “I’m gonna—oh fuck, Jongin!”

Kyungsoo throws his head back and from this angle he can distantly see the people walking down the sidewalk as his orgasm hits and he and spills all over himself and Jongin’s hand in pulsing wet ropes that leave him shuddering and jerking. His golden bear fucks him hard, watching the way Kyungsoo’s body moves with it as he bonelessly takes what Jongin gives him, drunk on the sensations.

“Fuck,” Jongin manages as he grits his teeth. “Love that you can come like this. I’m-”

Kyungsoo uses every ounce of strength he has left in his shaking limbs to arch up and latch onto one of the glinting, swaying nipple rings above him with his mouth. He wraps Jongin up with numb arms and legs, dirtying them both with his come and all that lube. With the last of his energy Kyungsoo closes his teeth carefully and gives Jongin the one thing he’d asked for last time they were sweaty and filthy.

Kyungsoo bites down.

Jongin slams in all the way and comes with a strangled shout. Kyungsoo immediately releases his mouthful as Jongin’s back bows and he tips his head back to wordlessly gasp at the ceiling, unseeing. Kyungsoo wants to capture that image forever; angled jawline and messed hair and eyelashes on his cheeks as Jongin undulates through his orgasm, body-rolling softly until he drops forward, catching himself on his elbows so as not to squash his boyfriend.

The sound of distant traffic outside returns ever so slowly. Jongin pants, languidly pumping his hips every time Kyungsoo twitches beneath him.

“Did you really call me a marshmallow?” Kyungsoo demands of the mop of hair still breathing heavily against his sternum.

Jongin’s snort is breathless. “…Maybe?”

Kyungsoo lets his own head fall back to the countertop with a thump. “I suppose it’s only fair.”

Jongin gives another faint push of his hips and Kyungsoo yelps, overstimulated. He would smack Jongin’s shoulder but he’s still trying to will the feeling back into his arms. Instead he presses a kiss to the top of Jongin’s head.

After a long moment Jongin pushes himself upright, groaning at the protest in his back. He gets as far as resting on his hands before he looks down the length of Kyungsoo’s body. “Um, I’m going to get a washcloth and-”

“You are not wiping up come with anything you have to later use in this kitchen,” Kyungsoo interjects firmly. “We’re already going to have to industrially clean this counter.”

Jongin, to Kyungsoo’s surprise, smirks. “Then you’re just going to have to hold in all my come until you get upstairs.” He shrugs one shoulder, trying for nonchalant. Kyungsoo narrows his eyes.

“Please tell me you have a shower here.”

“A small one. We won’t both fit but I’m sure we have-” Jongin glances at his watch and his whole body goes rigid, eyes huge. “Oh—shit.”

Kyungsoo groans, pushing Jongin back gently but firmly until he slips out. Thick lines of come run down the moment he does, joining the rest of the mess on Kyungsoo’s inner thighs. Jongin always makes him overflow. “How late are we going to be?”

* * *

They are in retrospect, very, very late.

Junmyeon however (bless his socks) has the patience of a saint and is still patiently waiting for the two of them outside the tailor’s as they stumble up half an hour later, out of breath from running from the nearest carpark Kyungsoo could pull into. Their clothes are a scrunched jumble and Kyungsoo can feel the water beading on his half-dried hair like a gigantic, guilty neon sign.

Junmyeon gives them both a subtle once-over, smiling. Kyungsoo presses a hand over the stitch forming in his side and sucks in a breath. “If you don’t say anything I promise I’ll shout you dinner.”

Junmyeon’s smile widens, plumping up his cheeks until they tuck his eyes into happy little half-moons. He kindly steps aside and sweeps an arm out. “Let’s get inside. I had them extend the appointment.”

“Dinner and dessert,” Kyungsoo mutters. Junmyeon’s chuckle follows them inside.

* * *

Kyungsoo spends the night before the event worrying himself up into a knot. It’s not that he doesn’t trust Minseok and Jongdae -to the contrary he has faith in them to have his back for anything- he just… he doesn’t want to see Jongin hurt in any way. So much hinges on the things Kyungsoo can’t control and he nearly calls the whole thing off twice before midnight. He would gladly lose this stupid competition, he tells himself as he paces his room, and bear with Seungwon’s disgusting harassment until he has to quit from the strain than have Jongin targeted. But each time he goes to pick up the phone he forcibly tells himself that he has to believe in his friends; old and new.

Midnight rolls around and Kyungsoo is getting ready for bed, about to send Jongin a message to check how his shift at the club finished up when his phone pings with a text alert. It’s a number Kyungsoo doesn’t have stored in his phone. He frowns as he unlocks the preview and brings it up.

Hope you don’t mind Jongin giving me your number but I thought you might want to know that things have a way of turning out all right. Trust me on this.

Kyungsoo is about to type back a very confused ‘who the fuck is this?’ when three dots appear and a second message zips in underneath the first.

Good luck tomorrow night. –Yixing.

Kyungsoo sinks onto his bed. He thinks for a long moment and then nods to himself slowly, resolute. It’s now or never.

* * *

It’s agreed upon that all four of them will take Kyungsoo’s car as the easiest method of transport. Which means that Kyungsoo is in the process of herding Minseok and Jongdae out the front door as Jongin pulls up on his bike with a flourish, stylishly rolling up onto the small spot in the driveway that has been unofficially adopted by him.

Jongin kicks the stand out, cuts the engine and tugs his helmet off, one booted foot keeping himself steady as the evening wind catches his hair. Kyungsoo has never felt more like a protagonist in a romance movie than right now as Jongin swings a long leg over the bike’s back and dismounts, grinning.

“Sorry, closing time was crazy. Try tearing an eighty year old away from her copy of Wuthering Heights and you’ll understand your own mortality.”

Kyungsoo laughs, locking up behind himself. The new suit still feels a little crisp but Junmyeon did extremely well with the fittings and everything is perfectly tailored. Unlocking the car with a beeping flick of his fob he turns just as Jongin hefts a very familiar cardboard tray from his large pack on the back of the motorcycle.

“I had time to bring some fortification. Sorry they’re not piping hot.”

Jongdae makes the most delighted sound Kyungsoo has ever heard and all but climbs over Minseok as the two of them scramble for the coffees. “Oh my god I think I love you. Sorry Min,” he laughs, cupping his drink as Minseok also takes the styrofoam cup Jongin hands him like it’s made of gold. “Wedding’s off. I may have to elope with this one instead.”

Kyungsoo rolls his eyes. “Fight me for him,” he mutters. “I dare you.”

Minseok sniggers into his foam. Jongin smiles indulgently at them all as he stows his helmet in the pack, plucks something else out and crosses over to Kyungsoo. When he draws level he holds out a hand. In it is cupped a single, surprisingly familiar red rose, stem cut neatly short. It’s perfectly preserved.

Kyungsoo’s breath catches. “Jongin…”

Jongin smiles, placing the rose into the breast pocket of Kyungsoo’s suit. It’s only then that Kyungsoo notices the identical one in Jongin’s lapel. That means he must have... Kyungsoo blinks rapidly.

“Did you… press these?”

The roses are unmistakably from the bouquet Kyungsoo once bought what now feels like forever ago; the final two buds from the few that Jongin had saved when it became damaged. Jongin looks at Kyungsoo with so much open trust it makes him weak.

“They were the two that held on the longest. I figured they deserved to be together forever.”

Kyungsoo’s heart speeds up, threatening to escape his chest. In front of Kyungsoo Jongin hunches bashfully.

“I uh… I never had a date for my high school prom. Baek, Chanyeol, Yixing and I went as a big group in our final year. Neither Yixing or I was dating anyone at the time anyway. But now that I am this is kind of the first big event I’ve been to and I…” he trails off, looking down shyly. “Wanted to formally ask if you’d go with me?”

Kyungsoo’s heart now thumps so hard he thinks he might be in very real danger of breaking a rib. But he swallows the lump in his throat and nods. “I—god yes.”

“Well done you two fluffballs.” Jongdae shakes some of the chocolate powder off his cup’s lid into his palm and tosses it over them both like pretend confetti. “Now kiss him. Don’t just stand there.”

So Kyungsoo does. He stretches up onto his tiptoes and Jongin dips, carefully combing the powder out of Kyungsoo’s hair in long strokes as they kiss, laughing giddily against his mouth.

At this angle their two roses rest together.

They break apart as Kyungsoo’s phone beeps. He fishes it out while Jongin brushes off his shoulders and pokes his tongue out at Jongdae.

The message is short, only a few lines and an old-fashioned smiley face in place of an emoji. Kyungsoo skims it and closes the phone.

“Junmyeon is with Sehun. And his father. They’re heading out now.”

Jongin glances back at Kyungsoo, face serious. “Then so are we.”

“Here goes nothing.” Kyungsoo takes his hand. “Ready?”

* * *

The sun has set by the time they reach the destination; an imposingly huge building nestled amid the expensive end of the business district. Kyungsoo has followed the directions on his phone but there’s no need for google maps when the top quarter of the skyscraper displays the largest font he’s ever seen.

Oh Towers.

Jongdae cranes his head up against the window. “Think we’re in the right place?”

Minseok pokes him. Kyungsoo pulls into the rolling driveway and angles in behind the other cars’ taillights as they creep up towards the entrance. Apparently they get a valet tonight.

Jongin’s hand lands warm and reassuring on Kyungsoo’s knee, squeezing. Kyungsoo drops his own hand to it and curves the wheel slowly. Finally they reach the grand entranceway doors and a white-gloved hand reaches for the door handle the moment their tires crunch to a stop.

Kyungsoo lets the others all get out first before exiting and handing off his keys to the valet. He doesn’t quite know how rich people get into the habit of just handing over their things to total strangers, but that’s one of the many reasons why Kyungsoo supposes he’s not cut out to be a millionaire. The valet bows and indicates the check-in podium behind him up the glittery steps.

Kyungsoo takes Jongin’s arm and they approach. The coordinator for the evening flashes them a professionally bright smile when he looks up.

“Good evening gentlemen! May I have your names please?”

Kyungsoo recites them, adding on that Jongin is on the plus-one list for people outside the magazine. He watches the well-dressed people floating around through the doorway like something out of a glitzy shoot as the coordinator thumbs through his lists. They really do look like something out of a fairytale and maybe tonight they’ll all have their own-

“Sir?”

Kyungsoo glances back to the coordinator. He’s looking incredibly apologetic. “Ah sirs, there appears to be a—I’m so sorry to tell you but you’re not on the list for tonight.”

Kyungsoo blanches. “What?”

The coordinator shuffles his paperwork rapidly, pulling out one piece from the bottom and skimming it. “You were on the list but you rescinded earlier? It says so right here on the cancellations list.”

Kyungsoo leans over to ogle where the man is pointing, Jongdae and Minseok doing the exact same thing. Sure enough their names are amongst the sparse few listed as not attending. Kyungsoo’s spine runs cold. “What the hell is going on?”

Jongdae rounds on the coordinator, voice rising. “Well that’s obviously a mistake. We’re all right here!” Kyungsoo places a hand on his elbow to get him to lower his voice because an angry Jongdae is loud. He’s ignored. “How was it cancelled?”

Flustered, the coordinator looks through his pages. “By phone sir. I’m really sorry. It was confirmed earlier today.”

“That’s absurd!” Jongdae flings out an arm. “How can that be?”

Kyungsoo sidesteps the flailing hand and the move makes him look up. Inside the open double doors and the floating, magical people stands one figure. Staring right back.

Seungwon smirks and turns away, melting into the crowd.

Kyungsoo makes to push forward but the coordinator stops him with a gloved hand to his chest, his voice suddenly changing. “Please don’t cause a scene, sir. If you disregard what I’ve told you I’ll have to call security. And I don’t want to do that.”

Kyungsoo shrugs off the hand, face aflame. His thoughts whirl a million miles an hour and he wants to scream, wants to throw something because this. This is not how things were supposed to end. Jongin is shaking beside him, his own fury shown in his clenched fists. Minseok is also about to start arguing when-

A strong, deep voice cuts through the party atmosphere of the night from behind them.

“Do tell what exactly you would need to call security for, Mr Lei.”

Kyungsoo whirls around.

* * *
TBC...

 

To everyone who has been so patient this year, a present for you all.

‘Let’s get lost in a world made of books, coffee and rainy days’