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in darkness the spider lily blooms

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“Chanyeol-ah!” Jongdae calls, stepping into the studio apartment Chanyeol so often calls home now. The keys jingle cheerily in his hand as he crosses the threshold, finding Chanyeol asleep in his bed, sniffling slightly.

 

Jongdae takes a moment to just look at Chanyeol, then grins widely and snaps a couple of pictures for future blackmail.

 

“Chanyeol-ah,” He calls again, softer, this time. He sits himself down on the bed next to his boyfriend, patting his hip - or the part under the blanket Jongdae assumes is Chanyeol’s hip - in an attempt to wake him up. “Wake up, babe, we have to go.”

 

Chanyeol makes a dissatisfied noise in his throat even as he blinks awake, staring blearily at Jongdae before he realises who’s in his apartment. “Wha- Jongdae? How did you get in here?”

 

Or at least, that’s what Jongdae thinks Chanyeol was trying to say. As it is, he’s still muffled with sleep, and what comes out is more like a hadeejugerrinere that has Jongdae giggling into the palm of his hand. Chanyeol sends him an offended look that only has Jongdae laughing harder.

 

“You’re horrible,” Chanyeol huffs, sounding a little more awake than before, now. “The worst.”

 

Jongdae snorts, ripping the blankets off Chanyeol as his boyfriend screams. “I came all the way here from the dorms to wake you up, keys - that you gave to me last night at dinner so I could do this, by the way - in hand, when I didn’t have to, and this is how you repay me?” Jongdae sniffs haughtily, turning his nose up at Chanyeol. “Unbelievable.”

 

Chanyeol’s sleep addled mind finally seems to catch up to him, because his eyes light up with recognition. “Oh!” He exclaims, sitting up. “We’re recording for Sugarman today!”

 

Jongdae laughs, then, and Chanyeol huffs, grabbing his boyfriend and tackling him down onto the bed, pinning him there. Jongdae, even in such a position, manages to be a little piece of shit, raising a hand to pat Chanyeol on the head. “Well done, Chanyeol,” He praises, looking way too pleased with himself. “I’m so proud of you, gonna give you a gold star.”

 

Chanyeol pulls away from his boyfriend to stare at him incredulously, one eyebrow raised, but Jongdae, unaffected, just beams brightly at him. “Come on, sleepyhead,” He says, using the hand that had been patting Chanyeol’s head to comb through his hair. “We need to go get ready; manager-hyung’s waiting for us downstairs.”

 

“Ugh, right,” Chanyeol complains, getting clumsily up onto his feet and staggering his way into the bathroom. Jongdae watches him go, a fond look on his face. He looks around the room, seeing clothes strewn on the floor and old delivery boxes on as many surfaces as Chanyeol had managed to stuff them onto. He sighs, displeased that Chanyeol’s not taking care of himself as well as Jongdae would like him to, then stands up and attempts to clear some of his boyfriend’s mess.

 

Chanyeol stumbles his way out of the bathroom a couple of minutes later, when Jongdae has disposed of all of Chanyeol’s rubbish and is rinsing his hands with soap and water, teeth brushed and face washed. His hair is still sticking up at the back, so Jongdae uses his damp hands to smooth it down as best as he can.

 

“All clean,” Chanyeol grins with all his teeth.

 

Jongdae laughs, nodding. “Yes, yes, all clean.”

 

Chanyeol hums, grabbing Jongdae around the waist. “So,” He hums, grin still as bright, leaning forward to nuzzle his nose against Jongdae’s. “Where’s my good morning kiss?”

 

“Do you deserve one?” Jongdae asks, tilting his head even as he feels himself blushing at Chanyeol’s proximity. “After you made me clean up your mess?”

 

Chanyeol looks around him, bewildered, only just realising that Jongdae had managed to organise some of his mounds of stuff. His grin - if possible - widens even further, and he crushes Jongdae to his chest in a bear hug. Jongdae grunts, trapped in by Chanyeol’s ridiculously, unfairly long arms. “You’re the best!” Chanyeol crows.

 

“Yes, yes,” Jongdae wheezes, trying to push Chanyeol away before he asphyxiates. He manages to do so, thanking all the hours spent at the gym with Baekhyun and Minseok, holding Chanyeol at arm’s length. “We need to go, Chanyeol.”

 

Chanyeol whines, long and slow under his breath. Jongdae wants to protest and say that he’s the one in charge of whining in this group, but stays quiet and merely sighs. He leans in, up on the tips of his toes, to press his lips to Chanyeol’s.

 

His boyfriend doesn’t waste any time in deepening the kiss, coaxing his lips open and sliding his tongue in. Chanyeol himself’s been working out too, it seems, what with the way he grabs Jongdae with one arm around his waist and another under his thighs, lifting him up.

 

Jongdae makes a sound in the back of his throat, suddenly acutely turned on. He’s known for a while that Chanyeol could lift him - even back in their Wolf & Growl days, Chanyeol had always managed to pick him up like he weighed nothing - but being pressed against Chanyeol’s wall like this is new even for them.

 

“Chanyeol,” He gasps. “Chanyeol, we can’t, manager-hyung is waiting.”

 

It doesn’t seem like Chanyeol particularly cares that their manager is waiting for them in the car, what with the way he’s pressing Jongdae harder into the wall, fucking his tongue deeper into Jongdae’s mouth. Jongdae keens, throwing his head back and breaking the kiss. They have to go, and Jongdae really doesn’t want their manager to come up and ask what’s taking them so long.

 

Chanyeol,” Jongdae murmurs into Chanyeol’s ear, voice low. He can feel the full body shiver that wracks through Chanyeol’s body. He chuckles; he knows Chanyeol’s body like the palm of his hand, knows how to make him stop and listen to him. “If you be a good boy and stop now, I’ll fuck you backstage when we get to the venue.”

 

Chanyeol makes a desperate noise, and when Jongdae looks up at him his eyes are wide, pupils blown. Jongdae smiles, one hand coming up to Chanyeol’s cheek, stroking gently with his thumb. He presses a kiss to Chanyeol’s nose, tender, gentle. “Will you be good?” Jongdae asks. “Will you be good for me?”

 

“Yes,” Chanyeol gasps, slowly lowering Jongdae to the ground. Jongdae’s smile widens when his feet touch the ground, proud. “I’ll be good.”

 

Jongdae takes Chanyeol’s hand and leads him out the door, Chanyeol following behind him like a lost puppy.

 

Chanyeol, it turns out, is capable of being a good boy, and Jongdae, as per his promise, does fuck Chanyeol in one of the empty rooms - thankfully with locks that work - at the JTBC studio. Chanyeol comes untouched, moaning, gasping around the fingers Jongdae had pressed into his mouth.

 

Jongdae had expected an easy time during recording. While he’s never collaborated with Chanyeol officially, he’s sung some of the demos that Chanyeol’s written, and he’s familiar with the way his high notes blend perfectly with Chanyeol’s lower register.

 

He doesn’t expect the flashes he gets during rehearsal, sending him reeling when it’s his turn to sing.

 


 

“My lady, are you not tired?”

 

Crown Princess Jungda blinks up at her fiancé from where she’s seated comfortably on a cushion. He holds his hand out to her, palm facing upwards, and she takes it, smiling at the gesture. A kiss, gentle as always, is placed on her knuckles.

 

Her fiancé, Royal Consort - and one day Emperor - Kim Junmyeon smiles at her as he sits next to her. She leans into him, head pillowed comfortably on his shoulder. “A little,” She answers. “I’m waiting for Chanmi.”

 

Junmyeon hums, understanding, one hand coming up to card gently through her hair. “Still,” He says, voice soothing. “You should retire to your room first, my lady. She would not want you to tire yourself out so, even if you’re awaiting her return.”

 

“Chanmi promised me a gift,” Jungda smiles impishly. “I am simply much too eager to find out what it is to retire before her arrival.”

 

That brings a laugh out of her Royal Consort, and Jungda cuddles closer. This is the man she’s to wed, and she’s lucky that her court had chosen someone like Junmyeon, who’s kind, and understanding, who looks at her relationship with Chanmi and sees nothing but love.

 

“Where is she returning from?”

 

“A village in the mountains, she said,” Jungda replies, stretching her legs out in front of her. It’s distinctly unlike her station, but Jungda knows that Junmyeon doesn’t - and won’t ever - care. They may be Crown Princess and Royal Consort, but when they’re alone, they’re only Jungda and Junmyeon. “She has a friend there, one she hasn’t seen in a long time.”

 

Chanmi, as Jungda’s head maid in waiting, doesn’t have much time outside of the palace, if at all. It’s only out of Jungda’s love for Chanmi - brought about first by Chanmi’s unwavering loyalty, later by the way she was entirely unable to hide her feelings for her childhood friend, even if said childhood friend was the Crown Princess - that Jungda had given her her first vacation.

 

It’s then Jungda sees, from her vantage point on the balcony, a carriage pull up to the front of her wing. She jumps up from her cushion, gathering her skirts and rushing out the door.

 

She can hear Chanmi’s voice when she makes it down the stairs, and it sends a bloom of warmth surging through her. The door opens, and Jungda’s breath hitches. It’s been two whole weeks since she’s seen Chanmi, two weeks she didn’t have her maid in waiting, yes, but two weeks she hadn’t had the love of her life, and she misses her.

 

“Chanmi,” She whispers, uncaringly throwing herself into Chanmi’s arms. Chanmi catches her, as she always, always does. “Chanmi, Chanmi.”

 

“I’m home, your highness,” Chanmi greets, and it makes something burn within Jungda, the way Chanmi doesn’t say that she’s back, but that she’s home. Jungda likes to think that she’s what makes the palace home for Chanmi, sometimes.

 

Jungda gets up on the toes of her feet, hands resting on Chanmi’s shoulders, to kiss her. Chanmi’s arms wrap around her waist and Jungda feels so secure like this, has felt this way with Chanmi ever since she was barely a teenager, when Chanmi had been introduced to her as a new playmate, but also someone training to serve her and her alone, in future.

 

“Welcome home,” She murmurs against Chanmi’s lips, and she feels more than hears her lover’s answering hum. “I missed you while you were gone.”

 

“As did I, your highness,” Is Chanmi’s answer. Her maid in waiting pulls back to smile at her, eyes gentle and grin bright. “I enjoyed myself, but it would’ve been much better had you been with me.”

 

Jungda laughs, breathlessly, as is the norm when she’s around Chanmi. “Come,” She says, spinning around, grabbing Chanmi by the hand. “You should- Oh.”

 

Her Royal Consort is standing behind them, a look of amusement on his face. Jungda feels Chanmi’s grip on her hand tighten; Junmyeon has said, more than once, that he doesn’t mind that his promised has someone else, but they never could be sure.

 

“Your highness,” Chanmi greets, bowing. “My apologies, I-”

 

Junmyeon laughs, waving her off with one hand. “I trailed after our Crown Princess here, when she jumped to her feet and sped off upon seeing your carriage’s arrival. I was afraid she would trip over her skirts, what with how impatient she was being, but I can see now that I had no need to fear.” Junmyeon’s eyes are twinkling, from what Jungda can see, and it’s more playful teasing than anything else. She lets out a sigh of relief, letting go of Chanmi’s hand and walking up to him.

 

“My lord,” She says, ducking her head just slightly in embarrassment. “I’m sorry to have worried you.”

 

“There’s no need for that, my lady,” Junmyeon replies, and Jungda feels one hand rest gently on her cheek, tilting her head up to look at him. “I must return to my quarters now; I pray you have a wonderful night.”

 

Jungda beams, leans up to press a chaste kiss to Junmyeon’s cheek. “For you as well, my lord.”

 

She watches as Junmyeon strides out of her quarters, waving cheerily at him when he turns back to send her one last farewell greeting. It’s only after she can no longer see his figure in the distance that she turns back to Chanmi and takes her hand again, smiling up at her.

 

“You must be tired,” She says, voice soft. “I’ve had a bath prepared for you, and a small meal. Which would you like to partake in first?”

 

Chanmi sends her a wide, wide grin, and, after checking that Jungda had dismissed all her other maids for the night, scoops her up easily into a cradle carry that has the Crown Princess screeching. “I think I’d rather have you, your highness.”

 

Jungda can’t even say anything in defense to how stupidly corny Chanmi’s words are, horribly fond as she is, but she does smack her lover once on the arm to show her displeasure. Her smile, however, never leaves her face the way her eyes never leave Chami’s.

 


 

Jongdae comes back to himself when a voice calls his name, and he realises that he’s been so lost in his own thoughts - or were they, perhaps, memories, of a time long past - that he’s entirely forgotten to sing the song when the instrumental had started playing. Jongdae shakes his head, chancing a glance towards Chanyeol. His partner looks just about as spaced out as Jongdae feels.

 

“Chanyeol-ssi, Jongdae-ssi.”

 

He looks up to see Yu Huiyeol standing over them, the rest of the cast members looking at them with worried expressions on their faces. “Are you two all right? We’d barely begun the rehearsal when the two of you stopped singing.”

 

Shame burns within Jongdae; he’s a professional, damn it all, they both are, they can’t be spacing out during recordings like this, even if it was just a rehearsal.

 

“We’re very sorry,” Chanyeol pipes up first, sounding contrite. “We both had a long day at practice yesterday.” Jongdae knows that that’s no excuse, the members of EXID probably had long days of practice themselves, too, but it’s the best - the only - one that they had. “We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

 

“Okay,” Huiyeol says, accepting it, and for that Jongdae is grateful. “We’ll roll from the top again.”

 

Jongdae steels himself, and when the music starts anew, this time, Jongdae looks at Chanyeol, smiles, and sings.

 

They’re given a break, after first rehearsal, and Jongdae grabs Chanyeol by the wrist into their waiting room. Their manager will bring food with him when he comes back, Jongdae knows, so he’s not particularly fussed about the growling of his stomach. Jongdae says nothing, just plants himself down onto the couch and drags Chanyeol with him, cuddling up to him when he falls.

 

“Jongdae,” Chanyeol is the one who breaks the silence. “Please don’t think I’m crazy.” He sounds so unsure of himself that it almost hurts Jongdae, who just turns his head to look at him. “During the rehearsal, I think. I think I saw us, but. A long time ago?”

 

Jongdae says nothing for a moment, trying to wrap his head around it. He puts two and two together quickly enough; Chanyeol had had the same vision in his head, the same image of Crown Princess Jungda and her maid-in-waiting Chanmi. He sucks in a sharp inhale, feels Chanyeol flinch. “I saw it, too,” Jongdae replies.

 

Chanyeol looks like he doesn’t entirely believe Jongdae, and Jongdae can’t blame him. He’s played more than one prank on Chanyeol that’s inevitably hurt his soft puppy of a boyfriend. He reaches up, touches Chanyeol’s cheek gently, eyes adoring. “Chanmi,” He calls, and Chanyeol stiffens, eyes wide. “My Chanmi. My Chanyeol.”

 

“Your highness,” Chanyeol manages to croak out, a little teary. “Jungda, Jongdae.”

 

Jongdae laughs, breathless with it. He hides his face in the space between Chanyeol’s neck and shoulder, nuzzling. “I don’t remember anything other than you returning,” He admits. “I don’t know if I want to remember anything more, to be honest, but I’m glad.” He pauses, here, unsure if he really wants to say it, but sighs, happily, and does so regardless. “I’m glad we found each other, again.”

 

He feels a hair come up to his hair, scratching lightly at his scalp. Jongdae feels so peaceful, tucked in Chanyeol’s arms like this, and he could very much fall asleep, here. He knows he shouldn’t, but it’s so tempting, with how warm and comfortable Chanyeol is.

 

The moment is very much ruined when Chanyeol chooses to pipe up, “I can’t believe you married Junmyeon hyung.”

 

Jongdae hits him.

 


 

They don’t have much time to themselves, after that. Their second rehearsal takes up most of their time, Jongdae delighting in being able to sing with Chanyeol again, even if it is the same song. He pushes his glasses higher up his nose, starts to kick his feet.

 

“Jongdae,” Chanyeol laughs, softly, from beside him.

 

Jongdae just turns to beam at him, eyes crinkled and smile wide. Chanyeol laughs again, but the audio director gives them their cue, and they quickly turn serious again. Jongdae won’t lie and say this is the favourite song he’s ever sung, but he does like it, and it’s easy for him to lose himself to the music.

 

Singing with Chanyeol is comfortable. Jongdae gets to listen to the sound of his boyfriend’s voice mixing with his, and he takes all the lower parts of the song, leaving Jongdae to reach the higher notes he’s always been known for. It’s easy, like this, sitting next to Chanyeol, concentrating only on the music. There’s no choreography, no blocking, nothing to distract him from just singing.

 

This, really, is the reason Jongdae had auditioned for SM in the first place. Sure, he had known that he would eventually have to use his two left feet to dance, but he’s managed to get quite good at it, if he does say so himself. Sure, he may never be Jongin, Yixing, even Minseok-hyung, but he prides himself, at least, in his ability to keep up with them.

 

But nothing will ever top this, nothing will ever top just being able to close his eyes, listen to the instrumentals, and singing. This is what he's always dreamed of, this is the reason he walked into that audition room so many years ago, trembling hands gripping his registration papers.

 

It's wonderful. It's absolutely wonderful, and he loses himself to it, falls into the music and lets it take him. All too soon, Jongdae finds them softly singing the last line, and he opens his eyes to smile gently at Chanyeol, who returns it.

 

They get the okay from the production team, bowing as they exit the stage to make way for EXID, smiling as they go. Chanyeol takes his hand when they reach a more deserted area, and Jongdae lets him, intertwining their fingers and stepping closer to him. He looks up, about to tease Chanyeol, but there’s a shift, and it’s Chanyeol- Chanmi-?

 


 

“Your highness,” Chanmi murmurs, holding Jungda close the moment she walks in through the doors. Jungda falls, knowing that Chanmi will catch her, and snuggles into her. “How was today?”

 

“Tiring,” Jungda replies, her voice tinted with an edge of a whine. “I want to sleep for a week.”

 

Chanmi laughs, and Jungda knows, is so used to her head maid-in-waiting’s actions now, that she’s inclining her head at the other maids to get them to prepare Jungda’s chambers. They will bow, and shuffle off to do what Chanmi has tasked them to do.

 

This is all proven correct when Chanmi gently scoops her up into her arms in a cradle carry; something she only ever does when they’re alone and she’s comfortable enough with showing her affection. Jungda sighs happily, nuzzles into Chanmi’s neck.

 

She makes a soft little sound when they enter the bathing area, and Jungda peers pitifully up at Chanmi. “I’m tired.”

 

Chanmi snorts, puts her down on the bench and tests the water, Jungda watching her as she swings her legs back and forth. “You still have to bathe before you rest, your highness,” Chanmi scolds. “What kind of Crown Princess doesn’t wash up before retiring?”

 

This one,” Jungda replies, pouting petulantly, but gives in when Chanmi stretches one arm out. She sighs, taking that hand and following it. Chanmi undresses her, nimble fingers quickly tugging at the binds and letting them fall to the floor. Jungdae stretches, then walks over to the bath, sinking down into the warm bath water that Chanmi had prepared for her. “Feels good.”

 

“Told you,” Chanmi says, pressing a kiss to the crown of her hair, then wrinkling her nose. “Please wash your hair, your highness.”

 

Jungda reaches out with one wet hand to smack Chanmi, leaving a handprint and giggling when Chanmi makes a face at it. “Wash it for me,” She says, beaming brightly when Chanmi shakes her head with a fond smile. She reaches out for the soap, herself, lathering it up against her skin, humming happily when she feels Chanmi’s hands in her hair, massaging soap into it.

 

“What did you do today to tire you out so much, your highness?” Chanmi asks, scooping up some water from the bath to lather the soap more.

 

“Rode out to the inner provinces with Junmyeon today,” She replies, relaxing into Chanmi’s skillful hands. “There’s been a couple of issues that were taken up to court, and father wished for us to resolve them. He said it was good practice for when we’d have to do the same but problem solve for the whole country instead.”

 

“His majesty is wise,” Chanmi says.

 

Jungda laughs. “Of course he is, he’s the Emperor. Even if he wasn’t - which he is - he’d have to somehow fake it.”

 

“That’s not-” Chanmi starts in a panic.

 

“Shh,” Jungda says, smiling at Chanmi reassuringly. “I know, Chanmi.”

 

That has her maid smiling back at her, posture relaxing. She receives a kiss on her forehead, then a whisper: “Lean your head back, your highness.” Jungda does as she’s told, dipping her head back and into the water. She feels Chanmi’s fingers combing through the strands of her hair, washing the soap away. It’s so soothing a feeling that Jungda is pretty sure she could fall asleep right here.

 

Almost as though reading her mind, Chanmi taps her cheek with two fingers. “Please don’t fall asleep here, your highness, you’ll drown.”

 

Jungda pouts up at Chanmi, who’s watching her with a fond glint in her eyes. She smiles, then pulls away from Chanmi, ducking her entire head under the water. She stays there for a couple of seconds before resurfacing to see Chanmi standing, now, at the edge of the bath, holding a towel open for her. Something surges inside her, and she walks into the towel, letting Chanmi towel her dry.

 

“Come, your highness,” Chanmi says, taking her hand gently after she wraps her in a robe. “Let’s get you into bed.”

 

This is one of Jungda’s favourite, but most hated times of the day. When Chanmi tucks her into bed, sits by her bedside, and waits until she falls asleep. It’s one the few times she can really just be with Chanmi, love her and be loved for all that they are; not as the Crown Princess and her head maid-in-waiting, but just Jungda and Chanmi.

 

And yet, Jungda hates it, because she knows that once she wakes up, Chanmi will not be with her. Even though Jungda has repeatedly said that she doesn’t care if Chanmi sleeps in the same bed as her, Chanmi still doesn’t think it’s appropriate. Every time Jungda brings it up, Chanmi’s face will go expressionless, her eyes decidedly blank, and it makes something unpleasant burn within Jungda.

 

“Chanmi,” Jungda calls, when she’s tucked into bed. “Chanmi, sleep with me tonight.”

 

As predicted, all affection immediately slides off of Chanmi’s face, and Jungda is faced with what she calls Chanmi’s professional mask. It’s what she wears whenever she has to be nothing more than Jungda’s head maid-in-waiting, and Jungda loathes it, hates that it makes Chanmi so distant, even when she’s standing right next to her bed.

 

“Your highness,” Chanmi shakes her head. “It’s not appropriate.”

 

“Please?” Jungda begs, and she can see Chanmi beginning to crack. Because Jungda knows, as much as Chanmi always turns her down, citing propriety and inappropriateness, Chanmi wants nothing more than to lie in bed with Jungda, hold her until the sun rises once more, and they have to return to holding each other at arm’s length. “For tonight, Chanmi-ah. Just for tonight.”

 

The pet name works its charm, just as Jungda knew it would, and she sighs. Jungda gets a kiss on the cheek, then Chanmi is shrugging off her outer robes, leaving her in the thin, translucent material she wears underneath. Jungda beams as she shifts to make room for Chanmi, watching her blow out the lamps lighting up the room, then immediately cuddling up to her when Chanmi climbs into bed and makes herself comfortable.

 

“Hey,” Chanmi says, poking her gently on the nose. Jungda scrunches it up, looking up at Chanmi in confusion. “I want to be little spoon.”

 

Jungda had expected this, of course. Chanmi, despite her height, absolutely adores being the little spoon. She hums, pretending to think it through, but gives in with a laugh when Chanmi pouts at her, whining softly. “Of course, love,” She says, kissing Chanmi’s chastely on the lips. “Anything for you.”

 

Chanmi lets out a breath at the endearment, face colouring. She hides her face, ducking down to tuck herself into Jungda, and Jungda laughs. “You’re adorable,” She says, reaching out to cup Chanmi’s cheek in one hand, thumb stroking gently.

 

“Stop,” Chanmi whines. “You’re doing this on purpose.”

 

“Maybe I am,” Jungda says, teasing. “That doesn’t mean it’s not true.”

 

Chanmi says nothing, merely buries her face deeper into Jungda’s neck. Jungda laughs again, but softer, this time, tugs Chanmi closer and presses a gentle kiss to her love’s hair.


 

Jongdae snaps back to reality when there’s a loud thud behind them, and he quickly lets go of Chanyeol’s hand, just in case. There’s no one there, but it makes him skittish, has him swiftly walking back towards their waiting room.

 

Chanyeol looks a little sad, and Jongdae knows the reason why. He closes the door behind them, taking note that their waiting room is empty, and settles down on the chairs against the wall, next to the door. It gives them a little more privacy, more time to jump apart should someone enter and see them huddled together more than a platonic friendship should suggest.

 

Sometimes, Jongdae detests his line of work, hates that he can’t just be with Chanyeol. And yet, without this, he would never have met Chanyeol in the first place, and the thought of that is sobering.

 

“Chanyeol,” Jongdae murmurs, tugs Chanyeol down onto the chair next to him. Chanyeol goes, easily, as he always does, and Jongdae curls himself up next to him, takes the hand he had let go of and intertwines their fingers once more. “Did you see, again?”

 

“Yes,” Chanyeol replies, tightening his grip on Jongdae’s hand. A teasing smile blooms on his face, then, and Jongdae’s heart soars. “I bathed you, your highness.”

 

Jongdae laughs, free hand coming up to smack at Chanyeol’s forearm gently. “Don’t call me that, it feels weird. Besides, it’s not like you’ve never seen me naked before.”

 

“Oh, I have,” Chanyeol leers, face coming closer to Jongdae’s. Jongdae resists the urge to kiss that smirk off of his boyfriend’s face, choosing instead to stick his tongue out at him like a child. “It’s a very attractive sight, I must say. Both now and then.”

 

“Glad to know you find me hot in every life,” Jongdae snorts, but he can’t help but feel pleased. “Does wonders for my ego.”

 

They spend some time in comfortable silence, then, and Jongdae leans his head against Chanyeol’s shoulder, continuing to play with his fingers. They both get a notification from their group chat with their manager, saying that he’d left to attend to something back at the office and would only be back after the recording had concluded to pick them up.

 

“You know, Youngmin hyung does a lot for us,” Chanyeol randomly says, and Jongdae raises a questioning brow at him. “Like, I love him. But I’m really glad that he’s not here right now.”

 

Jongdae laughs, shaking his head. “You just want to make out!” He points accusingly at Chanyeol. “Oh, our poor, unappreciated Youngmin hyung.”

 

“Shut up,” Chanyeol grumbles. “Does this mean you don’t want to kiss me?”

 

Jongdae rolls his eyes, glances at his watch. They won’t be needed for another quarter of an hour or so until the rest of the artists finishes their own rehearsals, and from there they’ll start the official recording. It gives them time for themselves, and Jongdae isn’t stupid enough not to cherish it. “Of course I want to kiss you, silly,” Jongdae says. “Who wouldn’t want to kiss you?”

 

Chanyeol, being Chanyeol, actually starts to list people, counting them off with his fingers. “Pretty sure Youngmin hyung, Jaewon hyung, Seunghwan hyung-”

 

“Stop!” Jongdae laughs, quickly placing his hand over Chanyeol’s mouth to silence him. “It was a rhetorical question, Chanyeol!”

 

“You asked,” Chanyeol grins widely at him. “I merely provided you an answer.”

 

“You’re horrible,” Jongdae shakes his head. “Why do I even keep you around?”

 

Chanyeol shrugs. “Well, for starters, you love me,” He beams, way too smug, but Jongdae can’t find it in his heart to deny him. He’s right, after all. “And for another, I make a very good cuddle partner. Even your past self liked cuddling me.”

 

“I do have very good taste,” Jongdae teases, eyes bright. “You even still like being the little spoon, now. Reincarnation didn’t change that, huh?”

 

Chanyeol makes a face at him. “Says the one who wanted me to sleep with them so desperately they begged me to stay,” Chanyeol huffs. “You’re obsessed with me, admit it.”

 

“No,” Jongdae denies. “But I am in love with you.”

 

Watching Chanyeol’s face turn the colour of a tomato has always been one of Jongdae’s favourite things, and this time is no different. “What?” Jongdae laughs, tilting his head. “You literally said that I loved you less than thirty seconds ago. Why are you getting all shy on me now that I’m the one saying it?”

 

“You can’t just say it without any warning,” Chanyeol replies, voice hoarse. “Warn a guy beforehand.”

 

Jongdae raises an eyebrow, amused. He shifts, moving himself so that he’s on Chanyeol’s lap. On second thought, he reaches to turn the lock on the door, making sure no one can enter, then lifts his hands to cup Chanyeol’s face between them. “Chanyeol,” He says, voice low and soft. “I love you.”

 

Chanyeol freezes, then, if possible, turns an even deeper shade of red. He quickly hides his face behind his sweater paws, making a puppy-like sound. Jongdae chuckles, gently prying his hands away from his face. “Aren’t you going to say it back, Chanyeollie?”

 

Chanyeol makes a strangled sound, but manages an: “I love you, too.” before he’s covering his face with his sweater paws again. Jongdae finds him insufferably cute, and coos, pressing soft kisses to his temple and jaw before Chanyeol finally takes his hands away from his face.

 

“Now,” Jongdae asks, looking coyly at Chanyeol. “Will you let me kiss you?”

 

“I hate you,” Chanyeol replies, but he grabs Jongdae around the waist anyway, brings him closer, tilts his head to press his lips to Jongdae’s own. Jongdae hums softly, happily, when he feels his bottom lip slot comfortably between Chanyeol’s, eyes fluttering shut. Chanyeol has always been an exceptionally wonderful kisser, and Jongdae would spend - has spent, even - hours just kissing Chanyeol, feeling his soft, plush lips moving against his.

 

“Too bad,” Jongdae murmurs against Chanyeol’s lips, gasping when Chanyeol sucks gently on his bottom lip. “I love you, so you’re going to be stuck with me for a very long time.”

 

He feels Chanyeol smile into the kiss, then, but he doesn’t pull apart, and Jongdae lets himself relax fully into Chanyeol’s embrace, returning the smile in kind.

 


 

“Your highness,” Chanmi says. “You’ve been pacing for an hour, now. Please, come sit and have something to eat.”

 

Jungda laughs, but there’s no humour in it, shaking her head. “How am I supposed to do that, Chanmi? There are so many rumours, so many threats against the Royal family. How am I supposed to just sit still and do nothing about it?”

 

“You must,” Chanmi insists, standing up and taking hold of Jungda’s hand. Jungda turns to her, face gaunt and miserable. “You must conserve your energy. What if the Emperor needs you and you’re too weak to stand on your feet? What if something happens and you pass out? Please, Jungda.”

 

Jungda. Not your highness, but Jungda. Her name, from Chanmi’s lips. She knows, even though she hates it, that Chanmi never calls her by name unless it’s truly necessary. Despite their relationship, despite Jungda’s cajoling, sometimes pleading, Chanmi still chooses to call her your highness. It makes every time Chanmi says her name even more special, but today, it sounds damning.

 

“Okay,” She sighs, giving in. She lets Chanmi lead her to her chair, sitting her down and placing a hot cup of tea in front of her. Jungda lifts the cup to her lips, sipping on the soothing brew. Chanmi smiles at her and Jungda returns it, even if it’s small.

 

The guard outside her chambers calls for attention, signalling Junmyeon’s arrival. Jungda stands, gives her permission for his entrance, and watches as her Royal Consort sweeps his way into her quarters and wraps her in his arms.

 

“My lord,” Jungda whispers, her own arms coming up to wrap around him, surprised. While the both of them were close enough to be siblings, Junmyeon knows of her relationship with Chanmi, and usually doesn’t flaunt their engagement in front of Chanmi like this. “Is something the matter?”

 

“You’re safe,” Junmyeon says, releasing her, but cupping her cheeks between his palms. “My god, the things that I’ve heard today, my lady. I came rushing as soon as I could; I had to make sure you were safe.”

 

“Safe?” Jungda asks, hands coming up to hold onto Junmyeon’s own, hands clammy and grip desperate. “My lord, what did you hear in the courts today?”

 

“Uprisings, my lady,” Junmyeon replies. “Rebellions against the royal family, led by the outer provinces, fueled by angry ministers. There are more rumours than you could think of, more lies than truth. Assassinations,” Junmyeon takes a shuddering breath. “With the Crown Princess as the main target.”

 

There’s the shattering of porcelain, and the both of them jump, spinning around to find the source of it. Chanmi is white as a sheet, entire body trembling, shards of what used to be a the porcelain teapot littering the ground. “My apologies,” She whispers, voice so soft Jungda can barely hear her, would probably not have been able to had she not been entirely tuned to Chanmi and her mannerisms. “I’ll clean this up, your highnesses, if you would allow me.”

 

“Chanmi,” Jungda calls, heart breaking, moving to quickly take Chanmi’s hands in her own. She presses them against her chest, lets her feel her heartbeat, and it seems to calm her down. “I’m here, Chanmi. No one’s going to be able to come in here, you understand?”

 

“Assassinations are being planned against you, your highness,” Chanmi shakes her head, voice tinged with desperation, with hysteria. “How can you be so calm?”

 

“Someone has to be, Chanmi,” Jungda reasons. She presses a kiss to the inside of Chanmi’s wrist, then her palm, then the tips of her fingers. “I’m going to have a talk with Junmyeon, first, and you can clean this up. Come looking for me in my study once you’re done?”

 

“Of course, your highness,” Chanmi says, bowing, used to giving in to Jungda, listening to her every order no matter what. Jungda hates is, most of the time, Chanmi’s subservience, but today she’s both glad and grateful for it.

 

She takes her Royal Consort’s hand and leads them both to her study. Junmyeon’s grip on her hand is tighter now than it usually is, and truthfully, it frightens her. Junmyeon is usually so sure of himself, so stoic and calm, that to see him panicking like this, even the slightest amount, only makes Jungda realise how daunting the situation in front of them right really is.

 

“My lord,” Jungda says, guiding the both of them down onto the couch. “The assassination. Is it true?”

 

Junmyeon shudders, shaking his head. “I don’t know, my lady. There are whispers of it, everywhere. Not just within the ministers, even the common people; I’ve had reports of even the maids, the guards, with knowledge of this supposed assassination. Some say the plan is to overthrow your parents, and with your death, there will be no heir to the throne.”

 

“Leaving the crown vulnerable and ripe for vultures to pick at,” Jungda concludes, hissing the words out. She stands, shaking with rage, hands balled into fists. “ Vile. After everything my father has done for this country, after everything he taught me, to continue on after his abdication, this is how they repay us? Belief in corrupt ministers’ promises?”

 

Junmyeon says nothing, so Jungda lets out a harsh breath, then turns to him. “And what of you, my lord? Is there nothing against you?”

 

Her Royal Consort laughs, self-deprecatingly. “We have yet to wed, my lady,” He says, shrugging. “And I am but your Royal Consort. As it is, with you, I have less than half the say, in the court’s eyes. With you gone, I am powerless. They do not see me as a threat.”

 

“Junmyeon,” Jungda frowns, using his name, knowing that will catch his attention. He looks up at her, smile wry. “Do not put yourself down like that.”

 

Junmyeon shakes his head. “They are not wrong, Jungda. I have no power until we wed, and even after that, only when your father abdicates will I be Emperor. Until then I am nothing but your betrothed, and that in itself means nothing to the court.”

 

Jungda tries to retort, but Junmyeon merely shakes his head, smiling softly at her. “I am alright, my lady. I will be alright. You are the one I’m worried about.”

 

“I have the guards with me,” Jungda says, comforting. “They’ll give me ample time to figure out an escape plan should anything happen.”

 

“Are you sure?” Junmyeon asks, worry furrowing his brow. “Will you be safe here? Perhaps you should come to my chambers until everything dies down.”

 

Jungda smiles softly, but declines his offer with a small shake of her head. “Thank you for the offer, my lord, but I cannot- will not leave Chanmi behind.”

 

“Your adoration for her is astounding,” Junmyeon teases, and the mood is quickly lightened.

 

Jungda laughs, but nudges Junmyeon with one elbow. “You say that,” She says, one eyebrow raised. “But I’ve heard that you’re rather taken with the daughter of one of the merchants. What was her name again? Ah, Minseo, wasn’t it?”

 

Junmyeon turns as red as a beetroot, sputtering, and Jungda’s reduced to a fit of giggles, watching her Royal Consort try desperately - and fail - to defend himself.

 


 

They win.

 

The recording for Sugarman goes about as well as it could have, and their performance, in the end, manages to capture the hearts of the audience. The difference in votes in small, a mere 4 votes, and Jongdae is well aware of how easily they could have lost to EXID. Still, it was fun, and Jongdae had enjoyed himself immensely.

 

He thinks the last memory that they had had affected Chanyeol more so than him. While Jongdae is a little freaked out by how Junmyeon had been interested in who he assumes was Minseok hyung in a past life, Chanyeol is more worried about the fact that the Crown Princess was a target of assassination. It’s the first memory they had had that split, Jongdae’s to his talk with Junmyeon, and Chanyeol’s to, well, wherever Chanmi had gone after cleaning up the porcelain shards.

 

It leads to this: Chanyeol clinging to him on the ride home. Usually they would both be fighting for shotgun, arguing playfully before one or the other slides into the seat and waving peace signs at the other. Today, Chanyeol is much quieter, one arm around Jongdae’s own, pulling him close.

 

“Are you okay?” Jongdae asks, concerned. He knows the memory had probably affected Chanyeol, but to see him so quiet, so pale, was scary. “It’s just a memory, Chanyeol. I’m here now, aren’t I?”

 

“I know,” Chanyeol says, softly. They’re both in the car, now, on the way back to the dormitory. Chanyeol would usually return to his studio, but had shaken his head with their manager had asked if he wanted to be dropped off there instead. “I just. It feels so scary. I felt it, Jongdae, I felt my, Chanmi’s fear. She was so afraid, Jongdae, so terrified of the thought of losing Jungda, and I know that it’s a memory, but it bled into me, too, and I can’t help but be scared.”

 

Jongdae waits until they’re at a red light and the car has stopped moving, before he unbuckles both their seatbelts and tugs Chanyeol into the back row. He can see their manager send him a look through the rearview mirror, but Jongdae just shakes his head. He sits Chanyeol down, makes him buckle up his seatbelt, then does the same for himself, but in the middle seat. Like this, Jongdae can lean his head on Chanyeol’s shoulder and take his hand into his own, play with his fingers.

 

“I’m okay,” Jongdae says. “I’m here, right now, with you. You don’t have to worry, Chanyeol.”

 

“I know,” Chanyeol replies, but Jongdae feels him sigh, feels the weight of his head as he leans it on Jongdae’s. “Thank you, Jongdae.”

 

Jongdae lifts their held hands to his lips, presses a soft kiss to Chanyeol’s knuckles. “No matter what happened to Jungda and Chanmi,” He says, voice gentle, like Chanyeol is a puppy he’ll scare away if he’s too loud. “It doesn’t affect us, okay? Because we’re Jongdae and Chanyeol. That was a life we led in the past, and I’m honoured to lead another with you.”

 

Chanyeol turns his head to look at him, and his eyes are a little wet. Jongdae smiles at him, reaches out with one hand to cup his cheek, let him nuzzle into his palm the way Chanyeol always takes comfort in doing. “I love you,” Chanyeol confesses, voice hoarse, and Jongdae knows from experience that he’s choking back tears.

 

“I love you,” Jongdae returns the confession in kind. “I’ll always love you, Chanyeollie.”

 

Chanyeol lets out a content sigh, shifting just that little bit closer to Jongdae. Jongdae smiles at him watches him close his eyes to rest. “Sleep, love,” Jongdae whispers. “There’s still some time to go before we reach the dorm. I’ll wake you when we get there.”

 

“Thank you,” Chanyeol mumbles, already halfway to sleep. “You’re the best.”

 

Jongdae can’t help but laugh.


 

There’s shouting, screaming, from the outside, and Jungda can barely contain her fear. For all that she had told Junmyeon about being able to escape, now that the uprising was actually happening, Jungda knows not what to do with herself.

 

“My lady,” Junmyeon runs towards her, blood splattered on his cheek and sword in hand. Sounds of fighting erupt behind them, but Junmyeon turns his back to the guards fighting to hold the onslaught back. Jungda reaches up instinctively to wipe the blood away for him, but he just catches her hand and presses a chaste kiss to it. “My lady, you must run.” Two guards materialise beside him, and he nods at them. “They will take you to safety. You must flee, my lady.”

 

Jungda shakes her head, stubborn. “I cannot, my lord, not when you’re fighting-”

 

“I am fighting to keep you safe, Jungda,” Junmyeon insists, and his voice is tinged with fear, edging on a reprimand. Jungda has never known Junmyeon to use such a tone of voice with her, but it merely emphasizes how dire the situation is, and she can do nothing but nod, grimly. “Good,” He says, swallowing. “Take her and go,” He instructs the guards.

 

“Wait!” Jungda shouts, struggling when they try to take her by the arm. “Chanmi! Where’s Chanmi? I’m not leaving without her!”

 

Something flashes across Junmyeon’s face, then. It’s dark, almost anger, but no, Jungda thinks. It’s almost like sorrow? She has no time to analyse Junmyeon’s expressions now; she’s grateful for his help, but Chanmi is at the forefront of her mind, and she cannot see her love anywhere.

 

“I’m here, your highness,” Chanmi says, rushing forward from the hallway leading to the servant’s quarters. She’s dressed strangely, more extravagantly, more elaborately than her usual robes. Jungda looks at her, and she hates that it’s today of all days that Chanmi has chosen to dress like this. What wouldn’t Jungda give to be able to hold Chanmi close, tell her how beautiful she looks.

 

Two more guards appear with Chanmi’s arrival, and Jungda takes her hand. “Let’s go,” She says, and Chanmi nods.

 

They move out of the Crown Princess’ chambers swiftly. Jungda watches as the guards fight to defend them, Chanmi pulling her into herself whenever a blade swings too close, or an arrow almost hits home. Jungda wants to tell her to stop it, that she would never want for Chanmi to use her own body to defend her, but stays silent. It wouldn’t do to draw more attention to them, and she knows that Chanmi would put up a fight about the matter.

 

The running has Jungda panting, almost out of breath already. She’s not used to so much exercise, her duties as Crown Princess having her sitting, or riding out in a carriage most of the time. She will admit that she isn’t the fittest out there, but she scolds herself internally and continues on. She could not be the one to jeopardize this entire mission and have everyone who got hurt for her sake suffer in vain.

 

They run for what feels like hours, Chanmi clutching onto her arm and Jungda holding right back. There’s a river up ahead, if Jungda remembers correctly. Were they going to escape on a boat? It seemed terribly dangerous, especially if their enemies had any method of sinking the boat, be it with propelled ammunition or even arrows lit aflame, to set fire to it.

 

“Are we-”

 

“We’re here, my lady.”

 

Jungda turns to the guard who had spoken, wondering where they had arrived to. Jungda had not been told anything about their escape plan, but the guard isn’t speaking to her, but to Chanmi. Chanmi nods, swallowing, and murmurs a soft: “Please give us some time alone.”

 

“We don’t have much time,” The guard reminds, voice and posture tense.

 

“Just a minute,” Chanmi requests, and the guard nods stiffly, gesturing at his subordinates, who turn away, still scanning the area.

 

“Jungda,” Chanmi says, taking her hands and lifting them up to her mouth. She presses kisses to her palms, the tips of her fingers, the back of her hand. She’s smiling down at her, but she looks so sad that something wretched tears at Jungda. “My childhood friend, my closest confidante, the love of my life.”

 

“Chanmi?” Jungda asks, confused. She tightens her grip on Chanmi’s hand and steps closer. “What’s going on?”

 

“It’s been my honour serving you, Jungda,” Chanmi continues, disregarding Jungda’s question. “To have spent so much time with you, from when we were younger and nothing but playmates. I’ve watched you grow up, Jungda, and from that little girl who loved nothing more than singing and playing in the mud, you’re now the Crown Princess. You’re so beautiful, and lovely and precious, Jungda. My Jungda.”

 

“I don’t understand-”

 

“I love you,” Chanmi confesses. “My beautiful Jungda, I love you so much. Promise me you’ll take care of yourself?”

 

And Jungda, Jungda who hadn’t understood, maybe had been lying to herself all along. Because Jungda isn’t stupid, had gone through multitudes of lessons, honed her intelligence since she was a child, born into the Royal family and declared heir to the throne. She shakes her head desperately; she doesn’t want to believe, because the belief will make it real.

 

That Chanmi was leaving her. That there were four guards instead of two because they were going to split up. That Chanmi was wearing robes she had never before worn because she wasn’t supposed to be herself, she was supposed to look like Jungda.

 

“No,” Jungda shakes her head, voice choked and beginning to tear up. “No. No, Chanmi, whatever it is you’re all planning, I forbid it.”

 

“I’m afraid you don’t have a choice, your highness,” One of the guards pipes up, voice low and urgent, grabbing her hand unceremoniously. “They’ve caught up. We need to leave now.” In any other situation, Jungda would have glared at him until he took her hand off of her, but Jungda is too busy struggling, trying to get him to unhand her, so she can run to Chanmi.

 

“No!” Jungda manages one scream, before the guard is cupping his hand over her mouth, muffling her shouts. They’re both dragging her away by this point, pulling her deeper into the woods. Chanmi stays where she is, smiling sadly at her. “No!” Jungda tries again, but her voice barely carries, and she’s sobbing, unwilling to leave, because if Chanmi’s leaving her what point was there in living?

 

I love you. Jungda reads on Chanmi’s lips, who’s also crying, but softer, no heart wrenching sobs, only silent tears pouring down her face. She sees Chanmi start to mouth something else, but there’s shouting behind them and Chanmi pulls a thin veil up over her head, ducking down to make herself seem shorter, and then she’s rushing off towards the river alongside the other two guards.

 

No, Jungda shouts, yells, screams in her mind. Chanmi, Chanmi, Chanmi!

 

There’s a cacophony of sound, and a horde of people rush out from the distance. Jungda is pulled up even closer to the guards as they duck into the shade of the trees, hidden form view. Once they crowd has passed, the guards have to bodily drag her through the forest, but Jungda resists, knowing that as long as they haven’t gotten to Chanmi, there’s still a chance she can get to her.

 

Then a sound goes off in the distance, something like an explosion, like victory cheers from a group of men, like the sound of Jungda dropping to her knees, wail of despair silenced in her grief.

 

She never sees Chanmi again.

 


 

Jongdae gasps upon awakening, still in the car. He’s shaking, and everything that Chanyeol had said before they fell asleep makes sense. The fear of losing him, even though they were themselves and not their past lives. He’s struck, terrified, and Jongdae holds onto Chanyeol’s arm in a vice grip.

 

“Jongdae?” Chanyeol murmurs, waking up, sounding confused. “Jongdae.”

 

“Chanyeol,” Jongdae half sobs. “Chanyeol, I-”

 

Chanyeol shushes him, extracting his arm from Jongdae’s grip so he can wrap it around him, tugging him close. Jongdae has no idea what Chanyeol had seen. Jungda had had to watch as Chanmi sacrificed herself, had Chanyeol experienced that?

 

“I didn’t see what happened after Chanmi and Jungda split,” Chanyeol informs, and Jongdae breathes a sigh of relief. At least Chanyeol didn’t have to watch what Chanmi went through. “But I can guess. Did you see everything?”

 

“I saw enough,” Jongdae replies, leaning into Chanyeol’s comforting warmth. “I understand how you felt just now. Jungda’s fear, just. It’s bleeding through, and I can’t help but need to be close to you.”

 

He feels a kiss being pressed into his hair, and he sighs happily, relaxing into Chanyeol’s hold. “I’m here,” Chanyeol says, voice low, and it’s so similar to what he had told Chanyeol a mere half an hour ago that Jongdae can’t help but snort. “Someone once told me that they might be our past lives, but we’re not Chanmi and Jungda, so you don’t have to worry so much.”

 

Jongdae laughs, then, hitting Chanyeol gently on the chest. Chanyeol peeks at the front of the vehicle, then tilts Jongdae’s head towards him for a kiss. Jongdae hums into it, kissing back, chasing his lips for another peck when Chanyeol makes to pull away.

 

“We’re here,” Their manager calls from the front, and Jongdae quickly sits up and away from Chanyeol. He unbuckles their seatbelts and scurries out from the car. “Thank you for today, hyung,” They both greet Youngmin hyung, waving at him as he nods at them and drives off.

 

Jongdae takes Chanyeol’s hand and tugs him into the lift, jabbing at the button that takes them to their floor. He holds onto Chanyeol the entire time, unwilling to let go of him. Chanyeol unlocks the door to the apartment he shares with Sehun and Junmyeon, only to find Jongdae still clinging onto his shirt from the back, instead of entering the one he shares with Baekhyun and Minseok.

 

“Jongdae?” He calls. “You’re still affected?”

 

Jongdae nods, and Chanyeol pulls him close into a hug, pressing another kiss to the top of his head. “Sorry,” Jongdae mutters, feeling a little ashamed. After everything that he had told Chanyeol, he was now the one unwilling to let go of Chanyeol. “I just. I don’t really want to let you out of my sight right now. I feel like I need to keep looking at you.”

 

“That’s fine,” Chanyeol reasons. “Sleep with me tonight?”

 

Jongdae smiles at him. “Do you even have to ask?” Chanyeol laughs, pulls Jongdae along behind him gently as he enters the apartment.

 

“Mm,” Chanyeol hums. “How are we going to shower?”

 

This gets a beam out of Jongdae, who directs it at his boyfriend. “You could wash my hair for me.”

 

“I could,” Chanyeol agrees easily with a grin, eyes sparkling. He grabs a couple of clothes from his pile on the chair, shoving them at Jongdae, who holds them all in his arms. Jongdae watches as he digs around for a spare towel, gaze and smile fond.

 

The hot spray of water is comforting, and Jongdae sighs happily under it. Having Chanyeol’s toned body in front of him is especially pleasing, and he runs his hands down his abdomen, delighting in the shiver he gets from Chanyeol. “Behave,” Chanyeol nips at his ear, lathering his hands with shampoo and massaging it into Jongdae’s hair. It’s familiar, almost too familiar, and maybe Jongdae’s not a princess in this life, but under Chanyeol’s attention he might as well be royalty.

 

Jongdae grins salaciously at him, dragging his hand from Chanyeol’s neck down his body, stopping teasingly near his hips. Chanyeol raises an eyebrow at him, but doesn’t take the bait. “Wash up, Jongdae,” He rolls his eyes, but Jongdae can detect the fondness in his eyes, after so many years of being together.

 

“I just want my boyfriend,” Jongdae pouts.

 

“You had me today, heathen,” Chanyeol flicks the tip of his nose, but kisses him to soothe the pain. “Besides, we’re both tired, you wouldn’t be able to get it up.”

 

“Hey!” Jongdae laughs, smacking him. “I would, Park Chanyeol, you take that back!”

 

“No,” Chanyeol refuses, turning on the spray of water so he can rinse Jongdae’s hair, teasingly splashing some onto Jongdae. Jongdae shrieks at the sensation, but gives in and behaves, tired out despite everything.

 

After that, they don’t do much other than quickly clean themselves up, sliding their clothes on - or in Jongdae’s case, pulling on Chanyeol’s huge shirt on and foregoing anything else, since it’s so long it covers him down to his mid-thighs anyway - and falling into bed.

 

“Mm,” Chanyeol hums, wrapping his arms around Jongdae. Jongdae cuddles closer to him, shoving one leg in between Chanyeol’s own. He leans up to kiss Chanyeol again, needing to feel him close, heart still pounding. Chanyeol obliges, as he always does. It’s open-mouthed and soft, and Jongdae makes a happy noise in the back of his throat.

 

“We should sleep,” Jongdae whispers against Chanyeol’s lips after minutes of languid kissing, and Chanyeol hums his assent back, but doesn’t stop kissing him. Jongdae giggles into it, one last kiss, before he’s pulling away to Chanyeol’s pout. “Sleep,” He insists. “We have an early schedule tomorrow.”

 

“One more,” Chanyeol requests, jutting his bottom lip out even further, and Jongdae rolls his eyes, but ducks back in to kiss him again anyway. He can never really deny Chanyeol, after all. Chanyeol beams at him, bright and radiant, like the sun, and Jongdae’s breath hitches in his throat.

 

He feels Chanyeol shift, then, wriggling down the bed, and he laughs, because of course Chanyeol wants to be the little spoon again. It doesn’t matter to him personally, whether he’s big or little spoon, only wants Chanyeol to be as comfortable as possible.

 

It had been a rather trying day, thinking back on it, Jongdae muses, as Chanyeol wriggles in his grip, most likely trying to find the most comfortable position. They were originally only supposed to take part in the filming for Sugarman, but had found out, in the span of one day, that he had once been the Crown Princess of Korea, and his boyfriend said princess’ head maid-in-waiting, best friend, and lover.

 

It was the furthest thing from a typical day, really, but he has Chanyeol here, now, in his arms, with him. He has no need to fear, no need to worry. Maybe Jungda and Chanmi had not had their happily ever after, but Jongdae will fight for whatever it takes to ensure that he and Chanyeol have their own. He tightens his grip on Chanyeol, nuzzling into the crown of his head, pressing a gentle kiss.

 

“Good night, love,” Jongdae murmurs into Chanyeol’s hair, one hand resting gently on the curve of his waist. Chanyeol moves around a little, then there’s a kiss being pressed to his collarbone, along with a whispered good night, Jongdae.

 

Jongdae smiles, and closes his eyes.

 


 

“Jungda?”

 

Jungda blinks awake blearily at the voice, soft and oh, so familiar voice. “Huh?”

 

“Jungda.”

 

That voice, it’s Chanmi’s - was it Chanmi? But no, Chanmi was gone, Chanmi sacrificed herself to keep Jungda safe, so Jungda was still here, still alive, but without Chanmi.

 

“Chanmi,” Jungda cries, desperately searching, still half asleep, stretching out towards the apparition of Chanmi as she appears before her, smile sad, one phantom hand in her hair. “Chanmi, don’t leave me!”

 

“Jungda, my love,” Chanmi says. “I’ll find you.”

 

“Chanmi?”

 

“I’ll find you in our next life. I won’t stop until I find you again. Wait for me, Jungda.”