When they work well, they’re the magic of a slow dance, the back and forth sway.
When they don’t -
Renjun drags his finger along the cool of the kitchen counter, and at the edge, he knocks against a row of soju bottles, wincing as they clatter domino-like into the trash can. There’s an ensuing groan from the couch, and Jeno’s head emerges from underneath the blanket Renjun’s mom knitted him last Christmas. His eyes narrow at Renjun. “I’m mad at you,” is what he greets Renjun with.
“You okay?” Renjun asks, maneuvering himself across the landmine of carpet to draw the blinds. The light that rushes in does nothing to make the black hair fluffed over Jeno’s eyes and the still-drunk flush across his cheeks any less cute.
“I just told you I’m mad,” Jeno says, making grabby hands for the bottle of water Renjun takes out of the 7-Eleven bag he’d brought. He chugs it down in one go, water sluicing down his throat.
“You’re making a mess, Jeno,” Renjun says, tossing the plastic bag into Jeno’s lap so he can have at the samgak kimbap and ready-made burger. “You always make a fucking mess.”
Jeno’s head snaps up at that, a piece of seaweed dangling between his teeth but his eyes sharp. Renjun has learnt to keep up with Jeno, but sometimes, he slips, and regrets it. “But you like that, don’t you?” Jeno drawls.
“I don’t like cleaning up after you, if that’s what you mean,” Renjun tries.
Jeno reaches out for Renjun’s hand, dragging him down onto the sofa half on his lap. Renjun indulges that because it’s more electrifying to strip away control when Jeno thinks he has it, when Renjun lets him use his strength over him.
Jeno presses his mouth against Renjun’s ear, fingers tiptoeing along the inner seam of Renjun’s jeans. Renjun helplessly leans into Jeno’s touch, and it feels like Jeno’s breathing fire as he says, “You like filling my mouth with your cum, you like it when I’m gagging so hard I can’t swallow it all and it dribbles down my chin.” Jeno pulls Renjun’s hand up to his face, their foreheads nearly pressed together, and Renjun cups his palm around Jeno’s jaw, thumb wiping away the seaweed stuck to his bottom lip. “You like cleaning me up. You like it.”
“It’s my job.” Renjun’s whisper is a little shrill, but he can’t stop stroking his thumb over Jeno’s bottom lip. He dips into the centre and pulls, exposing Jeno’s gums, and for a second he hallucinates white against pink. “I get paid for it.”
“You get paid to fuck me?” Jeno teases, as best he can with Renjun toying with his lips.
“I get paid to love you,” Renjun says. He drags his hand away, pressing a chaste kiss on Jeno’s lips. He raises an eyebrow. “Thought you were mad at me?”
“Let’s call this a ceasefire,” Jeno says, and he slinks down to the floor, eager hands parting Renjun’s thighs.
Two days ago, Renjun broke up with Jeno.
Well, that’s how Jeno chose to see it.
Renjun pulls Jeno out of the makeup chair as soon as he’s dolled-up, shooting Hina an apologetic look (to which she makes an obscene gesture with her hand, tongue against her cheek), and shepherds him down the hall into the first empty room he can find. Today’s Jeno’s last gig as MC of The Show and they’ve dressed him in white, a lacy collar taut around his neck. His eyes are lined with pearl, eyelashes dark as he blinks questioningly at Renjun. Through a gulp, Renjun manages to say, “We need to talk.”
“About what?” Jeno asks, perching himself on the edge of the conference table taking up this entire room. He tries to tug Renjun into the space between his legs but Renjun resists, and Jeno just lets go.
His face has started to redden, the kind of flush he gets when Renjun presses him into his mattress, slow and deep, and Renjun feels awful. Feels as though he’s handed Jeno a poisoned apple when he murmurs, “I can’t go on tour with you,” and forced him to bite.
“Are you…” Jeno blanches, voice tight. “Are you breaking up with me, Injun-ah?”
Renjun’s eyes widen. “No?” He steps forward, reaching out for Jeno’s hands, but Jeno resists, and Renjun curls his fingers around Jeno’s wrists instead. “I’m not breaking up with you.”
“Then why aren’t you coming,” Jeno says, turning his face away.
“It’s just the American leg,” Renjun tells Jeno’s jawline, “I have to attend my cousin’s wedding. She made me her man of honour.” He cracks a hesitant smile. “Cool, right?”
“Cool,” Jeno breathes, just shy of sarcastic. “If we’re not breaking up, can I come?”
Renjun gingerly grasps Jeno’s chin between his fingers, and Jeno does the rest for him, eyes still downcast in a way that causes a familiar thrill to gurgle in Renjun’s veins. No, he can’t. Not here. He laughs, the sound like a butter knife, “How do you propose to get out of your first world tour, Jeno?”
“I’ll break my arm,” Jeno says.
“The company will make you perform one-armed.”
“Fuck,” Jeno says plainly, “We’ve never been apart this long. You can’t not come.”
It’s been two years since Jeno held the Pacific Ocean in his arms and Renjun barely stopped himself from drowning. It’s been eight months since Renjun jumped in headfirst, Jeno’s mouth wet against his and arms around Renjun’s waist like a life jacket. It’s been 742 days and they’ve spent 740 of those together, even if just a morning kiss shared before Renjun drove to Ansan to visit his family, before he started taking Jeno with him too.
Renjun kisses the tip of Jeno’s nose, and it immediately scrunches up, like the pale pink petals of a mimosa pudica, the shame plant. “You’ll survive. Your right hand still works, doesn’t it? If you don’t break it, that is.”
“Actually I’m trying to use my left hand more these days,” Jeno counters, and the seriousness with which he says this stops Renjun from pinching the bridge of his nose for once. “I’ve always wanted to be ambidextrous.”
“Well, you and your left hand can have fun getting acquainted then,” Renjun teases, desperate to comb his hand through Jeno’s styled hair. He strokes his finger along the shell of Jeno’s ear and hopes it will be enough. “I’m sorry, Jeno.”
Jeno frowns, turning away again, face closing off. “I don’t accept,” he says, “I hate this. I hate you.”
Renjun just hums, pinching Jeno’s ear a little too hard, and yeah, maybe it is petty that he grins at Jeno’s knees buckling, the whimper that leaves his begrudging mouth.
“Say it again,” Renjun demands.
“I hate you,” Jeno says, pouting.
And those are the last words Renjun hears from Jeno before there’s a knock on the door, and Hina’s voice is calling out, “Get dressed, Jeno’s on in five. You’re lucky I found you first, fuckers.”
After, Jeno bums a ride off Yeeun’s manager despite CLC’s dorms being in the complete opposite direction. Renjun drives home alone after 20 minutes of sheer panic over Jeno’s whereabouts (Yeeun texts him: was gonna put him in a taxi but he’s RLY good at sucking up to authority ㅋㅋㅋ looks like you have competition) and when he enters, Jeno’s curled up on his old bed, fast asleep.
Renjun sighs, grabbing a packet of makeup wipes.
The first few times, Jeno fucked Renjun.
But there was something about the way he did it, never thrusting hard but burying himself to the hilt and hips grinding into Renjun’s ass like pestle against mortar, forcing Renjun to push back onto Jeno’s cock, a desperate whine on the tip of Jeno’s tongue, there was something.
Renjun pushed Jeno onto his back a week later, sinking painstakingly slow onto his length, and told him, “Don’t move,” hand placing the barest pressure around Jeno’s throat.
Jeno didn’t move.
Renjun felt sick with excitement. “Hands up above your head,” he said.
Jeno raised his arms, wrists crossed. He was the picture of innocence, looking up at Renjun all doe-eyed, a giggle leaving his mouth as Renjun’s fingers wandered up his sides.
“Do you want me to keep going?” Renjun had asked, after a few minutes spent deep in thought. Jeno, whoever this Jeno was, just stayed.
“I’m sorry,” Jeno said quickly. His arms twitched like he wanted to bring them down, but he didn’t dare, not until Renjun told him he could. “Let’s just ignore this. I can fuck you. Rough, mean, however you like it.”
“No,” Renjun burst out, and Jeno winced, bottom lip quivering. Renjun cupped Jeno’s face gently, thumb stroking against his lip. “No,” he repeats, “I want you like this. I’m surprised, but I want it.”
Jeno leant into Renjun’s touch, sucking Renjun’s thumb into his mouth. His cheeks hollowed and Renjun felt a zap up his spine.
“Good boy,” Renjun murmured, and he started to lift his hips up, bouncing back on Jeno’s cock.
It felt like he was sitting on a throne. It felt fucking powerful.
Na Jaemin once sent Renjun a Pann article, along with the last comment hellooo ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)~｡*:･ﾟ. When Renjun clicks on it - well, it’s the biggest meltdown he’s had since he started dating Jeno:
[fan-talk] IDOL’S RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS MANAGER
- [+3256, -21] Don’t you think Jeno really acts like his manager’s girlfriend sometimes?? ㅋㅋ Imagine if they were actually dating ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ
- [+2867, -113] Who needs Jeno when we can just stare at his manager ㅋㅋ Ah a face like his is seriously wasted on being a manager ㅠㅠㅠ
- [+654, -32] Isn’t Renjun really young too? And he seems so perfect… That’s it I’ll become his first fansite master… ㅋㅋ
- [+977, -68] Wow I never thought I’d see this side of Lee Jeno ㅎㅎ He’s unexpectedly cute?!
- [+276, -4] If they were dating I would 100% be okay with that ㅠㅠㅠ I’ve been Jeno’s fan since debut and no one has treated him as well as Huang Renjun…
- [+34, -89] Jaemjen though ㅠㅠ Am I the only one who thinks Na Jaemin would win over Jeno and his manager?
Jeno is filming a pre-recording for MuBank, so Jaemin has to come over from his dressing room to talk Renjun down. And he’s surprisingly good at that, all soothing touches and breathing exercises that would rival any of Jeno’s therapists. They’d become friends because Jeno had asked Donghyuck to ask Jaemin if he wanted a threesome with him and Renjun and though they set a date and time, it never really ended up happening. But Renjun and Jaemin clicked instantly, chatting with a level of depth that doesn’t often come with Jeno, and he’s pretty sure no one can fluster Jeno like Jaemin can, so he hasn’t ruled out the possibility completely. For now, this is nice. Sort of -
“They know,” Renjun mutters, and the gravity of that statement hits him so devastatingly that he has to squeeze his eyes shut and wrap his arms around his knees.
Jaemin quickly nips that in the bud. He coaxes Renjun’s arms apart, massaging a hand between the pads of his thumbs. “They don’t know, Injunnie. They’re just speculating. Not - not speculating even, just shipping. There’s a difference.”
“They could find out,” Renjun tries, eyes watching the way Jaemin digs his thumb into the fleshy heel of his palm. It feels good - it feels good to know that Jeno’s fans think that he’s attractive, worthy of being Jeno’s boyfriend but there’s too much at stake for that approval to mean much. “Easily.”
“And if that happens,” Jaemin says, tilting Renjun’s chin up so he’s forced to look him in the eye. “It’s going to be shit.” The staunch fierceness in Jaemin’s eyes pierces through Renjun’s forehead like the lance of a knight fighting for his kingdom, and he continues, “But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be with Jeno now. Why deny yourself of love?”
“You’re right,” Renjun murmurs, because the mere thought of attempting to break up with Jeno over some Pann article causes all the fight to immediately drain out of his body. He’s tired and in love and he’s not going to stop, at least not today (and it helps that Jeno reads the article in bed later and presses his mouth to Renjun’s neck, almost purring, “Just so you know, if you break up with me, you’re stuck in a contract with SM for another two years. I read the fine print, babe,” and frankly, that was the reality Renjun wanted to hear.)
The night before Jeno flies out to New York, Renjun can now say he’s sucked dick and had his dick sucked in almost every capital city in Asia but still, still, it’s not enough. Jeno stopped being mad a while ago, too preoccupied with the tour grind: a flight too short to watch more than two episodes of Black Mirror with Korean subs, a postcard glimpse of a skyline, rehearsals upon rehearsals, the oscillating white noise of a concert, pants down in the dressing room, in their hotel room and in an airport bathroom the next morning if they could manage it. By the time they were done, Renjun and Jeno had streamed all 4 seasons of Black Mirror and were hiding too many hickies to count.
Jeno presses Renjun up against the door of their dorm, mouth hot against Renjun’s neck. Renjun can feel his bratty pout as Jeno demands, “You better fuck me so hard I’m still limping by the time I come back to Seoul, Injun-ah.”
“How are you going to dance?” Renjun says dryly, even though he very much intends to do that. He slides his palms down Jeno’s back, feeling his muscles flex beneath paper thin skin, and grabs a handful of his ass, squeezing with such roughness that Jeno loses his balance, plastering Renjun even harder into the door. His body is lean and tight all over, but at a certain pace, with Jeno on his hands and knees, his ass jiggles deliciously against Renjun’s hips and god, if Renjun doesn’t want to burn that image into his mind tonight.
“I don’t care,” Jeno says through a hitch in his breath, “I want my fans to know.” He smirks against Renjun’s cheek. “They’ll probably find it hot.”
“Yeah, and the company won’t,” Renjun retorts, walking them backwards down the hallway and into his (and now Jeno’s) room, the closest to the front door. Jeno drops onto the bed, already pushing down his black jeans and boxers in one go. He tugs Renjun into a kiss, rolling them over so he can straddle Renjun’s lap, his erection slapping against Renjun’s stomach, red and leaking with excitement.
“You know I’d give it all up for you, right?” Jeno whispers, hands cupped around the back of Renjun’s neck, thumb stroking against his nape. “Nothing - not the fans, the music, the money - makes me as happy as you do.”
“This is your career, Jeno, I’d never let you do that,” Renjun says, loosely tugging at Jeno’s cock to give his shaking fingers something to do. On second thought - “Say if I were interested, how would we even manage to live a normal life?” He twists sideways to open the top drawer, blindly grabbing the lube, and the kittenish wail Jeno lets out when Renjun accidentally grips too hard around him makes Renjun’s heart fizzle and dissipate.
Renjun, for all his prickliness and readiness to kick Jeno’s ass for the gross one-liners he spews everyday, loves to love, loves to be loved, loves everything about love. But Jeno grew up with the SM Entertainment PR Handbook, is pride and greed and sloth and envy and gluttony and wrath and lust all at once, and the word love doesn’t even exist in his vocabulary.
It’s in the way he rambles, “We’d fake our deaths and leave the country with false passports, I - I know a guy,” rapidly losing his ability to stay coherent with Renjun’s fingers inching into him. In the way he wrests apart Renjun’s button-down, pushing back against Renjun’s hand, and voice cracking as he begs, “Please fuck me already, Injunnie - ah, ah, I’m going to miss you so fucking much. Pleaaaase, I need to feel you in my guts, how else am I going to remember you?”
In the way Jeno smiles, soft and naive, as Renjun pushes his cock past his rim and deadpans, “I don’t know, Jeno, most people keep a picture of their partner in their wallet.”
The fourth time occurs hours after they’ve fallen asleep with Renjun still buried deep inside Jeno, ass a mosaic of dried cum, and Jeno wakes up to pee but ends up fucking himself back on Renjun’s cock, muffling his whines into a pillow. Renjun only stirs when Jeno’s kneeling in a large wet patch in the centre of the mattress, sheepishly biting his lip.
And the fifth time is an hour before they have to leave for the airport, Renjun angrily stuffing urine-soaked sheets into the washing machine and Jeno apologetically rubbing his cheek against Renjun’s arm. Renjun hauls them to the bathroom, shoving Jeno into the shower and fucks him bent against the wall, drops of water jumping up as Renjun slaps the back of his thighs like they’re trying to get away from him.
“I’m in so much pain,” Jeno groans in the car, glaring into the blueish-grey of a 5AM Seoul sky.
“You wanted this,” Renjun points out, thankful for the long stretch of road for most of the drive to Incheon Airport. He’s not feeling too great himself, but the honey-like warmth in his chest makes up for the fact that his hands still distantly smell like pee.
“Didn’t consider the short term effects,” Jeno sighs, shifting in his seat. Renjun sees Jeno’s face around plenty but it’s nothing like sneaking glances at the real thing. Jeno is a bit like the Mona Lisa in that way. Smaller than expected, just as beautiful, and always being looked at. “Can you find a bag of ice for me to sit on?”
“Not your servant,” Renjun says, but after a moment, his eyes stray over to Jeno again. “Are you really sore?” he questions, before turning back to the road, mumbling to himself, “I shouldn’t have let you talk me into fucking you that much, how are you going to sit on a plane for twelve hours, oh my God? I didn’t think about that. The company will kill me but maybe we should get you on a later flight, I don’t want you to actually be limping on stage.”
There’s a palm cocooning Renjun’s hand on the steering wheel, and he immediately feels his lungs start working again. Jeno stretches across the centre console to press a quick kiss against Renjun’s temple, and laughs quietly, “I’ll be fine, babe. I have plenty of experience sitting on a plane and going up on stage after you’ve pounded the shit out of me and - I like it. Besides, I’m not going to be your responsibility anymore.”
“Not ‘anymore’,” Renjun says, sensing another sulking session on the horizon, “Just for now. I picked out your manager for the American tour myself, you’re in good hands.”
“But I want to be in your hands,” Jeno grumbles. “There’s still time for you to come, you know.”
“No,” Renjun says.
Jeno starts to groan, clutching his thigh and keeling over in his seat. “It huuuurts, Injunnie, you destroyed my rectum, you monster, you beast! You have to book a later flight for the both of us so you can nurse me back to health!”
Renjun just rolls his eyes, slowing down as they enter Incheon Airport. There’s a swarm of fans out front, thankfully smaller than usual given the early hour, along with a few journalists there to document Lee Jeno’s first world tour, and Jeno stands by the car, swaddled in his giant, mint green cardigan, and waves at the cameras with the presence of a British royal. Meanwhile Renjun’s job is to grab a trolley, haul Jeno’s suitcases out of the trunk, and allow Jeno to cling onto his arm as they walk through the doors.
There’s a bombshell waiting for them at the terminal: “Darling!” Jeno’s mother calls out, waving dramatically, “Surprise!”
Jeno shares a look with Renjun, the frown he’d already been wearing on account of having to leave Renjun darkening considerably. His mother bounces up from her seat, stretching out her arms to beckon Jeno into a hug. She doesn’t even glance at Renjun. “What are you doing here?” Jeno asks, treading carefully.
“I’m coming on tour with you, of course,” she announces. Now comes the part where her eyes settle on Renjun, always toeing the line between respect and disdain. Renjun turns his nose up, just a fraction - the feeling is mutual. “Since Renjun apparently has better things to do, someone needs to take care of my little Jenjen. You’ve always needed your eomma to help you deal with press.”
“Yeah, when I was five,” Jeno says, “Renjun’s already arranged a manager for me. He’s professional.”
There’s a hairline crack in her expression. “Well, I’ve already booked all my flights,” she says primly, “Perhaps we can take the opportunity to bond? Jeno?”
Renjun turns to Jeno, surprised to find his face has softened. There’s a pregnant pause, and then - “Sure, I’d like that.”
Jeno’s mother just nods, apparently humbled enough not to look a gift horse in its mouth. She excuses herself to go to the bathroom, and leaves Renjun with the encounter he’s been dreading for days.
“So,” Jeno says, “This is goodbye.”
Renjun enters Jeno’s space, as close as he can without being completely flush against him, and pinches Jeno’s cheek, hoping it looks cute and platonic to the dozens of fansite cameras pointed at them, as he whispers into Jeno’s ear, “Wish I could kiss you farewell in front of everyone.”
“You could,” Jeno murmurs, his warm breath fizzling across Renjun’s neck.
Renjun squeezes his arm around Jeno’s upper body and then steps back, the tension popping, leaving him drenched in soda tears. “Two weeks,” he says, “It’s only two weeks. We got this.”
Jeno’s smile is weak, but it’s the most optimistic response Renjun’s gotten out of him so far. “We got this,” he echoes.
The loneliness doesn’t truly hit Renjun until halfway through the wedding reception three days after Jeno left for North America, during the first dance. The drive back from the airport had been quiet. The dorm had been quiet. The long gaze his cousin and her groom share as they twirl around the room is quiet. The wedding is loud but it doesn’t alleviate the fact that there is no one at his side when there should be, no hand holding his.
“Hello? Anyone home?”
Renjun blinks, glancing up at Yiren, his closest cousin in age. He pats the seat next to him, and Yiren laughs, a bit of champagne splashing onto her dress as she sits.
“Your eyes were all glazed over, I was scared I’d have to call an ambulance,” Yiren says, “What’s on your mind, Injunnie?”
Renjun hums, “Just thinking - about stuff.”
“Stuff,” Yiren repeats, “Is that another word for Jeno?”
Renjun fixes her an unamused look, but acquiesces, because she won’t stop bothering him about it if he doesn’t - it’s been Jeno this Jeno that since he arrived in Ansan, and Jeno’s sulkiness must be fucking contagious because no one in his family could comprehend why Jeno couldn’t visit them too. “I miss him,” he sighs, neck flopping against the back of his chair. “Weddings make me feel all loopy.”
Yiren reaches for Renjun’s hand, a gentle smile in her voice. “Do you want to dance?”
“Don’t step on my feet,” Renjun teases, letting Yiren pull him up.
“Well,” Yiren remarks, “I’m no idol.”
Renjun’s entire body feels like flute of champagne gone flat when he crawls into bed that night. After dancing for what felt like hours with Yiren he posted a blurry and uncaptioned close-up of the floral arch the ceremony had taken place under on Instagram and now, with all the intention of deleting it, he sees that Jeno also has a new post on his private account. It’s a photo of a rose bush, the same pink that had adorned the wedding arch, and captioned it thinking ♡. Renjun nearly snorts, shooting off a message to Jeno: are u srsly trying to do a lovestagram rn?
Instead of replying, Renjun’s phone starts to ring. He rolls onto his side, holding it against his ear. “Hey,” he says.
“I thought you’d appreciate it,” Jeno’s already whining, “I know I’m not good at stuff like that. I wanted to send you nudes but I thought that would freak you out—”
“Aw,” Renjun coos, his other hand squeezing around his blanket. “Why’d you make it cute, I wanted to tease you a little longer. I really appreciate it, Jeno. I promise.”
“Good!” Jeno says. There’s a breath, and then he asks, “How was the wedding?”
“Exhausting,” Renjun says, “But good. I - I teared up during the vows.”
Jeno groans. In the background, a door is slammed open, followed by Jeno’s mother making noise about the vending machine outside not stocking Coke Zero. “Wish I’d been there to see that,” Jeno whispers into the speaker. “I love being your human tissue.”
“Jeno,” Renjun sputters,“That’s the grossest thing you’ve ever said.”
“Thanks,” Jeno laughs, sounding very pleased with himself. “I’d love to stay and get you off over the phone, but I have to go. She’s… been a handful.”
“Even for you?”
“Even for me,” Jeno confirms. Before the call cuts out, Renjun catches a garbled, “I love you!” and it echoes through his chest for so long he doesn’t even realise he didn’t say it back.
A week after the wedding, Renjun starts to feel homesick. Technically speaking, his home should be here, with his family. But it’s somewhere amidst the sit-down meals three times a day, the conversation flowing between Chinese and Korean with all the ease of an angry sea storm, his bedroom a revolving door of family gossip, that Renjun grows tired of loud.
He’d forgotten how quiet his relationship with Jeno actually is: their silence just edging on uncomfortable because Renjun can always sense when Jeno is about to jump him, how they only go out when they truly have to, their 3AM pillow debates, and then there’s Jeno’s loud - the noises his mouth makes when he’s playing Overwatch on the couch identical to when Renjun eats him out on the couch ten minutes later, the trap beats he very sincerely attempts to translate through his guitar, his fans and the way they scream his name, that they love him.
And he wants it. Today and tomorrow and the day after and -
The time Renjun used to spend getting laid is now filled by refreshing Twitter and scrolling and refreshing and scrolling and he somewhat regrets closing those porn tabs Jeno had ‘charitably’ opened for him before he left (“You’ll need them! I have great taste!”) so soon. Because shit, he got laid all the time.
He lurches over onto his stomach and props his chin up on his pillow, waiting for that pop of a fresh Timeline and - he’s immediately met with a Postype link for fanfiction where - Renjun clicks on it - Mark and Jeno take Donghyuck from either end? He forwards the link to Jeno (WOW NEVER SEEN THIS COMBO BEFORE???), who’ll definitely forward it to Donghyuck who might jokingly forward it to Mark even though Mark finds all of it weird as fuck, and continues to scroll. Even without Donghyuck, Mark and Jeno are a popular pairing after they did a round of promotions together for Baby Don’t Stop and Baton Touch and Renjun’s spitefully consumed his fair share of fan-made content, often amazed at the accuracy with which Jeno’s fans depict him taking cock.
But Renjun has no need to be jealous, if he were the jealous type, because Mark and Donghyuck are still going strong after Jeno finally put his promise to Donghyuck into motion: he invited them over separately, Donghyuck for a round of Overwatch and Mark for a round of - whatever it is he likes to do in his spare time - only to lock them inside Renjun’s room together. An hour later they emerged sporting matching hickeys and their pinkies linked, which was heartwarming enough for Renjun to forgive Jeno for pimping out his bedroom (but also, he took the opportunity to finally show him how to use a washing machine. Two birds, one stone and maybe a quickie on top of the intense whirr of Renjun’s Moomin sheets getting clean).
There’s a knock on the door, prompting Renjun to quickly stuff his phone underneath his pillow, trying not to let his cheeks heat up over what he’d been looking at. His mother wanders into his room and sits on the edge of his bed, bringing with her a warm, tense breeze that settles thickly in Renjun’s chest. “Are you okay, mama?” Renjun asks, sitting up at the sight of her pinched eyebrows.
“You know you can tell me anything, right?” she says, her words slow and careful and the hand that reaches out to touch Renjun’s knee even more so. “Your father too.”
Oh. Oh, no. Renjun’s stomach drops, drops right to his knee where it feels his mother’s warmth. “What are you talking about?” he tries.
“He needs you, Renjun,” she continues, “And I think you need him too. So we support you.” She smiles. “Mostly we want you to stop moping around all day.”
It’s strange, that feeling of a glass cabinet shattering open in the palm of your hand. He never thought he would tell his parents because he didn’t think he had to. He is Jeno’s manager, and sometimes manager means family, sometimes it means someone who takes you home to stay with their parents. And sometimes it means, “I love him. So so much. I wish I could show you all how much,” Renjun mutters. His eyes feel like glass. “But the world is scary, mama.”
His mother squeezes her palm around Renjun’s knee, holding him together. “It’s not as scary if someone else is scared by your side.” She leans in to whisper, smiling even wider this time, “Remember that horror movie you and Jeno watched downstairs? That’s when I knew. You two, even if you went down, it would be together.”
When she leaves, Renjun checks his buzzing phone, and the maudlin mood their conversation had created peters out at the sight of his notifications: thanks for the porn i jerked off to it in the hotel bathroom! i imagined you there of course <3 (Jeno), Donghyuck already pesters me about having a threesome after you & Jaemin attempted one, why’d you have to fuel him like this? The bro code Renjun… (Mark), and thx renjun!!! i LOVE that u support young creators & our fans like this!!! also~ send me wedding pix!!! it’ll be u and jeno soon :’) <3 (Donghyuck, possibly in collaboration with Jaemin).
When Renjun leaves Ansan, he’s late and his suitcase is bursting at the seams in the backseat. He heads straight for the airport.
Jeno is sitting alone in a Burger King in Vegas.
The night had been spent casino-hopping with his mother and while he’s sobering up, she’s now passed out in her hotel room after puking on Jeno’s shoes and hitting on the bouncer who escorted them out. Getting champagne-drunk and blowing a grand on poker probably wasn’t the best mother-son bonding experience but that’s how they are, that will always be the best they’ll ever have and this tour helped Jeno come to peace with that. He’d tucked his mother into bed, undid her heels and kissed her on the forehead and the mirror between them shattered until Jeno could hardly see his reflection anymore.
So, Jeno’s sitting alone and picking at a carton of cold onion rings. Years from now, he’ll remember the gut-punch of nostalgia he’d felt when Renjun walked through the doors, eyes scanning the restaurant and then darting down to his phone which he was holding out like a tracking device (and it was, he used Find My Phone to locate Jeno). He’s seen this Renjun before, drunk off his ass in some club while Renjun worried to death at home before deciding he couldn’t just sit around, but for the first time Jeno decides that this Jeno is worthy of Renjun. The one sat in a Burger King, fingers greasy and hair stale with yesterday’s stage sweat, and for once not expecting the world but the world, as it usually does, comes -
“Jeno,” Renjun calls out, and his eyes are already wet by the time he slips into Jeno’s booth. “Give me your hand, Jeno.”
“Why?” Jeno asks, but extends it anyway. His mouth starts to tremble in a smile at the absurdity of this. Why is Huang Renjun sitting next to him in a random Burger King in - “If you pinch me, it’s not going to hurt.”
Renjun does it.
Jeno yelps, snatching his hand back to cradle it against his chest. “I didn’t say you could do it! Kiss it better.”
“Later,” Renjun says, and even as his ears start to redden, he smirks, and it feels like a tennis ball thrown across a wide lawn and Jeno’s a dog. Oh, it’s been so long, he has to fetch, he has to - “Right now I have something more important to do.” Renjun takes something out of his pocket, what looks like a piece of paper folded thin and rolled into a circle. “It was the receipt for my cab ride here, I didn’t have anything better,” Renjun explains.
“Anything better? For what?”
Renjun continues, “And I’d get down on one knee but this floor is gross and someone could see and,” he holds out the receipt ring with both hands, “this isn’t technically what you think it is - fuck, Jeno, I’m asking you to get engaged to get engaged to me one day. It would be silly to pretend we can get married anytime soon but one day - I want to be with you forever.”
For a long moment, Jeno just stares at the tears rolling down Renjun’s cheeks, each one sparkling in a different shade of strip club neon. Then, Jeno reaches into the carton of onion rings and presents the tiniest one to Renjun. “We can live in the mountains. And we’ll grow old together and no one will remember us anymore and we’ll die a month apart in the spring,” he says.
Renjun starts to sob in earnest now, but it’s a laugh at the same time. “That’s awful, Jeno. Will you put your headstone next to mine?”
“I’ll put it on top because that’s my favourite position,” Jeno says, inching the onion ring onto Renjun’s left hand. Renjun can’t even get his own ring onto Jeno’s finger because Jeno’s using it to wipe Renjun’s tears, rubbing them into his skin because Mark once told him it was good for acne. But Renjun finally does, tying the receipt into a knot around Jeno’s knuckle and bending down to kiss it complete and okay, that action is another tennis ball that Jeno has to chase this time. He rests his arm across the top of the booth, leaning in to purr in Renjun’s still-red ear, “Mr Lee, how would you like your very own concert in the privacy of my hotel room?”
Renjun sucks in a shuddery breath, and then Jeno feels his grin against the side of his neck. “Just don’t play your debut album, please. Hey - hey! Why are you eating my engagement ring, Jeno, stoooop, close your mouth, that’s disgusting!”