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The perks of having the same friend group for around seven years outweigh the cons, in Jaemin's perspective. It's all familiar and comfortable, and what more could you ask for when talking about the people you spend seventy percent of your time with?

Their dynamic flows naturally, given how much time they've had to adapt to each other. Being around one another is as easy as breathing, and Jaemin, along with everyone else, can collectively agree that life would be almost impossible to picture without them all by each other's sides.

Even more so, they just so happened to find romance within certain friends as well. Some of them were still working on their cluelessness; like Donghyuck and Mark, and Chenle and Jisung, some are in the honeymoon phase; Lucas and Renjun, and some of them are already moving into the 'old married couple' phase; Jeno and Jaemin himself.

It's an easy circle they have going on, a comforting and irreplaceable bond that none of them would trade for the world.

"Which one are you getting?"

It's Jaemin who asks Jeno, eyes scanning over where Jeno is looking at different vases. His coat falls big around his shoulders, and make his frame look smaller than it is. But Jaemin kind of likes it, Jeno looks cute bundled up. He has a red beanie on his head too, rectangle frame glasses perched atop his nose.

Jaemin thinks it's unfair, how Jeno looks so effortlessly breathtaking.

"I like this one," Jeno says softly, delicately picking up a robust, clear glass vase. Jaemin had been complaining that they didn't have a nice vase to put the flowers that Jeno brings home in, having to resort to using drinking glasses. The drinking glasses never did the bouquets justice, hence leading to why they've found themselves in a home decor store at 10:00pm.

"I like it too," Jaemin agrees, leading Jeno to place the vase gently inside their shopping cart. "Is that all?"

Jeno hums, signifying that they didn't need anything else, and takes the handle of the cart between his hands, pushing them through to the checkout. Jaemin walks next to Jeno with an arm looped around the other's, eyes glancing around the different shelves and displays they pass by on their way to the front of the store.

Just as they're about to step into the line, Jaemin gasps and un-loops his arm from Jeno's, scurrying over to where something had caught his eye.

"What?" Jeno questions, watching as Jaemin immediately picks something up. Jaemin had always bought a lot of eye catching things without thinking twice about it, and Jeno finds it a bit endearing. However, as he eyes the containers in Jaemin's hands, he can't help but think that the item is unnecessary for their apartment. "Why? We have a lot of containers."

"I'm always giving them away to Chenle and Jisungie, and they're always getting lost and mixed up. But these ones will be easier. They're pink, so we can identify the ones we give them," Jaemin explains, placing two into cart.

Jaemin has a habit of making Chenle and Jisung lunches multiples days a week, often leading to the younger two hoarding their containers for days until they've found the motivation to wash and return them.

Jeno thinks Jaemin is sweet like that, taking care of Chenle and Jisung because he knows that they're both involved in a lot of extracurricular activities; limiting the free time they had. Also, they were lazy.

Jaemin's been looking after them in small and big ways alike, for the better part of seven years. Since the beginning, when the two youngest had first been introduced to their friend group, Jaemin had decided to self proclaim himself as their caregiver, and twelve and thirteen year old Jisung and Chenle didn't have a reason to disagree.

Jaemin was admirable like that, his big heart being one of the many reasons why Jeno had fallen in love with him so easily.

"Sure," he ends up agreeing in present time, once again falling victim to his inability to say no to Jaemin.

Jaemin goes back to looping his arm with Jeno's, and their time spent in line is short lived, before they're paying for their purchases and exiting the store.

"Oh Jen," Jaemin calls, once they're about to step into the car. He's fishing something out of his coat pocket, and he struggles a little, but soon enough, he's pulling something out and a blinding smile is etched onto his lips. "You borrowed my coat last week and left this in there."

Jaemin hands Jeno a gift card from their favourite bubble tea shop, with a shit eating grin on his face.

"Ah, I've been looking for this!" Jeno exclaims, gratefully grabbing the card out of Jaemin's fingers. Then, he notices the way Jaemin is looking at him. "What? Why'd you do?" He asks skeptically, taking in as Jaemin's grin widens. It's simultaneously beautiful and terrifying.

He guesses that sums up Jaemin pretty well.

"I found it when I was out with Renjun the other day, and I wanted to see how much was left on it. Jokes on you for forgetting an unused gift card," Jaemin laughs, sticking out his tongue childishly at the way Jeno gapes at him.

"You used my gift card," the older boy whines, bottom lip jutting out into a little pout.

Jaemin thinks Jeno is adorable.

"Just one drink," he defends, pecking Jeno's cheek in apology. "What's yours is mine anyway, honey."

Jeno kind of regrets making a joint account where they pool half of their pay checks now, since he can't argue with Jaemin. But hey, the account is where they pay their bills from, so maybe it wasn't so much of a bad idea in the long run.

"Get in the car," Jeno sighs, always losing to Jaemin, never wanting to argue with Jaemin. He knows he'd lose anyway, Jaemin always gets what he wants at the end of the day. And if he wants to use Jeno's gift card which he received as a raffle gift, then so be it. "And you're driving."

Jaemin simply barks out a laugh, finding Jeno's sulking to be rather cute. There's a lot of things about Jeno, that Jaemin finds rather cute.

Nonetheless, he complies and sees himself to the driver's seat, putting the keys into the ignition and strapping on his seatbelt. Once he sees that Jeno's seatbelt is on as well, he reverses out of the parking spot and out of the plaza. It isn't a long drive back home, probably ten minutes.

The moon shining from above casts a bit of a magical glow over the roads, and the faint music playing from the radio adds to the quaint and amicable atmosphere. Jaemin likes spending time with Jeno like this, a fairytale-esque environment, and comfortable silence. Jeno's presence is all Jaemin needs, and right now, he's more than happy.

"Hey, Jisung is asking if we're free to watch his dance competition on Friday," Jeno pipes up after a while, thumbs working away at typing on his phone. "He says the others are able to make it."

"Of course we're free," Jaemin says, without even thinking about it for a minute. "Actually, I think I have an dentist appointment, but I'll reschedule," he continues, waving off the appointment like it was nothing.

"Didn't you say your molars were hurting?" Jeno asks, letting a bit of concern bleed through his voice. "You need to get a filling for that cavity."

Jaemin's been getting cavities since he was young, always eating an excess amount of sugar. Moving onto when he became a teenager though, his sugar intake has decreased, and even more so now that he's in university. But it was still more than the average twenty one year old boy, so he still gets a few here and there.

"It's whatever," Jaemin dismisses, pulling into the parking garage of their apartment. "Jisungie has been preparing this competition for three months, I'm not missing it."

Jeno hums, texting Jisung a quick affirmative reply. 

Within minutes, they've made it back into their apartment, vase and containers in tow.

Jaemin tells Jeno to wash up first, while he puts their newly bought items away. Jeno complies, and while he occupies the bathroom, Jaemin gently grabs the bouquet of pink, red and purple flowers Jeno had brought home earlier today.

He smiles softly at the sight of them, heart warming up as he brings the bunch closer to his nose for a smell.

Jeno is the sweetest boy Jaemin had ever met, and everyday he reminds himself how lucky he is to be with him.

He transfers the flowers into their new vase, smiling brightly when he sees how much justice the vase does. Somehow, the flowers look ten times more beautiful than when they were set in the glass. He sets the vase down on their little kitchen island, happy with the sight.

"Looks nice."

It's this moment that Jeno chooses to walk out of the bathroom, changed into white pyjamas with a towel around his neck, catching water droplets from his wet hair. Jeno showers at night before going to bed everyday, whereas Jaemin prefers to shower right after waking up.

He stands behind Jaemin, also silently admiring the view of the flowers in their rightful vase.

"It does, doesn't it?" The younger agrees, turning around to gently smile at Jeno.

Jeno, who looks so comfortable in his white pyjamas. Jeno, who looks so adorable with his dripping blond hair. Jeno, who's eyes twinkle at the mere sight of Jaemin.

"I love you," Jaemin sighs, leaning in a bit to kiss Jeno slowly. "Very much, Jeno Lee."

Jaemin can feel Jeno smile against his lips, before the older boy is kissing him back, equally as slow. Jaemin tastes like the chicken they had for dinner, and smells faintly of the flowers he had just worked with. Jaemin is delicate, where Jeno puts his hands, but firm, where Jeno puts his heart.

It wasn't always this easy, loving Jaemin. It had been quite a challenge at first, breaking past Jaemin's walls and ensuring the younger that his intentions were pure.

Jeno couldn't blame Jaemin for being difficult though, not when he knew since the beginning of their friendship, at the mere ages of thirteen, that Jaemin was adopted.

Jaemin never liked that fact about him to play a big role in who he was as a person, but when it came to opening up and showing his most vulnerable part to someone, he couldn't help but he weary. Whether he liked it or not, Jaemin had a deep rooted insecurity which came from being adopted. He'd been in foster care since he was seven, and although his adoptive parents are the loveliest couple Jaemin has ever met, it didn't erase the fact that at one point, he wasn't wanted. They had been his third adoption anyway.

He understands the different reasons for putting your kid up for adoption, but it was harder to understand the reasons when he was young. Despite being an adult now, the insecurities and doubts that his childhood self had drilled into his brain have yet to go away.

But Jeno does a good job of reminding Jaemin of his worth, and of just how wonderful he is. Jeno, along with their friends, always tell Jaemin that his past shouldn't define him, let alone a decision which was out of his control. Although it took years and is still in the process, Jaemin slowly learned to find the truth behind their words.

Despite it all, however, Jaemin is everything Jeno could've asked for.

"I love you too, Na Jaemin."

 

—————

 

It's Wednesday now, two days before Jisung's dance competition.

The week had passed by relatively slow, nothing out of routine and everything normal.

Jaemin currently finds himself sitting under a large tree on campus, accompanied by Donghyuck, Mark, Chenle and Yukhei. The five of them are occupied doing homework, courtesy of being students, after all.

It's peaceful, quiet and comfortable, until Chenle groans out of frustration, breaking the silent environment.

"What's wrong?" Jaemin asks, moving his laptop off of his lap. He turns his body slightly so that Chenle could know that his full attention was on him, as he waits for the younger boy to speak up.

"Hyung, I'm really going to drop out," the younger cries out dramatically, slamming his pencil down onto the grass. "This doesn't make any sense, and Renjun hyung isn't free until later at night but I have the exam tomorrow morning and I don't know what—"

Jaemin frowns, feeling his own heart clench at the obvious distress Chenle is facing. He never liked seeing any of his friends in a bad state, but it hurt him even more when it were his only two friends who were younger than him.

"Hey, Lele take a breath," he coaxes gently, reaching his hand out and holding onto Chenle's. "It's okay, hyungs are here."

He doesn't know how much comfort Chenle will find in the simple reminder that he still has four of his friends in front of him, especially when they're all terrible at math. The only bright ones in that department are Renjun and Jisung, and as mentioned before, Renjun isn't free until later on at night, and Jisung is gone for costume fittings.

Chenle's breathing slows down immensely, and the hand Jaemin had grabbed is now grabbing back with equal force.

"Renjun will help you, it's okay," Donghyuck pipes in, sending a reassuring smile in the younger's direction.

"Plus, your brain is huge, big head," Yukhei jokes good-heartedly, tone encouraging. The thing about Yukhei is that he always sounds encouraging, and it's admirable, if Jaemin's being honest. The way that Yukhei's personality and natural response is to bring people up; it's cute. "You're probably just stressed right now."

"Don't psych yourself out," Mark adds in, nodding and agreeing with what Yukhei had said. "You're smart, Lele."

Chenle seems to feel a bit better, harsh lines no longer marring his face. It's times like these he's glad that he has such a reliable support system.

"Thanks guys," he sighs, tiny smile coming onto his lips.

Jaemin grabs both his hands this time.

"Come with me," Jaemin says, tugging the younger up. "Pack up, I wanna play you a song."

Jaemin does this a lot. He knows how to play the piano, and he often finds himself playing Chenle and Jisung some songs to help them relax. Piano music makes anyone relax, but especially Chenle and Jisung. Jaemin thinks it's cute, and he has a select few songs memorized which he knows the younger two enjoy very much.

It had started by accident, Jisung having had a mini breakdown while Jaemin was practicing, and the latter had told him to come over. Jaemin had played Jisung a song which immensely helped him calm down, and the rest is history.

Chenle seems to know what he's getting at in present time, seeing as he eagerly packs his stuff away after Jaemin had instructed so.

"So you're just gonna dip?" Donghyuck scoffs, no real malice behind his words. Their entire group of friends is used to it by now, Jaemin prioritizing Chenle and Jisung whenever they felt down.

"Yep," Jaemin replies, popping the 'p' and putting his backpack on. "Come on, Chenle."

Jaemin grabs onto one of Chenle's hands, leading them both into the arts building. The tree they've been sitting under just so happens to conveniently be a three minute walk.

They don't talk, and they don't need to. To Chenle, Jaemin holding onto his hand is enough comfort as it is, warm and a reminder that there's always someone that's going to be next to him if he wishes.

Since the beginning, Jaemin has been a constant presence in his transition into adolescence. Chenle is eternally grateful, for someone as kind, compassionate and selfless as Jaemin. He doesn't know how someone with a heart this big exists, but he definitely won't complain. Especially when it's his hyung.

In no time, Chenle and Jaemin find themselves in the familiar piano room. There's a singular, gorgeous, grand piano in the middle of the room, which is illuminated by the light coming from the large floor to ceiling windows. It's a rather spacious room to just be occupied by one piano, but it's nice because of the echo and resonance.

Chenle sits next to Jaemin on the bench, despite knowing that he won't be playing anything. He does know how to, but he lets Jaemin do all the work when it comes to the older boy wanting to help him feel better. He'd insist that Chenle just relax and simply listen anyway.

Jaemin starts playing in no time, and it's familiar melody that filters through the air between them. Chenle doesn't remember the last time he's heard this song, but he does know that it doesn't sound new. Nevertheless, he enjoys the music, and lets the soft sounds overtake him as he closes his eyes.

Jaemin has been playing piano since Chenle's met him, and it definitely shows. He's talented at the instrument, to the point where he also shuts his eyes and lets muscle memory continue the song. Chenle doesn't have to open his eyes to picture Jaemin's elegant and slim fingers dancing along the black and white keys.

Jaemin's hands always looked pretty as they drifted away, as he plays a song which ebbs away all the tension and negative thoughts in his head.

As Jaemin plays the last note, and lets it draw out, a voice shatters the peaceful atmosphere between the two boys and the piano.

"Beautiful, as always."

"Jeno!" Jaemin beams, turning around on the bench to watch as Jeno makes his way into the room.

Chenle thinks Jaemin always gets overly excited whenever he sees Jeno, given that they live together. He doesn't understand why, but then again, he thinks he isn't meant to understand this part of their relationship. It's the beauty of their love, he thinks.

"Hey baby," Jeno greets, bending down a bit to lightly kissing Jaemin's forehead. "Hey Chenle."

Chenle waves, smiling as well. Jaemin's song has already helped him.

"I'll leave you here then," Chenle says to Jaemin, immediately ripping the latter's attention away from Jeno. His previous smitten eyes are replaced by a pair of wide ones.

"Are you sure? I can buy you something to eat, all that stressing must have worked up an appetite," Jaemin offers, sincere and tone persuasive.

Chenle wants to say yes, the offer of free food always being tempting, but he doesn't want to hog Jaemin to himself longer than he needed to. Even though he knows that Jaemin wouldn't think twice before accompanying Chenle until he was one hundred percent okay, he knows that Jaemin would also like to spend time with Jeno.

"I'm sure, it's okay hyung," Chenle assures, nodding and smiling bright to help convince Jaemin. "Really, thank you for the song."

Jaemin's eyes melt with adoration, and it's so blatant and obvious. Chenle always finds it fascinating how Jaemin's biggest happiness comes from other people's happiness, but then again, he also thinks it's very admirable.

"Really?" Jaemin asks once more, not wanting to let Chenle out the room, just in case. But the dazzling smile he revives in return is confirmation enough that Chenle is okay now.

"Really. I think I'm just gonna head back home and wait for Renjun," he says, picking up his bag from where he had tossed it next to the piano. "Again, thank you for the song. It was lovely."

"You never have to say thank you to me, Chenle-ya," Jaemin says softly, smiling cutely with wide eyes.

Chenle thinks he's the best person who's ever graced this earth.

Chenle waves goodbye to the both of them, and Jaemin watches with his own wave as he disappears past the door and into the hallway.

"Is he okay?" Jeno asks after the younger has left, taking a seat next to his boyfriend on the bench.

"Yeah, just a bit stressed about math. Renjunnie is gonna help him tonight though," Jaemin explains, leaning his head down on Jeno's shoulder.

Jeno is wearing blue hoodie, something extremely soft and cozy. Jaemin can't stop himself before he's nuzzling his cheek against the fabric, earning a fond chuckle from the older boy. When one of Jeno's arms come to pull him in close around the shoulders, Jaemin instinctively lets his eyes fall shut.

"Tired?" Jeno asks in a whisper, careful not to be too loud incase Jaemin really was tired.

"Just a little," the younger replies, sighing out contently at the warmth emitted from Jeno's body in such close proximity.

"Maybe you shouldn't have stayed up trying to make four people lunch," Jeno unhelpfully supplies, earning a drowsy tsk from Jaemin.

Jeno knows better than to scold Jaemin for doing what he loves most: taking care of Chenle and Jisung. He had stayed up later than usual in order to make them their lunches, while also making Jeno and himself their lunches. Jaemin didn't have to, Jeno and everyone else constantly reminded him of this, but he still did out of the kindness of his heart.

However, his tiredness in the middle of the day proved itself as an example of the after effects of his actions. And Jeno doesn't mind bringing that up.

"It's okay," Jaemin argues, barely, pressing closer to Jeno. "Jisung was really happy before he left for his fittings."

Hearing the smile in Jaemin's tone, he guesses that Jisung's happiness was enough for the younger.

"I bet he was," Jeno agrees, looking out the window, where the sun is slowly starting to set. March weather leaves little time for sunlight, but Jeno still tries to enjoy it as much as he can.

Before Jaemin speaks again, he grabs the older boy's hand, lacing their fingers together. His eyes are still closed and his body feels ridiculously drowsy, but Jeno is right beside him, so he doesn't mind succumbing to the warmth calling his name.

"Love you," Jaemin mumbles.

Jeno smiles while looking out the window.

"Love you too."

 

—————

 

Friday rolls around soon after, and thankfully, their schedule is clear for the whole day, save for Jisung's dance competition later that evening.

The first thing Jaemin makes them do after waking up is buy flowers.

"I bought you some two days ago?" Jeno points out, confused towards why Jaemin wanted to buy new ones.

"They're not for us, silly," Jaemin giggles, swinging their joined hands between them. It's a ten minute walk to the nearest florist, once that's spent a bit chilly this morning. The sun does shine down on them, but it's not nearly enough to bring warmth. They're still bundled up in large coats and scarves, hats sitting atop their heads and fingers protected by gloves and mittens. "They're for Jisung."

Jeno hums, makes sense, he should've figured.

They arrive at the shop, and Jaemin immediately makes a beeline towards where the displays are primarily blue— Jisung's favourite colour. Jeno follows behind lazily, already familiar with the shop. This is where he comes to buy Jaemin's flowers.

"Honey, do you think he'll like these?" Jaemin asks, earning Jeno's attention. The latter eyes the bouquet in Jaemin's hands, a mix of blue, yellow and pink flowers. The colours all look lovely, and all compliment each other nicely.

"I think he would," Jeno nods. "But you know him better than I do."

Jaemin pouts at Jeno's wishy washy answer, and stares at the bunch in his hands for about thirty seconds before sighing.

Jeno watches as the corner of his lips turn down.

"What is it?" He asks, coming up closer to the younger boy.

"Nothing," Jaemin sighs, shaking his shoulders in an attempt to get himself together.

Jeno doesn't buy it.

"Come on baby, you can tell me," Jeno tries again, reaching a hand out to hold Jaemin's.

"It's stupid," the younger sighs, trying to shake his hand out of Jeno's. He isn't looking at the older boy, and Jeno can sense that something is bothering Jaemin. "Let's just go pay for Jisung's flowers, and then we'll have lunch."

Jaemin tries to walk around to the cashier, but Jeno keeps him in his spot, not letting him walk away.

"It's not stupid if it's making you upset," Jeno frowns, more stern as he speaks now. "What's wrong, Nana? I'm here for you."

Jeno's words make the thoughts in Jaemin's head rush faster, make the emotions weighing in his heart heavier.

Because Jeno is right. He is there for him. He's always there for him.

Reluctantly, because he knows he'd lose against Jeno in this argument anyway, Jaemin answers Jeno's question.

"I just... It's nice, getting flowers from someone," Jaemin whispers, still looking anywhere but Jeno. It's embarrassing to say, because Jeno does exactly that; Jeno brings him flowers, and it is nice. He says that much. "See, it's stupid, I know you give me flowers..." Jaemin trails off, feeling dumb because of how these simple flowers had brought his mood down.

"No, it's not," Jeno repeats, softening his eyes a little. He takes Jaemin's chin between his thumb and pointer fingers, making them hold eye contact. "I understand. If I had been your friend back then, Jaemin-ah, I would've given you a hundred flowers."

Jeno knows that Jaemin is talking about the piano concerts he used to participate in when he was younger. Ever since a young age, Jaemin had picked up playing the piano, and had put on little concerts at school talent shows and fundraisers like that. No one had come to support him during those times, he didn't really have anyone. He hadn't made many friends by that point, and he hadn't been adopted either.

He watched as other participants or other kids had received flowers, chocolates or hugs as their rewards for doing so well.

Jaemin always left those events feeling empty, no matter how loud the audience cheers could've been. It didn't help that he didn't get to go to a home after, rather the foster care house he was staying in.

Jaemin didn't want his past or upbringing to define him anymore, but as he stands here, a bouquet of flowers that he's about to buy for Jisung his hands, he can't help but think about what it'd be like to be in Jisung's position, and receive flowers.

Jeno's flowers are enough for him, more than enough, more than he'd ever think he'd get. They're a reminder of Jeno's always blossoming love for him, and it's an incredibly sweet gesture.

But maybe, just maybe, Jaemin wanted to know what it was like to receive flowers from someone you loved for doing well. For doing a good job, for performing well.

As Jaemin looks at the bunch of blues, yellows and pinks in his hands, as Jaemin feels Jeno run and hand up and down his back, he hopes that he can give Jisung what he'd been deprived of.

Something that no one who's trying their best should be deprived of.

 

—————

 

Immediately after Jisung is done with his dance routine, Jaemin urges Jeno to follow him backstage, which inevitably leads to all their friends running backstage.

Jisung is easily found, all white outfit standing out against everything else around him.

"Jisungie!" Jaemin cheers, crashing into Jisung and wrapping his arms around him tight. He doesn't care that Jisung is still kind of sweaty, and that the materials of his outfit was uncomfortable to the outside touch, because all that mattered to him was letting Jisung know that he did incredible. "You were so cool!"

Agreements come from their friends, Jeno being the one the pass Jisung the bouquet of flowers they picked up. Mark and Donghyuck hold chocolates in their hand, and Renjun and Yukhei say something about treating Jisung out to eat.

Praises tumble out of all their mouths, and despite looking embarrassed with dark cheeks and ears, Jisung beams under their words.

Jaemin feels warm just from the sight of him.

This is what Jisung deserves anyway; endless love and support.

"Did you have fun Jisung-ah?" Jaemin asks once their other friends have dwindled down. He makes his way to coddle Jisung again, hand on his nape and the other brushing his bangs out of his eyes.

"Yeah, it was great," Jisung answers enthusiastically, earning another bright smile from Jaemin, and eyes which sparkle to match.

"That's good. I'm so proud of you," Jaemin praises, feeling giddy when he sees Jisung's ears darken in colour. "You've worked hard for this, little Jisungie."

Before Jaemin can get anything else out, he hears some people calling Jisung's name.

The younger boy turns his head around slightly, and then sees the boys who were presumably calling him. Jisung seems to know them, if the realization that washes over his face is anything to go by.

Before Jaemin can ask who they are, Jisung is thrashing out of his hold, startling Jaemin a bit.

He doesn't think Jisung has ever wanted out of his touches so strongly before.

"Hey!" Jisung greets the boy's who are coming closer. "Great job guys, really."

With the closer the boys approach, the easier they are to recognize; they were another two contestants for the competition. Jaemin can't remember their names or anything like that, but with the way they're interacting with Jisung, he thinks they're his friends.

"You too man, you killed it," one of the boys say, clapping Jisung's shoulder.

"Thanks. These are my friends," Jisung smiles, gesturing towards where everyone was watching this exchange. "And hyungs, this is Felix and Hyunjin, they're in my dance class."

The two boys, Felix and Hyunjin, introduce themselves and so do the rest, and it's rather sweet for them to see Jisung make new friends. He's always had a bit of difficulty talking to strangers, and preferred staying near familiarity, so it's nice to see him branch out a little.

"Oh!" Jisung suddenly exclaims, shaking the bouquet in his hands a bit roughly.

Jaemin watches as a blue flower falls to the ground.

"Felix, Hyunjin hyung and I promised to go eat together," Jisung says, turning to look at all his friends. He mainly focuses on Renjun and Yukhei. "Rain check?"

Jaemin guesses Renjun lets him off the hook because he's cute, and because he's making new friends, because he knows that if it were any of them in Jisung's shows, Renjun would give them hell for skipping out on a hangout. Much less a hangout that he's paying for.

"Go ahead Ji, have fun," Yukhei says happily, also endeared by the sight of Jisung becoming comfortable around new people.

They've all seen Jisung grow up, all seven of them, and watching as he continues to grow and mature makes their hearts feel full to the brim.

"Thanks hyungs!" Jisung beams, turning back to Jaemin. "Hyung, these are really pretty," he says, thrusting the bouquet of flowers at him.

"What?" Jaemin asks, confused as his hands instantaneously come up to prevent the bouquet from falling. He looks up at Jisung's eyes confusedly, corner of his lips turning down slightly. "These are for you Jisungie."

"I know, they're nice, thank you. But I don't really have anywhere you keep them, vases or whatever," Jisung explains vaguely.

"A glass—" Jaemin tries to explain, gently pushing the bouquet back to Jisung, but the younger shakes his head, insisting on Jaemin keeping them.

"They'd die under my watch anyways," Jisung laughs, turning back to look at his two new friends, who laugh at what Jisung said too. "Seriously, keep them."

Jaemin doesn't want to keep them, they were for Jisung. They were to commemorate his hard work and achievement, they were so that as long as they were alive, Jisung could remember this night, where he outperformed everyone and had hyungs who love and support him.

They weren't meant to be given back to him.

Jaemin can't try to convince Jisung more, because as soon as the flowers are back in Jaemin's hold, he says goodbye to them all, disappearing with Felix and Hyunjin to the dressing rooms.

"Hey," Mark's voice calls, tearing Jaemin out of his stupor. Jisung had already left his frame of vision anyway. "The rest of us are all still free, wanna head to mine for drinks?" He asks, both him and Jeno, the latter seeming to have made his way over without Jaemin noticing.

Jeno doesn't answer right away, instead he turns to look at his boyfriend.

Jaemin sends Mark an apologetic smile.

"I might have to pass," Jaemin says, trying to fight a grimace off his face. God, it's not even a big deal, Jisung just didn't want the flowers to die, but here Jaemin is, a sinking feeling in his stomach.

Somewhere underneath his rationale, he feels like he failed to give Jisung the happy feelings associated with getting gifted flowers after a performance. That's why Jisung would give them back, right? He didn't want them; Jaemin didn't convey their message.

The last thing Jaemin wanted was for Jisung to leave this auditorium feeling the way he used to when he'd have to leave empty handed, but now he wasn't so sure. He still took the chocolates, but Jisung has a sweet tooth anyway.

"But you can go," Jaemin adds, turning to look at Jeno. The latter looks contemplative for a second or two, but then he's smiling cutely and turning back to Mark.

"You guys have fun," he says, having Mark sigh, defeated, but nod nonetheless.

"You too," he says to the both of them.

Renjun, Donghyuck, Yukhei, Mark and Chenle proceed to bid goodbye to him and Jeno, to which they wave back.

Once they're all gone, Jeno turns back to Jaemin. He stares at him for a while, eyes starting from the top of his head and stopping at his shoes. Before either of them can say anything, Jeno bends down to pick up the blue flower that had fallen from the bouquet.

"How is it," Jeno starts, bringing both hands up to Jaemin's head. He tucks some hair behind one of Jaemin's ears, placing the stem of the flower alongside. "That even when you're sad," he continues, fixing up the younger's hair, making it fall around his eyes. "You're still the prettiest boy in the world."

Jaemin didn't tell Jeno that he was sad, but he guesses Jeno doesn't need a verbal confirmation to just... Know things about him. It's the same the other way around, and Jaemin thinks it's nice, in moments like these.

"Shut up," Jaemin simply mutters, flush crawling onto his cheeks.

Jeno however, of course, doesn't shut up.

"Can you believe it?" Jeno asks, obviously not seeking an answer. He just looks over both shoulders, as if checking to see if anyone was listening to them, before ducking down slightly and whispering into Jaemin's ear, "My baby is the prettiest boy in the whole world."

Uncharacteristically shy, Jaemin hides his face in Jeno's shoulder, not wanting to look him in the face after his words.

No matter, it seems, Jeno can always brighten up his mood.

"I have the best boyfriend ever," Jaemin whispers, pressing a little kiss to Jeno's neck. He feels the older boy's arms come up to wrap him in a hug, and he lets himself be held, and lets his worries and insecurities melt away in the warmth of Jeno's embrace. "The perfect boyfriend."

 

—————

 

Jaemin ends up keeping the flowers alive for a week, before the petals fall off and the stems droop.

"What're you up to?" Jeno asks, sauntering into the kitchen. His hair is wet from the shower he just stepped out of, but he looks cuddly in his sweatpants and sweatshirt.

"I'm making your lunch," the younger answers, prettily placing little sausages on a bed of rice.

"But there's three containers?" He notes, glancing at the pink one for a split second too long. "Also, you really don't have to Minnie, I've said this before," Jeno insists, sighing a bit fondly as he watches Jaemin place cucumbers in a little cup.

"Don't you like the little kitty heads I make with the rice?" Jaemin pouts, turning to look at Jeno. He internally cheers when he sees the older boy's eyes soften.

"I do like them, it's okay, just do whatever makes you happy," he ends up cooing, earning a smile from Jaemin. "But again, there's three?"

"Jisungie has a test today," Jaemin says, closing the lid on the last container. "I wanted to make a good meal."

Jeno sighs, perching his chin onto the younger boy's shoulder. He watches as Jaemin writes a cute little note on a sticky paper, attaching it to Jisung's lunchbox.

"I don't get one?" Jeno asks with a pout, making Jaemin giggle.

"I can give you one right now," Jaemin says, turning around and holding Jeno by the waist. "Have fun today, take your notes. Eat at the proper time, I won't be able to meet with you today," he frowns, but it doesn't stay on long when he sees Jeno smiling at him. "Buy yourself a yummy snack too if you can, you deserve it."

Jeno's smile reaches his eyes, curving up the way Jaemin fell in love with. His own hands come up to cup Jaemin's face, stroking his thumbs on the apples of his cheeks.

"Take care today. Drink only one coffee, and pay attention in class. Have fun at your study group, and don't forget to pick up that library book. Also, don't scare Jisung before his test," Jeno says, looking into Jaemin's eyes with each word spoken.

Jaemin's cheeks hurt from how wide he's smiling, and his chest aches with how bubbly he feels.

Jaemin doesn't say anything more, simply pushes forward a little and kisses Jeno's lips. He can feel the latter smiling into it, making him smile back. Soon, it's less kissing and more teeth, but they pull away with laughter, so Jaemin guesses it's worth it.

"Okay, I gotta go," Jeno whispers, still against his lips. Their foreheads are touching, and despite what Jeno had just said, neither of them have any intention of letting go.

Jaemin's tightens his hold on Jeno's waist.

"I mean it," the older boy chuckles, reluctantly pulling away from Jaemin. His hands fall from the younger's cheeks, and his heart squeezes at the wide eyed pout Jaemin gives him. "Nana," he warns, eyes squinting.

"Fine," Jaemin huffs, rolling his eyes. He gives Jeno one final, tight hug, and sends him off with a peck on the lips, and lunchbox in hand.

It's back to being quiet when Jeno leaves, but Jaemin doesn't have enough time to dwell on that. He needs to leave within the next forty minutes, and he was still in his pyjamas.

Sighing, Jaemin cleans up the kitchen a little before going to the bathroom, taking a quick shower and changing into comfortable clothes. He makes sure his laptop, pens and notebooks are in his backpack, along with his wallet, headphones and phone charger, before grabbing his keys off the key tray and slipping into his shoes. He doesn't normally like being the last one to leave, but it's whatever.

Jaemin sets on his trek to his first lecture, humming along to the music playing through his headphones. It doesn't take too long until he's arrived, about fifteen minutes.

As Jaemin opens up a new document on his laptop to type notes in, noticing the time at the corner of his screen saying it's only 9:30am, he acknowledges that it'd be a long day.

 

—————

 

He has to text Chenle in order to find out where Jisung is.

Jaemin is texting Chenle while standing outside of the math building, where Jisung normally finishes class around this time. He's already been waiting for fifteen minutes and Jisung hadn't shown himself, so he decided to ask Chenle.

The younger had said that Jisung had briefly mentioned eating by the gardens with Felix and Hyunjin, and he thanks Chenle after getting the information, starting to make his way there.

The gardens are on the other side of campus compared to the math building, and Jaemin guesses Jisung must've left class immediately and sprinted a bit if he wanted to meet Felix and Hyunjin there without wasting a second.

Jaemin thinks it's worth it though, if it means Jisung can eat properly and have enough energy to take his test. And anyway, his next class wasn't until two hours later.

He makes it to the garden soon enough, easily spotting the three boys, using Jisung's height advantage and the fact that Felix's hair was orange. Jaemin makes his way over, feeling lighter when he sees how Jisung sighs and smiles with his new friends. He's so glad that Jisung has started to breach out a bit of his bubble, he feels proud of him.

"Jisungie!" He calls once he's closer, garnering all three boys' attention. He doesn't look at the other's though, instead focuses on Jisung. But, he wasn't rude. "Hello Felix, Hyunjin."

"Hyung? What are you doing here?" He asks, looking surprised.

Jaemin doesn't answer right away, instead he fishes the pink container out of his backpack. Once retrieved, he smiles widely at Jisung, holding out the lunchbox to him.

"I made you lunch! Think of it as a good luck for your test," Jaemin explains, watching as Jisung slowly opens the lid, peeking in just a tad. "I shaped your rice like a mouse, because you're my cute little mousy—"

"Jaemin hyung, can we talk for a second?" Jisung asks, cutting him off. Jaemin is shocked at how Jisung had abruptly interrupted him, but agrees nonetheless.

Jisung leads them a little away from his friends, and immediately pushes the container back into Jaemin's arms.

With a sinking feeling growing in his stomach, Jaemin is reminded of the flower incident.

"You know I'm nineteen, right?" Jisung asks, hands on his hips as he towers over Jaemin. The latter never thought much of their height difference, but that was before Jisung was looking down angrily at him.

"Yeah," Jaemin answers, feeling unusually small under Jisung's glare. He shouldn't, he's older and he should probably call Jisung out for being rude, but he's more anxious about what Jisung was trying to say to speak about anything else.

"So why do you treat me like a fucking four year old?" The younger continues, words leaving his mouth in a more aggressive manner. He genuinely does look angry now, Jaemin can tell with the way his lips are shut tight.

"Jisungie—"

"My name is Jisung, you know?" He interrupts again. "It's embarrassing, the way you talk to me hyung, why are you so embarrassing?"

Jaemin doesn't know if his heart sinks to his stomach, or to his feet, all he knows is that he's not breathing anymore.

Maybe Jaemin should've listened to everyone when they joked about Jisung being able to take care of himself.

Maybe he should've stopped worrying about Jisung when he entered university.

Maybe he should've noticed that he made Jisung uncomfortable.

Maybe then, he wouldn't be an embarrassment to Jisung.

Jaemin hasn't answered Jisung's question, too stunned to process an answer.

Jisung takes it upon himself to continue after receiving Jaemin's silence.

"You're not my mom hyung, I have one and she's not even as worried about me as you are. It's annoying."

Each word which slips past Jisung's lips is another jab at his heart. The knife twits a degree every time Jisung says something, and it's the slow kind of pain which is excruciating, because Jisung isn't done releasing his pent up frustrations.

God, Jaemin never wanted to be the source of anyone's frustrations.

"I don't want you to do everything for me, Jaemin hyung."

"I'm sorry," Jaemin manages to croak out eventually. "I just— Wanted you to have a good meal before you take your test." He justifies, but even to himself, it sounds weak.

"I don't need that," Jisung groans. "I don't need you."

Jaemin doesn't even know if his heart is still even in his system, or if it had dropped six feet underground.

He should've seen this coming.

Jisung doesn't need him.

No one ever needed him for long.

He was easily tossed aside after a while, he never did have a permanent home, did he? He wasn't wanted by anyone; not even Jisung.

Jisung, who Jaemin saw as family. If family didn't need him, who did?

"I'm sorry," Jaemin repeats again, fingers tightening their hold on the pink container. "I won't... I won't bother you anymore, Jisung. I'm sorry I embarrass you."

Maybe, if Jaemin pretends like he knew this was going to happen all along, it'll make the hallow feeling in his chest disappear faster.

 

—————

 

"Nana, I'm home!"

The first thing Jeno notices upon opening the front door, is that it's silent.

It's not usually silent, let alone this silent, since Jaemin is either watching something on the TV, playing games, cooking or singing a song while doing his homework. But now, the only thing alerting Jeno of Jaemin's presence is his shoes by the door, and keys on the tray.

Before he looks deeper into the apartment, Jeno stops by the kitchen to get a glass of water. As he's drinking, he notices the pink container Jaemin had set aside with Jisung's lunch in it on the counter. He's surprised that they got the container back so quickly, seeing as it normally takes a week or more for Chenle or Jisung to return them.

What perplexes him though, is that the note Jaemin had written is still attached to the lid. His eyebrows furrow at that, but he doesn't think much of it. Instead, he moves to grab the container and put it in the sink to wash, but stops everything when he feels how heavy it was.

Frowning, Jeno takes off the lid and opens the container, onto to see that the food had remained untouched. The rice piled into the shape of a mouse head is still there, as well as the tuna rolls Jaemin had made, the sausages and the nori.

Beyond confused, Jeno puts the container down and makes his way to find Jaemin. He couldn't be too far, their apartment was only so big.

"Jaemin?" He calls, looking around in the living room, which is void of Jaemin. The bathroom door is open too, so he couldn't be in there. He wasn't out on the balcony either, which leaves Jeno with the last option: their bedroom.

He twists the doorknob and opens the door to their room, relief washing over him when he spots Jaemin, laying down underneath their duvet. Jeno thinks he's sleeping, and that's why he hadn't answered his calls, but then Jaemin speaks.

"Jeno-ya, you're home?" He asks, voice soft and quiet. Jeno probably wouldn't have been able to hear it if the wind had been blowing too loud.

"Yeah, I'm home," the older boy nods, making his way to kneel in front of where Jaemin is laying down. When he senses Jeno in front of him, he opens his eyes, and a natural pout falls onto his lips.

Jeno thinks he's adorable.

"How was your day?" Jaemin asks.

"It was alright," Jeno answers, one hand coming up to stroke the hair on the younger's head. Jaemin looks tired. "How was yours?"

Jaemin doesn't answer right away, and Jeno doesn't make him. He simply watches and waits, with the hand in his hair and knelt on in front of him.

"Can I be honest?" The younger whispers, and Jeno already has a feeling it couldn't be anything good. When Jeno nods his head, Jaemin continues. "Terrible." He admits, breath hitching near the end.

Jeno expected this answer, but it didn't make hearing the boy he loves admit that he had a terrible day any easier. Jaemin didn't deserve anything less than smiles and happiness, no matter what he may think.

"Yeah?"

"Can we order dinner tonight? I don't think I can cook," Jaemin sighs shakily, closing his eyes and deciding to focus on Jeno's warm hand on his head, and not the icky feelings which have resurfaced now that he's reminded of what dampened his mood in the first place. "I'm sorry Nono, I know you've wanted to eat fried rice for a few days—"

"Jaemin, don't say sorry," Jeno shushes, cutting off the beginnings of what would've been Jaemin's ramble. "It's okay, I'll have you for the rest of my life to eat fried rice."

The tiny smile which makes its way onto the younger's face makes Jeno smile a little too, and Jeno thinks Jaemin is going to be okay.

"Chicken?" He suggests, knowing that it's one of the younger's comfort foods. When Jaemin nods, Jeno leans in a presses a short kiss to his lips. "I'll call you when it gets here, okay? Take a nap if you'd like."

Again, Jaemin nods, and kisses the palm which traces down from his hair to his face before letting go. He shuts his eyes after, so Jeno takes that as his cue to exit the bedroom quietly, dialling the takeout chicken place they favour.

As he walks into the kitchen to take out beers, the pink container full of food suddenly makes a lot more sense.

Jeno goes to wake up Jaemin forty minutes later, gently shaking the younger's shoulders and kissing his face.

"Food is here baby, come on," Jeno says quietly, helping Jaemin sit up. He looks tired, his eyes are droopy and his hair is messy and pink atop of his head. Jeno doesn't want to wake him up, but he also didn't want Jaemin to go to sleep on an empty stomach either.

"Jeno?" Jaemin calls, tiredly looking up at the older boy. He's standing in front of Jaemin, hands holding both of the latter's. Jaemin looks so sad as he looks up at him, and Jeno wants to try everything possible to wipe that look off of his face. "Are you gonna get tired of me too?"

It's the way Jaemin's chin wobbles as he asks, the way he looks hopeless and desperate waiting for an answer, that renders Jeno too shocked to answer.

Jaemin doesn't take the silence as a good sign.

"I'm sorry," he apologizes. "I know I'm annoying, and I know I'm embarrassing. I know n-nobody wants me, but please Jeno, you can't leave me," he chokes out, eyes watering and throat closing up. "I'll be better."

Jeno can physically feel his heart break inside him as he watches Jaemin spiral into sadness, as he feels Jaemin hold onto his hands tighter.

Jaemin, who Jeno always knew had insecurities. But he'd been getting better, so he didn't know what could've prompted him to draw these conclusions.

Of course, Jeno isn't going to leave Jaemin. And he didn't want him to change; he fell in love with Jaemin in his rawest form, that's the boy who he loves.

"You're already perfect," Jeno consoles, squeezing Jaemin's hands back. "You don't need to be better, you are already the best."

Jaemin shakes his head.

"P-Please don't leave." He sounds like he's begging, and Jeno thinks it's times like these where he regrets learning Jaemin so well; knowing the extent of how much this hurt Jaemin hurt him too.

"I'm not going anywhere, Na Jaemin."

Eventually, Jaemin calms down enough to eat. Jeno holds him close as he leads them to the dining table, and doesn't let go when they sit down to eat. He makes Jaemin sit on his lap, knowing that proximity and physical affection always makes him feel better.

The chicken does seem to lift his mood up a little, and the beer relaxes him after a few sips.

Jeno sits Jaemin down on a chair while he cleans up, tossing the containers away and wiping the crumbs off the table. He then guides Jaemin to the couch, where he wraps them both up in a blanket, each of them holding their own bottle of beer.

"What happened today, hm Jaemin?" Jeno asks softly into the silent air, running a hand up and down Jaemin's sides under his oversized t-shirt. "Who made you feel this way?"

Jaemin only shakes his head, burrowing himself away in Jeno's chest.

He doesn't want to tell Jeno. After all this, he doesn't want to make Jisung seem like the bad guy. It's his own fault anyway, maybe if he wasn't like this Jisung wouldn't feel the need to point it all out.

"Jeno," Jaemin simply sighs, loose lipped after almost finishing his entire bottle. "I love you most in this world, okay?"

Jaemin didn't answer Jeno's question, but he can't bring himself to bring it up again, not when Jaemin is professing his love.

"I love you the most too," Jeno says, and he means it. There's nothing Jeno wouldn't do to make sure a smile is permanent on Jaemin's face, there's nothing Jeno wouldn't do to keep Jaemin by his side. "In this world, Jeno loves Jaemin the most."

Jaemin nods his head, and Jeno takes it as a good sign. It means Jaemin believes him, and there's nothing more Jeno could ask of him in this moment. Jaemin is always giving, giving and giving blindly, not once asking for anything in return. Where he blindly trusts people, Jeno is glad that Jaemin can actually, fully, trust him.

"I love you."

"I love you."

 

—————

 

Despite Jaemin not telling him anything, it doesn't take Jeno long to figure out what happened.

The hallow look in Jaemin's eyes and the container of untouched food in the kitchen gave away that something must've happened between Jaemin and Jisung. He doesn't really know what to feel about that, because Jaemin seemed to be at a low he hadn't reached in months last night.

Nonetheless, he decides to remain neutral, although still very biased towards Jaemin, as he makes his way to Jisung's shared apartment with Chenle, Renjun and Yukhei. It's not too far from his with Jaemin, but it's enough for him to think about how to approach the situation and what to say.

"Hey," Jeno greets Renjun, who looks surprised to see him arrive unannounced. It's true, Jeno normally never does these sorts of things spontaneously, but it was Jaemin he was talking about so he was rather unpredictable. "Is Jisung home?"

"Yeah, come in," Renjun says, opening the door wider and letting Jeno inside. "What's up?"

"Oh, nothing. I just need to ask Jisung something quickly."

Jeno doesn't want to give too much away. Despite them all being really close friends, this was something... Personal to Jaemin.

"Sure, he's in his room," Renjun dismisses, walking away and into their living room.

Jeno thanks Renjun under his breath, making his way towards Jisung's bedroom door. He's thankful it isn't closed, so he easily peeks in a bit, just to see Jisung hunched over his desk playing a video game on his laptop.

Deciding that he is a nice person after all, Jeno knocks his knuckles against Jisung's door twice before letting himself in.

"Hey, hey," he greets, startling Jisung a bit. The latter doesn't look up from his screen though, and Jeno kind of understands. He too, doesn't let anything distract him when he's in the middle of a game.

"Hey hyung," he still greets, aggressively clicking at his keyboard. "Give me a minute? I'm almost done."

Jeno hums wordlessly, sitting down and making himself comfortable on Jisung's bed.

The room is rather plain, kept the way Jisung likes it. There are a few textbooks littering the flat surfaces around the room, laundry hamper a bit overdue and a stray sock strewn here and there, but besides that, Jisung keeps his room relatively clean. Jeno's eyes scour around until something in the corner of his room makes him pause.

It's a hamster plushy. The one that's half of Jisung's size, gifted to him by Jaemin. Along where it's displayed in the corner, there are three photo frames hooked onto the wall.

A photo of all eight of them.

A photo of Chenle, Jaemin and Jisung.

And a photo of Jisung and Jaemin.

When he sees the last photo, the one in the biggest frame, Jeno's mouth rambles before he can stop himself to think.

"Jaemin cried himself to sleep last night."

Immediately, the clacking on Jisung's keyboard stops, and Jeno hears the younger turn around to face him in his gaming chair.

"... What?"

Maybe he shouldn't have guilt tripped Jisung like this, but after seeing the Jaemin... Shrine? No, the Jaemin corner of his room, Jeno couldn't help but let the words slip. Jisung obviously cared for and loved Jaemin a lot.

So what happened?

"Jisung-ah," Jeno sighs, tearing his eyes away from the display. He looks at Jisung, and tries not to look too scary. "Did something happen between you and Jaemin? I came home yesterday and the lunchbox he made for you was uneaten, and the note was still there."

A few seconds of silence pass by.

"There was a note?" Jisung asks quietly, fiddling with his thumbs.

Jeno sighs, a bit more agitated now.

"Yeah, there was a note Jisung. He woke up extra early to make you something good to eat before your test. He shaped it into a mouse because you think it's cute," Jeno says, voice growing louder and louder with each point he brings up.

"Well, I never asked him to do that!" Jisung defends quickly, wide eyes looking at Jeno. "It's embarrassing, hyung, eating mouse shaped rice."

Jisung watches as Jeno's eyes flash darker, and its then that he processes the words which have left his mouth.

"You called him embarrassing? What is wrong with you, Park Jisung?" Jeno exclaims, standing up now instead of sitting down. "He's your hyung, and he's been taking care of you for years!"

Now, Jeno is officially angry.

He knows Jisung is a good kid, but why is he talking about Jaemin like this? He adores Jaemin, that much is so obvious, so why is he talking about him like he was a burden? A hassle to be around? Like Jaemin wasn't around him during the most crucial parts of his adolescence?

"He takes care of you Jisung, he cooks for you and helps you with homework, helps you through anxiety attacks and supports you through everything," Jeno continues.

"I don't need someone taking care of me!" Jisung exclaims this time, also standing up from his chair. He's taller than Jeno, he's taller than all his hyungs, but he still feels small under Jeno's gaze, which looks like it could burn him alive. "I'm nineteen hyung, I'm not a helpless twelve year old anymore!"

"Helpless?" Jeno repeats, mocking. "Helpless?" He scoffs. "You think Jaemin helped you all these years because he thought you were helpless?"

Jisung doesn't say anything, but his chest does rise and fall with unspoken words. He wants to wait until Jeno says what he needs to.

"He wanted to take care of you, kid. He saw you and immediately fell in love with you. He didn't want anything bad to ever happen to you, he cares for you, Jisung, and you say it's embarrassing? You're damn lucky someone is looking out for you the way Jaemin is, God knows he never had anyone doing that for him!"

Silence washes over the two of them, and Jisung lets Jeno's words sink in.

Jaemin takes care of him out of his own free will.

Jaemin didn't want anything bad to ever happen to him.

Jaemin wants to look after Jisung the way he never had anyone look after him.

Jaemin...

Jaemin just didn't want Jisung to grow up feeling the way he felt.

Neglected.

And suddenly, everything comes crashing down onto him.

The way he started acting around Jaemin, the rejection of his gifts, the harsh and horrible words he said right to Jaemin's face...

He hurt the one person who's been looking after him all these years.

He hurt his Jaemin hyung.

"Hyung," Jisung frantically calls, and Jeno sees it, immediately understands it. Just something which comes with growing up with Jisung, he guesses. "Hyung what do I do?"

Jeno takes a few breaths to calm himself, telling himself that he needed to become neutral once again. As much as Jaemin is the love of his life, Jisung is an important person to Jaemin; thus an important person to him.

"First off, the only reason I'm even here right now is because Jaemin wouldn't let himself live in a world where he let you know you upset him," Jeno starts, maintaining eye contact with Jisung. The younger looks extremely upset and remorseful, eyes wide and shining with regret. It's not for Jeno to see, but he feels better knowing that Jisung is apologetic. "Second of all, seriously, reflect on how you feel. You wouldn't say those things to Jaemin out of nowhere. Is something going on?"

Jisung doesn't hesitate to answer.

"I meant it."

Jeno immediately opens his mouth to fire back, and Jisung winces at his awful choice of wording.

"No! I— Hold on, I meant to say that... It is embarrassing to be nineteen and coddled after so much," Jisung explains slowly, picking at his cuticles. He doesn't want to look at Jeno, afraid of the older boy's reaction. "I'm not... A baby, y'know? I know we joke about, and I don't mind; they're jokes. But Jaemin hyung... I think I outgrew being looked after so much. I don't want new people to think I can't take care of myself— I can! And I'm too old to be eating mouse shaped rice, or having my hyung pinch my cheeks whenever he feels like it."

Jeno looks Jisung dead in the eyes.

"Park Jisung, I am twenty one and I eat cat shaped rice," he deadpans, and Jisung fears he said something wrong again, but then Jeno is crinkling his face up in a smile. "But I think I understand what you mean. In a way, I guess Jaemin doesn't want to admit that you might not need his help anymore."

Jisung nods his head slowly, also seeming to agree with Jeno.

"But that doesn't mean you get to call him embarrassing," Jeno continues firmly. "Or call him annoying, or discredit or devalue everything he's done for you, Jisung."

Jisung nods his head violently.

"I know, I'm sorry. I'll apologize to hyung soon, I will."

"Jisung-ah, your Jaemin hyung loves you a lot. I don't mean to say this to make you feel bad, but honestly he was... Very upset when he came home. I think what you said poked at his insecurities... A lot."

Jisung bites his lip guiltily, feeling the full weight of his impulsive and carefree actions.

"I'm sorry hyung... I love Jaemin hyung a lot too..."

"I know. You two will be okay."

 

—————

 

When Jaemin opens the door to their apartment; the last thing he expects to see is balloons littering the foyer.

He doesn't think it's a special day; Jeno and his anniversary is two months from now, there are no birthdays coming up, and he didn't think it was Easter already.

"Jeno-ya?" Jaemin calls, taking off his shoes and walking into their apartment slowly. The deeper he gets, the more hints he uncovers.

Not only are there balloons, but there are three bouquets of flowers laying on the island, an open box of a dozen of Jaemin's favourite cupcakes, and a cute, rather large, bunny plushy.

He's confused, as he takes in everything displayed in front of him.

Thankfully though, his confusion doesn't last long, seeing as he hears footsteps coming nearer and nearer.

"Jeno, what are these—"

The words die in his throat as he turns around. The person walking towards him with tentative steps wasn't Jeno, nor was it someone Jaemin would've guessed.

Standing in front of him, is Jisung.

Jisung, with a container in his hands, black hair falling into his eyes and long legs shifting uneasily under his gaze.

"Jisung?" Jaemin whispers, almost afraid he's imagining the younger boy's presence.

However, when Jisung sends him a little smile, just the tiny quirk up of his lips, Jisung looks very much real in front of him.

"I made you something," the younger boy says, equally as quiet. He takes a few more steps forward, handing Jaemin a container with a note on the lid. "You can read it first— Or see what's inside first, it doesn't really matter..." He rambles, ears red as Jaemin takes the container from him.

Jaemin decides to open it first, heart fluttering when he sees what's inside.

It's a pile of rice, shaped into the head of a bunny. There are tuna rolls, sausages and nori. Theoretically, the tuna rolls and the rice don't have the best shape, and anyone who saw this wouldn't be able to understand what they were looking at, but to Jaemin, it's the prettiest.

Jisung had recreated the lunchbox he didn't take from Jaemin.

Slowly, he puts the container down, peeling the note off of the lid.

He decides to read it out loud, just to remind himself that this was happening.

"'To my favourite Jaemin hyung'," he starts, breath already hitching at the wave of adoration that washes over him. He looks up at Jisung for a second, only to see the younger looking away, probably embarrassed at having to hear his own words recited back to him. Jaemin continues. "'The hyung who has been by side since the beginning, the hyung who never got mad at me, who only loved me since the moment he met me. Jaemin hyung, who cooks for me when I don't ask for it, Jaemin hyung, who cleans my room when I don't, Jaemin hyung, who helped me grow into the person I am today'." For some reason, Jaemin feels choked up. "'Jaemin hyung, who only wants the best for me. I'm sorry hyung, I made you cry didn't I? That's not the way to treat someone who never once made me feel anything other than happy. I'm sorry hyung, for making you feel like you were an embarrassment. That you were annoying, because you're not. You're the best person in this world hyung, and I wish there were more people like you. Don't change hyung, don't listen to me. I didn't mean it, and I will never mean it. Growing up is hard hyung, but it’s been a little easier with you. You're the most important person to me, Jaemin hyung. Love, your mousy hamster Jisungie'."

Silence washes over them, until Jisung hears a sniffle.

"Oh my God," he startles, at a loss of what to do when he sees tears start to fall down Jaemin's cheeks. "Are you crying? Oh my God hyung, I'm sorry. Was it that bad? I'm sorry hyung, please don't cry because of me—"

Jisung gets cut off when arms wrap around his middle.

"Jisung-ah," Jaemin sobs. "You're my favourite too."

Sighing out in relief, knowing that Jaemin isn't crying out of sadness, Jisung hugs him back, equally as tight.

"I'm sorry hyung," he repeats, head buried in the older boy's hair. "No more doubting okay? You're the best."

Jaemin only chuckles, wet and thick, before nodding his head slowly against Jisung's chest.

"I love you kid."

"... I love you too hyung."

 

—————

 

Jeno's words to Jisung are proven right when he comes home, to see Jaemin and Jisung wrapped up in a blanket, watching a movie with a shared bowl of popcorn between them.

"So soon?" He jokes, making his presence known.

Jaemin simply beams up at him.

"Jisung baby~" He coos, and Jeno watches as Jisung rolls his eyes, but a smile is on his face nonetheless.

"Jisung baby," he sighs, earning a bright smile from Jaemin.

Yeah, Jaemin was too loving for his own good.