An NCT World Tour. It’s kind of awe inspiring, really, to see how many cities 127 have gone to - how many fans they got to meet, how much practice they put in, how much blood, sweat and tears has gone into making this the absolute best show they can put on, every single time without fail.
Jisung would be lying if he said he wasn’t jealous.
He swipes down on Twitter, refreshing the feed and watching as the previews from the airport pop up slowly on the screen. The loading is particularly slow, as Jeno was hiding out in his room, sucking up all of the dorm’s wifi for his beast of a computer and his multitude of games that he still insists he doesn’t play for the sake of the cameras. His hyungs had just landed, and Jisung hits pause on his laptop’s screen with a clumsy elbow to squint down at the grainy previews, one hand covered in oil from the seaweed spring rolls he’d been devouring, the other currently occupied with his phone.
His eyes, as always, go to the same person, face partially covered by a black face mask, silver hair ruffled around his head, a surefire sign he’d only woken up a couple of minutes before landing. Jisung would be lying if he said he wasn’t jealous of the tour and of the schedules 127 had been on, but he doesn’t think anyone could be envious of the schedule Donghyuck had to put up with for a solid month or so. Flying back and forth from country to country, from long practices and recordings to two hour shows every other night. Such an exhausting schedule took its toll on a person, and it was reflected very clearly in the tired look in Donghyuck’s eyes as he leveled a neutral glance at a lucky fansite, who had just caught that split second in photographic immortality.
A faint trail of goosebumps prickle their way down Jisung’s spine at that photo, but he brushes the feeling away, scrolling down his feed instead.
He elbows his drama back on, half watching the show while flipping to Dream's group chat, mindlessly texting Donghyuck as he watches the female lead start to cry in the rain. How cliche.
Donghyuck had been the one to recommend the drama to him, and so far, Jisung wasn’t all that impressed. Donghyuck doesn’t respond straight away and Jisung lets it go, flicking back to Twitter and scrolling through all the other members’ previews, watching the drama play out of the corner of his eye.
When the sun starts peeking out over the top of the skyline, filling the living room slowly with sunlight, Jisung finally deems it late enough to slide his laptop under the couch and slide down horizontally, dragging the blanket wrapped around the ice blocks masquerading as his feet around him as the sun slowly creeps over his body, warming him up inch by inch as he drifts off to sleep.
Jisung wakes up to the dorm door beeping loudly as the security lock disengages. Jisung cracks open an eye to sweep his gaze over the living room. The sunlight is dim and there's the quiet chatter of conversation from the kitchen. Then the couch dips, and a body gently lowers itself on top of Jisung's, nuzzling into the back of his neck.
"Did you just wake up?"
Jisung shifts, groaning at the new weight pressing him down onto the couch. "Hyung," he whines, shifting uncomfortably. "You're heavy."
"'S what you deserve, sleepyhead," Donghyuck says, blowing a huff of air into Jisung's ear that makes him squirm, goosebumps skittering down his spine. "I flew thousands of miles and I still woke up before you."
Jisung groans, trying to throw him off, but Donghyuck just clings to him tighter, wrapping his arms around Jisung's torso, tangling their legs together. "At least let me get my phone."
There's some shifting and then Donghyuck's shoving Jisung's phone into his face where he squints at the screen, trying to blink the bleariness out of his eyes. It's almost six in the evening, which explains the lack of light and the loud grumbling in Jisung's stomach, demanding attention. He thumbs to his notifications, scrolling through about a hundred nonsensical messages in the Dream chat, not even noticing that Donghyuck has stopped moving until he slumps down against him, his breathing going slow and deep.
"Hyung?" Jisung asks softly. When Donghyuck lets out a quiet hum and nothing further, Jisung tries to crane his neck over his shoulder to see if Donghyuck's fallen asleep. "Hyung," Jisung tries. "Don't fall asleep, we have practice."
Donghyuck's arm tightens for half a second. "Five minutes," he mumbles before relaxing.
Jisung sighs, but lets him have his brief nap. God knows Donghyuck could use it.
Ten minutes later, Renjun walks into the living room, casting a quizzical look at them. "We've got practice," he informs Jisung. "Aren't you going to eat?"
Jisung shrugs as best he can. "Donghyuck hyung's asleep on me."
"I can see that." Renjun walks around them and gently prods Donghyuck awake. "Get up. You need to eat."
Donghyuck stirs, yawning into Jisung's neck. "I'm up, I'm up," he mumbles, sliding off Jisung's thighs into the place between the back of the sofa and Jisung's body. Jisung pushes himself off the couch, groaning as his limbs stretch and ache at the change in movement for the first time in hours. He rolls his shoulders and neck around before glancing down at Donghyuck who's stretching out on the couch, his loose shirt dragging up from the planes of his stomach. The dark circles under his eyes have only gotten worse, and Jisung's heart skips a couple of beats when Donghyuck opens his eyes to look up at him.
"Dinner," Jisung blurts through a suddenly dry throat, pointing stupidly in the direction of the kitchen as if Donghyuck doesn’t know where it is.
Donghyuck groans and levers himself up. "Dinner," he echoes, following Jisung to the kitchen. "Love food and all that."
Practice is what Jisung's good at.
It's ingrained in him. The antiseptic smell of the squeaky clean floors. The way the mirrors fog up after hours of steam and sweat. The exhaustion that weighs down his limbs, making it feel like his body's being dragged closer to the center of the earth. All Jisung's ever known is the four walls of a dance studio, the long mirror that refuses to hide any mistakes, the pain and tears that comes with trying to be the best in an over saturated industry.
Practice is what he's good at. And he's even better at it when he's got a whole team to rely on.
It's edging close to four am now, and they're nowhere near having the choreography learnt to the level they wanted to by tonight. When Jeno finally calls a break, Jisung collapses on the ground right then and there, starfishing out against the cool floor.
"Why?" He whines pathetically to no one. His limbs ache and his legs feel like lead and his thoughts blank, whited out from pure exhaustion alone.
"Jisungie," Donghyuck sings, sitting down next to him. Jisung doesn't understand how he's so full of energy this late at night. Though, he suspects it might have something to do with the fact that for the last couple of months, Donghyuck had been on nonstop practice circuits, jumping from country to country to perform two hour shows that were no doubt hell on the untrained body. "Here." He brandishes a water bottle in Jisung's face and Jisung reluctantly sits up to take it. Donghyuck's flicking through his phone, but he looks up when Jisung gives the bottle back to him, flashing a distracted grin at him.
“Hyung,” Jisung starts, before losing his train of thought. Donghyuck arches a brow over at him, waiting to hear his words, but Jisung just stares back at him, mind going blank. It’s been a while since he’s spent this much time around Donghyuck. Save for a few award ceremonies here and there, Donghyuck’s been off with the hyungs for most of the last year. It’s weird to have him around for such a protracted amount of time.
It’s strange, because when you’re around someone for so long, you rarely notice the minute changes that happen in them. Jisung still looks back to their Chewing Gum pictures in shock, because of course now the transformation looks severe, but when they were living through it, it seemed so gradual and slow that none of them noticed it was happening until it was too late.
It’s different with Donghyuck though. It’s less like a gradual shear and more like a rubber band snapping, slowly, slowly stretching out and then all at once breaking apart, becoming something altogether different, yet still remaining inherently the same. Because Jisung has seen Donghyuck nearly every day for the last six years, and then all of a sudden he didn’t, and when Donghyuck came back to them, there was something undeniably different about him and Jisung, for the life of him, can’t pin it down.
Donghyuck still acts the same: clingy and overtly charming on camera, less touchy and calmer off - but there’s a something that clings to the underside of all his actions. Maybe it’s maturity, maybe Donghyuck’s finally grown into the title of adult - though the rest of the 00 line were still the same, obnoxiously loud and lording their sudden legal drinking ability over him and Chenle as if all of them hadn’t started sneaking tastes since they’d debuted, handed over quietly by seniors at company dinners with a sly wink, or by sympathetic managers after a long day - so that was unlikely. Maybe it’s just that he’s been away from Dream for so long that he’s still awkward around them, having come back to the new spaces that had been filled in and new niches created after Mark’s graduation, not knowing where he fits in.
Jisung doesn’t like thinking about that last possibility because it’s not a nice thought. He doesn’t like the idea that Donghyuck’s been away for long that he’s forgotten how to function around his friends.
“Hey,” Donghyuck says, snapping his fingers in Jisung’s face. “My eyes are up here, Sungie.”
Jisung startles, glancing up. The break’s over it seems, as Jeno’s walking back to the computer and Renjun’s groaning, hauling Chenle up with all his might, nearly falling backwards as he does so. Chenle’s laugh echoes around the room, making the space suddenly seem much more liminal that it had before.
“Where’d you go in that head of yours?” Donghyuck asks, helping Jisung up with a funny look on his face.
Jisung shrugs. “Was just thinking about something.”
The looks fades and Donghyuck squeezes his hand once, twice, before letting go. “Well, don’t think too hard,” he teases as he gets back into the starting position. “Wouldn’t want that pretty head of yours to explode.”
Jisung’s starting position is all the way at the back of the formation, but even he can see, without the aid of his glasses, the bright blush that stains his cheeks, shining across the long practice room, a beacon to rival the force of a lighthouse, shining against the fogged up mirrors.
The day of their MV filming dawns bright and early and without Donghyuck. He's still caught up at a festival with the hyungs and most probably won't make it back until late tonight. It's surprisingly cool for June, the dawn sun filtering in through the car windows as they trundle down the empty highway.
Renjun is passed out in the seat next to him, his cheek smushed against Jisung's shoulder and neck at an excruciating angle that Jisung knows he's going to complain about as soon as they hit the set. The rest of the car is in a similar state of quiet, broken only by Chenle's humming in the seat ahead of them. Jisung himself can't feel exhaustion, despite having gone to sleep only a few hours earlier. He knows he'll regret it by lunchtime, but for now he stares out the window, letting the music filter in through his earbuds, fishing for his phone stuck in the cup holder beside him.
Notifications pop up on his screen; texts from his manager, a couple game reminders, but one specific one catches his eye - a message from Donghyuck. Jisung jerks in his seat, instantly regretting it and stilling when Renjun lets out an annoyed noise, loud enough to be heard over his headphones. He waits until Renjun’s settled against his shoulder again, a tiny frown on his face as he slinks back into sleep, before unlocking his phone. There's several texts in the NCT group chat, but Jisung bypasses all of them to his direct chat with Donghyuck.
jisungaaaaa please tell me youre awake at least
A smile flickers over Jisung's face at the several stickers jumping around the phone screen for attention.
are you that bored hyung
the plane got delayed D:
everyones asleep here too
thats what people usually do hyung
why arent you asleep
im not sleepyyy
did u watch that drama i was telling you about
i started it
it was BORING
A devastated bunny sticker. A crying Ryan sticker. An outraged carrot sticker, all filling the screen in quick succession, and Jisung can just imagine the look on Donghyuck's face as he'd read the texts. He grins to himself.
it was so good what are you talking about?
ahh you have no taste jisung-ah
this is why im the hyung
i guess you need to give me better dramas to watch then
or i could make u watch that drama with me hehehe
An image flashes in Jisung's head, of him and Donghyuck snuggled up in Jisung's bed, squished together, Donghyuck's head on his shoulder as they watched the - frankly terrible - drama together. Jisung blushes and then looks around to make sure no one had seen him grinning down at his phone like a fool.
you can try hyung
itll still be terrible
Several outraged stickers fill the screen and Jisung can't help the large smile that curls over his face as he locks the screen, flicking the song to something more brighter, more upbeat as they pull onto set.
Donghyuck rolls onto the music video set the next day, having come straight from the airport. He flings himself tiredly onto the makeup chair with all the aura of an exhausted teacher having just come home from a long day of wrangling sugar-crazy five year olds and submits himself to the mercy of the makeup noonas who were armed at the ready with a battalion of brushes.
Renjun greets him happily, slinging an arm around his neck and yanking him into a hug. Jisung just manages to catch the beginnings of a soft smile curling around Donghyuck’s lips as he returns it. He doesn't look at him for too long, though, still having his skin beaten with a makeup puff, but he hears the way the makeup noonas start tutting over the state of Donghyuck's skin.
"Look at these eye bags," one of them halfheartedly scolds, waving Renjun back to his seat as they inspect Donghyuck’s skin with narrowed eyes. "You need to take better care of yourself."
Donghyuck huffs out a laugh. "I'll get right on that, noona."
Jisung turns away, submitting to the mascara wand when it comes terrifyingly close to his eyes.
They're inside for most of the day, which is a relief because dancing in the hot sun yesterday had been exhausting. But that doesn't mean things are any easier today. Filmings always meant long waits and longer shoots, having to constantly sit up straight or at the very least, keep their heads up so that they didn't mess up their makeup or hair.
Donghyuck defies that rule in the first two hours, collapsing on the couch in the house - the Goblin's house, Jisung's in awe - and passing out as soon as he finishes his photoshoot. The hair stylists tut quietly at him, but no one makes a move to wake him up.
Jisung goes to sit by Donghyuck's head though, quietly pleased when Donghyuck hums and shifts so that his head is resting on Jisung's thigh, messing up the style even more, before passing out completely again.
Jisung tries not to burn up from the inside out and fails miserably.
In the afternoon they switch outfits and locations, trading their stiff suits - still yet to be broken in - for well-worn jeans, even taking a picture of just their legs just for the hell of it.
Donghyuck comes up to Jisung and throws an arm around him as Jisung peers down at his photos, scrunching up his nose. He looks a bit stiff, unnatural, but the photographer assures him that he looks fine.
"You look cute, Jisung-ah," Donghyuck coos, tugging at his ear. "You've really grown up, haven't you?"
Jisung shrugs, trying not to let his heartbeat pound too loud lest Donghyuck hear it. "I'm not trying to look cute," he mutters, but all that does is make Donghyuck coo louder, wrapping his arms tightly around him just as Jisung's called back in front of the camera.
The next two days progress like this, with Donghyuck getting more and more cheerful as the hours pass. And when Donghyuck gets happy, he gets clingy, and Jisung is on the verge of exploding. He doesn't know how to handle Donghyuck's constant attention, always directed at him with all the force of a laser beam ready to hit its target, and it’s even worse because Donghyuck is a performer, he plays things up for the cameras that are constantly following them around. Jisung honestly doesn’t know if the attention is from the fierce glare of the lense or because of Donghyuck’s feelings. Both options don’t bear thinking about. Jisung can’t afford to get distracted.
At the end of the shoot they do the final vertical video shoot, and when Jisung finishes, Donghyuck yells are louder than anyone else's. Jisung's secretly grateful for the thick layer of makeup covering the furious blush that rockets up his cheeks when Donghyuck throws his arms around him, nearly lifting him off the floor with the force of his hold, his voice sending goosebumps skittering down Jisung’s spine.
The teaser pics for Renjun and Donghyuck drop on the last day and Jisung stares at Donghyuck holding up a candle for longer than he possibly should have.
Donghyuck’s on another flight headed to another country for something like the fourth time that week, so Jisung just swipes to his messages with Donghyuck.
ohhh hyung looks cool in the teaser
He waits a while for Donghyuck’s response, before remembering his phone was probably off if he was on a plane and shoves his phone back in his bag before heading back off to the front of the practice room.
They spend a couple of hours smoothing out the errors in Stronger, tweaking the minor issues and recording the final product as a whole to send off to Donghyuck before finally breaking for dinner at nine in the evening.
Jaemin and Jeno get carted off to do a vlive and Jisung waves Chenle off in his car before following Renjun back to the dorms. He pulls out his phone as they both collapse in the van.
what do you want jisungie >.<
i can't buy you new sneakers im in another country
and the duty free here is not the best
i cant just compliment u?
you never do anything without an ulterior motive
how mean of you hyung :(
im choosing to ignore you now
im so sorry
An apologetic bunny sticker pops up and Jisung can't help the smile that grows on his face. But he sticks to his guns and puts the phone down, intending to ignore Donghyuck until he gets the apology he desires, only to look up to meet Renjun's knowing gaze.
"What?" Jisung asks, startled.
Renjun raises an eyebrow at him. "You've been texting Donghyuck an awful amount these days."
Jisung tries not to blush. Renjun was like a shark in the ocean. If he smelled even a trace of blood, of weakness, it was all over. "Yeah, well, he's gone a lot, I'm just keeping him updated."
"I think you're doing a lot more than that."
Jisung scowls over at him. "What do you mean?"
Renjun shrugs, pulling out his earphones. "Nothing, but just remember to look out for yourself, Jisung-ah. I think the distance has kind of fucked with your perception of Donghyuck a little and you shouldn't let that new image affect your decisions."
Jisung gapes at him, bewildered even more now. Why did Renjun have to be cryptic on top of everything else? "What does that mean?"
Renjun cracks a faint grin, looking painfully amused by Jisung. “Just be careful, is all I’m saying,” he says, reclining the seat and putting his phone up to his face, clearly intent on ignoring Jisung. “You’re a lot more fragile than you display yourself as.”
Jisung scrunches his nose up at him in silent confusion before glancing back down at his phone and seeing thirteen unread messages from his chat with Donghyuck. His heart jumps up all over again and Renjun’s words go flying out the window, disappearing into the hot summer air, flitting between the leaves of the trees lining the road like a Monarch butterfly, poisonous and carrying just as much warning.
"You should try this," Donghyuck murmurs, holding out a forkful of cake to Jisung.
Jisung looks up from his phone with wide eyes, almost going cross-eyed as the fork nearly hits his nose. They're still setting up for the live and Jaemin's in the bathroom setting his hair or some other nonsense, the staff bustling around them, placing delicate teacups and cakes on the table. Outside, past the doors, several girls are craning their necks just to catch a glimpse of them, phones pointed unerringly in their direction. A camera flashes and Jisung blinks, eyes watering. Donghyuck produces a tissue out of nowhere and hands it to Jisung, the fork still at his nose.
Jisung flushes and turns his attention back to Donghyuck. It's not that hard, really. Donghyuck's pretty magnetising.
"I don't think we're supposed to eat until the live starts," Jisung points out and Donghyuck makes a face at him.
"Will you be able to eat on camera though?" he asks knowingly. "With a couple thousand people watching your every move?"
Jisung considers his point and then leans forward to eat the cake, unable to hide the smile curling over his mouth when Donghyuck's grins up at him in clear pleasure. "Good job," he praises, reaching over to pat Jisung's head, tweaking his ear gently before he draws back. Jisung blushes, ducking his head. Donghyuck pulls away, settling in the chair next to him and pulling out his phone, idly flicking through his notifications as he takes a bite of the cake, using the same fork.
Indirect kiss, the juvenile part of Jisung's brain sings and he bats the thought away before it can root too deeply into his brain. He can’t start the vlive cherry red.
"Kids," Jaemin sings, nudging in between them, slinging his arms around both their necks before turning his face to Donghyuck. "Hyuck-ah, scoot over."
Jisung blinks, his heart dropping, and Donghyuck scrunches his nose up at him, scooting closer to Jisung. "I want to sit in the middle, though," he says, whining.
"I want to sit by Jisung-ie, though," Jaemin whines back, the two of them childish as ever around each other. Jisung silently hopes Donghyuck refuses, that he gets to sit beside Donghyuck for the whole time, and silently presses his thigh against Donghyuck’s, pretending not to notice when Donghyuck looks over at him in question. Outwardly though, all he does is scrunch his nose up and shrug Jaemin's arm off him.
Donghyuck sighs and moves over, and Jisung thinks about sliding into the center seat just so he can sit beside Donghyuck for one hour. God, how pathetic is he? Jaemin plops down on the seat with a satisfied sigh and pinches Jisung's cheek, cooing for a second before he turns back to the camera.
"We're starting," one of their staff says, setting up the camera in the middle of the table, adjusting the height of the tripod it's on.
Jisung turns to the camera, pasting a smile up on his face as Jaemin starts cheerily talking to hundreds of thousands of fans invisible behind the screen. He tries very hard not to look at the deep dip of Donghyuck's button down shirt and the golden skin peeking out behind it, an even sharper contrast of sun burned gold next to the ivory that is Jaemin’s skin tone. He's pretty certain, scrolling through the comments later, that he's failed.
It's a tradition for them to sit in the practice room huddled around the same laptop, their phones all primed at the music sites, to watch their mv the second it drops. They're all sweaty and panting a little from the last run-through they'd just done, but Jisung doesn't think the trembling of his fingers are due to physical exertion.
Jeno leans over and refreshes the page. Their music video pops up and Jisung loses all breath in his lungs.
It happens again when their album drops. They all crowd around the same laptop, all sweating, hearts thrumming with excitement and nervousness.
Jisung's heart rises to his throat.
Jeno refreshes the page.
Donghyuck's hand tightens around his, and when Jisung manages to peel his eyes away from his own screen, he sees Donghyuck obsessively refreshing the charts, before flipping over to Twitter and refreshing that again and again.
No one speaks.
Album promotions are always a dizzying whirlwind of activity. They know that from the second the album drops, it's no rest, little sleep, and just a constant go-go-go for weeks until the promotions come to an end. But that doesn't mean Jisung doesn't love them with all his heart. This is what he was born to do; after all, this is what he was made for. The dancing, the singing, the nonstop feeling of being on stage, it was all what Jisung lived for.
They're lucky to have Donghyuck with them at the start, because the album blows up more than they were expecting, and suddenly Jisung’s cheeks can’t seem to stay the colour of his skin and his heart races like he’s constantly running a half marathon.
Donghyuck slides back into the newly carved out place for him with ease, taking back his position of mood maker with a lighthearted effortlessness that makes Jisung smile whenever he sees it.
Renjun’s words don’t occur to him any longer, not when there are so many other things to worry about: shows to film, fans to meet, blushes to try and fail to suppress. Jisung doesn’t have the time, or quite frankly, the energy to extend to non-essential activities.
But something new happens this time around.
Jisung watches Jaemin sling an arm around Donghyuck's neck in the practice room mirror, grinning down at him as Donghyuck warbles through a song, too loud and holding the notes too long to be anything but annoying. Jaemin laughs as Donghyuck hits the high note, his face screwed up to make up for the effort. Jisung doesn't know how he's managing to stand this close to Donghyuck without losing his hearing.
Jeno calls their names to get their attention and they turn back to the mirror, getting back into formation. Jisung perks up as Jaemin's arm falls away from Donghyuck's shoulder, leaning back in to tweak his ear for half a second before assuming his position. Jisung frowns down at the floor as the song starts up again, loud and thrumming, and tries not to mess up as he launches into the first step. They're doing a bet and whoever messes up owes the whole group chicken.
He fails, and his wallet curses him the whole night. Jisung pays it no attention, too drawn in by the rare sight of Donghyuck leaning against Jaemin's chest, Jaemin's thighs bracketing his waist as he leans against the wall, supporting Donghyuck's whole body as they share a whole chicken.
It keeps happening. Whenever Jisung looks up, during strained interviews with interviewers who don't speak Korean and look more at the translator than they do the member who is speaking, there Jaemin and Donghyuck are, shooting each other sly glances. On the stage leading up to the music show stage, huddled in the dark as they wait for the previous group to finish performing, Donghyuck throws his arms around Jaemin's waist and peers over him as they watch the monitor. In the dorms, with Jaemin cooking and Donghyuck perched on the counter beside him, idly eating a popsicle as they chat, quietly enough that Jisung, no matter how hard he strains his ears, can't hear over the sound of Jeno losing terribly to him in whatever game is his current obsession.
And it keeps on happening. They're all close, of course. They're all good friends with each other, but Jaemin and Donghyuck... aren't this close. Jaemin tends to stick to Jeno, or Jisung when Jeno isn't receptive to his affections. And Donghyuck used to gravitate to Mark and Renjun. Neither of them used to hang off each other like this before.
Jisung tears his gaze away from the monitor, looking down at his hands instead of the bright white set in front of him, tempting his attention. It's the Weekly Idol shooting and Jisung is curled up in the back, swaddled in the thickest jacket he owns despite it being quite warm in the studio. A cup of hot tea is thrust into his hand by his manager, still hovering around and waiting to whisk him back to the dorms as soon as possible. They couldn't risk Jisung getting sick, not this close to full-fledged promotions.
They're doing some kind of game to pair up for partners, and Jisung watches as Donghyuck scrunches up his face, playing it up for the cameras as Renjun and Jaemin run their hands all over his body. Jaemin's hand gets caught on the underside of Donghyuck's shirt, pulling it up for half a second, and Jisung gets a glimpse of caramel skin, the curved arc of Donghyuck's waist. He flushes, looking back down at his thermos.
"Are you okay?"
Jisung looks up at his manager, who sticks a hand on his forehead, checking Jisung's temperature. "I'm fine, hyung," Jisung croaks out. "It's just a little hot in here."
His manager frowns down at him but removes his hand, going back to watching the rest of the group’s filming. "Just another ten minutes, I think," he tells Jisung, pulling out the script. "And you can go rest."
Jisung nods, his attention taken again by Chenle's high pitched laugh as Jaemin throws his arms around Donghyuck, wrapping him up in a tight hug. He purses his lips and pulls out his phone, ducking his face deeper into the fluffy hoodie he'd stolen from Jaemin's closet, intent on hiding the heat rising in his cheeks that would certainly incriminate him if anyone looked in his direction.
After Jisung finishes his aegyo filming, grimacing at himself in the screens as the manager bundles him back up, he says his goodbyes, bowing to the hosts as they stop filming for a break.
"Thank you so much for accommodating me," Jisung says, dipping his head again, his throat straining at the effort it takes to croak out those words. "I'm sorry I was unable to film.”
“Nonsense, take care of yourself,” Kwanghee says, clapping him on the shoulder, smiling down at him. Jisung does his best not to cough straight into his senior’s face.
“How are you feeling?” Jeno asks as the group crowds around the table Jisung was sitting at, stuffing triangle kimbap into their mouths as the makeup noonas hover around, brushes at the ready to fix any imperfections.
Jisung shrugs, glancing at his manager. "Fine. We're leaving now, I think."
The manager nods at him, phone to his ear. "Five minutes."
Jisung shrugs and turns back to them. Chenle moves closer, wrapping a hand around his shoulder, a rare display of affection, and Jisung leans in, resting his head against Chenle's chest. He wouldn't have normally, but his head is spinning and he feels too hot and too cold at the same time.
A hand runs soothingly through his hair, and Jisung peeks up to see Donghyuck worriedly looking down at him. They're all crowded around him, shielding Jisung from the preying eyes of the Weekly Idol staff. "Poor Jisungie," he murmurs, fingers massaging the shell of Jisung's ear. It's weirdly comforting and Jisung's eyes flutter shut, submitting to it. Donghyuck's tone isn't condescending, simply worried, and Jisung tries not to flush at it.
He soon gets carted away by the manager, which is a blessing, and when Jisung glances back, the group is still milling around the table. Donghyuck winks at him conspiratorially, sending Jisung headlong into another hot flush before he ducks around the door and nearly trips over wires laying on the ground.
Jisung doesn't consider himself stupid, no matter what Chenle says. He knows that he's marginally intelligent, and he tries to learn as much as he can despite having dropped out of school as soon as it was possible for him to do so, and does his best in an environment meant to make kids grow up - or at the very least, act grown up - as soon as they're given the golden spoon labeled 'debut'.
But Jisung is also kind of sheltered; he knows that about himself. He has an idyllic view of the world that comes from watching too many dramas, and from only living around the same people who want to protect him from all the ugliness in the world. So putting all that together, Jisung allows himself the leeway of feeling like a complete idiot when it finally clicks, weeks and weeks later, that he might have a tiny crush on Donghyuck.
"Are you kidding me?" Chenle asks, snapping his chopsticks apart and staring at Jisung. "You just figured that out now?"
"What do you mean just?" Jisung asks, snapping his own pair apart and grimacing when the left chopstick snaps in half at the strength. He sadly puts it down and grabs a new pair. "I just - I don't know, I think hyung is pretty cool."
"'I think hyung is pretty cool,'" Chenle mocks before gagging loudly, drawing the attention of the other people in the restaurant. He ignores them, focusing on Jisung with a laser narrowed gaze. "Please, we all know you've had the biggest, grossest crush on Donghyuck for forever. Jaemin hyung was kind of furious you didn't have a crush on him, it was kind of funny." He glances over at Jisung, stirring his noodles fiercely to get the gochujang to mix. "I can't believe you just figured it out now?"
Jisung blushes, face twisting up at the embarrassment filling up in him - half at the realisation that if Jaemin had been jealous, there was probably nothing going on with him and Donghyuck, and half at being so transparent that Chenle had figured him out. "I-" he starts, before realising that he's got nowhere to go from there and ducks his head, his cheeks mantling. "I don't know, I've never had a crush before! How was I supposed to know what it feels like?"
Chenle shrugs, taking a sip of his water. "I don't know, didn't you clock into it when you started blushing like a firetruck every single time you were within a five foot radius of Donghyuck?"
Distracted for half a second, Jisung starts humming the chorus to Firetruck and Chenle joins him, bopping his head. When they finish the chorus, Jisung takes another bite of his noodles, chewing contemplatively. "I thought it was just Donghyuck," Jisung mutters into his cucumber, choosing not to think about the fact that if Chenle had noticed his blushing, there was almost a hundred percent certainty that Donghyuck had too. "You know the... way that he is."
Chenle snorts loudly. "First of all, gross. Second of all, he's only that way around you."
Jisung laughs, too loudly, too awkwardly, sounding too much like Mark for comfort, before he shrinks down. "Hyung doesn't like me like that," he says, trying not to sound too sad. He's only just figured out his feelings - Jisung tries not to gag at himself - and he doubts Donghyuck would feel the same way. Why would he?
Chenle sighs. "You know what?" He asks, spearing a piece of tofu at the end of his chopstick and biting if off like it were a skewer. "I'm not gonna get involved, you do your thing, Jisung-ah. I'm just going to stand back and laugh at you when everything inevitably blows up in your face."
Jisung makes a face at him but he says nothing. He would do the same thing if he were in Chenle's shoes, after all.
If Jisung thinks he wasn’t obvious before, he certainly does so now.
From across the row, Renjun shoots him a warning glance, too quick to be noticed if you weren’t looking for it, and Jisung tears his gaze away from Donghyuck’s face, looking down at the phone clutched in his hands. In the delay of the playback on the screen he sees his disgusted expression at Donghyuck's vomit-inducing aegyo - something he would always be against despite whatever pesky feelings had wormed their way into his heart - melt into a fond smile and curl too wide to be anything close to subtle.
He shifts away from Donghyuck, but it's a futile attempt because Donghyuck was also looking down at the screen and catches the disgusted curl of Jisung's lips. He looks up at Jisung and in that split second, staring back at the mischievous glint in Donghyuck's eyes, Jisung knows he's screwed.
Donghyuck throws his arm around Jisung's neck, dragging him down to meet his height with a surprising amount of strength, and whispers in his ear, too low for anyone else to hear. "Our Jisungie's getting quite bold, isn't he?"
Jisung scrunches lower, his hand coming up to clutch Donghyuck's, hiding himself from the unerring view of the camera, from the thousands of fans probably watching him light up from the inside out. Watching himself give all his secrets away like a flash, just because one Donghyuck Lee had whispered in his ear. "I don't know what you're talking about," he mumbles back, face almost in the crook of Donghyuck's neck.
Donghyuck lets out a soft laugh and lets go of his hand. Jisung lets his fingers trail away and covers his face for half a second, allowing himself that beat of vulnerability, before sitting up straight, pulling himself together.
Later - much, much later, Renjun slips onto the couch beside Jisung, silently, just as if a ghost had entered the room. Jisung doesn't look up from the movie he's watching. It's an English one with a lot of unnecessary explosions and far too many guns, but Chenle had recommended it to him and so far, Jisung can't see any reason to stop. He doesn't flinch when Renjun sits down next to him.
They sit in silence, watching as the explosions carry on. A car careens off a cliff, exploding in midair before it can hit the water below. Jisung raises an eyebrow at it. Before the scene can change over, Renjun reaches over and pauses the movie.
"You know, eventually you're going to have to tell him."
"I don't see why," Jisung mutters. "I also don't understand why you care so much." It's only after he says it that he realises it might come off as rude, but Renjun doesn't seem to take any offense.
"Because, Jisung-ah, despite you thinking otherwise, you're quite naive. And I don't want to see you get hurt."
Jisung raises the same eyebrow at him. "Why are you so quick to think Donghyuck would hurt anybody?" Or me.
Renjun smiles at him and every inch of it is fond and sweet. "I don't," he says. "I'm just here to do my part."
"As my big brother?"
The smile grows. "If you want. Chenle says I sound more like a nagging auntie sometimes, though."
At that, Jisung bursts out laughing, all his previous hesitation gone. “Thanks for worrying about me, hyung,” he says. “But I’m not going to do anything about it, I know it won’t go anywhere.”
Renjun hums, settling back against the couch with a strange look on his face. “Okay,” he says agreeably, and then hits play on the movie again.
They're being shuttled off to a bookstore early on a Saturday morning, when there is a solid chance of no rabid fans waiting for them, and Jisung feels the same familiar embarrassment start to crawl over him when a camera gets thrust into his hands. It might be ass o'clock on a Saturday morning in a bookstore of all places, but there are still several staff around them, pointing cameras at them, their managers milling around, and people are already starting to look at them with curiosity, phones surreptitiously sliding out of pockets to point unerringly in their direction. Jisung wishes he could crawl into a black hole. Fuck the 127 hyungs for making a video like this in the first place and fuck the management for making Dream follow in their steps. Jisung hates being noticed like this.
"I don't want to do this," he whines to Renjun, trying not to bury his face in Renjun's shoulder. Height difference aside, it would just make him look ridiculous. "Hyung."
Renjun rolls his eyes and takes the camera from him, fiddling with it. "Don't be so dramatic, it's not that bad. Just put a smile on that little face of yours and we'll be out of here in half an hour."
Jisung scrunches his nose up at him, hoping for some pity, but Renjun laughs in his face and drags him to the Boom display where, horrifyingly, their music video is playing on loop on a large tv mounted on the wall, his fingers a tight vice around Jisung’s wrist, allowing no hope for escape.
They spend forty excruciating minutes in the store and Jisung wishes for a hole to open up in the ground during every second of it. They buy two copies, one of each version to open up in front of the camera, before getting shuttled back to the SM building.
Jisung ignores the tiny niggling voice in the back of his head that keeps wondering, stupidly, embarrassingly, if he'll get Donghyuck's photo card or not. God, his crush is really getting out of hand. Even he realises that, and it horrifies him to no end.
Renjun grins over at him from behind the camera, eyes flicking knowingly down at the albums laying on the table in front of Jisung, his fingers tapping restlessly on the plastic cover. “Why’re you nervous, Jisungie? Hoping to get a specific photocard?”
Jisung makes a face at him, forcefully stilling his fingers. “Why would I?” He asks.
Renjun shrugs, playing along, playing stupid for the staff still setting up the cameras in front of them. “No reason,” he says in a leading tone. “Just curious.”
Jisung sticks his tongue out at him, making Renjun laugh in amusement - his horribly, sadistic amusement - and pulls out his phone, intent on ignoring him until the others join.
The filming goes pretty well despite the other three sitting behind the cameras, grinning lecherously at them, trying their best to distract, and Jisung thinks he does a pretty good job of masking his disappointment when he doesn’t get Donghyuck’s photo card. He’ll need to watch the video when it goes up just to make sure though. And maybe bribe a couple of the editing noonas with the fancy drinks from the coffee shop down the street to make sure any evidence of Jisung’s feelings is erased.
“Hyung,” Jisung whispers to the manager when filming wraps up, the others scattering around them, heading to individual schedules or practices. “I don’t have anything else right now, do I?” “No, why?”
Jisung tries not to blush. He’s pretty sure he fails. “Can we go back to the bookstore, then? I wanted to buy a couple more albums. For um.. sales.”
His manager shoots him a bemused look. “Sure, if you want.”
Later, long after everyone’s fallen asleep, or at the very least retreated to their rooms to battle out the night, Jisung clambers into his bed, the six albums he’d bought - he likes pairs, sue him - tucked under his sweatshirt, and quietly opens them.
Donghyuck’s photocard falls out on the fourth album, and Jisung wishes he could stop the disgustingly wide grin from spreading across his face. He puts everything back together and shoves the albums at the foot of his bed, to be hidden in the back of his closet the next day and never looked at again.
Just the knowledge that, for once, he got lucky, is enough. Even if it won’t ever happen in real life where the living, breathing Donghyuck is concerned. This is enough.
As album promotions come to a slow end, the gaps between their schedules gradually widening and the hours shortening, Donghyuck starts getting whisked back to 127 more and more.
The gap left by his ghost was startling sometimes; not just for Jisung, but for all of them. Formations were uneven, and it felt odd to hear Renjun do the adlibs Donghyuck had so much fun throwing in during a live performance. It hadn't been as bad before. Because back when both Donghyuck and Mark had to leave, it was expected, a given fact that they had to split their time. But now, it just felt…
Jisung waves goodbye to Donghyuck after a schedule, watching him climb into another van for another schedule that didn’t have anything to do with Dream, before turning back to his own car.
“What are you frowning at?” Jaemin asks, his fingers, ever the magnets to Jisung’s face, coming up to smooth out the wrinkles forming there. “You’ll get wrinkles before you even turn twenty five at this rate.”
Jisung half-heartedly pushes him off but turns around to watch the other turn the corner, unable to stop the pursing of his lips.
Jisung swivels back to Jaemin, throwing his backpack through the open van door and clambering in after it. “What, ‘ah’?” He demands.
Jaamin climbs in after him and shuts the door behind him. It’s only the two of them currently. Their manager had run back to the changing rooms to haul Chenle and Jeno out, and Renjun was already en route to his radio show. Jaemin levels Jisung with a flat look. “I was wondering when to talk to you about this, but I guess now is as good a time as any.”
Jisung screws up his face, already feeling the capillaries in his cheeks starting to widen, ready to accept the onslaught of hot red that would engulf his cheeks in a second. “You don’t have to talk about anything with me. Renjun hyung already gave me his entire speech. Twice.”
Jaemin shoots him an unimpressed glance, fiddling with his snapback lying in his lap as he does. “Of course I do, because firstly, I’m your favourite hyung-”
“I don’t have favourites-”
“And secondly,” Jaemin carries on louder as if Jisung hadn’t spoken at all, “I am disappointed that you didn’t choose me to have a middle school crush over, and instead of crying my eyes out in Jeno’s room until he kicks me out, I’ve decided to channel that energy into lecturing your ass off.” He narrows his eyes at Jisung. “Ungrateful brat.”
Jisung shoots him a grin. Jaemin’s face doesn’t seem to betray any sign of anger or concern so he relaxes, sliding against the seat. “So what’s your advice, O’ Wise One?”
Jaemin makes a face at him. “You need to tell Donghyuck.”
Jisung laughs, though nothing about it is very funny. “Yeah, that’s not going to happen, hyung.”
Jaemin’s face melts into concern and Jisung winces. Here was the part he didn’t want to meddle with. Why couldn’t everyone leave him in his crushing - heh - solitude? Why did they all want Jisung to confess like he was the heroine in a third rate drama and immediately get shot down? “I think you should try, at the very least,” Jaemin continues, irreverent of Jisung’s ongoing internal meltdown.
Jisung sits up straight. “Why do I have to?” He demands. “Why can’t I just ignore it and press it deep, deep down and never talk about it again with anyone ever again?”
“Because that’s not how adults deal with their problems, Jisungie,” Jaemin says affectionately.
Jisung glares at him. “Didn’t you just say I had a middle school crush?”
“And I meant every word of it. But honestly, I think you should just try, I think it’ll make you feel a lot better than this one-sided staring contest you’ve got going on with Donghyuck’s face when he’s not looking at you.”
Jisung flushes, and slumps back down on the seat. “I’ll think about it,” he mutters mulishly.
Jaemin’s grin is far too self satisfied for Jisung to bother indulging and so he shoves his earphones in, turning away from Jaemin’s face to stare out the window.
The end of the beginning comes on a Tuesday night.
It’s an innocuous night, slightly drizzling outside, and the dorm is startlingly empty. Jeno and Jaemin are out filming for another show, Renjun for his radio show, and Chenle had disappeared home as soon as schedules had ended for the day. So here Jisung was, sitting on the dorm couch on a Tuesday night, a cup of ramen cooling on the table in front of him and his laptop loading the drama he’d started yesterday. He’s just about to hit play when the doorbell rings.
Jisung pauses and then frowns at the door. When he finally heaves himself up off the couch to open the door, he’s surprised and a little mortified to see Donghyuck standing there. Donghyuck looks up from his phone, raising an eyebrow at him. He looks distressingly good looking, with his hair swept up away from his forehead and a plain black t-shirt with ripped jeans.
Before Donghyuck can say a word, Jisung blurts out, “Don’t you know the security code?”
Donghyuck’s eyebrow raises higher. “Jaemin texted me they changed it. Get dressed, we’re going out.”
Jisung stares at him. “What? I’m-”
Donghyuck waggles his phone at him. “Quickly, I convinced them to drop us off at a restaurant and give us a couple hours alone. Get dressed, I’m not taking you outside looking like this.”
Jisung glances down at his sweats and stained shirt and reddens. “Fine - just, give me five minutes.”
Donghyuck brushes past him and collapses on the couch, glancing at the show Jisung had paused. “You started that show I was telling you about?”
“The jury’s out on whether or not I like it yet,” Jisung calls from his room as he frantically rifles through his clothes. He’s got to have something to wear. Donghyuck makes a noise of affront but nothing else follows, and Jisung tries not to sprint past him into the bathroom.
He emerges five minutes later, dressed, and finds Donghyuck standing by the door, ready to go.
“Where are we going?” Jisung asks, following him out the door.
“This new ramen shop I found. It’s supposed to be really good,” Donghyuck says. “You look good, Jisungie.”
Jisung splutters and brushes past him to the elevator.
The food is amazing, but that’s no surprise. Wherever they are, whichever part of the world they find themselves in that week, Donghyuck always finds the best food he can.
“What’s the point in doing all this work in life if you can’t enjoy good food?” Donghyuck asks, pouring himself another shot. He tilts the glass to Jisung who frowns at him.
“Very eloquently put, hyung,” Jisung murmurs, sliding the bottle towards himself, away from Donghyuck. “Maybe stop drinking now?”
Donghyuck pouts at him, but doesn’t fight him and settles back in his seat. “You’re no fun, Jisung-ah.”
“I’d like to not see you on Naver’s front page tomorrow for being drunk in public, hyung,” Jisung tells him, a smirk curling around his mouth as he shovels more noodles into his mouth.
“How have you been doing, Jisung-ah,” Donghyuck asks. “We rarely talk anymore.”
“We text all the time. You never respond,” Jisung shoots back before he can think about it.
Donghyuck’s pout deepens. “I’m busy,” he protests. “I do like talking to you, you know.”
“Well, it’s nice to be told sometimes,” Jisung says mock-huffily, and Donghyuck’s laugh, slightly blurred at the edges, lights up the room like a candle’s glow, soft and warm enough to make Jisung slowly heat up from the inside out.
When they exit the restaurant, it’s drizzling again and Jisung opens an umbrella over the two of them, trying not to freeze up when Donghyuck presses up closer to him as they wait for their manager to come get them.
“Oh, so charming, Jisung-ah,” Donghyuck laughs, looking up at him. Jisung looks back down at him and immediately regrets it when he meets Donghyuck’s gaze. Donghyuck’s cheeks are flushed and his eyes are sparkling. His hand clutches the edge of Jisung’s jacket for balance as he sways on the spot.
The rains thrums down a little harder down around them and Donghyuck squeezes in closer and promptly loses his balance. Jisung catches him around the waist just before he goes down and hauls him back up. “Oh my god, hyung, I told you not to drink this much,” Jisung snaps in difficulty, trying to keep the umbrella up over their heads while holding onto Donghyuck at the same time.
“Sorry,” Donghyuck whines, wrapping his arms around Jisung’s waist and looking up at him with big eyes. “Jisung-ah… Jisung-ah, you know what? Guess. Guess what.”
Jisung sighs. “What?”
Donghyuck snickers and pokes him on the nose. “You’re so cute.” When Jisung gapes down at him, wordless, Donghyuck giggles louder, his arms tightening around Jisung for balance. “You were so tiny and now you’re so tall and so cute and - and-” He hiccups, falling silent.
“And?” Jisung asks desperately. His heart rate is ratcheting up under Donghyuck’s gaze and he can’t exactly believe what he’s hearing. “Hyung, and what?”
Donghyuck frowns. “I forgot,” he says before his eyes light up. “Oh, there’s the car!” He unwinds his arms from Jisung and steps away only to stumble over his own feet. Jisung sighs, his heart falling, and grabs Donghyuck before he can faceplant again, hauling him to the car waiting at the edge of the curb.
Donghyuck curls up in the seat next to him and hums to himself as he plays with Jisung’s fingers absentmindedly. Jisung stares out the window, and thinks. And thinks. And thinks.
The next morning, Jisung wakes up to the dawn sun lingering in his window, as if unsure when it should start passing through the sky to rouse the sleeping people from their comfy beds. He’s been thinking about a lot of things since last night, mulling Renjun’s and Jaemin’s and Renjun’s words again and again in his head, thinking and thinking until his brain pulled him down to sleep, unavoidable and heavy, wrapping its arms around him until he ceased to think.
Then he woke to the sun outside his bedroom window and starts thinking again.
Renjun had told him to be careful. Jaemin had told him to throw caution to the wind. Jisung had planned on listening to the former until…
Donghyuck’s eyes flash in his memory, the warm press of his fingers against Jisung’s wrist, the heat pouring off his body and onto Jisung still uncomfortably real, even now, even several hours later in the clean dawn.
He peeks over the top of his bunk to see Jaemin still asleep in his bed, his arm thrown over his face as he snores softly to himself. Jisung clambers out of bed and goes to get ready.
He takes his time, brushing his teeth and pulling on clean sweats before grabbing a hoodie and leaving the dorm, taking the elevator up to the 8th floor where the first half of 127 lives. The keypad clicks open under his minutely trembling fingers, and when he walks in, he sees Yuta and Mark in the kitchen, Mark at the table, his guitar in his hands.
“Jisung?” Mark calls in confusion.
“Hi hyung,” Jisung says, shoving his hands into his pockets. “Is uhh - is Johnny hyung in his room?”
“No?” Mark asks, screwing up his face. “I think he went to go work out.”
“Cool,” Jisung nods, ducking his shoulders, and starting to walk back down the hall. “I’ll see you later, hyung.”
“Wait-” Mark calls, but Jisung keeps moving. If he stops to talk, to explain, he’s pretty sure he’ll never achieve what he set out to do.
He knocks on Donghyuck’s door, once and then a second time, but when no answer comes, he quietly creaks the door open and peers into the room. It’s dark, the curtains pulled over the window and the lamp turned to the lowest dimness. Donghyuck is sprawled across his bed on his stomach, a tiny frown on his face at the noise the door makes as Jisung quietly shuts it behind him.
“Hyung,” Jisung whispers, kneeling by Donghyuck’s head and poking him gingerly with a finger. Donghyuck whines and shrivels away. “Hyung.” Jisung pokes him again.
“Mmf, what,” Donghyuck mumbles, batting at his hand. “Jisung?”
“Wake up,” Jisung insists. There’s a strange thumping building in his heart and his words are starting to fail on the way out of his mouth. “Hyung, I need to tell you something.”
Donghyuck cracks a bleary eye open to glower at him. “Can’t it wait?” He asks and then grimaces, putting a hand to his head. “And when it’s less loud?”
“No,” Jisung says again, and refuses to admit to himself when it comes out a little like a whine. “Hyung, please, it’s important.”
Donghyuck groans and sits up in bed, scrubbing at his face with both hands. “Fine,” he mumbles, flapping his hands at Jisung. “Get up here, you look ridiculous.”
Jisung sits on the bed and bites his lip, pulling his sleeves down over his hands. “Um…”
“Well?” Donghyuck asks, finally opening both his eyes and looking at Jisung. “What’s up, Jisungie?”
Silly as it seems, the nickname puts Jisung at ease. He clears his throat. No more thinking.
“So, I’ve been thinking about this a lot, like for months now and I… I wasn’t going to say anything, Renjun hyung told me not to, but then Jaemin hyung told me to, and I still wasn’t going to tell you but then- um - last night happened.” His tone pitches up as if asking a question and he grimaces, hurrying on. Donghyuck’s face has cleared a little and he’s watching Jisung carefully, his hands in his lap, unmoving. Jisung coughs once, just as a break, a momentary pause before he says the next words. “I like you, hyung. A lot. Like, um, I think you’re great and you’re nice to me and I like you… More than a friend, or a member. So - um- yeah. That’s it,” Jisung wrings his hands, twisting the sleeves of his hoodie hard in between his fingers. “Yeah. That’s all I had to say.”
And because Jisung, if he had to pick a Hogwarts house, would never put himself in Gryffindor because he wouldn’t ever consider himself brave or courageous, makes to get up, to run out of the room, to escape the mortification that was starting to build in his chest, too thick, too dangerous. But before he can get very far, Donghyuck wraps his fingers, his warm, strong fingers, that were already imprinted on Jisung’s skin, in his mind, in his heart, and pulls him back down.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Donghyuck asks softly. Jisung ducks his head because the all too familiar blush is springing up on his cheeks, hot and red, and he doesn’t think he can meet Donghyuck’s gaze. Donghyuck dips his head to meet his eyes. “Jisung-ah.”
“You don’t have to say anything,” Jisung blurts out. “I know it’s silly and that you probably don’t feel the same way, but I just had to tell you the-”
“Well damn, Jisung-ah,” Donghyuck huffs out a laugh. “It’s about time you caught up, I’ve been here for a while now.”
Jisung’s words fail and fall into silence. He stares at Donghyuck, mouth open, and Donghyuck grins at him, fond and overwhelming and too, too warm for Jisung to handle. “What?” Jisung asks, disbelievingly.
Donghyuck smiles at him, wider. “I’ve liked you for a long time, Jisungie. I don’t just text anyone about my dramas you know, especially after they’ve disparaged them to my face.” He purses his lips, mock huffily, and Jisung- Jisung can’t think.
He’d thought about this moment a lot, had thought about confessing, had imagined up a hundred different ways Donghyuck would let him down, some nice, some not so nice, but none of them, not one out of a hundred had Jisung imagined, went down like this. Suddenly, all his thinking seemed for naught.
“You…” He tries again and his words fail him, again. “Hyung, what?”
Donghyuck raises an eyebrow up at him. “You don’t believe me?”
And of all the things Jisung could have said - of all the facts, the observations, the carefully thought out arguments, he could have used to press his point, all that manages to come out is a petulant, “Well, you seemed awfully close with Jaemin hyung these days.”
Donghyuck’s face splits into an absurdly fond smile and he pulls Jisung closer, tugging his wrist until Jisung unbalances and nearly topples into Donghyuck’s lap. He catches himself on either side of Donghyuck’s thighs and stares up at him. “Park Jisung,” Donghyuck murmurs, his hand coming up to cup Jisung’s cheek. “Were you jealous?”
“No,” Jisung huffs. “I just - hyung, I don’t know, I didn’t even know I liked you for four months! How am I supposed to know what to do now?” He hates when he sounds young, but at this point in time he can’t help it. He doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know if Donghyuck likes him back even, despite what he says.
“Well,” Donghyuck says sweetly, his thumbs running in a smooth, burning circle over the curve of Jisung’s cheek. “We can figure it out together. And in the meantime, I hope this convinces you.”
And when their lips meet, softly and tentatively, warm as the sun slipping through the blinds, Jisung finally stops thinking.