It was the last day of the semester and Jisung was buzzing with nervous energy. The dance studio was hot and humid, the walls sweating, none of the many windows open—because despite how hot it was inside, it was still freezing outside. Jisung's back was pressed against the wall, his knees drawn up as he fiddled with the loose threads of his jeans. Minho was practicing his choreography close to the mirror, his gaze intense and focused as he blocked out everything else. Jisung had always liked the way Minho's face looked when he was concentrating. But then again, he liked everything about Minho.
And therein lay the problem.
Minho and Jisung were friends—best friends. They had been for years, since high school. The two-year age gap made no difference in their friendship, it almost felt nonexistent if not for the way Minho insisted on taking care of Jisung.
But Jisung… Jisung was a bit in love with Minho. Okay, maybe not a bit. A lot. So much so that he really couldn't imagine falling in love with anyone else. It just sort of seemed like the natural progression of their relationship.
Jisung had become aware of his own feelings during his last year of high school when Minho was no longer with him but off at college. That had been one of the worst years of Jisung's life—despite Minho visiting as often as he could. But at least he had managed to get into the same university as Minho and they were reunited. He'd kept this revelation to himself for years, not wanting to ruin their friendship. He could stand Minho not loving him back, but he couldn't stand not being his friend.
But today. Today that would change. Felix had finally convinced him to confess to Minho. Just tell him. Either he'll reciprocate your feelings, or he won't. At least then you'll know. And loathe as Jisung was to admit it, Felix was right. He couldn't spend the rest of his life pining after Minho and not doing anything about it. He just hoped things would work out.
"Is there something wrong?" Minho asked and Jisung's head jerked up, catching Minho staring down at him. "You were zoning out. Is this about the break? You can always come home with me."
That was another thing. While his parents paid his tuition, that didn't mean they were happy with his decision to pursue music. They wanted him to have a decent, respectable, reliable job. They thought him childish for chasing his dreams. They called him naive. Minho was the only person who had ever supported him, had believed in him and pushed him to go for what he wanted even when everyone else branded him foolish. That was just another one of the many reasons why Jisung was in love with him.
Whenever Jisung didn’t want to return home—which was most of the time, because his parents did not miss the chance to try and convince him to switch majors—Minho would invite Jisung to come home with him. Jisung loved Minho’s parents. They were supportive of Minho’s pursuit of dance, constantly praising his abilities. They praised Jisung too and treated him as if he were their own child. It was comforting, and yet another reason he was so afraid of confessing to Minho. If things went wrong, Jisung wouldn’t be losing only Minho, but also his family.
"No, hyung. I'm staying here for the break," Jisung assured him after a long silence, and Minho nodded in approval.
"Then what's bothering you?" Minho asked. He plucked one of the water bottles off the floor, unscrewing the cap and taking large gulps until it was finished. He then reached for another one.
Jisung bit his lip, squirming nervously in a way he normally wouldn't. At any other time, Jisung would be confident. He would smirk and smile and charm. But this was Minho-hyung, and he would see right through that.
Jisung steeled himself, taking a deep breath and trying to look Minho in the eyes.
"Well, there's this guy…" Jisung started. Maybe he wouldn't have to come right out and say it? Minho could probably guess, right?
"Okay…" Minho said, and though he sounded quizzical, Jisung knew there was an underlying tone of amusement. Many people called Minho soulless— or emotionless—but anyone who truly knew him knew that was a lie. He might keep a lot of what he was feeling inside, but to his friends, he was easy to read.
"And I really like him. I've liked him for a really long time — like... years. We're in the same friend group and everything," Jisung was dangerously close to babbling now.
God, why couldn't he just say it? What was he so afraid of? It's not like Minho would laugh at him or mock him… right? No, of course, he wouldn't. This was Minho, he would never—
"Tell me about him," Minho said, drawing Jisung out of his thoughts. Jisung blinked at Minho, who looked at him fondly. He had to look away.
"Well– uh. He's really pretty — like out of this world pretty; the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen. And he's an incredible dancer, but he raps and sings too. He's friends with Chan-hyung and Changbin-hyung, and—"
"I'm going to stop you right there Jisungie. I think I know what you're saying," Minho said and Jisung's heart stopped. He stared at Minho. Did he know? Did he really know? Had Jisung been that obvious?
"You–You do?" Jisung asked. He was scared, so scared, but hopeful too. He wanted this. He'd wanted this for so long.
"Yes. Honestly, I don't know why you didn't say anything earlier. It all makes sense now. I should've seen this coming," Minho said.
Had Minho known the whole time and not said anything? What would it even mean if he had? Jisung could have sworn that he'd hidden his feelings so well—Felix knew because he was the only one Jisung could rant to about Minho as everyone else had already known Minho before Felix came along, and they would all probably expose him within two seconds.
"Hyung— what are you saying? You know?" Jisung asked, swallowing down the lump in his throat. His heart was about to beat out of his chest with how fast it was racing. He rubbed his sweaty palms on his jeans.
"I didn't know, not until you spelled it out for me, but I get it now—"
Jisung let out a sigh of relief. He hadn't been obvious—thank goodness—but at least Minho knew now. Jisung didn't have to say it, but Minho still knew. The weight that had been suffocating him for years finally began to lift and he felt free.
"Oh, thank God, you–" Jisung said but Minho interrupted him.
—"You like Hyunjin."
"Yes, I like — wait what?"
Jisung must have misheard. He must have because Minho didn't just say that he, Han Jisung, liked Hyunjin—Hwang Hyunjin—his worst fucking enemy. He couldn't have because that wouldn't have made any fucking sense. What the fuck was happening?
"I should've known all the fighting was just repressed sexual tension. You've never really learned how to express yourself in a healthy way—" Seriously? Was this a joke? Was this one big, cosmic joke that the universe was playing on him in revenge for waiting so long to confess?
"And I'm relieved."
"Relieved?" Jisung asked meekly. What would Minho be relieved about? Why would he be relieved that Jisung liked Hyunjin of all people—when he knew how much the two of them hated each other?
"Well, the only other person you could have been describing was me and that would be awkward seeing as I'm already involved with someone," Minho said, laughing a bit as he spoke. Jisung's heart dropped.
Of course. Of course. He was so fucking dumb. Of course, Minho—beautiful, adorable, smart, talented Minho—had someone else. Why did he think he could just confess? Who made him think this was a good idea? He swallowed and forced himself to laugh as well, trying not to let it sound too forced.
"Ah—" Jisung said, clearing his throat and looking at anything but Minho's face. "Of course. it's not you, Minho-hyung. We're best friends. I don't see you like that."
Lies. They burnt his tongue, but he could not take the embarrassment and pity that would come with admitting the truth now.
"Good. I'm glad," Minho said patting Jisung on the arm reassuringly, but all it did was make Jisung more aware of the fact that it was just a friendly touch and that was all it would ever be. "Now tell me more about Hyunjin."
"Hyung, you know Hyunjin," Jisung said, rolling his eyes. At least this would be the one thing that would save him. If Minho thought he liked Hyunjin, then he was safe. He had an excuse.
"Yes, but that was as someone from the dance crew and your 'mortal enemy.' I've never heard about him as your crush," Minho insisted. He shifted until he sat next to Jisung, their shoulders pressed together. Jisung hated the way his heart sped up, the way he wanted to lean into Minho's touch, and how none of those feelings were reciprocated. He hated that he was a fool.
"Really, we don't need to talk about this," Jisung insisted, but if he knew anything about Minho—and he knew everything about Minho—he knew Minho wouldn't just let this go. He would have to resign himself to the fact that Minho would probably bring this up every time he saw Jisung.
"Shush. Tell me everything. When did you realize you liked him," Minho asked, leaning closer as if they were co-conspirators sharing secrets. Jisung smiled nervously, fishing his phone out of his pocket and pretended to check it.
"Uh—" he said as he pretended to check his text messages. Thankfully, there were actual messages, but not ones that needed tending to. "I think Chan-hyung just texted me."
He waved his phone in front of Minho's face, but fast enough that he wouldn't be able to read the messages. He stood and stuffed his phone back into his jacket pocket.
"Sure," Minho said, seeing right through Jisung as he always did. Well, almost always apparently. "We're still talking about this later."
"Of course, hyung," Jisung said, forcing another smile. He waved as he made his way to the door. "I'll see you later."
"Lix, I fucked up," was the first thing Jisung said as he entered their dorm, shutting the bedroom door and flopping onto the mattress next to Felix. Felix, who had been playing games on his phone—when he was supposed to be studying Korean—lifted his head. Taking in Jisung's distressed state, he dropped his phone onto the duvet and crowded into Jisung's space.
"What— what happened? Did you tell him already?" Felix asked.
A part of Jisung wanted to blame Felix for this. After all, it was Felix who had convinced him to confess to Minho. But he knew that even if Felix hadn't convinced him, even if Jisung had never confessed and pined his life away, it wouldn't have changed anything. Minho would still have a boyfriend. Jisung would still be in love with someone who didn't love him back.
He sighed into the pillow, shifting so that he could look up at Felix who hovered to the side.
"Well, yes… and no," Jisung said. Felix raised his eyebrows.
"What do you mean and no?" Felix asked. When Jisung didn't say anything, Felix resorted to poking him in the side until he yelped and swatted him away. He sat up, dragging a pillow into his lap and wrapping his arms around it.
"Funny thing is…" Jisung laughed, or tried to laugh. "I was trying to tell him — I swear I was. I'll admit, I was kinda beating around the bush a little."
"Beating around the bush how?" Felix asked.
"I was nervous, so I told him I liked this guy, you know all indirect and whatever. I went on to describe him — you know, a dancer, a rapper, really pretty. I thought, well who else other than Minho could be described that way?" Jisung asked. He let go of the pillow, running his hands through his hair as he avoided Felix's eyes.
"I mean, you're not wrong," Felix said and Jisung scoffed, shaking his head.
"No, it turns out I am. I'm very wrong. Because there is exactly one—one—other person that can be described that way."
It actually made complete sense. Jisung may hate Hwang Hyunjin with every fibre of his being but he could definitely see the way his description could overlap between Minho and Hyunjin. The real difference between the two was that Minho was an amazing person and Hyunjin was the embodiment of the devil himself.
When he glanced up, Felix was looking at him expectantly.
"Hwang Hyunjin," Jisung said through gritted teeth.
"Oh my God," Felix said, his expression if worry turning into one of amusement. He threw his head back and laughed loudly, not caring about the glare Jisung threw him. "No."
"Oh my god, yes," Jisung said, groaning. He took a moment to bury his face in the pillow and let out a muffled scream before continuing. "Minho‐hyung now thinks I like Hwang–fucking–Hyunjin."
"You're right. That is funny. That's hilarious." Felix's entire body shook with laughter. He was red in the face, tears in his eyes as he wheezed. Annoyed, Jisung hit him on the head with the pillow, but while he quieted down, he was still shaking, a smile threatening as he motioned for Jisung to continue.
"That's actually the best part. It's actually my saving grace because guess what? Guess fucking what?"
"What?" Felix asked, wiping away a stray tear and sighing.
"Turns out Minho-hyung is already involved with someone else!" Jisung shouted. His voice was strained and the pain he'd been trying to conceal slipped out. There were no tears, but it felt as if his chest were collapsing.
"Oh Sung…" Felix said. All of his previous laughter had died and now he looked as sad as Jisung felt. He moved, crawling across the mattress so he could drape his arms around Jisung's shoulders and lean his head against Jisung's temple.
"I'm so stupid, Lix," Jisung whispered, leaning into his friend. Felix tightened his grip. "Maybe I waited too long to tell him. Or maybe this is for the best. He's probably never seen me as anything other than his best friend."
"I'm sorry, Sung. I know how much you really wanted this to work out," Felix said.
And he did know. He knew everything. Felix had sat through countless hours of Minho-related rants from Jisung, some even at ungodly hours of the morning. And he hadn't complained—at least not much—and he hadn't asked Jisung to stop. He was the only one who knew the true extent of Jisung's feelings and had never once mocked him for them.
"Let's just forget about it, yeah?" Jisung said. He sniffed, his eyes burning but no real tears forming. Maybe they would come later, in the middle of the night, and again Felix would have to crawl into his bed to hold him until they stopped. He buried his face in his hands. "I can't take the embarrassment."
"Okay, okay," Felix said. He continuously ran his hands through Jisung's hair, rocking him back and forth subtly, trying to calm him. They sat like that for a while—Jisung didn't know how long—before Felix gently coaxed Jisung's hands away from his face.
"How about we stay in for the weekend and binge some anime? I'll call Chris and tell him you can't make it to the studio," Felix said. Jisung smiled at him, grateful. Jisung would have to thank whatever deity had decided to fuck up the rooming chart and assigned Felix as his roommate.
"You're the best, Lix," Jisung said. Felix rolled his eyes but smiled anyway.
Jisung thought that the worst was over, but no. Oh, the worst had just begun.
Now that Jisung had “confessed” to having feelings for Hyunjin, Minho would not stop bothering him about it. It didn’t matter that Jisung was still on campus and that Minho was supposed to be at home, showering his cats with love and affection and spending time with his parents. Every phone call, text message, hell even email, from Minho, asked him if he’d said anything, if he’d made a move yet. Jisung wanted to tear his hair out in frustration but Felix had reminded him that he would definitely not look good bald.
It was at the peak of his frustration and desperation that Jisung finally broke. He just couldn’t take it anymore. And that’s how he found himself in his current predicament, standing outside of the Arts building, waiting for Hwang Hyunjin to appear.
Jisung was bouncing on his heels, leaning against the wall, with his hands dug deep into his pockets and his collar up to keep him safe from the chilly wind. He cursed himself and his own stupidity—and cowardice—because if he had just told Minho the truth, however embarrassing it was, he wouldn’t be in this situation. He was about to go back to his dorm and try again another day—or maybe never—when he looked up in time to see Hyunjin exiting the building.
"Hyunjin," Jisung called out, springing forward. Hyunjin kept walking and Jisung didn’t know if it was because genuinely couldn’t hear Jisung call out for him or if he was just pretending.
The closer he got, he could actually see that Hyunjin had one earphone in, the other wrapped around his neck as he trekked forward. "Hyunjin. Hyunjin!"
Hyunjin stopped, looking around as he took the earphone out and searched for whoever was calling him. When he turned around, catching sight of Jisung heading his way, he rolled his eyes and sneered.
"What the fuck do you want?" Hyunjin asked, turning on his heel and continuing on his walk. Jisung wanted to curse at him. Fuck Hwang Hyunjin and his stupidly long legs. Jisung almost had to jog to keep up with Hyunjin’s unnecessarily fast stride.
"I need to talk to you," Jisung said and Hyunjin scoffed. Hyunjin stopped, turning to look at Jisung with a suspicious expression.
"You need to talk to me? Yeah right," Hyunjin said, rolling his eyes again. He was about to walk away when Jisung grabbed his arm, keeping him in place. While Hyunjin looked down at the hand on his arm with disdain, Jisung didn’t remove it. He feared that if he let go Hyunjin would floor it and there was no way Jisung would be able to catch him.
"Look, just wait—can we go somewhere else? Please?" Jisung tried to sound as earnest and non-threatening as he could, which only served to make Hyunjin more suspicious—not that Jisung could blame him. They didn’t have the best history. Jisung should be glad Hyunjin hadn’t punched him in the face for grabbing him, he definitely would have had the situation been reversed.
"Wow, Han Jisung, begging me. Never thought I'd see the day," Hyunjin said and Jisung gritted his teeth and reminded himself of why he was doing this in the first place.
"Just—shut up," Jisung grumbled. He moved his grip to Hyunjin’s wrist and dragged him away. Surprisingly, Hyunjin didn’t protest or drag his feet, coming along obediently though looking confused.
When Jisung found the perfect spot away from prying eyes and open ears, he let go of Hyunjin’s wrist and turned to look at him. He opened his mouth and then closed it again. He did this several times, unable to voice the words sitting on his tongue.
Where’s all that confidence now, huh? A voice that sounded suspiciously like Felix said.
"So… are you going to talk or not? I have places to be," Hyunjin said. He had his hands in his pocket, his gym bag at his hip and while he had looked suspicious before, now he seemed entirely bored.
"Okay, this—this is going to sound really weird. More than weird. Kinda crazy but please just listen?" Jisung asked.
He licked his lips, noting the dry, chapped skin from the hours he had spent biting them. He fought the urge to fidget and pace, instead taking a breath and forcing himself to look directly at Hyunjin.
"Okay, so uh–" he started, but his voice sounded croaky and weird. He cleared his throat before continuing. "A few weeks ago, I was trying to confess to Minho-hyung—"
"Wow, finally? I thought you'd never do it," Hyunjin said and—wait, what? Hyunjin knew? How did Hyunjin know? If he knew then did that mean everyone else knew or—? He shook himself out of his thoughts and glared at Hyunjin. Hyunjin only sent him a slightly sheepish smile. "Sorry, sorry."
"I was trying to confess but I didn't know how to just come out and say it—" Jisung laughed nervously, looking away. "So I told him that I liked this guy, right? I gave what I thought was the most obvious description of Minho-hyung but…"
"But…" Hyunjin prompted when he paused for too long.
"But, he misinterpreted what I was saying and now he thinks I have a crush on you," the words came out in a rush, almost garbled together with how fast he spoke, and a part of him hoped they were too quick to be understandable.
"He thinks what!" Hyunjin shouted. Jisung winced, backing away. His face burned in embarrassment as Hyunjin began to laugh. "Oh, oh that's hilarious. Oh my God."
Jisung really couldn’t fault him for laughing. Again, had the situation been reversed, he would have done the same. Still, Hyunjin’s laugh grated on his nerves. He’d always hated it. Too loud and high pitched. And the worst part was that he was always laughing. A lot of the time—like now—it had a harsh, mocking edge to it that Jisung couldn’t stand. But for once, instead of snapping back, Jisung let him laugh.
"Shut up okay, that's not the worst part of all of this," Jisung said when it looked like Hyunjin wasn’t about to stop laughing any time soon. Much like with Felix, there were tears of mirth in Hyunjin’s eyes, his face red. He tried to stifle another chuckle behind his hand.
"How could it get worse?" Hyunjin asked when he had managed to marginally calm himself down.
"He's been—he's been bothering me about it, asking me when I'm going to do something. And I may have snapped and told him that I... already did?" he trailed off uncertainly at the end, smiling sheepishly as Hyunjin’s expression shifted from one of amusement to shock to indignation.
"You did what?" Hyunjin asked, his voice dangerously low. Jisung took a step back—just for safety purposes.
"I panicked! He kept bringing it up and he said he would do something if I didn't—and I couldn't tell him the truth and well…" he shrugged, avoiding Hyunjin’s gaze. "Now he thinks we're dating."
"Tell him we're not!" Hyunjin shrieked.
"I can't!" Jisung screamed back, wincing at their high volume. What was the point of dragging Hyunjin all the way here, where they wouldn’t be overheard, only to cause a scene and draw even more attention to themselves?
"Why not?" Hyunjin asked, thankfully in a less high-pitched voice. He looked as distressed as Jisung felt and damn, was it really that bad that Minho would think they were dating? He shook his head. Of course, it was. If anyone came up to him and said they’d thought he and Hyunjin were dating he would laugh in their face.
"Because then I'll need to tell him the truth and it'll be so embarrassing, and he'll feel sorry for me because he's dating someone else and—" Jisung went on, though his own voice rose in pitch, his own desperation becoming apparent as he almost spiraled into hysterics.
"Okay, calm down. Stop yelling!" Hyunjin yelled.
"I just—I can't tell him, okay? I can't," Jisung said, his voice strained. He hated that Hyunjin got to see him in this state, but there was no other alternative.
"Fine. Then what do we do now?" Hyunjin asked. He ran a hand through his annoyingly silky-looking hair, waiting for Jisung to speak.
"Could you just… go with it?" Jisung asked.
"Go with—I'm not going to date you!" Hyunjin yelled again. In his desperation, Jisung moved forward and grasped both of Hyunjin’s arms, his fingers digging into the fabric of his hoodie.
"You don't have to date me—not really! We can fake it," Jisung said. That was the plan after all. The plan that Felix had laughed and scoffed at, telling Jisung he was insane and extreme.
"Fake it? Seriously? We're not living in a drama," Hyunjin said, huffing.
Jisung wanted to laugh because really, this did sound like a badly written drama he would probably binge-watch with Minho, but sadly it was real life. It was his life.
"It's the best I can come up with," Jisung said. "We can pretend to date for a while until he's satisfied and then fake a breakup."
"Oh, is that all?" Hyunjin scoffed. Jisung clutched at his arms tighter, biting down on his lip, knowing he was about to do something he really didn’t want to do.
"Please, Hyunjin. Please, please, please, please—" he begged.
He stopped, standing up straight to stare at Hyunjin is disbelief. Had he really just given in that easily? Had he just agreed to fake date Jisung?
"Fine, I'll do it," Hyunjin said, not looking at Jisung, his eyes plastered to the wall.
"Really?" Jisung asked, half hopeful and half doubtful.
"You're not fucking with me?" Jisung asked and this time Hyunjin looked at him, annoyed. He wrenched his arms free from Jisung’s grip and took a step back. He was the one who looked nervous this time.
"No, now stop fucking asking," Hyunjin said, his voice holding a tone of finality that Jisung ignored.
"Okay, but why? I mean, I expected to do a lot more begging, maybe offer you something of value—" Jisung said and Hyunjin shook his head.
"What do you have to offer me?" Hyunjin asked, raising his eyebrows and Jisung had to admit that he was right.
"I didn't expect you to give in so easily," Jisung said.
"Let's just say I have my reasons," Hyunjin said. When he didn’t go on, Jisung poked him and looked at him expectantly, to which Hyunjin scowled and turned away. "What—I'm not telling you."
"Dude, yours cannot be more embarrassing than mine," Jisung said. He doubted anyone could have a more embarrassing story.
Not knowing if it would work, he used the puppy-eyes that were usually reserved for Minho, Changbin, and Chan. They didn’t work on Felix and Seungmin, as they’d all become desensitized due to Jeongin’s mere presence.
"I-I—" Hyunjin said, lifting his hand and biting his nails. He was battling with himself, Jisung could tell. Jisung knew he had won when Hyunjin’s shoulders slumped and he sighed.
"I want to make Seungmin jealous."
"Seungmin? Kim Seungmin? Our Seungmin?" Jisung asked. Why would Hyunjin want to make Seungmin jealous? Did he like Seungmin? And if so, why wouldn’t he just ask him out?
"Yes, okay," Hyunjin said. He dropped his hand, stuffing it into his back pocket as he went on. "We broke up—"
"You guys were dating!" Jisung shouted, eyes wide. Since fucking when had that been a thing? He didn’t even know they liked each other.
Hyunjin ignored him.
"And now he's moved on, and I don't want him to think I'm pathetic for still having feelings, but I also want him to feel bad, you know?" Hyunjin said, sounding smaller and more hesitant than Jisung had ever heard him.
It made Jisung uncomfortable to hear him like that. The Hyunjin he was used to was snarky, never let Jisung get away with anything he said, and always had a sharp comeback for all Jisung’s malicious comments. Sure, he knew Hyunjin was sensitive, cried easily, but this was different. He didn’t think he should have been allowed to see Hyunjin this way.
"I'm still hung up on the fact that you guys were dating," Jisung said, trying to joke, but again, Hyunjin ignored him.
"We didn't want to tell anyone in case we broke up," Hyunjin said, shrugging. "It would just make everything really awkward and people would pick sides and neither one of us want that—I still don't want that, but…"
Jisung could understand where he was coming from. Even if it was inadvertently, Minho had still broken his heart. It was Jisung’s own fault for taking so long to admit his feelings, and how was Minho supposed to know? Had he expected Minho to wait for him until he was ready to confess? No, but it still hurt. Jisung pushed it to the back of his mind, tried not to think about the person Minho was dating—were they nice? Were they like Jisung or the complete opposite of him? What was so special about them? What did they have that Jisung didn’t?
"But you're broken-hearted and want a little revenge?" Jisung said and Hyunjin looked at him with a small smile before looking away again.
"Maybe," Hyunjin said, dropping his gaze again. He somehow looked smaller than he actually was, shoulders slumped in defeat. Jisung felt bad for him. He felt bad for both of them.
"It looks like we're a pair of dumbasses," Jisung joked and this time Hyunjin smiled, bigger than before.
"It looks like we are," Hyunjin said. He sighed, letting his head fall back and looking at the sky. "So do we have a deal? I help you, you help me?"
Hyunjin looked down at him, holding out a hand for Jisung to take. After a brief moment of hesitation, he placed his hand in Hyunjin’s.
"This just may be one of the worst decisions you've ever made in your life," Felix said from where he was lounging on his bed, his books spread out all around him. Felix didn’t leave the dorm by himself very often, unwilling to attempt communicating in his broken Korean. While Jisung tried to convince him that he was better than he thought, Felix was adamant on mastering the language first before embarrassing himself. "And that's saying a lot."
"Shut up. Don't you think I've spent hours agonizing over this? I know it's stupid but it's the only option,” Jisung said. He was moving around the room, checking his outfit in the mirror. Felix didn’t comment on the way he adjusted and readjusted his beanie repeatedly.
"Or you could just tell Minho the truth," Felix said sarcastically, giving Jisung a significant look. Jisung glared at him in the mirror.
"What kind of bullshit is that?" Jisung asked. "It's not even that bad. All I have to do is pretend to date Hyunjin for a few weeks and then say we broke up and that'll be that."
Oh, those earrings looked nice. He plucked them off his desk and fiddled with them, enjoying the way the chains dangled. He ignored the fact that it looked like he was getting ready for a date.
"Sung, you and Hyunjin have barely had a full conversation from what you've told me. Seungmin's told me stories about the two of you and let me say nothing I've ever heard has ever come close to as horrible and fascinating."
Felix wasn’t wrong. Jisung and Hyunjin couldn’t be left in the same room together without it turning into a disaster. He didn’t know how they were going to convince everyone that they were dating.
"Whatever," Jisung said. He took his jacket off the hanger and shrugged it on. "I have to go meet Hyunjin for coffee."
"A date? Already?" Felix said, wiggling his eyebrows. He giggled when Jisung picked up a pillow and threw it at him. Felix’s sly look didn’t vanish as he sat upright, clutching the pillow to his chest.
"We need to work out our story—no one will believe us without a good story,” Jisung said, shrugging. He took his phone off charge, slipped it into his pocket, slipped on his shoes that sat at the foot of his bed, and headed for the door.
"It's a good thing you took that Creative Writing class last semester, you're going to need all the help you can get," Felix called out after him, to which Jisung through a middle finger over his shoulder. "Bring me back something nice!"
"I'll think about it!" Jisung shouted back, slamming the door shut.
The café they met at was small, one they both visited often with their other friends, and not too far from campus – a ten-minute walk on a bad day. They sat opposite one another, both avoiding the other’s gaze and fidgeting in their seats. Jisung didn’t know how he was supposed to start the conversation, even though it was his idea to have this meeting in the first place.
"So…" he said, cringing internally at how awkward he sounded.
"So…" Hyunjin repeated, and Jisung found himself glad that he wasn’t the only one out of his depth. It was good to know that they both knew how ludicrous this entire situation was—and yet they were both going along with it anyway.
"I know this is weird—" Jisung said, and Hyunjin snorted.
"This is beyond weird. This is downright delusional," Hyunjin said, and despite the fact that he wanted to disagree with Hyunjin—because there really wasn’t a time in existence where Han Jisung and Hwang Hyunjin could agree on something—he couldn’t.
"Yep, that too. But if we're going to make this work – if we're going to make this believable – we're going to need a good cover story," Jisung said and Hyunjin nodded along.
"You're right for once," Hyunjin said with a sniff. Jisung fought the urge to roll his eyes, reminding himself that this was a friendly meeting—or as close to friendly as the two of them could get—and that he didn’t need to cause a scene by getting riled up at Hyunjin’s stupid comments.
"Minho-hyung said something when I confessed—" Jisung tried to say but Hyunjin interrupted him.
"Tried to confess," Hyunjin reminded him as if Jisung needed any more reminding of how stupid he was. He gritted his teeth in annoyance but again let it go.
—"tried to confess. He said 'I knew all that fighting was just repressed tension.'"
"Seriously?" Hyunjin said, with raised eyebrows and a confused pout. Jisung shrugged.
"It's what he thought. We can use it to our advantage. There's a thin line between love and hate, I guess," Jisung said and both of them cringed.
"Cliché," Hyunjin said and again, Jisung had to agree. "But you're right. We can use it to our advantage. But the timing has to be right or else Seungmin will definitely know something's up."
"When… did you guys break up?" Jisung asked hesitantly.
He was still trying to wrap his head around the fact that those two were—or had been—dating. Jisung liked to think that he was an observant person, that he noticed things that others would rather be kept secret, but he had definitely not noticed anything about Hyunjin and Seungmin. Not once had he even thought those two had any romantic feelings for each other.
"Two months ago," Hyunjin said softly. He looked down at the table, his gaze far away. "Before the break."
Despite himself, Jisung felt bad for Hyunjin. He just looked so sad, dejected. It wasn’t a good look on him. He decided to keep the momentum going before Hyunjin could completely fall into despair.
"Didn't he go home for the break?" Jisung asked, the beginnings of a story forming in his head.
"Yeah?" Hyunjin said, looking up at Jisung, the glazed-over look disappearing.
"But you stayed behind?" Jisung asked.
"I had a dance composition that I needed to practice for this semester so I stayed. What does that have to do with anything?" Hyunjin asked, frowning. Jisung’s face stretched into a grin. Oh, this made everything so much easier.
"I was here too. My—" parents Jisung almost let slip before shutting his mouth. He shook himself—had he really just almost told Hyunjin about his shitty home life? What were they—friends? "Let's just say I didn't want to go home."
"So you were here and I was here—" Hyunjin said and Jisung knew he had caught on to where the story was going.
"So we say something happened. The tension was high or whatever, we were fighting–" Jisung said.
"As we usually do–" Hyunjin interrupted but Jisung didn’t care, let him have it.
"And we got a bit too close–"
"I pushed you–"
"And I pushed you back. And then I kissed you–"
"You kissed me? Now that's unrealistic," Hyunjin said, scoffing Jisung wanted to squawk in indignation at Hyunjin’s disbelieving tone.
"This whole thing's pretty unrealistic," Jisung pointed out.
"So you kissed me and what? Suddenly there were feelings?" Hyunjin asked, still disbelieving and okay, Jisung had to give that to him. There was no way one kiss would erase all the bad blood between them.
"Maybe not feelings. But maybe attraction," Jisung said.
"So you wanted more," Hyunjin said with a smirk. Jisung scowled. He wanted to wipe that stupidly annoying smirk off of Hyunjin’s stupidly attractive face. "Well, I'd like to think I'm a great kisser."
Jisung could admit that he didn’t think that was a lie. He had heard a few stories about Hyunjin and his supposed kissing skills, and he wasn’t blind—Hyunjin’s lips were probably perfect for kissing. Jisung wondered if they felt as soft as they looked.
"Whatever,” Jisung waved him off. “Just, we started hanging out, I realized maybe you're not so bad and voilà."
"And why didn't we tell anyone else?" Hyunjin asked.
Jisung bit his lip. Both he and Hyunjin were both known for the fact that neither of them could stay quiet about anything. If they had really started dating, everyone would have known about it immediately.
"Let's say we told Felix. He was here over break too."
Felix—and Chan—couldn’t afford to fly all the way back to Australia for such a short break, so they both stayed on campus for the mid-year break, only going home for Christmas and New Year’s. Felix, despite his complaints, would back up their story.
"He'll go along with it?" Hyunjin asked skeptically.
"He already knows everything and honestly, he'd probably enjoy it more than we will, the gremlin,” Jisung grumbled, imagining the smug smirk he would have to put up with. Though he knew Felix would do it if he just asked, Jisung reminded himself to get Felix’s favorite dessert—just to shut him up for a while.
"You think they'll believe it?" Hyunjin asked. Jisung bit the inside of his cheek, unsure. Would they? He really didn’t know. They would have to try to make it as convincing as possible.
"I think they'll be surprised, probably question us a lot, but they'll believe it. Channie-hyung is a sucker for this kind of stuff, you know?" Jisung said, chuckling a little.
"Binnie-hyung too. They've watched too many dramas," Hyunjin said, rolling his eyes, as if he could talk. Jisung was reminded that Changbin and Hyunjin were roommates—a rare pair of childhood friends that had gone to the same schools throughout their lives, even coming to the same university together and managing to be roommates.
With their story now ready, both were left to sit in silence and wait for their orders. As it had been when they first sat down, neither one knew what to say. They had never hung out alone before, knowing it wouldn’t go well.
"So… what do we do now?" Hyunjin asked, breaking the silence. Jisung looked at him helplessly.
"Um– I have no idea. We've never really hung out without the others," Jisung said.
"Yeah, because you're insufferable,” Hyunjin sniffed and Jisung remembered why he hated the guy so much. He glared at Hyunjin across the table.
"I'm insufferable? You're intolerable," Jisung hissed back.
Before Hyunjin could snap, their waitress returned with their orders. They both sat back in their seats, giving her their best smiles. Jisung smiled politely as she placed his slice of cheesecake on the table. When she left, he caught sight of the disgusted expression on Hyunjin’s face.
"Cheesecake? Really? That stuff is disgusting," Hyunjin said, eyeing the cheesecake distrustfully. Jisung gasped in shock, cradling the plate closer to him and away from this tasteless asshole.
"Yah! Just because you're stuck with your plain gluten-free, sugar-free, bland-ass muffin doesn't mean you should be insulting me," Jisung hissed, glaring. Hyunjin laughed at him mockingly, placing his elbows on the table and leaning forward. Jisung leaned further back, not liking the smirk on Hyunjin’s face.
"Okay, first of all, I'm on a diet. Not all of us can afford to go around eating whatever we want,” again Hyunjin eyed his cake. “Second, there's nothing wrong with eating healthily and taking care of your body. And third, maybe I have a gluten-free, sugar-free, bland-ass muffin, but it doesn't change the fact that cheesecake is still the worst dessert ever made."
His mouth dropped open in surprise, but no words came out. Satisfied with Jisung’s reaction, Hyunjin tore into his muffin, happily munching, shooting Jisung a wink. Jisung’s teeth clicked as he slammed his mouth shut. He glared.
He really fucking hated Hwang Hyunjin.
The door to Chan and Woonjin’s apartment loomed before them ominously. Jisung, Hyunjin, and Felix stood side-by-side, looking at the worn-out, faded wood. They were late already, but Jisung couldn’t get his feet to move. He was only consoled by the fact that Hyunjin seemed just as hesitant.
"Are you ready for this?" Hyunjin asked, turning to face Jisung.
"No,” Jisung said, shaking his head. “But we have to do it anyway."
"I still think this is a really bad idea," Felix said from Jisung’s other side, his hands shoved in his pockets. Jisung shot him an unimpressed glare.
"Shut up, Lix."
Felix was the one to move forward, not bothering to knock or ring the doorbell—it would be open, as it almost always was—instead throwing the door open and stepping inside, leaving Jisung and Hyunjin to follow after him.
Before they stepped inside, Jisung reached for Hyunjin’s hand. Hyunjin pulled away, looking scandalized. Jisung sighed and rolled his eyes, instead holding his hand out for Hyunjin to take. If they were going to pretend to be a couple, they at least needed to look like one. Still, Hyunjin eyed his hand skeptically before taking it, lacing their fingers together. Jisung fought down the blush that came to his cheeks. They were just holding hands, what was wrong with him?
"Hey, guys—!" Jisung called out as they entered the apartment, Hyunjin trailing behind him as Jisung dragged him forward by their joint hands.
No one had the chance to shout back a greeting before Minho—who had been sitting on the floor next to the couch close to Chan—caught sight of their hands and beamed.
"Finally!" Minho shouted, springing up and heading over to where they were.
"What? Finally what? Why are you screaming?" Woojin asked from where he poked his head out of the kitchen. He stepped out into the living room, a bowl of popcorn in his hands and headed over to the couch to take a seat next to Chan.
"Hyung," Jisung whined as Minho wrapped an arm around his shoulders and sent Hyunjin a not-at-all subtle look over Jisung’s head.
"Oh, were they not supposed to know? I got excited," Minho cooed, pinching Jisung’s cheeks. Jisung used his free hand to bat Minho away, focusing on the rest of the people in the room.
Seungmin and Jeongin took up the couch adjacent to the one Chan and Woojin sat on, Seungmin bugging Jeongin as always. There was a large window seat on the other side of the room—most of them fought over who got to use it—that was currently occupied by Changbin. Felix was nowhere to be seen. He hadn’t really been introduced to the rest of the group outside of Seungmin and Chan. He would appear at some point so Jisung wasn’t worried.
"Not supposed to know about what?" Chan asked when neither Minho or Jisung said anything else.
"Um—" Hyunjin said, turning to look at Jisung with an almost panicked look. Jisung couldn’t blame him.
"Hyunjin and I are together,” Jisung said, turning away from Hyunjin and looking at everyone with a faux-sheepish expression. At least he hoped it came across as sheepish and not utterly terrified. “We're dating. Yeah…"
There were a few seconds of dead silence as everyone took time to process the information. For one terrifying second, Jisung was afraid they wouldn’t believe them—would call them out right there, on the spot. Hyunjin must have felt the same way because his expression grew more and more agitated. Jisung squeezed Hyunjin’s hand. Give it a minute.
"Yeah right," Jeongin finally said, shattering the silence that had taken over the room.
"No fucking way," Changbin laughed from his languid pose on the window-seat.
When neither Jisung or Hyunjin said anything, both alternating between looking at each other and the rest of the group, Changbin’s amused expression dropped into one of surprise.
"Wait—you're serious?" Changbin asked, sitting up straight and finally taking in their joined hands.
"Yeah, we're dating,” Hyunjin said, almost a sigh. He was still squeezing Jisung’s hand, but his shoulders hand relaxed and he stood a bit taller, gaining back some confidence. With Hyunjin’s own confidence came the return of Jisung’s. He leaned further into Hyunjin’s side, relaxing his posture until their shoulders were pressed together.
"What the fuck? How–? When–? Huh?" Woojin said, his eyes wide.
"Since when?" Seungmin asked. Unlike the rest of the room, his expression was dangerously blank. Jisung couldn’t tell if he was jealous or upset. For once he couldn’t read his friend. Hyunjin stiffened again next to him and Jisung skated his thumb over Hyunjin’s knuckles in comfort. Hyunjin relaxed again.
"Somewhere in the break," Hyunjin answered, lifting his chin in defiance.
"Right—both of you stayed," Seungmin said, laughing a bit but there was no humor in it. He stood, disappearing into the kitchen and not looking back. Jisung watched as Hyunjin’s eyes followed Seungmin’s back but didn’t comment. Instead, he tugged Hyunjin over to the lounge chairs, both of them squeezed together to fit. Fuck, why did Hyunjin have to have so much leg? Jisung had to sit half on top of him to get comfortable.
"I'm—I'm still trying to process this," Woojin said, gesturing between the two of them. "Jisung. Hyunjin. Jisung and Hyunjin. Jisung and Hyunjin...together."
"But you two hate each other," Jeongin said. Both Hyunjin and Jisung laughed at him.
"There's a thin line between love and hate?" Jisung said and felt Hyunjin cringe next to him.
"Love—!" Minho exclaimed, eyes widening and Jisung realized what he’d implied.
"It's just saying, hyung!" Jisung screeched.
"Told you it was cheesy," Hyunjin muttered close to his ear but loud enough for everyone to hear. Jisung turned his head to look at Hyunjin, not realising how close their faces were. He fought the urge to jerk back as it would give them away.
"Shut it," he grumbled under his breath.
When they looked away from each other, their friends were staring at them in awe.
They dissolved into the expected discussion of how Hyunjin and Jisung had started dating, everyone balking at their made-up story. Seungmin stared at them unblinkingly throughout the entire “retelling” and Jisung could tell that it was making Hyunjin uncomfortable. He spoke less, avoided looking at anyone, and shrunk into himself. Once they had finally moved on from the topic of Jisung and Hyunjin’s ‘relationship’ Jisung squirmed around until he was facing Hyunjin. They were closer than he had anticipated, their faces only inches apart. Again, Jisung fought down a blush and cleared his throat, ignoring their close proximity.
"Hey, are you okay? You know, with Seungmin," he asked. Hyunjin looked down at him, meeting his eyes for the first time since they had settled down.
"I'm fine," Hyunjin said with a smile, but it was strained around the edges, obviously forced.
"Hyunjin," Jisung said, as sternly and empathetically as he could. Hyunjin wore his heart on his sleeve, it would be obvious to anyone that he was upset.
"Maybe I'm not, but this is better than wallowing in my own self-pity and letting him think I'm still hung up over him," Hyunjin said, dropping his eyes again. Jisung bit his lip, eyes flicking over the rest of the room and stayed on Seungmin who—as opposed to ten minutes ago—was completely ignoring them.
"We can always get out of here," Jisung said and Hyunjin’s head shot up. There was desperation there, something Jisung knew well.
"And go where?" Hyunjin asked, trying to sound dismissive but Jisung could pick up the inflection.
"Just—come on," Jisung said. Their hands were still interlaced, and it was easy to stand up and drag Hyunjin along with him. Everyone turned to look at them as they stood but Jisung ignored them.
"And where are you two going?" Minho asked, his voice sly. Jisung stuck his tongue out at him as they passed by his seat at Chan’s feet. He had his head laid back against the couch, Chan’s fingers carding through his hair. Minho looked content, like a cat, as he always did when anyone gave him attention.
"Away from you losers," Jisung sniffed, dragging Hyunjin to the door. Before he could reach for the door handle, Hyunjin stopped, effectively keeping Jisung in place.
"What the fuck?" Hyunjin whispered, and Jisung turned back to ask him what his problem was when he saw what Hyunjin was looking at. He gaped like a fish.
"Huh—oh," Jisung said, unable to say anything else.
On the window-seat, where Changbin had been lounging, was Felix. It wouldn’t have been so shocking had Felix not been cuddled up into Changbin’s side, his head resting on Changbin’s chest and laughing at whatever Changbin was saying. Changbin had one hand resting behind his head and the other playing with Felix’s hair. No one else seemed to have noticed the two yet.
"I didn't know they knew each other," Hyunjin said. Jisung nodded, not taking his eyes off them. Felix leaned onto one of his elbows so that he could hover over Changbin and said something that made Changbin roll his eyes and smile.
Jisung’s brain really couldn’t comprehend what he was seeing.
"Neither did I. I've never introduced them," Jisung said. He knew they knew of each other, but when they had met and how they had become that comfortable, Jisung had no idea.
"Huh, you'll have to ask about it later,” Hyunjin said. Then he was the one dragging Jisung away, making him almost yelp in shock at the sudden movement. “You said you're taking me out of here."
"Yeah yeah, let's go," Jisung said, following along and shutting the door behind them.
"An arcade. Really?" Hyunjin said as they stood in front of the building. Jisung rolled his eyes, knowing Hyunjin had spent hours at the arcade with Changbin and Seungmin. He was in a bad mood, and therefore would pretend to hate even the things he liked.
"What—got a problem?" Jisung asked, smirking in a way that he knew would irritate Hyunjin.
"No, not at all,” Hyunjin said, crossing his arms over his chest defensively. “I just didn't expect it from you, is all."
"Fuck off," Jisung said, but it lacked malice. He laughed, dragging Hyunjin towards the dance machine. "Now come on, I want to beat you at your own game."
"Hey, thanks for this. You didn't need to this," Hyunjin said, red in the face from laughter and exertion. They had spent the better part of two hours trying out almost all of the games at the arcade, both of their competitive sides coming out in full force leading them to rematch after rematch until they were satisfied.
"Yeah, well I wouldn't have wanted you to sit around with the guy who broke your heart," Jisung said. They stood together on the sidewalk, skin cooling in the chilly breeze. Hyunjin’s nose was red from the cold and he shivered, having not worn as many layers as Jisung.
"Ah—it's just…” Hyunjin said, shrugging and digging his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Yeah he broke my heart but he's still my friend. Or at least I still want him to be my friend. But it hurts. A lot."
"I feel you, man,” Jisung said. “You think you've planned everything out, and you know how things are going to go and then—"
"And then life."
"Yeah, life, "Jisung smiled. They fell into a comfortable silence before Jisung sighed. "Enough of this, let's get something to eat."
"You're paying," Hyunjin said, happily walking in the direction of whatever restaurant he was about to force Jisung to pay for.
"This is an equal relationship, babe. I can't be paying for everything," Jisung said, bordering on indignant but mostly amused.
"Yeah right, babe," Hyunjin said laughing. Jisung found it surreal that he was walking side-by-side with Hwang Hyunjin and they were laughing together instead of at each other.
"Oh, what would you prefer?” Jisung teased. He turned to face Hyunjin, walking backward with an innocent look. “Babe? Baby? Sweetheart? Love? Gorgeous?"
Hyunjin giggled at every suggestion and Jisung found that he didn’t hate it as much as he had before. Not that it wasn’t still the most annoying sound on Earth, it was just… cute.
"Oh, you think I'm gorgeous?" Hyunjin smirked, but it dissolved into a wide smile, his eyes disappearing into crescents. Jisung stared at him for a beat too long before shaking his head.
"Doesn't everyone?" Jisung asked, expecting Hyunjin to agree.
He didn’t expect for Hyunjin’s expression to falter and fall. His smile was reminiscent of the one he’d sent Seungmin’s way earlier and Jisung was struck with the distinct feeling that he had said something wrong.
For once, he actually cared.
They walked the rest of the way in silence.
"Did I say the wrong thing? You went quiet—which is saying something for you," Jisung said when they had both ordered something off the menu and were nursing their drinks. Hyunjin looked up, surprised. He sighed, letting go of the straw he had been fiddling with.
"No, no, it's just…" Hyunjin stopped to sigh again. He sat back in his seat, crossing his arms over his chest, but it seemed more like he was hugging himself. "You said everyone thinks I'm gorgeous."
He shrugged nonchalantly, but he sounded upset for someone who thought—and was constantly told—that they were the best-looking person in the room.
"Well, don't they? I mean, I don't have to like you to admit that that's a fact," Jisung said.
Hyunjin was—objectively—one of the most attractive people Jisung had ever seen. It was one of the main reasons Jisung had disliked him on sight. Who was allowed to be that pretty? Anyone that pretty had to think they were superior to everyone else. Or at least, that’s what he had told himself for years.
"But it's all people see," Hyunjin said, shaking his head.
"Isn't that a good thing?" Jisung asked, genuinely confused. Was it so bad for people to think you were beautiful?
"Not when it's the only thing they see," Hyunjin said, leaning forward and running a hand through his hair. He huffed, looking at everything but Jisung.
"Everyone always only sees my 'pretty' face. It's all they care about. They don't care that I can dance or sing or rap or anything. They assume I only got into this program because I seduced the instructor—or what the fuck ever. Doesn't matter that I put in hours of work, skipped visiting my family every break, starved myself just so I could get here. No, all that isn't important because obviously I only got picked because of how I look. God, I want to be known for something else, you know?"
By the time he was done, Hyunjin was almost panting and red in the face. He looked both angry and dejected, completely resigned and miserable. Jisung couldn’t believe he’d been so wrong about Hyunjin this entire time.
"Huh," Jisung said more to himself than Hyunjin. "You know, I think I've been reading you all wrong this whole time."
"How?" Hyunjin asked.
"Well, the main reason I hated you was because of your 'pretty' face," Jisung admitted, smiling guiltily.
"Seriously?" Hyunjin asked, unimpressed. He leveled Jisung with a blank stare.
"I thought, well, what everyone else thinks. I thought damn, he must have everything handed to him. He doesn't have to work for anything. I have to practice so hard and so long and you're just… perfect."
Perfect Hyunjin, with his perfect face, who could dance and sing and rap and do anything he put his mind to. Jisung had always assumed it was natural talent or luck. He’d never seen Hyunjin as a hard-working person. He’d never seen Hyunjin as someone similar to him. How had he been so wrong?
"I'm not perfect,” Hyunjin scoffed. “Everyone just thinks I am. I work hard too."
"I know that now,” Jisung said. He thought back to all those times Minho had told him about Hyunjin staying late at the studio with him. He thought about the way Hyunjin lived in the studio. “I'm sorry I thought—well, assumed otherwise."
"Good. Now that you know better you can stop being such a dick," Hyunjin said. Jisung smiled, dropping his chin to his chest. When he looked up again, Hyunjin was looking at him expectantly.
"Fine. Friends then?" Jisung asked. He rested his elbows on the table and reached one hand out for Hyunjin to take. Smiling, Hyunjin took his hand, but instead of shaking it, he entwined their fingers and rested his chin on their joint hands.
"Friends? But we're already dating~" Hyunjin sang and Jisung laughed. Hyunjin smiled again, the real one where his eyes disappeared, and his nose scrunched up.
"Oh my God," Jisung said, taking his hand back and laughing. "You're the worst."
Hyunjin was packing his book bag, getting ready to meet Jisung at his dorm, when the door to the classroom opened and he looked up to see Seungmin entering. He swallowed his own nervousness and tried to smile.
"Jin," Seungmin said when he was standing in front of Hyunjin.
"Oh, hey Seungm—" Hyunjin forced out. This was the first time he’d spoken to Seungmin since the night he and Jisung had revealed that they were “dating.” Seungmin’s reaction had been cold, but Hyunjin hadn’t expected anything different. He had always been better at concealing his feelings compared to Hyunjin.
"You're dating Jisung now? Since when?" Seungmin asked, his voice as cold as it had been that night. Hyunjin faltered.
"I–since the break, as we said. I stayed behind, he stayed behind, things… just happened," Hyunjin said, looking away from Seungmin, unable to meet his prying gaze and focusing instead on packing up his stuff.
"Just happened?" Seungmin prompted, sounding so disbelieving that it grated on Hyunjin’s nerves. It didn’t matter that Hyunjin wasn’t really dating Jisung, Seungmin had no right to be upset.
"Look, I don't know why you're upset. We broke up. Because you wanted to," Hyunjin said, zipping up his bag with more force than needed and shrugging it over his shoulders. He shouldered past Seungmin, trying to head to the door.
"You know that's not how it was," Seungmin said, matching Hyunjin’s stride. Hyunjin came to a halt, staring at Seungmin.
"Maybe, but if you're allowed to move on why aren't I? Don't I get to be happy?" Hyunjin asked, raising an eyebrow.
"You know that's not what I meant. I just—did you really get over us that quickly?" Seungmin asked and Hyunjin’s temper flared. The fucking nerve, the audacity of him to imply that Hyunjin was the one to get over them so quickly.
"Me? Me?" Hyunjin gritted out. "You barely took what—a month? But I'm a bad person."
"At least I didn't flaunt it in your face," Seungmin snapped and Hyunjin had to laugh.
"Didn't you?" Hyunjin asked. "You didn't want to tell our friends about us, Jisung didn't have that problem. Maybe he wasn't ashamed to date me like you were.”
And that’s what it came down to, didn’t it? While he told Jisung it was a mutual decision to not tell their friends about their relationship, it still hurt. It hurt when Seungmin pulled away from him when the others were around—despite the fact that they weren’t acting any differently than they had before. Seungmin wouldn’t even hold his fucking hand when the others were around.
"Ashamed—Hyunjin, no," Seungmin said. Hyunjin was too angry and caught up in his own head, that he didn’t see the change in Seungmin’s expression. He didn’t hear the change of his tone. He kept walking.
"Just—just leave me alone. Be happy for me, for once," Hyunjin called over his shoulder. Fuck, there were tears in his eyes. He sniffed, cursing himself for not being able to control his emotions.
"Hyunjin. Hyunjin!" Seungmin called after him but he ignored it.
He went in the opposite direction of Jisung and Felix’s dorm, heading towards the dance studio instead.
Hyunjin was so focused on the move he was trying to execute that he didn’t notice the figure standing in the doorway, watching him. His sleeveless shirt stuck to his back, drenched in sweat. His hair was wet and matted to his forehead, but he did nothing to move it away. His chest heaved with every exhale, but he didn’t care. He couldn’t stop. He couldn’t. He hadn’t perfected this move yet and it needed to be perfect.
"Have you been here this whole time?" Jisung’s voice asked, cutting through the silence of the room. Hyunjin jumped in surprise, almost losing his balance and falling to the floor.
"Shit, fuck—" Hyunjin said, catching himself and sending a glare to Jisung. "Don't do that."
"Sorry. I was just—I was looking for you. You didn't text me back," Jisung said, waving his phone in the air.
Right, because he was supposed to meet Jisung at his dorm hours ago. He’d completely forgotten about it after his encounter with Seungmin.
"Sorry, I forgot," Hyunjin said. He didn’t face Jisung, knowing that Jisung would be able to see right through him.
"Yeah, I can see that," Jisung said sarcastically. He stepped further into the room. "Did something happen?"
"I—" Hyunjin started and stopped. He didn’t want to talk about it, but Jisung deserved to know why Hyunjin had ditched him. "Seungmin confronted me."
"Shit did he—"
"No, he doesn't know," Hyunjin snapped without thinking. Was that really all Jisung cared about, whether people had found out their secret or not?
"That's not what I was going to say. I was going to ask of he did something to you," Jisung said. Hyunjin turned to him with a frown. When he realized the implications of Jisung’s words, his eyes widened, and he shook his head.
"What—no. It's Seungmin, he'd never," Hyunjin said. Seungmin could never do anything that Jisung was implying he might. Hyunjin might be angry with him—scratch that, furious with him—but he knew Seungmin would never hurt him or anyone else.
"You can't trust anyone these days," Jisung said with a shrug. Hyunjin had to admit he was right there.
"I don't—I really don't want to talk about it. I just want to dance," Hyunjin said. He turned and walked back to where he had been standing in front of the mirror, getting into position before he caught sight of Jisung.
"Okay," Jisung said. Hyunjin had expected him to leave, but he walked over to the mirror as well, taking a seat in the corner and shuffling around until he found a comfortable position. When he caught Hyunjin watching him, he asked, "What?"
"You don't have to stay with me. You must have things to do," Hyunjin said.
Whenever he would stay late at the studio before, Seungmin would try to drag him back to the dorms, but when that didn’t work he left Hyunjin, knowing Hyunjin wouldn’t leave until he was satisfied—and that could take hours.
"Nope," Jisung said. He leaned his head back against the mirror, looking at Hyunjin with soft eyes. "I don't have to stay here, but I want to. We're friends now, aren't we? Isn't this what friends do?"
Hyunjin stared. There was a lump in his throat and he swallowed thickly, looking away from Jisung’s inquisitive eyes. He knew they were friends. They spent a lot of time together these days, while mostly under the guise of “dating” but Hyunjin enjoyed spending time with Jisung more than he’d thought he would.
They were friends.
"Whatever," Hyunjin said after a long silence, getting back into position.
Jisung hummed, his eyes never once leaving Hyunjin as he danced.
They were walking back to the dorms, Jisung nudging him occasionally, knowing—or guessing—that Hyunjin was wrapped up in his thoughts. The weather had warmed, the air humid instead of chilly, and the flowers beginning to bloom. Hyunjin looked up at the sky. There weren’t any clouds; it was a dark blue, the stars visible. It was so pretty.
"You're really good, you know," Jisung said suddenly. Hyunjin frowned, caught off guard. His head fell to the side to look at Jisung.
"Hmm?" Hyunjin asked. Jisung smiled.
"At dancing, I mean. I've never really seen you dance before, but you're really good," Jisung said, inclining his head. Hyunjin beamed. Jisung wasn’t like the others. Much like Hyunjin, he didn’t give compliments often, but when he did, they were sincere.
"Thank you," Hyunjin said.
"And you know, fuck what other people say," Jisung said. Hyunjin rolled his eyes.
"If only it was that easy," Hyunjin muttered. He tightened his grip on the strap of his bag.
"It can be," Jisung said. Hyunjin stopped walking and Jisung stopped as well. They faced each other, tension filling the air around them.
"Not everyone has your confidence, Jisung. As much as I'd love to just ignore them, I can still hear what they say. It still hurts. I bet you don't have any voices fucking with your head," Hyunjin said. He didn’t snap—he didn’t have the energy to snap, too tired from the hours of practicing and his confrontation with Seungmin. He was so tired. He was exhausted.
"You'd be surprised," Jisung said, looking up at Hyunjin with an unreadable look. "At least yours are outside. I can't really escape myself, now can I?"
"I didn't know it was that bad," Hyunjin said, his chin dropping. He knew that Jisung was a perfectionist as well. He knew the burden that came with that. He wondered how Jisung managed to seem so put together all the time.
"Not always, just sometimes. When nothing I write comes out right and everything just sounds fucking horrible. I just feel so fucking—"
"Useless?" Hyunjin laughed, but it was humorless and brittle. Jisung’s smile matched his own, an understanding passing between them.
"Yeah," Jisung said. He sighed, looking up to the sky as Hyunjin had before. Hyunjin took a second to admire him, noting the way his eyes sparkled, matching the stars. Hyunjin shook himself of those thoughts as Jisung turned his gaze back onto him.
"Well, you're not useless. I've heard your stuff,” Hyunjin said. He chuckled at Jisung’s incredulous expression. "Binnie-hyung is always playing it in the dorm. It's really unfair. You sing, rap, write, and compose. It's like you were made for it."
Jisung smiled and Hyunjin could make out the light blush on his cheeks. A thrill went through Hyunjin, knowing that he’d done that.
"I'd like to think I was," Jisung said, his normal bravado seeping through but the blush still hadn’t left his cheeks and Hyunjin could see him biting his lower lip.
They reached Hyunjin’s dorm, but before he could go inside, Jisung stopped him with a gentle hand around his wrist. Hyunjin turned back, confused. His arm tingled, warmth seared up his arm that had nothing to do with the humid night air.
"I think you were made for dancing too," Jisung said. Hyunjin stared, face heating up from the sincere words. He ducked his head, trying to hide his wide smile. Jisung squeezed his wrist once before letting go and taking a step back.
"Thanks," Hyunjin said over his shoulder, but he was sure Jisung could see his smile.
When he reached his room, he still hadn’t stopped smiling. Changbin gave him a suspicious look, but Hyunjin didn’t say anything.
He went to sleep smiling.
Jisung was trying to finish his music composition, the key word being trying. Except he couldn’t focus because Felix would not stop giggling from his perch on his bed. Jisung glared at him but Felix didn’t notice, too entranced by whatever he was doing on his phone.
"Lix," Jisung said. No response. He tried again, louder and more insistent, "Lix."
"What?" Felix asked, lifting his chin but not taking his eyes off his phone screen.
"Who are you texting?" Jisung asked, although he already had a suspicion.
"No one," Felix waved him off.
"No one, huh?" Jisung said, narrowing his eyes. Jisung dropped his pencil and notebook to the floor, leaping from his bed to Felix’s and tackling him.
"Jisung—fuck—get off—ow," Felix struggled beneath him and Jisung pried his phone out of his hands. When Jisung had it in his grasp, he sat back in triumph. Felix scowled. "Was that really necessary?"
"Binnie~ hyung with a heart," Jisung read out loud. He didn’t look at the messages—he wasn’t that much of an asshole. He dropped the phone onto the duvet and fell back against Felix’s chest. "Oh my God."
"Fuck off," Felix muttered darkly, snatching his phone back and locking it—as if Jisung didn’t know the code.
"You fuck off," Jisung said. He twisted around so that his chin rested on Felix’s chest and he was looking up at him. "How long has this been going on?"
"Nothing's going on," Felix said and Jisung rolled his eyes.
"Really," Jisung said with a bored look. "I saw you two, you know, at the party. You looked very cozy cuddled up to Changbin-hyung."
"Fine. I'll tell you if you tell me what's going on with you and Hyunjin,” Felix said. Jisung frowned, shaking his head to say I don’t understand what you mean. Felix huffed. “You two look closer these days."
They were closer. Hyunjin came over quite a lot—as Felix started disappearing more frequently, though now Jisung guessed that Changbin might have something to do with that—and even slept over. They’d watch movies and dramas together, huddled under Jisung’s blankets and spilling popcorn all over his sheets. Jisung liked having Hyunjin around, liked laughing with him and getting into heated debates that lacked the malice they’d had before.
"There's nothing going on between me and Hyunjin," Jisung said. Felix’s expression didn’t change. "Seriously—we just became friends."
"Uh huh, sure," Felix said, his deep voice rumbling through his chest under Jisung’s ear.
"What's with that tone? We are?" Jisung frowned. Felix sighed above him, ruffling his hair.
"Okay—say you're friends now. Tell me, are you still in love with Minho-hyung?" Felix asked. Jisung, who had been tracing patterns into the fabric of Felix’s t-shirt, froze.
"What?" Jisung asked.
"Your feelings for Minho-hyung, are they still there?" Felix asked. Jisung stayed silent, unable to find words. When it became apparent that Jisung wasn’t going to say anything, Felix continued. "You used to come to the dorm every day, Minho-hyung did this and Minho-hyung said that. But now, you barely talk about him—at least, not in the same way."
Jisung sat up, looking down at Felix.
"I–I," Jisung tried. He ran a hand through his hair, looking at Felix helplessly. "Huh?"
"You haven't even thought about it, have you?" Felix asked, but his look was knowing. Jisung collapsed against him again and this time Felix wrapped his arms around Jisung’s shoulders.
"No, I've been so preoccupied with this fake relationship," Jisung said. He looked up at Felix. "Do you think I've moved on?"
Had he? He hadn’t had time to dwell on his feelings for Minho, too focused on keeping everything a secret, spending time with Hyunjin, and trying to meet every deadline his professors threw at him.
"I don't know for sure, Sung. I think you spent so long thinking Minho-hyung would be the only person you'd ever love but now… well, I guess you finally realised there are other people out there," Felix said. He ran a comforting hand up and down Jisung’s back.
"And other people are Hwang Hyunjin?" Jisung asked, more to himself than Felix.
"Who knows—maybe?" Felix said, but Jisung could hear his smile. "Probably."
Jisung stayed silent, turning to bury his face in Felix’s shoulder and groan. Felix laughed lightly, his hand still moving across Jisung’s back.
"I—I need to think about this," Jisung said, the words muffled but Felix nodded anyway. They stayed like that for the rest of the afternoon.
They were at Chan and Woojin’s apartment, gathered together as they did every week. As like the first time, Jisung and Hyunjin were squeezed together on the chair, but unlike then, Hyunjin didn’t mind their closeness. He enjoyed it. His legs were tangled with Jisung’s. Jisung was half sitting on top of him, their hands interlaced. Jisung would grab Hyunjin’s hand whenever he picked up that Hyunjin was nervous or uncertain. He did it mostly around Seungmin. It had surprised Hyunjin at first, and the contrast between Jisung and Seungmin didn’t go unnoticed, even if they weren’t really dating.
Now, they were laughing together, Hyunjin’s head resting on Jisung’s shoulder. Hyunjin squeezed Jisung’s hand subconsciously, and Jisung squeezed back, almost knowingly. The rest of their friend group had gotten used to them already, moving past both stages of shock and disgust, reaching acceptance quickly.
Minho was at his usual spot on the floor, but Chan was behind him, arms resting over Minho’ shoulders, face all but buried in Minho’s hair. Woojin had the couch to himself. Felix and Changbin were half-asleep on the window seat, Changbin resting between Felix’s legs, head on Felix’s chest. Hyunjin—and Jisung—had no idea what was going on with those two, if they were together or not, or if they were just really touchy friends. At this point, he’d rather wait for them to clear things up than ask.
Hyunjin had barely noticed Seungmin and Jeongin’s absence, too focused on the conversation he was having with Jisung. However, he noticed when the front door opened and Seungmin stepped inside, Jeongin trailing behind him nervously. Their pose looked oddly reminiscent of the way Hyunjin and Jisung had entered the apartment that night.
They came to stand in the middle of the room, in front of the television where everyone could see them. Seungmin shot Hyunjin a nervous and… guilty look?
What was happening?
Jisung picked up on Hyunjin’s tense posture, squeezing his hand again and trying to get Hyunjin to look at him, but Hyunjin couldn’t tear his eyes away from where Seungmin was fidgeting. There was a sinking feeling in his gut and his throat closed up. Somehow, he knew what was coming, but he still had the smallest bit of hope that he might be wrong.
"Um—I have something to say," Seungmin said. He turned to look at Jeongin who also shot Hyunjin a guilty look. Without thinking, Hyunjin gripped Jisung’s hand tighter. Jisung didn’t complain, instead taking Hyunjin’s other hand into his as well "I didn't want to tell you guys until later but with all the other surprises, I thought it would be easier."
"Oh, a surprise," Woojin said, clapping excitedly. "What's up, Minnie?"
"Well, um—" Seungmin glanced between Jeongin and Hyunjin before looking back to the rest of the group.
Please don’t, Hyunjin thought. His heart beat rapidly, too fast for him to breathe. He vaguely thought he might be shaking, but he wasn’t sure. Next to him, Jisung tensed and Hyunjin guessed he must have caught onto what was about to happen. Unlike everyone else, Jisung turned to stare at Hyunjin while the rest of their friends eagerly awaited Seungmin’s announcement.
"Jeongin and I—we're dating."
As it had when Jisung and Hyunjin announced they were “dating”, the room exploded with noise. Their shouts were deafening, but still not loud enough to silence the ringing in Hyunjin’s ears. He fought his way out of Jisung’s grip.
"What?" Chan asked.
"Oh my God," Felix—who had sprung awake sometime during the chaos—said. He was the only other person who Hyunjin had told about his and Seungmin’s failed relationship other than Jisung. Felix looked to Hyunjin pitifully.
"Oh my God, I knew it!" Someone else shouted, but Hyunjin couldn’t tell who it was.
"That's great guys! Wow, everyone's dating," Woojin said.
"Not everyone," Changbin said. Hyunjin caught sight of him still leaning against Felix. He would have scoffed if he weren’t on the verge of a breakdown.
"Not yet," Chan muttered.
"I'm just—I'm gonna—" Hyunjin tried to say, stumbling out onto the balcony, glad everyone was too preoccupied with Seungmin and Jeongin to take in his distressed state.
"Jin," he heard Jisung call after him, but he ignored him.
Jisung was out of his seat and following after Hyunjin, ignoring the strange looks he got from the rest of the group who were now crowding around the newly announced couple.
He stepped out onto the balcony, shutting the door behind him and closing the curtains. Hyunjin was sitting on the cement bench close to the railing, his head buried his hands. His shoulders were shaking as he cried, tears running down his neck. Jisung rushed forward, wrapping his arms around Hyunjin and drawing him close. He rested his chin on Hyunjin’s hair, rubbing his back. Hyunjin leaned further into Jisung’ chest, collapsing against him.
"Fuck, I'm so stupid. I should—I should have seen this coming. It all makes so much sense now," Hyunjin said, his voice watery and muffled against Jisung’s shirt. He looked up, staring up at Jisung with his wet eyes and tear-stained cheeks. "How was I so blind?"
"Jin, you know that's not—he didn't—" Jisung said, using one of his sleeves to wipe away the stray tears that were still falling.
"He didn't what? Didn't cheat on me?" Hyunjin said, letting out a humorless chuckle. He shook his head, moving away from Jisung’s touch. "Maybe not but… God. He was always fawning over Innie, I just thought it was the way all of us did. The way even I do. I love Jeongin—we all do—but I didn't think—"
"Hyunjin, look at me," Jisung said. He took Hyunjin’s face into his hands gently, making sure Hyunjin was looking at him. He thumbed away Hyunjin’s tears. "You don't know the full story, you're just upset right now—and you have every right to be, but don't go down that road."
He didn’t want Hyunjin to spiral down into an abyss Jisung wasn’t sure he could drag him out of.
"What—what does he have that I don't?" Hyunjin asked. He looked up at Jisung expectantly, as if Jisung could answer him. He couldn’t. He couldn’t imagine anyone not wanting Hyunjin. "Stupid question, I know. Everything. God, between me and him, I'd choose him too."
"Shut up," Jisung hissed. He crouched down so that he was lower than Hyunjin. As earnestly as he could, he said, "There's nothing wrong with you. You're perfect."
"No, I'm not. You know I'm not—" Hyunjin said, trying to move away but Jisung wouldn’t let him.
"Yes, you are. You are," Jisung said firmly. He dragged Hyunjin forward, burying Hyunjin’s face in his neck, not caring that Hyunjin was still crying. "It's not you. There's absolutely nothing wrong with you."
The door swung open and Jisung didn’t have to turn to know who it was. Hyunjin buried his face further into Jisung’s neck and Jisung ran his hand through Hyunjin’s hair.
"Jin—oh," Seungmin said, drawing to a halt when he saw their position. Jisung half-turned to see Seungmin standing in the doorway, the rest of their friends leaning over his shoulders.
"What's wrong? Is everything okay?" Chan asked, stepping around Seungmin, but Jisung waved him off. He knew Hyunjin probably hated to let their friends see him this way.
"Everything's fine! Jin was just reminded of that—that movie we watched last night!" Jisung lied smoothly. Beneath him, Hyunjin’s shoulders shook, but Jisung assumed it was from surprised laughter.
"Yeah, it was really sad," Felix said.
It wasn’t technically a lie. They had watched a sad movie, and Hyunjin had cried for hours afterwards. Changbin had called Jisung after Hyunjin had gotten back to their dorm, demanding to know what Jisung had done to upset Hyunjin, but Jisung had only laughed.
"She didn't have to die," Hyunjin said suddenly. Jisung turned to him, surprised at his outburst. Hyunjin looked up at Jisung, eyes still wet but less upset than he had been before.
"She was clinically ill, Jinnie," Jisung said around a laugh. Behind him, he heard their friends let out a collective breath of relief.
"But her dog was so sad," Hyunjin whined, the same argument he had used last night when they’d watched the movie.
"I know, I know," Jisung rolled his eyes, standing up straight and turning to face their friends, keeping Hyunjin hidden behind him. "We're just going to go. He usually needs a lot of ice-cream and cuddles to calm down."
"Of course, we understand," Chan smiled knowingly. He ushered the rest inside as Jisung turned and offered his hand to Hyunjin. Hyunjin sniffed, wiping his face with his sleeves before letting Jisung pull him up and draw him close.
Jisung said goodbye to the group for both of them, avoiding Seungmin’s pained gaze. Next to him, Hyunjin had a faraway look in his eyes and Jisung couldn’t tell if it was still because of the announcement or if he was actually thinking of the movie.
"Kkami would be so sad if I died, he'd be so sad…" Hyunjin said, confirming Jisung’s suspicions.
"You're not dying, Jin," Jisung said when they reached the door. He waved to Felix who gave him a worried look. Jisung shook his head, an I’ll call you later.
"I'll see you tomorrow at the studio, hyungs," Jisung called out to Chan and Changbin. Chan nodded from his spot next to Minho.
"Take care of him!" Changbin shouted.
"I will!" Jisung shouted back, ushering Hyunjin out of the apartment and shutting the door. He had yet to let go of Hyunjin’s hand, but Hyunjin wasn’t complaining so Jisung held on tighter.
"Are you really crying over the movie?" Jisung asked when they were standing outside of the building. Hyunjin sniffed again, avoiding Jisung’s amused gaze.
"I wasn't but then you brought it up and I'm even sadder than before," Hyunjin said pouting. He looked at Jisung hesitantly, eyes wide and glassy. "Can I still have ice cream and cuddles?"
"Sure," Jisung sighed as if he was supposed to say ‘no’ when Hyunjin looked at him like that. "We'll get some from the convenience store and you can stay over."
Later, after they’d finished the ice-cream—after Hyunjin had finished it—and Hyunjin had fallen asleep on Jisung’s chest, Jisung stared up at the ceiling, fiddling with Hyunjin’s hair. Hyunjin snored lightly, wrapping his arms tighter around Jisung’s waist. It’s so tiny, Hyunjin had cooed the first time Jisung had let him cuddle with him.
Without thinking, he reached for his phone and opened the chat with Felix. He hesitated, looking down at Hyunjin’s peaceful face. His hair fell messily across his forehead, his lips in an adorable pout even in his sleep. Jisung sighed, leaning forward to drop the lightest kiss on his forehead before texting Felix.
[To: Lix] You were right.
The reply was almost instantaneous.
[From: Lix] About…?
[To: Lix] About Hyunjin. I do
I do like him. A lot.
[From: Lix] Are you going to tell him? Really tell him?
[To: Lix] I think I just might.
[From: Lix] That's great, sung. I'm happy for you.
[To: Lix] Just know that after I confess you have to tell me all about you and Changbin-hyung.
[From: Lix] Fine. After you confess.
Jisung stuffed his phone under his pillow and shifted until he was curled around Hyunjin. He fell asleep to the rhythmic sound of Hyunjin’s breathing.
Minho was currently splaying across Jisung’s bed, Jisung resting comfortably on top of him, arms wrapped around his hips and head resting on his ribcage. Jisung hummed in content, full of the food they’d had and warmed from Minho’s body-heat.
"I'm glad you asked me to hang out today. It feels like we haven't been alone together in forever, you're so busy with your boyfriend now. I might get jealous," Minho said, his laugh rumbling under Jisung’s cheek. Jisung shifted his head so that he could look up at Minho.
"Nothing to be jealous of, hyung. You're still my best friend," Jisung said with a grin.
"Good," Minho said, settled back down, satisfied with Jisung’s answer.
They stayed like that for a while, so comfortable Jisung felt himself falling asleep. Even Minho’s breathing was evening out, and Jisung wondered how long it had been since Minho had gotten a full night’s sleep. Minho and Hyunjin had the shared habit of practicing into the early hours of the morning. Those two were going to drive him into an early grave.
"Hyung?" Jisung said softly. He wasn’t sure if he should tell Minho, but the secret had been bothering him for a while. Ever since Felix had asked him if he was still in love with Minho or not, Jisung hadn’t had an answer. Not then, but he did now.
"Hmm?" Minho hummed. He peaked an eye open to look at Jisung.
"There's something I want to—no, need to tell you," Jisung said. He let go of Minho, so he could sit upright.
"This sounds serious," Minho said, sitting up to lean on one elbow. He raised his eyebrows, waiting for Jisung to continue.
"Remember that day I confessed?" Jisung asked.
Jisung found that he was calmer than he had been on that day. There wasn’t the same fear of rejection, the burning embarrassment now gone. With a clear mind, he knew that he could tell Minho. He knew that Minho would understand. He knew that nothing could ever change them, not even this.
"Yeah, before the break? What about it?" Minho asked, frowning. Jisung huffed out a laugh.
"Well, the thing is. I-I wasn't—" Jisung said, stopping to laugh nervously. "I wasn't describing Hyunjin that day."
"Jisung, what?" Minho’s frown deepened.
"I wasn't talking about Hyunjin, he wasn't the guy I liked. I was—I was trying to confess to you."
The room went silent. Jisung watched as Minho’s expression changed from one of confusion to shock to understanding. Jisung smiled as Minho sat upright as well, reaching for Jisung.
"Oh Jisungie," Minho breathed, moving forward to wrap his arms around Jisung and draw him into a tight hug. Jisung sighed in content. "I'm so—and I still said—oh."
"No no, hyung. That's not—I'm not trying to make you feel bad or anything. I just...thought you should know," Jisung shrugged.
"But then why are you dating Hyunjin if you liked me?" Minho said, pulling back but not letting go. Jisung blushed, remembering how ridiculous the story sounded.
"Funny thing, I was just so embarrassed, and I didn't want to tell you—I was afraid me confessing would ruin our friendship," Jisung said.
"You could never ruin our friendship, Jisungie," Minho said firmly, his face serious. Jisung smiled.
"I know, hyung. Well, I know now. But I didn't want to tell you, especially after you told me you were dating someone else. And you kept insisting I make a move on Hyunjin so I lied and said I did. I asked Jin to… fake it with me."
"So, you're just pretending to date and not actually dating?" Minho asked, his head tilting to the side like a confused cat.
"Basically," Jisung cringed.
"That's really insane, Jisungie," Minho said, but he laughed. Jisung laughed along with him, finally feeling the weight on his shoulders lift.
"Trust me, I know. But it was the only thing I could think of."
"But if you're faking it why…?" Minho asked, trailing off.
Jisung crawled forward until he was in Minho’s lap, arms around him like a vice. He’d missed Minho. They really hadn’t spent time together in so long, and it was different now what Jisung wasn’t burdened by his own feelings. His heart didn’t pick up, he didn’t blush or squirm. He could enjoy their closeness without wondering if he was being too obvious if Minho felt the same way.
"Why?" Jisung prompted.
"Why does it look so real?" Minho said. "You look so… in love."
Jisung’s breath caught to hear the words he hadn’t yet dared to say out loud. He bit his lip, resting his head on Minho’s shoulder.
"Because I am," he whispered. He turned so his words were muffled into the fabric of Minho’s sweater. "It is real, at least for me. I don't know how he feels but for me… I don't know when it started but now I can't make it stop. I don't want to. I like him so much, hyung. I love him."
"Oh, you're so cute. Jisungie is in love~" Minho cooed and Jisung giggled. Minho fell back, taking Jisung with him as they rearranged themselves again.
"Shut up," Jisung muttered with no heat. He felt giddy, buzzing with energy. He could break out into laughter at any second. He felt like a teenager again. Minho watched him with a fond smile. Jisung poked him in the side, curious about something.
"You know, you never told me about the guy you were dating—or are dating,” Jisung said.
He was surprised by the way Minho turned pink, lowering his eyes to the mattress. Even his ears were pink. There was a small, shy smile on his lips.
"Ah, yes," Minho said, chuckling nervously. "Um…"
"Um…?" Jisung said, poking him again. Minho giggled, making to roll away but Jisung held him firm.
"It's—It's Channie-hyung," Minho said softly.
Jisung’s brain short-circuited.
"What!" he exploded, making Minho flinch. "What the fuck. How, what, when?"
He was mentally going through every interaction he’d witnessed between Chan and Minho. The most obvious thing he could think of was their close proximity whenever their group was together, but Jisung had chalked that up to the fact that Chan would attach himself to anything that breathed, and Minho just really loved affection.
"It's a long story," Minho said, but Jisung knew he was just trying to stall and avoid Jisung’s questioning.
"Good thing we have so much free time," Jisung said. He poked Minho in the chest, making Minho flinch and laugh. "Tell. Me. Everything."
"You know how I'll stay at the dance studio after hours?" Minho asked and Jisung nodded. "Channie-hyung stays at his studio late too. And well, we started running into each other. Sometimes when I'd get frustrated I'd go sit with him in the studio. And he liked to watch me dance—he even learned some of the dances too. It just, it was nice to have someone there with me. We'd go out and get food at those twenty-four-hour places and talk about nothing. He'd walk me back to my dorm every night even though he's apartment is on the other side of campus. One night I just… kissed him. I was so scared that I'd read all the signs wrong, that I'd fucked everything up but… he kissed me back. We didn't even go on a proper date, just skipped straight ahead to dating."
Minho’s smile was shy, his cheeks less flushed but still light pink. He sighed dreamily and Jisung chuckled. So cute, he thought in the same tone as Minho when he’d called Jisung cute.
"But why didn't you guys say anything?" Jisung asked. Minho was a private person, but if they had been dating since before the break, it has to be serious.
"It was nice to keep it just between us. We could just be ourselves without other people’s expectations and input,” Minho said and Jisung nodded in understanding. “But sometimes I just want to hold his hand, or hug him or—"
"Hyung, you already do those things," Jisung laughed. Minho rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, but it's different." Jisung had to agree. Though he and Hyunjin displayed a certain type of closeness around their friends, it was technically fake.
"I know," Jisung said. Minho hummed, still smiling. Jisung eyed him.
"Are you happy? Does he make you happy, hyung?" Jisung asked. That was what was most important. Maybe he wasn’t in love with Minho anymore, but he’d always love him. If there was one thing Jisung wanted above his own happiness, it was Minho’s. He deserved it.
"I'm so happy, Sungie. You don't even know…" Minho let out a happy sigh, giggling into Jisung’s side.
"I'm glad," Jisung. He dropped a kiss on Minho’s cheek and they both giggled.
"You know, I think things will work out with you and Hyunjinnie," Minho said.
"You think?" Jisung asked curiously.
He wasn’t sure if they would. He knew Hyunjin wasn’t hung up on Seungmin anymore, though maybe still hurt about how quickly he had moved on. But just because he was no longer in love with Seungmin, didn’t mean he would return Jisung’s feelings. Either way, he hoped they could still be friends after he confessed. And he would confess. He was not about to end up in another mess like this, even if it had brought him and Hyunjin together.
"It just, it looks mutual. That kind of ridiculously cliched drama stuff where he's staring at you, but you can't see it because you're too busy looking somewhere else," Minho said and Jisung snorted. He should have never let Minho watch Tangled.
"Ah, hyung. Don't get my hopes up!" Jisung shouted, rolling over to bury his face in his pillow. Minho patted his back reassuringly, laughing as Jisung whined.
"Fine fine, but I'm just saying. If it works out I called it."
Hyunjin was leaving the studio when he stepped outside and found Seungmin leaning against the wall, waiting for him. He stopped short in surprise before scowling and walking away. Seungmin, not having this, followed along with him.
"What do you want, Seungmin?" Hyunjin asked when it became apparent that Seungmin wasn’t going to leave him alone.
"I just wanted to talk—really talk, not fight," Seungmin said. Hyunjin let out a harsh breath, stopping to turn back to Seungmin.
"Okay," He said shortly, crossing his arms. "So talk."
"I wanted you to know," Seungmin said, fiddling with his bookbag, but he kept his eyes on Hyunjin’s. "I didn't like Jeongin when we were together."
Hyunjin let out a harsh laugh, shaking his head and trying to walk away.
"You don't have to lie and make me feel better," Hyunjin said.
Seungmin jumped in front of him, holding his hands out but not invading Hyunjin’s space. So considerate, even now. So Seungmin. Hyunjin wished he didn’t miss him. Not their relationship—although he missed that too, sometimes—but just his friend.
"I'm not. I promise I'm not,” Seungmin said. Hyunjin was consoled by the truth in his eyes and the insistence of his words. The vice that had been wrapped around his heart loosened. "Before and while we were dating I didn't have any romantic feelings for Jeongin."
"But you moved on so quickly," Hyunjin bit out.
"So, did you," Seungmin said. Hyunjin wanted to snap, tell him no I fucking didn’t, but Seungmin didn’t know his relationship with Jisung was fake. He bit his tongue and swallowed his anger.
"Was it—was it me? Was I not good enough?" Hyunjin asked, finally able to voice the question that had been plaguing him since they’d broken up. They’d weighed on him for so long, but even when they were dating, Hyunjin was too afraid to ask. He was too afraid of the answer he would get.
"No, it wasn't like that at all,” Seungmin said. He took a small step forward, but not crowding into Hyunjin’s space. He laughed softly. “You were perfect."
"Again, with that word,” Hyunjin groaned. “Jisung says it all the time."
Jisung knew Hyunjin hated it when he called Hyunjin perfect, but it never stopped him from saying it. Every time they stayed late at the studio for Hyunjin to practice, he’d shower Hyunjin in praise. You’re perfect. You’re perfect. You’re perfect.
It made Hyunjin blush. It brought up thoughts he shouldn’t be having for someone he was fake dating.
"He's not wrong," Seungmin said, smiling. "I guess, you used to make me feel inadequate. I thought I wasn't enough for you."
"Why would you think that?" Hyunjin asked, frowning.
"If you say perfect one more time," Hyunjin scowled and Seungmin laughed, shaking his head.
"Hardworking. You're so passionate. You have this dream and you're doing everything you can to achieve it, meanwhile, I still have no idea what I'm doing."
"That didn't matter to me, I'd support you anyway," Hyunjin said. It didn’t matter if Seungmin had decided what he wanted to do tomorrow, or if he never figured it out. Hyunijn would have always been there.
"That's the thing. I didn't want to hold you back," Seungmin said. Hyunjin blinked, shocked at Seungmin’s words.
"You've never held me back," Hyunjin said. How could he even think he’d ever held Hyunjin back?
"You know how I'd complain about you staying at the studio so late. I'd beg you to sleep, to take breaks and you'd just refuse. It used to frustrate me to no end. I couldn't understand how you could live like that, putting dance above your health. But still, I let you do it because it was the only thing I thought I could do. I let you do it and I let you do it alone."
"Minnie," Hyunjin whispered. How long had he felt like that? Why hadn’t he told Hyunjin? God, how had he not noticed it, had he been too caught up with himself?
"Jisung, he's different to me. I see you guys sometimes, you know? In the studio late at night when I'm passing by. He sits there with his laptop and his notebook while you dance. And even though he's in his own world, he's still there with you. He's never left you alone."
Hyunjin liked those nights. The nights when Jisung would sit in the corner of the studio, headphones on but looking up occasionally to shoot Hyunjin a smile. And when it was really bad—when Hyunjin’s limbs refused to co-operate and he wanted to collapse in a tearful heap—Jisung would drag him out for a walk, or to his own studio. They’d sit together for a while, Jisung letting Hyunjin listen to whatever new track he was working on, sometimes even singing him to sleep.
"And I think he gets it—gets you. You're both so ambitious. You know what you want and what it takes to get there. It's funny that you two used to hate each other so much, maybe it was because you're so similar."
It was funny, because now that the air was clear between them—no longer clouded by unnecessary anger and hatred—Hyunjin could see the similarities as well.
"I'm sorry I hurt you—that I hurt us both," Seungmin said and he sounded like he genuinely meant it. "You'll never know how sorry I am, but if that's what it took for you to find Jisung then I'm happy. I'd gladly take that pain if it meant that you found happiness."
"Shut up, I'm going to cry," Hyunjin said, his eyes burning. Why did Seungmin have to be like this even now? He wanted to stay mad at him—and he was, that anger would take a while longer to leave him completely—but couldn’t. He missed his friend too much. "Come here."
He grabbed Seungmin’s arm and dragged him into a tight hug. Seungmin hugged him back, sniffing into his shoulder. They got weird looks from the few people that passed them by, but Hyunjin didn’t care.
"Oh, and please talk to Innie,” Seungmin said when they pulled away, both sniffing. “He thinks you're mad at him."
"I was never mad—at him,” Hyunjin said and Seungmin looked away sheepishly. “I'll come over later. There's something I need to do first."
"Okay," Seungmin said. Hyunjin moved to walk past him, but Seungmin called out to him again. "And Jin, I'm happy if you're happy."
"I'm happy if you're happy too Seungminnie," Hyunjin beamed. He waved. "I'll see you later."
He turned, feeling lighter than he had in weeks. He laughed to himself as he walked, almost skipping on his way to Jisung’s dorm.
Jisung was splayed across the mess of blankets on his bed when Hyunjin entered. Felix was nowhere to be seen, meaning he was either with Chan or Changbin, though Hyunjin’s best guess would be Changbin. Jisung looked up from where he had been scrolling through his phone and smiled at Hyunjin. Hyunjin’s heart skipped a beat, his breathing becoming difficult as he swallowed down the bubbling nervousness expanding in his chest.
Without a word, he dropped his bag by the door, slipping off his shoes and collapsing on top of Jisung. Jisung let out a loud oof but didn’t complain. He squirmed until they were both in a comfortable position—Hyunjin’s arms wrapped tightly around Jisung’s waist, his forehead resting on Jisung’s collarbones. Jisung carded a hand through Hyunjin’s hair and he hummed in content.
They stayed like that, neither of them speaking as they enjoyed the silence. It was Hyunjin who shifted and looked up at Jisung. Jisung smiled down at him.
"Hey," Hyunjin whispered.
"Hi," Jisung said, surprising Hyunjin with a grin that turned into a laugh. Hyunjin eyed him, poking his cheek, but instead of complaining as he usually would, Jisung giggled. Okay, something had definitely happened.
"You seem… different,” Hyunjin said. It wasn’t bad, but this was a bit excessively happy, even for Jisung.
"I spent the day with Minho-hyung," Jisung said. Hyunjin raised his eyebrows. "I told him the truth. I told him everything."
Hyunjin’s heart stopped. His arms tensed around Jisung.
"Oh," Hyunjin said, voice hollow. He dropped his head back down onto Jisung’s chest. He drew patterns into Jisung’s back, making him squirm in a way Hyunjin found adorable.
"So does this—are we ending this then?" Hyunjin asked, trying to keep his voice steady. Jisung went silent. Hyunjin was afraid Jisung might be able to hear the way his heart pounded in fear, though he could probably feel it.
"If you want to. It would only make sense since we only started this to keep him in the dark," Jisung said.
Hyunjin swallowed and nodded slowly. As gentle as he could, he untangled his arms from around Jisung as moved away, sitting up. Hyunjin didn’t look at Jisung, but he knew Jisung was watching him.
"A-Ah, okay. If that's what you want," Hyunjin stumbled over the words, internally cringing.
The room felt smaller than it actually was, and all Hyunjin wanted to do was run and hide. At least Jisung had said something before Hyunjin could embarrass himself. He was about to stand to leave, make up a flimsy excuse and run back to his dorm when Jisung spoke up again.
"What if—?" Jisung started and Hyunjin’s head snapped up to look at him. "What if that's not what I want?"
"It's not?" Hyunjin asked.
Was Jisung saying what Hyunjin thought he was saying? Hyunjin clenched his hands to stop them from shaking. He took a deep breath.
"Then… what do you want?"
"Well, right now I want to kiss you," Jisung said nonchalantly.
Hyunjin’s jaw dropped and he choked. How can he just say that? Before Hyunjin could gather his thoughts, Jisung went on.
"Long term, I'm thinking dating?" Jisung said, lips splitting into a grin.
Hyunjin would have been confused and impressed by his blasé attitude had he not been able to see right through it. Jisung’s hands were stuffed under the blankets and his lips were bitten raw, skin red. He was just as nervous as Hyunjin. That calmed him a little.
"Jisung," Hyunjin said, voice shaking. "Don't fuck with me, don't—"
Before Hyunjin could finish his sentence, Jisung surged forward, tackling Hyunjin to the mattress. Hyunjin yelped, arms reaching for Jisung instinctively. Once Hyunjin was lying flat on his back, Jisung crawled on top of him, straddling his thighs and leaning down until they were almost nose-to-nose, amusement dancing in his sparkly eyes.
"Idiot," Jisung said fondly. His brushed Hyunjin’s hair away from his forehead. "I mean it. I want you."
"Really?" Hyunjin asked, biting the inside of his cheek to keep the wide grin that threatened to split across his face at bay. Jisung poked his cheek, right where his dimple was as if to say just smile, idiot.
"Really," Jisung laughed. He dropped his head to rest his forehead against Hyunjin’s collarbones, his breath ghosting against exposed skin. Hyunjin shivered.
"I want to kiss you, hug you, hold your hand, stay up so late we can barely function the next morning. I want everything with you," Jisung said.
He didn’t look up, his words muffled but audible against Hyunjin’s hoodie. Maybe he wasn’t so brave, maybe he was embarrassed to say those things to Hyunjin’s face, but Hyunjin was endlessly endeared. Hyunjin lifted his hands and cradled the back of Jisung’s head, drawing him up so that he could look at Jisung’s face.
"Me too," Hyunjin said, smile dimpling his cheeks. "I want everything with you too."
"Good," Jisung said primly before breaking into another grin. Hyunjin grinned back, his heart flipping over in his chest. That didn’t feel healthy, but he didn’t care. If he were to die right then, he’d die happy.
"Now kiss me," Jisung said. And Hyunjin did.
He cradled Jisung’s face between his hands, thumbs pressing gently into his cheeks as he drew Jisung down. Jisung’s lips were a bit chapped from the way he’d bitten them, but Hyunjin didn’t care, kissing him soundly. Jisung melted against him, settling down further and leaning his forehead against Hyunjin’s. Hyunjin removed his hands from Jisung’s face, wrapping his arms around Jisung’s shoulders and pulling him as close as he physically could, and then trying to get closer still. Jisung laughed against his lips but didn’t break the kiss.
Jisung was the one to deepen the kiss, threading his hands through Hyunjin’s hair and biting his lower lip. Hyunjin giggled, kissing back eagerly, chasing Jisung’s lips as if they were the sweetest thing he’d ever tasted. Only when Jisung was satisfied with how red and swollen Hyunjin’s lips looked did he pull away. He didn’t lift his head, still dropping quick pecks on Hyunjin’s lips and cheeks, smiling at the way Hyunjin laughed.
"You know, I'm kind of upset," Jisung said, sitting up halfway. Hyunjin frowned, affronted.
"About what?" he asked. Unlike Jisung, he was elated. His body was buzzing, and he fought against the urge to drag Jisung down into another kiss.
"We don't have the satisfaction of shocking everyone with the fact that we're dating because they all already think that we are," Jisung said. Hyunjin found himself nodding in agreement.
"It's too bad, I didn't get to enjoy it much when it happened," Hyunjin admitted. He absentmindedly dropped his hands from Jisung’s neck to settled on his hips and drawing lazy circles into his exposed skin that made Jisung shudder. "I was too nervous they would be able to tell we were lying.”
"Me too," Jisung sighed. Before he could complain anymore, Hyunjin squeezed his waist, causing him to fall forward onto Hyunjin’s chest. He didn’t protest, happily cuddling closer, looking down at Hyunjin like he couldn’t believe he was real.
"Hey, Jisung," Hyunjin said, leaning forward. "Kiss me again."
"Gladly," Jisung whispered, tilting his head down and capturing Hyunjin’s lips in another kiss.
"Is it just me or are you two… clingy. Or more clingy than usual?" Woojin said, eyeing them from where he was fiddling with the television.
Both Hyunjin and Jisung looked up from their conversation. Unlike every other time, Jisung now sat in Hyunjin’s lap, Hyunjin’s arms wrapped tightly around his waist. Jisung had one arm around Hyunjin’s neck, hand playing with the short hairs on his nape, enjoying the way he squirmed. Hyunjin squeezed Jisung’s side in retaliation but didn’t ask him to stop or move away.
"Actually hyung, these last few months have been an adjustment period," Jisung said, grinning. He then turned to where Felix and Changbin were cuddling in their usual seat. "We wanted to let you get used to us as a couple before we made out in the living room, on the couch, for everyone to see."
"Oh my—it was one time, and you weren't even supposed to be there," Felix snapped, lifting his head from where it had been resting on Changbin’s arm.
"It doesn't matter! The image is still seared into my brain!" Jisung yelled.
"Whatever," Felix said dismissively.
Before Jisung could argue further, Minho entered the apartment. Jisung was immediately aware of the way Chan tried to subtly look up when Minho entered, a small smile playing at his lips.
Ever since Minho had told Jisung about his and Chan’s relationship, Jisung had taken to observing them for signs. They were good actors, Jisung could barely tell the difference from before and after they had started dating.
"So um—" Minho said.
“Oh God, I know that look," Changbin groaned and Jisung agreed. Would it really be one of their gatherings if someone wasn’t confessing something every week?
"What? What's happening?" Woojin said, standing up straight and looking at Changbin.
"Minho-hyung's about to tell us he's dating someone," Changbin said, rolling his eyes. "That or he's adopted another cat."
"Wow, so smart Changbinnie," Minho said, smiling at Changbin blandly.
He turned away from Changbin, catching Jisung’s eye and winking. Jisung winked back. Minho looked away from Jisung, seemingly dividing his attention amongst the entire group, but Jisung caught the way his gaze lingered on Chan.
"And anyway, it's both."
"Called it!" Changbin shouted.
"What's your cat's name?" Jeongin asked.
"Who are you dating?" Seungmin asked, pulling Jeongin back from where he was attempting to climb over Seungmin’s lap to get closer to Minho. Next to Jisung, Hyunjin was watching with curiosity.
Jisung smiled to himself, already knowing the answer to both.
"He's name is Dori," Minho said, lifting his head. He smirked. "And I'm dating Channie-hyung."
"What!" Hyunjin shouted loudly next to Jisung’s hear, startling him. Jisung flinched, jerking away from Hyunjin.
"Since when?" Woojin asked incredulously, turning to look at Chan who was seated next to him.
Chan and Minho smiled, answering all the questions thrown in their direction. Jisung tuned out everyone else, having already heard the story. He caught Hyunjin watching him questionably, and he smiled as innocently as he could. Hyunjin narrowed his eyes, realization setting in.
"You knew," Hyunjin hissed. He leaned back, away from Jisung.
"I did," Jisung laughed. He tried to draw Hyunjin back to him, but Hyunjin resisted.
"And you didn't tell me?" Hyunjin whined huffing.
"It wasn't my secret to tell," Jisung said defensively, but he couldn’t stop smiling. Hyunjin turned away petulantly, an unhappy pout forming on his lips. "Don't pout."
Hyunjin ignored him, pursing his lips out more. Without warning, Jisung leaned over to kiss him. Hyunjin’s eyes widened as he startled. Jisung laughed, pecking him again. And again. He didn’t stop until Hyunjin was giggling, pushing him away.
"Stop, stop," Hyunjin laughed, smiling Jisung’s favorite smile. "Fine, I forgive you."
“Good,” Jisung said, stealing one last kiss.
The room was quiet as Hyunjin woke. He dismissed his alarm before it had the chance to go off, not wanting to wake Jisung who was sound asleep on his chest. Hyunjin slid out of Jisung’s grasp as gently as he could, dropping a light kiss on his cheek as he tucked the blankets back around Jisung. Jisung burrowed further into his cocoon and Hyunjin smiled.
Felix’s bed was empty, still perfectly made. Hyunjin doubted he had come back to the dorm since the night before.
He moved around the room as quietly as he could, changing out of his pajamas and into sweatpants and a hoodie. He was busy looking for his shoes under Jisung’s bed when a hand wrapped around his wrist. He glanced up to see Jisung’s head peeking out from the blankets. His hair was a mess, his eyes half-opened. Hyunjin smiled at the sight.
"Hyunjin," Jisung whined, his voice rough and croaky from sleep."Jin, Jinnie, Hyunjinnie."
"I thought you were asleep," Hyunjin said, abandoning his search for his shoes. He shifted so he could look at Jisung.
"Can't sleep without you," Jisung mumbled, tugging at Hyunjin’s arm in an attempt to drag him back into bed, but Hyunjin gently removed Jisung’s hand and stuffed his arm back under the blanket, safe from the cold weather. It would be autumn soon, the air gaining back its chill.
"Uh huh, sure," Hyunjin said sarcastically. Jisung—much like Chan—was perpetually tired. Once they’d used up all their energy, they would collapse and sleep for days.
"No, don't go~ Stay with me," Jisung whined again. He shuffled out of the nest of blankets, surging forward before Hyunjin could stop him, and attaching himself to Hyunjin to keep him from moving.
"Sung, come on. Let go," Hyunjin said, but did nothing to fight him off. Instead, he leaned into Jisung’s arms. He was so warm, and maybe it wouldn’t be that bad if he forgot about the coffee and just crawled back into bed with Jisung.
"No, don't leave me. I love you," Jisung said.
Hyunjin’s heart stopped and started again, his breath stuttering as it always did when Jisung said those words. He melted a little inside, his body warming, but he would not be manipulated so easily. Jisung knew the effect his words had on Hyunjin and was using it to his advantage, sly even when half-asleep.
"Oh my God, I'm just leaving to get us coffee, it'll take fifteen minutes," Hyunjin groaned, trying to pry Jisung’s arms off.
"That's fifteen minutes too long. It’s fifteen minutes you could spend staying in bed with me," Jisung said as he held on tighter and buried his face in Hyunjin’s neck, muttered the words against his skin. He wasn’t wrong, but Hyunjin would not let him win so easily.
"You know you love their coffee," Hyunjin said. "I was planning to be back before you woke up."
"Well, I'm awake now and I want you to stay with me," Jisung said, and while Hyunjin couldn’t see him, he knew Jisung would be looking at him with his wide, sparkly eyes and his adorably chubby, cheeks. It was a good thing he couldn’t see Jisung’s face. If he could, this battle would have been over already.
"Han Jisung. You are so clingy," that was saying something coming from Hyunjin. "No doubt if I left you'd fall back asleep and not even notice I was gone."
"Nope, never. I always know when you're gone," Jisung said. He lifted his head, staring sleepily at the side of Hyunjin’s face, nosing at his jaw. From the corner of his eye, Hyunjin could make out the pout.
"Sure, love," Hyunjin said, reaching up to pat Jisung’s hair. Jisung nuzzled into his touch, which Hyunjin found adorable.
"Love," Jisung hummed, smiling dopily. He moved so he could wrap his arms around Hyunjin’s neck. Hyunjin didn’t fight him as Jisung climbed into his lap, clinging tightly and burying his face in Hyunjin’s hair. Hyunjin reached up to run a hand through Jisung’s hair, Jisung almost purring in content. "My love."
"Nope, mine," Hyunjin said. He twisted them around, tightening his arms around Jisung and flattening him to the mattress. Jisung giggled, happy that he’d gotten his way. Hyunjin sighed fondly, rolling around until they were back under the blankets, Jisung’s head resting in the crook of Hyunjin’s neck.
Jisung, the annoying brat that he was, couldn’t let them have a quiet moment. He whispered against Hyunjin’s jaw—
“I love you, I love you, I love you—mmph—"
Hyunjin silenced him with a kiss, not caring that neither of them had brushed their teeth. Jisung’s lips were as warm as he rest of him, soft from the lip balm he’d stolen from Hyunjin. Jisung sighed happily against his lips, closing his eyes. Hyunjin watched Jisung as he settled again, eyes fluttering shut. Hyunjin rested his lips on Jisung’s forehead as he easily fell back asleep in Hyunjin’s embrace.
"I love you, too."